Agatho, Pope (RM)
Born in Sicily (Palermo?); died January 10, 681. Saint Agatho had been married for 20 years and become financially successful when he decided to enter Saint Hermes Monastery in Palermo. (He may be the Agatho referred to in the letter from Saint Gregory the Great authorizing the abbot to accept him if his wife entered a convent. If this were so, he would have been a very old man when he ascended to the Chair of Peter.)
Agatho, an amiable man, succeeded Donus as pope on June 27, 678. It appears that he was also efficient in business matters because he maintained the accounting records in his own hand, contrary to custom.
In the dispute discussed in yesterday's notice on Saint Berhtwald, in 679, Agatho heard the grievance of Bishop Saint Wilfrid of York against Bishop Saint Theodore of Canterbury. This is the first known appeal of an English bishop to Rome occasioned by Theodore's action as metropolitan to divide the see of York into four and depose Wilfrid. Seeking a compromise, Agatho decided that the see would remain divided but that Wilfrid should appoint the bishops to the three new sees. It seems that this was not the final decision in the matter.
The most important event of Agatho's pontificate was the Council of Constantinople (November 680 to September 681), to which Agatho sent legates with a letter that condemned the Monothelite heresy (Christ had only one will) and expounded traditional Catholic belief of two wills in Christ--one divine, one human. Most bishops at the council, led by Patriarch George of Constantinople, accepted, saying, "Peter has spoken by Agatho." The Monothelite heresy was condemned and Constantinople was reunited to Rome. By the time the decrees of the sixth general council had reached Rome, Agatho had died (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
In art Pope Saint Agatho wears a tiara and holds a long cross. He is venerated at York, England, and Palermo, Italy (Roeder).
Benincasa of Cava, OSB, Abbot (AC)
Died 1194; cultus confirmed in 1928. Benincasa was the eighth abbot of La Cava, near Salerno, Italy, from 1171 to his death. It was during his abbacy that a hundred monks were sent from La Cava to staff the new monastery of Monreale recently founded by the king of Sicily on that island (Benedictines).
Dermot, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Diarmaid)
6th century. Ruins of six churches can be seen on Inchcleraun (Innis Clothran) in Louch Ree, where Saint Dermot founded a monastery. His burial site there became a pilgrimage center. It is believed that Dermot was a native of Connaught and of royal blood. He is associated with Saint Senan (Farmer).
Blessed Gregory X, Pope (RM)
(born Theobald Visconti)
Born in Piacenza, Italy, in 1210; died at Rezzo, Italy, January 10, 1276; beatified in 1713; added to the Roman Martyrology by Pope Benedict XIV (reigned 1740-1758).
Theobald Visconti was born into a very distinguished family, studied canon law at Paris and Liege, and became archdeacon of Liége. In this position he was entrusted with preaching the last crusade, i.e., rallying the troops.
He accompanied Cardinal Ottoboni on a mission to England. Theobald was at Acre in the Holy Land on pilgrimage when he was informed that, though he was not yet ordained, he had been chosen as pope by a committee of six cardinals charged with selecting one when the college failed to agree at Viterbo on a candidate to fill the pontifical throne, which had been vacant for three years.
He returned to Rome, was ordained a priest on March 19, and then consecrated as pope on March 27, 1272, taking the name Gregory X. He labored to end the warfare between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, placed Florence under interdict for refusing efforts at reconciliation with its neighbors, and approved Rudulph of Hapsburg as German Emperor.
Gregory also convoked the 14th General Council at Lyons in 1274, which effected a short-lived reconciliation with the Eastern churches but was unsuccessful in launching the crusade (which was the general reason the Eastern churches were willing to negotiate a reunion). Gregory died on his way back from the council (Benedictines, Delaney).
John Camillus B (RM)
(also known as John the Good or John Bonus)
Died c. 660. Saint John was the first bishop of Milan to actually reside there following an 80-year hiatus during the Lombard Arian invasion of the city. He was a strenuous defender of orthodoxy against the Monothelites and Arians (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Marcian of Constantinople B (RM)
Died c. 480. Marcian was a saint of Constantinople, though connected with a Roman family. He was ordained a priest and appointed treasurer of Santa Sophia. Many churches were in disrepair in Constantinople but, in his official capacity, Marcian superintended their restoration to former beauty, and the building of several churches, most notably the Anastasis. He was also inspired to write splendid hymns. So he used all his talents to bring people to worship Jesus.
He modelled his life after that of Saint John the Baptist, always trying to serve God by fasting and praying. But unlike John the Baptist, he came of a rich family. Marcian gave away much money to the poor--secretly, so as not to gain the approval of his fellow men.
At times he suffered persecution because he was wrongly suspected of being a Novatian. One of his persecutors, threatening to kill Marcian, asked him, "Why do you talk of life, if you wish to die?" Marcian replied, "Because it is everlasting life I look for, not the life of this world." Eventually people saw that this was an uncommonly good man, one who should be copied, not persecuted.
One day when he was hurrying to the consecration of a new church, he passed a miserable, nearly naked beggar. Saint Marcian gave him all his clothing. All he had left was a chasuble. The congregation, however, seemed to see a fine golden robe under Marcian's chasuble. Afterwards Patriarch Gennadius even rebuked the saint for dressing so ostentatiously. Marcian plucked off the chasuble and revealed that he was wearing nothing else (Benedictines, Bentley).
Nicanor M (RM)
Died c. 76. A Jewish resident of Jerusalem, Nicanor was one of the seven deacons selected by the Apostles to serve the needy (Acts 6:5). Tradition says he later went to Cyprus, where he suffered martyrdom during the reign of Emperor Vespasian (69-79), though this is uncertain (Benedictines, Delaney).
Peter Orseolo, OSB, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Peter Urseolus)
Born in Udine near Venice, Italy, 928; died at Cuxa in Roussillon, 987.
In 976, the doge of Venice, Italy, Peter IV Candiano, was killed in a riot provoked by his attempt to set up a monarchy. A member of the powerful Orseoli family, also named Peter, was elected to replace him. (According to Saint Peter Damian, Peter Orseolo had led a conspiracy against Candiano, but the statement is not verified).
He had distinguished himself as a naval officer and soldier. becoming admiral of the Venetian fleet at the age of 20, in which post he conducted a successful campaign against the Dalmatian pirates who infested the Adriatic. Peter now exercised his authority as doge with high energy and tactful statesmanship to restore order to Venice. He also showed generosity in his treatment of the widow of Peter IV.
Then during the night of September 1, 978, Peter Orseolo, without the knowledge even of his wife of 32 years or their son, left Venice and made his way to the Benedictine monastery of Cuxa in the foothills of the Pyrenees on the border between France and Spain. He was always of religious disposition and it seems that he may have meditated for a long time about retiring from the world. There is evidence that he and his wife lived in continence since the birth of their only child, and a letter from Ratherius to Peter suggests that the saint had contemplated becoming a monk for at least ten years.
At Cuxa, Orseolo led a life of the strictest asceticism and self- effacement under the holy Abbot Guarinus. After a few years as sacristan in the monastery, he became a hermit under the direction of the abbot, doubtless with the encouragement of Saint Romuald when the latter was at Cuxa. He built himself a hermitage and lived alone until his death. So many miracles took place at his tomb that forty years after his death, Saint Peter Orseolo was officially recognized as a saint by the local bishop (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Petronius of Avignon B (AC)
Died c. 463. Saint Petronius, the son of a senator of Avignon, was a monk of Lérins. He was consecrated bishop of Die about 456 and reigned until his death (Benedictines).
Thomian of Armagh B (AC)
(also known as Thomas, Toimen)
Died c. 660. As archbishop of Armagh (623-660), Thomian wrote a letter to the Holy See regarding the paschal controversy (Benedictines).
William of Bourges, OSB Cist. B (RM)
Born at Nevers, France; died at Bourges, France, in 1209; canonized in 1217.
William de Donjeon's father Baldwin planned for the saint, like his brother Guy, to continue the family tradition of military service as a knight and join the Crusade in the Holy Land. But William's father made an error in calculation. He entrusted William's education to Peter, Archdeacon of Soissons, and by some law of divine logic whereby saints beget saints, William forgot his armor, knighthood, and the fame that awaited him, and plunged himself instead into preparation for the priesthood.
William became a canon of first Soissons and later Paris. Then he joined the monks at the Abbey of Grandmont from where he migrated to the Cistercians of Pontigny. Successively, he was appointed abbot of Fontaine-Jean, abbot of Châlis, and eventually, in 1200, bishop of Bourges.
As a prelate he was distinguished for his pastoral concern for the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the debauched, and the unfortunate in all walks of life. He made a great many converts among the Albigenses. According to witnesses, he performed 18 miracles in his lifetime and 18 years after his death, Pope Honorius III inscribed his name on the roll of Catholic saints (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.