Providential Examples in History - First Millennium
“History may be said to be the summation of the actions of man in time. Miracles are God’s sovereign interventions into our three dimensional world, in which this historical process has been, ever since the creation of man, realizing itself. History has a destination, even if we cannot discern it at once, and God is working in history even if his ways are difficult or impossible to recognize. But since history consists of the acts of man and miracles are the acts of God, it may be asked how the two can be brought together, and, how it is possible to probe the influence that miracles have had on the historical process of mankind. …”
— Zsolt Aradi (1908-1968) Hungarian Author and Historian
Providential Examples in History ⇨
First Millennium - First 500 years
Our Lady of the Pillar (Zaragoza, Spain) - 40 AD
Our Lady of the Pillar is where the Virgin Mary appeared (bilocated) to Saint Apostle James the Greater who was preaching in Spain requesting a church be built in honor of her son Jesus. Angels brought a six foot pillar of jasper, symbolic of the pillar upon which Jesus was scourged, along with a wooden statue of Mary holding the Christ child. Mary said to Saint James, “This place is to be my house and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall built” … “and the people of this land will honor greatly my Son Jesus.” The church in Zaragoza, Spain, was originally known our Lady upon the Pillar (Nuestra Señora del Pilar).
Columbus on his voyage to the Americas faced growing unrest and possible mutiny by his crew. He wrote that if he did not find land by the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar (which was October 12) that he would head back to Spain. Around 2:00 AM on October 12, 1492, the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar (today celebrated as Columbus Day) “the lookout on the Pinta sighted land, ‘a white sand cliff gleaming in the moonlight on the western horizon.’ When daylight came, they edged closer to the island.
Constantine - In this sign conquer - 312 AD
The surrender of Verona was the consequence. In spite of the overwhelming numbers of his enemy (an estimated 100,000 in Maxentius’ army against 20,000 in Constantine’s army) the emperor confidently marched forward to Rome. A vision had assured him that he should conquer in the sign of the Christ, and his warriors carried Christ’s monogram on their shields, though the majority of them were pagans. The opposing forces met near the bridge over the Tiber called the Milvian Bridge, and here Maxentius’ troops suffered a complete defeat, the tyrant himself losing his life in the Tiber (28 October, 312). ….
If mankind ever needed a sign from God blessing the spread of Christianity, and the Gospel, they were given one on May 7th of 351. Shortly after Cyril had been installed as Archbishop of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, a luminous cross appeared in the sky over Jerusalem. “About nine in the morning, a vast luminous body, in the form of a cross, appeared in the heavens, just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy Mount of Olivet (about two miles). This was not seen by one or two persons only, but by the whole city, and it continued for several hours, the light from it being more brilliant than that of the sun.” The sign in the sky was a miracle for all to see. It drove Jews, Pagans and Christians alike to churches in praise of Jesus Christ. The luminous cross over Jerusalem was taken as sign by those at the time of God’s approval of the spreading Gospel and expanding Christendom. As St Cyril wrote in his letter to Emperor Constantine, the cross in the sky was “being seen not by one or two only, but manifest with perfect clarity to the whole multitude of the city; not, as one might suppose, rushing swiftly past in fancy, but seen openly above the earth many hours in plain sight, and overcoming the beams of the sun with its dazzling rays.” “The whole city found in this phenomenon the truth of Christian doctrine, to which the heavens bore visible witness.”
“So swiftly runs the word of God that though in several thousand years God was not known except among the Jews, now within the space of a few years, His word is concealed neither from the Indians in the East nor from the Britain’s in the West.”
— Arnobius of Sicca (284-
Rebuilding of the Temple - 331-363 AD
Such were the bishop’s words: and on the night following, a mighty earthquake tore up the stones of the old foundations of the temple and dispersed them all together with the adjacent edifices. Terror consequently possessed the Jews on account of the event; and the report of it brought many to the spot who resided at a great distance: when therefore a vast multitude was assembled, another prodigy took place. Fire came down from heaven and consumed all the builders’ tools: so that the flames were seen preying upon mallets, irons to smooth and polish stones, saws, hatchets, adzes, in short all the various implements which the workmen had procured as necessary for the undertaking; and the fire continued burning among these for a whole day. The Jews indeed were in the greatest possible alarm, and unwillingly confessed Christ, calling him God: yet they did not do his will; but influenced by inveterate prepossessions they still clung to Judaism. Even a third miracle which afterwards happened failed to lead them to a belief of the truth. For the next night luminous impressions of a cross appeared imprinted on their garments, which at daybreak they in vain attempted to rub or wash out ..
The Blood Miracle of Saint Januarius (Gennaro) 305 AD- A miracle of the Church that is still occuring today
The liquefaction (becoming liquid) of the blood of St Januarius (Gennaro) is an extraordinary miracle of the Church that has been occurring up to 18 times each year for the past 600 years. It is only one of a number of blood miracles that have taken place, and in the case of St Januarius-
Cross in the Sky over Jerusalem - 351 AD
St. Cyril wrote a letter known today as the Letter to the Emperor Constantius, the son of Constantine the Great, describing the miracle in vivid detail and making it clear that the miracle was a sign from God. The letter reads:
“On the nones [or 7th] of May, about the Terce hour [or nine in the morning], a vast luminous body, in the form of a Cross, appeared in the sky just over the holy Golgotha, reaching as far as the holy Mount of Olives, seen not only by one or two persons, but clearly and evidently by the whole city. This was not, as may be thought, a momentary transient phenomenon: for it continued several hours visible to our eyes, and brighter than the sun, the light of which would have eclipsed it, had not this been stronger.
“The whole city, struck with a reverential fear tempered with joy, ran immediately to the church, young and old, Christians and heathens, citizens and strangers, all with one voice giving praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, the worker of miracles; finding by experience the truth of the Christian doctrine, to which Heaven bears witness.”
Saint Patrick - ~389 AD– 461 AD
Saint Patrick was born in Britain around 389 A.D. At the age of 16 was playing with friends near the sea shore was taken into captured by barbarian and sold into slavery in Ireland. For six years through the snow, frost and rain Patrick herded sheep for a Druid chieftain. He prayed to God every day. In his sleep he heard God’s say to him “It is well that you fast, soon you will go to your own country.” A while later heard “See, your ship is ready … Patrick wrote he took flight and God way till he made it to the ship.
At the age of forty he went back to Ireland as a missionary. Divine message “two months you shall be with them.” “I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victorious” — he carried many letters … the heading: ‘The Voice of the Irish’. … Patrick wrote he imagined he heard the voice of the people of entire country cry out in one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”
- God protected Patrick from Druids who hated him and wanted him killed.
- Saint Patrick performed a thousand miracles from rising of the dead, healing the blind, the deaf, leprosy and other diseases. In less than 30 years he consecrated 350 bishops, erected 700 churches, and ordained 5,000 priests. He overturned the pagan religion of the druids with the greater part of Ireland Catholic.
“I shall not be silent; nor shall I hide the signs and wonders which the Lord has shown me many years before they came to pass, as He knows everything even before the times of the world.”
Clovis I - King of the Franks - 466 AD - 511 AD
Clovis was born in 466 A.D. in the north east of present day France around Calis. At the age of fifteen seceded his father [Childeric I] as King of the Salian [Sale en] Franks. Surrounded by a number of warring barbarian kingdoms, Clovis used their limited military might winning many battles which increased the territory under their control including overthrowing the last Roman military commander in Gaul.
After losing two battles to the Visigoth forces near Bordeaux in A.D. 490, Clovis arrived at Tours and visited Saint Martin’s parish on his feast day. Saint Martin was a solder in the Roman Army that became a monk.
At Saint Martin’s parish it is said Clovis prayed and witnessed several miracles and may have had a religious experience. In 493 he married a Catholic Burgundian princess Clotilde [KLowTIY-LD]. She had little success in convincing him to convert to Christianity.
In 496 he came to the assistance of the Franks of the Rhine at Battle at the Battle of Tolbiac, near modern day Cologne, Germany. They were losing the battle when he begged his wife’s God for help. He committed that if they were victorious he would convert to Catholicism and be baptized. “If thou wilt grant me a victory over the foes” he cried “I will believe in thee, and will be baptized in thy.” The battle soon turned and the Franks were victorious.
After months of reflection on promise he made to God for assistance he converted to Catholicism. On December 25, 496 the Clovis I, King to of the Franks along with 3,000 fellow warriors were baptized to the Catholic faith. To follow would be the conversion of the entire Frankish people. His conquests continued invading and conquering the Visigoths Southern Southwestern part of modern French liberating the the Catholics living there.
Just before his death Clovis convened a council of bishops at the Council of Orleans in 511. It condemned the Arian Heresy spread that denied the Trinity and divinity of Jesus Christ. It created a strong link between the crown and the Catholic Church.
First Millennium - Second 500 years
Virgin of Montserrat - Benedictine Monastery Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain - 890 AD
Our Lady of Montserrat (The Black Madonna of Montserrat) – Due to Muslim invasions of Spain that began in the 8th century, the statue was taken to Montserrat and hidden in a cave in 718. In 880, some shepherd children were tending their flocks when they saw a brilliant light coming from the cave, accompanied by sweet music. They went there and found the Statue. They reported it to their Bishop, who recognized the supernatural origin of the finding and prodigies that followed. They tried to move the statue from the cave, but it was so heavy that it could not be budged. They interpreted this as Our Lady’s desire to stay there, so a monastery was constructed around it.
Many miracles have been attributed to the Virgin of Montserrat, and it soon became a great pilgrimage site. The devotion spread to Latin America. (from Tradition in Action.)
St James the Great in the Battle of Clavijo - 844 AD
I was still sleeping, when the blessed Santiago, protector of the Spaniards, appeared to me. I asked who he was. He assured me to be Santiago, the blessed Apostle of God. Astonished as I was, the blessed Apostle told me: Did not you know that my Lord Jesus Christ, while distributing the other provinces in the world to my brothers, the other apostles, luckily entrusted me the guardianship of all Spain and placed it under my protection? (…) Keep your courage, because I will come to assist you tomorrow, God willing, to vanquish all that big crowd of enemies surrounding you. However, many of your soldiers will be destined for eternal rest and will receive the crown of martyrdom during your struggle for the name of Christ. And so that there is no doubt you will see me dressed in white on a white horse, holding in my hand a white banner. Therefore, at dawn, after receiving the sacrament of penance with the confession of sins, after receiving the Communion of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Mass, do not be afraid to challenge the Saracens’ squadrons, invoking God’s name and mine, and taking for certain they will fall to the edge of the sword .
Having said all that, the pleasant vision of the Apostle of God disappeared.
Ramiro quickly told everyone about his vision: knights, bishops, artisans … At dawn, Christian troops, sure of their victory, attacked the Saracens. For the first time some Spaniards used “Santiago” as a war cry. In the heat of the battle, a great white knight, with a white banner on a white horse, struck the field like a ray of light, to tilt the victory on the crusaders’ side. On May 25, in the town of Calahorra, the king vowed to Santiago in gratitude, inviting all Christians in the peninsula to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, carrying offerings to the Apostle.
King Alfred the Great - 849 AD – 899 AD