St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Saint Agatha VM
(Memorial)
February 5



Abraham of Arbela BM (AC)
(also known as Abraamios)

Died c. 345. Bishop of Arbela, Assyria (now Iraq). He was put to death in the village of Telman under Shapur II of Persia (Benedictines). Saint Abraham is always pictured as a bishop with a sword (Roeder).


Adelaide of Bellich, OSB Abbess V (AC)
(also known as Alice)

Died c. 1015. Adelaide, daughter of Megengose, Count of Guelder, was abbess of Villich (Bellich, Willich) on the Rhein near Bonn, Germany, and later of Our Lady of the Capitol at Cologne, both of which her parents had founded for her. She is still venerated with an octave at Bellich, where the convent she constituted under the Benedictine rule converted into a church of canonesses. Adelaide insisted that her nuns know Latin so that they might follow the offices properly. She showed prudence in other matters as well, especially in the way in which she provided for the poor during a severe famine. Saint Heribert of Cologne held Adelaide in the highest respect and consulted her in all his difficulties (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth, Walsh).


Agatha of Catania VM (RM)
Born at Palermo or Catania, Sicily; died at Catania, Sicily, c. 250 (?). There certainly was a martyr named Agatha at Catania, who was venerated there from very early times as demonstrated by her inclusion in Saint Jerome's Martyrology, the calendar of Carthage (c. 530), the canon of the Roman Mass, and Carmina by Venantius Fortunatus, but nothing else is known of her. There are many versions of the basic legend included here. Agatha must have been beautiful and wealthy for the Sicilian consul Quintinian tried to force her to become his wife. When she refused because she had already dedicated herself to God as a virgin, he turned against her and decided to punish her by installing the pure girl in a brothel for a month. She resisted all attempts to shame her.

When this didn't work, Quintinian, who did not believe in God, brought her before the courts on the charge of belonging to the outlawed Christian sect. The accounts of her tortures are frightful--racked, scourged, branded. Even her breasts were cut off, and she was allowed no medicines or bandages or food when she was sent to a dark dungeon. It is said that Saint Peter appeared to her in a vision accompanied by a youth carrying a torch. He applied ointment and healed her wounds. Four days later, unmoved my the miraculous cure of her wounds, Quintinian caused her to be rolled naked over live coals mixed with potsherds.

Agatha would pray passionately throughout all this: "Lord Jesus Christ: you know what is in my heart and mind. Take me and all that I am and make me Your own." Naturally Agatha believed that death would be a happy release from her torturers into the arms of Jesus. They carried her broken body back to her prison, while she prayed for release. At that moment, just after an earthquake, Agatha died in prison of her injuries.

A saint who bore such trials was greatly revered, and her tomb became a sacred spot for Christians. Saint Gregory the Great, for example, took a church which the Goths used in Rome, and reconsecrated it to the saint. The church of Sant'Agata dei Goti still stands, preserving the memory of this virgin martyr.

In a later period pictures of Saint Agatha carrying her severed breasts on a platter were mistaken as bread, which led to the practice of blessing bread on Saint Agatha's Day.

Her intercession as patron of Malta is credited with preserving the island from the Turks in 1551. Her prayers were also efficacious in preventing the eruption of Mt. Etna on several occasions. Its torrent of burning sulphur and stones was averted from the walls of Catania several times by the silken veil of Saint Agatha (taken from her tomb), fixed on a lance, and carried in procession. As the sacred relic met the lava, the flow would stop and the eruption end. Her name is found in the litany of the saints and in all martyrologies:

Greek and Latin (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, White). In art, Saint Agatha is a maiden martyr with a palm, two breasts held on a platter, and either pincers or shears (Tabor). Sometimes she is shown (1) with her breasts cut off or held in tongs; (2) crowned, with tongs and palms; (3) covering her shorn breasts as an angel brings her the martyr's palm; (4) holding a unicorn's horn; (5) with a torch and burning church in her hand (Roeder), or with a long veil (Tabor). She is depicted in the mosaics of Sant'Apolinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy (Farmer) and a picture of her martyrdom by Sebastiano del Piombo at the Pitti Palace in Florence, Italy (Tabor).

Agatha is the patroness of Catania, where she preserves Mt. Etna from erupting. She is also patroness of bell-founders (shaped like her breasts, or possibly because bells are used to warn of fire), firefighters, girdlers, jewellers, maltsters, nurses, wet-nurses, weavers, and shepherdesses. Agatha is invoked against earthquake, fire, lightning, storm, sterility, wolves, and diseases of the breast (Roeder, White).


Agatha Hildegard of Carinthia, Widow (PC)
Died 1024. Saint Agatha is highly venerated in Carinthia. She was the wife of Paul, the local count, and a model of devotion to her domestic duties and of patience under the brutal ill-treatment of her jealous husband, whom she converted before his death (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Agricola of Tongres B (AC)
Died 420. Agricola is listed as the 11th bishop of Tongres (Benedictines).


Albinus of Brixen B (RM)
11th century. Saint Albinus, bishop of Brixen in the Tyrol is commemorated today together with Saint Genuinus (below) who was the bishop of a small town near Brixen in the 7th century (Benedictines).


Avitus of Vienne B (RM)
Born in Auvergne; died c. 519. Brother of Bishop Saint Apollinaris of Valence, Saint Avitus succeeded his father, Saint Isychius who had been a Roman senator, as bishop of Vienne. As a bishop he commanded the respect of his flock, the pagan Franks, and the Arian Burgundians. It was he who converted the Burgundian King Sigismund. Saint Avitus was also an eloquent writer (Benedictines).


Bertoul, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Bertulf, Bertulph)

Born in Pannonia (Hungary) or Germany; died in Artois 705. Saint Bertoul migrated from Germany to Flanders, where converted to Christianity. For years he was steward to Count Wambert, whom he served so faithfully that the count entrusted the administration of his entire estate to Bertoul and gave him the land of Renty, where Bertoul built an abbey. Upon his benefactor's death, Bertoul became a priest and retired there as abbot. He died a monk in Artois (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Bertoul is sheltered from the rain by an eagle. He may also be portrayed (1) with a ship in his hand, or (2) changing water into wine (Roeder). He is venerated in Germany and the Netherlands and invoked against storm (Roeder).

Buo of Ireland

Died c. 900. In the 7th and 8th century, Irish missionaries were working in Iceland and the Faroe Islands, before the discovery of the islands by the Norwegians in 860. When they arrived they found Irish bells, books, and staffs. The Irish geographer Dicuil in De mensura orbis terrae notes that "certain clerics remained on the Iceland Island from February 1 until August 1." Saint Buo was one of the distinguished missionaries who evangelized the province around Esinberg, while he was still a very young man (D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick2, Little, Neeson, O'Hanlon, Toynbee).


Calamanda
5th century. In Catalonia (Spain), made it rain (Encyclopedia).


Fingen of Metz, Abbot (AC)
Died c. 1005. Saint Fingen, a celebrated Irish abbot, migrated to the kingdom of Lothaire, where he acquired a reputation for restoring old abbeys. One of them, Saint Symphorien's, was given over to him about 991 by Bishop Saint Adalbero and an Irish community. At the insistence of the dowager Empress Saint Adelaide, Pope John XVII issued a charter that declared that only Irish monks would administer the abbey as long as they could be found. She obtained a similar charter from Otto III in 992. Fingen's final job, with the help of seven of his Irish monks, was the restoration of Saint-Vannes in Verdun. By 1001, Saint-Vannes was attracting distinguished applicants, such as Blessed Frederick of Arras, count of Verdun, and his friend Blessed Richard, dean of the diocese of Rheims, who later became abbot of Saint- Vannes. Fingen's relics can be found in Saint-Clement's Church in Metz, where the necrology highly praises him (D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick2, Gougaud, Kenney, Montague, O'Hanlong, Tommasini).


Genuinus of Brixen B (RM)
(also known as Ingenuinus)

7th century. Genuinus was the bishop of a small town called Sabion (Seben; which has since disappeared) near Brixen in the Tyrol. He transferred the see to Brixen, and appears to have died in exile. With him is commemorated on the same day Saint Albinus bishop of Brixen in the 11th century (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Indractus and Dominica of Glastonbury MM (AC)
Died c. 708-710. An old legend makes Indract an Irish chieftain, who became the 21st abbot of Iona. About 854, Indractus and his sister Dominica (Drusa) set out from Cornwall or Somerset on a pilgrimage to Rome. On their return from Rome, they were killed by heathen Saxons together with nine of their Irish comrades near Glastonbury. A strong cultus arose immediately. Their relics were enshrined at Glastonbury Abbey, which legend connects to Saints Patrick, Brigid, and Benignus because it was first dedicated to Blessed Mary and Saint Patrick and was served by Irish monks as late as the 10th century. A still later legend has made Indractus and Dominica contemporaries of Saint Patrick (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Encyclopedia, Fitzpatrick, Kenney, Montague, Moran, O'Kelly).


Jacob, Patriarch (RM)
Father of the 12 tribes of Israel. It's hard to think of a man like Jacob becoming a saint. He stole his elder brother's birthright by trickery. Deceives his blind father Isaac into giving his blessing that was reserved for Esau. He obtained all his wealth through treachery. Jacob's whole life appears to be one of duplicity against his father, brother, and father-in-law.

Yet Jacob was human. When we look again, we see a man of wisdom, intelligence, knowledge, a sense of destiny, faith, and a sense of how one should deal with injustice. No man is God--not even David or Moses or any of the patriarchs. Even if they are all put together, they are not holy as God is holy; they are men who have wept for their failures, weaknesses, and absence of holiness. Yet God was able to work with such frail men to frame our destiny. How will He use us? (Encyclopedia).


Blessed John Morosini, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born in Venice, Italy; died 1012. John became a Benedictine at Cux in the Catalonian Pyrenees. In 982, he returned to Venice, where he founded and ruled the abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. Most writers call him beatus, though there is no evidence of a cultus (Benedictines).


Modestus of Salzburg, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 722. Modestus had Saint Virgilius, abbot-founder of Salzburg, as his superior. Modestus was appointed regionary bishop of Carinthia and was primarily responsible for the evangelization of that country (Benedictines).


Vodalus, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Vodoaldus, Voel)

Died c. 725. Vodalus was an Irish or Scottish monk who crossed over to Gaul and settled near Saint Mary's convent, which was governed by Saint Adalgard. Following a misunderstanding, Vodalus returned home, but was later divinely guided back to serve as a missionary. He died a recluse near Soissons (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy).



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.