Wednesday, 2 October 2013


“We cannot pass our guardian angel’s bounds, resigned or sullen, he will hear our sighs.” - Saint Augustine

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
Ferdinand Foch
, soldier (1851);
Mohandas Karamchanal Gandhi
, statesman (1869);
Cordell Hull
, UN founder (1871);
Wallace Stevens
, writer (1879);
William A. Abbott
(of Costello fame), actor (1895);
Groucho Marx
, comedian (1895?);
Grahame Green
, writer (1904);
Robert Runcie
, Archbishop of Canterbury (1921);
Yuri N. Glazkov
, cosmonaut (1939);
Don McLean
, musician (1945);
, musician/actor (1951).

The sweet chestnut, Castanea sativa, is the birthday plant for this day.  It is named after Castanum in Thessaly, Greece, where it still grows in abundance.  Roasted chestnuts sold by street pedlars was a common sight in older times in England and many continental countries.  The chestnut seller is still to be encountered in Mediterranean countries in autumn.  The sweet chestnut signifies chastity and the triumph of virtue over temptations of the flesh.  In the language of flowers the chestnut symbolises justice and speaks the sentiment “render me justice”.  Astrologically, the chestnut is under Jupiter’s rule.

In 1672, Pope Clement X instituted the Guardian Saints’ Feast Day as an opportunity for people to give thanks to the guardian angel that protected them throughout their lives. Perhaps there is no other aspect of Catholic piety as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet the doctrine of the Catholic Church maintains that guardian angels are not only for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer and to present their souls to God at death.

The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture but not directly drawn from it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:10 best support the belief: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. St. Benedict (Feast Day, July 11) gave it impetus and Bernard of Clairvaux (Feast Day, August 20), the great 12th-century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day.

The Catholic Church views devotion to the angels as an expression of faith in God’s enduring love and providential care extended to each person, day in and day out, until life’s end.

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