Saint Angela Merici V
Angela de'Merici, OSU V (RM)
(also known as Angela of Brescia)
Born in Desenzano (near Lake Garda and Brescia), Lombardy, Italy, March 21, 1470 or 1474; died in Brescia, Italy, January 27, 1540; canonized 1807; feast day formerly on May 31.
"If any person, because of his state in life, cannot do without wealth and position, let him at least keep his heart empty of the love of them." --Saint Angela Merici.
As is often the case, it was the number of burdens which Angela Merici had to endure that brought her ever closer to God and moved her to order her existemce. Recalling her life, we should thank God for every hardship He permits us and the strength He gives us to endure them. Each trial is an opportunity to trust in God, to realize His power and His movement within and around us.
Orphaned at age 10, Angela and her sister and brother were raised by their wealthy uncle, Biancozi, at Salo. In Angela's first ecstatic experience, the Blessed Mother appeared with Angela's elder sister. Thus put her mind at rest regarding the salvation of her sister, who had died suddenly without receiving the sacraments. Angela became a Franciscan tertiary at 13 and lived austerely, sometimes eating only bread, water, and vegetables once a week. From this time onward, she wished to possess nothing, not even a bed (because the Son of Man had nowhere to lay His head).
On the death of her uncle, the 20-year-old Angela returned to her hometown and began giving catechism lessons to the poor children in Desenzano. She discussed her horror at the ignorance so many children had of their religion with her friends, who were mostly tertiaries. They were eager to help if Angela could show them how. Although Angela was small of stature, she had a great spirit, charm, and beauty capable of attracting and leading others. She and her friends began to regularly and systematically teach their young, female neighbors. Angela's own success in teaching the catechism in Desenzano led to the invitation from a wealthy couple, whom she had once helped, to begin a school in Brescia.
Angela had the special gift of being able to remember everything she read. She spoke Latin well and knew the meaning of some of the hardest passages of Scripture, which led to her being sought out for counsel. In Brescia she was brought in touch with the leading families and became the center of a circle of devout men and women whom she inspired with her great ideals.
On a trip to the Holy Land, she suddenly lost her sight in Crete. She continued her trip with devotion, and on the return trip, regained her sight at the very spot where she'd lost it.
During a visit to Rome for the Holy Year 1525, Pope Clement VII asked her to take charge of a group of nursing sisters in Rome, but she declined. She told him of a vision she had experienced years before of maidens ascending to heaven on a ladder of light, which was what led her to gather young women into an informal novitiate. In the vision the holy virgins were accompanied up and down the ladder by glorious angels who played sweet music on golden harps. All wore beautiful crowns decorated with precious jewels. After a time the music stopped and the Savior Himself called her by name to create a society of women. The Holy Father gave her permission to form a community.
Shortly, thereafter, Saint Ursula appeared to her, which is why she became the community's patron. Assisting at Mass one day, Angela fell into ecstasy and was said to have levitated.
Soon after her return to Brescia, she was forced to withdraw to Cremona because war had broken out, and when Charles V was on the point of making himself master of Brescia it was essential that non-combatants leave the city. When peace again prevailed, Angela's return to Brescia was greeted with joy by the citizens who already venerated her as a prophetess and saint.
In Saint Afra's Church at Brescia on November 25, 1535, Angela and 28 younger companions bound themselves before God to devote the rest of their lives to his service, especially by the education of girls. Angela placed herself and the novices under the protection of Saint Ursula, the patroness of medieval universities and venerated as a leader of women. This was the beginning of the Company of Saint Ursula (Ursuline nuns), the first teaching order of women--a novel idea that needed time before it was accepted.
The order had no habit (members usually wore a simple black dress), took no vows, and pursued neither an enclosed nor a communal life; they worked to oversee the religious education of girls, especially among the poorer classes, and to care for the sick. The Ursulines were formally recognized by Pope Paul III four years after Angela's death (1544) and were organized into a Congregation in 1565. At the start much of the teaching was done in the children's homes: but in her conception of an uncloistered, flexible society of women Saint Angela was before her time. She survived to direct the society for only four years.
During that time Angela was noted for her patience to her sisters and kindness in her many acts of mercy to the poor, sick, and ignorant. Soon there were 150 sisters to whom Angela addressed her wise sayings in her Counsels. As her sisters surrounded her in prayer at the hour of her death, a beautiful ray of light shone upon the saint--a sign that God was welcoming her to her eternal home. Angela died with the name of Jesus on her lips.
In 1568, Saint Charles Borromeo called the Ursulines to Milan and persuaded them to assume a cloistered communal life. In a provincial synod he explained to his suffragan bishops that he knew of no better means for the reform of their dioceses than to introduce the Ursulines into populous communities. Later in France strict enclosure was adopted and the teaching of young girls was made the chief concern of the order. The Ursulines flourish today (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Caraman, Delaney, Farmer, Schamoni, Walsh, White).
In art Saint Angela is represented by the image of virgins ascending a ladder; or with Saint Ursula and companions appearing to her (White).
Avitus M (RM)
Date unknown. The Roman Martyrology mentions Saint Avitus as an African martyr, who is probably to be identified as the one venerated in the Canary Islands as their apostle and first bishop (Benedictines).
Candida of Bañoles, Widow (AC)
Died near Gerona, Spain, c. 798. Mother of Saint Emerius, Saint Candida founded the abbey of Saint Stephen of Bañoles. She died as a recluse near the monastery (Benedictines).
Datius, Reatrus (Restius), & Comps. MM (RM)
Date unknown. Together with the group listed next, these are two groups of African martyrs (Benedictines).
Datius, Julian, Vincent & 27 companions MM (RM)
Date unknown. These African martyrs suffered under the Arian Vandals sometime during the period 427 to 531 (Benedictines).
Devota of Corsica VM (AC)
Died c. 303; feast day formerly January 17. Saint Devota was a young Corsican martyred at Macinaggio by being racked to death during Diocletian's persecutions. Her remains are interred at the Riviera di Ponenta in Monaco. Some identify her with the martyr Julia, described as "Deo devota," whose description was mistakenly made into a proper name (Delaney, Farmer). In art, Saint Devota is a dead maiden in a boat on the sea with a dove flying ahead of it (Roeder). She is the patron of Monaco and Corsica (Roeder).
Emerius of Bañoles, OSB, Abbot (AC)
8th century. French by birth, Saint Emerius founded in Spanish Catalonia and ruled the Benedictine abbey of Saint Stephen of Bañoles (near Gerona) as first abbot (Benedictines).
Gamelbert of Michaelsbuch (RM)
Born in Bavaria in 720; died c. 800; cultus approved 1909. Though the son of wealthy parents, Gamelbert's father set him to guard his sheep. Later Gamelbert made a pilgrimage to Rome, was ordained a priest, and served as a parish priest in Michaelsbuch for over 50 years (Benedictines). In art, Saint Gamelbert is portrayed as a priest in an oratory surrounded by sheep. He may sometimes be shown baptizing Saint (Blessed) Utho (Utto) (Roeder). He is venerated at Michaelsbuch (Roeder).
Blessed John of Warneton B (AC)
Born at Warneton, French Flanders; died 1130. John, a disciple of Saint Ivo of Chartres, became a canon regular of Mont-Saint-Eloi near Arras. His holiness led him to the position of archdeacon of Arras and eventually to bishop of the see of Thérouanne, which he accepted only under a papal order. He was a founder of many monasteries. Though he had a reputation for strictness, he was extremely gentle in dealing with the individuals who had conspired against his life (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed John Mary Mzec M (AC)
Died January 1887; beatified 1912. Blessed John was a native of Uganda, who baptized many in the hour of death. He was beheaded (Benedictines). He may have been canonized in 1964 as one of the Martyrs of Uganda, but I've not yet located any information to verify this. The Benedictines do, however, list Charles Lwanga as a saint.
Julian of Sora M (RM)
Died c. 150. A Dalmatian, arrested, tortured, and beheaded at Sora (Campania, Italy), under Antoninus Pius (138-161) (Benedictines).
Julian of Le Mans BM (RM)
3rd or 4th century. Saint Julian is honored as the first bishop of Le Mans, France. Some sources say that he was a Roman nobleman and an apostle of the region. His relics were translated to the cathedral of Le Mans in 1254, where his head is still shown. Most of his relics rest in the Benedictine convent of Saint-Julian-du- Pré, where they are credited with many miracles. Most of the relics were burnt or scattered by the Huguenots who plundered the shrine in 1562.
Various English churches, dating to the 7th century, and places, dating to the time of the Normans and Plantagenets, have this Julian as their titular patron. Of particular note is the church of Saint Julian in Norwich, which many mistakenly believe to have been dedicated to the Lady Julian of Norwich, known as Blessed Juliana, but whose given name is unknown. In a traditionally French fashion, there have been attempts to identify Julian with Simon the Leper or as one of the 72 disciples of Christ (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Saint Julian is pictured as a bishop raising a dead child of a nobleman or overcoming a dragon (Roeder). Saint Julian is venerated in the church of Notre-Dame-du-Pré (formerly called Saint-Julien-du-Pré) in Le Mans. His feast was kept throughout the south of England in the Middle Ages, in the Sarum rite, and in at least nine Black Benedictine English monasteries, probably due to the influence of King Henry II, who was born in Le Mans and baptized in the church of Saint Julian (Farmer).
Lupus of Châlons B (AC)
Died c. 610. Saint Lupus, bishop of Châlons-sur-Sâone, was famous for his charity to the afflicted. There is an extant letter to him dated 601 from Saint Gregory the Great (Benedictines).
Marius of Bodon, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Maurus, May, Mary, Maire, Mere)
Born at Orléans, France; died c. 555. There is no reliable information about this abbot-founder of Bodon in the diocese of Sisteron, France, where he is called Saint May. Uncertain sources relate that he was endowed by God with the gift of prophecy, who was a monk at Orléans before becoming the first abbot of Bodon (La-Val-Benois) some time before 509.
His vita was written by Dynamius, who corresponded with Pope Saint Gregory the Great (died 604) and is mentioned by Saint Gregory of Tours (letter 6, chapter 11). It is said that Saint Marius made pilgrimages to the tombs of Saint Martin at Tours and Saint Denis near Paris. He fell ill at Paris and dreamed that Saint Denis healed him. Upon awakening, he was restored to perfect health.
Another story relates that during one of Marius's Lenten retreats (forty days spent as a recluse in the forest), he was given a vision of the desolation to be left behind the barbarian invasions that were later to strike Italy. He also saw and foretold the destruction of his own monastery. When his prophecy was realized, his relics were translated from the demolished abbey to Forcalquier, where the collegiate church now bears his name (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Husenbeth).
Blessed Michael Pini, OSB Cam., Hermit (PC)
Born in Florence, Italy, c. 1445; died 1522. Michael was highly favored at the court of Lorenzo de'Medici before becoming a Camaldolese hermit in 1502. After his ordination to the priesthood, he was walled up in his hermitage where he remained until his death (Benedictines).
Natalis, Abbot (AC)
6th century. Natalis founded monasticism in northern Ireland and was a fellow-worker with Saint Columba. He ruled the abbeys of Cill, Naile, and Daunhinis. His holy well is still a place of pilgrimage (Benedictines).
Theodoric II of Orléans, OSB B (AC)
Died at Tonnerre, France, in 1022. Saint Theodoric was a monk of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif at Sens, who was summoned to court as counsellor and later nominated bishop of Orlans. He died on his way to Rome (Benedictines).
Vitalian, Pope (RM)
Born at Segni, Campania, Italy; died January 27, 672. Saint Vitalian succeeded Pope Eugene I and was consecrated pope on July 30, 657. During his troubled pontificate, Vitalian continually wrestled with the Monothelite tendencies of the emperor and the Eastern patriarchs. Nevertheless, the pope enjoyed signs of hope as well: The conflict between English and Irish bishops over the date of Easter was resolved, and relations with the Church in England were strengthened when he sent Saints Adrian and Theodore of Tarsus there. However, the Monothelite heresy in the East continued throughout his reign (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney).
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.