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SS. Romanus & Lupicinus, February 28

Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Biographical selection:

Romanus was born in Burgundy in 399. At the age of 35, he decided to live as a hermit in the area of Condat in eastern France. His younger brother, Lupicinus, followed him there. They later founded several monasteries, including Condat Abbey, Lauconne – later Saint-Lupicin as Lupicinus was buried there – and La Balme – later Saint Romain-de-Roche where Romanus was buried – among others.

sharp stones

A hailstorm of sharp stones fell on the brothers
During their time as hermits, they were enjoying a harmonious and happy existence when the Devil decided to destroy their peace. Every time they would kneel to pray, the Devil would send a shower of sharp stones to fall upon them. Both bore the suffering for some time, but, seeing that the trial continued without abating, they decided to abandon the place.

Arriving at a village, they were hosted by a poor woman, who asked them whence they came. They told her the whole story. The woman reprimanded them: “You should fight courageously against the Devil and not fear the traps and hatred of the one who has been so often defeated by the friends of God. If he attacks men, it is because he is trying to prevent them from practicing virtue and thus ascending to the place from which he fell.”

After leaving the house, they pondered upon their weakness and the meager battle they had waged. They retraced their steps and returned; then, practicing prayer and patience, they conquered the enemy.

Later, the two brothers founded numerous monasteries, which they governed jointly and visited frequently. Lupicinus was very severe and did not forgive the least misstep. Romanus, on the other hand, was much more merciful.

It happened that, while visiting a monastery in Germany, Lupicinus found an excessive quantity of vegetables and fish stocked in the kitchen. Scandalized, he commanded that everything should be cooked together and given to the monks to eat. The resulting dish was so repugnant that 12 of the religious revolted and left the monastery.

Romanus was informed of the facts in a vision. When Lupicinus returned, Romanus said to him: “My brother, it is better not to visit the sheep than to disperse them.” Lupicinus answered: “Do not show too much pity, my dear brother. Is it not necessary to separate the chaff from the wheat in the field of the Lord? Those who left were proud men in whose souls the Lord no longer was dwelling.”

Romanus acceded, but thenceforth he wept and prayed for their return. Later, God redirected to the monastery those 12 rebels, who returned to make penance. (Excerpt from Édouard Daras, Les Vies des Saints)

Comments of Prof. Plinio:

There are several interesting facts here. We will comment on each one separately.

monks praying manuscript

We can imagine the two brothers serenely praying in a place of solitude
We find ourselves before that admirable blossoming of saints that came after the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire. Here, we have two brothers living a life of great sanctity in the 5th century. The selection focuses first on an episode worthy of the Fioretti [Little Flowers of St. Francis]: Both holy brothers were living in solitude without any special annoyances, without the evils of the Revolution, the problems of city life and the world, living a peaceful, bucolic life.

We can imagine the two hermit brothers praying, kneeling one alongside the other – this is how an illumination would depict them – devoutly praying and Our Lady smiling at them from Heaven, a Heaven depicted in an atmosphere of diaphanous blue, in the blues of Fra Angelico. This would be the first illumination.

Then, the trial comes. The Devil hates the brothers and to chastise them – again it is a Fioretti scene – he throws down from the sky a downpour of sharp stones. The two, so good and so upright, are molested by that hail of stones and cannot continue their prayers. After this happens a number of times, they resolve to abandon the place.

They start travelling to find another retreat and come across a good woman who dwells in a cottage along their pathway. This woman, we are free to suppose, has lost two sons and her husband but still has one son who is a monk in a faraway place and only writes to her once in a while. She lives entirely for God and prays constantly while struggling with rheumatism and a swollen leg.

So, this widow, full of pain and wisdom, hosts the two brothers. She first offers something for them to eat and treats the open wounds caused by the stones. Outside rain is pouring down; inside the cottage they feel sheltered and warm.

As the conversation continues, they tell her their sad story. She moans, looks up to a Crucifix on the wall and says: “Brothers, you were wrong, very wrong, to leave that place.” Then she instructs them to return. The two brothers, very contrite, spend the night in prayer, and the next morning they set out to return to their lonely abode and enter the fight against the Devil. Two warriors emerge from that atmosphere of light blue, pink and gold, transformed into manly fighters. This is part of their formation.

tryptch van der stockt

Our Lord is the model of perfect harmony between justice & mercy, sword & lily
The selection jumps over various intermediary stages in their lives, and the two appear again in a position of pomp and majesty. They are venerable saints, whose fame has spread, causing others to flock to them in the various monasteries they founded.

Now, they are patriarchs with white beards, wiser than the woman who advised them and with much more experience than she. They have defeated devils, faced fierce adversaries, made dangerous journeys passing through forests with wild beasts and bandits, crossed bridges on the brink of collapsing, endured harsh storms. They faced everything for the cause of Our Lord Jesus Christ. They are at the apex of their lives.

In this condition we find them in another episode. There is a measure of severity and a measure of leniency that must be administered following the inspiration of grace and the way Our Lord wants to direct the souls.

Some souls govern and do good by being severe; they make an admirable good through a great severity. There are other souls that are exactly the opposite; they can only do good through mildness. The former imitate Our Lord when He expelled the money changers from the Temple; the latter imitate Our Lord when He forgave Mary Magdalene.

So, now the two brothers are jointly governing their monasteries. St. Lupicinus is very severe, a type that makes my whole soul applaud. He made a visitation to one of the monasteries in Germany and found that the monks were taking excessive precautions not to suffer from hunger, which represented a lack of trust in Divine Providence.

St. Lupicinus ordered them cook and eat all the stored food at once, to teach them not to be so bourgeois and to rely more on Divine Providence. The resulting meal was horrible, but he obliged all of them to eat it. Some revolted and he expelled them from that monastery.

When he returned, St. Romanus lamented that expulsion. St. Lupicinus explained it very clearly, as was his style. St. Romanus sighed and agreed. In this case, however, Divine Providence desired mercy to win.

saint romain chapel

Chapelle Saint Romain-de-Roche, where the remains of St. Romanus are housed
The good action of St. Lupicinus in expelling the bad monks was completed by the good act of St. Romanus praying for their return. So, the tears of the old patriarch moved his Guardian Angel, who went before Our Lady to present his supplication. Our Lady, in her turn, appealed to God, who always attends to her requests.

The result: All of the 12 religious whom St. Lupicinus had expelled returned. But they did not return with high noses, censuring the severity of St. Lupicinus. They returned duly corrected from their revolt by an extraordinary action of grace. Grace converted those religious who had been justly chastised by that act of justice.

The Psalm says justitia et pax osculatur sunt (justice and peace kissed). Here we can paraphrase that beautiful line saying that justice and mercy kissed.

Let us pray to St. Romanus asking him to give us a little of his candor of soul, that marvelous light blue atmosphere of the Fioretti, which makes it so pleasant to practice virtue. Let us ask St. Lupicinus to give us all his energy and severity, without which no enemy can be defeated and nothing can be durably established.


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Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
The Saint of the Day features highlights from the lives of saints based on comments made by the late Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira. Following the example of St. John Bosco who used to make similar talks for the boys of his College, each evening it was Prof. Plinio’s custom to make a short commentary on the lives of the next day’s saint in a meeting for youth in order to encourage them in the practice of virtue and love for the Catholic Church. TIA thought that its readers could profit from these valuable commentaries.

The texts of both the biographical data and the comments come from personal notes taken by Atila S. Guimarães from 1964 to 1995. Given the fact that the source is a personal notebook, it is possible that at times the biographic notes transcribed here will not rigorously follow the original text read by Prof. Plinio. The commentaries have also been adapted and translated for TIA’s site.

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