Solemnity of the Epiphany
Blessed André Bessette (AC)
(also known as Alfred Bessette)
Born at Saint Gregoire (near Montreal), Quebec, Canada, on August 9, 1845; died January 6, 1937; beatified by John Paul II on May 23, 1982.
Alfred Bessette, later known as Brother André, knew hardship early in his life. The father of this sickly boy died when Alfred was ten; his mother, who fostered Alfred's faith and his devotion to the Holy Family, followed her husband two years later. Until his aunt and uncle left Canada to seek their fortune during the California Gold Rush, Alfred found a home with them. Unfortunately, his health was too fragile to travel into the frontier; thus, at the tender age of 14, Alfred was left alone in the world to earn his way through menial jobs.
During the Civil War, he worked alternately in mills and on farms in New England depending on the state of his health at any given time. At this time Alfred learned English. After the war, Alfred returned to Montreal where he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1870 with the encouragement of Father André Provençal, who had observed Alfred spending whole nights in prayer and sent a note with the postulant saying, "I am sending you a saint."
The hardships Alfred Bessette had endured affected even his vocation. His poor health made it doubtful that he would be allowed to make his religious vows. Because he had to work at menial jobs from his youth, he was illiterate and, therefore, not capable of contributing much to the charism of the teaching order. Bishop Bouget of Montreal intervened with the assurance that Alfred could pray, an invaluable asset to any order. Thus, the same year the Saint Joseph was proclaimed "Patron of the Universal Church" on December 8, Alfred was admitted to the Holy Cross Order as Brother André on December 27.
Brother André spent the next 67 years of his life as a lay brother serving in such menial positions as porter, gardener, baker of the altar bread, and janitor of Notre Dame College. In the meantime André gained a reputation for working miraculous cures that drew millions of pilgrims to Montreal to see him. His own health was so precarious that he was often unable to complete his daily duties. Nevertheless, he practiced austerities such as living mainly on bread and water.
From his childhood Brother Bessette had a strong devotion to Saint Joseph and spent his life promoting devotion to the foster-father of Jesus. He often recommended that those seeking a healing rub themselves with a medal of Saint Joseph or the saint's oil, which came from the sanctuary lamps as a visible sign of faith.
He built Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal in 1904. The popularity of the oratory grew because of the many healings attributed to the intercession of Brother André and Saint Joseph. By the time of his death, the oratory, known as the "Lourdes of Canada," had become one of the most popular shrines in North America (Delaney).
Diman Dubh of Connor B (AC)
(also known as Dimas, Dima)
Died 658. Diman Dubh (Diman the Black) was a monk under Saint Columba, and afterwards abbot and bishop of Connor. He is one of the prelates to whom the Roman Church, after the death of Pope Honorius in 640, addressed the epistle on the paschal controversy and on Pelagianism (Benedictines).
Edeyrn (Edern), Hermit (AC)
6th century. He is the patron saint of a church in Brittany. Legend describes him as a Briton, associating him with King Arthur, and making him end his days as a hermit in Armorica (Benedictines). Saint Edeyrn is depicted in art as a hermit riding on a stag. He is venerated in Brittany (Roeder).
6th century. Saint Eigrad, a brother of Saint Samson, was trained by Saint Illtyd, and founded a church in Anglesey (Benedictines).
Epiphany of the Lord (Solemnity)
On January 1 the Church celebrated Christ's identification with the Jews; today, His epiphany or manifestation to the Gentiles for God had prepared some non-Jews, too, to receive the King. The Epiphany recalls the limited presentation of Christ to the magi and His Baptism--the start of Jesus' public ministry.
Erminold of Prüfening, OSB, Monk, Abbot (AC)
Died 1121. When Saint Erminold was a child, he was consecrated to God at the abbey of Hirschau and then was educated and professed there. In 1110, he was chosen abbot of Lorsch; but fearing that this appointment might have been the result of simony, he resigned and returned to Hirschau. In 1114, he was chosen the first prior of Prüfening and, in 1117, its first abbot. One of the lay- brothers of the community struck him with a piece of timber and caused his death. He has always erroneously been venerated as a martyr (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Frederick of Saint-Vanne, OSB, Monk (AC)
(also known as Frederick of Arras
Died 1020. Son of Geoffrey le Barbu, count of Verdun, Frederick handed over his patrimony to the bishop of Verdun in 997. Then he set out for Palestine. On his return he was admitted to the Benedictine abbey of Saint Vanne. His friend, Blessed Richard, abbot of Saint Vanne, was transferred to the abbey of Saint Vedast at Arras, and Frederick followed him as prior (Benedictines).
Blessed Gertrude van Oosten V (AC)
Born in Delft, The Netherlands; died 1358. Blessed Gertrude began life as a serving girl in Delft. When she was jilted by her lover, she entered the beguinage in Delft. In her new life she rapidly advanced in the way of perfection. Her surname was earned by her frequent repetition of the hymn "Het daghet in den Oosten" "The day breaks in the East. She is one of many mystics during this period that bore the marks of the stigmata (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Guarinus (Guerin), OSB Cist. B (RM)
Born in 1065; died in 1150. Guerin, a monk of Molesmes, was made abbot of Aulps, near Geneva. At his request, his community was affiliated with Clairvaux. Thereafter, he was consecrated bishop of Sion, Valais (Benedictines).
Hywyn of Aberdaron (AC)
(also known as Owen, Ewen)
Died after 516. Saint Hywyn was probably a companion of Saint Cadfan on his return journey from Brittany in 516 to Cornwall and Wales. He is said to have been the founder of Aberdaron in Carnarvonshire. Several churches in western England known as Saint Owen's or Saint Ewen's possibly have Hywyn for their titular saint (Benedictines).
John of Ribera (Rivera) B (AC)
Born in Seville, Spain, in 1532; died in Valencia, Spain, on January 6, 1611; beatified in 1796; canonized in 1960.
John was the son of Peter de Ribera, the duke of Alcalá (one of the highest grandees in Spain), and viceroy of Naples, Italy. More importantly, Duke Peter was a devout Christian and raised his son in Christian values. John was educated at the university of Salamanca and ordained to the priesthood in 1557. He remained at Salamanca as professor of theology.
His gifts became widely known and gained him the esteem of Pope Pius V and Philip II of Spain. Much to his dismay, John was appointed bishop of Badajoz in 1562. For six years he discharged his duties admirably and with such zeal that he was then transferred to the archbishopric of Valencia, again against his wishes. A few months later, filled with consternation at the languid faith and relaxed morals of the province, which was the stronghold of the Moriscos, he wrote begging to be allowed to resign, but the pope would not consent. For the next 42 years until his death, the archbishop struggled to support cheerfully a load of responsibility that almost crushed him. In his old age, that burden was increased with the added dignity of viceroy of that province imposed upon him by Philip III.
Archbishop John viewed with intense alarm what he regarded as the dangerous activities of the Moriscos. He was one of the advisers who were mainly responsible for the edict of 1609 which enforced their deportation from Valencia. He died after a log illness, patiently borne, at the College of Corpus Christi, which he himself had founded and endowed. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession.
Although not everyone regards him as an enlightened statesman, each should admire his conscientious devotion to duty and his heroic patience in bearing the responsibilities of his office. It was these qualities that were recalled in the decree of beatification. It pronounced upon him the personal virtues and miracles of a servant of God; however, it does not constitute an approbation of all his public acts or of his political views (Benedictines, Walsh).
Macra of Rheims VM (RM)
Died at Fismes, Champagne, France, in 287. Saint Macra, a maiden of Rheims, was martyred at Fismes in Champagne under the prefect Rictiovarus, before the outbreak of the Diocletian persecutions (Benedictines). In art, she is usually represented as a virgin holding a palm (emblem of a martyr) and a pair of pincers in her hand, in memory of one of the fiendish tortures to which she was subjected or shears with which her breasts were cut off (Benedictines, Roeder).
Martyrs in Africa (RM)
Died c. 210. A number of Christian martyrs of both sex burned at the stake under Septimus Severus (Benedictines).
Merinus, Hermit (AC)
6th century. A disciple of Dunawd of Bangor (Ireland), Merinus is the titular saint of churches in Wales and Brittany (Benedictines).
Peter of Canterbury, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died c. 606-608; cultus confirmed in 1915; feast at Saint Augustine's in Canterbury is kept on December 30. Saint Peter was a Benedictine monk at Saint Andrew's Monastery in Rome until, in 596, he was sent by Pope Saint Gregory the Great to England with the first group of missionaries under Saint Augustine of Canterbury. In 602, Peter became the first abbot of SS. Peter and Paul (afterwards Saint Augustine's) at Canterbury.
Saint Peter was probably the monk delegated by Augustine to take news to the pope of the first Anglo-Saxon conversions. He then brought back Saint Gregory's replies to Augustine's questions. Later Peter was dispatched on a mission to Gaul, but was drowned in the English Channel at Ambleteuse (Amfleet) near Boulogne. According to the Venerable Bede, the local inhabitants buried him in an "unworthy place" but, as the result of a prodigy of mysterious light appearing over his grave at night, translated his relics to a church in Boulogne with suitable honor (Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).
Raphaela Maria Porras V (RM)
(also known as Raphaela of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Born at Pedro Abad near Cordova, Spain, March 1, 1850; died in Rome, Italy, on January 6, 1925; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1977.
Raphaela was the daughter of the mayor, who died when she was four. She and her sister Dolores joined the Sisters of Marie Reparatrice in 1873. When Bishop Ceferino Gonzalez asked the community to leave his diocese, Raphaela and 15 other novices remained behind to form a new community. When they were ready to take their vows in 1877, Bishop Gonzalez presented them with an entirely new rule; whereupon they left Cordova and settle in Madrid. After much initial confusion, Raphaela and Dolores took their vows later in 1877, and the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart, devoted to teaching children and helping at retreats, was founded. Approval from the Holy See was granted in the same year, with Raphaela as mother general. The new congregation was disturbed by differences between Raphaela and Dolores but, despite this friction, the congregation spread throughout Spain and abroad. Mother Raphaela resigned in 1893, lived the remaining 32 years of her life in obscurity in the Roman house of the congregation and died there (Delaney).
Schottin (Schotin, Scarthin) (AC)
6th century. While still a youth, Schotin left Ireland to become a disciple of Saint David in Wales. For many years after his return to Ireland he led the life of an anchorite at Mt. Mairge, Leix. He is said to have established a school for boys at Kilkenny (Benedictines).
Wiltrudis of Bergen, OSB, Widow (AC)
Died c. 986. Wiltrudis was the wife of Duke Berthold of Bavaria. Shortly after his death about 947, she founded the convent of Bergen near Neuburg on the Danube. The convent was placed under the Benedictine Rule, then she herself became a nun and the convent's first abbess. She was renowned for her skill in artistic handicrafts (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.