Pope Saint Marcellius I
Berard, Peter, Otto, Accursius & Adjutus, OFM MM (RM)
Died in Morocco 1220; canonized 1481. In 1219, Saint Francis of Assisi sent Berard and four other friars--Otto, Peter, Accursio, and Aiuto--to preach the Gospel to the Islamics in western North Africa. They travelled from Italy to Aragon, then to Coimbra, Portugal and began their mission with the Moors in Seville, Spain; they were imprisoned immediately and then banished. They then made their was to Marrakesh, where they preached in the streets, though Berard was the only one who spoke any Arabic.
At first the Moors were forebearing, thinking that they were mad; but when they would not go away, and continued openly to denounce the teachings of the Prophet, the three priests and two lay brothers (Accursio and Aiuto) were beaten and put to death by the hand of the sultan himself, becoming the first martyrs of the Franciscan order (Attwater, Benedictines).
Blessed Conrad of Mondsee, OSB, Abbot M (PC)
Born near Trèves (Trier), Germany; died near Mondsee, Austria, 1145. Conrad Bosinlother became a Benedictine at Siegburg. In 1127, he was appointed abbot of Mondsee (Lunaelacensis), Upper Austria. His firmness in reclaiming the alienated possessions of the abbey led some nobles to murder him at Oberwang nearby. From the time of his death, he was publicly venerated at his abbey as a martyr (Benedictines).
Dunchaid O'Braoin, Abbot (AC)
Born in Westmeath; died at Armagh, 988. Saint Dunchaid was an anchorite until 969, when he was chosen abbot of Clonmacnoise Monastery. In his old age he retired to Armagh, where he died (Benedictines).
Ferreolus of Grenoble BM (AC)
(also known as Fergéol)
Died c. 670; cultus confirmed in 1907. Ferreolus is said to have been bishop of Grenoble, France (Benedictines).
Fulgentius of Ecija B (AC)
Died c. 633. Brother of Saints Isidore of Seville, Leander, and Florentina, Saint Fulgentius was bishop of Ecija, Andalusia, Spain, and one of the leaders of the Spanish Church at that time. He is often confused with Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Fulgentius is likely to be shown with his brothers and sister (Roeder).
Fursey of Lagny OSB, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Fursa of Pérrone)
Born Island of Inisquin(?), Lough Corri, Ireland; died in France c. 648.
After Saint Columbanus, Fursey is perhaps the best known of the Irish monastic missioners abroad in the earlier middle ages. Born of noble parents, Saint Fursey left home to build a monastery at Rathmat (probably Killursa), attracted throngs of disciples, and then after a time at home began preaching.
Twelve years later, sometime after 630, with his brothers SS. Foillan and Ultan, he travelled to East Anglia (England) as a "pilgrim for Christ," and was welcomed by King Saint Sigebert of the East Angles, who was encouraging the work of Saint Felix of Dunwich at just this time. Sigebert gave them the old fortress of Cnobheresburg (Burgh Castle, Suffolk) and its adjacent lands for a monastery.
Fursey, therefore, established a monastery on this land, and ministered from there for about ten years. About 642, on the death of Sigebert in battle against King Penda of Mercia, Fursey left on a pilgrimage to Rome. He never returned. Instead he moved on to Gaul, where he was given land by Mayor Erchinoald of Neustria (into whose household Saint Bathildis had recently been sold). There Fursey founded a monastery at Lagny- sur-Marne, near Paris, c. 644.
Fursey died at Mezerolles (Somme) while on a journey, and was buried at Péronne (Picardy), where his tomb became a place of pilgrimage and the monastery there an Irish center.
Saint Bede wrote more about Fursey than any other Irish missionary, except Saint Aidan. Fursey, says Bede, was 'renowned for his words and works, outstanding in goodness,' and it is Bede who relates the visions of the unseen world of spirits, good and evil, which account for much of Fursey's fame. From time to time he would fall into a trance-like state for a considerable period, during which he would see such things as the fires of falsehood, covetousness, discord, and injustice lying in wait to consume the world. He also had a vision of the afterlife, which Bede recounts--one of the earliest such. Together with those of the English Drithelm (also recorded by Bede), Saint Fursey's visions had considerable influence in the religious thought of western Europe in the later middle ages, notably as expressed in Dante's Divine Comedy.
Fursey made a big impression on everyone that met him. So many miracles were attributed to him in his own lifetime that he should be counted among the greatest of saints. He initiated his mission in France by restoring to life the son of a local nobleman, Count Haymon, who begged him to build his monastery on the nobleman's land. The saint declined, but this is the very site on which he died. Fursey's sanctity was a topic of conversation and came to the attention of French kings and nobles, who vied with each other to attract him to their territory, even after his death.
Count Haymon intended to inter Fursey in Mezerolles, but the Chancellor of Péronne, Erchinoald, sent a royal guard to seize the remains. His holy body lay in a portico for four years, awaiting the completion of a magnificent new church to receive him. Bede records "concerning the incorruption of his body, we have briefly taken notice so that the sublime character of this man may be better known to the readers."
In 654, Fursey's relics were translated to a shrine "in the shape of a little house," supposedly made by Saint Eligius. They were translated again in 1056. King Saint Louis, in 1256, declared his desire to be present for the retranslation of his remains to a new shrine at Péronne. On his return from a crusade, Louis went straight to Péronne, where he placed his own seal on the sepulchre. Most of the relics remained until the French Revolution; a head reliquary survived even the Prussian bombing of 1870. French, Irish, and English calendars (especially at Canterbury, which claimed his head relics) attest to his cultus. (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Montague).
In art Saint Fursey is portrayed as an abbot raising from the dead a youth, son of a nobleman. He may also by shown in ecstasy (Roeder). The figure of Fursey is now carried on the banner of the city of Péronne (Montague).
Blessed Gundisalvus of Amarante, OP (AC)
(also known as Gonsalvo, Gonzales)
Born in Vizella (near Braga), Portugal, in 1187; died c. 1259; cultus approved 1560.
Gonsalvo de Amarante was a true son of the Middle Ages, a man right out of the pages of the 'Golden Legend.' His whole life reads like a mural from the wall of a church--full of marvelous things and done up in brilliant colors.
In his boyhood Gonsalvo Pereira was gave wonderful indications of his holiness. While still small, he was consecrated to study for the Church, and received his training in the household of the archbishop of Braga. After his ordination he was given charge of a wealthy parish, an assignment that should have made him very happy. Gonsalvo was not as interested in choice parishes as some of his companions; he went to his favorite Madonna shrine and begged Our Lady to help him administer this office fairly.
There was no complaint with Gonsalvo's governance of the parish of Saint Pelagius. He was penitential himself, but indulgent with everyone else. Revenues that he might have used for himself were used for the poor and the sick. The parish, in fact, was doing very well when he turned it over to his nephew, whom he had carefully trained as a priest, before making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Gonsalvo would have remained his entire life in the Holy Land, but after 14 years his archbishop commanded him to return to Portugal. Upon his arrival, he was horrified to see that his nephew had not been the good shepherd that he had promised to be, the money left for the poor had gone to purchase a fine stable of thoroughbred horses and a pack of fine hounds. The nephew had told everyone that his old uncle was dead, and he had been appointed pastor in his place by an unsuspecting archbishop. When the uncle appeared on the scene, ragged and old, but very much alive, the nephew was not happy to see him. Gonsalvo seems to have been surprised as well as pained.
The ungrateful nephew settled the matter by turning the dogs on his inconvenient uncle. They would have torn him to pieces, but the servants called them off and allowed the ragged pilgrim to escape. Gonsalvo decided then that he had withstood enough parish life, and went out into the hills to a place called Amarante. Here he found a cave and other necessities for an eremitical life and lived in peace for several years, spending his time building a little chapel to the Blessed Virgin. He preached to those who came to him, and soon there was a steady stream of pilgrims seeking out his retreat.
Happy as he was, Golsalvo felt that this was not his sole mission in life, and he prayed to Our Lady to help him to discern his real vocation. She appeared to him one night as he prayed and told him to enter the order that had the custom of beginning the office with "Ave Maria gratia plena." She told him that this order was very dear to her and under her special protection. Gonsalvo set out to learn what order she meant, and eventually came to the convent of the Dominicans. Here was the end of the quest, and he asked for the habit.
Blessed Peter Gonzales was the prior, and he gave the habit to the new aspirant. After Gonsalvo had gone through his novitiate, he was sent back to Amarante, with a companion, to begin a regular house of the order. The people of the neighborhood quickly spread the news that the hermit was back. They flocked to hear him preach, and begged him to heal their sick.
One of the miracles of Blessed Gonsalvo concerns the building of a bridge across a swift river that barred many people from reaching the hermitage in wintertime. It was not a good place to build a bridge, but Gonsalvo set about it and followed the heavenly directions he had received. Once, during the building of the bridge, he went out collecting, and a man who wanted to brush him off painlessly sent him away with a note for his wife.
Gonsalvo took the note to the man's wife, and she laughed when she read it. "Give him as much gold as will balance with the note I send you," said the message. Gonsalvo told her he thought she ought to obey her husband, so she got out the scales and ut the paper in one balance. Then she put a tiny coin in the other balance, and another, and another--the paper still outweighed her gold--and she kept adding. There was a sizeable pile of coins before the balance with the paper in it swung upwards.
Gonsalvo died about 1259, after prophesying the day of his death and promising his friends that he would still be able to help them after death. Pilgrimages began soon, and a series of miracles indicated that something should be done about his beatification. Forty years after his death he appeared to several people who were apprehensively watching a flood on the river. The water had arisen to a dangerous level, just below the bridge, when they saw a tree floating towards the bridge, and Gonsalvo was balancing capably on its rolling balk. The friar carefully guided the tree under the bridge, preserving the bridge from damage, and then disappeared (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Saint Gundisalvus is generally shown as a Dominican between two Franciscans (SS Francis and Bernardino. The Christ-child, holding an orb, showers light upon him. He holds monastery in his hands. At times he may be shown giving food to beggars (Roeder). He is venerated in Braga, Portugal, and Amarante (Roeder).
Henry of Cocket, OSB, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Henry of Coquet Island)
Born in Denmark; died 1127. The Danish Henry went abroad because he wanted to live as a hermit. If he had remained at home, he would have been duty-bound to marry. He settled on Cocket Island, off the coast of Northumberland, under the obedience of the monks of Tynemouth, daughter-house of Saint Alban's, to whom the island belonged. On this same island Saint Cuthbert used to meet Saint Elfleda, abbess of Whitby.
Henry lived the typical life of a hermit: gardening to provide his own food and practicing austerities. After many years on the island, a party of Danes tried to persuade him to return to Denmark. There were many suitable places in his homeland where he could practice his eremitical life. But after a night of prayer in which Henry experienced a locution from the corpus on the cross, he decided to stay where he was.
Word of his holiness spread. More and more visitors flocked to the island, attracted by his special gifts of prophecy, telekinesis, and reading souls. One interesting example of the last: He reproved and punished a man who had refused his wife sexual intercourse during Lent, although the man had not confessed it.
When Henry fell ill and his state continued to deteriorate due to lack of care, he became increasingly cheerful and endured his suffering alone. Finally, he rang his hermit's bell for help. By the time help arrived, Henry was dead, holding the bellrope in one hand and a candle in the other. In spite of strong resistance from the islanders, who wanted to keep their saint, the monks of Tynemouth took his body back to the monastery and buried him in the sanctuary, near their patron Saint Oswin. There is no early reference to his cultus, but his name can be found in later martyrologies (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
Honoratus of Arles B (RM)
(also known as Honore)
Born in Trèves (Trier), Germany, (or Lorraine, France), c. 350; died at Arles, France, 429.
Saint Honoratus was born into a Gallo-Roman family of consular rank. He was well-versed in the liberal arts. He converted from paganism to Christianity in his youth and won his older brother, Venantius, to Christ. The two brothers desired to forsake the world entirely; but their father put continual temptations in their way. Finally, they secured the services of Saint Caprasius, a holy hermit, who acted as their instructor in the ways of holiness.
The three sailed from Marseilles to Greece, intending to live there in some unknown desert and learn more about monasticism. Venantius died at Modon; Honoratus was also ill. He and his mentor were forced to return home via Rome. He intended to live the life of a hermit, but God had other plans for him. At first he lived as one near Fréjus. Two small islands were just off the coast near Cannes: a larger one called Lero (now St. Margaret's); the other, smaller and further out called Lérins (now Saint- Honorat).
Around 410 (400?), he established himself on this smaller desert island, where he was joined by SS. Lupus of Troyes, Eucherius of Lyons, and Hilary of Arles, as well as others. This was the beginning of the celebrated monastery of Lérins, whose history lasted for nearly 1,400 years. Some of the monks lived in community; others were anchorites. The Rule was that of Saint Pachomius.
About 426-427, he was forced to become archbishop of the important see of Arles. However, he labors in the field he did not want lasted less than three years. Honoratus died exhausted by his austerities and apostolic labors in 429.
His relative Hilary, who succeeded him as bishop of Arles, wrote a panegyric of Saint Honoratus that speaks of the trouble taken by the saint to ensure that no one in this island community should be dispirited, overworked, or idle; and 'it is astonishing how much work he got through himself, of poor health as he was.' Many visitors found their way to the island (including Saint John Cassian), and no one left it 'without a perfectly carefree mind.' Honoratus is one of those blessedly joyful saints (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Hoare, Walsh).
Saint Honoratus is generally portrayed as driving serpents from the island of Lérins, whose monastery he founded. He is shown at times (1) as a bishop over the island of Lérins with a phoenix below, or (2) drawing water from a rock with his mitre near him (Roeder).
Honoratus of Fondi, Abbot (RM)
6th century. Honoratus was the abbot-founder of the monastery of Fondi on the confines of Latium and Campania in present-day Italy. Saint Gregory the Great gives a pleasing, though all too short, account of his life in Dialogos, Book I (Benedictines).
James of Tarentaise B (AC)
Born in Syria; died at Tarentaise, France, c. 429. Saint James was a disciples of Saint Honoratus at Lérins and venerated at Chambery as an apostle of Savoy and the first bishop of Tarentaise (Benedictines). Saint James is generally portrayed as a bishop with a bear drawing a plough (Roeder).
Blessed Jane of Bagno, OSB Cam. V (AC)
Born in Fontechiuso, Tuscany, Italy; died 1105; cultus approved in 1823. Blessed Jane became a Camaldolese lay-sister at Santa Lucia near Bagno, Tuscany (Benedictines).
Probably the same as Saint Carantog (Carantoc) (Benedictines).
Marcellus I, Pope M (RM)
Died 309. Marcellus is another of those saints for whom fact is so overlaid by myth that it is difficult to tell much at all about his life.
According to the legend, one day in 309, an old man was pushed through the half-open door of the Emperor Maxentius's stables in Rome. Wearing nothing but rags, disfigured by fatigue and beatings, a pitiful sight, more scorned than the dust of the road-- this man is Marcellus, successor of the Apostle Peter to the papal throne, guardian of the keys of the Kingdom, arbiter of the churches.
Because of the vengeance of a tyrant, Marcellus had been turned into a slave and a stable-boy. Maxentius laughed at the ignominy of the pontiff to whom he had given a broom to replace his scepter, a bucket for a throne. And the companions of Marcellus, knowing that he is an important person, treated him with scornful irony; at the dinner table the worst rascal had permission to spit in his bowl.
Marcellus had become pope during a dangerous time for Christians in Rome. After the death of Saint Marcellinus in 304, the papacy had remained vacant for over three years because the intensity of Emperor Diocletian's persecutions prevented the election of a new pope. It was not until Diocletian abdicated in 305 and Maxentius became emperor in 306, that a new election could be contemplated. In May or June 308, Marcellus, a Roman priest, was elected.
Marcellus reorganized the Church in Rome, dividing the city into 25 parishes, the embryo of the Sacred College, and gave them the name of cardinals. And these priests, during his absence, celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the entire people of God prayed for his deliverance.
Marcellus undertook to rule and fix the destiny of the universal church. He ruled with justice upon the old quarrel about the backsliders: those Christians who yielded under the violence of torture, and who repented, tearfully seeking to be readmitted into communion with the faithful.
At Carthage, Novatus spoke for the forgiveness of all the apostates. At Rome, Novatian refused any pardon at all. Marcellus, sovereign judge, solved the problem wisely. He neither renounced punishment nor pity. He censured the guilty and imposed penances according to the gravity of their errors. He closed to no one his paternal arms. Of course, this made him unpopular with everyone.
Unfortunately, Marcellus's decision caused widespread civil disorders that forced Maxentius to exile Marcellus, who died shortly after leaving Rome on January 16 (although this may be the date of his burial). It's unclear whether he reigned nine or 18 months, however, it was definitely a very short tenure.
The story continues that after nine months of hard work in Maxentius's stable, Marcellus was able to escape to his awaiting flock. Emaciated and bent, shivering under his rags, he was recognized by a pious woman--Saint Lucina, who had buried Saint Sebastian. In haste she led him to her home, cared for him, and comforted him. Soon the good pope was again distributing Communion, teaching and baptizing. The faithful assemble about him in secrecy and the house that sheltered him, consecrated by incense and prayers, became a new Roman church.
Soon Maxentius discovered the whereabouts of the fugitive. He meditated upon a fearful punishment. Under his order slave hangmen broke down the door of the oratory, pushing ahead of them the cattle, horses, and other livestock from Maxentius's stables. They chased out and mistreated the faithful and replaced the tabernacle with a trough (a doubtful detail, since it is unlikely that they had tabernacles during this period). Marcellus was once again obliged to tend his animals.
The Encyclopedia correlates the treatment of Marcellus with that of many priests in this century by the Nazis. Several passages are cited (from Eugen Kogan's Le systeme des camps de concentration, Ed. la Jeune Parque and from Alfons Erb's Documents) regarding the treatment of an unnamed Franciscan priest and Msgr. Bernhard Lichtenberg.
Marcellus was simply one of the prime examples of man's inhumanity to man. One of the many who died in silence or unknown exile, tortured and brutally killed. Apparently, though, Marcellus did not meet a violent death; however, he is called a martyr in early liturgical books. The body of Saint Marcellus, however, was buried in the Roman cemetery of Saint Priscilla, though he may not have been killed by the persecution.
Maxentius was defeated in battle three years later by Emperor Constantine, who embraced Christianity. The oratory became a regular place of worship, and in the sixth century was enlarged. Meanwhile, the memory of Marcellus was preserved. After 300 years his remains were placed under the high altar of the Church named for him that stood where he had opened his oratory. Although the Church of San Marcello al Corso has been rebuilt many times since then, the saint's bones remain under its high altar to this day. (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
In art Saint Marcellus is shown as a pope with a donkey and a crib near him, sometimes in a stable (Roeder).
Melas B (RM)
(also known as Melantius)
Died c. 385. When in the 4th century a decree was issued for the ejection of all bishops to Arianism, the officers appointed to enforce it found Melas engaged in trimming the lamps of his church in Rhinocolura, a little town on the Mediterranean near the boundary between Egypt and Palestine. No one would have thought he was a bishop, for he was clad in an old cloak fastened with a girdle and soiled with oil. Mistaking him for a verger or workman, they asked to see the bishop and he replied that he would take them to him.
He led them to his own house and, as they were tired from their journey, made them sit at table, set food before them, and brought water to wash their hands. After this refreshment they said they would now see the bishop and he then told them who he was. "But I am the bishop," he said, "What is your business?"
They were so take aback that, after they had confessed their mission, they refused to interfere with him. Out of respect, they said, they could not do otherwise. "But," he replied, "I do not mind to what suffering I am subject. I am accustomed to austerity. And I will willingly go into exile for the sake of my principles." He would not shrink from the sufferings to which other bishops who held the same sentiments as himself were exposed, and insisted on sharing their exile. Such was the quality and spirit of those who in those days remained true to the Christian faith (Benedictines, Gill).
Priscilla, Matron (RM)
(also known as Prisca)
1st century (c. 98). Saint Priscilla, was the widow of Mancius Aeilius Glabrio, who was executed by Domitian most likely because he was a Christian. She was probably the mother of Saint Pudens, the senator. Tradition has it that she was the Roman hostess to Saint Peter, who used her home on Via Salaria as his headquarters in Rome. The catacomb of Priscilla under her home was named after her (Benedictines, Delaney).
Tatian B (RM)
(also known as Titian)
Died 650. For thirty years Saint Tatian was a bishop in the neighborhood of Venice. The seat of his bishopric (Opitergium or Oderzo) has since been destroyed (Benedictines).
Triverius, Hermit (AC)
Born in Neustria; died c. 550. Saint Triverius showed a strong leaning toward the contemplative life from early childhood. He lived as a hermit near Thérouanne monastery until he moved to Dombes. He is honored at Lyons and in the diocese of Belley. He has given his name to the village of Saint-Trivier (Benedictines).
Valerius of Sorrento B (AC)
Died c. 453. Saint Valerius was another of the hermit saints called by God and His people to another life. He became bishop of Sorrento, Italy (Benedictines).
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.