Priest and Martyr (1747-1794)
+ Noel was born in Angers, France, and was ordained a priest in 1771. In 1788, he began a special mission among the sick in his parish at Saint Aubin.
+ In 1791, all members of the French clergy were required by law to take a special oath to the French revolutionary government, as required by the “Civil Constitution on the Clergy.” Noel refused and was ordered to abandon his parish. He left, but returned in secret, ministering clandestinely to his flock.
+ While some of the priests had taken the oath, pledging fidelity the revolutionary government, Father Noel convinced others to renounce the oath and return their obedience to the Church and the Holy Father.
+ In 1793, counter-revolutionary forces won back the region where Father Noel was serving in secret and he came out of hiding. A short time later, however, the revolutionary forces reclaimed the area and Father Noel became wanted criminal.
+ Captured while preparing to celebrate Mass, he was imprisoned for twelve days before being sentenced to death for refusing to take the oath of fidelity to the state. He was guillotined on February 21, 1794, wearing his Mass vestments and reciting the opening words of the Mass.
+ Blessed Noel Pinot was beatified in 1926.
On this day, the Church also remembers Saint Peter Damian, a Benedictine monk, bishop, and Doctor of the Church. A complex man who was fiercely dedicated to the reform of the Church—especially the clergy—his devotion to Christ crucified and the maternal love of Mary helped shaped theology and popular devotions in later centuries. Saint Peter Damian died in 1072 and was named a Doctor of the Church in 1828.
“Through the priesthood which arises from the depths of the ineffable mystery of God, that is, from the love of the Father, the grace of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit’s gift of unity, the priest sacramentally enters into communion with the bishop and with other priests in order to serve the People of God who are the Church and to draw all humankind to Christ in accordance with the Lord’s prayer: ‘Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one…even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me’ (Jn. 17:11, 21).”—Pope Saint John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, 12
All powerful, ever living God,
You gave Blessed Noel the courage to witness to the Gospel of Christ,
even to the point of giving his life for it.
By his prayers help us to endure all suffering for love of you
and to seek you with all our hearts,
for you alone are the source of life.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Liturgy of the Hours: Common of One Martyr)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.