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April 13

Saint of the day:

Pope Saint Martin I

Saint Martin's Story

Martin I lay too sick to fight on a couch in front of the altar when the soldiers burst into the Lateran basilica. He had come to the church when he heard the soldiers had landed. But the thought of kidnapping a sick pope from the house of God didn't stop the soldiers from grabbing him and hustling him down to their ship.

Elected pope in 649, Martin I had gotten in trouble for refusing to condone silence in the face of wrong. At that time there existed a popular heresy that held that Christ didn't have a human will, only a divine will. The emperor had issued an edict that didn't support Monothelism (as it was known) directly, but simply commanded that no one could discuss Jesus' will at all.

Monothelism was condemned at a council convened by Martin I. The council affirmed, once again, that since Jesus had two natures, human and divine, he had two wills, human and divine. The council then went further and condemned Constans edict to avoid discussion stating, "The Lord commanded us to shun evil and do good, but not to reject the good with the evil."

In his anger at this slap in the face, the emperor sent his soldiers to Rome to bring the pope to him. When Martin I arrived in Constantinople after a long voyage he was immediately put into prison. There he spent three months in a filthy, freezing cell while he suffered from dysentery. He was not allowed to wash and given the most disgusting food. After he was condemned for treason without being allowed to speak in his defense he was imprisoned for another three months.

From there he was exiled to the Crimea where he suffered from the famine of the land as well as the roughness of the land and its people. But hardest to take was the fact that the pope found himself friendless. His letters tell how his own church had deserted him and his friends had forgotten him. They wouldn't even send him oil or corn to live off of.

He died two years later in exile in the year 656, a martyr who stood up for the right of the Church to establish doctrine even in the face of imperial power.




San Martino ai Monti

(Saint Martin at the Hills)

Viale Monte Oppio 28

Rome, Italy

*This church is south of the Basilica of St Mary Major.

*The greater part of the remains of St Martin I were transferred from Crimea to this church in Rome.

They now rest in the confessio below the main altar.

This confessio also houses the relics of many other saints taken from the Catacombs of Priscilla.

*A tradition claims that the pope, St Sylvester I (d. 335), and many other bishops met here to prepare for the Council of Nicaea.

They then reconvened at this same church after the Council to announce the newly formulated Nicene Creed.

Constantine was in attendance for this. The large painting on the left side of the nave created in 1640 recalls one of these meetings.

However, this tradition is often tied to the ‘Symmachian Forgeries’ thus throwing some doubt on its credibility.

Nevertheless, it does seem probable that some agreement was achieved between Constantine and

St Sylvester I that allowed for the success of the Council of Nicaea.


Lattice Topped Ricotta Easter Pie


The crust:

  • 1 cup flour, all purpose

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • pinch salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut up in small pieces

  • 1 egg, slightly beaten

  • extra flour for rolling

The filling:

  • 2 cups whole milk ricotta (well-drained) (about 15 oz)

  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon white liquor (rum, grappa,...)

  • 4 eggs

  • 1 tablespoon milk 


The crust:

  1. In a food processor combine the dry ingredients and pulse a few times.

  2. Add the cut up butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse ground meal.

  3. Add the slightly beaten egg and pulse until the dough starts coming together.

  4. On a lightly floured wooden board, turn out the dough and form into a smooth disc, by pressing dough together.

  5. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 60 minutes.

The filling:

  1. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl (of a stand mixer) beat the ricotta on low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth (approx 30 seconds). Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times.

  2. Slowly add the sugar and continue to beat for another 30 seconds or so.

  3. Add the lemon zest, cinnamon, liquor and 1 egg.

  4. Beat until the egg is properly incorporated. Remember to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  5. Continue to add one egg at a time, making sure to properly incorporate into the mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl.

  6. Set aside while you roll out your dough.

The assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ° F.

  2. Roll out the dough to fit your pie plate. Thickness should be about ⅛ of an inch. Carefully fold over and fit into your pie pan.

  3. Pour the filling into the pie pan.

  4. Optional step:Decorate with strips of dough and brush tops of dough strips with milk.

  5. Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until the center filling is set. Place foil on the edge of crust to prevent over-browning.

  6. Cool completely on a wire rack.

  7. Refrigerate until serving.

Traditional Italian Dove Bread for Easter (Colomba di Pasqua)

While Italy offers many traditional Easter breads, the best-known by far is Colomba Pasquale, Easter dove bread, a native of Lombardy in the north, but available everywhere when Easter rolls around. Even in America one can find these panettone-like breads in their paper "dove" pans around the Easter holidays. 

The dough for this bread is quite sticky, and it's easiest mixed and kneaded in a machine of some sort. With its fairly high sugar and fat content, the dough is slow to come together, and equally slow to rise. Have patience, and plan on extra time for rising if your house is cool. This is a perfect place to use SAF Gold instant yeast, which is designed specifically for high-sugar yeast breads. You'll save at least an hour during each rise by using SAF Gold. 

While Colomba is usually made with candied orange peel, we've Americanized it with dried fruit. Use your favorite combination; we've chosen golden raisins, cranberries, and diced apricots.

Biga (Overnight Starter)

  • 1 cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 1/2 cup cool water

  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast


  • 2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon SAF Gold instant yeast, or instant yeast

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

  • 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved for topping; room temperature preferred

  • 1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract +1/8 teaspoon orange oil

  • grated peel of 1 large orange

  • 1 cup dried fruit of your choice, chopped if large


  • 1 large egg white, reserved from dough

  • 3 tablespoons almond flour or 3 tablespoons blanched almonds, finely ground

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons sliced almonds

  • 5 to 6 teaspoons coarse white sugar or pearl sugar


  1. The night before you want to make the bread, mix together the biga (overnight starter) ingredients. Cover the bowl, and leave it at room temperature for up to 15 hours or so.

  2. Next day, combine the bubbly starter with all of the remaining dough ingredients except the grated orange rind and the fruit. Mix to combine. Switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 12 minutes at medium speed, stopping the mixer every 3 minutes to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl. By the end of the kneading time, the dough should have become elastic and satiny. It should be starting to leave the bottom and sides of the bowl, though it won't form a smooth ball.

  3. Knead in the grated orange rind and dried fruit.

  4. Cover the bowl, and let the dough rise for 2 hours (3 hours if you're not using SAF Gold yeast). It should have become quite puffy.

  5. Divide the dough in two pieces, with one slightly larger than the other. Shape one into a 10" log, with one tapered end; and the other into a 7" log.

  6. Place the longest log lengthwise on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet; use the edge of your hand to form a crease in the center. Lay the shorter log crosswise across it, right at the crease. Shape the shorter log into "wings" by pulling it into a crescent shape. (We know, this doesn't really look too awfully much like a dove; think of it as a symbolic representation!)

  7. Cover the shaped loaf with a cover or lightly greased plastic wrap, and set it aside to rise until it's puffy; this will take about 1 to 2 hours, depending on what type of yeast you've used. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

  8. Make the topping by mixing the egg white, ground almonds, and sugar. Gently paint this glaze all over the loaf; be generous. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds, then the pearl or coarse sugar.

  9. Bake the loaf for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, tenting it for the final 10 minutes of baking. The finished loaf will be golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will register 190°F.

  10. Remove the bread from the oven, and carefully slide it onto a rack to cool.

  11. Serve in thin slices. Some enjoy fresh Colomba with a glass of wine; some prefer it toasted, then drizzled with heavy cream or honey, and served with coffee. It's delicious just plain, too; serve it Easter morning, or later in the day, as a sweet accompaniment to the Easter ham.

  12. Yield: 1 large loaf.

Colomba pasquale (Easter dove) – mini-cakes

For Easter lunch make a  “Colomba pasquale” which literally means Easter Dove in Italian.
It is a traditional Italian Easter sweet and soft risen bread which contains orange peel (zest or candied) and is topped with a sugar crust and often almonds. The dove is a universal symbol of peace and rebirth and in the Catholic tradition it also symbolizes the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes the cake is filled with Zabaglione (a Marsala cream made with 4 Tbsp of each of sugar and Marsala wine plus 4 egg yolks whisked in a double boiler).

I love keeping with ancient traditions and Colomba is a relatively recent tradition.  In the centuries past, bakers used to make a more simple bread called Pandiramerino (Rosemary bread). The bread represented Jesus and the rosemary represented the scented oils used to cleanse His body before burying Him.
“Buona Pasqua” (Happy Easter) and may your spring be full of renewal!!!

Makes 9 doves


  • 500 gr (1,1 lb) bread flour

  • 150-170 gr (5-5,7 fl oz) warm water

  • 100 gr. (3,52 oz) sugar

  • 100 gr. (3,52 oz) butter

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 tsp. vanilla

  • 1 orange (grated zest or you may use candied peel, chopped)

  • 5 gr. (0,17 oz) salt

  • 20 gr. (0,7 oz) brewer’s yeast > I used 1envelope active dry yeast and it was perfect!


  • 200 gr. (3,5 oz) granulated sugar

  • 100 gr. (1,8 oz) all purpose flour

  • water


  • Granulated sugar, as needed

  • Confectioners’ sugar, as needed


  1. Dissolve yeast in the half of water and work them with the other ingredients to form a ball. Add the remaining water little by little and work until dough is smooth and elastic. Then place the dough in the bowl. Cover with a plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume (about 1h and 30minutes).

  2. If the dough is too soft, roll it on itself twice, at interval of 10 minutes, so the dough gathers strength.

  3. Deflate the dough and divide it into pieces of 100 gr. (3,52oz each). Fold the dough over itself and roll, rotate 90 degrees and fold again. Repeat the step for all pieces.

  4. Cut the pieces into two parts. Fold the dough over itself and roll. Repeat the step for all pieces.

  5. Stretch the dough pieces to form the wings and the body.

  6. Repeat the step for all pieces and place them as in the picture:

  7. Arrange the doves on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.

  8. Cover them and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  9. Preheated the oven at 200-220° C (390-425°F > I used 425°F).

  10. Prepare the Glaze: Mix the flour with the sugar and add enough water to obtain a thick mixture which should not be too runny, just thick enough.

  11. Brush the dove with this mixture, sprinkle with granulated sugar and then with icing sugar.

  12. This will create a nice and “crackly” sugary crust once baked.

  13. Bake in the preheated oven at 200-220° C (390-425°F) for 8-10 minutes.

The texture is bread-like but deliciously sweet.

NOTE: If you want to cover with almonds slices instead of the sugar glaze I used above, brush the doves with an egg yolk wash, top the surface with almond slices, pressing them in slightly, and then sprinkle with granulated sugar crystals.

In Italy it is traditional to gift these cakes.

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