Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon M
Anastasius the Persian M (RM)
(also known as Magundat)
Died at Bethsaloe, Assyria, January 22, 628. According to his Greek biographer, Magundat was a young Persian soldier in the army of King Chosroes II when it captured Jerusalem in 614. He became curious about the Christian religion, and was impressed by its sublime truths. He returned to Persia, left the military, and retired to Hierapolis.
There he lodged and often prayed with a devout Persian Christian silversmith. The religious art that he saw moved him to inquire more and more about the faith. Finally, he left Hierapolis, and went to Jerusalem where he was baptized Anastasius by Modestus and entered a monastery in 621.
Anastasius was always the first at all spiritual duties, especially in assisting at the Mass. His attention to pious discourse testified to the sincerity of his soul. He never read about the triumphs of the martyrs without an abundance of tears, and burned with an ardent desire to become a martyr himself.
After seven years in the monastery, he was allowed to go to Caesarea in Palestine to visit holy places and preach the Gospel to the Persian garrison. He was arrested there, flogged, and put to hard labor. The governor Marzabanes commanded him to be chained by the foot to another prisoner, and his neck and one foot also to be linked by a heavy chain, and condemned him in this condition to carry stones.
Upon hearing of his troubles, Anastasius's old abbot sent two monks to assist him, and ordered prayers for him. Meanwhile, Anastasius would pray all night. A Jew reported having seen him shining in glory and angels praying with him.
The governor called for him again. Marzabanes had received detailed orders from Chosroes: If Anastasius would abjure Christianity by word of mouth, he might choose to return to military service or still remain a Christian and return to the monastery. The governor added that he might in his heart always adhere to Christ, provided that he would but once renounce Christ, privately in the presence of the governor. Anastasius sent back the answer that he would never lie or dissemble.
After repeatedly refusing to renounce his faith, he was taken in chains to the Euphrates, where an officer of Chosroes also failed to induce him to apostatize, even with the help of torture: beatings with staves three days in a row. The martyr's tranquility and patience astonished the officer, who went again to acquaint the king of his behavior.
Meanwhile, the Christian jailer gave everyone free access to the prisoner, and Christians soon filled the prison. Each one sought to kiss his feet or chains, and kept as relics whatever had been sanctified by his touch. They also overlaid his fetters with wax to receive their impression. The saint was embarrassed by all this and tried to discourage his admirers.
Eventually, together with 68 other Christians, Anastasius was strangled and beheaded at Bethsaloe (Barsaloe) on the bank of the Euphrates. Their bodies were left exposed to be devoured by dogs, but they left his body untouched. He body was laid in the monastery of Saint Sergius nearby, and later moved to Palestine, Constantinople, and, in 640, Rome where they are enshrined in the chapel ad Scalas Sanctus near Saint John Lateran. The monk who attended him took his linen tunic back to his monastery in Palestine.
Anastasius's head was brought to Rome and enshrined in the church of Saint Vincent and Saint Anastasius, both celebrated today. Miracles have been attributed to images of his head, which were approved by the seventh general council (Act. 4).
The cultus of Saint Anastasius may have come to England by way of Saint Theodore of Canterbury. Anastasius's vita was rewritten by the Venerable Bede shortly before Bede's death. Saint Anastasius is honored the same day by both the Roman (including at Wearmouth and Jarrow) and Orthodox Churches (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Blaesilla of Rome, Widow (AC)
(also known as Blesilla)
Died in Rome, Italy, 383. Daughter of patrician Saint Paula and sister of Saint Eustochium, early in life Blaesilla followed in her mother's elegant footsteps and, like her saintly mother, practiced great austerities. When Saint Jerome arrived in Rome in 382, their friend Saint Marcella insisted he should teach their group of pious women Hebrew and exegesis. The young widow, Blaesilla threw herself so vehemently into the ascetic life that in 384, at age 20, she died. The widow Paula was almost crazy with grief, but the young, sarcastic Jerome rebuked her and promised to glorify Blaesilla by writing about her, which he did. Jerome also began his translation of the book of Ecclesiastes at the request of Saint Blaesilla (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Martindale)
Brithwold of Sarum, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Berhtwald, Brihtwald)
Died 1045; his cultus is solely local. Saint Brithwold was a monk at Glastonbury in Wiltshire who was chosen bishop of Ramsbury in 995, and governed it for 50 years. After his death the see was moved to Old Sarum. His fame comes not from his long episcopate, but from his prophecy and vision concerning the successor to Saint Edward the Confessor. He was a great benefactor to Malmesbury and Glastonbury, where he was buried (Benedictines, Coulson, Farmer).
Dominic of Sora, OSB, Abbot (RM)
Born at Foligno, Etruria, Italy; died at Sora, Campania, Italy, 1031. Saint Dominic became a Benedictine and eventually abbot- founder of several monasteries: Scandrilia, Sora, Sangro, and elsewhere in the old kingdom of Naples. He was eighty years old when he died. He is known in his native region for his ability to control thunderstorms (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson). Saint Dominic is pictured in a hermit's cell being visited by three men carrying a dish. Sometimes he is portrayed as covered with snakes (Roeder). Saint Dominic is invoked against fever, hail, mad dogs, and snake-bite (Roeder).
Blessed Francis Gil de Federich, OP M (AC)
Born in Tortosa, Spain, in 1702; died in Checo, Tonkin, in 1744; beatified in 1906. (He and Matthew Lenziana may have been among the Martyrs of Vietnam canonized in 1988, but I have no verification of that as yet.) During the first 200 years of Christianity in the area now called Vietnam--Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin-China--it is believed that about 100,000 were martyred. The records of most of these witnesses to the faith have been lost. The earliest martyrs of whom there is substantial documentation are the Spanish Preacher Friars, Francis Gil and Alonzo Lenziana. Blessed Francis became a Dominican in Barcelona and was sent to the Philippines. From there he was sent to Tonkin, where after long apostolic labors, he was arrested and imprisoned. Gil directed a fruitful apostolate during the nine years of confinement before his decapitation at Checo (Benedictines, Farmer).
Gaudentius of Novara B (RM)
Died c. 418. Saint Gaudentius, a priest of Ivrea near Turin, was befriended by Saint Laurence of Novara and Saint Eusebius of Vercelli. He succeeded Laurence as bishop of Novara and governed the see for twenty years (Benedictines).
Blessed Matthew Alonso Leziniana, OP M (AC)
Born at Navas del Rey (diocese of Valladolid), Spain; died in Tonkin in 1745; beatified in 1906 (possibly canonized in 1988?). After his profession as a Dominican and ordination as a priest, Blessed Alonzo was sent to the Philippines and, like Blessed Francis Gil, then on to Tonkin. Though he was a fugitive for 13 years, he managed to minister faithfully, though furtively, to the native Christians until his own beheading (Benedictines, Farmer).
Valerius of Saragossa (RM)
Died 315; feast day formerly on January 28. Valerius was Deacon Saint Vincent's bishop with the stammer. He is said to have been arrested under Diocletian and shared Vincent's cruel imprisonment, but then was sent into exile. He died in peace either in exile or in Saragossa (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines).
Vincent Pallotti, Priest (RM)
Born in Rome, Italy, April 21, 1795; died January 22, 1850; canonized in 1963 by Pope John XXIII during Vatican Council II; feast day formerly on January 23.
Vincent was the son of a prosperous grocer. His schoolmaster Don Ferri said of him, "He's a little saint but a bit thick-headed." He grew more proficient at his studies as he matured, however, and he was ordained at 23 (1817). He took a doctorate in theology and became an assistant professor at the Spaienza in Rome.
He was encouraged by his friendship with Saint Caspar del Bufalo to resign his post and pursue pastoral work. He was popular as a confessor, and acted in this capacity at several Roman colleges, including the Scots, the Irish, and the English. Unfortunately, he was disliked by the other clergy at the Neapolitan church to which he was appointed, and their malicious treatment of him inexplicably passed without comment from the authorities for ten years, and without complaint on his part.
Anticipating the teaching of Vatican II on an apostolic role for all Christians, in 1835, Vincent gathered together a group of clergy, nuns and other laymen, committed to conversion and social justice, in order to organize vocational schools with evening classes for poor boys, and an institute to teach better agricultural methods. The schools were intended to teach young people marketable skills such as shoe-making, tailoring, joining, and agriculture, and to instill in them a pride in their work. He worked from the premise that holiness is to be found not only in a religious life of prayer and silence, but also by filling any need in any part of life wherever one sees it. These policies resembled those of Saint John Bosco, who worked in northern Italy (Turin).
From this group would evolve the Pallotines, or the Society of Catholic Apostolate (called for a time the Pious Society of Missions and later the Society of Catholic Action), which had only a dozen members during his lifetime but has since grown and a corresponding society of women, the Pallottini Sisters, was established in 1843. The congregation has flourished in Italy, Brazil, Australia, and the United States, where it has specialized in care for the immigrants and, like their founder, in promoting ecumenical contacts with Eastern Orthodox Christians.
He wrote to a young professor, "You are not cut out for the silence and austerities of Trappists and hermits. Be holy in the world, in your social relationships, in your work and your leisure, in your teaching duties and your contacts with publicans and sinners. Holiness is simply to do God's will, always and everywhere."
Vincent's apostolic labors were matched only by his austerities, and in 1837, during an epidemic of cholera, he cared for others despite the danger to himself. He went to great lengths to fulfill the spiritual needs of the people, once even impersonating an old woman in order to approach a bedridden man who had warned he would shoot any priest who came near him. Vincent also performed exorcisms.
In 1836, he started the special observance of the Octave of Epiphany for the reunion of the Eastern Orthodox Church with Rome. Each day he would celebrate the Mysteries with a different rite; since 1847, this custom has been observed in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Valle.
In 1844, don Pallotti sent one of his most trusted priests to minister to the Italians in London, and since then his society has spread throughout the world. He was also especially interested in the English mission and had numerous English, Irish, and American friends. One of them, Walter Tempest, was with him when he was given shelter at the Irish College in Rome in 1849.
The people of Rome saw don Vincent as a 19th century version of Saint Philip Neri. Often he came home half-naked because he had given his clothes away. He would go to great lengths to reconcile sinners. Once he dressed up as an old woman in order to get to the bedside of a man who seriously threatened to shoot the first priest to come near him. Pallotti was in demand as an exorcist. God also granted him the gifts of supernatural knowledge and healing. Father Pallotti died of pleurisy at the age of 55.
It is interesting to note that when evidence was given during his beatification process, the vice rector of the Neapolitan church in Rome, who had been one of his severest persecutors, said: "Don Pallotti never gave the least grounds for the ill-treatment to which he was subjected. He always treated me with the greatest respect; he bared his head when he spoke to me, he even several times tried to kiss my hand." (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Walsh, White).
Vincent of Digne B (AC)
Died 380. An African by birth who succeeded Saint Domninus as bishop of Digne. He is the principal patron saint of the city and diocese (Benedictines).
Vincent, Orontius & Victor MM (RM)
Died 305. Vincent and Orontius were brothers from Cimiez near Nice, France. They preached the Gospel to the people of the Spanish Pyrenees and were martyred, with Saint Victor, at Puigcerda in the province of Gerona. Their bodies were subsequently brought to Embrun, France (Benedictines).
Vincent of Saragossa, Deacon M (RM)
(also known as Vincent of Aragon)
Born in Huesca, Spain; died January 22, 304.
Vincent was educated and ordained a deacon by Bishop Saint Valerius of Saragossa with the commission to preach (White). (Gill confusingly says: "As a young priest he served Valerius, Bishop of Saragossa, and after a time became his archdeacon." Is it possible that at the time a presbyter could become a deacon? Deacons did have more power at the time because the faculties necessary for most sacraments had not yet been delegated to the presbyters; deacons held the purse- strings.)
The ancient legend, but not an eyewitness account, relates that the governor Dacian was doing his utmost to stamp out Christianity in his domain. He killed 18 believers in Saragossa in 303. It was during these persecutions under Emperor Diocletian, that Vincent, the bishop, and the priests were arrested, led away in chains, and imprisoned in Valencia. Because Valerius suffered from a speech impediment, Vincent acted as his spokesman and, on behalf of them all, boldly declared their allegiance to Christ. Saint Valerius was exiled and later may have died as a martyr.
Vincent underwent terrible tortures; he had resisted turning over his church's sacred books, and sacrificing to false gods. He was stretched upon a rack, torn with metal hooks, and laid upon a frame of sharp iron bars heated from beneath by fire. When even this diabolic cruelty failed to break his will, he was thrown into a dungeon the floor of which was strewn with broken crockery that added to the agony of his already lacerated body.
Vincent declared that God sent the angels of heaven to comfort him. His cell, he said, was illuminated with a heavenly light, and might have been filled with roses (the gift of scent), so sweet was its fragrance. He sang hymns as he suffered, so that even the jailer was astounded. As he looked into the cell of the tormented saint and saw him upon his broken knees, suffering agony yet singing praises to God, he was overcome by wonder, and confessed in that hour his conversion.
On hearing this, the Roman governor was infuriated, but finding all his efforts to unnerve his victim were useless, gave orders for the torture to stop--perhaps to win Vincent by clemency or to prevent him from becoming a martyr.
For a time Vincent had some relief. The faithful were permitted to gaze upon his broken body, probably in the hope that they would abandon their faith. Instead, they came in troops, kissed the open sores, and carried away as relics cloths dipped in his blood. The gentle hands of Christian women tended his wounds. But he did not survive long and died of his injuries in prison in 304 or 305.
When he died, the anger of the authorities was renewed and followed him to his grave. His body was thrown into a bog as prey to the wild birds and beasts, but it was strangely preserved it is said by the protection of a raven. When any wild beast or bird tried to attack the mortal remains of the saint, the raven drove them away. Thwarted, Dacian had Vincent's body tied to a stone and cast into the sea. But in the night it was washed ashore, and again loving hands gave it reverent care and secret burial. Relics were claimed by Valencia, Saragossa, Lisbon (the Augustinian monastery), Paris, and Le Mans.
He was the protomartyr of Spain. There can be no doubt of Vincent martyrdom; however, there is plenty of room for speculation on the manner of his death. Prudentius devoted a poem to his praise and embroidered acts of his martyrdom have been preserved. The fame of Saint Vincent spread very rapidly and far, as Saint Augustine testifies, in a sermon, that his cultus extended to every part of the Roman Empire and everywhere the name of Jesus was known.
Several churches in England were dedicated to his honor in the Middle Ages. Vincent is listed in the Old English Martyrology and many pre-Conquest calendars. Abingdon, which acquired many of his relics in the 12th century, graded his feast at the highest level to include an octave (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, White).
Pictured as a deacon with a raven, sometimes on a millstone. On occasion he is shown (1) holding iron hook; (2) with a gridiron with spikes (not to be confused with Saint Lawrence); (3) torn with hooks, burned with torches; or (4) his corpse protected by eagles or ravens (Roeder). Click here to see a 14th- century French illumination.
He is the patron of bakers, roof-makers, sailors, schoolgirls, vine-dressers, vintners (Roeder), tile-makers, and roofers (Encyclopedia). The patron of vine-dressers and vintners may be due to the belief that he protects the fields against the frost that often occurs on or near his feast-day in Burgundy (Farmer).
Blessed Walter of Himmerode, OSB Cist. (AC)
(also known as Gautier, Gualterius)
Born in Brabant; died at Villers, 1222. Knight of the Third Crusade, who had become a familiar figure at tournaments until he found his way to the Cistercian abbey of Himerode. There he was appointed guest master and became a gentle, calm confessor. His affable, tactful manner attracted many to the monastic life (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed William Patenson M (AC)
Born at Durham; died at Tyburn, 1592; beatified in 1929. William studied for the priesthood at Rheims and was ordained there in 1587. He ministered in the western counties until he was condemned for his priesthood and hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn (Attwater2, 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.