St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Emerentiana VM
(Regional Memorial)
January 23



Agathangelus, Deacon M &
Clement BM (RM)

Died c. 309. After Bishop Saint Clement of Ancyra, Galatia (Ankara, Turkey), miraculously survived torture, he was taken to Rome. While in prison there he met, converted, and baptized Saint Agathangelus, then ordained him deacon. He followed the bishop to the East, and both were martyred at Ancyra under Diocletian. Their Acta are most romantic, but unfortunately spurious. Their relics were venerated in Pera, a suburb of Constantinople, until they were taken by the Latins (Benedictines, Coulson, Husenbeth).


Amasius of Teano B (AC)
Died 356. Amasius, a Greek driven from the East by the Arians, became second bishop of Teano in 346. His cult is still flourishing in several dioceses of central Italy (Benedictines).


Asclas of Antinoe M (RM)
Died c. 287. Legend says that Saint Asclas was born in the Thebaid. After his arrest, he is said to have miraculously stranded the governor, Arrian, in the Nile until he would profess the Christian faith. The governor claimed he did and returned to land. Almost immediately he had Asclas martyred by being thrown into the Nile at Antinoe, Egypt. At one time he had a very popular cultus (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson).


Bernard of Vienne, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Barnard)

Born in Lyonnais, France, c. 778; died in Vienne, France, in 841; cultus approved in 1907. Born into a distinguished family, Saint Bernard was educated and raised at Charlemagne's court, married. About 800, he founded (or restored) the monastery of Ambronay (Ambournay). Later he became a monk there and, eventually, abbot. He was appointed archbishop of Vienne in 810, founded the abbey of Romans about 837. Although he was somewhat imprudent in his political activities, he became a very influential and holy prelate. He died there and was buried on January 23, noted for his saintliness and insistence upon strict ecclesiastical discipline (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney).


Blessed Bernard of Lippe, OSB Cist. B (PC)
Died 1217. Count Bernard of Lippe (Westphalia) professed the Cistercian Rule and was made abbot of Dünemunde. Later he was consecrated bishop of Semgallen in Kurland (Benedictines).


Colman of Lismore B (AC)
Died c. 702. Saint Colman succeeded Saint Hierlug (Zailug) as abbot-bishop of Lismore in 698. During his rule the fame of Lismore reached its peak (Benedictines).


Emerentiana VM (RM)
(also known as Emerentia)

Died 304 (?). According to the Roman Martyrology, Saint Emerentiana was the foster sister of Saint Agnes. While she was still a catechumen, Emerentiana was discovered by a pagan mob praying at the tomb of her recently martyred sister, and was stoned to death. There was, indeed, a real Roman martyr named Emerentiana, whose cultus is very ancient, as testified by its inclusion in the martyrologies of Jerome, Bede, and others, but not even the date of her death is known. She may have suffered with Saints Victor, Felix, and Alexander. It is claimed by Alban Butler that her relics were recovered with those of her sister in Christ near the Church of Saint Agnes on the Via Nomentana when it was being restored during the reign of Pope Paul V. Farmer reports that they were found nearby. Her connection with Saint Agnes ensured her popularity (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth). Saint Emerentiana is pictured as a young maiden with a stone or being stoned by a mob at Saint Agnes's tomb (Roeder). She is invoked against colic and stomach ache (Roeder).


Eusebius of Mount Coryphe, Hermit (AC)
4th century. Eusebius, a Syrian hermit, lived on Mount Coryphe near Antioch, where he ruled a community. He was a very eloquent homilist, and his life preached just as well. He himself ate only once every four days, but he would not allow his monks to fast for more than two days at a time. Although he advocated the benefits of penitential mortification of the senses, he more highly recommended perpetual prayer. He was harsh with himself. His mind wondered as he was listening to his abbatial predecessor read the Scriptures aloud. To punish himself for his inattention to the Word of God, he locked a heavy iron collar around his neck, which was connected by a stiff chain to an iron girdle around his wait. For the rest of his life--more than 40 years--he wore this contraption which prevented him from looking at his feet. Thereafter, he left his cell only to visit the chapel (Attwater2, Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Ildephonsus of Toledo B (RM)
(also known as Alphonso, Ildefonsus, Ildephonse)

Born in Toledo, Spain, in 607; died there on January 23, 667; Doctor of the Church.

"Virgin Mother of God: may I bind myself to God and to you, serve your own Lord and serve you too, obey your own Son and so obey you. May I worship Him as my Maker and you as the mother of my Maker. May I venerate Him as the Lord of Hosts and you as the handmaid of the Lord. May I adore Him as my God and you as the mother of my God." --Saint Ildefonsus.

Ildefonsus, born of a noble Spanish family, was the nephew of Saint Eugene of Toledo and may have studied under Saint Isidore of Seville. He longed to become a monk. His family opposed his wishes. Nevertheless, the saint professed himself in his youth as a member of the monastery at Agli (Agalia) near his hometown of Toledo and was ordained about 637. The other monks recognized his deep spirituality and wisdom by making him their abbot about 650. Ildephonsus attended the council of Toledo in 653 and 655. About 657, he was consecrated archbishop of Toledo to succeed his uncle Eugenius.

Saint Ildefonsus was sitting on the bishop's throne in his cathedral when he was granted a vision in which the Blessed Virgin presented him with a chasuble of heavenly tissue. The gift was a fitting one, for Ildefonsus adored the Virgin and wrote a defense of her perpetual virginity. He saw worship of Jesus as the supreme duty of a Christian; and he believed that one could do so by meditating on Jesus through the eyes of His virgin mother. He also had a special devotion to Saint Leocadia, patroness of Toledo.

For nine years he governed the church wisely, until his peaceable death. His successor to the see of Toledo gave high praise to Ildefonsus's virtues and abilities. The Ramsgate Benedictines say that he was responsible for the unification of the Spanish liturgy. He was also a musician. The grateful Spaniards dubbed him a Doctor of the Church and his memory is still revered.

Ildephonsus was an outstanding writer as well as a devoted pastor. His treatise on Baptism was followed by one of the spiritual journey of the soul after receiving the Sacrament. In De viris illustribus he compiled short biographies of notables in the 7th-century Church in Spain. He devotion to Mary led him to write several theological treatises, including De virginitate perpetua sactae Mariae, a work of exuberant enthusiasm, rather than of sober thought. This work was written as a defense of the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Mother against the heresy of Helvidius, Jovinian, and a Jew. His fervor had a marked effect on Spanish piety.

A short vita of Saint Ildephonsus was written by his successor, Bishop Saint Julian, 23 years after his death (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Braegelmann, Coulson, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth, Tabor).

The investiture of Saint Ildephonsus is a favorite subject of Spanish artists, who depict him as a cardinal archbishop receiving a chasuble from the Blessed Virgin. His hat is near him. He may also be shown mitred with his abbot's crozier, chasuble, pallium, book, and cardinal's hat, or writing before an image of the Blessed Virgin (Roeder, Tabor). He is venerated throughout Spain but especially in Toledo and Seville (Roeder).


John the Almsgiver B (RM)
Born in Amathus (Old Limaasol), Cyprus, c. 550; died November 11, c. 616-19; feast day formerly April 9; feast in the East is November 11.

Two near contemporary vitae about Saint John the Almsgiver-- one by John Moschus and the other by Sophronius--tend to give credence to the story of John the Almsgiver. John, the son of noble Epiphanius, governor of Cyprus, married while he was still quite young, but when his wife and two children died he entered the religious life, gave his income to the poor, and became widely known for his holiness and charity. When John was about 50 (c. 608) and still a layman, he was chosen patriarch of Alexandria by his adopted brother Nicetas, who had helped the Emperor Heraclius to come to power. This church had been very greatly reduced by the Monophysite heresy, and John set himself to commend orthodoxy by an example of virtuous living and most liberal almsgiving.

On his arrival, Patriarch John ordered an exact list to be taken of his "masters," i.e., the poor, whom John said had much power in heaven to help those who had been good to them on earth. The list John compiled named 7,500 poor of the diocese, who he fed every day. One of his first episcopal acts was the distribution of 80,000 pieces of gold to hospitals and monasteries. When some protested this action, he answered by telling of a vision he had experienced. A beautiful woman appeared to him representing Charity who said to him: "I am the eldest daughter of the King. If you will be my friend, I will lead you to Him." Thereafter, he followed this policy of charity systematically until his death. It is said that his own charity spurred others on to do likewise.

He was inspired by the thought that in helping the poor he was giving thanks to Jesus, who sacrificed so much for our salvation. When someone privately tried to thank John, the saint cut him short, saying, "Brother, I have not yet spilled my blood for you, as Jesus Christ, my master and my God, commands me."

Every Wednesday and Friday he sat on a bench outside the church and adjudicated disputes, dispensed advice, listened to the complaints of the needy and aggrieved, and immediately sought to redress the wrongs that they had experienced. Nothing and nobody was too insignificant for his attention.

The functions of his office, prayer, and pious reading occupied all his time, so that he never spoke an idle word. He turned out of the church those whom he saw talking, and forbade all detractors to enter his house. Avoiding idle conversation was perhaps aided by his appointment of a man to remind him on all occasions of pomp: "My lord, your tomb is unfinished; be pleased to give your orders to have it completed, for you know not the hour when death will seize you."

Known for his humility, John regarded injuries as his greatest gain and happiness. He always disarmed his enemies of their rancor by meekness, and frequently fell at the feet of those who insulted him to beg their pardon.

When he noticed that many amused themselves outside the church during Mass, he went out and seated himself amongst them, saying: "My children, the shepherd must be with his flock." This action, which covered them with confusion, prevented them from being guilty of that ever again. He also forbade meeting in the sanctuary, saying, "If you come here to pray, occupy your mind and heart with that, but if you come merely to meet someone, remember it is written that the house of God shall be called a house of prayer; do not turn it into a den of thieves."

The saint also insisted the believers should never under any circumstances receive Holy Communion with heretics. He said, "Communion is so called because he who has communion has things in common and agrees with those with whom he has communion; therefore I implore you never to go near the oratories of heretics in order to communicate there."

He found and endowed seven lying-in and other hospitals of 40 beds each (with a 'maternity benefit'), homes for the aged and infirm, and lodgings for travellers, and built churches (over 60 of them according to one source). He also helped the poor by regulating weights and measures and making individual gifts, and taxed his clergy to help pay for it all. John fought simony, rigorously forbade all his officers and servants to take presents that he saw as bribes, and ended corruption in his diocese. Throughout his patriarchate, he labored to end Monophysitism and restore orthodoxy by peaceful means.

Patriarch John worked to alleviate the onerous new taxes levied by Governor Nicetas. The governor left John in a passion. Saint John sent him a message toward evening saying, "The sun is going to set. Let not the sun set on your anger." The admonition had its intended effect. The governor returned to John and asked for pardon.

One of his beneficiaries was a trader who had fallen on hard times after two shipwrecks: John provided him with a ship and a cargo of corn that the man bartered for its weight in tin in the British Isles, which was experiencing a famine. Legend says the tin turned to finest silver on the return journey.

John's open hand never closed. Sometimes he was deceived by impostors who kept returning for alms in disguise when he had already helped them generously: even when he knew he was imposed upon he still gave again and again.

Though he was not a monk himself, he came to respect them and founded two new monasteries in the city. Once a young monk begged alms for several days accompanied by an attractive young woman. As a result of the consequent scandal, John had the woman beaten and separated from the monk, who was scourged and placed in solitary confinement. That night John had a dream in which he saw the monk who told him that he had made a mistake. Upon awakening John called for the badly lacerated monk. He told John that he was a eunuch and that the young woman was a Jew who wish to be baptized. John apologized, offered compensation (which was refused), and admonished the monk that it was unseemly for those clad in angelic robes to wander about the city, especially with a woman. Thereafter the saint showed special honor and hospitality to monks.

A rather cute story is told about a wealthy admirer, who upon learning that John had but one ragged blanket on his bed, begged John to accept one of great value and use it for the sake of the donor. John accepted it, but spent a night in uneasiness and self- reproaches for being so richly covered while his 'masters' (the poor) were so ill-accommodated. The next day John sold it and gave the money to the poor. The donor bought it from the vendor, and gave it again to John. The cycle of giving, accepting, selling, and rebuying the blanket continued for quite a time.

When the Persians sacked Jerusalem in 614, he succored the refugees and sent large amounts of money, and food for the relief of that city and workmen to rebuild its churches. In a letter to Bishop Modestus of Jerusalem, he wrote that he wished it had been in his power to come in person and contribute by the labor of his hands. Five years later the invaders were threatening Egypt. He was on his way to Constantinople with Nicetas to visit Emperor Heraclius, when at Rhodes a vision of his own impending death caused him to return to his native Amathus, where he died.

In his last will and testament he said that he had found the treasury of his church full and left it empty: "I have done my best to render to God the things that were God's." John the Almsgiver was the original patron saint of the Order of Saint John at Jerusalem (later, the Knights of Malta).

His relics were carried to Constantinople, where they remained until the Turkish emperor presented them to Matthias, king of Hungary. They then made their way from to Tall (near Presbourg/Bratislava, Hungary) and then to the cathedral of Presbourg in 1632. The Orthodox Church honors John on his dies natalis, while the R.M. celebrates the date of the translation of his relics (Attwater, Benedictines, Butler, Coulson, Dawes, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth, Walsh).

In art, Saint John is a bishop with a wallet or loaf holding a rosary in his hand. Sometimes he is shown giving alms to a cripple (Roeder). In this 14th-century Russian icon with Saints Barlaam Khutynski, Paraskeva and Anastasia.


Lufthildis of Cologne V (AC)
(also known as Lufthild)

Died c. 850. Saint Lufthild has an active cultus in the environs of Cologne, Germany, where she is said to have lived as an anchorite, but nothing is know with certainty about her life because there was no contemporary account. Legend says that she was persecuted by her stepmother for persistently giving their possessions to the poor (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson).


Maimbod M (AC)
Died January 23, c. 880. Saint Maimbod was a martyr who went to Alsace from Ireland as a missionary. Maimbod was a pilgrim to the tombs of many saints, as he wandered he spread the faith throughout northern Italy and Gaul. In Burgundy a nobleman gave him hospitality and unsuccessfully pressed him to settle there. Upon Maimbod's departure, the nobleman gave Maimbod a pair of gloves as a reminder to pray for him. He was praying at the church of Domnipetra near Katlenbrunn eight miles from Besançon, when he was set upon by some robbers who believed he had money because he was wearing gloves. When miracles began to occur at his tomb in Domnipetra, Count Aszo of Monteliard asked the blind Bishop Berengarius for a gift of the saint's relics. Berengarius delegated the translation ceremony to his coadjutor, Bishop Stephen. During the rite, Berengarius miraculously received his sight and instituted a feast in honor of the saint. Although Maimbod's relics were destroyed in the 16th century, his feast his commemorated in the diocese of Besançon (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Encyclopedia, Fitzpatrick, O'Hanlon, O'Kelly).


Blessed Margaret of Ravenna V (PC)
Born at Russi (near Ravenna), Italy; died 1505. From her youth Margaret was almost blind, who not only suffered from a lack of empathy from her neighbors, but even injustice. Nevertheless, many of them were eventually won to friendship through her patience and humility. With the help of a priest, she formed a religious association of secular laity, but it did not survive (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Martyrius of Valeria M (RM)
(also known as Martory)

6th century. A hermit at Valeria in the Abruzzi, whom Saint Gregory the Great extols in his Dialogues (Dial. I, II) (Benedictines).


Ormond of Mairé, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Armand)

6th century. Saint Ormond was a monk at the abbey of Saint Mairé. He became abbot in 587 and was eminently successful in that position (Benedictines).


Parmenas M (RM)
Died c. 98. One of the seven original deacons selected by the Holy Spirit at the request of the Apostles, Saint Parmenas ministered to the needs of the Hellenic Jewish converts to Christianity in Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). According to tradition, he preached for many years in Asia Minor before being martyred at Philippi, Macedonia, during the persecution of the Christians under Emperor Trajan (Benedictines, Delaney).


Severian and Aquila MM (RM)
Dates uncertain. A husband and wife martyred at Julia Caesarea in Mauritania (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.