Alexander of Fermo BM (RM)
Born in Fermo, Italy; died there c. 250. Saint Alexander became bishop of Fermo and was martyred under Decius. His relics are enshrined in his cathedral (Benedictines).
Anastasius of Castel Sant'Elia, OSB, Abbot (RM)
Died c. 570. Saint Anastasius, a notary of the Roman church, became a monk and abbot of Suppentonia (Castel Sant'Elia) near Mount Soracte in the diocese of Nepi. Saint Gregory the Great relates that Anastasius heard an angelic voice say: "Anastasius, come!" At that summons, he and all his monks died within eight days in quick succession (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Boadin, OSB, Hermit (AC)
Dates unknown. Boadin was another Irishman who migrated to France and became a Benedictine monk there. This may be a repeat of Brandan (Benedictines).
Brandan, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Beandan, Breandan)
5th century. Saint Brandan was an Irishman who crossed into Britain, where he suffer greatly at the hands of the Pelagians. He took refuge in a monastery of Gaul, of which he eventually became abbot (Benedictines).
Ethenea and Fidelmia VV (AC)
(also known as Ethna and Fedelma)
Died 433. The story is told that one summer day the little daughters of King Laoghaire of Connaught, Ethna and Fedelma, who were barely out of childhood and full of fun, went for their daily bath in a private place near the palace, a place to which no one ever came so early in the morning. But this special day they were surprised to hear voices and see tents encamped on the grassy slope near the pool.
There was a drone of a strange language and every now and again a sweet voice broke into song and mingled with that of the birds in the nearby woods and the murmuring of the river. Saint Patrick and his companions, who had arrived during the night with a message for the King of Connaught, were praying the Divine Office in Latin. Finally, each group spied the other.
The older princess asked, "Who are you, and where do you come from?"
Patrick hesitated, then said: "We have more important things to tell you than just our names and where we're from. We know who the one true God is whom you should adore. . . ."
The girls were delighted, rather than annoyed. In a flash something seemed to light up inside them, to make a blinding white blaze in their hearts and minds. They knew at once that this was real, real news and that it was true. It all happened instantaneously. Then they asked a whole torrent of questions:
"Who is God?" "Where does He live?" "Will He live forever?" and on and on as excited young people do.
Patrick answered each question quickly and simply. He, too, was delighted: the light that blazed up in the girls was in the man, too, and the three lights together made a tremendous glow. Everyone else stood listening raptly, feeling lucky to be witnesses to the saintly man and the sweet girls--and the Holy Spirit in their midst.
"Oh, tell us how to find the good God. Teach us more about the kind Jesus, who died upon the Cross. Tell us more, more, more," the princesses urged. But there was no need for more; the two had already received the gift of the Spirit of Truth.
Patrick led them to their bathing pool, where he baptized them. For a short time thereafter, Ethna and Fedelma were very quiet for they were in deep prayer. Meanwhile, Patrick prepared to say Mass. Then the princesses began again, "I want to see Jesus Christ now," said Ethna.
"And so do I," echoed Fedelma. "I want to be with Him in His home forever."
Patrick, moved by this loving longing, very gently explained that they would not be able to see God until after their death. They were still young, so it would be a long time before they could see Him as He is. If they lived good Christian lives, then they would be able to go to God for always and great joys would replace the present sorrows. The girls pondered this as Patrick began the Mass.
As Mass went on everyone was still, but the river and woods seemed to sing God's praises. Then the youngest man rang a little bell and all bowed their heads. Jesus Christ was with them in the grassy knoll in the king's park. Soon the bell rang again. Patrick beckoned the princesses forward and gave them Holy Communion.
For a little while the girls looked so happy and so beautiful that they were like angels. And then, we are told, they died. They longed so much to be with Jesus that they died of longing. Saint Patrick was exceedingly happy to have met such quick and whole- hearted belief (Benedictines, Curtayne).
Honorata of Pavia V (RM)
Died c. 500. Saint Honorata, sister of Bishop Saint Epiphanius, became a nun at Pavia, Italy. Odoacer, king of the Heruli, kidnapped her, but she was redeemed by her brother and returned to Pavia (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Hyginus, Pope M (RM)
Died c. 142. Little is known of Saint Hyginus or his pontificate beyond that he was a Greek and was probably pope 138 to 142, succeeding Pope Saint Telesphorus. It is known that two Gnostics--Valentinus and Cerdo--were in Rome during his pontificate, but what action he took, if any, is unknown (Benedictines, Delaney).
Leucius of Brindisi B (RM)
Died c. 180. Saint Leucius is venerated as the first bishop of Brindisi, Italy, to which he is said to have come from Alexandria, Egypt. Another later (5th century) bishop of Brindisi of the same name is mentioned by Saint Gregory the Great (Benedictines).
Palaemon, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Palemon)
Died at Tabennisi, Egypt, in 325. As an aged hermit, who earlier had sought refuge in the deserts of Upper Egypt from the Diocletian persecution and became one of the earliest Egyptian hermits, Palaemon one day received a visit from a young man, Pachomius, who had recently been released from military service.
On enquiring his business, Palaemon learned that he had come to be his follower and pupil, desiring to leave the world and become an anchorite. Palaemon refused his request because he thought the young man would find such a life too severe. "I eat nothing but bread and salt," he said, "I never taste wine, and I watch half the night."
Pachomius answered, "I believe in Jesus Christ my Lord, who will give me strength and patience to assist you in your prayers and to follow your holy conversation." After this brave answer, the old hermit admitted him as his pupil and friend. "Let us make a compact," he said, "that we part not, the one from the other, till God break our unison."
And they never did break the union. Palaemon and Pachomius worked together to organize the hermits on cenobitical lines. Eventually, Palaemon followed Pachomius to Tabennisi, where the elderly saint died (Benedictines, Gill).
In art, Saint Palaemon is depicted as an old hermit carding fleece; sometimes he is shown with his disciple Saint Pachomius (Roeder).
Paldo, Taso & Tato, OSB, Abbots
8th century. Saints Paldo, Taso, and Tato were three brothers-- biologically and spiritually. They were natives of Benevento, Italy, who became monks at the abbey of Farfa in Sabina and eventually founded the monastery of San Vincenzo at the headwaters of the Voltorno. Each, in turn, succeeded the other as abbot. Paldo died c. 720, Taso c. 729, and Tato c. 739 (Benedictines).
Peter, Severus & Leucius MM (RM)
Died c. 309. Egyptian martyrs who suffered in Alexandria (Benedictines).
Salvius of Amiens B (RM)
(also known as Salve, Sauve, Sauvre)
Died c. 625; Farmer places feast on January 12. Although Bishop Salvius of Amiens, who flourished under Theodoric II, is listed as such in the Roman Martyrology, he may not have been a martyr in the strict sense. He was, however, one of the great miracle-workers of his time and is often confused with other saints of the same name. Some believe that the relics of Saint Salvius that rest in Canterbury Cathedral are his, but they are believed to be at Montreuil in Picardy (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer). Saint Salvius in art is a bishop with a casket of relics of Saint Firmin. Sometimes he is shown (1) exhorting people from the pulpit, (2) finding the body of Saint Firmin, or (3) translating the saint's relics as he follows (Roeder).
Theodosius the Cenobiarch, Abbot (RM)
Born in Garissus, Cappadocia, c. 423; died near Bethlehem 529.
Theodosius was born and raised in a devout Christian family. While still young, he decided to consecrate himself to God and to become a student of the Scripture. Eventually, he was ordained a reader. In the course of his studies, he was moved by the example of Abraham who "obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country . . . for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:8-10). And so it happened that when Theodosius was about 30, he left home to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to the places of the Savior's Passion.
When he reached Antioch, he visited Simeon Stylites, a living statue of prayer and renunciation, to receive his blessing. Theodosius did not visit Simeon like the curious who came in great numbers to disturb his prayer, or the mockers who came to make fun of the saint; and Simeon, foretelling the future glory of his youthful visitor, called to him, saying: "Theodosius, man of God, you are welcome here." Theodosius climbed upon the pillar of Simeon to receive his advice and blessing.
Untrustworthy tradition says that after visiting the holy places of Jerusalem, Theodosius placed himself in the care of Saint Longinus, the centurion who pierced the Savior's side, was converted, and became a monk at Caesarea in Cappadocia. Longinus soon saw that his charge was unusually committed to the ways of Jesus. This story line continues that a rich woman had built a monastery near Jerusalem and needed someone to lead it. Longinus persuaded Theodosius to take the job.
Another tradition says that Theodosius tried eremitical life and decided that it was not his calling. With some companions he went to a mountain, where they lived in extreme privation, constant prayer, and charitable works. With or without Longinus, their fame reached the ears of many young people who came to their monastery asking permission to remain with them. It grew rapidly, its monks being of several peoples and languages.
Eventually, Theodosius had to undertake the construction of an immense monastery at Catismus, near Bethlehem, that could provide quarters for the throng of pilgrims, religious, and sick. Thereby, he became the founder of monasticism in Palestine, and built a monastery on the shores of the Dead Sea 'like a city of saints in the midst of the desert.' There were four churches--one for each of three different languages and a fourth for penitents--and three hospitals. One hospital cared for the aged, another for the physically ill, and the third for the mentally ill. Greeks, Armenians, and Persians worked and prayed happily together. And no one was ever turned away without a meal and good hospitality--no matter how little the monks themselves had to eat.
Sallus, patriarch of Jerusalem appointed Theodosius's friend and fellow-countryman, Saint Sabas, head of all hermit-monks in Palestine and set Saint Theodosius over those living in communities: This explains his surname 'Cenobiarch,' i.e., chief of those leading a life in common. Theodosius was a staunch opponent of Monophysitism, which led to his being removed from office for a short time by the Emperor Anastasius.
Emperor Anastasius patronized the Eutychian heresy, and tried to win Theodosius over to his own views. In 513, he deposed Elias, patriarch of Jerusalem, just as he had previously banished Flavian II of Antioch, and intruded Severus into that see. Theodosius and Sabas maintained the rights of Elias, and of his successor John; whereupon the imperial officers thought it advisable to connive at their proceedings, considering the great authority they had merited by their sanctity. Soon after, the emperor sent Theodosius a considerable amount of money, for charitable uses in appearance, but in reality as a bribe. The saint accepted it, and distributed it all among the poor.
Of course, the emperor thought that he had finally persuaded Theodosius. Anastasius sent the saint a heretical profession of faith, in which the divine and human natures of Christ were confounded into one, and wanted Theodosius to sign it. Our saint responded to Anastasius with apostolic zeal, and for some time the emperor was more peaceable. But soon he renewed his persecuting edicts against the orthodox, despatching troops to execute them. When Theodosius heard about this, he travelled throughout Palestine urging everyone to stand fast in the faith of the four general councils. Thereupon the emperor banished Theodosius. He was recalled by Anastasius's successor within a short time.
One of the biographers of Theodosius writes: "He did not punish the brethren with severity, but with a sweet, agreeable, and loving flow of words which penetrated to the depth of the heart. He was at once severe and kind; he consoled and astonished the religious with his kindness; he governed them with such calmness and tranquility that he seemed to be alone in a desert. He was always the same, whether alone or in company, because he learned to keep himself always in the presence of God."
In his old age, Theodosius was stricken with a long illness that made his skin and body dry like a stone. He suffered a great deal from this, but bore his pains with perfect patience, praying continually, so much so that even at night his lips continued to move while he slept, as if they were saying some prayer. Theodosius died about the age of 105. Patriarch Peter of Jerusalem and the whole country were present at his funeral, which was honored by miracles. He was buried in his first cell, called the cave of the Magi, because the wise men who searched for Christ soon after his birth were said to have lodged in it. Theodosius's reputation for holiness multiplied in the many miracles that followed his death for the benefit of those who begged his intercession (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Gill, Walsh).
In art, Saint Theodosius is an abbot hermit with iron bands on his neck and arms, chains and a money bag near him (Roeder). He is the patron of file makers (Roeder).
Vitalis of Gaza, Hermit (AC)
Died c. 625. Vitalis was a monk of Gaza, of unknown origin, who in his monk's dress, at the age of 60, arrived in the gay and dazzling city of Alexandria, Egypt, like a ghost of the desert. In his lonely cell he had read the story of the woman taken in adultery and had felt impelled to travel to the city and work among the prostitutes. He obtained the name and address of every harlot, hired himself our as a day laborer, and every night took his wage to one of these unfortunate women.
It was a very strange and unconventional procedure. He would sup with the woman, then, giving her the money, would say: "I pay thee this, that thou mayest spend one night without sin." Afterwards he would pray with her, often passing the night in reciting the Psalms, and, on leaving, would extract a solemn promise that she would tell no one of the nature of his visit.
It led to great scandal and he was gravely misunderstood, but the Church refused to intervene and he continued his mission. Thus he visited in turn every harlot in Alexandria, and many, moved by his purity and sincerity as well as by his earnest appeal, abandoned their shameful calling. Many, indeed, afterwards married and became good wives and mothers.
But his story ends in tragedy. One day, when leaving a house of ill fame, he was struck on the head by a man who misunderstood his motive. Vitalis made his way back with difficulty to the wretched hovel where he lived, and the crowd that followed, when they entered, found him dead upon his knees. In his hand was a fragment of parchment bearing the words: "Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart."
Then all whom he had helped revealed the secret of his redemptive work, and the whole city gathered to do him honor, the women following him to his grave bearing lamps and candles (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Gill).
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.