St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

February 1



Agrepe (Agreve) B
7th century. Bishop of Velay, returning from Rome, was decapitated through the trickery of a lady of Chiniac (later Saint Agreve) in Vivarais (Encyclopedia).


Blessed Antony Manzoni (PC)
(also known as Antony Manzi)

Born at Padua, Italy, c. 1237; died 1267. Born into wealth, Antony gave all his money to the poor and spent the balance of his life living on alms and tramping his way to Loreto, Rome, Compostella, and the Palestine. His wandering ways gained his the surname "the Pilgrim" and the disfavor of his relatives, especially his two sisters who were nuns (Benedictines).


Autbert of Landevenec, OSB Monk (AC)
Died 1129. Saint Autbert, a Benedictine monk at Landevenec, Brittany, became chaplain to the nuns of Saint Sulpice, near Rheims, where he is still venerated (Benedictines).


Brigid of Kildare V (RM)
(also known as Bride, Bridget, Brigit, Ffraid)

Born at Faughart? (near Dundalk) or Uinmeras (near Kildare), Louth, Ireland, c. 450; died at Kildare, Ireland, c. 525; feast of her translation is June 10.

"We implore Thee, by the memory of Thy Cross's hallowed and most bitter anguish, make us fear Thee, make us love Thee, O Christ. Amen." --Prayer of Saint Brigid.

Saint Brigid was an original--and that's what each of us are supposed to be, an original creation of the Almighty Imagination. Unfortunately, most of us get caught up in the desire to be accepted by others. We conform to the norm, rather than opening up to the creative power of God and blooming to render Him the sweet fragrance of our unique lives. We miss the glory of giving God the gift of who we were intended to be.

Brigid lacked that fault. She got things done. She had a welcome for everyone in an effort to help them be originals, too. She was so generous that she gave away the clothes from her back. She never shied away from hard work or intense prayer. She would brush aside the rules--even the rules of the Church--if it was necessary to bring out the best in others. Perhaps for this reason, the saint who never left Ireland, is venerated throughout the world as the prototype of all nuns. She bridged the gap between Christian and pagan cultures.

Brigid saw the beauty and goodness of God in all His creation: cows made her love God more, and so did wild ducks, which would come and light on her shoulders and hands when she called to them. She enjoyed great popularity both among her own followers and the villagers around; and she had great authority, for she was given the responsibilities of a bishop.

Her chief virtue lay in her gentleness, in her compassion, and in her happy and devoted nature which won the affection of all who knew her. She was a great evangelist and joined hands gladly and gaily with all the saints of that age in spreading the Gospel. So great was her cultus throughout Europe that the Medieval knights, seeking a womanly model of perfection, chose Brigid as the example. This theory maintains that such was the image of Brigid as the feminine ideal that the word "bride" passed into the English language. (This is unlikely, however. The word probably derives from the Old German "bryd," meaning bride.)

Historical facts about Saint Brigid's life are few because the numerous accounts about it after her death (beginning in the 7th century) consist mainly of miracles and anecdotes, some of which are deeply rooted in pagan Irish folklore. Nevertheless, they give us a strong impression of her character. She was probably born in the middle of the 5th century in eastern Ireland. Some say her parents were of humble origin; others that they were Dubhthach, an Irish chieftain of Leinster, and Brocca, a slave at his court. All stories relate that they were both baptized by Saint Patrick. Some say that Brigid became friends with Patrick, though it is uncertain that she ever met him. Beautiful Brigid consecrated herself to God at a young age, but reports that she was 'veiled' by Saint Macaille at Croghan and consecrated by Saint Mel at Armagh are unlikely.

The Book of Lismore bears this story: Brigid and certain virgins along with her went to take the veil from Bishop Mel in Telcha Mide. Blithe was he to see them. For humility Brigid stayed so that she might be the last to whom a veil should be given. A fiery pillar rose from her head to the roof ridge of the church. Then said Bishop Mel: "Come, O holy Brigid, that a veil may be sained on thy head before the other virgins." It came to pass then, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, that the form of ordaining a bishop was read out over Brigid. Macaille said that a bishop's order should not be confirmed on a woman. Said Bishop Mel: "No power have I in this matter. That dignity hath been given by God unto Brigid, beyond every (other) woman." Wherefore the men of Ireland from that time to this give episcopal honor to Brigid's successor. Most likely this story relates to the fact that Roman diocesan system was unknown in Ireland. Monasteries formed the center of Christian life in the early Church of Ireland. Therefore, abbots and abbesses held the rank and function that a bishop would on the Continent. Evidence of this can be seen also at synods and councils, such as that of Whitby, which was convened by Saint Hilda. Women sometimes ruled double monasteries; thus, governing both men and women. Bridget, as a preeminent abbess, might have fulfilled some episcopal functions, such as preaching, hearing confessions (giving absolution?), and leading the neighboring Christians. There is no evidence, however, that she could or did ordain priests.

Beginning consecrated life as a anchorite of sorts, Brigid's sanctity drew many others. When she was about 18, she settled with seven other like-minded girls near Croghan Hill in order to devote herself to God's service. About 468 she followed Saint Mel to Meath.

There is little reliable information about the convent she founded around 470 at Kildare (originally Cill-Daire or 'church of the oak'), the first convent in Ireland, and the rule that was followed there. This is one of the ways Brigid sanctified the pagan with the Christian: The oak was sacred to the druids, and in the inner sanctuary of the Church was a perpetual flame, another religious symbol of the druid faith, as well as the Christian. Gerald of Wales (13th century) noted that the fire was perpetually maintained by 20 nuns of her community. This continued until the dissolution of the monasteries during the Reformation. Gerald noted that the fire was surrounded by a circle of bushes, which no man was allowed to enter. Some have speculated that Brigid was a high priestess of a community of druid women, who led the entire community into the Christian faith, which would have been truly miraculous. Others have tried to claim that she was an Irish goddess, noting that the name Brig, meaning 'valor' or 'might,' was personified as a goddess, whose fire-cult took place on February 1. The connection, however, is unconvincing.

It is generally thought to have been a double monastery, housing both men and women--a common practice in the Celtic lands that was sometimes taken by the Irish to the continent. It's possible that she presided over both communities. She did establish schools there for both men and women. Another source says that she installed a bishop named Conlaeth there, though the Vatican officially lists the See of Kildare as dating from 519.

Even as a child Brigid showed special love for the poor. When her mother sent her to collect butter, the child gave it all away. Her generosity in adult life was legendary: It was recorded that if she gave a drink of water to a thirsty stranger, the liquid turned into milk; when she sent a barrel of beer to one Christian community, it proved to satisfy 17 more. Many of the stories about her relate to the multiplication of food, including one that she changed her bath-water into beer to satisfy the thirst of an unexpected clergyman. Even her cows gave milk three times the same day to provide milk for some visiting bishops.

Brigid saw that the needs of the body and the needs of the spirit intertwined. Dedicated to improving the spiritual as well as the material lives of those around her, Brigid made her monastery a remarkable house of learning, including an art school. The illuminated manuscripts originating there were praised, especially the Book of Kildare, which was praised as one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts before its disappearance three centuries ago.

Once she fell asleep during a sermon of Saint Patrick, but he laughingly forgave her. She had dreamed, she told him, of the land ploughed far and wide, and of white-clothed sowers sowing good seed. Then came others clothed in black, who ploughed up the good seed and sowed tares in its place. Patrick told her that such would happen; false teachers would come to Ireland and uproot all their good work. This saddened Brigid, but she redoubled her efforts, teaching people to pray and to worship God, and telling them that the light on the altar was a symbol of the shining of the Gospel in the heart of Ireland, and must never be extinguished, and in her church at Kildare, a flame still burns to her memory.

Brigid was called 'Mary of the Gael' because her spirit of charity, and the miracles attributed to her were usually enacted in response to a call upon her pity or sense of justice. During an important synod of the Irish church, one of the holy fathers, Bishop Ibor, announced that he had dreamed that the Blessed Virgin Mary would appear among the assembled Christians. When Brigid arrived the father cried, "There is the holy maiden I saw in my dream." Thus, the reason for her moniker. (This bishop, too, is said to have consecrated her a bishop.) Her prayers and miracles were said to exercise a powerful influence on the growth of the early Irish Church, and she is much beloved in Ireland to this day.

The relics of Saint Brigid are presumably buried at Downpatrick with those of Saints Columba and Patrick. A tunic reputed to have been hers, given by Gunhilda, sister of King Harold II, survives at Saint Donatian's in Bruges, Belgium; a relic of her shoe, made of silver and brass set with jewels, is at the National Museum of Dublin. In 1283, three knights took the head of Brigid with them on a journey to the Holy Land. They died in Lumier (near Lisbon), Portugal, where the church now enshrines her head in a special chapel.

In England, there are 19 ancient church dedications to her. The most important of which is the oldest church in London--St. Bride's in Fleet Street--and the parish in which Saint Thomas à Becket was born-- Bridewell or Saint Bride's Well. In Scotland, East and West Kilbride bear her name. Saint Brigid's Church at Douglas recalls that she is the patroness of the great Douglas family. Several places in Wales are named Llansantaffraid, which means "St. Bride's Church." The Irish Bishop Saint Donato of Fiesole (Italy) built a Saint Brigid's Church in Piacenza, where the Peace of Constance was ratified in 1185.

The best-known custom connected with Brigid is the plaiting of reed crosses for her feast day. This tradition dates to the story that she was plaiting rush crosses while nursing a dying pagan chieftain. He asked her about this and her explanation led to his being baptized. Traditional Irish (Brid agus Muire dhuit, Brigid and Mary be with you) and Welsh (Sanffried suynade ni undeith, St. Brigid bless us on our journey) blessings invoke her. A blessing over cattle in the Scottish isles goes: "The protection of God and Colmkille encompass your going and coming, and about you be the milkmaid of the smooth white palms, Brigid of the clustering, golden brown hair" (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Groome, Montague, O'Briain, Sellner, White).

She is usually portrayed in art with a cow lying at her feet, a reference to a phase in her life as a cowgirl; or holding a cross and casting out the devil (White). Her emblem is a lighted lamp or candle (not to be confused with Saint Geneviève, who is not an abbess). At times she may be shown (1) with a flame over her; (2) geese or cow near her; (3) near a barn; (4) letting wax from a taper fall upon her arm; or (5) restoring a man's hand (Roeder).

Brigid is the patron saint of Ireland, poets, dairymaids, blacksmiths, healers (White), cattle, fugitives, Irish nuns, midwives, and new-born babies (Roeder). She is still venerated highly in Alsace, Flanders, and Portugal (Montague), as well as Ireland and Chester, England (Farmer).

Saint Brigid and the Boar

In those days the ground around a monastery was enclosed and was considered holy ground; it was a sacred place where God was worshipped. If a criminal was trying to escape, he could seek sanctuary in the monastery enclosure and no one could do anything to him until he himself agreed to leave.

Well the wild animals seemed to know about this law, too. One day a wild boar was being chased by hunters and was on the point of being caught. The boar managed to reach Saint Brigid's convent in Kildare. The huntsmen were forced to draw up outside the gates and wait. They expected the nuns to chase the boar out to them again, when they could easily kill it.

Brigid happened to see the unhappy boar stagger in, so she called to it and then sent a message out to the hunters, saying that the animal claimed the right of sanctuary just as people did. They sent back a message saying that animals are only animals and didn't have the same rights as men. Could they please have their boar? And Brigid sent back a final message that as far as she was concerned the animal had the same right of sanctuary.

The disappointed hunters rode away. Then Brigid turned her attention to the wild boar; it was lying down, exhausted from its long run and nearly frightened to death. She gave it a drink and then led it to her own herd of pigs. At once the boar became quite tame and settled down with the other swine on Brigid's farm for the rest of its life.

Brigid and the Fox

Brigid had a wonderful way with animals. One day a friend of the monastery workmen came to her with a sad tale that the friend had accidentally killed the king of Leinster's pet fox, thinking that it was a wild animal. The man was arrested. His wife and children begged the king to spare his life to no avail. The workman asked Brigid to intercede.

Although Brigid loved animals, she thought it silly that a man's life should be demanded in return for the fox's, so she set out for the court. The way lay through a wood, where the road was a mere track and the horse had to walk. Brigid prayed for the right words to speak to the angry king to save the life of the woodsman.

Suddenly she saw a little fox peeping shy at her around a tree and she had an idea. She told the driver to stop and called the animal to her. Immediately it sprang into the car beside her and nestled happily in the folds of her cloak. Brigid stroked its head and spoke to it gently. The little fox licked her hand and looked at her adoringly.

When she reached the king's castle, the fox trotted after her. She found the ruler still in a mighty rage. "Nothing," he told her angrily, "nothing in the world could make up to me for the less of my beloved pet. Death is too good for that idiot of a workman. He must die as a warning to others like him. Let him die."

The king stormed on, "It is no use whining to me about mercy. That little fox was my companion, even my friend. It was brutally killed for no reason. What hard did I do to that man? Do you have any notion how much I loved my little fox that I have cared for ever since it was born?"

The king's furious eyes met Brigid's loving ones. Yes, indeed, she could well understand it. She was truly sorry for his loss for she, too, loved all animals and especially tame little foxes. Look here . . . she beckoned forward her new pet from the woods that had been crouching behind her.

The king forgot his anger in this new interest. He and his household looked on delightedly while Brigid proceeded to put the fox through all kinds of clever tricks. It obeyed her voice and tried so hard to please her that the onlookers were greatly entertained. Soon she was surrounded by laughing faces.

The king told her what his own little fox used to do. "See, it used to jump through this hoop, even at this height." But so could Brigid's at her first sign of command! When the king's fox wanted a tidbit, it used to stand on its hind legs with its fore paws joined as though it were praying . . . why, so could Brigid's! Could anything be more amusing? When his mood had completely changed, Brigid offered her fox to the king in exchange for the prisoner's life. Now the king smilingly agreed and he even promised Brigid that never again would he inflict any kind of punishment on that workman, whose misdeed he would forget.

Brigid was very happy when the prisoner was restored to his wife and children. She went back home thanking God.

But the little fox missed her sorely and became restless and unhappy. It did not care where Brigid led him but, without her, the castle was a prison. After a while the king left on business and no one else bothered much about the new pet. The fox watched for it chance and when it found an open door, it made good its escape back to the woods.

Presently the king returned and there was commotion when the pet was missed. The whole household was sent flying out to search for it. When they failed, the king's hounds were sent to help in the search, their keen noses snuffing over the ground for the fox's scent. Then the excited king summoned out his whole army, both horsemen and footmen, to follow the hounds in every direction. But it was all no use. When night fell, the hosts of Leinster returned wearily to their king with news of failure. Brigid's little pet fox was never found again (Curtayne).


Brigid V (AC)
9th century. This second Brigid honored today is allegedly the sister of Saint Andrew of Fiesole. It is said that she was carried by angeles to her brother's deathbed. She died as a recluse in the Apennines. Most modern writers discard all this as pure fiction (Benedictines). Saint Brigid is pictured being carried by angels, sometimes with an onion in her hand, or she may be painted with her brother, Saint Andrew (Roeder). She is venerated at Fiesole (S. Donatus), Setignano, Italy (Roeder).


Cecilius of Granada B (RM)
Date unknown; second feast on May 15. Saint Cecilius was the first bishop of Granada, Spain. Legend claims that he was one of the seven disciples of Saint James, and consecrated bishop at the hands of Saint Peter himself. As in the case of many early French bishops, the Spanish try to link their saints directly to the Apostles; however, it is likely that Saint Cecilius lived in the 3rd century (Farmer).


Cinnia of Ulster V (AC)
5th century. Saint Patrick brought about the conversion of this princess of Ulster and later gave her the veil (Benedictines).


Clarus of Seligenstadt, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died c. 1048. Saint Clarus lived as a recluse monk of Seligenstadt (diocese of Mainz, Germany) for thirty years in austerity. His motto was: "Christ and Him crucified" (Benedictines).


Crewenna
5th century. Saint Crewenna accompanied Saint Breaca (a disciple of Saint Brigid) from Ireland to Cornwall. There is no record of him beyond the place named Crowan near Saint Erth (Benedictines).


Darlaugdach of Kildare V (AC)
(also known as Dardulacha, Derlugdach)

Died after 525. Successor of Saint Brigid of Kildare as abbess of that convent (Benedictines).


Blessed Ela, Widow (PC)
Died 1261. Wife of the crusader William Long-Sword, Blessed Ela placed herself under the direction of Saint Edmund Rich. She founded a monastery of Carthusians at Hinton and a convent of Augustinians nuns at Laycock of which became abbess (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Henry Morse, Priest, SJ M (RM)
Born in Broome, Suffolk, England, in 1595; died at Tyburn, England, February 1, 1645; beatified in 1929; canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Saint Henry, like so many saints of his period in the British Isles, was a convert to Catholicism. He was a member of the country gentry, who studied at Cambridge then finished his study of law at Barnard's Inn, London. In 1614, he professed the Catholic faith at Douai. When he returned to England to settle an inheritance, he was arrested for his faith and spent the next four years in New Prison in Southwark. He was released in 1618 when a general amnesty was proclaimed by King James.

Henry then returned to Douai to study for the priesthood, and finished his studies at the Venerabile in Rome, where he was ordained in 1623. He was sent on the English mission the following year and was almost immediately arrested after his landing in Newcastle, and imprisoned at York with the Jesuit Father John Robinson. Before leaving Rome he had obtained the agreement of the father general of the Society of Jesus that he should be admitted to the Jesuits in England. His time in prison with Robinson served as his novitiate; thus, he became a Jesuit in 1625. After three years in prison was exiled to Flanders, where he served as chaplain to English soldiers in the army of King Philip IV of Spain.

He returned to England in 1633, where he worked in London under the pseudonym of Cuthbert Claxton. Father Morse made many converts by his heroic labors in the plague of 1636-37. He had a list of 400 infected families--Protestant and Catholic--whom he visited regularly to bring physical and spiritual aid. He devoted service made such an impression that in one year nearly 100 families were reconciled to the Church. He himself caught the disease three times, but each time recovered. At the same time his brothers in faith were urging him to moderate his zeal, the authorities deemed it suitable to arrested Father Morse for his priesthood. They charged him with perverting 560 of his Majesty's loyal subjects 'in and about the parish of St. Giles in the Fields.'

Released on bail through the intercession of Queen Henrietta Maria, he again left England in 1641 when a royal decree ordered all Catholic priests from the country, but returned again from Ghent in 1643. He was arrested in Cumberland eighteen months later while making a sick-call. He escaped with the help of the Catholic wife of one of his captors, but was recaptured and brought to trial. He was convicted of being a Catholic priest at the Old Bailey. On the day of his execution, Father Morse celebrated a votive Mass of the Most Holy Trinity. He was summarily hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn. His hanging was attended by the French, Spanish, and Portuguese ambassadors in protest (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Walsh).


Jarlath of Armagh B (AC)
(also known as Hierlath)

Died c. 480. Saint Jarlath, disciple of Saint Patrick (March 17), succeeded Saint Benignus in the see of Armagh (Benedictines).


John of the Grating, OSB Cist. B (AC)
(also known as John de Craticula)

Died c. 1170. John received his moniker because of the metal enclosure needed to protect his grave. He was a Breton who entered Clairvaux and was professed under Saint Bernard. He returned to Brittany as abbot-founder of Buzay and Bégard and finally was promoted to the bishopric of Aleth, which he transferred to Saint-Malo. He introduced canons regular into the diocese, and some sources treat him as a canon, and a friend of Saint Bernard, but not a monk under him (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia).


Kinnia V (AC)
6th century. Saint Kinnia was another Irish maiden baptized and consecrated by Saint Patrick. She is highly venerated in County Louth (Benedictines).


Paul of Trois-Châteaux B (RM)
Born in Rheims, France; died c. 405. After Saint Paul escaped the barbarian invasions, he became a hermit near Arles, and eventually was chosen bishop of Trois-Châteaux (Augusta Tricastrinorum--a now extinct diocese) in Dauphiné (Benedictines).


Pionius and Companions MM (RM)
Died 251. Saint Pionius was a priest of Smyrna who suffered under Decius together with 15 companions. They were arrested during a liturgical celebration commemorating the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp. They were burned at the stake after a long interrogation and torture, as recounted by an eye-witness (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Blessed Reginald of Saint-Gilles, OP (AC)
(also known as Reginald of Orléans)

Born at Saint-Gilles, Languedoc, France, c. 1183; died 1220; cultus confirmed in 1885.

Reginald received his training at the University of Paris and thereafter taught canon law from 1206 to 1211 with great success. Because of his evident talents and virtues, he was appointed dean of the cathedral chapter (Saint-Agnan) of Orléans. Here as in Paris, he was renowned for the brilliance of his mind and the eloquence of his preaching, as well as for his tender devotion to the Mother of God.

Since he was a very zealous young man, Reginald was not content with his life as it was. He was in truth leading a very holy life, but he yearned for more. He determined on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, perhaps to pray for light to know his vocation, and on his way to Jerusalem he visited Rome. Here he discussed his desires with Cardinal Hugh de Segni, explaining that he felt a great call to the primitive poverty and preaching of the apostles but knew of no way to realize his hopes. The cardinal replied that he knew the exact answer to his seeking and sent him to Saint Dominic, who was in Rome at the time. Reginald hastened to open his heart to the holy founder, and at Saint Dominic's words he knew he had come to the end of his seeking.

Reginald had scarcely made his decision to enter the Dominican order when he became so ill that his life was in danger. Saint Dominic, who was greatly attracted to the young man and knew what an influence for good he would be in the order, prayed earnestly for his recovery. It was said of Dominic that he never asked anything of God that he did not obtain. In any case, it was the Queen of Heaven herself who came to cure the dying man and ransom him a little time on earth.

Our Lady, accompanied by Saint Cecilia and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, appeared at Reginald's bedside and anointed him with a heavenly perfume. The Blessed Mother showed him a long white scapular and told him it was to be a part of the habit of the order. Going away, she left him completely cured and filled with great joy. The friars, who until that time, 1218, had worn the garb of he canons regular, gladly changed to the scapular especially designed for them by the Mother of God. Reginald was himself clothed with the Dominican habit, and in fulfillment of his vows proceeded to the Holy Land.

On his return, Reginald embarked on his brief but brilliant career of preaching. In Bologna and in Paris, his eloquence and the shining beauty of his life drew hundreds to follow him into the order. Among these were not only students but many famous professors and doctors of law. One of his greatest conquests was the young German dynamo, Jordan of Saxony, who was to be like Reginald himself--a kidnapper of souls for the service of God.

The first to be given the scapular and the first to wear the Dominican habit in the Holy Land, Reginald was also the first Dominican to die in it. Consumed with the fiery zeal of his work, he died in 1220, mourned by the entire order, when he had worn the habit scarcely two years. He displayed no fear of death--perhaps Our Lady had told him, on the occasion of the cure, that he was only loaned to life and the order--but received the last sacraments with touching devotion (Benedictines, Dorcy).

In art, Reginald is generally portrayed in his sick bed being attended by Saint Dominic, at whose prayer the Blessed Virgin appears with two female saints to anoint Reginald. He may also be shown as a Dominican offering his scapular to the Virgin (Roeder).


Severus of Avranches B (AC)
Died c. 690. Born of poor parents in the Cortenin, Saint Severus successively became priest, abbot, and bishop of Avranches. Before his death, he resigned his see and returned to monastic life (Benedictines). Saint Severus is generally pictured as a bishop with a horse near him (Roeder). He is invoked against fever and migraine (Roeder).


Severus of Ravenna B (RM)
Died c. 348. Severus was a poor weaver of Ravenna, Italy, who never dreamed that God would one day call him from his weaver's loom to rule a diocese, but God has strange ways of calling His servants and sometimes lays His hand upon them in the least likely places: from the plough and the bench have come some of the greatest of His apostles.

So it happened that when the bishopric of Ravenna fell vacant in 283 and the cathedral was filled with those who had gathered to elect a new bishop, Severus said to his wife, Vincentia, that he would visit the minister and see what was going on. She replied that he had much better remain at home and not show himself in his working clothes among the nobles and well-dressed citizens. "What harm is there in my going?" he asked. "Why, you have work to do here," she answered, "instead of gadding about sightseeing." When he persisted, she said, "Go, and may you come back with a good box on your ear," and added sarcastically: "Go, then, and get elected bishop."

Severus, accustomed to her sharp tongue, set out and, entering the crowded cathedral, stood at the back, ashamed of his working clothes covered with flocks of wool. When, in the course of the service, the power of the Holy Spirit was invoked in prayer, there appeared in the cathedral a white dove that attracted the attention of the assembly, and which after flying around fluttered at the ear of the poor spinner. He beat it off, but it returned and finally came to rest upon his shoulder. Every eye was now turned in his direction, and the people, regarding it as a heavenly sign, with one accord chose him to be their bishop.

Vincentia was still at home, and when a neighbor came running, breathless, to her door with the news, she laughed and would not believe it. "What a tale," she said, "that a man who tosses a shuttle should be made a prelate!" But when another came with the same story, and yet another, and a crowd gathered at her door, and she found it was true, she was speechless.

Thus, it came to pass that Severus the weaver became bishop of Ravenna and who can doubt that he was a good weaver, well respected for his work and character, and that he was chosen not only because of a good omen but also for his own fine qualities. For these he was chosen to accompany the papal legate to the synod of Sardica in 344.

He made a good bishop, and when at last he came to die, he said his last Mass before all the people, then quietly dismissed them with his blessing. When all had departed save a single boy who served at the altar, he bade the boy close the doors, and clothing himself in his episcopal robes, went to the tomb of his wife and daughter, who had died before him. There with the help of the boy he raised the stone, and descending into the grave, laid himself down, and after a prayer closed his eyes and fell asleep. After his death he was canonized a saint, and is usually portrayed in his bishop's robes and with a weaver's shuttle (Benedictines, Gill).

It may be that the dove was a common phenomenon, or that it was simply a pious addition to the story of unlikely bishops, but it occurs in several stories.

In art, Severus is a bishop weaving. He may have a loom and weaver's tools and, possibly, a dove on his shoulder (Roeder). He is the patron of glove makers, hatters, and weavers (Roeder).


Sigebert III of Austrasia, King (AC)
Born in 631; died 656. Saint Sigebert, son of Dagobert I and baptized by Saint Amand at Orléans, became king of Austrasia (eastern France) at the age of seven, while his brother Clovis II ruled the western portion of his father's domain. Under the influence of Blessed Pepin of Landen, Saint Cunibert of Cologne, and other saintly souls, the young king grew into pious adulthood. He died at the age of 25. Though not a secular success as a ruler, he was revered as the founder of numerous monasteries (including Stavelot and Malmédy), hospitals, and churches. He is the patron saint of Nancy (Benedictines, Farmer).


Sour
Died c. 580. Native of Auvergne, France, who cured Gontram of his leprosy (Encyclopedia).


Ursus of Aosta, Archdeacon (PC)
(also known as Orso, Ours)

Died at Aosta, Italy, in the 6th century; feast celebrated on June 17 in some places.

Irish Saint Ursus evangelized the region of Digne and was an arch- opponent of Arianism. He served Bishop Jucundus as archdeacon. At the bishop's death the Arian Plocean ascended the cathedra, whereupon Ursus and several canons removed themselves to the church of Saint Peter outside Aosta, which is now the collegiate church of Saints Peter and Ursus. It is said that he efforts at evangelizing and catechising the area were so effective that even a millenium later, none would follow any but the Church of Rome. Aosta has many memorials to Saint Ursus, including a lime tree under which the council of the area met and chapels and hospitals (D'Arcy, Encyclopedia, O'Kelly, Tommasini).

In art, Saint Ursus is portrayed as an archdeacon with a staff and book, bearing birds on his shoulder. He may also be shown (1) with a fur pelisse in a religious habit; (2) striking water from a rock; or (3) giving shoes to the poor (Roeder).

The collegiate church in Aosta, dedicated to Sant'Orso, contains many missals and precious reliquaries of inestimable value, including the saint's relics, which rest in the crypt, called the Confession of Saint Ursus. The church cloister has historiated capitals depicting the life of Ursus (Michelin). There is an altar with a painting of Saint Ursus above it in the cathedral of Turin (D'Arcy).

Saint Ursus together with Saint Brigid of Kildare are the patrons of Ivrea, where their joint feast on February 1 was kept as a day of obligation (D'Arcy). Ursus is invoked in childbirth and for children who die before baptism, as well as against faintness, kidney disease, and rheumatism (Roeder).


Viridiana, OSB Vall., Hermit (AC)
(also known as Veridiana)

Born at Castelfiorentino, Tuscany, Italy; died 1242; cultus approved in 1533; feast day sometimes shown as February 16. Saint Viridiana made a pilgrimage to Compostella before being walled up as an anchorite in her native town of Castelfiorentino in a cell adjoining the chapel of Saint Antony. There she lived for 34 years under the obedience of a Vallumbrosan abbey, although the Franciscans claim her as a tertiary. Many miracles were ascribed to her (Attwater2, Benedictines).



About Saints of the Day
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