Today is the feast of St Alexius of Rome, son of a Senator, yet who, moved by a special inspiration of God, forsook his wife on their wedding night and, abandoning all, even his name, travelled as a poor beggar pilgrim to all the most illustrious churches of Christendom for seventeen years, until by a miracle his identity was divulged at Edessa, whereupon to flee fame and regain anonymity, he took ship for Rome where his own parents, family servants and wife did not recognise him after so long and such a penitential life, but granted to him, out of charity to a poor homeless beggar, to live under the stairs of his own house, where he dwelt another seventeen years until he died, whereupon all was revealed and he was acclaimed a saint.
It seems only yesterday I attended solemn Mass in his honour at WYD in Sydney...
Formerly, by grant of Pope Clement XII at the petition of the Roman Senate, there was a proper Mass of his feast used at Rome, as follows; it is an example of eighteenth-century liturgical piety, since the whole Mass tells the tale of his life (in the 1962 Roman Missal, only the Epistle and Gospel are the same):
Proper Mass of St Alexius, for the City and all the District of Rome
Introitus. Gen. 12, 1.
Egredere de terra tua, et de domo patris tui, et veni in terram, quam monstrabo tibi.
Ps. 44, 11-12. Obliviscere populum tuum, et domum patris tui: et concupiscet rex decorem tuum.
V. Gloria Patri.
Deus, qui beatum Alexium Confessorem tuum in mundi contemptu mirabilem effecisti: præsta, quæsumus; ut intercessionis ejus auxilio, fideles tui terrena despiciant, et ad cælestia semper aspirent. Per Dñm.
Lectio Epistolæ beati Pauli Apostoli ad Timotheum. 1 Tim. 6, 6-12.
Carissime: Est quæstus magnus pietas cum sufficentia. Nihil enim intulimus in hunc mundum: haud dubium quod nec auferre quid possumus. Habentes autem alimenta, et quibus tegamur, his contenti simus. Nam qui volunt divites fieri, incidunt in tentationem et in laqueum diaboli, et desideria multa inutilia, et nociva, quæ mergunt homines in interitum et perditionem. Radix enim omnium malorum est cupiditas: quam quidam appetentes, erraverunt a fide, et inseruerunt se doloribus malis. Tu autem, o homo Dei, hæc fuge: sectare vero justitiam, pietatem, fidem, caritatem, patientiam, mansuetudinem. Certa bonum certamen fidei, apprehende vitam æternam.
Graduale. Jer. 12, 7. Reliqui domum meam, dimisi hæreditatem meam.
V. Ps. 72, 28. Quia bonum mihi est adhaerere Deo, ponere in Domino Deo spem meam.
V. Ps. 5, 8 et 131, 14. introibo in domum tuam: hæc requies mea in sæculum sæculi; hic habitabo, quoniam elegi eam.
Sequentia sancti Evangelii secundum Matthæum. Matt. 19, 27-29.
In illo tempore: Dixit Petrus ad Jesum: Ecce nos reliquimus omnia, et secuti sumus te: quid ergo erit nobis? Jesus autem dixit illis: Amen dico vobis, quod vos, qui secuti estis me, in regeneratione, cum sederit Filius hominis in sede majestatis suæ, sedebitis et vos super sedes duodecim, judicantes duodecim tribus Israël. Et omnis qui reliquerit domum, vel fratres, aut sorores, aut patrem, aut matrem, aut uxorem, aut filios, aut agros, propter nomen meum, centuplum accipiet, et vitam aeternam possidebit.
Offertorium. Gen. 32, 9.
Revertere in terram tuam, et in locum nativitatis tuæ, et benefaciam tibi.
Propitius esto, Domine, supplicationibus nostris, et intercessione beati Alexii Confessoris tui, omnium nostrum ad te corda converte: ut a mundanis cupiditatibus expediti, te solum pura mente sectemur. Per Dñm.
Communio. Job. 19, 15 et Ps. 26, 10.
Inquilini domus meæ, et ancillæ meæ sicut alienum habuerunt me, et quasi peregrinus fui in oculis eorum: Dominus autem assumpsit me.
Sumpsimus, Domine, sacri dona mysterii, humiliter deprecantes: ut beatum Alexium Confessorem tuum, quem admirabilem in mundi contemptu prædicamus in terris, intercessorem habere mereamur in cælis. Per Dñm.
Introit. Gen. 12, 1.
Go forth out of thy country, and out of thy father’s house, and come into the land which I shall shew thee.
Ps. 44, 11-12. Forget thy people and thy father’s house: and the king shall greatly desire thy beauty.
V. Glory be.
O God, who didst make blessed Alexius thy Confessor wonderful in contempt of the world: grant, we beg, that by the help of his intercession, thy faithful may despise earthly things, and ever aspire to things heavenly. Through our Lord…
A Lesson from an Epistle of blessed Paul the Apostle to Timothy. 1 Tim. 6, 6-12.
Dearly beloved: Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world: and certainly we can carry nothing out. But having food, and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content. For they that will become rich, fall into temptation, and into the snare of the devil, and into many unprofitable and hurtful desires, which drown men into destruction and perdition. For the desire of money is the root of all evils; which some coveting have erred from the faith, and have entangled themselves in many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, fly these things: and pursue justice, godliness, faith, charity, patience, mildness. Fight the good fight of faith: lay hold on eternal life.
Graduale. Jer. 12, 7. I have forsaken my house, I have left my inheritance.
V. Ps. 72, 28. For it is good for me to adhere to God, to put my hope in the Lord God.
V. Ps. 5, 8 et 131, 14. I will come into thy house; this is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.
The continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew. Matt. 19, 27-29.
At that time: Peter said to Jesus: Behold we have left all things, and have followed thee: what therefore shall we have? And Jesus said to them: Amen, I say to you, that you, who have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the seat of his majesty, you also shall sit on twelve seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.
Offertory. Gen. 32, 9.
Return to thy land and to the place of thy birth, and I will do well for thee.
Be propitious, O Lord, to our supplications, and by the intercession of blessed Alexius thy Confessor, convert all our hearts to thee: that set free from worldly desires, we may seek thee alone with a pure mind. Through our Lord…
Communion. Job. 19, 15 et Ps. 26, 10.
They that dwelt in my house, and my maidservants have counted me a stranger, and I have been like an alien in their eyes: but the Lord hath taken me up.
We have received, O Lord, the gifts of [thy] sacred mysteries, humbly praying, that blessed Alexius thy Confessor, whom we proclaim on earth [to be] admirable in contempt of the world, we may deserve to have as an intercessor in heaven. Through our Lord…