Saint John Bosco
Adamnan of Coldingham, OSB, Monk (AC)
Died c. 680; cultus confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1897. Saint Adamnan was an Irish pilgrim priest who became a monk at the double monastery of Coldingham near Berwick, Scotland, which was ruled by the abbess-founder, Saint Ebba. He should not be confused with the Adamnan who wrote the biography of Saint Columba of Iona.
Today's Adamnan established a reputation for his extreme austerity and the rigor with which he kept the Rule, which went beyond even that of traditional Irish monasticism. He was a very serious man, who criticized those whose actions he saw as frivolous. In a vision he learned that the monastery would be destroyed by fire because of "senseless gossip and fivolities." For this reason he insisted that monastic discipline be maintained more stringently. This omen unsettled the abbess, who was reassured by Adamnan that the event would not occur in her lifetime. Unfortunately, despite her personal holiness and renewed efforts to enforce the rule, Saint Ebba was not a gifted administrator. After her death the fervor of the community declined again and was destroyed in 683, shortly after Adamnan's death (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Montague, Montalembert).
Aidan of Ferns B (AC)
(also known as Aedan, Aedh, Maedoc-Edan, Moedoc, Mogue)
Born in Connaught, Ireland; died 626.
"Give as if every pasture in the mountains of Ireland belonged to you." --Saint Aidan.
The Irish Saint Aidan loved animals. His fellow Irishmen were fond of hunting. Aidan so protected them that his emblem in art is a stag. Legend has it that as he sat reading in Connaught, a desperate stag took refuge with him in the hope of escaping pursuing hounds. Aidan by a miracle made the stag invisible, and the hounds ran off.
There were several Irish saints named Aidan but this one seems to have been the most important. As a youth he spent some time in Leinster but, 'desirous of becoming learned in holy Scripture,' Aidan went to Wales to study under Saint David (Dewi) at Menevia in Pembrokeshire for several years. His only difference from his fellow monks is that he brought his own beer from his native land.
The inspiration of Saint David caused him to return to Ireland with several other monks to built his own monastery at Ferns, County Wexford, on land given to him by Prince Brandrub (Brandubh) of Leinster together with the banquet halls and champions' quarters of the royal seat of Fearna. He also founded monasteries at Drumlane and Rossinver, which disputed Ferns' claim to his burial site. In addition to abbeys, Aidan is credited with founding about 30 churches in Ireland. One source claims that Aidan became the first bishop of Ferns (which is not that unlikely because many abbots were treated as bishops during the period), which displaced Sletty of Fiach as the bishop's seat. .
Later in life he returned to Saint David's for a time, and it is said that Saint David died in the arms of Aidan. Welsh tradition maintains that Aidan succeeded David as abbot of Menevia, and on that basis Wales later claimed jurisdiction over Ferns because a Welsh abbot founded it. In fact, in Wales they regard Aidan as a native and provide him with a geneaology that includes Welsh nobility. There his great reputation for charity still survives, for he taught his monks to give their last bits of food to those in need.
The written vitae of Saint Aidan are composed mostly of miracles attributed to him. His is attributed with astonishing feats of austerity, such as fasting on barley bread and water for seven years, as well as reciting 500 Psalms daily. An odd tale is related in another. Some spurious beggars hid their clothes, donned rags, and then begged for alms. Knowing what they had done, Aidan gave their clothes to the poor and sent the impostors away with neither their clothing nor alms.
One story reports that he bequeathed his staff, bell (Bell of Saint Mogue), and reliquary to his three monasteries of Ferns, Drumlane, and Rossinver. All have survived the fates of time. The staff can be found in the National Museum in Dublin; the other two in the Library of Armagh cathedral. The bell had been in the hereditary keepership of the MacGoverns in Templeport, County Cavan. Another of his personal belongings, the Breac Moedoc, is in the National Museum. This stamped leather satchel and shrine that encased the relics of Saint Laserian of Leighlin was brought from Rome and given to Aidan, who placed it in the church of Drumlane. A bronze reliquary that contained his remains in the 11th century is preserved in Dublin. In addition to having a cultus in Ireland and Wales, Saint Aidan was venerated in Scotland in the 12th century.
He is represented in art by a stag because of the story related above (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, D'Arcy, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague, Neeson, Porter, Stokes).
Athanasius of Modon B (AC)
Born in Catania, Sicily; died c. 885. During the invasion of the Saracens, Saint Athanasius fled to Patras in Peloponnesus, became a Basilian monk, and eventually also bishop of Modon (Benedictines).
Bobinus of Troyes, OSB B (AC)
Born in Aquitaine, France; died c. 766. Saint Bobinus was a monk of Moutier-la-Celle, which was enriched by his benefactions when he became bishop of Troyes in 760 (Benedictines).
Cyrus and John MM (RM)
Died c. 303. There is little information regarding these saint and that is unreliable, even though Saint Sopronius wrote their acta, which were commended in the seventh ecumenical council. Cyrus was an Alexandrian doctor who became a monk and John, his friend, was a Arab soldier (or both were physicians). It is said that Cyrus had many opportunities to witness to Christ's saving love as he ministered to the sick and, thus, converted many.
Upon hearing that a Christian woman, Athanasia, and her young three daughters (the eldest was 15) were suffering for their faith at Canopus, they went there to help and encourage them. They themselves were captured, beaten, scorched, and suffered other tortures in the sight of Athanasia and her children. The torture of the four females followed. Cyrus and John were beheaded a few days after the execution of the mother and daughters.
In order to discourage the worship of Isis that still lingered in Menuthis, near Canopus, Saint Cyril translated the relics of Cyrus and John from Alexandria to the church at Menuthis as a counter- attraction. It became a much frequented shrine; but pagan superstitions were not so easy to displace, for customs endured very like incubation (a sick person slept in the saints' church hoping to be favored with a dream that would lead to a cure). The relics of Cyrus and John were eventually taken to Rome, although they were greatly venerated in Egypt and the East. Menuthis is now known as Abukir, meaning 'Father Cyrus,' was the scene of Nelson's victory in 1798 (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Eusebius of Saint Gall, OSB M (AC)
(also known as Eusebius of Mount Saint Victor)
Died 884; Montague shows his feast on January 30. The Irishman Eusebius, called Scotigena by Ratpert of Saint Gall, was a pilgrim who took the Benedictine habit in the Swiss abbey of Saint Gall. Ekkehard, another chronicler of the abbey, reports that Eusebius was from Ireland. Soon after his arrival in Switzerland, Eusebius opted for the life of solitude as a hermit on Mount Saint Victor in the Vorarlberg, where he spent 30 years.
He was highly venerated in his lifetime by King Charles, son and
When he was denouncing the sins of some godless peasants, one of them struck and killed him with a scythe; hence, he is venerated as a martyr (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Encyclopedia, Gougaud, Montague, O'Hanlon, Tommasini).
Francis Xavier Bianchi, Barn. (AC)
Born in Arpino, Italy, 1743; died in Naples, January 31, 1815; canonized in 1951. Saint Francis studied in Naples, was tonsured at 14 and, despite his father's objections, joined the Congregation of Clerks Regular of Saint Paul (the Barnabites). After his ordination in 1767, Francis served as president of two colleges, and became famous for his gift of prophecy and the miracles credited to him (he is reported to have stopped the flow of lava from the erupting Vesuvius in 1805). He was considered and acclaimed 'Apostle of Naples' for his work among the poor and abandoned and to preserve girls from the danger of an immoral life. Owing to overwork and to his austere lifestyle, he ruined his health and lost the use of his legs. Unable to be moved because of his health, he was left alone at his college when his order was expelled from Naples and died there. He inspired boundless veneration in Naples and miracles were attributed to him (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney).
Geminian of Modena B (RM)
(also known as Gimignano)
Died 348. Saint Geminian was a deacon who became bishop of Modena in northern Italy, where he bravely opposed Jovinianism. He gave shelter to Saint Athanasius as he passed through Italy on his way into exile in Gaul. When the city was threatened by the Huns, he saved it through his intercession (Attwater2, Benedictines, Tabor).
Saint Geminian is pictured as a bishop holding a mirror in which the Virgin Mary is reflected. He may also be shown (1) holding the town of San Gimignano; (2) exorcising the emperor's daughter; or (3) calming a storm at sea (Roeder). He is the patron of Modena and San Gimignano, Italy (Roeder).
John Bosco, Priest Founder (RM)
Born at Becchi (near Turin), Piedmont, Italy, August 15, 1815; died in Turin on January 31, 1888; both beatified in 1929 and canonized April 1, 1934, by Pope Pius XI as the "Father and Teacher of Youth."
John Melchoir Bosco was a great lover of children, and such was the gentleness and sweetness of his life that Pius XI, in proclaiming him a saint, said that "in his life the supernatural almost became the natural and the extraordinary ordinary." Born of peasant stock, his father died when John was two, leaving his valiant wife Margaret to care for her stepson, Antonio, and her own two sons, Giovanni (John) and Giuseppe (Joseph), and her mother-in-law. She raised the children vigorously and lovingly in the poor cottage.
At age nine John had a dream in which he saw himself changing children from beasts into lambs. He decided immediately to become a priest and devote his life to children, and began at once. He haunted every circus and fair; learned to walk tight-ropes, do acrobatics, and become a conjurer at the cost of an often broken nose. He was then able to provide fascinating entertainment that would end with the rosary and a verbatim repetition of the previous Sunday's sermon.
In addition to his physical prowess, John Bosco possessed great mental acumen, a formidable memory, good looks, a sense of humor, and charm. These also attracted others. As a young man, he was of medium height with curly, chestnut hair. He had his problems, too. He was a passionate young man and, like Saint Peter, impetuous. He judged himself so full of pride that he feared he would use his position as a parish priest to feed his cravings for prestige. Yet he learned to control his passions so that calmness and peacefulness characterized his whole life and his relationships with others.
Having set his sights on the priesthood, John also learned his lessons well. John left home at age 13 to earn money for his schooling. He hired himself out to farmers, then a tailor, and later worked in a confectionery. These trades served him well later in life.
When he entered the seminary at Chieri at 20 (some say 16), he wore clothes and shoes that were provided by charity. He was ordained in 1841 by Archbishop Fransoni. He had retained his irrepressible gaiety, despite the stiff, semi-Jansenism of his professors. The young priest had thought of becoming a missionary but Saint Joseph Cafasso, the rector of the seminary and John's spiritual director for over twenty years, persuaded him to remain in Italy. He is reported to have said, "Don Bosco, you can't even take a coach ride without getting an upset stomach. How will you ever be a missionary? No, you will not go; but you will send out many to preach and teach the word of God." Father Cafasso eventually introduced John to the wealthy who would support his work with children, and showed him the immense harvests to be gathered among the slums of Turin.
Shortly after his ordination, the archbishop approved Bosco for an intensive five-year course of post-graduate theological study at Turin's Ecclesiastical College. While finishing his education, John also studied the slums of Turin, where many peasant and orphaned lads had come to try their luck. Their degradation was appalling. He could achieve no contact until one day a sacristan smacked the head of a big oaf who stood staring and had answered that he didn't know how to serve the Mass John was about to offer. "I won't have my friends treated like that," John exclaimed. "Your friend?" "The moment anyone is ill-used he becomes my friend." The lad was brought back; next Sunday he fetched others; in but a few months over a hundred were arriving. For three years this uproarious horde had the courtyard of the college for a playground.
At first he brought the boys together only on Sundays in one church or another in Turin or near by; he prayed with them, gave them brief, trenchant instruction in the Christian faith, prepared them to receive the sacraments, then allowed them to romp in the open countryside. An early disciple reminisced, "At the end of each Sunday excursion, Don Bosco always told us to plan for the next Sunday. He gave us advice as to our conduct and asked us, if we had any friends, to invite them, too. Joy reigned among us. Those happy days are engraved in our memories and influenced our lives.
"Arriving at some church in the outskirts of town, Don Bosco would ask permission of the parish priest to play. The permission was always granted, and then at a signal the noisy band gathered together. Catechism followed breakfast: the grass and rocks supplied the plates and tables. It is true, bread failed now and then, but cheerfulness, never. We sang while walking, and at sunset we marched back again into Turin. We were fatigued, but our hearts were content."
Don Bosco believed in the value, especially for deprived urban boys, both of contact with natural beauty and the uplifting power of music. That worked well during the summer, the winter was a different story. In winter, Father John had difficulty finding accommodation for the hundreds of boys who "went to don Bosco's."
Other sites were offered and soon withdrawn. No less than ten people within a space of five months had offered John the use of their facilities. Every one of them, after a few experiences, withdrew the promise. Imagine 400 young, energetic boys gathered in one place! No wonder it seemed impossible to accommodate them all. Finally he rented a roomy old shed. The number of boys at Easter time in 1846 was about 800.
Some spread the rumor that don Bosco was organizing a political conspiracy. In the unstable political climate of northern Italy, such an assumption was not unreasonable. To add to the suspicions, anti-clericalism had been rising in the wake of the desire for unification of the seven Italian states and the ousting of the Austrian and French royal houses, while the unarmed papal states benefitted from the occupation of the Austrian army. So, Don Bosco was watched by police. But the police were converted rather than Don Bosco being arrested.
When he visualized and announced what the future held, others said he was a megalomaniac. Well-meaning friends tried to have him committed to an asylum. Two priests were sent as an escort but Bosco intuited their errand. He followed them to their carriage, politely allowed them to enter first, slammed the door, and called out to the driver: "To the asylum." Well, it took a while to get the poor men out (personally, I know that Italians have a caustic sense of humor). Don Bosco had scored.
In 1844, Don Bosco was appointed chaplain of Saint Philomena's Hospice for girls, and housed his boys in an old building on the grounds of the hospice. When they became too unruly he was ordered to give up his care of the boys or resign as chaplain. He resigned and was forced to leave his apartment.
Thus, remembering Palm Sunday of 1846, when John felt his work might come to an end, he wrote: "As I looked at the crowd of children, the thought of the rich harvest they promised, I felt my heart was breaking. I was alone, without helpers. My health was shattered, and I could not tell where to gather my poor little ones anymore."
John urged the urchins to pray, and God answered the cry of the poor. Mr. Pinardi offered to rent John a piece of property in Turin's marshy Valdocco area, which had a small hayshed that could be used as a chapel. They had to dig out the floor so that John could stand upright in the shed, but it worked. Easter Mass was celebrated in the new chapel.
Three months later the exhausted young priest contracted pneumonia. Leaders sprung up among the young men who kept watch outside the hospital. They organized all-night prayer vigils, hounding heaven with sincere promises, fasting, and other penances. The boys were determined to wrestle Don Bosco from death's grip by their prayers and penances. When death seemed inevitable, John's friend Father Borel whispered: "John, these children need you. Ask God to let you stay. Please, say this prayer after me, 'Lord, if it be your good pleasure, cure me. I say this prayer in the name of my children.'" After the prayer, John's fever broke and he recovered.
When John Bosco left the hospital, like his Master before him, he had no place to lay his head. He went to his mother's farm to recuperated. Finally, in November 1846, Mr. Pinardi offered to rent John four rooms on the property in an unseemly neighborhood for a priest living alone. He asked his mother to give up her beloved farm and come with him to the city. Believing it was God's will, Margaret Bosco followed her son. They walked the 20 miles into the city because they had no money for transportation. Thus, with his mother's help, John Bosco established himself in the slum- center of Valdocco and started what he called his oratory. Until then working with the youths was extracurricular, now he could devote himself to his true apostolate.
With his mother as housekeeper and later renting the whole house, he opened a boarding-house for 40 destitute apprentices, who lived with them. This ministry began on a cold rainy night in May 1847, when Mama Margaret welcomed a youngster, chilled to the bones, who stood trembling on the doorstep. She immediately took him in and cared for "the boy who came to dinner." Mama Margaret seems to me to be a saint herself. She toiled endlessly to care for these children. When she was exhausted and frustrated, ready to return to the quiet life of the farm, she would persist for love of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for her.
Soon hundreds of waifs were crowded in the center that Don Bosco opened for instruction in the faith, for training in the crafts, and for recreation. The most gifted pupils were given additional instruction in languages and mathematics and became teachers of the others. And, of course, they were taught music, because, he said, "an Oratory without singing is like a body without a soul." If a child had a vocation for the priesthood, the way with smoothed for him.
It was a turbulent time (does Italy know any other?) and several attempts were made on the saint's life. Once a man shot him through the window as he sat teaching. The bullet passed under his arm, ripping the cloth. "A pity," said he, "it is my best cassock." And he continued the lesson. He also had a mongrel, stray dog named Grigio, who several times saved his life. No one ever saw the dog eating anything, and no one knew where it slept.
The oratory was so successful that another had to be founded, even though there was no money. That never worried Don Bosco; he knew that God would provide. And so He did. Two workshops for shoemakers and tailors were opened in 1853. By 1856, the 40 boys became 150 residents with four workshops, 10 priests, and a group of 400 of the roughest lads attached to the oratories. John's schools were considered among the best in Turin. A distinguished professor explained Bosco's success, "His love shone forth from his looks and his words so clearly, and all felt it and could not doubt it. . . . They experienced an immense joy in his presence."
In order to pay for this work, Don Bosco preached in numerous places, his reputation for oratory increasing daily as the stories spread of miraculous cures attributed to his prayers and intercession; and in addition, wrote numerous pamphlets and nearly 100 book that were distributed throughout Italy. He cured a man with paralysis and another who was blind. Another time, when there were not enough Hosts for the large crowd going to Communion, the Blessed Sacrament was miraculously multiplied so that all the people were able to receive our blessed Lord.
One of Don Bosco's greatest problems was getting help in his work, and to solve that difficulty, in 1859, he opened a religious seminary (later to be called the Society of Saint Francis de Sales or the Salesians). In 1874 this group received the approbation of the Holy Father, and before the founder's death, there were 768 members with 26 houses in the New World and 38 in the Old. Today there are almost 40,000 Salesian fathers, brothers, and sister working in 120 countries. They specialize in pastoral work and schools of all kinds. They staff 220 orphanages, 219 clinics and hospitals, 864 nurseries, and 3,104 schools (287 are technical schools and 59 are agricultural schools).
Another great work begun by Don Bosco was the foundation of a religious order for women. Together with a peasant woman from near Genoa, Saint Mary Mazzarello, in 1872, he began the congregation called Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians, dedicated to working with poor girls--specializing in elementary schools, instruction centers in the faith, and the like.
A radical idea of Don Bosco, and one which shocked many of his contemporaries was his attitude toward corporal punishment of children. "I do not remember ever to have used formal punishment," he wrote. "By God's grace I have always been able to get not only observance of rules but even of my bare wishes." His educational method, still employed by the Salesians, tries to eliminate conditions leading to delinquency, to influence the pupils by good example and trust, and to make goodness attractive through religious motives, and easy to practice by religious means. "Frequent confession, daily Mass, these are the pillars supporting the whole structure of education," said the saint.
Such was Don John's unique power over the human heart that, having after great difficulty obtained permission to take 300 convicts, to whom he had preached a retreat, on a whole day's excursion to the country as a reward for good behavior, without any guards whatsoever, not a single one made any attempt to escape.
Towards the end of his life don Bosco's missionary spirit developed two special interests: one was England, to which the Salesians came in 1887, and the other was Latin America--he sent ten missionaries to Argentina in 1875. So, while he remained in Italy to work in the slums of Turin, he actually established the framework for the missionary work he originally wanted to undertake.
The Salesians arrived in Argentina at an important time. Many Italians had been migrating to the country during the last quarter of the 19th century, and there were not enough churches and schools to meet their needs. Half of the group travelled south to minister to the indigenous people whose land had been confiscated by the immigrants and led to war. They were instrumental in bringing about a peace, in addition to establishing schools and evangelizing as far south as Puente del Fuego.
Why did such homage surround his last years? In 1883, Pope Leo XIII asked Don Bosco to beg for funds to complete the construction of Sacro Cuore (Sacred Heart Basilica) in Rome. John readily agreed because it would provide him with an opportunity to serve and to visit his spiritual sons who had already spread into France as well as Spain (where he preached a similar mission later). Everywhere he was greeted by warm, enthusiastic crowds who responded generously.
When he was in Lyons the poor cabdriver lost his temper at the encroaching crowds, saying, "I had rather drag the devil than drive a saint." And in Paris the Church of Our Lady of Victories was crammed two hours before the Mass he came to say in that "refuge of sinners," and a poor woman exclaimed to a questioner: "You see, it is the Mass for sinners, and it is to be offered by a saint. . . ."
Don Bosco's health was giving way under the demands of so many well-wishers. His right eye pained him terribly and continuously. Although he was only in his 60's, he was so troubled by phlebitis that two Salesians had to steady him as he meandered through the crowds blessing and greeting people.
As his health continued to deteriorate, his doctors urged Don Bosco to rest. He always responded that he had too much work to do. Until the moment of his death, Don Bosco, supported by two Salesian companions, would journey through Turin visiting the poor, begging from the rich, cheering the hearts of the sad. When he knew his death was imminent, he would say, "I want to go to heaven for there I shall be able to work much better for my children. On earth I can do nothing more for them." His famous sense of humor did not fade with his body: Gasping for breath, he whispered to a son anxiously bending over him, "Do you know where there is a good bellowsmaker?" "Why?" came the puzzled response. "Because I need a new pair of lungs, that's why!"
His successor Don Rua requested that every Salesian try to come to Turin to say farewell to Don Bosco. They entered his room two-by- two to receive his blessing--the priests, the brothers, the farmers and street urchins that had been helped by him to grow into a deep, abiding love of God.
In a way Bosco lived in four worlds simultaneously--the exterior one, symbolized by the town into which his Turin Oratory had grown, the world of dreams (an exact scientific study of which would be infinitely more valuable to psychologists than that of diseased mentalities in Viennese hospitals), the world of souls into which he read with an accuracy far beyond telepathy, and the world of God.
His purity, perfect to the very roots of his thought, enabled him, as our Lord promised, to "see God," and therefore, perhaps, to read so clearly within his fellow-men; his total trust was such that he literally built up his entire life's work out of nothing; his lovable sarcasms that never hurt; his transparent simplicity; his bluff gaiety, despite terrific work (he never slept for more than five hours) and great physical pain and complete self-denial--all this was not an matter of temperament or merely talent, but a gift from God.
He wrote a little, including biographies of Saint Joseph Cafasso and Saint Dominic Savio, one of Bosco's pupils whom Bosco hoped to train to be a helper in his work, but the boy died at age 15.
Church-builder, reformer, educator, leader of the young and of religious working for the young: when Don Bosco died on January 31, 1888, he left all of Europe startled with his accomplishments-- deeds of lasting and heroic importance. Forty thousand (Martindale reports 100,000) people visited his body as it lay in the church at Turin, and the entire city assembled to see him carried to his grave. It is said that more than 200,000 people at his funeral prayed to him rather than for him (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Butler, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Karp, Martindale, Melady, Salesian, Schamoni, Sheppard).
Blessed John of Angelus, OSB (AC)
Born in Venice, Italy; died c. 1050. John was a Benedictine at Pomposa in the diocese of Ferrara, Italy, under the rule of Saint Guy (Benedictines).
Julius of Novara (RM)
(also known as Giulio)
Died after 390. Julius was a priest and his brother Julian a deacon. They were authorized by the emperor Theodosius, to devote themselves to converting the heathen temples into Christian churches (Benedictines). In art, Saint Julius is portrayed as an old priest with his staff, sailing on his cloak to Isola Giulio over Lake Maggiore, which is full of serpents (Roeder).
Blessed Louise degli Albertoni, Widow (RM)
Born in Rome, Italy, 1474; died 1533; cultus approved in 1671. Louise married James de Citara and bore him three children. After his death, Louise put on the habit of the Franciscan tertiary and spent her life in works of charity (Benedictines).
Madoes (Madianus) (AC)
Date unknown. A place in the Carse of Gowrie takes it's name from Madoes. Some believe he is identical to Saint Moedoc or Aidan of Ferns. Another tradition makes of him a fellow missionary Saint Boniface Quiritinus or Curitan, who appears to have been sent from Rome to preach in Scotland. Legend and fact have become entangled in his story (Benedictines).
Marcella of Rome, Widow (RM)
Died August 410. Saint Marcella met Saint Athanasius when she was a child and was enthralled by his stories of Egyptian ascetics. She married to please her mother, but was widowed seven months later. Thereafter, the Roman patrician refused the marriage proposal of Cerealis, the consul, uncle of Gallus Caesar.
Instead, she turned herself to works of charity and her palace on the Aventine Hill into a center of Christian fellowship. Around her formed a group of noble ladies desiring to live a life of austerity and asceticism. These included her ward Principia; Marcellina, elder sister of Saint Ambrose and Saint Satyrus; Fabiola; Asella; Lea; and Paula with her daughters, among others. Marcella served as a fine example for her spiritual daughters: she abstained from wine and flesh; spent her time in pious reading, prayer, and visiting the churches of the apostles and martyrs; and never spoke with any man alone.
Marcella welcomed Saint Jerome upon his arrival in Rome, and he remained with her for three years guiding this monastery/school for devout, aristocratic ladies in the study of the scriptures, prayer, and almsgiving. Marcella was a woman of intellectual ability, and not afraid to confront the masterful Jerome.
She was tortured by the Goths under Alaric who looted Rome in 410. They tried to force her to reveal the location of her wealth, which she had long ago given to the poor. Marcella withstood her own scourging but begged them to spare her pupil (not her daughter) Principia from outrage. She was released but died shortly thereafter in the arms of Principia from the effects of this treatment.
Saint Marcella corresponded often with her spiritual director, Saint Jerome, who answered her questions about spiritual matters and referred to her as "the glory of Roman ladies." Eleven of his letters to Marcella survive (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Husenbeth, Martindale (1951)).
Martin Manuel M (AC)
Born in Auranca (near Coimbra), Portugal; died 1156. While an archpriest in Soure, Portugal, Saint Martin was captured by the Saracens and died in prison at Cordova of ill-treatment at their hands (Benedictines).
Blessed Mary Christina, Queen (AC)
Born in Cagliari, Sardinia, in 1812; died 1836; beatified in 1872. In 1832, Mary Christina, daughter of King Victor Emmanuel of Savoy and Maria Teresa (niece of Emperor Joseph II), married Ferdinand II, king of the two Sicilies. She had one son before her death at age 23 (Benedictines).
Metranus of Alexandria M (RM)
(also known as Metras)
Born in Alexandria, Egypt; died c. 250. Saint Dionysius of Alexandria, his bishop and contemporary, left a vivid account of Saint Metranus's martyrdom under Decius (Benedictines).
Nicetas of Novgorod B (RM)
Died in 1107. Saint Nicetas, a monk of the Caves Monastery in Kiev, withdrew himself into a hermit's existence against the advice of his superiors. Left to his own devices and preferences, Nicetas gave in to the temptation to read rather than pray. This is a danger to many who would abuse a good thing (learning, good works) and omit a better one (prayer, contemplation), for the one tends to serve the creature, rather than God. Learning tempered by prayer and charity leads to wisdom; by itself, it tends to hubris. So intense was his study of the Old Testament that Nicetas came to despise the New. It was only the prayers of his abandoned brothers in the monastery that saved poor Nicetas. Finally he overcame the dangers of misapplied study, rejoined his community, and, in 1095, was made bishop of Novgorod (Attwater2, Coulson).
Blessed Paula Gambara-Costa, OFM Tert. Matron (AC)
Born in Brescia, Italy, in 1473; died at Benasco, Italy, on January 24, 1515; cultus confirmed by Gregory XVI in 1845; feast day formerly March 29. When the 12-year-old Paula unhappily married a young nobleman, Count Louis Costa of Benasco, she was given a rule of life by Blessed Angelo Carletti. Her husband continued his dissolute life, was unfaithful to her, treated her as a servant, and objected to her lavish charities. He even put another woman in charge of their household. By her heroic patience she won him over to Christ and passed the remainder of an austere life in peaceful wedlock. She died worn out with self- imposed penances (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Saturninus, Thyrsus & Victor MM (RM)
Died c. 250. Egyptians martyred at Alexandria (Benedictines).
Tarcisius, Zoticus, Cyriacus & Comps. MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyrs at Alexandria (Benedictines).
Tryphaena of Cyzicus, Matron M (RM)
(also known as Triphenes)
Date unknown. A matron of Cyzicus on the Hellespont who, after having been tortured in various ways, was thrown to a savage bull and gored to death (Benedictines). Saint Tryphena is pictured with an ox and a furnace near her. Sometimes there is a fountain springing at the scene of her martyrdom, giving milk to women. For this reason, she is the patroness of nursing mothers (Roeder).
Ulphia of Amiens V (RM)
(also known as Olfe, Wulfe, Wolfia, Wulfia)
Died 995 (or c. 750?). Saint Ulphia was a solitary at Saint-Acheul near Amiens under the spiritual direction of Saint Domitius. Towards the end of her life, she formed and directed a community at Amiens. The convent of Paraclete was built over her tomb (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Roeder). In art, Saint Ulphia is a young nun seated in prayer on a rock with a frog in the pool near her (Roeder). She is venerated at Amiens, France (Roeder).
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.