St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

January 12



Antony Mary Pucci, Priest (RM)
Born at Poggione de Vernio, Tuscany, Italy, in 1819; died January 14, 1892; canonized in 1962.

Born of a peasant family, Antony Mary Pucci became a Servite friar in Florence in 1837. He studied at Monte Senario and was ordained to the priesthood in 1843. In 1844, he was assigned to the parish of Viareggio, where he spent the rest of his life as a model pastor of souls. He devoted himself to teaching the catechism, administering the sacraments, and caring for the sick, the poor, and the plague-stricken.

Although Father Pucci was unattractive in looks and voice, reserved, and taciturn, he was also imperturbable, prayerful, and a good organizer. He often repeated that organization is the servant of charity, not its substitute. During the epidemics of 1854 and 1866, he provided outstanding care to both the physically and spiritually ill. He also pioneered the provision of seaside nursing homes for children, and in a wider field worked also for the Association for the Propagation of the Faith. In 1883, he was appointed provincial of the Tuscan Province--an office he held for seven years. When he died, he was deeply mourned and miracles were soon reported at his grave (Benedictines, Farmer).


Arcadius of Mauretania M (RM)
Died c. 302. At the beginning of the fourth century, Christians in the Roman Empire were so viciously persecuted that Arcadius, a prominent citizen of Caesarea in Mauretania (near Algiers), hid away in the countryside to avoid being forced to worship idols on pain of death. His absence was soon noticed by the persecutors. Worse, they caught one of his relatives and threatened him in order to persuade him to reveal where Arcadius was hiding. The saint would not allow anyone to suffer in his place, so Arcadius freely presented himself in an attempt to secure the liberty of the other. "Release this innocent man," he told the judge, "since I have appeared in person before you and he did not know where I was hiding."

The judge promised to release Arcadius, too, if only he would offer a sacrifice to idols. Arcadius, of course, refused, though he knew he would now be tortured. "Invent what torments you please," he declared. "Nothing shall make me betray my God. The fear of death will never make me fail in my duty."

In a rage the judge decided that he would make Arcadius actually desire to die. As he boasted to the saint what tortures were now to be inflicted, all Arcadius would say was, "Lord, teach me your wisdom."

Usually Christians at this time were beheaded, if they refused to make sacrifice to idols. At the place of execution, Arcadius was surprised that this did not happen. Instead, his limbs were cut off, joint by joint, so that even his executioners were moved to tears. All Arcadius repeated was, "Lord, teach me your wisdom."

Eventually all that remained were his trunk and head. Then a remarkable thing happened. The dying saint looked around at all the pieces of him, hacked off, and lying on the ground. He could still speak, and he cried out, "You are happy, my members. Now you really belong to God. You have all been sacrificed to Him."

His last words were addressed to the onlookers. "Learn from my torments," he shouted. "Your gods are nothing. The only true God is the one for whom I am suffering and about to die. To die for him is to live" (Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia).

Arcadius is portrayed in art as an early Christian martyr with a club in his hand. Sometimes he is shown with a lighted taper or on a rack or with his limbs chopped off (Roeder).


Benedict Biscop, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Benet Biscop, Biscop Baducing)

Born in Northumbria, England, c. 628; died at Wearmouth, England, on January 12, c. 690; historical errors have sometimes confused him with Benedict of Nursia, leading to several other feast days on different calendars.

Born of the highest Anglo-Saxon nobility, Biscop Baducing held office in the household of King Oswy (Oswiu) of Northumbria. But, after a journey to Rome when his was 25 (653) in the company of Saint Wilfrid, the saint renounced his inheritance and dedicated himself to God. He then spent his time in studying the Scriptures and prayer.

Following a second visit to Rome with Oswy's son Aldfrith in 666, he became a monk in the monastery of Saint-Honorat in Lérins near Cannes, France, taking the name Benedict. He remained there for two years strictly observing the rule.

His third pilgrimage to Rome in 669, coincided with the visit of Archbishop-elect Wighard of Canterbury, who died there prior to his consecration. Saint Theodore was finally selected to replace Wighard as archbishop of Canterbury, and Pope Saint Vitalian ordered Benedict to accompany Theodore and Saint Adrian to England as a missionary, which he did in obedience. Theodore appointed Benedict abbot of SS. Peter and Paul (now St. Augustine's) monastery in Canterbury, where he remained for two years before returning to Northumbria. (He was succeeded as abbot by Saint Adrian, who held this position for 39 years.)

Thereafter, Saint Benedict travelled to and fro between Britain and Rome (beginning in 671), returning always with books and relics, and bringing back with him also craftsmen to build and enrich the churches of Britain. This fourth journey was made with the view of perfecting himself in the rules and practice of a monastic life, so he stayed a while in Rome and visited other monasteries.

In 674, he was granted 70 hides of land by Oswy's son, Egfrid, at the mouth of the river Wear (Wearmouth), where he built a great stone church and monastery dedicated to Saint Peter. He was the first to introduce glass into England, which he brought from France along with stone and other materials. His foreign masons, glaziers, and carpenters taught their skill to the Anglo-Saxons. He spared no trouble or effort in seeking far and wide for all that would richly embellish his Romanesque church.

From his trip to Rome in 679, Benedict brought back Abbot John of Saint Martin's, the precentor (archcantor) from Saint Peter's. This was a result of Benedict persuading Pope Saint Agatho that Abbot John would be able to instruct the English monks, so that the music and ceremonies at Wearmouth might follow exactly the Roman pattern. Upon his return to England, he held training classes in the use and practice of church music, liturgy, and chants. (John also taught the English monks uncial script and wrote instructions on the Roman liturgy for them.)

But chiefly he brought books, for he was a passionate collector. His ambition was to establish a great library in his Wearmouth monastery. He also imported pictures from Rome and Vienne, colored images, and music. Among these treasures imported from Rome were a series of pictures of Gospels scenes, of Our Lady and the Apostles, and of incidents described in the Book of Revelation, to be set up in the church; and a privilege which ensured to Wearmouth the special protection of the Holy See.

Benedict also devised his rule based on that of Saint Benedict and those of the 17 monasteries he had visited. He doubtlessly organized the scriptorum in which was written the manuscript of the Bible that his successor as prior at Wearmouth, Saint Ceolfrid, took with him in 716 as a present to Pope Saint Gregory II: the very book was identified in the Biblioteca Laurentiana at Florence in 1887, the famous Codex Amiatinus. All this immeasurably enriched the early English Church.

Because his monastery and church at Wearmouth was so edifying, in 682 Egfrid gave him a further gift of forty hides of land, this time at Jarrow on the Tyne River. Here he established a second monastery six miles from St. Peter's, and dedicated it to Saint Paul (now called Jarrow) in 685, which became famous as a great center of learning in the West, and the home of Saint Bede. Among its inmates were many Saxon thanes turned monks, who ploughed and winnowed, and worked at the forge, like the rest, and at night slept in the common dormitory, for rank and class had no place among them.

And because Benedict was busier than ever with all his enterprises and still governed both abbeys, he handed over some of his authority. Benedict first took to help him at Wearmouth his nephew, Saint Eosterwin, a noble like himself, and then Saint Sigfrid. In Jarrow, he placed Saint Ceolfrid in charge. While Benedict still ruled the abbeys as their founder, he made these men the abbots under his direction of the two foundations so that the monasteries would not be without leadership during his absences.

Benedict made his last voyage to Rome in 685, returning with even more books and sacred images and some fine silk cloaks of exceptional workmanship, which he exchanged with the king for three hides of land.

It was due to Benedict Biscop that so much material lay to hand for Bede and other scholars, and that a solid foundation was laid for the later glories of the English Church. After his death the school at Jarrow alone comprised 600 scholars, apart from the flow of constant visitors. It was also in large part due to him that the Church of Northumbria turned from the old Celtic forms to those of Rome. Out of his labors and travels came a rich and abundant harvest.

At the end of his life, Benedict suffered from a painful paralysis in his lower limbs. (It is interesting to note that Sigfrid was afflicted with the same paralysis about the same time.) Throughout his three-year confinement he asked the monks to come into his room to sing Psalms and he joined them when he could. His last exhortations to his monks, before he died at age 62, were to continue his work, to preserve his great library, to obey the Benedictine Rule, and elect an abbot based on his holiness and ability rather than his lineage. He said he would rather the monasteries be turned into wildernesses than to have his brother succeed him as abbot.

Benedict's biography was written by Saint Bede, who had been entrusted to his care at age seven, and whose learning was made possible by the library Benedict collected at Jarrow. Bede the historian says that the civilization and learning of the 8th century rested in the monastery founded by Benedict.

Proof of a very early public cultus of Benedict Biscop comes from a sermon of Bede on him (Homily 17) for his feast, but the cultus became more widespread only after the translation of his relics under Saint Ethelwold about 980. Saint Benedict's relics are thought to rest at Thorney Abbey, although Glastonbury also claims them (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Walsh, White).

In art Saint Benedict is depicted as a Benedictine abbot in episcopal vestments standing by the Tyne with two monasteries near him. Sometimes he is shown with the Venerable Bede (Roeder). Patron of English Benedictines (White), painters and musicians (Roeder).


Caesaria of Arles V (AC)
Died c. 530. Saint Caesaria, sister of Saint Caesarius of Arles, was abbess of the convent founded by her brother in Arles for virgins and widows. Saint Caesaria was devoted to the young, poor, and sick. According to the testimony of her contemporaries, Saint Gregory of Tours and Saint Venantius Fortunatus, Caesaria was a woman of outstanding gifts (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


42 Martyrs of Ephesus (RM)
Died c. 762. Each of the 42 was a monk of a monastery in Ephesus put to death for his firm stand against the Iconoclasts by Constantine Copronymus (Benedictines).


Iona Martyrs (RM)
Died 750. Thirty-eight monks cruelly martyred in Iona (Ireland) (Gill).


John of Ravenna B (RM)
Died 494. Saint John, bishop of Ravenna (452-494), is said to have saved his flock from the fury of Attila the Hun and mitigated its sad lot when the city was taken by Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths (Benedictines).


Blesseds John Gaspard Cratz
Emmanuel d'Abreu
Bartholomew Alvarez and
Vincent da Cunha, SJ MM (AC)

Died in Tonkin (Vietnam) in 1737. These Jesuits were sent to the Kingdom of Tonkin together as missionaries in 1736. Together they were arrested in March 1736 and were beheaded there for the faith the following year. Bartholomew Alvarez (born near Braganza, Portugal) joined the Jesuits at Coimbra in 1723. Emmanuel d'Abreu (born at Arouca, Portugal, in 1708) entered the order in 1724. John Gaspard Cratz (born at Duren near Cologne, Germany), entered the Jesuits at Macao in 1730. Vincent da Cunha was another Jesuit cleric sent from Portugal to evangelize Tonkin. They were not there long before they were martyred (Benedictines).


Martin of León, OSA (AC)
Born in León, Old Castile (Spain); died 1203. Saint Martin joined the Augustinian canons regular at San Marcelo and then moved to Saint Isidore in León. He was a prolific ascetical writer (Benedictines).


Probus of Verona B (RM)
Died after 591. Nothing is known of Bishop Saint Probus of Verona, Italy (Benedictines).


Satyrus M (RM)
Died 267. Saint Satyrus was an Arab by birth, who was martyred in Achaia (or at Antioch) for insulting an idol. Another version says that the idol fell to the ground when Satyrus made the Sign of the Cross over it (Benedictines).


Tatiana of Rome M (RM)
Died c. 230. Saint Tatiana, who is venerated in the East together with SS. Euthasia and Mertios, is said to have been a deaconess, martyred at Rome under Alexander Severus. Her acta, which are fabulous, closely resemble those of the virgin martyrs Martina and Prisca. It has been suggested that the first two, or all three, were the same person. There is no evidence for an early cultus of a Tatiana or Martina in Rome, and Prisca (or Priscilla) is difficult to identify (Attwater, Benedictines). Saint Tatiana is represented in art at her martyrdom, where she is exposed to wild beasts in the amphitheater. She is venerated in the Eastern Church (Roeder).


Tigirius and Eutropius MM (RM)
Died 404. Tigirius was a priest and Eutropius a reader in the church of Constantinople. Both were loyal supporters of their bishop Saint John Chrysostom, who was severely persecuted. When Saint John was banished, they were falsely accused of setting fire to the cathedral and senate-house of Constantinople. For this they were tortured to the point where Eutropius died. Tigirius survived and is said to have been exiled (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Victorian of Asan, Abbot (AC)
Born in Italy; died in Spain c. 560. Saint Victorian settled for a time in France before founding Asan (now Saint Victorian) in the Aragonese Pyrenees, diocese of Barbastro. He is highly praised by Saint Venantius Fortunatus (Benedictines).


Zoticus, Rogatus, Modestus, Castulus & Comp. MM (RM)
Dates unknown. A group of 40 to 50 soldiers martyred in Africa (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.