St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

January 8



Abo M
Born at Baghdad (Iraq); died at Tbilisi, 786. Abo was a Islamic Arab who as a young man entered the service of a Georgian prince as a perfumer. At Tbilisi (Tiflis) he became convinced of the truth of Christianity, but was afraid to declare himself, for Georgia was then under Islamic rule. When, however, his master had to seek refuge among the Khazars north of the Caspian Sea, Abo accompanied him and was there baptized. In 782 they returned to Tbilisi, and some years later Abo was brought before the Islamic magistrate and charged as a renegade from Islam. He admitted that this was so, and after a short imprisonment he was beheaded. Saint Abo's feast is observed by the Christians of Georgia (Attwater).


Apollinaris of Hierapolis B (RM)
(also known as Apollinaris the Apologist)

Died c. 180. Claudius Apollinaris, bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, was an outstanding Christian teacher of the second century. He wrote defenses of the Catholic faith against many errors, including those of the Encratites and the Montanists. His most famous work, The Apology, was written to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius about 175. In it he described a miracle that had brought victory to the emperor in Germany when his army was surrounded by Quadi in Moravia and threatened with annihilation--a miracle ascribed by Apollinaris to the prayers of the 12th Legion, which was mainly Christian. Apollinaris's enumeration of the great benefit Christianity gave to Roman society, and request that the emperor not anger God by punishing such distinguished subjects, resulted in an imperial edict forbidding the denunciation of Christians for their religion. Unfortunately, none of his writing has survived (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).


Athelm, OSB B (PC)
(also known as Atheim)

Died 923. Paternal uncle of Saint Dunstan, Athelm entered the abbey of Glastonbury, became its abbot, and was appointed to be the first bishop of Wells in Somerset. In 914 he was transferred to the see of Canterbury (Benedictines).


Atticus of Constantinople B (AC)
Died October 10, 425. Atticus, a convert from the Macedonian heresy (the Holy Spirit is not God), opposed Saint John Chrysostom and was intruded as bishop of Constantinople during Saint John's second exile. However, he repented of his opposition and submitted to Pope Saint Innocent's ruling. Afterwards he lived as an eminently virtuous prelate (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Carterius M (AC)
Died 304. Carterius, a priest of Caesarea, Cappadocia, suffered under Diocletian. He is venerated by the Greeks (Benedictines).


Ergnad of Ulster V (AC)
(also known as Ercnacta)

Born in Ulster, Ireland in the 5th century. Ergnad is said to have received the veil from Saint Patrick (Benedictines).


Erhard of Ratisbon B (RM)
(also known as Albert or Erhart of Regensburg)

Died c. 686. Erhard is described as another of the Irish missionary bishops who crossed over to the continent and evangelized Bavaria, especially in the region around present-day Regensburg. Many miracles are attributed to his prayers. Erhard is mentioned in still strong local traditions. After his death a group of women formed into a religious group called the Erardinonnen (the Nuns of Erhard). Their charism, sanctioned by Pope Leo IX, was to pray perpetually at his tomb in Regensburg, which they did until the Reformation (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Montague). In art Saint Erhard is portrayed as a bishop baptizing Saint Odilia, thereby restoring her sight. He is venerated at Regensburg (Roeder).


Eugenian of Autun BM (RM)
4th century. As bishop of Autun, France, Saint Eugenian was a staunch defender of the Catholic faith against Arianism, which led to his martyrdom (Benedictines).


Frodobert, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died c. 673. Saint Frodobert, a monk of Luxeuil under its third abbot, Saint Waldebert, was the abbot- founder of Moutier-la-Celle near Troyes, where he led a life of continual prayer and great austerities (Benedictines).


Garibaldus of Ratisbon B (AC)
(also known as Garobaldus of Regensburg)

Died c. 762. This is not the Italian revolutionary, but rather a monk probably of Saint Emmeran in Bavaria, who was consecrated the first bishop of Ratisbon around 740 by Saint Boniface (Benedictines).


Gudula of Brussels V (AC)
(also known as Ergoule, Goule, Gudule)

Died Hamme, Brabant, Belgium, in 712. Every visitor to Brussels, Belgium, is familiar with the great church of Sainte-Gudule, but very few know the lay saint in whose honor it is dedicated. She was a daughter of Count Witger and his wife Saint Amalburga, who was the niece of Emperor Pepin. Gudula was raised at the convent of Nivelles and trained for the religious life by her cousin, Saint Gertrude. After Gertrude's death, Gudula returned to her parents' home at Hamme, near Alost, apparently spending all her days in religious devotion and good works for her neighbors. Although the church at Moorsel was two miles from her home, Gudula regularly prayed there in the early morning. There is a story recorded of Gudula that is reminiscent of Saint Geneviève. During one of her early morning visits to the church in Moorsel, the devil extinguished her candle, which was reignited miraculously.

When Gudula died, she was buried in front of the church door in her hometown of Hamme. From there her relics were translated first to Moorsel, then in 978 to Saint Gery's in Brussels, and finally, in 1047, to the large collegiate church of Saint Michel (later Sainte Gudule). The Calvinists destroyed her shrine and scattered the relics in 1579.

Saint Gudula's sister, Saint Raineld is also venerated as a saint; she was killed in a raid at Saintes, near Hal, c. 680 (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

Saint Gudula is shown in art holding a lantern, which the devil tries to blow out (often with a pair of bellows) or holding a torch (not to be confused with Saint Geneviève). She is the patroness of Brussels, Belgium (Roeder).


Lucian of Beauvais, Maximian, and Julian MM (RM)
Died c. 290 (?). Saint Lucian was a priest martyred at Beauvais, France, at a very early date. No reliable particulars of him are known, but his name nevertheless occurs in the calendar of the Book of Common Prayer. The three are alleged to have been missionaries from Rome, who were all martyred at Beauvais (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Gill).


Maximus of Pavia B (RM)
Died 511. All that is known is that he was a bishop of Pavia, Italy (Benedictines).


Patiens of Metz B (RM)
2nd century. Patiens is venerated as the fourth bishop and patron saint of Metz, France (Benedictines).


Pega V (AC)
Born in Mercia, England; died in Rome, Italy, c. 719. Saint Pega, the virgin sister of Saint Guthlac of Croyland, had her hermitage in the Fens (Peakirk = Pega's church in Northhamptonshire) near that of her brother. When he realized that his death was near (714), he invited her to his funeral. In order to get there, Pega is said to have sailed down the Welland, and cured a blind man from Wisbech en route. Guthlac bequeathed to her his psalter and scourge, both of which she gave to the monastery that grew up around his hermitage. After Guthlac's death, she is said to have made a pilgrimage to Rome and to have died there. Ordericus Vitalis claimed that her relics survived in an unnamed Roman church in his day and that miracles occurred there (Attwater, Benedictines, Colgrave, Farmer).


Severinus of Noricum, Hermit (RM)
Died at Favianae in Noricum (Austria), c. 476-78. Severinus was a Roman citizen who gave all his worldly goods to live for a time in the deserts of Egypt. Here he was torn between his desire to live alone and God's call for him to evangelize unbelievers. Guess who's will triumphed? Severinus followed God's call to Austria, which at that time was a highway of invading barbarians, its towns plundered and beleaguered.

About 453, Severinus came as a mysterious and unknown man sent by God in that unhappy hour to bring help to Noricum's suffering people. He gave no information as to who he was beyond his name, which indicated his high rank, and it was obvious from his manner that he was a man of scholarship and distinction. He appeared to be an African Roman from Carthage and a fellow-countryman of Saint Augustine of Hippo. Attila, the Scourge of God, had just died, leaving behind him, with the break- up of his empire, confusion and chaos, and the fair and fertile lands of central and southern Europe were at the mercy of leaderless armies and plundering tribes.

Into this scene of wretchedness and distress came Severinus, who settled as a hermit near Vienna. The work was not easy. Many people ignored all that he preached, but--knowing that God doesn't ask us to be successful, only obedient--Severinus continued to preach and found monasteries along the Danube, seeing these as oases of Christianity in an evil land.

He warned the inhabitants of approaching invasion, but his words went unheeded. They replied with scorn that the proud city of Vienna would never surrender and that they had no fear of the barbarian hordes. But when his words proved only too true, in their helplessness they sent for him, and quietly and calmly he came to their rescue and organized relief. He discovered that a rich woman had hidden away vast quantities of food, which Severinus persuaded her to give to the starving.

He put new heart into the people, gave them courage to go out to meet the wild German horsemen, and strengthened the defenses of the city. Then, providentially, the ice melted on the Danube and the river was filled with ships of food. Thus Severinus stood in the path of the Goths, and the fear of him was to them, we are told, as the hand of God.

During this time Severinus was a great apostle of penance. He redeemed captives, helped to comfort the oppressed and the poor, tended the sick, and undertook many efforts for the instruction of the Catholic people of the Danube valley near Vienna. He also worked miracles. It seems that he drove away a plague of locusts that threatened to bring another famine. Slowly many Austrians accepted his faith. He was saddened that he never managed to heal the blindness of one of his greatest friends, but Severinus continued to trust in God.

When the cloud of terror lifted, he retired to his hermit's cell, but still continued his relief work of securing food, redeeming captives, and conciliating enemy tribes; and to this he added many other works of sanctity and charity. His difficulty was how to preserve a life of detachment amid so much pressure of activity, for the more he longed to dwell in solitude and lead a simple life, the greater were the demands made upon him.

Even the enemies of Austria came under this influence. The proud and desperate Odoacer, the boldest of the barbarians, sought his counsel, but on reaching the cell of the hermit, found it too small for his great height. "Stoop low," said Severinus, and the ambitious Goth willingly stooped and entered to receive his blessing.

Severinus also built many churches and evangelized widely in Austria and Bavaria. To Saint Severinus is attributed the honor of establishing many monasteries, though he himself remained a contemplative, living apart in a spirit of great penance and prayer.

He became the popular saint of that area. He went barefoot, even in mid-winter when the Danube was frozen, and he insisted on possessing only one tunic. It is said that he never ate until sunset and that in Lent he permitted himself only one meal weekly. To the end he preserved a simple and austere life. He refused a bishopric, though it is doubtful whether he was even ordained.

For 30 years this saintly and active man, whose origin remained unknown, carried on his noble and enterprising work, conferring with kings and commoners. It is said that he predicted the day of his death. As he lay dying of pleurisy those around him could hear him singing the words of the Psalmist: "Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord." And so he died happily in peace and tranquility. Six years after his death, his monks were driven from Austria and carried his relics to Naples, Italy, where the great Benedictine monastery of San Severino was built to enshrine them (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Gill).


Severinus of Septempeda B (RM)
(also known as Severinus of Naples)

Date unknown. The Roman Martyrology commemorates a Bishop Severinus at Naples, brother of the martyr Saint Victorinus. There is apparently some confusion between Severinus of Noricum and of Septempeda, who was the brother of Saint Victorinus of Camerino (Benedictines).


Theophilus and Helladius MM (RM)
Date unknown. The deacon Theophilus and Helladius, a layman, were martyred in Libya, where they had preached the Gospel. They were tortured and thrown into a furnace (Benedictines).


Thorfinn B (RM)
Born at Trondheim, Norway; died near Bruges, January 8, 1285. This Norwegian bishop had a certain cultus in northwestern Europe, but few particulars of his life have been preserved. He was perhaps a Cistercian monk of Tautra or a canon of Nidaros near Trondheim before becoming bishop of Hamar. His name appears as a witness to the Agreement of Tönsberg (1277) in which King Magnus VI undertook to respect clerical privileges and allow freedom of episcopal elections. Later, when he and other bishops fell out with King Eric II over these matters, Thorfinn and the bishops John of Tronheim and Andrew of Oslo were exiled. Thorfinn journeyed to Rome in the face of many hardships, including shipwreck, to make an appeal and then took refuge at the Cistercian abbey of Ter Doest near Bruges, Flanders, where he became ill and died at a relatively young age. He never attracted particular attention outside Norway. When he died he was pretty much forgotten--except that two documents about him survived. First, there is his last will and testament, which shows how little he owned. He left everything to his family, to churches in Hamar, and to the Cistercian abbey at Tautra near Trondheim.

Second, a monk at Ter Doest who knew him, Walter of Muda, wrote a poem extolling the resolute goodness of Saint Thorfinn's character. This poem was hung over his tomb. In the course of some renovations about 50 years after his death, his tomb was opened. A strong, unusual, and pleasing fragrance wafted up. When the abbot made enquiries about the identity of the entombed Thorfinn, the now-ancient de Muda remembered the bishop and the poem that he composed about him. They then found the parchment with the poem, which was publicized. His cultus soon spread in nearby Cistercian monasteries and in Norway, where both ancient and modern churches were dedicated to him (Attwater, Farmer, Walsh).


Wulsin of Sherborne, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Wulfsin, Wulfsige)

Died January 8, 1005. Saint Wulsin is described as "a loyal and trusty monk whom Saint Dunstan loved like a son with pure affection." When Dunstan restored Westminster Abbey, he appointed Wulsin superior there (c. 960) and finally abbot in 980. In 992, Wulsin was consecrated bishop of Sherborne, but he also continued to serve as abbot of Westminster. The following year Bishop Wulsin introduced a monastic chapter within his see. Wulsin rebuilt the church at Sherborne and improved its endowment. He was a great Benedictine prelate even in that age of distinguished monks. Several pieces of correspondence with Wulsin are still extant. There is a letter from the scholar Aelfric (then abbot of Cerne) introducing his collection of canons for the instruction of priests. William of Malmesbury records that Wulsin warned his monks that having the bishop as their abbot would cause difficulty in the future.

Wulsin's pastoral staff and other pontificalia survived at Sherborne and were notable for their simplicity, which matched his general austerity. Another second-degree relic not mentioned by William of Malmesbury is the famous Sherborne Pontifical, which belonged to him and is a rich example of Winchester illumination. Wulsin's bodily remains, together with those of Saint Juthwara, were translated to Sherborne c. 1050. Wulsin is venerated at Sherborne, Westminster, Abbotsbury, and Worcester (Benedictines, Farmer).



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.