27 Dec – St. Fabiola – Wherein Card. Wiseman says: “We must deny to Protestantism any right to use the Bible, much more to interpret it.”

Today, being the Feast of the Evangelist John, we have a special blessing for wine and other libations.  I wrote about that HERE.  We have this blessing because of an assassination attempt.    There was an attempt on the life of St. John the Evangelist by poisoning.  He blessed the cup and the poison crawled out in the form of a serpent.  You often see St. John depicted this way in art.

St Jerome Joos van CleeveSt. Jerome says this about the Evangelist.  Priests read this in the Breviarium Romanum during Matins.

V. Grant, Lord, a blessing.
Benediction. May the Spirit’s fire Divine in our hearts enkindled shine. Amen.

Reading 6
From the Commentary upon the Epistle to the Galatians, by the same author [St. Jerome]
iii. 6.

The Blessed Evangelist John lived at Ephesus down to an extreme old age, and, at length, when he was with difficulty carried to the Church, and was not able to exhort the congregation at length, he was used simply to say at each meeting, My little children, love one another. At last the disciples and brethren were weary with hearing these words continually, and asked him, Master, wherefore ever sayest thou this only? Whereto he replied to them, worthy of John, It is the commandment of the Lord, and if this only be done, it is enough.
V. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us.
R. Thanks be to God.

R. In the midst of the congregation did the Lord open his mouth.
* And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. He made him rich with joy and gladness.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.
V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost.
R. And filled him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding.

This is the author of the Fourth Gospel, the visionary of Revelation, the disciple whom Jesus loved best, the one who, though he ran at first, was at the Cross, and to whom the dying Savior entrusted His Mother even as He told her that John was her son. This feast reminds us of the filial relationship priests should have with Mary, which she already has with us and would see deepened.

Fabiola_Jean_Jacques_HennerAnother connection through St. John’s Day and Jerome is that this is the feast of St. Fabiola, one of the ascetic gang of Roman matrons who were around Jerome while he was in the City and who busied themselves in works of mercy.

Fabiola eventually moved to St. Paula’s monastic house in Jerusalem to continue her work near Jerome. She was quite a wealthy widow and is a patroness of widows, divorced people, troubled marriages, victims of domestic abuse and those who suffer because of adultery.

There was a famous painting of Fabiola by the French painter Jean-Jacques Henner, which was copied many times before it was lost.  There are many copies.

Perhaps we can ask her today to intercede with God for enlightenment for those who have confused the People of God about the indissolubility of marriage and the sinfulness of infidelity.

There is a novel about Fabiola called, surprise, Fabiola by Nicholas Wiseman… Cardinal and the first Archbishop of Westminster after the restoration of the hierarchy in England in 1850.


I like this quote from Card. Wiseman (not in Fabiola):

“The doctrine and practice of the Church must not be allowed to be impugned by those who have no claim at all to Scripture, and who can prove neither the canon, its inspiration, nor its primary doctrines, except through that very authority which they are questioning, and through treacherous inconsistency with the principles on which they are interrogating it. When many years ago this ground was boldly adopted, it was charged with being an attempt to throw Protestants into infidelity, and sap the foundations of the Bible. Years of experience, and observation not superficial, have only strengthened our conviction, that this course must be fearlessly pursued. We must deny to Protestantism any right to use the Bible, much more to interpret it. Cruel and unfeeling it may be pronounced by those who understand the strength of our position, and the cogency of the argument; but it is much more charitable than to leave them to the repeated sin of blaspheming God’s Spouse, and trying to undermine the faith of our poor Catholics.” [The Catholic doctrine on the use of the Bible, 1853]

I’m sure that the Evangelist, Jerome and Fabiola would have all been in agreement.

Lift a libation and invoke health today for your loved ones… and confusion to your enemies… on this Feast of St. John.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Saints: Stories & Symbols and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Pingback: 27 Dec – St. Fabiola – Wherein Card. Wiseman says: “We must deny to Protestantism any right to use the Bible, much more to interpret it.” – Via Nova Media

  2. Gregg the Obscure says:

    The beloved disciple was also the one who asked the Lord if he should call down fire from the heavens – a sentiment to which i frequently relate

  3. TonyO says:

    Gregg, I think we can all relate. Yet I think that same beloved disciple is also glad when we, who come later, learn from his mistakes, and instead learn to love our enemies and seek their conversion to the Lord, praying as earnestly for it as for favors for ourselves. (I wish I could follow my own advice better.)

    While sometimes Protestants do actually get an interpretation of a biblical passage correct – and we can learn worthwhile things thereby – I find it not the least uncommon for their interpretations to run astray due to one or many wrong principles. And perhaps most significantly they hardly ever seem to be interested in what the early Fathers of the Church had to say about those passages, something that you would think any Christian would be keen to learn. So, even when a Protestant does happen to get a passage right, how could we ever look at that so as to rely on it as if it were something trustworthy? I think I’ll look to the Church.

  4. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, that’s quite deep. We think of John as gentle and kind, but he was one of the Sons of Thunder, wasn’t he? And quite pushy about offices, too, early on.

    Obviously even those of us who are hot-tempered and pushy can be amended by leaning on Jesus’ breast and living with the Blessed Mother.

    That said, the bit where he ran out of the building in fear of being smited along with a heretic… kinda argues that he was still hoping for a little bit of fire from heaven. Sometimes. When merited.

  5. Semper Gumby says:

    More relevant and practical, and without the tribalism and revenge requiring a totalitarian government to enforce is: “We must deny to Pachamama any right to use the Bible, much more to interpret it.”

  6. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I made an enjoyable start on Fabiola a while ago, but somehow got distracted and need to start over.

    And now I am intrigued by The Catholic Doctrine on the Use of the Bible, 1853… I see the Internet Archive has scans of both the original magazine publication and book form (alas, a quick check suggests frustratingly badly scanned, in the latter case)… and that it has a scan of an 1853 American edition of the book he was reviewing in it, Archbishop Joseph Dixon’s A General Introduction to the Sacred Scriptures; in a series of Dissertations, Critical, Hermeneutical, and Historical (as well as a copy of its 1875 Second Edition).

Comments are closed.