St. Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens, where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. A little later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law. Eventually he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus which he directed for five years.
He wrote a famous monastic rule which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was ordained and, in 370, made bishop of Caesaria. In this post until his death in 379, he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity. This earned for him the title of "Great" during his life and Doctor of the Church after his death.
Basil was one of the giants of the early Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82 was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity.
A Russian monk and mystic who received the high honorific title of starets, meaning in Russian, spiritual teacher. Born to a middle class family at Kursk, he was originally named Prokhor Moshnin, changing it to Seraphim upon entering a rnonastery at Sarov in 1777.
Ordained in 1793, he soon embarked upon an eremitical life in a solitary hut in the forest near the abbey, resided for a time upon a pillar, and later was walled up. After twenty-five years, he once more entered the world owing to a mystical vision which he attributed to the Virgin Mary.
He soon attracted disciples and followers who came from far and wide to receive his counsel and to partake of his spiritual program of contemplative prayer, monastic-like austerities, and rigorous self-discipline.
The Russian Orthodox Church canonized him in 1913, and his teachings have been the source of many books, making him well-known in the Western Churches.
Saint Tatiana was a Christian martyr in 3rd century Rome during the reign of Emperor Alexander Severus. She was a deaconess of the early church.
According to legend, she was the daughter of a Roman civil servant who was secretly Christian, and raised his daughter in the faith, and she became a deaconess in the church. This was dangerous, and one day the jurist Ulpian captured Tatiana and attempted to force her to make a sacrifice to Apollo. She prayed, and miraculously, an earthquake destroyed the Apollo statue and part of the temple.
Tatiana was then blinded, and beaten for two days, before being brought to a circus and thrown into the pit with a hungry lion. But the lion did not touch her and lay at her feet. This resulted in a death sentence being pronounced, and after being tortured, Tatiana was beheaded with a sword on January 12 (Julian calendar) (January 25 in the Gregorian calendar), around AD 225 or 230.
Tatiana is venerated as a saint, and her feast day is on January 12 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, January 12 currently falls on January 25 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). The miracles performed by Saint Tatiana are said to have converted many people to the fledgling religion. Saint Tatiana is patron saint of students. In Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine, Tatiana Day, also known as "Students Day", is a public holiday.
The similarity of her life with those of Martina and Prisca has led some to question whether they may even all be the same person, or if perhaps similar hagiographies were assigned to them posthumously. There is no early evidence of veneration of either Martina or Tatiana in Rome, and Prisca (or Priscilla) is hard to identify.
St. Sava was the son of Stephen I, founder of the Nemanydes dynasty, and also known as Sabas. He became a monk on Mount Athos in Greece when he was seventeen.
With his father, who abdicated in 1196, he founded Khilandrai Monastery on Mount Athos for Serbian monks and became Abbot. He returned home in 1207 when his brothers, Stephen II and Vulkan, began to quarrel, and civil war broke out. Sava brought many of his monks with him, and from the headquarters he established at Studenitsa Monastery, he founded several monasteries and began the reformation and education of the country, where religion and education had fallen to a low estate.
He was named metropolitan of a new Serbian hierarchy by Emperor Theodore II Laskaris at Nicaea; was consecrated, though for political reasons unwillingly, by Patriarch Manuel I in 1219; returned home bringing more monks from Mount Athos; and in 1222 crowned his brother Stephen II King of Serbia.
Through his efforts, he finished the uniting of his people that had been begun by his father, translated religious works into Serbian, and gave his people a native clergy and hierarchy.
He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was later sent on a second visit there on an ecclesiastical mission, and died on the way back at Tirnovo, Bulgaria, on January 14.
He is the patron of Serbia. His feast day is January 14th.
St.Vincenzo Pallotti worked selflessly looking after the poor in the urban areas of the city for most of his life. He had an intense devotion to the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, and to the Virgin Mary. His contemporaries, including the pope, considered him a saint during his life.
He longed to send missionaries to other parts of the world and founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. He strongly believed, in the spirit of St. Paul, that God wanted to save all people, and it was his intention to start a Catholic Apostolic Society. Although his visionary desire to unite the factions in the Church and to encourage lay apostolic activity did not bear fruit within his lifetime, he did his utmost to encourage this vision in others.
But St. Vincent was also well aware of the many deprivations in the natural sphere that hindered the spread of the Faith. He thus obtained and spent huge sums for the poor and underprivileged. He founded guilds for workers, agriculture schools, loan associations, orphanages and homes for girls - all of which made him the pioneer and precursor of Catholic Action.
His great legacy was the congregation which he founded for urban mission work, known as the "Society for Catholic Action". This indefatigable laborer for Christ he died in 1850 from a severe cold which he most likely caught on a cold rainy night after giving his cloak to a beggar who had none.
Pallotti was deemed a patron of Vatican II for his efforts toward building unity in the Church through such practices as inviting the people of his community to worship in the Roman parishes of Eastern Catholic Churches.
A disciple and companion of St. Paul to whom the great saint addressed one of his letters. Paul referred to Titus as "my true child in our common faith". Not mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, he was noted in Galatians where Paul writes of journeying to Jerusalem with Barnabas, accompanied by Titus. He was then dispatched to Corinth, Greece, where he successfully reconciled the Christian community there with Paul, its founder. Titus was later left on the island of Crete to help organize the Church, although he soon went to Dalmatia, Croatia. According to Eusebius of Caesarea in the Ecclesiastical Histor y, he served as the first bishop of Crete. He was buried in Cortyna (Gortyna), Crete; his head was later translated to Venice during the invasion of Crete by the Saracens in 832 and was enshrined in St. Mark’s, Venice, Italy.
Titus was an early Christian leader, a companion of Saint Paul, mentioned in several of the Pauline epistles. Titus was with Paul and Barnabas at Antioch and accompanied them to the Council of Jerusalem, although his name occurs nowhere in the Acts of the Apostles.
He appears to have been a Gentile – for Paul sternly refused to have him circumcised, because Paul believed Christ's gospel freed believers from the requirements of the 613 Mitzvot — and to have been chiefly engaged in ministering to Gentiles. At a later period, Paul's epistles place him with Paul and Saint Timothy at Ephesus, whence he was sent by Paul to Corinth, Greece for the purpose of getting the contributions of the church there on behalf of the poor Christians at Jerusalem sent forward. He rejoined Paul when he was in Macedon, and cheered him with the tidings he brought from Corinth. After this his name is not mentioned until after Paul's first imprisonment, when he was engaged in the organization of the church in Crete, where Paul had left him for this purpose. The last notice of him is in 2 Timothy 4:10, where he leaves Paul in Rome in order to travel to Dalmatia. The New Testament does not record his death.
According to tradition, Paul ordained Titus bishop of Gortyn in Crete. He died in the year 107, aged about 95.
St. Titus is the patron saint of the United States Army Chaplain Corps. The Corps has established the Order of Titus Award. According to the Department of Defense, the "Order of Titus award is the only award presented by the Chief of Chaplains to recognize outstanding performance of ministry by chaplains and chaplain assistants. The Order of Titus is awarded for meritorious contributions to the unique and highly visible Unit Ministry Team Observer Controller Program. The award recognizes the great importance of realistic, doctrinally guided combat ministry training in ensuring the delivery of prevailing religious support to the American Soldier."
The son of a Serbian king who was also a saint, St. Sabas was born Rastko c. 1173 - 76; at 17, to avoid marriage, he fled to Mt. Athos, where he became a monk and founded the Hilander Monastery. In 1196, King Stephen I of Serbia abdicated, and taking the name Symeon, joined his son on Mt. Athos. Symeon died three years later, and Sabas, Archbishop of Serbia, translated his father's relics to their native land in 1208.
Sabas wrote a history of his father's reign and a service to his father, the earliest known Serbian hynmography in Church Slavonic. Sabas copied books of law and compiled the Nomocanon, a book of canon laws. He was responsible for having liturgical documents translated from Greek into Serbian and for compiling two Serbian Typica. Because of his experience with Roman bishops and leaders on Athos after the Venetian sack of Constantinople in 1204, Sabas opposed the pro-Roman policies of his brother, Stephen II, the only Serbian king crowned by a pope. From 1217- 1219,
Sabas was in exile, during which he persuaded the patriarch of Constantinople to grant the Serbian and Bulgarian churches autocephaly. When he returned to Serbia, he recrowned his brother. Sabas resigned as archbishop in 1230 and travelled to the Holy Land, where he visited monasteries at Sketis, the Thebiad, and Mt. Sinai. He died in Bulgaria on his trip back from the Holy Land c. 1235.
King Ladislas of Serbia translated the relics of St. Sabas to Milesevo, a monastery the saint had founded shortly before his death. The Turks burned the relics in 1594.
A Christian Brother praised as a model teacher. He was born the son of a blacksmith in Mellet, Belgium, in 1841. Entering the Christian Brothers, he changed his baptismal name, Louis, to Mutien. In 1859 he was assigned to St. Bertuin's School in Maloone, where he taught for fifty-eight years. Mutien specialized in art and music. He was canonized in 1989 by Pope John Paul II.
He was born Louis-Joseph Wiaux in the small village of Mellet, now part of the town of Les Bons Villers, in French-speaking Belgium, to a devoutly Catholic family. The third of six children, his father was a blacksmith, while his mother ran a café out of their house. After the joviality of evening, where customers would enjoy the beer and card games, the family would end their day by praying the rosary together. Wiaux was a gentle, obedient boy who was marked by his piety, leading his classmates to pray at their local church at the end of the school day. After he finished elementary school, he worked as an apprentice in his father's shop, where he found that he was both physically and temperamentally unfit for this career.
A call to join a religious order, meanwhile, had begun to take root in his heart, and he considered following his brother into the Society of Jesus. The pastor of the town, the Abbé Sallié, however, spoke to the boy about the Brothers of the Christian Schools (commonly called the Christian Brothers), who were about to open a school in the nearby town of Gosselies. He went to meet them and was convinced that it was the way of life he wanted. He traveled to the city of Namur, where he entered the Brothers' novitiate on 7 April 1856, and received the habit that following July. At that time he was also given the religious name of Mutien-Marie. Mutien gained the reputation of strictly living according to the Rule of the Institute. Nonetheless, his fellow novices enjoyed his company due to his reliable sense of humor.
At first combining teaching with the spiritual life was difficult for Mutien, and his students were known as disruptive and out of control. His performance as a teacher was judged to be so poor that his Superiors considered expelling him from their Order, a teaching one, for the good name of the school. But in time, with the help of the Brother who headed the Fine Arts Department, Brother Mutien grew into an effective teacher and Prefect of discipline, known for his patience and piety. He taught music and art, a saint of sensibility not intellect. He was known within the community for being available to help with any need which arose, whether it was comforting a homesick student or going to the train station to meet a traveler unfamiliar with the city.[He also taught catechism to the children of the town at the local parish church. He was known to spend whatever time he could in prayer before the tabernacle or at the grotto of Our Lady on the school grounds.
Mutien-Marie enjoyed good health throughout his life, until November 1916 when he became noticeably ill and was sent to the house infirmary. He struggled to continue sharing the community's prayer routine. On the following 26 January, despite his weakness and the bitter cold, he was found praying at the communion rail before the Brothers' first prayer service of the day. He was clearly failing and the Brother Superior suggested that he return to the infirmary. He never left it again, dying on 30 January 1917. He was buried two days later in the Brothers' plot in the town cemetery of Malonne.
Brother Muthien's fame began to spread after his death and miracles began to be attributed to his intercession. This reputation of sanctity lead to a large number of pilgrims to Brother Mutien's grave. It reached such a degree that the decision was made to make his remains more accessible to the veneration of the public. With the opening of a process of canonization by the local diocese, his remains were moved on 11 May 1926 to a new tomb next to the parish church, right on the main street of the town. Mutien-Marie was beatified on 30 October 1977 by Pope Paul VI. Subsequent to this, a shrine was built in his honor in 1980, and his remains were moved again, to a white marble tomb within the shrine. He was canonized on 10 December 1989 by Pope John Paul II.
A Marcella is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. She was a Christian ascetic in Byzantine Era of ancient Rome. Growing up in Rome, she was influenced by her pious mother, Albina, an educated woman of wealth and benevolence. Childhood memories centered around piety, and one in particular related to The Patriarch of Constantinople, Saint Athanasius, who lodged in her home during one of his many exiles. He may have taken special interest in her, thinking back to his own youthful practice of playing church. Saint Athanasius interacted with his hosts on theological matters and recounted anecdotes of his own monastic life. His most spellbinding stories, however, were the miraculous tales of the desert monks. As a parting gift he left behind the first copy of his biography, Life of St. Anthony.
Marcella's wealth and beauty placed her at the center of fashionable Roman society. She married young, to a wealthy aristocrat, but less than a year later he died. Her time of mourning over, young men soon came calling again. After her husband's early death, she decided to devote the rest of her life to charity, prayer, and mortification of the flesh and was convinced that God was directing her to a life of poverty and service, she shocked her social circle when she left behind her fashionable dresses for a coarse brown garment and abandoned her usual extravagant hair styling and makeup. Appearing as a low-class woman, she started a trend as other young women joined her. They formed a community known as the brown dress society, spending their time praying, singing, reading the Bible, and serving the needy. Her palatial home was now a refuge for weary pilgrims and for the poor.
Summoned by Bishop Damasus (who arranges lodging at Marcella's hospitality house), Jerome arrived in 382. It was an exhilarating time for this woman of letters, who had immersed herself in both Greek and Hebrew, to be entertaining one of the great minds of the age. He spent the next three years in what he called her "domestic church," translating the Bible into Latin. She learned under his teaching even as she critiqued his translation. He spoke and wrote of her Christian devotion and scholarship and commened her influence on Anastasius, bishop of Rome — particularly in his condemning Origen's doctrines, which Jerome declared a "glorious victory." Indeed, his admiration of Marcella was unbounded, not only for her intellectual acumen but also for her deference to men who might be threatened by her vast store of knowledge.
Saint Blaise, who had studied philosophy in his youth, was a doctor in Sebaste in Armenia, the city of his birth, who exercised his art with miraculous ability, good-will, and piety. When the bishop of the city died, he was chosen to succeed him, with the acclamation of all the people. His holiness was manifest through many miracles: from all around, people came to him to find cures for their spirit and their body; even wild animals came in herds to receive his blessing.
In 316, Agricola, the governor of Cappadocia and of Lesser Armenia, having arrived in Sebastia at the order of the emperor Licinius to kill the Christians, arrested the bishop. As he was being led to prison, a mother set her only son, choking to death of a fish-bone, at his feet, and the child was cured straight away. Regardless, the governor, unable to make Blaise renounce his faith, beat him with a stick, ripped his flesh with iron combs, and beheaded him.
In iconography, Blaise is often shown with the instruments of his martyrdom, steel combs. He blessed throats and effected many miracles according to his hagiography. The similarity of these instruments of torture to wool combs led to his adoption as the patron saint of wool combers in particular, and the wool trade in general. He may also be depicted with crossed candles. Such crossed candles are used for the blessing of throats on his feast day, which falls on 3 February, the day after Candlemas on the Roman Catholic calendar of saints.
Blaise is traditionally believed to intercede in cases of throat illnesses, especially for fish-bones stuck in the throat.
Indeed, the first reference we have to him is in manuscripts of the medical writings of Aëtius Amidenus, a court physician of the very end of the 5th or the beginning of the 6th century; there his aid is invoked in treating objects stuck in the throat. He cured animals and lived in a cave. Before being killed, he spoke to a wolf and told it to release a pig it was harming. The wolf did so. Blaise was going to be starved but the owner of the pig secretly gave him food in order to survive. After a while, he was tortured because of his Christian faith but did not give up his beliefs. He died in the year 316.
Marco Polo reported the place where "Meeser Saint Blaise obtained the glorious crown of martyrdom", Sebastea; the shrine near the citadel mount was mentioned by William of Rubruck in 1253. However, it appears to no longer exist.
Although we have evidence that Agatha was venerated at least as far back as the sixth century, the only facts we have about her are that she was born in Sicily and died there a martyr.
In the legend of her life, we are told that she belonged to a rich, important family. When she was young, she dedicated her life to God and resisted any men who wanted to marry her or have sex with her.
One of these men, Quintian, was of a high enough rank that he felt he could force her to acquiesce. Knowing she was a Christian in a time of persecution, he had her arrested and brought before the judge - - himself. He expected her to give in to when faced with torture and possible death, but she simply affirmed her belief in God by praying: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil."
Legend tells us that Quintian imprisoned her in a brothel in order to get her to change her mind. Quintian brought her back before him after she had suffered a month of assault and humiliation in the brothel, but Agatha had never wavered, proclaiming that her freedom came from Jesus. Quintian sent her to prison, instead of back to the brothel -- a move intended to make her more afraid, but which probably was a great relief to her. When she continued to profess her faith in Jesus, Quintian had her tortured. He refused her any medical care but God gave her all the care she needed in the form of a vision of St. Peter. When she was tortured again, she died after saying a final prayer: "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul."
Because one of the tortures she supposedly suffered was to have her breasts cut off, she was often depicted carrying her breasts on a plate. It is thought that blessing of the bread that takes place on her feast may have come from the mistaken notion that she was carrying loaves of bread.
Because she was asked for help during the eruption of Mount Etna she is considered a protector against the outbreak of fire. She is also considered the patroness of bellmakers; as it may have something to do with the fact that bells were used as fire alarms.
This great missionary was born in lower Poitou about the year 584. At the age of twenty, he retired to a small monastery in the island of Yeu, near that of Re. He had not been there more than a year when his father discovered him and tried to persuade him to return home. When he threatened to disinherit him, the saint cheerfully replied, "Christ is my only inheritance." Amand afterward went to Tours, where he was ordained, and then to Bourges, where he lived fifteen years under the direction of St. Austregisilus, the bishop, in a cell near the cathedral.
After a pilgrimage to Rome, he returned to France and was consecrated bishop in 629 without any fixed See, receiving a general commission to teach the Faith to the heathens. He preached the gospel in Flanders and northern France, with a brief excursion to the Slavs in Carinthia and perhaps, to Gascony. He reproved King Dagobert I for his crimes and accordingly, was banished. But Dagobert soon recalled him, and asked him to baptize his newborn son Sigebert, afterwards to become a king and a saint. The people about Ghent were so ferociously hostile that no preacher dared venture among them. This moved Amand to attempt that mission, in the course of which he was sometimes beaten and thrown into the river. He persevered, however, and in the end people came in crowds and in droves to be baptized.
As well as being a great missionary, St. Amand was a father of monasticism in ancient Belgium, and a score of monasteries claimed him as founder. He found houses at Elnone (Saint-Amand-les-Eaux), near Tournai, which became his headquarters, St. Peters on Mont-Blendin at Ghent, Nivells, for nuns, with Blessed Ida and St. Gertrude, Barisis-au-Bois, and probably three more.
It is said, though possibly apocryphal, that in 646 he was chosen bishop of Maestricht, but that three years later, he resigned that See to St. Remaclus and returned to the missions which he had always had most at heart. He continued his labors among the heathens until a great age, when, broken with infirmities, he retired to Elnone. There he governed as Abbot for four years, spending his time in preparing for the death which came to him at last soon after 676. That St. Amand was one of the most imposing figures of the Merovingian epoch, is disputed by no serious historian; he was not unknown in England, and the pre-Reformation chapel of the Eyston family at east Hendred in Birkshire is dedicated in his honor.
She was born Alessandra Lucrezia Romola de' Ricci in Florence to Pier Francesco de' Ricci, of a patrician family, and his wife, Caterina Bonza, who died soon after. At age 6 or 7, her father enrolled her in a school run by a monastery of Benedictine nuns in the Monticelli quarter of the city, near their home, where her aunt, Luisa de' Ricci, was the abbess. She was a very prayerful person from a very young age. There she developed a lifelong devotion to the Passion of Christ. After a short time outside the monastery she entered the Convent of St Vincent in Prato, Tuscany, a cloistered community of Religious Sisters of the Third Order of St. Dominic, disciples of the noted Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, who followed the strict regimen of life she desired. In May 1535 she received the religious habit from her uncle, Friar Timoteo de' Ricci, O.P., who was confessor to the convent, and the religious name of Catherine, after the Dominican tertiary, Catherine of Siena.
De' Ricci's period of novitiate was a time of trial. She would experience ecstasies during her routine, which caused her to seem asleep during community prayer services, dropping plates and food, so much so that the community began to question her competence, if not her sanity. Eventually the other Sisters became aware of the spiritual basis for her behavior. By the age of 30 she had risen to the post of prioress.
As the prioress, De' Ricci developed into an effective and greatly admired administrator. She was an advisor on various topics to princes, bishops and cardinals. She corresponded with three figures who were destined to become popes: Pope Marcellus II, Pope Clement VIII, and Pope Leo XI. An expert on religion, management and administration, her advice was widely sought. She gave counsel both in person and through exchanging letters. It is reported that she was extremely effective and efficient in her work, managing her priorities very well.
It is claimed that De' Ricci's meditation on the Passion of Christ was so deep that she spontaneously bled, as if scourged. She also bore the Stigmata. During times of deep prayer, like Catherine of Siena, her patron saint, a coral ring representing her marriage to Christ, appeared on her finger.
It is reported that De' Ricci wore an iron chain around her neck, engaged in extreme fasting and other forms of penance and sacrifice, especially for souls in Purgatory.
One of the miracles that was documented for her canonization was her appearance many hundreds of miles away from where she was physically located. This involved meeting in a vision St. Philip Neri, a resident of Rome, with whom she had maintained a long-term correspondence. Neri, who was otherwise very reluctant to discuss miraculous events, confirmed the event.
De' Ricci lived in the convent until her death in 1590 after a prolonged illness. Her remains are visible under the altar of the Minor Basilica of Santi Vicenzo e Caterina de' Ricci, Prato, which is next to the convent associated with her life.
Saint Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, in the calendar of F. Fronto and that of Allatius, in Bede, Usuard, Ado, Notker and all other martyrologies on this day. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.
The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.
The first representation of Saint Valentine appeared in a The Nuremberg Chronicle, a great illustrated book printed in 1493. [Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine.] Alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome, when helping them was considered a crime, Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate.
Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."
St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.
In St. Matthew's Gospel, we read of St. Simon or Simeon who is described as one of our Lord's brethren or kinsmen. His father was Cleophas, St. Joseph's brother, and his mother, according to some writers, was our Lady's sister. He would therefore be our Lord's first cousin and is supposed to have been about eight years older than He.
No doubt he is one of those brethren of Christ who are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as having received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. St. Epiphanius says that when the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser, his brother Simeon upbraided them for their cruelty. The apostles and disciples afterwards met together to appoint a successor to James as bishop of Jerusalem, and they unanimously chose Simeon, who had probably assisted his brother in the government of that church.
In the year 66 civil war broke out in Palestine, as a consequence of Jewish opposition to the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned of the impending destruction of the city and appear to have been divinely ordered to leave it. Accordingly that same year, before Vespasian entered Judaea, they retired with St. Simeon at their head to the other side of the Jordan, occupying a small city called Pella.
After the capture and burning of Jerusalem, the Christians returned and settled among the ruins until the Emperor Hadrian afterwards entirely razed it. We are told by St. Epiphanius and by Eusebius that the church here flourished greatly, and that many Jews were converted by the miracles wrought by the saints. When Vespasian and Domitian had ordered the destruction of all who were of the race of David, St. Simeon had escaped their search; but when Trajan gave a similar injunction, he was denounced as being not only one of David's descendants, but also a Christian, and he was brought before Atticus, the Roman governor.
He was condemned to death and, after being tortured, was crucified. Although he was extremely old - tradition reports him to have attained the age of 120 - Simeon endured his sufferings with a degree of fortitude which roused the admiration of Atticus himself. His feast day is February 18.
Saint Margaret of Cortona, was an Italian penitent of the Third Order of St. Francis. She was born in Laviano, near Perugia, and died in Cortona. She was canonized in 1728.
She is the patron saint of the falsely accused; hoboes; homeless; insane; orphaned; mentally ill; midwives; penitents; single mothers; reformed prostitutes; stepchildren; tramps.
At the age of seven, Margaret's mother died and her father remarried. Little love was shared between stepmother and stepdaughter. At the age of 17 she met a young man, named Arsenio according to some accounts, the son of Gugliemo di Pecora, lord of Valiano. She ran away with him. For ten years she lived with him in his house near Montepulciano and bore him a son. She wanted to marry him as he had promised, but he refused.
When (his name is never given) failed to return home from a journey one day, Margaret became worried. The unaccompanied return of his favourite hound alarmed Margaret, and the hound led her to his murdered body which was located deep in a forest. This crime shocked Margaret into a life of prayer and penance, and Margaret returned all the gifts he had given her and left his home. With her child, she returned to her father's house but her stepmother would not have her. Margaret and son then went to the Franciscan friars at Cortona, where she put herself in their care at the Church of Saint Francis in the city. She fasted, avoided meat, and subsisted on bread and vegetables.
After three years, Saint Margaret joined the Third Order of Saint Francis (not without some resistance by the members of the Order, due to her past) and chose to live in poverty. Following the example of St. Francis of Assisi, she begged for sustenance and bread.
In 1277, while in prayer, she heard the words: "What is your wish, poverella (little poor one)?" and she replied: "I neither seek nor wish for anything but You, my Lord Jesus." She began regular communications with God. She asked the city of Cortona to found a hospital for the sick, homeless and impoverished. To secure nurses for the hospital, she instituted a congregation of Tertiary Sisters, known as "le poverelle". She also established a link to Our Lady of Mercy and the members bound themselves to support the hospital and to help the needy.
On several occasions, St. Margaret participated in public affairs. Twice following Divine command, she challenged the Bishop of Arezzo, Guglielmo Ubertini Pazzi, in whose diocese Cortona lay, because he lived like a prince. She moved to the ruined Church of St. Basil and spent her remaining years there and it is there that she was buried. After her death, the Church was rebuilt in her honor. St. Margaret was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII on May 16, 1728.
Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.
But being part of the second generation of Church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. What did you do when those eyewitnesses were gone? How do you carry on the correct teachings of Jesus? How do you answer new questions that never came up before?
With the apostles gone, heresies sprang up pretending to be true teaching, persecution was strong, and controversies arose over how to celebrate liturgy that Jesus never laid down rules for.
Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer -- to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp "your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock."
When faced with heresy, he showed the "candid face" that Ignatius admired and that imitated Jesus' response to the Pharisees. Marcion, the leader of the Marcionites who followed a dualistic heresy, confronted Polycarp and demanded respect by saying, "Recognize us, Polycarp." Polycarp responded, "I recognize you, yes, I recognize the son of Satan."
On the other hand when faced with Christian disagreements he was all forgiveness and respect. One of the controversies of the time came over the celebration of Easter. The East, where Polycarp was from, celebrated the Passover as the Passion of Christ followed by a Eucharist on the following day. The West celebrated Easter on the Sunday of the week following Passover. When Polycarp went to Rome to discuss the difference with Pope Anicetus, they could not agree on this issue. But they found no difference in their Christian beliefs. And Anicetus asked Polycarp to celebrate the Eucharist in his own papal chapel.
Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the "gospel model" -- not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God's will as Jesus did. They considered it "a sign of love to desire not to save oneself alone, but to save also all the Christian brothers and sisters."
One day, during a bloody martyrdom when Christians were attacked by wild animals in the arena, the crowd became so mad that they demanded more blood by crying, "Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found." (They considered Christians "atheists" because they didn't believe in their pantheon of gods.) Since Polycarp was not only known as a leader but as someone holy "even before his grey hair appeared", this was a horrible demand.
Polycarp was calm but others persuaded him to leave the city and hide at a nearby farm. He spent his time in prayer for people he knew and for the Church. During his prayer he saw a vision of his pillow turned to fire and announced to his friends that the dream meant he would be burned alive.
As the search closed in, he moved to another farm, but the police discovered he was there by torturing two boys. He had a little warning since he was upstairs in the house but he decided to stay, saying, "God's will be done."
Then he went downstairs, talked to his captors and fed them a meal. All he asked of them was that they give him an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had every known and for the Church, "remembering all who had at any time come his way -- small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world." Many of his captors started to wonder why they were arresting this holy, eighty-six-year-old bishop.
But that didn't stop them from taking him into the arena on the Sabbath. As he entered the arena, the crowd roared like the animals they cheered. Those around Polycarp heard a voice from heaven above the crowd, "Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man."
The proconsul begged the eighty-six-year-old bishop to give in because of his age. "Say 'Away with the atheists'" the proconsul urged. Polycarp calmly turned to the face the crowd, looked straight at them, and said, "Away with the atheists." The proconsul continued to plead with him. When he asked Polycarp to swear by Caesar to save himself, Polycarp answered, "If you imagine that I will swear by Caesar, you do not know who I am. Let me tell you plainly, I am a Christian." Finally, when all else failed the proconsul reminded Polycarp that he would be thrown to the wild animals unless he changed his mind. Polycarp answered, "Change of mind from better to worse is not a change allowed to us."
Because of Polycarp's lack of fear, the proconsul told him he would be burned alive but Polycarp knew that the fire that burned for an hour was better than eternal fire.
When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, "Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."
The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn't being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.
The proconsul wouldn't let the Christians have the body because he was afraid they would worship Polycarp. The witnesses reported this with scorn for the lack of understanding of Christian faith: "They did not know that we can never abandon the innocent Christ who suffered on behalf of sinners for the salvation of those in this world." After the body was burned, they stole the bones in order to celebrate the memory of his martyrdom and prepare others for persecution. The date was about February 23, 156. greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.
St. Walburga was born in Devonshire, England of a family of the local aristocracy. She was the daughter of St. Richard the Pilgrim, one of the under-kings of the West Saxons, and of Winna, sister of St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, and had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald. He is buried in the Basilica of San Frediano, Lucca, where he died on pilgrimage in 722. Saint Richard is also known the Richard the Saxon Pilgrim, of Droitwich.
St. Richard, when starting with his two sons on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, entrusted Walburga, then eleven years old, to the abbess of Wimborne. Walburga was educated by the nuns of Wimborne Abbey, Dorset, where she spent twenty-six years as a member of the community. She then travelled with her brothers, Saints Willibald and Winibald, to Francia (now Württemberg and Franconia) to assist Saint Boniface, her mother's brother, in evangelizing among the still-pagan Germans. Because of her rigorous training, she was able to write her brother Winibald's vita and an account in Latin of his travels in Palestine. As a result, she is often called the first female author of both England and Germany.
Walburga became a nun in the double monastery of Heidenheim am Hahnenkamm, which was founded by her brother, Willibald, who appointed her as his successor. Following his death in 751, she became the abbess. Walburga died on 25 February in either 777 or 779 and was buried at Heidenheim; the day carries her name in the Catholic church calendar.
In the 870s, Walpurga's remains were transferred to Eichstätt. In Finland, Sweden, and Bavaria, her feast day commemorates the transfer of her relics on 1 May.
Saint Katharine Drexel, Born in 1858, into a prominent Philadelphia family, Katharine became imbued with love for God and neighbor. She took an avid interest in the material and spiritual well-being of black and native Americans. She began by donating money but soon concluded that more was needed - the lacking ingredient was people. Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Black and Native American peoples, whose members would work for the betterment of those they were called to serve. From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, she dedicated her life and a fortune of 20 million dollars to this work. In 1894, Mother Drexel took part in opening the first mission school for Indians, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other schools quickly followed - for Native Americans west of the Mississippi River, and for the blacks in the southern part of the United States. In 1915 she also founded Xavier University in New Orleans. At her death there were more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country. Katharine was beatified by Pope John Paul II on November 20, 1988.
Because of her lifelong dedication to her faith and her selfless service to the oppressed, Pope John Paul II canonized her on October 1, 2000 to become only the second recognized American-born saint.
Katharine Drexel was born Catherine Marie Drexel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 26, 1858, the second child of investment banker Francis Anthony Drexel and Hannah Langstroth. Her family owned a considerable fortune, and her uncle Anthony Joseph Drexel was the founder of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Hannah died five weeks after her baby's birth. For two years Katharine and her sister, Elizabeth, were cared for by their aunt and uncle, Ellen and Anthony Drexel. When Francis married Emma Bouvier in 1860 he brought his two daughters home. A third daughter, Louise, was born in 1863. The girls were educated at home by tutors. They had the added advantage of touring parts of the United States and Europe with their parents Twice a week, the Drexels distributed food, clothing and rent assistance from their family home at 1503 Walnut Street in Philadelphia. When widows or lonely single women were too proud to come to the Drexels for assistance, the family sought them out, but always quietly. As Emma Drexel taught her daughters, "Kindness may be unkind if it leaves a sting behind."
As a wealthy young woman, she made her social debut in 1879. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal cancer, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor.
When the family took a trip to the Western part of the United States in 1884, Catharine, saw the plight and destitution of the native Indian-Americans. This experience aroused her desire to do something specific to help alleviate their condition. This was the beginning of her lifelong personal and financial support of numerous missions and missionaries in the United States. After her father’s death in 1885, she and her sisters contributed money to help the St. Francis Mission on South Dakota’s Rosebud Reservation.
Catherine and her sisters were still recovering their father's death when they went to Europe in 1886. In January 1887 during a private audience with Pope Leo XIII, and asking him for missionaries to staff some of the Indian missions that she as a lay person was financing, she was surprised to hear the Pope suggest that she become a missionary herself. In May 1889 she entered the Sisters of Mercy Convent in Pittsburgh to begin her six-month postulancy.
In 1935 Mother Katharine suffered a heart attack, and in 1937 she relinquished the office of superior general. Though gradually becoming more infirm, she was able to devote her last years to Eucharistic adoration, and so fulfil her life’s desire. She died at the age of 96 at Cornwell Heights, Pennsylvania, on 3 March 1955, where she is buried.
St. Casimir grew up in a world where his life was not his own. As a prince of Poland, the second son of King Casimir IV and Elizabeth of Austria, his life was scheduled to cement his father's authority and increase Poland's power.
Casimir realized from an early age that his life belonged to someone else, but to a much higher King than his father. Despite pressure, humiliation, and rejection, he stood by that loyalty through his whole life.
Born the third of thirteen children in 1461, Casimir was committed to God from childhood. Some of that commitment was the result of a tutor, John Dlugosz, whose holiness encouraged Casimir on his own journey.
It may be hard for us to imagine royal luxury as a pressure. But for Casimir, the riches around him were temptations to forget his true loyalties. Rebelling against the rich, fashionable clothes he was expected to enjoy, he wore the plainest of clothes.
Rejecting even ordinary comforts, he slept little, spending his nights in prayer. And when he did sleep, he lay on the floor not on a royal bed. Even though he was a prince, many of those around him must have laughed and joked at his choices. Yet, in the face of any pressure, Casimir was always friendly and calm.
Though his father must have wondered about him, he must have seen and admired Casimir's strength. He showed that he misunderstood this strength when he sent Casimir as head of an army to take over the throne of Hungary at the request of some nobles there. Casimir felt the whole expedition was wrong but was convinced to go out of obedience to his father. He could not help but feel at every step that it was disobedient to his other Father. So when soldiers started deserting, he was only too glad to listen to the advice of his officers and turn back home. His feelings were confirmed when he discovered that Pope Sixtus IV had opposed the move.
His father, however, was furious at being deterred from his plans and banished Casimir to a castle in Dobzki, hoping that imprisonment would change Casimir's mind. Casimir's commitment to what he believed was right only grew stronger in his exile and he refused to cooperate with his father's plans any more despite the pressure to give in. He even rejected a marriage alliance his father tried to form. He participated in his true King's plans wholeheartedly by praying, studying, and helping the poor.
He died at the age of 23 in 1484 from lung disease. He was buried with his favorite song, a Latin hymn to Mary called "Omni die dic Mariae" which we know as "Daily, Daily Sing to Mary." Because of his love for the song, it is known as the Hymn of St. Casimir though he didn't write it.
St. Casimir is patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.
St. Catherine of Bologna, Virgin (Patroness of Artists) Feast - March 9th Born in 1413, Catherine de Vigri was the daughter of a diplomatic agent of the Marquis of Ferrara. At the age of eleven, she was appointed maid of honor to the daughter of the Marquis and shared her training and education. When the daughter eventually married, she wanted Catherine to remain in her service, but Catherine left the court and became a Franciscan Tertiary at the age of fourteen.
Catherine had determined to live a life of perfection, and was admired by her companions for her holiness. Eventually her Community became part of the Poor Clares. She soon began to experience visions of Christ and Satan, and wrote of her experiences, one of which occurred one Christmas. Through her efforts with Pope Nicholas V, the Poor Clare convent at Ferrara erected an enclosure, and Catherine was appointed Superioress. The reputation of the Community for its holiness and austerity became widespread. She then was appointed Superioress of a new convent in Bologna.
In Lent of 1463, Catherine became seriously ill, and she died on March 9th. Buried without a coffin, her body was exhumed eighteen days later because of cures attributed to her and also because of the sweet scent coming from her grave. Her body was found to be incorrupt and remains so today in the Church of the Poor Clare convent in Bologna. She was canonized in 1712.
Despite the opportunity to live a noble life at court, St. Catherine eagerly responded to her call to lead the religious life. Her piety, charity, and kindness attracted many to follow her along the road to perfection. The beauty of her life and death encourages us to resolve to live in perfect charity as a Lenten goal.
Saint Seraphina was born in San Gimignano, Italy, to a poor family. She was known for her self denial and acts of penance as a young girl. A mysterious illness left this beautiful girl unattractive; her eyes, feet, and hands became deformed and eventually Seraphina was paralyzed. Her mother and father both died while she was young. She was devoted to St. Gregory the Great. She died on the feast of St. Gregory, exactly as she had been warned by Gregory in a dream. Seraphina was a very helpful child around the family home. She did many of the chores and helped her mother spin and sew. Her feastday is March 12.
Saint Fina (1238–1253), or Saint Serafina, was an Italian Christian girl who is venerated in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano.
Fina dei Ciardi was born in San Gimignano on 1238. Daughter of Cambio Ciardi and Imperiera, a declined noble family, she lived all her existence in a humble house located in the historic centre of the famous "city of beautiful towers" (today the small road on which her house stands takes her name). There is little record of the first ten years of her life, and what information we have comes from legends narrated after her death. Some documents say that she was very devoted to the Virgin and she went out only to attend mass. She was said to be extraordinarily kind.
In 1248 Fina’s life was changed by a serious illness, which began, progressively, to paralyse her (probably a form of tuberculosis like osteomyelitis). Her deep faith relieved her pain. She refused a bed and chose instead to lie on a wooden pallet. According to her legend, during her long sickness her body became attached to the wood of the table, and worms and rats fed on her rotting flesh. During her illness, she lost her father and later her mother died after a fall. In spite of her misfortune and poverty she thanked God and expressed a desire that her soul might separate from the body in order to meet Jesus Christ.
Fina's immense devotion was an example to all the citizens of San Gimignano, who frequently visited her. Visitors were surprised to receive words of encouragement from a desperately ill young girl who was resigned to the will of God. On March 4, 1253, after five years of sickness and pain, while her nurses Beldia and Bonaventura were waiting for her to pass away, Saint Gregory the Great allegedly appeared in Fina’s room and predicted that she would die on the 12th of March. Fina died on the predicted date. She was only 15 years old.
St. Alexander, Bishop and Martyr. Alexander was a student with Origen at the famous Christian school of Alexandria in the late second century. He became bishop of Cappadocia and during the persecution of Severus was imprisoned for several years (204-211). Following his release from prison, he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and was proclaimed coadjutor bishop there in the year 212.
Demetrius, the bishop of Alexandria, censured Alexander for participating in the ordination of Origen and for encouraging Origen to teach in churches while still a layman. Despite this, Alexander received Origen in exile. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Alexander developed a great theological library. During the persecution of Decius, he was seized and again imprisoned. After making a public confession of faith, he was condemned and thrown to the wild beasts, but they refused to attack him.
Alexander was then taken to Caesarea where he died in chains in the year 251. The Church recognizes him as a martyr. St. Alexander, despite his great learning and important ecclesiastical positions, was known as an individual of great mildness, especially in his sermons. When put to the test during two persecutions, he remained steadfast in faith and was willing to suffer death for the Faith.
Today when we are criticized by friends and society for the moral tenets of our Faith, St. Alexander is a prime example of how we should stand fast in the face of ridicule and ostracism.
Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture and that has seemed too little for those who made up legends about him.
We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).
Despite his humble work and means, Joseph came from a royal lineage. Luke and Matthew disagree some about the details of Joseph's genealogy but they both mark his descent from David, the greatest king of Israel (Matthew 1:1-16 and Luke 3:23-38). Indeed the angel who first tells Joseph about Jesus greets him as "son of David," a royal title used also for Jesus.
We know Joseph was a compassionate, caring man. When he discovered Mary was pregnant after they had been betrothed, he knew the child was not his but was as yet unaware that she was carrying the Son of God. He planned to divorce Mary according to the law but he was concerned for her suffering and safety. He knew that women accused to adultery could be stoned to death, so he decided to divorce her quietly and not expose her to shame or cruelty (Matthew 1:19-25).
We know Joseph was man of faith, obedient to whatever God asked of him without knowing the outcome. When the angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him the truth about the child Mary was carrying, Joseph immediately and without question or concern for gossip, took Mary as his wife. When the angel came again to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything he owned, all his family and friends, and fled to a strange country with his young wife and the baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Matthew 2:13-23).
We know Joseph loved Jesus. His one concern was for the safety of this child entrusted to him. Not only did he leave his home to protect Jesus, but upon his return settled in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple we are told Joseph (along with Mary) searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Luke 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son for over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, "Is this not the son of Joseph?" (Luke 4:22)
We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.
Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry.
Joseph is the patron of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth.
Joseph is also patron of the universal Church, fathers, carpenters, and social justice.
We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker.
There is much we wish we could know about Joseph -- where and when he was born, how he spent his days, when and how he died. But Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was -- "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:18).
In His Footsteps:
Joseph was foster father to Jesus. There are many children separated from families and parents who need foster parents. Please consider contacting your local Catholic Charities or Division of Family Services about becoming a foster parent.
Saint Joseph, patron of the universal Church, watch over the Church as carefully as you watched over Jesus, help protect it and guide it as you did with your adopted son. Amen
Saint Rafqa was born in Hemlaya, Lebanon on June 29, 1832. She was the only child of her parents, Saber El-Choboq El-Rayess and Rafqa Gemayel. She was baptized on July 7, 1832 and named Boutroussieh. Her parents were devout Christians and taught her daily prayers. By all accounts, her childhood was happy and simple, until she was just 7 years old and her mother, Rafqa died.
The death of her mother started a period of tribulation for Rafqa and her father, who soon experienced financial difficulties. Rafqa was sent to work as a domestic servant for four years to help support the family. During that period, she worked in Damascus, away from her father.
In 1847, she returned to find that her father had remarried and his new wife desired that Rafqa marry her brother. At the same time, an aunt wanted to arrange a marriage between Rafqa and her cousin. Rafqa was left to decide what to do with herself, split between two potential suitors and under pressure from family to make two different choices. She turned to prayer and asked God to guide her. Her answer surprised everyone. Rafqa would marry neither man, but instead would devote her life to Jesus and become a nun.
According to legend, when she entered the convent of Our Lady of Deliverance and gazed upon the icon of Our Lady of Deliverance, she heard the voice of God tell her "You will become a nun."
In 1861, she returned to her congregation and become a novice. On March 19, 1862, she took her temporary vows and was assigned to kitchen service in a seminary.
Rafqa spent her free time learning Arabic, writing, and arithmetic. She also helped convince other girls to join the congregation. In 1863, she continued working as a teacher, first at a school belonging to her congregation in Byblos, then Maad village where she and a fellow sister established a new school for girls.
Sister Rafqa took her solemn vows on Augist 25, 1872.
In October 1885, Sister Rafqa made an unusual request of Jesus, asking to share in his suffering. She immediately began to experience pain in her head, which moved to her eyes. Her superior was concerned about Rafqa's pain and ordered that she be examined by doctors and sent to Beirut for treatment.
As she passed through the nearby church in Byblos, the congregation made note that an American doctor was in the area. The located the doctor who recommended immediate surgery for Sister Rafqa.
During the surgery, she refused anesthesia, and the doctor made a mistake which caused her eye to emerge from its socket and fall to the floor. Sister Rafqa, instead of panicking, blessed the doctor, saying "For Christ's passion, god bless your hands and may God repay you."
The surgery did not succeed. Shortly thereafter, pain entered her left eye.
For the next 12 years, she experienced pain in her remaining eye and headaches. At no point did she reverse her wish to share in Christ's suffering. Instead, she remained joyful in prayer and patient in her suffering. She remained quiet for long periods, speaking infrequently, but always joyously.
In 1887, Sister Rafqa was sent with five other sisters to found a new monastery in Jrabta, Batroun in Lebanon. She did as she was asked, working patiently and diligently as she was able despite her suffering. In 1899, she became blind and paralysis set in.
Eventually she was confined to bed, mostly paralyzed and only able to lie on her right side. Her body withered, but her hands remained capable, and she used them to knit socks. A wound developed in left shoulder, which she referred to as "the wound in the shoulder of Jesus." This continued for seven years.
On March 23, 1914, she received her last communion and called upon Jesus and the Holy Family, then went to her reward in Heaven.
After she was buried in the monastery cemetery, a light appeared on her grave for three consecutive light and was witnessed by many.
Pope John Paul declared her venerable on Feb. 11, 1982, and she was beatified on Nov. 17, 1985. She was finally recognized as a saint on July 10, 2001.
Benedict the Moor was born a slave near Messina, Italy. He was freed by his master, became a solitary, eventually settling with other hermits at Montepellegrino. He was made superior of the community, but when he was about thirty-eight, Pope Pius IV disbanded communities of solitaries and he became a Franciscan lay brother.
He cooked at St. Mary's convent near Palermo. He was appointed against his will, superior of the convent when it opted for the reform, though he could neither read nor write. After serving as superior, he became a novice master but asked to be relieved of his post and returned to his former position as cook. His holiness, reputation for miracles, and his fame as a confessor brought hordes of visitors to see the obscure and humble cook.
He died at the convent, was canonized in 1807, and is the patron saint of blacks in the United States. The surname "the Moor" is a misnomer originating from the Italian IL MORO (the black.) His feast day is April 4th.
St. Julie (Julia) Billiart was born in 1751 and died in 1816. As a child, playing "school" was Julie's favorite game. When she was sixteen, to help support her family, she began to teach "for real". She sat on a haystack during the noon recess and told the biblical parables to the workers. Julie carried on this mission of teaching throughout her life, and the Congregation she founded continues her work.
Julie was the fifth of seven children. She attended a little one room school in Cuvilly. She enjoyed all of her studies, but she was particularly attracted to the religion lessons taught by the parish priest. Recognizing something "special" in Julie, the priest secretly allowed her to make her First Communion at the age of nine, when the normal age at that time, was thirteen. She learned to make short mental prayers and to develop a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist.
A murder attempt on her father shocked her nervous system badly. A period of extremely poor heath for Julie began, and was to last for thirty years. For twenty-two of these years she was completely paralyzed. All of her sufferings and pain she offered up to God.
When the French Revolution broke out, Julie offered her home as a hiding place for loyal priests. Because of this, Julie became a hunted prey. Five times in three years she was forced to flee in secret to avoid compromising her friends who were hiding her.
At this time she was privileged to receive a vision. She saw her crucified Lord surrounded by a large group of religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen before. An inner voice told her that these would be her daughters and that she would begin an institute for the Christian education of young girls. She and a rich young woman founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
At Amiens, the two women and a few companions began living a religious life in 1803. In 1804, Julie was miraculously cured of her illness and walked for the first time in twenty-two years. In 1805, Julie and three companions made their profession and took their final vows. She was elected as Mother General of the young Congregation.
In 1815, Mother taxed her ever poor health by nursing the wounded and feeding the starving left from the battle of Waterloo. For the last three months of her life, she again suffered much. She died peacefully on April 8, 1816 at 64 years of age. Julie was beatified on May 13, 1906, and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Her feast day is April 8th.
According to tradition, Stanisław was born at Szczepanów, a village in Lesser Poland, the only son of the noble and pious Wielisław and Bogna. He was educated at a cathedral school in Gniezno (then the capital of Poland) and later, according to different sources, in Paris or Liège. On his return to Poland, Stanisław was ordained a priest by Lambert II Suła, Bishop of Kraków.
After the Bishop's death (1072), Stanisław was elected his successor but accepted the office only at the explicit command of Pope Alexander II. Stanisław was one of the earliest native Polish bishops. He also became a ducal advisor and had some influence on Polish politics.
Stanisław's major accomplishments included bringing papal legates to Poland, and reestablishment of a metropolitan see in Gniezno. The latter was a precondition for Duke Bolesław's coronation as king, which took place in 1076. Stanisław then encouraged King Bolesław to establish Benedictine monasteries to aid in the Christianization of Poland.
A conflict with King Bolesław arose after a prolonged war in Ruthenia, when weary warriors deserted home, alarmed at tidings that their overseers were taking over their estates and wives. According to Kadłubek, the King punished the soldiers' faithless wives very cruelly and was criticized for it by Bishop Stanisław. Jan Długosz, however, writes that the Bishop had in fact criticized the King for his own sexual immorality. According to recent historians, Stanisław took part in a plot of nobles, aimed to gain more powers or dethrone the king. Gallus Anonymus in his laconic account only condemned both "traitor bishop" and violent king.
Whatever the actual cause of the conflict between them, the result was that the Bishop excommunicated King Bolesław, which included forbidding the saying of the Divine Office by the canons of Cracow cathedral in case Bolesław attended. The excommunication aided the King's political opponents, and the King accused Bishop Stanisław of treason and had him killed.
King Bolesław sent his men to execute Bishop Stanisław without trial but when they didn't dare to touch the Bishop, the King decided to kill the traitor himself. He is said to have slain Stanisław while he was celebrating Mass in the Skałka outside the walls of Kraków. According to Paweł Jasienica: Polska Piastów, it was actually in the Wawel castle. The Bishop's body was then hacked to pieces and thrown into a pool outside the church. According to the legend, his members miraculously reintegrated while the pool was guarded by four eagles.
The murder stirred outrage through the land and led to the dethronement of King Bolesław II the Bold, who had to seek refuge in Hungary and was succeeded by his brother, Władysław I Herman.
Marie-Bernarde Soubirous, 7 January 1844 – 16 April 1879 was a miller's daughter born in Lourdes, France and is venerated as a Saint in the Catholic Church.
Soubirous is best known for her Marian apparitions of "a small young lady" who asked for a chapel to be built at a cave-grotto in Massabielle where the apparitions occurred between 11 February and 16 July 1858. She would later receive recognition when the lady who appeared to her identified herself as the Immaculate Conception.
On 11 February 1858, Bernadette, then aged 14, was out gathering firewood and bones with her sister Marie and a friend near the grotto of Massabielle when she had her first vision. As she recounted later, while the other girls crossed the little stream in front of the grotto and walked on, Bernadette stayed behind, looking for a place to cross where she wouldn't get her stockings wet. She finally sat down in the grotto to take her shoes off in order to cross the water and was lowering her first stocking when she heard the sound of rushing wind, but nothing moved. A wild rose in a natural niche in the grotto, however, did move. From the niche, or rather the dark alcove behind it, "came a dazzling light, and a white figure." This was the first of 18 visions of what she referred to as aquero, Gascon Occitan for "that". In later testimony, she called it "a small young lady". Her sister and her friend stated that they had seen nothing.
On 14 February, after Sunday mass, Bernadette, with her sister Marie and some other girls, returned to the grotto. Bernadette knelt down immediately, saying she saw aquero again and falling into a trance. When one of the girls threw holy water at the niche and another threw a rock from above that shattered on the ground, the apparition disappeared. Bernadette fell into a state of shock and the girl who had thrown the rock thought she had killed her. On her next visit, 18 February, she said that "the vision" asked her to return to the grotto every day for a fortnight.
This period of almost daily visions came to be known as la Quinzaine sacrée, "holy fortnight." She described the lady as wearing a white veil, a blue girdle and with a yellow rose on each foot — compatible with "a description of any statue of the Virgin in a village church".
Bernadette's story caused a sensation with the townspeople who were divided in their opinions on whether or not Bernadette was telling the truth. Some believed her to have a mental illness and demanded she be put in an asylum. She soon had a large number of people following her on her daily journey, some out of curiosity and others who firmly believed that they were witnessing a miracle.
The next day she went further, and during her trance, chewed and ate grass she plucked from the ground. She then rubbed mud over her face and swallowed some mud, to the disgust of the many onlookers and the embarrassment of those who believed in her visions. She explained that the vision had told her "to drink of the water of the spring, to wash in it and to eat the herb that grew there," as an act of penance. To everyone's surprise, the next day the grotto was no longer muddy but clear water flowed.
In the 150 years since Bernadette dug up the spring, 67 cures have been verified by the Lourdes Medical Bureau as "inexplicable", but only after what the Church claims are "extremely rigorous scientific and medical examinations" that failed to find any other explanation.
Her 16th claimed vision, which she stated went on for over an hour, was on 25 March. During this vision the "miracles of the candle" is reported to have occurred. Bernadette was holding a lit candle. During the vision it burned down and the flame was said to be in direct contact with her skin for over fifteen minutes but she apparently showed no sign of experiencing any pain or injury. This was said to be witnessed by many people present, including the town physician, Dr. Pierre Romaine Dozous, who timed and later documented it.
Despite initial skepticism from the Catholic Church, Soubirous's claims were eventually declared "worthy of belief" after a canonical investigation, and the Marian apparition is now known as Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Marian shrine at Nevers, Bourgogne, France went on to become a major pilgrimage site, attracting over five million Christian pilgrims of all denominations each year.
On 8 December 1933, she was canonized by Pope Pius XI as a saint in the Catholic Church; her Feast Day is observed on April 16.
According to tradition, Saint Expeditus was a Roman centurion in Armenia who became a Christian and was beheaded during the Diocletian Persecution in 303 A.D. The day he decided to become a Christian, the Devil took the form of a crow (a snake in some versions of the legend) and told him to defer his conversion until the next day, but Expeditus stamped on the bird and killed it, declaring, "I'll be a Christian today!"
At one time there was much talk of a Saint Expeditus, and some good people were led to believe that, when there was need of haste, petitioning Saint Expeditus was likely to meet with prompt settlement. However, there is no adequate reason to think that any such saint was ever invoked in the early Christian centuries; in fact it is more than doubtful whether the saint ever existed. In the "Hieronymianum" the name Expeditus occurs among a group of martyrs both on the 18th and 19th of April, being assigned in the one case to Rome, and in the other to Melitene in Armenia; but there is no vestige of any tradition which would corroborate either mention, whereas there is much to suggest that in both lists the introduction of the name is merely a copyist's blunder. Hundreds of similar blunders have been quite definitely proved to exist in the same document.
There is also a story which pretends to explain the origin of this "devotion" by an incident of modern date. A packing case, we are told, containing a body of a saint from the catacombs, was sent to a community of nuns in Paris. The date of its dispatch was indicated by the use of the word "spedito", but the recipients mistook this for the name of the martyr and set to work with great energy to propagate his cult. From these simple beginnings, it is asserted, a devotion to St. Expeditus spread rapidly through many Catholic countries. It should be pointed out that though the recognition of St. Expeditus as the patron of dispatch depends beyond doubt upon a play upon words - still the particular story about the Paris nuns falls to pieces, because as far back as 1781 this supposed martyr, St. Expeditus, was chosen patron of the town of Acireale in Sicily, and because pictures of him were in existence in Germany in the eighteenth century which plainly depicted him as a saint to be invoked against procrastination.
Franciscan mystic and lay brother. Born Carl Birndorfer in Parzham, Bavaria, Germany, on December 22, 1818, he became a Capuchin lay brother in 1849. For more than thirty years, Conrad served as porter or doorkeeper of the shrine of Our Lady of Altotting, and he was known for his Marian devotions. Conrad had the gift of prophecy and of reading people’s hearts. He died in Altotting on April 21. He was canonized in 1934.
Fidelis of Sigmaringen was a Capuchin friar who was a major figure in the Counter-Reformation, and was murdered by his opponents at Seewis im Prättigau, now part of Switzerland. Fidelis was canonized in 1746.
He was born Mark Roy or Rey in 1577, in Sigmaringen, a town in modern-day Germany, then under the Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. His father's name was John Rey. He studied law and philosophy at Freiburg.
Roy subsequently taught philosophy at the same University of Freiburg, ultimately earning the degree of Doctor of Law. During his time as a student he did not drink wine, and wore a hair-shirt. He was known for his modesty, meekness and chastity.
In 1604, as their preceptor, Roy accompanied three young Swabian gentlemen on their travels through the principal parts of Europe. During six years of travel, he attended Mass very frequently. In every town where he came, he visited the hospitals and churches, passed several hours on his knees in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and gave to the poor sometimes the very clothes off his back.
Upon his return he practiced law as a counsellor or advocate, at Colmar, in Alsace where he came to be known as the 'poor man's lawyer'. He scrupulously forbore all invectives, detractions, and whatever might affect the reputation of any adversary. Disenchanted with the evils associated with his profession, he was determined to enter the Capuchin friars.
Upon entering the Capuchin order, the guardian gave him the religious name of Fidelis, the Latin word for "faithful," alluding to that text from the Book of Revelation which promises a crown of life to him who shall continue faithful to the end. He finished his novitiate and studies for the priesthood, presiding over his first Mass at the Capuchin friary in Fribourg, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi in 1612.
As soon as Fidelis finished his course of theology, he was immediately employed in preaching and in hearing confessions. After becoming guardian of the Capuchin friary in Weltkirchen, Feldkirch, many residents of town and neighboring places were reformed by his zealous labors, and several Calvinists were converted. The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith commissioned Fidelis to preach among the Grisons. Eight other Capuchin friars were to be his assistants, and they labored in this mission under his direction.
The Calvinists of that territory, being incensed at his success in converting their brethren, loudly threatened Fidelis' life, and he prepared himself for martyrdom. Ralph de Salis and another Calvinist gentleman, were both converted by his first conferences. Fidelis and his companions entered into Prättigau, a small district of the Grisons, in 1622, on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6. The effects of his ardent zeal, where the Bishop of Coire sent a lengthy and full account to the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, enraged the Calvinists in that province.
On April 24, 1622, Fidelis made his confession, celebrated Mass and then preached at Grüsch. At the end of his sermon, which he had delivered with more than ordinary zeal, he stood silent all of a sudden, with his eyes fixed upon Heaven, in ecstasy. He foretold his death to several persons in the clearest terms, and began signing his letters, "P. Fidelis, prope diem esca vermium" ("Father Fidelis, in days ahead to become food for worms"). After the service at Grüsch he and several companions traveled to Seewis. His companions noted that he was particularly cheerful.
On April 24, in a campaign organized by the Habsburgs, Fidelis was preaching under protection of some Austrian imperial soldiers in the Church at Seewis with the aim to reconvert the people of Seewis to Catholicism. During the sermon, his listeners were called "to arms" by the Calvinist agitators outside. Some of the people went to face the Austrian troops outside the church. Fidelis had been persuaded by the remaining Catholics to immediately flee with the Austrian troops out of Seewis, which he did, but then returned alone to Grüsch. On his way back he was confronted by twenty Calvinist soldiers who demanded unsuccessfully that he renounce the Catholic faith, and subsequently murdered him.
Luchesius Modestini (also Luchesio, Lucchese, Lucesio, Lucio) was a native and merchant of the town of Poggibonsi in the Province of Siena around 1180-1182. His biographers state that, more than most merchants, he was so entirely and solely concerned with material success that he was generally reputed to be an avaricious man. His wife, Buonadonna, was said to be of a similar disposition.
At some point Luchesius had a moment of conversion and realized how foolish it is to strive only for worldly goods. He began to practice works of mercy and to perform his religious obligations with fidelity. After Luchesius had put on the gray tunic or attire of a penitent, he rapidly advanced toward perfect holiness. He practiced ascetic austerities: often fasting on bread and water and sleeping on the hard floor; at his work He bore God constantly in his heart.
With his wife joining him in following a life inspired by their faith, Luchesius and Buonadonna had the option of separating and each entering monasteries. This was an ancient and respectable way for husbands and wives to develop their spiritual aspirations, commonly practiced by married couples who felt a deep desire to follow God. Clearly they chose to remain a married couple. In this they revived a way of sanctity for married couples.
Since they had no one to care for but themselves, and Luchesius feared that in conducting his business he might relapse into covetousness, he gave up his business entirely. He and his wife divided everything among the poor and retained for themselves only so much land as would suffice for their support. Luchesius tilled this with his own hands and used the bounty that was beyond their need to feed the hungry.
About this time Saint Francis of Assisi came to Tuscany. After his sermon on penance, many people desired to leave all and to follow his way of life. But Saint Francis admonished them calmly to persevere in their vocation, for he had in mind soon to give them a guide by which they could serve God perfectly even in the world, without entering into Religious life.
At Poggibonsi Francis visited Luchesius, with whom he had become acquainted through former business transactions. Francis greatly rejoiced to find this avaricious man so altered, and Luchesius, who had already heard about the blessed activities of Francis, asked for special instructions for himself and his wife, so that they might lead a life in the world that would be pleasing to God. Saint Francis then explained to them his plans for the establishment of an Order for lay people; and Luchesius and Buonadonna asked to be received into it at once. Thus, according to tradition, they became the first members of the Order of Penance, which later came to be called the Third Order of St. Francis, which name, in 1976, was changed to the Secular Franciscan Order.
Luchesius' generosity to the poor knew no bounds, so that one day there was not even a loaf of bread for his own household. When still another poor man came, he asked his wife to look to see if there was not something they could find for him. That vexed her and she scolded him severely; his mortifications, she said, had well nigh crazed him, he would keep giving so long that they themselves would have to suffer hunger. Luchesius asked her gently to please look in the pantry, for he trusted that Christ, who had multiplied a few loaves for the benefit of thousands, would provide for them. She did so, and found that the whole pantry was filled with the best kind of bread. Thus he succeeded in winning his wife over to a similar outlook on life. From that time on, Buonadonna vied with her husband in doing good and performing acts of penance.
At his grave in the Franciscan church at Poggibonsi it is claimed that many miracles have occurred. His continuous veneration as a Blessed was approved by Pope Pius VI.
St. James the Lesser, the author of the first Catholic Epistle, was the son of Alphaeus of Cleophas. His mother Mary was either a sister or a close relative of the Blessed Virgin, and for that reason, according to Jewish custom, he was sometimes called the brother of the Lord. The Apostle held a distinguished position in the early Christian community of Jerusalem. St. Paul tells us he was a witness of the Resurrection of Christ; he is also a "pillar" of the Church, whom St. Paul consulted about the Gospel.
According to tradition, he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was at the Council of Jerusalem about the year 50. The historians Eusebius and Hegesippus relayed that St. James was martyred for the Faith by the Jews in the Spring of the year 62, although they greatly esteemed his person and had given him the surname of "James the Just."
Tradition has always recognized him as the author of the Epistle that bears his name. Internal evidence based on the language, style, and teaching of the Epistle reveals its author as a Jew familiar with the Old Testament, and a Christian thoroughly grounded in the teachings of the Gospel. External evidence from the early Fathers and Councils of the Church confirmed its authenticity and canonicity.
The date of its writing cannot be determined exactly. According to some scholars it was written about the year 49 A.D. Others, however, claim it was written after St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (composed during the winter of 57-58 A.D.). It was probably written between the years 60 and 62 A.D.
St. James addresses himself to the "twelve tribes that are in the Dispersion," that is, to Christians outside Palestine; but nothing in the Epistle indicates that he is thinking only of Jewish Christians. St. James realizes full well the temptations and difficulties they encounter in the midst of paganism, and as a spiritual father, he endeavors to guide and direct them in the faith. Therefore, the burden of his discourse is an exhortation to practical Christian living.
St. Victor Maurus was a native of Mauretania. He was born in the third century, and was called Maurus to distinguish him from other confessors named Victor. He is believed to have been a soldier in the Praetorian guard.
Victor was a Christian from his youth, but it was not until he was an elderly man that he was arrested for the Faith. After severe tortures, including being basted with molten lead, he was decapitated under Maximian in Milan around the year 303.
Later a church was erected over his grave. According to St. Gregory of Tours, many miracles occurred at the shrine. In 1576, at the request of St. Charles of Borromeo, Victor's relics were transferred to a new church in Milan established by the Olivetan monks. The church still bears St. Victor's name today.
After a life of adherence to the Faith during perilous times, St. Victor Maurus was taken prisoner and tortured as an old man. Despite age, infirmity, and declining health, he remained steadfast in the Faith, gladly giving up his life for the Kingdom. His generous response to the call to martyrdom stands as a solemn sign to the modern church of the folly of the things of this world. His feast day is May 8th.
St. Solange born of a poor family of vineyard workers near Bourges, France, she became a shepherdess whose beauty attracted the lustful attention of a noble in Poitiers. He kidnapped her, but when she leaped from the horse on which he was carrying her off, he pursued and killed her. The sources of the story are questionable, however. Feastday is May 10.
Solange was born to a poor but devout family in the town of Villemont, near Bourges, and consecrated her virginity at the age of seven; according to some, her mere presence cured the sick and exorcised devils. The son of the count of Poitiers was highly taken with the beauty and popularity of Solange and approached her when she was working on tending to her sheep, but she rejected his suit. He argued with her to no avail, and so he decided to abduct her.
At night, he came and took Solange by force, but she struggled so violently that she fell from his horse while he was crossing a stream. Her abductor grew enraged and beheaded her with his sword; Solange's severed head invoked three times the Holy Name of Jesus, according to legend. Like Saint Denis and other saints in Gaulish territories, Solange picked up her head in her own hands and walked with it as far as the church of Saint-Martin in the village of Saint-Martin-du-Crot only dropping truly dead there.
A cultus surrounding her grew up nearly immediately. Many miraculous cures were attributed to her intercession. In 1281, an altar was erected in her honor at that church, and it preserved her severed head as a relic and began to call itself the church of St. Solange, while a nearby field where she had prayed began to be referred to as the "Field of St. Solange." It was a habit of the locals, in times of great stress, to form a procession through Bourges with the reliquary head before them and to invoke her against drought.
Although little is known about Simon Stock's early life, legend has it that the name Stock, meaning "tree trunk," derives from the fact that, beginning at age twelve, he lived as a hermit in a hollow tree trunk of an oak tree.
It is also believed that, as a young man, he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where he joined a group of Carmelites with whom he later returned to Europe. Simon Stock founded many Carmelite Communities, especially in University towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna, and he helped to change the Carmelites from a hermit Order to one of mendicant friars.
In 1254 he was elected Superior-General of his Order at London. Simon Stock's lasting fame came from an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, at a time when the Carmelite Order was being oppressed. In it the Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown scapular in one hand. Her words were: "Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of thy Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for thee and for thy children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection." The scapular consists of two pieces of cloth, one worn on the chest, and the other on the back, which were connected by straps or strings passing over the shoulders.
In certain Orders, monks and nuns wear scapulars that reach from the shoulders almost to the ground as outer garments. Lay persons usually wear scapulars underneath their clothing; these consist of two pieces of material only a few inches square. There are elaborate rules governing the wearing of the scapular: although it may be worn by any Catholic, even an infant, the investiture must be done by a priest. And the scapular must be worn in the proper manner; if an individual neglects to wear it for a time, the benefits are forfeited. The Catholic Church has approved eighteen different kinds of scapulars of which the best known is the woolen brown scapular, or the Scapular of Mount Carmel, that the Virgin Mary bestowed on Simon Stock
He was born at Torrehermosa, in the Kingdom of Aragon, on 24 May 1540, on the Feast of Pentecost, called in Spain "the Pasch (or "Passover") of the Holy Ghost", hence the name Paschal. His parents, Martin Baylon and Elizabeth Jubera, were poor peasants. He spent his youth as a shepherd. He would carry a book with him and beg passersby to teach him the alphabet and to read, and as he toiled in the fields he would read religious books.
According to accounts of his early life, Paschal labored as a shepherd for his father, performed miracles, and was distinguished for his austerity. Receiving a vision which told him to enter a nearby Franciscan community, he became a Franciscan lay brother of the Alcantrine reform in 1564, and spent most of his life as a humble doorkeeper.
He chose to live in poor monasteries because, he said, "I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance." He lived a life of poverty and prayer, even praying while working, for the rest of his life.
He practiced rigorous asceticism and displayed a deep love for the Blessed Sacrament, so much so that while on a mission to France, he defended the doctrine of the Real Presence against a Calvinist preacher and in the face of threats from other irate Calvinists.
He was a mystic and contemplative, and he had frequent ecstatic visions. He would spend the night before the altar in prayer many nights. At the same time, he sought to downplay any glory that might come from this piety. He died on 17 May, which is his current feast day, in 1592.
Born of a noble family at Baltonsborough, near Glastonbury, England, Dunstan was educated there by Irish monks and while still a youth, was sent to the court of King Athelstan. He became a Benedictine monk about 934 and was ordained by his uncle, St. Alphege, Bishop of Winchester, about 939. After a time as a hermit at Glastonbury, Dunstan was recalled to the royal court by King Edmund, who appointed him abbot of Glastonbury Abbey in 943.
He developed the Abbey into a great center of learning while revitalizing other monasteries in the area. He became advisor to King Edred on his accession to the throne when Edmund was murdered, and began a far-reaching reform of all the monasteries in Edred's realm. Dunstan also became deeply involved in secular politics and incurred the enmity of the West Saxon nobles for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes. When Edwy succeeded his uncle Edred as king in 955, he became Dunstan's bitter enemy for the Abbot's strong censure of his scandalous lifestyle. Edwy confiscated his property and banished him from his kingdom. Dunstan went to Ghent in Flanders but soon returned when a rebellion replaced Edwy with his brother Edgar, who appointed Dunstan Bishop of Worcester and London in 957. When Edwy died in 959, the civil strife ended and the country was reunited under Edgar, who appointed Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury. The king and archbishop then planned a thorough reform of Church and state.
Dunstan was appointed legate by Pope John XII, and with St. Ethelwold and St. Oswald, restored ecclesiastical discipline, rebuilt many of the monasteries destroyed by the Danish invaders, replaced inept secular priests with monks, and enforced the widespread reforms they put into effect. Dunstan served as Edgar's chief advisor for sixteen years and did not hesitate to reprimand him when he thought it deserved. When Edgar died, Dunstan helped elect Edward the martyr king and then his half brother Ethelred, when Edward died soon after his election. Under Ethelred, Dunstan's influence began to wane and he retired from politics to Canterbury to teach at the Cathedral school and died there. Dunstan has been called the reviver of monasticism in England. He was a noted musician, played the harp, composed several hymns, notably Kyrie Rex splendens, was a skilled metal worker, and illuminated manuscripts. He is the patron of armorers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, and jewelers.
Eugene de Mazenod was born on August 1, 1782, at Aix-en-Provence in France. Early in life he experienced the upheaval of the French Revolution. None the less, he entered the seminary, and following ordination he returned to labor in Aix-en-Provence.
That area had suffered greatly during the Revolution and was not really a safe place for a priest. Eugene directed his ministry toward the poorest of the poor. Others joined his labors, and became the nucleus of a religious community, the Missionaries of Provence. Later Eugene was named Bishop of Marseille. There he built churches, founded parishes, cared for his priests, and developed catechetics for the young.
Later he founded the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, and in 1841 the Oblates sailed for missions in five continents. Pius XI said, "the Oblates are the specialists of difficult missions." After a life dedicated to spreading the Good News, Eugene died on May 21, 1861.
He was beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1975. His feast day is May 21.
St. Mariana was born at Quito, Ecuador (then part of Peru), of noble Spanish parents. She was orphaned as a child and raised by her elder sister and her husband.
Mariana early was attracted to things religious and became a solitary in her sister's home under the direction of Mariana's Jesuit confessor. Mariana practiced the greatest austerities, ate hardly anything, slept for only three hours a night for years, had the gift of prophesy, and reputedly performed miracles.
When an earthquake followed by an epidemic shook Quito in 1645, she offered herself publicly as a victim for the sins of the people. When the epidemic began to abate, she was stricken and died on May 26th. She is known as Mariana of Quito and is often called "the lily of Quito." She was canonized in 1950. Her feast day is May 26th.
Ferdinand III of Castile was the son of Alfonso IX, King of Leon, and Berengaria, daughter of Alfonso III, King of Castile (Spain). He was declared king of Castile at age eighteen. Ferdinand was born near Salamanca; proclaimed king of Palencia, Valladolid, and Burgos; his mother advised and assisted him during his young reign.
He married Princess Beatrice, daughter of Philip of Suabia, King of Germany and they had seven sons and three daughters. His father (the king of Leon) turned against him and tried to take over his rule. The two reconciled later, and fought successfully against the Moors. In 1225, he held back Islamic invaders; prayed and fasted to prepare for the war; extremely devoted to the Blessed Virgin.
Between 1234-36, Ferdinand conquered the city of Cordoba from the Moors. Queen Beatrice died in 1236, and he overtook Seville shortly thereafter. He founded the Cathedral of Burgos and the University of Salamanca; married Joan of Ponthieu after the death of Beatrice. He died on May 30th after a prolonged illness, and buried in the habit of his secular Franciscan Order.
His remains are preserved in the Cathedral of Seville and was canonized by Pope Clement X in 1671. Ferdinand was a great administrator and a man of deep faith. He founded hospitals and bishoprics, monasteries, churches, and cathedrals during his reign.
St. Erasmus was also known as St. Elmo. He was the bishop of Formiae, Campagna, Italy, and suffered martyrdom during Diocletian's persecution of the Christians.
He once fled to Mount Lebanon during the persecution and lived a life of solitude there for some time, being fed by a raven. After the emperor discovered his whereabouts, he was tortured and thrown in prison.
Legend claims that an angel released him and he departed for Illyricum, eventually suffered a martyr's death and was one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
Legend records that when a blue light appears at mastheads before and after a storm, the seamen took it as a sign of Erasmus's protection. This was known as "St. Elmo's fire". The blue electrical discharges under certain atmospheric conditions have also been seen on the masks or riggings of ships.
Erasmus is also invoked against stomach cramps and colic. This came about because at one time he had hot iron hooks stuck into his intestines by persecutors under Emperor Diocletian. These wounds he miraculously endured.
Saint Boniface, born Winfrid, Wynfrith, or Wynfryth in the kingdom of Wessex, probably at Crediton, was an Anglo-Saxon missionary who propagated Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century. He is the patron saint of Germany, the first archbishop of Mainz and the "Apostle of the Germans". He was killed in Frisia in 754, along with 52 others. His remains were returned to Fulda, where they rest in a sarcophagus which became a site of pilgrimage. Facts about Boniface's life and death as well as his work became widely known, since there is a wealth of material available. A number of vitae, especially the near-contemporary Vita Bonifatii auctore Willibaldi, and legal documents, possibly some sermons, and above all his correspondence.
Norman F. Cantor notes the three roles Boniface played that made him "one of the truly outstanding creators of the first Europe, as the apostle of Germany, the reformer of the Frankish church, and the chief fomentor of the alliance between the papacy and the Carolingian family." Through his efforts to reorganize and regulate the church of the Franks, he helped shape Western Christianity, and many of the dioceses he proposed survive today. After his martyrdom, he was quickly hailed as a saint in Fulda and other areas in Germany and in England. His cult is still notably strong today. Boniface is celebrated (and criticized) as a missionary; he is regarded as a unifier of Europe, and he is seen (mainly by Catholics) as a German national figure.
"I was born in the way of truth: though my childhood was unaware of the greatness of the benefit, I knew it when trial came."
Ephrem (or Eprhaim) the Syrian left us hundreds of hymns and poems on the faith that inflamed and inspired the whole Church, but few facts about his own inspiring life. Most historians infer from the lines quoted above that Ephrem was born into a Christian family -- although not baptized until an adult (the trial or furnace), which was common at the time. Other than that little is known about his birth and youth although many guess he was born in the early fourth century in Mesopotamia, possibly in Nisibis where he spent most of his adult life.
"He Who created two great lights, chose for Himself these three Lights, and set them in the three dark seasons of siege that have been."
Ephrem served as teacher, and possibly deacon, under four bishops of Nisibis, Jacob, Babu, Vologeses, and Abraham. The first three he describes in the hymn quoted above written while Vologeses was still alive. As the verse states, Ephrem did not live in easy times in Nisibis.
"I have chanced upon weeds, my brothers, That wear the color of wheat, To choke the good seed."
According to tradition, Ephrem began to write hymns in order to counteract the heresies that were rampant at that time. For those who think of hymns simply as the song at the end of Mass that keeps us from leaving the church early, it may come as a surprise that Ephrem and others recognized and developed the power of music to get their points across. Tradition tells us that Ephrem heard the heretical ideas put into song first and in order to counteract them made up his own hymns. In the one below, his target is a Syrian heretic Bardesan who denied the truth of the Resurrection:
"How he blasphemes justice, And grace her fellow-worker. For if the body was not raised, This is a great insult against grace, To say grace created the body for decay; And this is slander against justice, to say justice sends the body to destruction."
The originality, imagery, and skill of his hymns captured the hearts of the Christians so well, that Ephrem is given credit for awakening the Church to the important of music and poetry in spreading and fortifying the faith.
Ephrem's home was in physical as well as spiritual danger. Nisibis, a target of Shapur II, the King of Persia, was besieged by him three times. During the third siege in in 350, Shapur's engineers turned the river out of its course in order to flood the city as Ephrem describes (speaking as Nisibis):
"All kinds of storms trouble me -- and you have been kinder to the Ark: only waves surrounded it, but ramps and weapons and waves surround me... O Helmsman of the Ark, be my pilot on dry land! You gave the Ark rest on the haven of a mountain, give me rest in the haven of my walls."
The flood, however, turned the tide against Shapur. When he tried to invade he found his army obstructed by the very waters and ruin he had caused. The defenders of the city, including Ephrem, took advantage of the chaos to ambush the invaders and drive them out.
"He has saved us without wall, and taught us that He is our wall: He has saved us without king and made us know that is our king: He has saved us, in each and all, and showed us that He is All."
In the end, however, Nisibis lost. When Shapur defeated the Roman emperor Jovian, he demanded the city as part of the treaty. Jovian not only gave him the city but agreed to force the Christians to leave Nisibis. Probably in his fifties or sixties at that time, Ephrem was one of the refugees who fled the city in 363.
Sometime in 364 he settled as a solitary ascetic on Mount Edessa, at Edessa (what is now Urfa) 100 miles east of his home.
"The soul is your bride, the body is your bridal chamber..."
In the time before monks and monasteries, many devout Christians drawn to a religious life dedicated themselves as ihidaya (single and single-minded followers of Christ). As one of these Eprhem lived an ascetic, celibate life for his last years.
Heresy and danger followed him to Edessa. The Arian Emperor Valens camped outside of Edessa threatening to kill all the Christian inhabitants if they did not submit. But Valens was the one forced to give up in the face of the courage and steadfastness of the Edessans (fortified by Ephrem's hymns):
"The doors of her homes Edessa Left open when she went forth With the pastor to the grave, to die, And not depart from her faith. Let the city and fort and building And houses be yielded to the king; Our goods and our gold let us leave; So we part not from our faith!"
Tradition tells us that during the famine that hit Edessa in 372, Ephrem was horrified to learn that some citizens were hoarding food. When he confronted them, he received the age-old excuse that they couldn't find a fair way or honest person to distribute the food. Ephrem immediately volunteered himself and it is a sign of how respected he was that no one was able to argue with this choice. He and his helpers worked diligently to get food to the needy in the city and the surrounding area.
The famine ended in a year of abundant harvest the following year and Ephrem died shortly thereafter, as we are told, at an advanced age. We do not know the exact date or year of his death but June 9, 373 is accepted by many. Ephrem relates in his dying testament a childhood vision of his life that he gloriousl fulfilled:
"There grew a vine-shoot on my tongue: and increased and reached unto heaven, And it yielded fruit without measure: leaves likewise without number. It spread, it stretched wide, it bore fruit: all creation drew near, And the more they were that gathered: the more its clusters abounded. These clusters were the Homilies; and these leaves the Hymns. God was the giver of them: glory to Him for His grace! For He gave to me of His good pleasure: from the storehouse of His treasures."
Born to wealthy parents, Methodios was sent as a young man to Constantinople to continue his education and hopefully attain an appointment at court. But instead he entered a monastery in Bithynia, eventually becoming abbot.
Under the Emperor Leo V the Armenian the Iconoclast persecution broke out for the second time. In 815 Methodios went to Rome, perhaps as an envoy of the deposed Patriarch Niκephorοs. Upon his return in 821 he was arrested and exiled as an iconodule by the Iconoclast regime of Emperor Michael II. Ironically, Methodios was released in 829 and assumed a position of importance at the court of the even more fervently iconoclast Emperor Theophilos.
Soon after the death of the emperor, in 843, the influential minister Theoktistos convinced the Empress Mother Theodora, as regent for her two-year-old son Michael III, to permit the restoration of icons by arranging that her dead husband would not be condemned. He then deposed the iconoclast Patriarch John VII Grammatikos and secured the appointment of Methodios as his successor, bringing about the end of the iconoclast controversy.
Methodios made a triumphal procession from the church of Blachernae to Hagia Sophia on March 11, 843, restoring the icons to the church. This heralded the restoration of Orthodoxy, and became a holiday in the Eastern Orthodox Church, celebrated every year on the First Sunday of Great Lent, and known as the "Triumph of Orthodoxy".
When Hortense decided to marry Laurent Cousin in Pibrac, France, it was not out of love for his infant daughter. Germaine was everything Hortense despised. Weak and ill, the girl had also been born with a right hand that was deformed and paralyzed. Hortense replaced the love that Germaine has lost when her mother died with cruelty and abuse.
Laurent, who had a weak character, pretended not to notice that Germaine had been given so little food that she had learned to crawl in order to get to the dog's dish. He wasn't there to protect her when Hortense left Germaine in a drain while she cared for chickens -- and forgot her for three days. He didn't even interfere when Hortense poured boiling water on Germaine's legs.
With this kind of treatment, it's no surprise that Germaine became even more ill. She came down with a disease known as scrofula, a kind of tuberculosis that causes the neck glands to swell up. Sores began to appear on her neck and in her weakened condition to fell prey to every disease that came along. Instead of awakening Hortense's pity this only made her despise Germaine more for being even uglier in her eyes.
Germaine found no sympathy and love with her siblings. Watching their mother's treatment of their half-sister, they learned how to despise and torment her, putting ashes in her food and pitch in her clothes. Their mother found this very entertaining.
Hortense did finally get concerned about Germaine's sickness -- because she was afraid her own children would catch it. So she made Germaine sleep out in the barn. The only warmth Germaine had on frozen winter nights was the woolly sheep who slept there too. The only food she had were the scraps Hortense might remember to throw her way.
The abuse of Germaine tears at our hearts and causes us to cry for pity and justice. But it was Germaine's response to that abuse and her cruel life that wins our awe and veneration.
Germaine was soon entrusted with the sheep. No one expected her to have any use for education so she spent long days in the field tending the sheep. Instead of being lonely, she found a friend in God. She didn't know any theology and only the basics of the faith that she learned the catechism. But she had a rosary made of knots in string and her very simple prayers: "Dear God, please don't let me be too hungry or too thirsty. Help me to please my mother. And help me to please you." Out of that simple faith, grew a profound holiness and a deep trust of God.
And she had the most important prayer of all -- the Mass. Every day, without fail, she would leave her sheep in God's care and go to Mass. Villagers wondered that the sheep weren't attacked by the wolves in the woods when she left but God's protection never failed her. One day when the rains had swollen the river to flood stage, a villager saw the river part so that she could cross to get to the church in time for Mass.
No matter how little Germaine had, she shared it with others. Her scraps of food were given to beggars. Her life of prayer became stories of God that entranced the village children.
But most startling of all was the forgiveness to showed to the woman who deserved her hatred.
Hortense, furious at the stories about her daughter's holiness, waited only to catch her doing wrong. One cold winter day, after throwing out a beggar that Germaine had let sleep in the barn, Hortense caught Germaine carrying something bundled up in her apron. Certain that Germaine had stolen bread to feed the beggar, she began to chase and scream at the child. As she began to beat her, Germaine opened her apron. Out tumbled what she had been hiding in her apron -- bright beautiful flowers that no one had expected to see for months. Where had she found the vibrant blossoms in the middle of the ice and snow? There was only one answer and Germaine gave it herself, when she handed a flower to her mother and said, "Please accept this flower, Mother. God sends it to you in sign of his forgiveness."
As the whole village began to talk about this holy child, even Hortense began to soften her feelings toward her. She even invited Germaine back to the house but Germaine had become used to her straw bed and continued to sleep in it. There she was found dead at the age of 22, overcome by a life of suffering.
With all the evidence of her holiness, her life was too simple and hidden to mean much beyond her tiny village -- until God brought it too light again. When her body was exhumed forty years later, it was found to be undecayed, what is known as incorruptible. As is often the case with incorruptible bodies of saints, God chooses not the outwardly beautiful to preserve but those that others despised as ugly and weak. It's as if God is saying in this miracle that human ideas of beauty are not his. To him, no one was more beautiful than this humble lonely young woman.
After her body was found in this state, the villagers started to speak again of what she had been like and what she had done. Soon miracles were attributed to her intercession and the clamor for her canonization began.
In this way, the most unlikely of saints became recognized by the Church. She didn't found a religious order. She didn't reach a high Church post. She didn't write books or teach at universities. She didn't go to foreign lands as a missionary or convert thousands. What she did was live a life devoted to God and her neighbor no matter what happened to her. And that is all God asks.
St. John the Baptist was the son of Zachary, a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Elizabeth, a kinswoman of Mary who visited her. He was probably born at Ain-Karim southwest of Jerusalem after the Angel Gabriel had told Zachary that his wife would bear a child even though she was an old woman.
He lived as a hermit in the desert of Judea until about A.D. 27. When he was thirty, he began to preach on the banks of the Jordan against the evils of the times and called men to penance and baptism "for the Kingdom of Heaven is close at hand".
He attracted large crowds, and when Christ came to him, John recognized Him as the Messiah and baptized Him, saying, "It is I who need baptism from You". When Christ left to preach in Galilee, John continued preaching in the Jordan valley. Fearful of his great power with the people, Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Perea and Galilee, had him arrested and imprisoned at Machaerus Fortress on the Dead Sea when John denounced his adultrous and incestuous marriage with Herodias, wife of his half brother Philip. John was beheaded at the request of Salome, daughter of Herodias, who asked for his head at the instigation of her mother.
John inspired many of his followers to follow Christ when he designated Him "the Lamb of God," among them Andrew and John, who came to know Christ through John's preaching. John is presented in the New Testament as the last of the Old Testament prophets and the precursor of the Messiah. His feast day is June 24th and the feast for his beheading is August 29th.
St. Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor of the Church.
Cyril was born at Alexandria, Egypt. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him.
He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus' death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril's supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions.
In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431,
His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. His feast day is June 27th.
St. Bernardino Realino was born into a noble family of Capri, Italy in 1530. After receiving a thorough and devout Christian education at the hands of his mother, he went on to study medicine at the University of Bologna, but after three years he switched to law and received his doctorate in 1563. Word of his learning, dedication, and legal brilliance spread rapidly, and in 1554 he was summoned to Naples to assume the position of auditor and lieutenant general.
Shortly afterward, his exemplary young man came to the realization that he had a religious vocation and, aided by our Lady's appearance to him, joined the Society of Jesus, being ordained in 1567. For three years he labored unstintingly at Naples, devoting himself wholeheartedly to the service of the poor and the youth, and then he was sent to Lecce where he remained for the last forty-two years of his life.
St. Bernardino won widespread recognition as a result of his ceaseless apostolic labors. He was a model confessor, a powerful preacher, a diligent teacher of the Faith to the young, a dedicated shepherd of souls, as well as Rector of the Jesuit college in Lecce and Superior of the Community there. His charity to the poor and the sick knew no bounds and his kindness brought about the end of vendettas and public scandals that cropped up from time to time.
So greatly was this saint loved and appreciated by his people that in 1616, as he lay on his death bed the city's magistrates formally requested that he should take the city under his protection. Unable to speak, St. Bernardino bowed his head. He died with the names of Jesus and Mary on his lips. His feast day is July 2nd.
St. Phocas dwelt near the gate of Sinope, a city of Pontus, and lived by cultivating a garden, which yielded him a handsome subsistence, and wherewith plentifully to relieve the indigent. In his humble profession he imitated the virtue of the most holy anchorets, and seemed in part restored to the happy condition of our first parents in Eden. To prune the garden without labor and toil was their sweet employment and pleasure. Since their sin, the earth yields not its fruit but by the sweat of our brow. But still, no labor is more useful or necessary, or more natural to man, and better adapted to maintain in him vigor of mind or health of body than that of tillage; nor does any other part of the universe rival the innocent charms which a garden presents to all our senses, by the fragrance of its flowers, by the riches of its produce, and the sweetness and variety of its fruits; by the melodious concert of its musicians, by the worlds of wonders which every stem, leaf, and fiber exhibit to the contemplation of the inquisitive philosopher, and by that beauty and variegated luster of colors which clothe the numberless tribes of its smallest inhabitants, and adorn its shining landscapes, vying with the brightest splendor of the heavens, and in a single lily surpassing the dazzling luster with which Solomon was surrounded on his throne in the midst of all his glory. And what a field for contemplation does a garden offer to our view in every part, raising our souls to God in raptures of love and praise, stimulating us to fervor, by the fruitfulness with which it repays our labor, and multiplies the seed it receives; and exciting us to tears of compunction for our insensibility to God by the barrenness with which it is changed into a frightful desert, unless subdued by assiduous toil! Our saint joining prayer with his labor, found in his garden itself an instructive book, and an inexhausted fund of holy meditation. His house was open to all strangers and travelers who had no lodging in the place; and after having for many years most liberally bestowed the fruit of his labor on the poor, he was found worthy also to give his life for Christ. Though his profession was obscure, he was well known over the whole country by the reputation of his charity and virtue.
When a cruel persecution, probably that of Dioclesian in 303, was suddenly raised in the church, Phocas was immediately impeached as a Christian, and such was the notoriety of his pretended crime, that the formality of a trial was superseded by the persecutors, and executioners were dispatched with an order to kill him on the spot wherever they should find him. Arriving near Sinope, they would not enter the town, but stopping at his house without knowing it, at his kind invitation they took up their lodging with him. Being charmed with his courteous entertainment, they at supper disclosed to him the errand upon which they were sent, and desired him to inform them where this Phocas could be most easily met with? The servant of God, without the least surprise, told them he was well acquainted with the man, and would give them certain intelligence of him next morning. After they were retired to bed he dug a grave, prepared everything for his burial, and spent the night in disposing his soul for his last hour. When it was day he went to his guests, and told them Phocas was found, and in their power whenever they pleased to apprehend him. Glad at this news, they inquired where he was. "He is here present," said the martyr, "I myself am the man." Struck at his undaunted resolution, and at the composure of his mind, they stood a considerable time as if they had been motionless, nor could they at first think of imbruing their hands in the blood of a person in whom they discovered so heroic a virtue, and by whom they had been so courteously entertained. He indirectly encouraged them, saying, that as for himself, he looked upon such a death as the greatest of favors, and his highest advantage. At length recovering themselves from their surprise, they struck off his head. The Christians of that city, after peace was restored to the church, built a stately church which bore his name, and was famous over all the East. In it were deposited the sacred relics, though some portions of them were dispersed in other churches.
St. Withburga (d.c. 743) Virgin and Benedictine nun. The youngest daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, England (d. 653).
Following the death of her father in battle, she moved to Dereham where she established a nunnery and a church. A traditional story says that the Virgin Mary sent a pair of does to provide milk for her workers during the monastery's construction. She died with the church unfinished, on March 17. Her remains were later stolen by monks who enshrined her in Ely. A fresh spring, called Withburga's Well, sprang up at the site of the saint's empty tomb at Dereham. Feast day: July 8.
Saint Amandina of Schakkebroek, born under the name of Pauline Jeuris, was a Belgian Franciscan missionary sister in China. She was beatified and canonized together with other martyrs of the Boxer rebellion.
She entered the Institute of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary with the name Marie Amandine. Her first assignment was to Marseilles to nurse the sick. Her second was to Taiyuan to work in the mission hospital. Her humor and joyfulness gained for her the esteem of the Chinese, who called her "the laughing foreigner".
In the course of the Boxer Rebellion, an edict was issued on July 1, 1900 which, in substance, said that the time of good relations with European missionaries and their Christians was now past: that the former must be repatriated at once and the faithful forced to apostatize, on penalty of death.
When she heard the news that a persecution was approaching, Sr. Amandine said: "I pray God, not to save the martyrs, but to fortify them." With true Franciscan joy she and her companions went to meet death singing the Te Deum, the hymn of thanksgiving. Seven Sisters, including Sr. Marie Amandina, were martyred on July 9, 1900. They were canonized on October 1, 2000, along with other Martyr Saints of China.
Discalced Carmelite mystic and the first Chilean to be beatified or canonized. She was baptized Juanita Fernandez Solar and born in Santiago, Chile on July 13, 1900. Devoted to Christ from a very young age, she entered the Dised Iced Carmelite monastery at Los Andes on May 7, 1919.
There she was given the religious name of Teresa of Jesus. She died on April 12, of the following year, having made her religious profession as a Carmelite. A model for young people, Teresa was beatified in 1987 in Santiago, Chile, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on March 21, 1993.
St. Alexis was the only son of a rich Roman senator. From his good Christian parents, he learned to be charitable to the poor. Alexis wanted to give up his wealth and honors but his parents had chosen a rich bride for him.
Because it was their will, he married her. Yet right on his wedding day, he obtained her permission to leave her for God. Then, in disguise, he traveled to Syria in the East and lived in great poverty near a Church of Our Lady. One day, after seventeen years, a picture of our Blessed Mother spoke to tell the people that this beggar was very holy. She called him "The man of God." when he became famous, which was the last thing he wanted, he fled back to Rome.
He came as a beggar to his own home. His parents did not recognize him, but they were very kind to all poor people and so they let him stay there. In a corner under the stairs, Alexis lived for seventeen years. He used to go out only to pray in church and to teach little children about God. The servants were often very mean to him, and though he could have ended all these sufferings just by telling his father who he was, he chose to say nothing.
After Alexis died, his family found a note on his body which told them who he was and how he had lived his life of penance from the day of his wedding until then, for the love of God.
He was born in 350 AD, in Rome to a Christian, Roman senatorial family. After his parents died, his sister Afrositty was admitted to a community of virgins, and he gave all their riches to the poor, and lived an ascetic life. Arsenius became famous for his righteousness and wisdom.
There is considerable debate regarding the accuracy of several points in Arsenius's life. Arsenius is said to have been made a deacon by Pope Damasus I who recommended him to Byzantine Emperor Theodosius I the Great, who had requested the Emperor Gratian and Pope Damasus around 383 to find him in the West a tutor for his sons (future emperors Arcadius and Honorius). Arsenius was chosen on the basis of being a man well read in Greek literature. He reached Constantinople in 383, and continued as tutor in the imperial family for eleven years, during the last three of which he also had charge of his original pupil Arcadius's brother, Honorius. Coming one day to see his sons at their studies, Theodosius found them sitting while Arsenius talked to them standing. This he would not tolerate, and caused the teacher to sit and the pupils to stand. On his arrival at court Arsenius had been given a splendid establishment, and probably because the Emperor so desired, he lived in great pomp, but all the time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. While living in the Emperor's palace, God gave him grace in the sight of everyone, and they all loved him. He lived a lavish life in the palace, but all the time felt a growing inclination to renounce the world. One day he was praying, and said, "O God teach me how to be saved." And God’s voice came to him through the Gospel, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Matthew 16:26). He left Constantinople and came by sea to Alexandria and fled into the wilderness. When he first presented himself to Saint Macarius the Great, the father of the monks of Scetis, he recommended him to the care of Saint John the Dwarf to try him.
Sometime around the year 400 he joined the desert monks at Scetes, Egypt, and asked to be admitted among the solitaries who dwelt there. Saint John the Dwarf, to whose cell he was conducted, though previously warned of the quality of his visitor, took no notice of him and left him standing by himself while he invited the rest to sit down at table. When the repast was half finished he threw down some bread before him, bidding him with an air of indifference eat if he would. Arsenius meekly picked up the bread and ate, sitting on the ground. Satisfied with this proof of humility, St. John kept him under his direction. The new solitary was from the first most exemplary yet unwittingly retained certain of his old habits, such as sitting cross-legged or laying one foot over the other. Noticing this, the abbot requested some one to imitate Arsenius's posture at the next gathering of the brethren, and upon his doing so, forthwith rebuked him publicly. Arsenius took the hint and corrected himself.
In 434 he was forced to leave due to raids on the monasteries and hermitages there by the Mazici (tribesmen from Libya). He relocated to Troe (near Memphis), and also spent some time on the island of Canopus (off Alexandria). He spent the next fifteen years wandering the desert wilderness before returning to Troe to die c. 445 at the age of around 100.
During the fifty-five years of his solitary life he was always the most meanly clad of all, thus punishing himself for his former seeming vanity in the world. In like manner, to atone for having used perfumes at court, he never changed the water in which he moistened the palm leaves of which he made mats, but only poured in fresh water upon it as it wasted, thus letting it become stenchy in the extreme. Even while engaged in manual labour he never relaxed in his application to prayer. At all times copious tears of devotion fell from his eyes. But what distinguished him most was his disinclination to all that might interrupt his union with God. When, after long search, his place of retreat was discovered, he not only refused to return to court and act as adviser to his former pupil, now Roman Emperor, Arcadius, but he would not even be his almoner to the poor and the monasteries of the neighbourhood. He invariably denied himself to visitors, no matter what their rank and condition and left to his disciples the care of entertaining them. A biography of Arsenius was written by Theodore the Studite.
Saint Arsenius was a man who was very quiet and often silent. He is most famous for always saying, "Many times I spoke, and as a result felt sorry, but I never regretted my silence."
Saint Victor of Marseilles was a Christian Martyr. He is venerated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
According to legend, Victor was a soldier in the Roman army at Marseilles when he was hailed before the prefects, Asterius and Eutychius, who sent him to Emperor Maximian for his exhortations to Christians to be firm in their faith in the face of an impending visit by the Emperor.
He was dragged through the streets, racked, imprisoned (he converted three guards, Alexander, Felician, and Longinus while in prison). He was again tortured after the guards were beheaded when it was discovered he had converted them to Christianity.
When he refused to offer incense to Jupiter, Victor kicked over the idol with his foot, he was crushed in a millstone and beheaded. His tomb became one of the most popular pilgrimage centers in Gaul. His feast day is July 21st.
King of Norway and a martyr, also called Olaf Haraldsson. The son of King Harald Grenske of Norway, he spent most of his youth as a Norse raider until 1010 when he was baptized at Rouen. In 1013, he journeyed to England and offered his services to King Ethelred against the invading Danes. Returning home in 1015 after succeeding to the throne, he embarked upon a war to free Norway from the domination of the Danes and the Swedes, defeating Earl Sweyn at Nesje in 1016. He also immediately requested that missionaries be sent from England to advance the Christianization of Norway. Owing to the harsh nature of his rule, he faced a rebellion of nobles in 1029. Through the aid of the formidable King Canute of Denmark, the rebels overthrew him and drove him into exile in Russia. Olaf returned in 1031 but was slain in battle at Stiklestad, Norway, on July 29. While neither popular nor considered especially holy during his lifetime, Olaf was soon revered after death owing to reports of miracles occurring at his tomb. He was greatly respected as a champion of Norwegain independence, and his shrine became the foundation of the cathedral of Trondheim, which was a popular place of pilgrimage during the Middle Ages. He is the patron of Norway, and was canonized in 1164.
St. Alphonsus was born in the village of Marianella near Naples, Italy, September 27, 1696. At a tender age his pious mother inspired him with the deepest sentiments of piety. The education he received under the auspices of his father, aided by his own intellect, produced in him such results that at the early age of sixteen, he graduated in law. Shortly after, he was admitted to the Neopolitan bar. In 1723, he lost a case, and God made use of his disappointment to wean his heart from the world.
In spite of all opposition he now entered the ecclesiastical state. In 1726, he was ordained a priest. He exercised the ministry at various places with great fruit, zealously laboring for his own sanctification. In 1732, God called him to found the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, with the object of laboring for the salvation of the most abandoned souls. Amid untold difficulties and innumerable trials, St. Alphonsus succeeded in establishing his Congregation, which became his glory and crown, but also his cross.
The holy founder labored incessantly at the work of the missions until, about 1756, he was appointed Bishop of St. Agatha, a diocese he governed until 1775, when broken by age and infirmity, he resigned this office to retire to his convent where he died.
Few saints have labored as much, either by word or by writing, as St. Alphonsus. He was a prolific and popular author, the utility of whose works will never cease. His last years were characterized by intense suffering, which he bore with resignation, adding voluntary mortifications to his other pains. His happy death occurred at Nocera de Pagani, August 1, 1787.
St. Dominic (1170-1221). Son of Felix Guzman and Bl. Joan of Aza, he was born at Calaruega, Spain, studied at the Univ. at Palencia, was probably ordained there while pursuing his studies and was appointed canon at Osma in 1199. There he became prior superior of the chapter, which was noted for its strict adherence to the rule of St. Benedict. In 1203 he accompanied Bishop Diego de Avezedo of Osma to Languedoc where Dominic preached against the Albigensians and helped reform the Cistercians.
Dominic founded an institute for women at Prouille in Albigensian territory in 1206 and attached several preaching friars to it. When papal legate Peter of Castelnan was murdered by the Albigensians in 1208, Pope Innocent III launched a crusade against them headed by Count Simon IV of Montfort which was to continue for the next seven years. Dominic followed the army and preached to the heretics but with no great success. In 1214 Simon gave him a castle at Casseneuil and Dominic with six followers founded an order devoted to the conversion of the Albigensians; the order was canonically approved by the bishop of Toulouse the following year. He failed to gain approval for his order of preachers at the fourth General Council of the Lateran in 1215 but received Pope Honorius III's approval in the following year, and the Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) was founded.
Dominic spent the last years of this life organizing the order, traveling all over Italy, Spain and France preaching and attracting new members and establishing new houses. The new order was phenomenally successful in conversion work as it applied Dominic's concept of harmonizing the intellectual life with popular needs. He convoked the first general council of the order at Bologna in 1220 and died there the following year on August 6, after being forced by illness to return from a preaching tour in Hungary. He was canonized in 1234 and is the patron saint of astronomers. Feast day is Aug. 8.
St. Clare was born at Montefalco, Italy, around 1268. As a young woman she joined a convent of Franciscan tertiaries. This group established Holy Cross Convent at Montefalco in 1290, adopting the Rule of St. Augustine. Clare's sister Joan was the abbess of this community, but at her death Clare succeeded her. She led an austere life, being particularly devoted to the Passion of Christ and His Cross. When Clare died in 1308, an image of the Cross was found imprinted on her heart, and her body remained incorrupt. Whe was canonized in 1881 by Pope Leo XIII. Her feast day is August 17th. The life of St. Clare reminds us that we are all called to a life of prayer and dedication. Still, we must not expect or anticipate special favors. We are to be satisfied with the simple relationship we establish with God.
Clare was born into a well-to-do family, the daughter of Damiano and Iacopa Vengente. Clare's father, Damiano, had built a hermitage within the town where Clare's older sister, Joan (Giovanna in Italian), and her friend, Andreola, lived as Franciscan tertiaries as part of the Secular Third Order of St. Francis. In 1274, when Clare was six years of age, the Bishop of Spoleto permitted Joan to receive more sisters, and it was at this time that Clare joined the Third Order of St. Francis (Secular), moving into the hermitage and adopting the Franciscan habit. In 1278, the community had grown sufficiently large that they had to build a larger hermitage farther from town.
In 1290, Clare, her sister Joan, and their companions sought to enter the monastic life in a more strict sense, and they made application to the Bishop of Spoleto. As the Third Order of St. Francis was not yet established, the bishop established their monastery in Montefalco according to the Rule of St. Augustine. Clare made her vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and became an Augustinian nun. Her sister Joan was elected as the first abbess, and their small hermitage was dedicated as a monastery. On 22 November 1291, Joan died, after which Clare was elected abbess. Clare was initially reluctant to accept her position. After the intervention of the Bishop of Spoleto, Clare finally accepted her position as abbess out of obedience to the bishop.
1294 was a decisive year in Clare's spiritual life. In the celebration of the Epiphany, after making a general confession in front of all her fellow nuns, she fell into ecstasy and remained in that state for several weeks. Unable to eat, the other nuns sustained Clare's life by feeding her sugar water. During this time, Clare reported having a vision in which she saw herself being judged in front of God.
Clare also reported having a vision of Jesus dressed as a poor traveller. She described His countenance as being overwhelmed by the weight of the cross and His body as showing signs of fatigue. During the vision, Clare knelt in front of Him, and whilst trying to stop Him she asked, "My Lord, where art Thou going?" Jesus answered her: "I have looked all over the world for a strong place where to plant this Cross firmly, and I have not found any". After she reached for the cross, making known her desire to help Him carry it, He said to her: "Clare, I have found a place for My cross here. I have finally found someone to whom I can trust Mine cross," and He implanted it in her heart. The intense pain that she felt in all her being upon receiving the cross in her heart remained with her. The rest of her years were spent in pain and suffering, and yet she continued to joyfully serve her fellow nuns as their abbess.
In 1303, Clare was able to build a church in Montefalco which would not only serve as a chapel for the nuns, but also as a church for the town. The first stone was blessed by the Bishop of Spoleto on 24 June, and that day the church was dedicated to the Holy Cross (Santa Croce in Italian).
Clare served as abbess, teacher, mother and spiritual directress of her nuns. While Clare's reputation for holiness and wisdom attracted visitors to the Monastery of the Holy Cross, she continued to governed her monastery wisely, careful not to disrupt the communal harmony and the necessary day-to-day management of the monastery's domestic affairs.
Clare had served as abbess for sixteen years, but by August 1308, she had become so ill that she was bedridden. On 15 August, she asked to receive Extreme Unction, and on the next day she sent for her brother to come to the monastery. Clare made her last confession on August 17, and died in the convent on August 18.
St.John Eudes was born at Ri, Normandy, France, on November 14, 1601, the son of a farmer. He went to the Jesuit college at Caen when he was 14, and despite his parents' wish that he marry, joined the Congregation of the Oratory of France in 1623. He studied at Paris and at Aubervilliers, was ordained in 1625, and worked as a volunteer, caring for the victims of the plagues that struck Normandy in 1625 and 1631, and spent the next decade giving Missions, building a reputation as an outstanding preacher and confessor and for his opposition to Jansenism.
He became interested in helping fallen women, and in 1641, with Madeleine Lamy, founded a refuge for them in Caen under the direction of the Visitandines. He resigned from the Oratorians in 1643 and founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (the Eudists) at Caen, composed of secular priests not bound by vows but dedicated to upgrading the clergy by establishing effective seminaries and to preaching missions. His foundation was opposed by the Oratorians and the Jansenists, and he was unable to obtain Papal approval for it, but in 1650, the Bishop of Coutances invited him to establish a seminary in that diocese. The same year the sisters at his refuge in Caen left the Visitandines and were recognized by the Bishop of Bayeux as a new congregation under the name of Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge.
John founded seminaries at Lisieux in 1653 and Rouen in 1659 and was unsuccessful in another attempt to secure Papal approval of his congregation, but in 1666 the Refuge sisters received Pope Alexander III's approval as an institute to reclaim and care for penitent wayward women. John continued giving missions and established new seminaries at Evreux in 1666 and Rennes in 1670. He shared with St. Mary Margaret Alacoque the honor of initiating devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus (he composed the Mass for the Sacred Heart in 1668) and the Holy Heart of Mary, popularizing the devotions with his "The Devotion to the Adorable Heart of Jesus" (1670) and "The Admirable Heart of the Most Holy Mother of God", which he finished a month before his death at Caen on August 19th. He was canonized in 1925. His feast day is August 19th.
This Spanish Lady was born in Madrid in 1809, lost her mother in childhood, and resisted all attempts to persuade her to marry; she lived with her brother for some years while he was Spanish ambassador at Paris and Brussels. All her interest was given to the religious instruction of the ignorant, the rescue of the unprotected and the fallen, and the relief of sickness and poverty.
When she returned to Spain she started more than one organization for work of this kind; her most lasting achievement was the foundation of the congregation of Handmaids of the Blessed Sacrament and of Charity, of which she was elected Mother General in 1859. Its work is for women of the streets.
This Institute was approved by the Holy See for five years in the lifetime of its foundress, and shortly after her death it obtained permanent recognition. It had in the meantime spread widely and was full of promise for the future.
In 1865 in connection with this final approbation Mother Michaela had set out on her way to Rome, when an epidemic of cholera broke out in Valencia. She hastened to the help of her religious daughters, who were attending the plague-stricken. But though she had more than once in previous outbreaks attended cholera patients, she took the infection herself and died, a victim of charity on August 24th.
She was canonized in 1934. Her feast day is August 25th.
Saint Peter Claver was a Spanish Jesuit priest and missionary born in Verdu who, due to his life and work, became the patron saint of slaves, the Republic of Colombia and ministry to African Americans. During the 40 years of his ministry in Colombia it is estimated he personally baptized around 300,000 people.
The 17th century was an era of expansion. New lands across the Atlantic Ocean had been discovered two hundred years previous. Spain took to the seas in pursuit of land, gold, silver, jewels, spices, sugar and tobacco. Settling the New World brought with it the need for cheap labor. The successors of the conquistadors looked to Africa. Blacks were captured, bartered, and purchased from territories of the west coast of Africa – what is today the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and other places deeper in the continent stretching as far as the Congo.
Claver was born in 1581 into a prosperous farming family in the Catalan village of Verdu, Urgell, located in the Province of Lleida, about 54 miles from Barcelona. He was born 70 years after King Ferdinand of Spain set colonial slavery culture into motion by authorizing the purchase of 250 African slaves in Lisbon for his territories in New Spain, an event which was to shape Claver's life. His parents were devout Catholics.
Later, as a student at the University of Barcelona, Claver was noted for his intelligence and piety. After two years of study there, Claver wrote these words in the notebook he kept throughout his life: "I must dedicate myself to the service of God until death, on the understanding that I am like a slave."
After he had completed his studies, Claver entered the Society of Jesus in Tarragona at the age of 20. When he had completed the novitiate, he was sent to do his study of philosophy at Palma, Mallorca. While there, he came to know the porter of the college, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, a laybrother known for his holiness and gift of prophecy. Rodriguez felt that he had been told by God that Claver was to spend his life in service in the colonies of New Spain, and he frequently urged the young student to accept that calling.
Claver volunteered for the Spanish colonies and was sent to the New Kingdom of Granada, where he arrived in the port city of Cartagena in 1610. Required to wait six years to be ordained as a priest while he did his theological studies, he lived in Jesuit houses at Tunja and Bogotá. During those preparatory years, he was deeply disturbed by the harsh treatment and living conditions of the black slaves who were brought from Africa.
By this time, the slave trade had been established in the Americas for about a century. Local natives were considered not physically fitted to work in the gold and silver mines and this created a demand for blacks from Angola and Congo. These were bought in West Africa for four crowns a head, or bartered for goods and sold in America for an average two hundred crowns apiece. Criminals, war captivse, the mentally unstable, the sick and other social misfits were bartered to the white traders by African chiefs. Others were captured at random, especially able-bodied males and females deemed suitable for labor.
Cartagena was a slave-trading hub. 10,000 slaves poured into the port yearly, crossing the Atlantic from West Africa under conditions so foul that an estimated one-third died in transit. Although the slave trade was condemned by Pope Paul III and Urban VIII had issued a papal decree prohibiting slavery,(later called "supreme villainy" by Pope Pius IX), it was a lucrative business and continued to flourish.
Claver's predecessor in his eventual lifelong mission, Father Alonso de Sandoval, S.J., was his mentor and inspiration. Sandoval devoted himself to serving the slaves for 40 years before Claver arrived to continue his work.
Whereas Sandoval had visited the slaves where they worked, Claver preferred to head for the wharf as soon as a slave ship entered the port. Boarding the ship, he entered the filthy and diseased holds to treat and minister to their badly treated, terrified human cargo, who had survived a voyage of several months under horrible conditions. It was difficult to move around on the ships, because the slave traffickers filled them to capacity. The slaves were often told they were being taken to a land where they would be eaten. Claver wore a cloak, which he would lend to anyone in need. A legend arose that whoever wore the cloak received lifetime health and was cured of all disease. After the slaves were herded from the ship and penned in nearby yards to be scrutinized by crowds of buyers, Claver joined them with medicine, food, bread, brandy, lemons and tobacco. With the help of interpreters and pictures which he carried with him, he gave basic instructions.
Claver had conflicts with some of his Jesuit brothers, who accepted slavery. Claver saw the slaves as fellow Christians, encouraging others to do so as well. During his 40 years of ministry he personally catechized and baptized an estimated 300,000 slaves. He would then follow up on them to ensure that as Christians they received their Christian and civil rights. His mission extended beyond caring for slaves, however. He preached in the city square, to sailors and traders and conducted country missions, returning every spring to visit those he had baptized, ensuring that they were treated humanely. During these missions, whenever possible he avoided the hospitality of planters and overseers; instead, he would lodge in the slave quarters.
Claver's work on behalf of slaves did not prevent him from ministering to the souls of well-to-do members of society, traders and visitors to Cartagena (including Muslims and English Protestants) and condemned criminals, many of whom he prepared for death; he was also a frequent visitor at the city's hospitals. Through years of unremitting toil and the force of his own unique personality, the slaves' situation slowly improved. In time he became a moral force, the Apostle of Cartagena.
He was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XIII, along with the holy Jesuit porter, Alphonsus Rodriguez. In 1896 Pope Leo also declared Claver the patron of missionary work among all African peoples. His body is preserved and venerated in the church of the former Jesuit residence, now renamed in his honor.
St. Joseph was born at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the Kingdom of Naples, in 1603. After spending his childhood and adolescence in simplicity and innocence, he finally joined the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual. After his ordination to the holy priesthood, he gave himself up entirely to a life of humiliation, mortification, and obedience. He was most devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and promoted devotion to her among all classes of people.
His mother considered him a nuisance and treated him harshly. Joseph soon became very slow and absent-minded. He would wander around, going nowhere, his mouth gaping open. But he had a bad temper, too, and so, he was not at all popular. He tried to learn the trade of shoemaking, but failed. He asked to become a Franciscan, but they would not accept him. Next, he joined the Capuchins, but eight months later, they sent him away because he could not seem to do anything right. He dropped piles of dishes and kept forgetting to do what he was told. His mother was not at all pleased to have the eighteen-year-old Joseph back home again, so she finally got him accepted as a servant at the Franciscan monastery. He was given the monks habit and put to hard work taking care of the horses. About this time, Joseph began to change. He grew more humble and gentle, more careful and successful at his work. He also began to do more penance. Now, it was decided that he could become a real member of the Order and start studying for the priesthood. Although he was very good, he still had a hard time with studies. The examiner happened to ask him to explain the only thing he knew well, and so he was made a deacon, and later a priest. After this, God began to work many amazing miracles through St. Joseph. Over seventy times, people saw him rise from the ground while saying mass or praying. Often he went into ecstasy and would be completely rapt up in talking with God. He became so holy that everything he saw made him think of God, and he said that all the troubles of this world were nothing but the "play" battles children have with popguns. St. Joseph became so famous for the miracles that he was kept hidden, but he was happy for the chance to be alone with his beloved Lord. On His part, Jesus never left him alone and one day came to bring him to Heaven. Pope Clement XIII canonized him in 1767. He is the patron saint of air travelers and pilots.
It is said that the life of this saint was marked by ecstasies and levitations. The mere mention of God or a spiritual matter was enough to take him out of his senses; at Mass he frequently floated in the air in rapture. Once as Christmas carols were being sung, he soared to the high altar and knelt in the air, rapted in prayer. On another occasion he ferried a cross thirty-six feet high through the air to the top of a Calvary group as easily as one might carry a straw.
The people flocked to him in droves seeking help and advice in the confessional, and he converted many to a truly Christian life. However, this humble man had to endure many severe trials and terrible temptations throughout his life. He died on September 18, 1663.
St. Vincent was born of poor parents in the village of Pouy in Gascony, France, about 1580. He enjoyed his first schooling under the Franciscan Fathers at Acqs. Such had been his progress in four years that a gentleman chose him as subpreceptor to his children, and he was thus enabled to continue his studies without being a burden to his parents. In 1596, he went to the University of Toulouse for theological studies, and there he was ordained priest in 1600.
In 1605, on a voyage by sea from Marseilles to Narbonne, he fell into the hands of African pirates and was carried as a slave to Tunis. His captivity lasted about two years, until Divine Providence enabled him to effect his escape. After a brief visit to Rome he returned to France, where he became preceptor in the family of Emmanuel de Gondy, Count of Goigny, and General of the galleys of France. In 1617, he began to preach missions, and in 1625, he lay the foundations of a congregation which afterward became the Congregation of the Mission or Lazarists, so named on account of the Prioryof St. Lazarus, which the Fathers began to occupy in 1633.
It would be impossible to enumerate all the works of this servant of God. Charity was his predominant virtue. It extended to all classes of persons, from forsaken childhood to old age. The Sisters of Charity also owe the foundation of their congregation to St. Vincent. In the midst of the most distracting occupations his soul was always intimately united with God. Though honored by the great ones of the world, he remained deeply rooted in humility. The Apostle of Charity, the immortal Vincent de Paul, breathed his last in Paris at the age of eighty. His feast day is September 27th. He is the patron of charitable societies.
Saint Maria Soledad, the second child of five of Francisco Torres and Antonia Acosta, was born in Madrid on December 2, 1826, and baptized Bibiana Antonia Emanuela. Her parents ran a small business in Madrid. She was educated by the Daughters of Charity and often visited the sick in her neighborhood, performing small penances for the benefit of others. She wanted to become a nun but was unsuccessful in entering the Dominican community because of her poor health. In 1851, she was asked by a parish priest, a member of the Third Order of the Servites, Fr. Michael Martinez y Sanz, to minister to the sick poor of his parish in their homes. On August 15, 1851, with six companions she began this ministry, taking the name Maria Soledad.
In 1856, Fr. Michael took six of the twelve sisters with him to the missions in Fernando Po, leaving Maria Soledad as superior. The remaining sisters removed her from this office. This move disorganized the community and the bishop threatened to dissolve it. After an examination by the bishop, Maria Soledad was re-appointed and, with the help of the new director, Fr. Gabino Sanchez, an Augustinian, they continued their work. At this time they named their community the "Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick." The bishop gave his formal approval of their ministry and expanded their work to include the care of the young delinquents of Madrid. The dedication of the sisters was brought to the attention of the public by their care of the sick during the cholera epidemic of 1865.
Maria Soledad was the victim of slander and removed from her office, until Fr. Gabino had her reinstated after an investigation. At about this time, several of the sisters left the community, but the Handmaids grew in number and, in 1875, began a ministry in Havana, Cuba. The new institute received definitive papal approval in 1876. Maria Soledad had governed the community for 35 years when she died of pneumonia on October 11, 1887. At the time of her death there were 46 houses in Europe and Latin America.
She was buried in the sisters' cemetery but, on January 18, 1893, her body was exhumed and transferred to the chapel. The body was still intact, exuding a bloody liquid and a sweet odor. A few years later, however, only bones remained. Maria Soledad was beatified on February 5, 1950, by Pope Pius XII. She was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. She is commemorated liturgically on October 11.
In the United States, the congregation is known as the Sisters Servants of Mary, Ministers of the Sick. They have six communities in the U.S., still involved in home health care.
Saint Hedwig Duchess and widow, the patroness of Silesia, a region of eastern Europe. Also called Jadwiga in some lists, she died in a Cistercain convent, having taken vows.
Hedwig was born in Andechs, Bavaria, Germany, the daughter of the Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia. She was the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. At the age of twelve, Hedwig was marrie to Duke Henry of Silesia, the head of the Polish Royal family.
She bore him seven children, and they had a happy marriage. Henry founded a Cistercain convent at Trebnitz, as well as hospitals and monasteries. Henry died in 1238 and Hedwig became a Cistercain at Trebnitz. She had to leave her prayers to make peace among her offspring, and she buried a child who was killed fighting against the Mongols.
She died in the convent on October 15.Many miracles were reported after her death, and she was canonized in 1266.
According to a legend that appeared in the tenth century, Ursula was the daughter of a Christian king in Britain and was granted a three year postponement of a marriage she did not wish, to a pagan prince.
With ten ladies in waiting, each attended by a thousand maidens, she embarked on a voyage across the North sea, sailed up the Rhine to Basle, Switzerland, and then went to Rome. On their way back, they were all massacred by pagan Huns at Cologne in about 451 when Ursula refused to marry their chieftain.
According to another legend, Amorica was settled by British colonizers and soldiers after Emporer Magnus Clemens Maximus conquered Britain and Gaul in 383. The ruler of the settlers, Cynan Meiriadog, called on King Dionotus of Cornwall for wives for the settlers, whereupon Dionotus sent his daughter Ursula, who was to marry Cynan, with eleven thousand maidens and sixty thousand common women.
Their fleet was shipwrecked and all the women were enslaved or murdered. The legends are pious fictions, but what is true is that one Clematius, a senator, rebuilt a basilica in Cologne that had originally been built, probably at the beginning of the fourth century, to honor a group of virgins who had been martyred at Cologne. They were evidently venerated enough to have had a church built in their honor, but who they were and how many of them there were, are unknown.
From these meager facts, the legend of Ursula grew and developed. Feast day October 21.
St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight in that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and practiced as a lawyer in the courts of Naples. King Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia. During a war with a neighboring town he was betrayed and imprisoned. Upon his release he entered the Franciscan community at Perugia in 1416. He and St. James of the March were fellow students under St. Bernardine of Siena, who inspired him to institute the devotion to the holy Name of Jesus and His Mother.
John began his brilliant preaching apostolate with a deacon in 1420. After his ordination he traveled throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia preaching penance and establishing numerous communities of Franciscan renewal. When Mohammed II was threatening Vienna and Rome, St. John, at the age of seventy, was commissioned by Pope Callistus III to preach and lead a crusade against the invading Turks. Marching at the head of seventy thousand Christians, he gained victory in the great battle of Belgrade against the Turks in 1456. Three months later he died at Illok, Hungary. His feast day is October 23. He is the patron of jurists.
Procopius, John of Ephesus, and other contemporary historians recount Kaleb's invasion of Yemen around 520, against the Jewish Himyarite king Yusuf Asar Yathar, who was persecuting the Christians in his kingdom. After much fighting, Kaleb's soldiers eventually routed Yusuf's forces and killed the king, allowing Kaleb to appoint Sumuafa' Ashawa', a native Christian as his viceroy of Himyar.
As a result of his protection of the Christians, he is known as St. Elesbaan after the sixteenth-century Cardinal Cesare Baronio added him to his edition of the Roman Martyrology despite his being a Monophysite and therefore in Roman Catholic eyes a heretic. However, the question of whether Miaphysitism—the actual christology of the Oriental Orthodox Churches was a heresy is a question which remains to this day, and other Oriental saints such as Isaac of Nineveh continue to be venerated by the Chalcedonian churches.
Axumite control of South Arabia continued until c.525 when Sumuafa' Ashawa' was deposed by Abraha, who made himself king. Procopius states that Kaleb made several unsuccessful attempts to recover his overseas territory; however, his successor later negotiated a peace with Abraha, where Abraha acknowledged the Axumite king's authority and paid tribute. Munro-Hay opines that by this expedition Axum overextended itself, and this final intervention across the Red Sea, "was Aksum's swan-song as a great power in the region."
Ethiopian tradition states that Kaleb eventually abdicated his throne, gave his crown to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and retired to a monastery.
Confessor and Jay brother, also called Alonso. He was born in Segovia, Spain, on July 25, 1532, the son of a wealthy merchant, and was prepared for First Communion by Blessed Peter Favre, a friend of Alphonsus' father. While studying with the Jesuits at Alcala, Alphonsus had to return home when his father died. In Segovia he took over the family business, was married, and had a son. That son died, as did two other children and then his wife. Alphonsus sold his business and applied to the Jesuits. His lack of education and his poor health, undermined by his austerities, made him less than desirable as a candidate for the religious life, but he was accepted as a lay brother by the Jesuits on January 31, 1571. He underwent novitiate training and was sent to Montesion College on the island of Majorca. There he labored as a hall porter for twenty-four years. Overlooked by some of the Jesuits in the house, Alphonsus exerted a wondrous influence on many. Not only the young students, such as St. Peter Claver, but local civic tad and social leaders came to his porter's lodge for advice tad and direction. Obedience and penance were the hallmarks of his life, as well as his devotion to the Immaculate Conception. He experienced many spiritual consolations, and he wrote religious treatises, very simple in style but sound in doctrine. Alphonsus died after a long illness on October 31, 1617, and his funeral was attended by Church and government leaders. He was declared Venerable in 1626, and was named a patron of Majorca in 1633. Alphonsus was beatified in 1825 and canonized in September 1888 with St. Peter Claver.
Rodríguez was the son of a wool merchant. When Peter Faber, one of the original Jesuits, visited the city to preach, the Rodríguez family provided hospitality to the Jesuit. Faber prepared the young Alphonsus for his First Communion. When he was fourteen, his father died and Alphonsus left school to help his mother run the family business. At the age of 26 he married María Suarez, a woman of his own station, with whom he had three children. At the age of 31 he found himself a widower with one surviving child, the other two having died. From that time on he began a life of prayer and mortification, separated from the world around him. On the death of his third child his thoughts turned to a life in a religious order.
Previous associations had brought him into contact with the first Jesuits who had come to Spain, Blessed Peter Faber among others, but it was apparently impossible to carry out his purpose of entering the Society as he was without education, having only an incomplete year at a new college begun at Alcalá by Francis Villanueva. At the age of 39 he attempted to make up this deficiency by following the course at the College of Barcelona, but without success. His austerities had also undermined his health. After considerable delay he was finally admitted into the Society of Jesus as a lay brother on January 31, 1571, at the age of 40. The provincial is supposed to have said that if Alphonsus was not qualified to become a brother or a priest, he could enter to become a saint.
Distinct novitiates for seminarians and lay brothers had not yet been established in Spain, and Alphonsus began his term of probation at Valencia or Gandia and after six months was sent to the recently founded college on Majorca, where he remained in the humble position of porter for 46 years, exercising a marvelous influence not only on the members of the household, but upon a great number of people who came to the porter's lodge for advice and direction. As doorkeeper, his duties were to receive visitors who came to the college, search out the fathers or students who were wanted in the parlor, deliver messages, run errands, console the sick at heart who, having no one to turn to, came to him, give advice to the troubled, and distribute alms to the needy. Alphonsus tells that each time the bell rang, he looked at the door and envisioned that it was God who was standing outside seeking admittance. Among the distinguished Jesuits who came under his influence was St. Peter Claver, who lived with him for some time at Majorca, and who followed his advice in asking for the missions of South America. He made his final vows in 1585 at the age of 54.
The bodily mortifications which he imposed on himself were extreme, the scruples and mental agitation to which he was subject were of frequent occurrence, his obedience absolute, and his absorption in spiritual things, even when engaged on most distracting employments, continual. His Jesuit superiors, seeing the good work he was doing among the townspeople, were eager to have his influence spread far among his own religious community, so on feast days they often sent him into the pulpit in the dining room to hear him give a sermon. On more than one occasion the community sat quietly past dinner time to hear Alphonsus finish his sermon.
Brother Alphonsus became very feeble when he reached his eighties and in his last months, his memory began to fail and he was not even able to remember his favourite prayers. Alphonsus died on October 31, 1617.
Saint Hubertus or Hubert became Bishop of Liège in 708 A.D. He was a Christian saint who was the patron saint of hunters, mathematicians, opticians, and metalworkers. Known as the Apostle of the Ardennes, he was called upon, until the early 20th century, to cure rabies through the use of the traditional St Hubert's Key.
His wife died giving birth to their son, and Hubert retreated from the court, withdrew into the forested Ardennes, and gave himself up entirely to hunting. But a great spiritual revolution was imminent. On Good Friday morning, when the faithful were crowding the churches, Hubert sallied forth to the chase. As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: "Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell". Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, "Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?" He received the answer, "Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you."
During Hubert's religious vision, the Hirsch is said to have lectured Hubertus into holding animals in higher regard and having compassion for them as God's creatures with a value in their own right. For example, the hunter ought to only shoot when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured. He ought shoot only old stags past their prime breeding years and to relinquish a much anticipated shot on a trophy to instead euthanize a sick or injured animal that might appear on the scene. Further, one ought never shoot a female with young in tow to assure the young deer have a mother to guide them to food during the winter. Such is the legacy of Hubert who still today is taught and held in high regard in the extensive and rigorous German and Austrian hunter education courses.
Saint Hubert was widely venerated during the Middle Ages. He died 30 May 727 A.D. in Tervuren near Brussels, Belgium. Saint Hubert is honored among sport-hunters as the originator of ethical hunting behavior.
St. Castorius is the patron saint of sculptors and his feast day is November 8th. Castorius, Claudius, Nicostratus, and Symphorian are called "the four crowned martyrs" who were tortured and executed in Pannonia, Hungary during the reign of Diocletian. According to legend, they were employed as carvers at Sirmium (Mitrovica, Yugoslavia) and impressed Diocletian with their art, as did another carver, Simplicius.
Diocletian commissioned them to do several carvings, which they did to his satisfaction, but they then refused to carve a statue of Aesculapius, as they were Christians. The emperor accepted their beliefs, but when they refused to sacrifice to the gods, they were imprisoned. When Diocletian's officer Lampadius, who was trying to convince them to sacrifice to the gods, suddenly died, his relatives accused the five of his death; to placate the relatives, the emperor had them executed.
The Four Crowned Martyrs were venerated early in England and there was a church dedicated to them in Canterbury. This veneration can perhaps be accounted for the fact that Augustine of Canterbury came from a monastery near the basilica of Santi Quattro Coronati in Rome or because their relics were sent from Rome to England in 601. Their connection with stonemasonry in turn connected them to the Freemasons. One of the scholarly journals of the English Freemasons was called Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, and the Stonemasons of Germany adopted them as patron saints of "Operative Masonry.
Around 1415, Nanni di Banco fashioned a sculptural grouping of the martyrs after he was commissioned by the Maestri di Pietra e Legname, the guild of stone and woodworkers, of which he was a member. These saints were the guild's patron saints. The work can be found in the Orsanmichele, in Florence.
Theodore was born at Constantinople and nephew of Abbot St. Plato of Symboleon on Mount Olympus in Bithynia. He became a novice at a monastery established by his father on his estate at Saccudium near Constantinople, where he was sent to study by Plato, who had become abbot of Saccudium. Theodore was ordained in 787 at Constantinople, returned to Saccudium, and in 794, succeeded Plato as abbot. He and Plato denounced the action of Emperor Constantine VI in leaving his wife and marrying Theodota, and in 796, Theodore and his monks were exiled to Thessalonica. He returned a few months later when Constantine's mother, Irene, seized power, dethroned, and then blinded her son. Theodore reopened Saccudium but moved to Constantinople to escape Saracen raids, was named abbot of the famous Studios monastery, founded in 463 but now neglected and rundown, built it from a dozen monks to a thousand, and made it the center of eastern monastic life. He encouraged learning in the arts, founded a school of calligraphy, and wrote a rule for the monastery that was adopted in Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and even on Mount Athos. When he opposed the appointment of a layman, Nicephorus, (namesake of Emperor Nicephorus I) to succeed Tarasius, who had died in 806 as patriarch of Constantinople by Emperor Nicephorus I, Theodore was imprisoned by the emperor. When in 809, Nicephorus the patriarch, and a synod of bishops reinstated the priest, Joseph, who had married Constantine and Theodota and declared their marriage valid, Theodore's denunciations of the decision caused him to be exiled to Princes' Island with Plato and Archbishop Joseph of Thessalonica, Theodore's brother, and the monks of Studios were dispersed. Theodore returned on the emperor's death in 811 and was reconciled to Patriarch Nicephorus in a common fight against the iconoclasm of Emperor Leo V the Armenian. When Nicephorus was banished, Theodore became the leader of the Orthodox and was himself banished in 813 to Mysia by Leo. When Theodore's correspondence (among it, letters to Pope St. Paschal I emphasizing the primacy of the Bishop of Rome) was discovered, he was removed to Bonita in Anatolia. He endured great hardships the three years he was in prison there and he was transferred to Smyrna and put in the custody of an iconoclast bishop who wanted him beheaded and treated him with great harshness. Released on the murder of Leo in 820, he was again faced with a renewed iconoclasm under Emperor Michael the Stammerer, who refused to restore him as abbot or to restore any of the orthodox bishops to their Sees. Theodore left Constantinople and visited monasteries in Bithynia, founded a monastery on Akrita for many of his monks who had followed him, and died there on November 11. Many of his letters, treatises, sermons, and hymns are still existent. His feast day is November 11.
Patron of sick children, sick people, shoemakers, and swans.
As a Carthusian monk of the Grande Chartreuse, near Grenoble, France, Hugh observed the rule of his order with exceptional fidelity. He also manifested a touching affection for the squirrels and birds that frequented the small garden adjoining his monastic cell. Hugh was subsequently sent to England to govern a new Carthusian monastery at Witham.
In 1186 he was chosen to become bishop of the English diocese of Lincoln. He showed himself a faithful pastor while continuing the deep spiritual life he had developed as a Carthusian. Every Saturday, he went to confession and celebrated a votive Mass in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
He was fastidious in the faithful celebration of the Divine Office, immediately leaving whatever he was doing when the time came to begin the office. On one occasion when a fellow bishop wanted to hurry the celebration of Mass in order to be on time for a meeting with the English king, Hugh insisted upon celebrating it in the usual manner, with the accustomed chanting. He told the other bishop: "We must do homage first to the King of kings. No secular employment can dispense us from what we owe to him."
Hilda of Whitby or Hild of Whitby (c. 614–680) is a Christian saint and the founding abbess of the monastery at Whitby, which was chosen as the venue for the Synod of Whitby. An important figure in the conversion of England to Christianity, she was abbess at several monasteries and recognized for the wisdom that drew kings to her for advice.
The source of information about Hilda is The Ecclesiastical History of the English by the Venerable Bede in 731, who was born approximately eight years before her death. He documented much of the Christian conversion of the Anglo-Saxons.
According to Bede, Hilda was born in 614, into the Deiran royal household. She was the second daughter of Hereric, nephew of Edwin of Northumbria, and his wife Breguswith.
When Hilda was still an infant, her father was poisoned while in exile at the court of the British King of Elmet in what is now West Yorkshire. In 616 CE, Edwin killed the son of Aethelric, Aethefrith, in battle. He created the kingdom of Northumbria and took the throne.Hild was brought up at King Edwin's court.
In 625, the widowed Edwin married the Christian princess, Æthelburh of Kent, daughter of King Æthelberht of Kent and the Merovingian princess Bertha of Kent. As part of the marriage contract, Aethelburgh was allowed to continue her Roman Christian worship and was accompanied to Northumbria with her chaplain, Paulinus of York, a Roman monk sent to England in 601 to assist Augustine of Canterbury. Augustine's mission in England was based in Kent, and is referred to as the Gregorian mission after the pope who sent him.As queen, Æthelburh continued to practice her Christianity and no doubt influenced her husband's thinking as her mother Bertha had influenced her father.
In 627 King Edwin was baptised on Easter Day, April 12, along with his entire court, which included the thirteen-year-old Hild, in a small wooden church hastily constructed for the occasion near the site of the present York Minster.
In 633 Northumbria was overrun by the neighbouring pagan King of Mercia, at which time King Edwin fell in battle. Paulinus accompanied Hild and Queen Ethelburga and her companions to the Queen's home in Kent. Queen Ethelburga founded a convent at Liming and it is assumed that Hilda remained with the Queen-Abbess. Hild's elder sister, Hereswith, married Ethelric, brother of King Anna of East Anglia, who with all of his daughters became renowned for their saintly Christian virtues. Later, Hereswith became a nun at Chelles Abbey in Gaul (modern France). Bede resumes Hild's story at a point when she was about to join her widowed sister at Chelles Abbey. At the age of 33, Hilda decided instead to answer the call of Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne and returned to Northumbria to live as a nun.[
Hilda's original convent is not known except that it was on the north bank of the River Wear. Here, with a few companions, she learned the traditions of Celtic monasticism, which Bishop Aidan brought from Iona. After a year Aidan appointed Hilda as the second Abbess of Hartlepool Abbey. No trace remains of this abbey, but its monastic cemetery has been found near the present St Hilda's Church, Hartlepool.
In 657 Hilda became the founding abbess of Whitby Abbey, then known as Streoneshalh; she remained there until her death. Archaeological evidence shows that her monastery was in the Celtic style, with its members living in small houses, each for two or three people. The tradition in double monasteries, such as Hartlepool and Whitby, was that men and women lived separately but worshipped together in church. The exact location and size of the church associated with this monastery is unknown.
Bede states that the original ideals of monasticism were maintained strictly in Hilda's abbey. All property and goods were held in common; Christian virtues were exercised, especially peace and charity. Everyone had to study the Bible and do good works.
Five men from this monastery later became bishops and two also join Hilda in being revered as saints - John of Beverley, Bishop of Hexham, and Wilfrid, Bishop of York. They rendered untold service to the church at this critical period of the struggle with paganism.
The son of Grand Prince Yaroslav II of Vladimir, St. Alexander Nevski is a hero because he defended Russia against the Swedes and the Germans; he is also an enigma because he was conciliatory to the Mongols.
Born c. 1220, Alexander was elected Grand Prince of Novgorod in 1236. Married three years later, he defeated the Swedes at the confluence of the Ithara and Neva Rivers in 1240, and from this victory, he earned the name "Nevski." Two years later, he routed the Teutonic Knights, whom Pope Gregory IX had commissioned to christianize the Baltic. Alexander was also victorious over the Lithuanians and the Finns.
On the death of his father in 1246 Alexander and his brother, Andrew, struggled briefly for the throne. The Great Khan appointed Alexander Prince of Kiev and Andrew Prince of Vladimir. Alexander became Prince of Vladimir in 1252, when he revealed his brother's plans for a revolt to the Mongols.
Alexander continued to control Novgorod through his son, Vassily, and ended the election of princes in that city. In 1255, Alexander quelled a rebellion against Vassily, and in 1257, he put down a rebellion against the Mongols. His relationship with the Golden Horde is thought to have protected the Russian people from the usual ravages of Mongol occupation, and in 1262, at his request, the Mongols exempted Russians from their draft. Alexander died in 1263 in Gorodets.
Saint Chrysogonus was martyred at Aquileia, probably during the Persecution of Diocletian, was buried there, and publicly venerated by the faithful of that region. He is the patron saint of Zadar.
Very early indeed the veneration of this martyr of Aquileia was transferred to Rome, where in Trastevere a titular church bears his name. This church ("Titulus Chrysogoni") is first mentioned in the signatures of the Roman Synod of 499, but it probably dates from the 4th century.
According to a 6th century legend, Chrysogonus, at first a functionary of the vicarius Urbis, was the Christian teacher of Anastasia, the daughter of the noble Roman Praetextatus. Being thrown into prison during the persecution of Diocletian, he comforted by his letters the severely afflicted Anastasia. By order of Diocletian, Chrysogonus was brought before the emperor at Aquileia, condemned to death, and beheaded. His corpse, thrown into the sea, was washed ashore and buried by the aged priest Zoilus who is also the patron saint of Zadar. In the legend the death of the saint is placed on 23 November. The Roman Catholic Church celebrates him on 24 November, the anniversary of the dedication of the church that bears his name.
St Chrysogonus is one of the saints mentioned during the Commemoration of the Living in the Roman Canon.
James was a favorite of King Yezdigerd I of Persia and a Christian. He abandoned his religion when Yesdigerd launched a persecution of the Christians. When the king died, James repented of his apostasy and declared himself to be a Christian to the new king, Bahram. When James refused to apostasize, he was executed by having his body cut apart piece by piece, beginning with his fingers (hence his surname Intercisus - cut to pieces), and then beheaded. His feast day is November 27.
St. Eligius was born at the "villa" of Chaptelat, six miles north of Limoges, in Aquitaine (now France), into an educated and influential Gallo-Roman family. His father, recognizing unusual talent in his son, sent him to the goldsmith Abbo, master of the mint at Limoges. Later Eligius went to Neustria, the kingdom of the Franks, where he worked under Babo, the royal treasurer, on whose recommendation Clotaire II, king of the Franks, is said to have commissioned him to make a throne of gold adorned with precious stones.
"And from that which he had taken for a single piece of work, he was able to make two. Incredibly, he could do it all from the same weight for he had accomplished the work commissioned from him without any fraud or mixture of siliquae, or any other fraudulence. Not claiming fragments bitten off by the file or using the devouring flame of the furnace for an excuse, but filling all faithfully with gems, he happily earned his happy reward." The story, from the contemporary biography written by his friend Audoin, aka Ouen or Saint-Ouen or Dado, bishop of Rouen, gives a sense of the level of corruption that was a normal expectation in Merovingian France.
Among other goldsmith's work soon entrusted to Eligius were the bas-reliefs for the tomb of Saint Germain, Bishop of Paris. Clotaire took Eligius into the royal household and appointed him master of the mint at Marseilles.
After the death of Clotaire in 629, Dagobert appointed his father's friend his chief councillor. Eligius' reputation spread rapidly, to the extent that ambassadors first sought out Eligius for counsel and to pay their respects to him before going to the king. He made some enemies. His success in inducing the Breton prince, Judicael ap Hoel, to make a pact with Dagobert, at a meeting at the king's villa of Creil increased his influence:
Indeed King Dagobert, swift, handsome and famous with no rival among any of the earlier kings of the Franks, loved him so much that he would often take himself out of the crowds of princes, optimates, dukes or bishops around him and seek private counsel from Eligius. Eligius took advantage of this royal favor to obtain alms for the poor, and to ransom captive Romans, Gauls, Bretons, Moors, and especially Saxons, who were arriving daily at the slave market in Marseilles.
He was tall with a rosy face. He had a pretty head of hair with curly locks. His hands were honest and his fingers long. He had the face of an angel and a prudent look. At first, he was used to wear gold and gems on his clothes, having belts composed of gold and gems and elegantly jeweled purses, linens covered with red metal and golden sacs hemmed with gold and all of the most precious fabrics including all of silk. But all of this was but fleeting ostentation from the beginning and beneath he wore a hairshirt next to his flesh and, as he proceeded to perfection, he gave the ornaments for the needs of the poor. Then you would see him, whom you had once seen gleaming with the weight of the gold and gems that covered him, go covered in the vilest clothing with a rope for a belt.
Eligius founded several monasteries, and with the king's consent, sent his servants through towns and villages to take down the bodies of criminals who had been executed and give them decent burial. Eligius was a source of edification at court, where he and his friend Dado lived according to the strict Irish monastic rule that had been introduced into Gaul by Saint Columbanus. Eligius introduced this rule, either entirely or in part, into the monastery of Solignac near Limoges, which he founded in 632 at a villa he had purchased, and also at the convent he founded at Paris, where three hundred virgins were under the guidance of the Abbess Aurea. He also built the basilica of St. Paul, and restored the basilica at Paris that was devoted to Saint Martial, the patron bishop-saint of his native Limoges. Eligius also erected several fine tombs in honor of the relics of Saint Martin of Tours, the national saint of the Franks, and Saint Denis, who was chosen patron saint by the king.
On the death of Dagobert (639), Queen Nanthild took the reins of government, the king Clovis II being a child. During this regency, Eligius launched a campaign against simony in the church. On the death of Acarius, Bishop of Noyon-Tournai, March 14 of Clovis's third year, Eligius was made his successor, with the unanimous approbation of clergy and people. "So the unwilling goldsmith was tonsured and constituted guardian of the towns or municipalities of Vermandois which include the metropolis, Tournai, which was once a royal city, and Noyon and Ghent and Kortrijk of Flanders."
The inhabitants of his new diocese were pagans for the most part. He undertook the conversion of the Flemings, Frisians, Suevi, and the other Germanic tribes along the North Sea coast. He made frequent missionary excursions and also founded a great many monasteries and churches. In his own episcopal city of Noyon he built and endowed a nunnery for virgins. After the finding of the body of St. Quentin, Bishop Eligius erected in his honor a church to which was joined a monastery under the Irish rule. He also discovered the bodies of St. Piatus and his martyred companions, and in 654 removed the remains of Saint Fursey, the celebrated Irish missionary.
There is also a legend that St Eloi resolved the problem of a horse reluctant to be shod. He thought it was possessed by demons, so he cut off the horse's foreleg and, while the horse stood on the remaining three legs and watched, he re-shod the hoof on the amputated leg, before miraculously re-attaching the leg to the horse. The legend is depicted at Slapton Church Yorkshire, England, and also in a 14th-century painting in the Petit Palais in Avignon, France.
I am Titus Flavius Clemens. I lived from 150 A.D. to 215 A.D. In my episcopate (administration of the church), I used Platonian philosophy and Christian theology to exegetically show the meanings of Christ crucified. From around 199 A.D. to about 202 A.D. I was headmaster of the famed Catechetical School of Alexandria. I wrote of Protrepticus, Paedagogus, and Stromateis. The latter I did not complete. I taught that we Christians must find out, know, and then practice a moral Christian life, to reach perfection, and thus God. I said that knowledge and faith were necessary to discover, learn, live, understand and thus follow God's will.
Titus Flavius Clemens c. 150 – c. 215), known as Clement of Alexandria to distinguish him from the earlier Clement of Rome, was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria. A convert to Christianity, he was an educated man who was familiar with classical Greek philosophy and literature.
As his three major works demonstrate, Clement was influenced by Hellenistic philosophy to a greater extent than any other Christian thinker of his time, and in particular by Plato and the Stoics. His secret works, which exist only in fragments, suggest that he was also familiar with pre-Christian Jewish esotericism and Gnosticism. In one of his works he argued that Greek philosophy had its origin among non-Greeks, claiming that both Plato and Pythagoras were taught by Egyptian scholars.
Among his pupils were Origen and Alexander of Jerusalem.
St. Daniel, the Stylite, Priest.
Feast day is December 11. Daniel was born in Maratha, Syria in 409 and became a monk in nearby Samosata on the Upper Euphrates.
He learned of St. Simeon Stylites the Elder, living on a pillar at Antioch and got to see him twice. At the age of forty-two, Daniel decided that he too wanted to become a stylite (from the Greek word "stylos", meaning pillar) and live on a pillar at a spot near Constantinople.
Therefore, Emperor Leo I, built a series of pillars with a platform on top for him, and Daniel was ordained there by St. Gennadius.
The saint quickly became an attraction for the people. He celebrated the Eucharist on his pillar, preached sermons, dispensed spiritual advice, and cured the sick who were brought up to him. He also gave prudent counsel to Emperors Leo and Zeno and the patriarch of Constantinople. All the while, Daniel lived his particular type of pillar spirituality. He came down from his perch only once in thirty-three years - to turn Emperor Baliscus away from backing the heresy of Monophysitism.
Daniel died in 493 and became the best known Stylite after St. Simeon Stylites the Elder. The life of St. Daniel the Stylite is an apt reminder that there are many ways to live the spiritual life. All of us have our own way to be close to God every day. Our task is to find that way and follow it to the very end.
In 1565, the Vatican was looking for a secret agent. It was shortly after the Council of Trent and the pope wanted to get the decrees of the Council to all the European bishops. What would be a simple errand in our day, was a dangerous assignment in the sixteenth century. The first envoy who tried to carry the decrees through territory of hostile Protestants and vicious thieves was robbed of the precious documents. Rome needed someone courageous but also someone above suspicion. They chose Peter Canisius. At 43 he was a well-known Jesuit who had founded colleges that even Protestants respected. They gave him a cover as official "visitor" of Jesuit foundations. But Peter couldn't hide the decrees like our modern fictional spies with their microfilmed messages in collar buttons or cans of shaving cream. Peter traveled from Rome and crisscrossed Germany successfully loaded down with the Tridentine tomes -- 250 pages each -- not to mention the three sacks of books he took along for his own university!
Why did the Vatican choose Peter Canisius for this delicate task?
Born in Holland in 1521, Peter had edited and written several volumes on Church history and theology, been a delegate to the Council of Trent, and reformed the German universities from heresy. Called to Vienna to reform their university, he couldn't win the people with preaching or fancy words spoken in his German accent. He won their hearts by ministering to the sick and dying during a plague. The people, the king, and the pope all wanted to make Peter bishop of Vienna, but Peter declined vigorously and administered the diocese for a year.
For many years during the Reformation, Peter saw the students in his universities swayed by the flashy speeches and the well-written arguments of the Protestants. Peter was not alone in wishing for a Catholic catechism that would present true Catholic beliefs undistorted by fanatics. Finally King Ferdinand himself ordered Peter and his companions to write a catechism. This hot potato got tossed from person to person until Peter and his friend Lejay were assigned to write it. Lejay was obviously the logical choice, being a better writer than Peter. So Peter relaxed and sat back to offer any help he could. When Father Lejay died, King Ferdinand would wait no longer. Peter said of writing: "I have never learned to be elegant as a writer, but I cannot remain dumb on that account." The first issue of the Catechism appeared in 1555 and was an immediate success. Peter approached Christian doctrine in two parts: wisdom -- including faith, hope, and charity -- and justice -- avoiding evil and doing good, linked by a section on sacraments.
Because of the success and the need, Peter quickly produced two more versions: a Shorter Catechism for middle school students which concentrated on helping this age group choose good over evil by concentrating on a different virtue each day of the week; and a Shortest Catechism for young children which included prayers for morning and evening, for mealtimes, and so forth to get them used to praying.
As intent as Peter was on keeping people true to the Catholic faith, he followed the Jesuit policy that harsh words should not be used, that those listening would see an example of charity in the way Catholics acted and preached. However, his companions were not always as willing. He showed great patience and insight with one man, Father Couvillon. Couvillon was so sharp and hostile that he was alienating his companions and students. Anyone who confronted him became the subject of abuse. It became obvious that Couvillon suffered from emotional illness. But Peter did not let that knowledge blind him to the fact that Couvillon was still a brilliant and talented man. Instead of asking Couvillon to resign he begged him to stay on as a teacher and then appointed him as his secretary. Peter thought that Couvillon needed to worry less about himself and pray more and work harder. He didn't coddle him but gave Couvillon blunt advice about his pride. Coming from Peter this seemed to help Couvillon. Peter consulted Couvillon often on business of the Province and asked him to translate Jesuit letters from India. Thanks to Peter , even though Couvillon continued to suffer depression for years, he also accomplished much good.
Peter died in December 21, 1597. He is known as the Second Apostle of Germany and was named a Doctor of the Church.