Saint Jerome Emiliani
Cointha of Alexandria VM (RM)
(also known as Quinta)
Died 249. During the reign of Emperor Philip, mobs at Alexandria, Egypt, ranged the streets torturing and killings Christians. Among their victims was the young maiden Quinta who was scourged and stoned to death when she refused to sacrifice to pagan gods (or tied to a horse's tail and dragged through the street until she was dead) (Benedictines, Delaney). Saint Cointha is pictured as a maiden stoned and dragged by a horse. Often she is fastened to the tail of the horse and dragged by her feet (Roeder).
Cuthman of Steyning, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Cuthmann)
9th century. Among the ancient Anglo-Saxon saints was Cuthman, a native of Devon or Cornwall (judging by his name; some ancient documents seem to indicate that he was possibly born at Chidham near Bosham, c. 681), who spent his youth as a shepherd on the moors. A grey and weather-beaten stone high among the heather is said to mark the spot where he used to sit, and around which he drew a wide circle in the gorse, outside which his sheep were not allowed to wander. When his father died and his mother was left poor, Cuthman proved himself a good son and worked hard for their joint livelihood, but when she fell sick he was unable to leave her and they became destitute.
Cuthman, at his wit's end, made a wooden two-wheeled barrow in which he laid his mother, and with its two handles supported by a rope round his neck, begged from door to door. But the dream of his life was to build a church, and though he had no idea how this could be done, he resolved to leave Cornwall with its bleak and windswept moors and travel eastward.
Putting his mother in the barrow along with their few belongings, he pushed it day after day across the breadth of England until he came to Steyning in West Sussex. There the rope which held the barrow broke, and this he took for a sign that it was here where he must settle. He prayed by the roadside: "O Almighty Father, who has brought my journey to an end, You know how poor I am, and a laborer from my youth, and of myself I can do nothing unless You succor me."
Here by the River Adur, in a lonely and quiet spot among the Downs, he built a hut to shelter his mother, and then measured out the ground on which to build his church. The local people were kind to him; they watched him dig the foundations single-handedly, cut the timber and build the walls, and they provided two oxen to help him. One day, however the oxen strayed and were carried off by two youths who refused to return them, whereupon Cuthman was angry. "I need them not," he said, "to do my own work but to labor for God." and he yoked the two youths themselves to his cart to draw it. "It must be moved," he said, "and you must move it."
So Cuthman built a church and preached and stirred up the people. And there where he worked, he died, and was buried beside the river, and they called the place Saint Cuthman's Port, for the river in those days was navigable.
Cuthman's name occurs in several early medieval calendars and in the old Missal that was used by the English Saxons before the Norman conquest (kept in the monastery of Jumièges, in which a proper mass is assigned for his feast), a German martyrology clearly indicates a pre-Conquest cultus, and the church at Steyning seems to have been dedicated to him in the past. Saint Edward the Confessor gave the Steyning church to Fécamp, which monastery built a cell of monks on the site of his old wooden church and built a new one dedicated to his memory, although Cuthman's relics were translated to Fécamp. The information on Cuthman preserved there may contain some genuine material. The memory of this once forgotten saint was revived by Christopher Fry in his one-act play The boy with a cart (1939) (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Cuthman is always shown among sheep because he was a shepherd of Steyning (Roeder). He feast is kept at most Benedictine monasteries in Normandy (Husenbeth).
Dionysus, Aemilian & Sebastian MM (RM)
Date unknown. All that is known about this trio is that they were Armenian monks (Benedictines).
Elfleda, OSB Abbess V (AC)
(also known as Ælflaed, Ethelfleda, Edilfleda, Elgiva)
Born 653; died 714. Daughter of King Oswy of Northumbria and his wife Saint Eanfleda, Elfleda was offered to Saint Hilda and the convent of Hartlepool as a little child. Her parents had vowed to consecrate her in infancy if Oswy were successful in battle against the heathen King Penda of Mercia. Oswy won the battle of Winwaed in 654, he kept his vow. In 657, Hilda founded or refounded Whitby Abbey and Elfleda migrated there with Saint Hilda. When Oswy died in 670, Eanfleda joined her daughter at the double monastery governed by Hilda, and which later become the mausoleum of the Northumbrian royal family. In turn Eanfleda and Elfleda succeeded Hilda as abbess of Whitby. During Elfleda's abbacy, the earliest vita of Saint Gregory the Great was written there.
Elfleda was one of the most influential personages of her time. She counted both Saint Cuthbert and Saint Wilfred as friends. In 684, she met Cuthbert on Coquet Island. He told her that her brother, King Egfrith, would die within a year and that her half-brother Aldfrith would succeed him. Both of which occurred. Later she was cured of paralysis by Cuthbert's girdle.
One of her primary means of influence was in her role as mediator. Elfleda was instrumental in reconciling Saint Theodore of Canterbury and Saint Wilfrid. At the synod of the River Nidd in 705, she exercised her talent to reconcile Wilfrid to both Canterbury and the church in Northumbria. She asserted that Aldfrith on his death bed had promised to obey the commands of the Holy See concerning Wilfrid and had enjoined his heir to do the same.
Elfleda's relics were discovered and translated at Whitby about 1125. Her cultus, however, is attest only by late martyrologies (Benedictines, Farmer, Gill).
Honoratus of Milan B (RM)
Died 570. Honoratus became bishop of Milan (567) during a time troubled by disputes with the Arians and the Lombard invasion. He was driven from his see by the Lombards and died in exile (Benedictines).
Blessed Isaias Boner, OSA (AC)
(also known as Isaias of Cracow)
Born in Cracow, Poland; died 1471. Isaias studied theology in Cracow before joining the Augustinians. He used the knowledge that earned him a doctorate in divinity to enkindle devotion through his teaching of Scripture with extraordinary zeal (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Jacoba de Settesoli, OFM Tert.
(also known as Jacqueline de Settesoli)
13th century. Jacqueline, friend of Saint Francis of Assisi, was born into a noble Italian family descended from the Norman knights who invaded Sicily. She married well to Gratien Frangipani, a family renowned for its charity.
When Jacqueline was about 22 (1212), Saint Francis came to Rome for an audience with the pope. While there, he preached so well that he became famous. When Jacqueline heard Francis praise poverty that opens wide the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven, she realized that charity is not dealt with as one would deal with a servant, and that charity is not a fact, but a state. The next day, Jacqueline sought Francis's direction.
Francis told her to return home, she could not abandon her family. "A perfect life can be lived anywhere. Poverty is everywhere. Charity is everywhere. It is where you are that counts. You have a husband and two children. That is a beautiful frame for a holy life." And, so, Jacqueline joined the third order of Saint Francis; and because she was masculine and energetic she was nicknamed "Brother Jacoba."
Saint Francis, who was often her guest, had no more devoted follower, and on his visits to Rome she cared for him like a mother. Jacoba helped the brothers in many ways: collecting goods, repairing clothes, finding the house for the Hospice of Saint-Blaise.
To thank her for all the mending she had done, Brother Thomas gave her a lamb that he had trained to follow him everywhere. Jacqueline accepted this new friend as a type of little spiritual guide. The lamb followed her everywhere, especially to Church, and stayed close by her as she prayed.
When Francis was about to die, he sent for her. "Set out as soon as possible, if you wish to see me once more. Bring with you what is necessary for my burial." Jacoba arrived with all that was needed for his comfort and was with him to the end. She settled at Assisi, so that she might be near those who loved him, and until she died she helped to preserve his work.
Jacqueline lived to be about 80. During her life she had taken part in all kinds of triumphs, vexations, and miracles with the friends of Saint Francis, who were her friends, too. She had the good fortune to care for him while he lived and was also with him after his death, for she was buried in the same crypt as Saint Francis, facing him, in the basilica of Assisi (Encyclopedia, Gill).
Jerome Emiliani (RM)
(also known as Geronimo or Gerolamo Miani)
Born in Venice, Italy, 1481; died Somascha, Italy, February 8, 1537; canonized in 1767, and in 1928 declared patron saint of orphans and abandoned children by Pope Pius XI; feast day formerly July 20.
Son of a distinguished Venetian family, at age 15 Jerome Emiliani ran away from home and his mother Eleanor Mauroceni after the death of his father Angelo. He became a soldier in the army of the Republic and commander of the League of Cambrai forces at the fortress of Castelnuovo in the Italian mountains near Treviso. The Venetians took the fortress and chained Jerome in a dungeon. Until that time, Jerome had led a careless, irreligious life. Now he sanctified his sufferings by prayer and conversion to God. In circumstances that appear miraculous, he escaped after praying to our Lady, carrying his chains with him, and--thanking God for this in a church at Treviso--hung his chains on the church wall in happiness.
His gratitude inspired the rest of his life. He dedicated himself to the Blessed Virgin and reformed his carefree lifestyle. He became mayor of Treviso because of his brilliant defense of Castelnuovo, and later returned to Venice to oversee his nephews' education and to pursue his own theological studies. In 1518, he was ordained to the priesthood in Venice when the city was suffering an appalling plague.
Jerome devoted himself to relieving as much suffering as he could. His heart especially ached for the abandoned children who were suffering particularly, since starvation set them doubly at risk. Taking as many as he could into his own house, he fed and clothed them, nursed them back to health, and taught them the Christian faith. At night, he buried the dead who had collapsed in the streets. He caught the plague (spotted fever) himself, but was strong enough to recover.
In 1531, Jerome resolved to give himself and all that he owned to God's service. He established orphanages in six Italian towns (Venice, Brescia, Bergamo, Como, and two others), a hospital in Verona, and a home for repentant prostitutes. About 1532 with two other priests, he founded the Congregation of Somaschi (from the town of Somasca in Lombardy where they started), a society of clerks regular devoted primarily to the care and instruction of orphans, although it also instructed young children. At Somaschi he founded a seminary for those entering his congregation. Jerome is said to have been the first to teach children Christian doctrine with a question-and-answer technique. The society gained papal approval in 1540.
His attentive care to the poor of Somascha led them to attribute to him the gift of healing. He tried to share their lives, even working with them in the fields while talking to them of God. He continued to care for the sick, regardless of his own health, until he succumbed a second time to the plague, which killed him (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Sandoval, Schamoni, Walsh, White).
In art Saint Jerome's emblem is a ball and chain which are always near him. At times the chain may be in his hand, a child near him, and the Virgin and Child appearing to him, or he may be shown tending sick children or delivering a possessed child (Roeder, White). He is venerated in Somasca, Lombardy (Roeder).
Saint Jerome is the patron of orphans and abandoned children (Bentley, Sandoval).
John Charles Cornay M (AC)
Born in Loudon, diocese of Poitiers, France, in 1809; died in Ban- no, Tonkin (Vietnam), September 20, 1837; beatified in 1900; canonized in 1988 among the Martyrs of Vietnam. John was a priest of the Paris Society of Foreign Missions and worked in Annam. He was "framed" by the wife of a brigand chief, who had planted weapons in a plot of land that he cultivated. After his arrest, Father Cornay was kept in a cage for three months--often in irons and tortured repeatedly. When he was examined by the mandarins, he was expected to sing for them because of the well-known beauty of his voice. At the end of three months the sentence of the supreme tribunal was executed: He was to be "hewn in pieces and that his head, after being exposed for three days, is to be thrown into the river" (Attwater2, Benedictines, Farmer).
John of Matha (RM)
Born in Fauçon, Provence, France, June 23, 1160 (or June 24, 1169, according to Husenbeth, or 1154 per Tabor); died in Rome, Italy, December 17, 1213; cultus approved in 1655 and 1694.
Saint John was educated at Aix, but on his return to Fauçon lived as a hermit for a time. He then went to Paris where he received his doctorate in theology and was ordained in 1197. At the first Mass he celebrated as a new priest, he had a vision of an angel, clothed in white with a red and blue cross on his breast. The angel placed his hands on the heads of two slaves, who knelt beside him.
Thereafter, Saint John joined Saint Felix of Valois in his hermitage at Cerfroid. John confided in Felix his idea of founding a religious order to ransom the thousands of Christians captured the followers of Islam and sold into slavery. Late in 1197, the two went to Rome and found that Pope Innocent III had experienced a similar vision. Without hesitation Innocent provided papal approval for the Order of the Most Holy Trinity for the Redemption of Captives (the Trinitarians), with John as superior. They also secured the approval of King Philip Augustus of France, and travelled throughout that country collecting money. The order flourished, spread to France, Spain, Italy, and England, sent many of its members to North Africa, and redeemed many captives.
The Trinitarians would go into the slave markets, buy the Christian slaves and set them free. Of course, this required a good deal of capital. Saint John entrusted the fundraising activities of the Trinitarians under the patronage of Mary, whom John honored with the title, "Our Lady of Good Remedy." They were so successful that, over the centuries, the Trinitarians were able to free thousands of slaves.
Nothing else is known about Saint John because his biographies were based on spurious records. Felix of Valois may be a fictional character, though his name is generally associated with the real John of Matha. The problem is that there is no record of the person or cultus for Saint Felix until the 17th century. The original story for Saint Felix that was included in the Roman breviary until 1961 is that of Saint Hugh; there is no genuine evidence of his existence (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Sheppard, Tabor).
Saint John is always pictured in the Trinitarian habit (white with blue and red cross on the breast), chains in his hands or at his feet, captives near him, and his miter at his feet (Roeder, Tabor). Generally he is portrayed with Saint Felix of Valois (Roeder) and the angel and two envisioned captives in the background (Tabor). The Holy Trinity may be shown giving him the scapular (Roeder), or he may be shown with Our Lady of Good Remedy, who had him a bag of money. He is venerated in Fauçon, Provence, France (Roeder).
Juventius of Pavia B (RM)
1st century; he shares a second feast with Saint Syrus on September 12. The tradition is that Saint Hermagoras, bishop of Aquileia and disciple of Saint Mark, dispatched Saints Syrus and Juventius to evangelize Pavia (Ticinum), where Juventius became its first bishop (Benedictines).
Kigwe V (AC)
(also known as Kewe, Ciwg, Ciwa, Cwick, Kigwoe, Kuet, Kywere)
Date unknown (5th century?). Saint Kigwe is probably identical to Saint Ciwa, a 6th or 7th century saint venerated in Monmouthshire; she should not be confused with Saint Cuach, the nurse of the Irish Saint Ciaran. She is the patron of Saint Kew in Cornwall, formerly called Docco in honor of Saint Congar, whose abbey was ruined before the end of the first millennium. Kigwe replaced him as patron before the 14th century.
According to Roscarrock, Kigwe was Congar's sister, but when she visited her brother in his hermit's cell, "he would not receive her until such time as he saw a wild boar miraculously obey her, after which time he conversed with her, who proved of such rare virtue and holiness as she was after her death reputed a saint and the Church of the parish called after her." The name is also spelled Ciwg, Cwick, Kigwoe, etc. She is listed in the Exeter Martyrology and in Welsh calendars (Benedictines, Farmer).
Martyrs of Persia (RM)
6th century. Martyrs slain under Cabas (Benedictines).
Martyrs of Constantinople MM (RM)
Died 485. The community of monks of Saint Dius martyred at the time of the Acacian schism for their fidelity to the Holy See (Benedictines).
Meingold of Huy M (AC)
(also known as Meingaud, Mengold)
Died c. 892. There was a holy man, who was venerated in Belgium after his death in the 10th century. Long afterwards he seems to have been confused with a certain Count Meingaud of Huy, who was assassinated the same year. The most credible of the many legends attached to the name is that the belligerent count experienced a conversion, repented, but was killed soon afterwards by his former enemies (Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Mlada of Prague, OSB Abbess
Died 994. No other information.
Nicetius of Besançon B (AC)
(also known as Nizier)
Died 611. Bishop Saint Nicetius of Besançon was a friend of Saint Columbanus and Saint Gregory the Great, and an enemy of heresy. He restored to Besançon the episcopal see, which after the invasion of the Huns had been transferred to Nyon on Lake Geneva (Attwater2, Coulson, Benedictines).
Oncho of Clonmore (AC)
(also known as Onchuo)
Died c. 600. Saint Oncho was an Irish pilgrim, poet, guardian of the Celtic traditions, and a collector of holy relics. While pursuing his search for memorials of the Irish saints he died at Clonmore monastery, then governed by Saint Maidoc, and his body was enshrined there together with the relics he had gathered (Benedictines).
Paul, Lucius, and Cyriacus MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyred at Rome (Benedictines).
Paul of Verdun, OSB B (RM)
Died c. 649. Saint Paul, bishop and restorer of Verdun, began life as a courtier. When he first retired from the world, he lived as a hermit at Mount Voge (now Paulberg) near Trier, Germany, and then entered the monastery of Tholey, where he was appointed headmaster of the monastic school. After some years (c. 630) King Dagobert appointed him bishop of Verdun (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Peter Igneus, OSB Vall., Cardinal B (RM)
Died c. 1089. Saint Peter is said to have been a member of the Aldobrandini family of Florence. He took his vows at Vallombrosa under Saint John Gualbert. Shortly thereafter, according to a credible contemporary account, in order to convict the bishop of Florence of simony, Peter miraculously passed through the flames unharmed, hence the surname Igneus ('of the fire'). Later he became cardinal archbishop of Albano, Italy, and papal legate in foreign lands (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Saint Peter is pictured as a young monk in an alb and stole, holding a cross, walking through fire in the presence of Saint John Gaulbert. He may be a Vallombrosian (White Benedictine) holding fire in his hand (Roeder). He is venerated in Florence, Italy (Roeder).
Stephen Cuénot BM (AC)
Born at Beaulieu, France, 1802; died November 4, 1861; beatified in 1909; canonized in 1988 as one of the Martyrs of Vietnam. Stephen joined the Society of Foreign Missions in Paris and was sent to Annam. In 1833, at a time when xenophobic persecutions were being renewed, he was appointed vicar apostolic of eastern Cochin-China and received episcopal consecration at Singapore. He returned to Annam where he enjoyed 25 fruitful years of service during which many souls were converted and he established three vicariates. When another persecution broke out in 1861, Bishop Cuénot was hidden by a pagan until he had to emerge for water. Cuénot was arrested and died in prison of dysentery (perhaps of poison) shortly after his arrest and just before the date fixed for his execution (Attwater2, Benedictines, Farmer).
Stephen (Etienne) of Grandmont (of Muret), OSB, Abbot (RM)
Born in Thiers, Auvergne, France, 1046; died 1124; canonized by Pope Clement III in 1189 at the request of King Henry II of England.
Saint Stephen was the son of the virtuous viscount of Thiers. His life from infancy presaged uncommon sanctity. Father Milo, then the dean of the church of Paris, was appointed his tutor. At age 12, Stephen accompanied his father, lord of the district, to the tomb of Saint Nicholas of Bari. He fell ill at Benevento and remained there to continue his education under Milo, who had become Benevento's archbishop. At the appropriate time, he ordained Stephen a deacon. Following Milo's death, Stephen pursued his studies in Rome for four years. In the meantime his parents died.
In 1076, on his return to France, Stephen renounced his inheritance to become a hermit in the mountains of Ambazac at Muret (northeast of Limoges). He led an austere life, with little food or sleep for 46 years. He wore a metal breastplate (which is one of his attributes in art) instead of the usual hairshirt. When he was not employed in manual labor, he lay prostrate on the ground in profound adoration of the majesty of God. The sweetness which he felt in divine contemplation made him often forget to take any refreshment for two or three days together. Stephen remained a deacon throughout his life, never seeking presbyterial ordination.
As with many of the holiest hermits, disciples gathered about him. There on the mountain-top he founded a congregation of Benedictine hermit-monks using the model he observed in Calabria; thus, its rules was based on his sayings. Although he was strict with himself, he was mild to those under his direction, and proportioned their mortifications to their strength. But he allowed no indulgence with regard to the essential points of a solitary life, silence, poverty, and the denial of self-will. He behaved himself among his disciples as the last of them, always taking the lowest place, never suffering any one to rise up to him; and while they were at table, he would seat himself on the ground in the midst of them, and read to them the lives of the saints. He ruled but never seems to have become a monk himself.
The order is conspicuous for its intransigent insistence on total renunciation. Stephen compared monastic life to life in a prison. "If you come here, you will be fixed to the cross and you will lose your own power over your eyes, your mouth, and your other members. . . . If you go to a large monastery with fine buildings, you will find animals and vast estates; here, only poverty and the cross." To those wishing to join his community, he would say: "This is a prison without either door or hole whereby to return into the world, unless a person makes for himself a breach. And should this misfortune befall you, I could not send after you, none here having any commerce with the world any more than myself."
God give Stephen the ability to read hearts. The author of his now lost vita, the fourth prior Stephen de Liciaco, gives a long history of miracles which he wrought. But the conversions of many obstinate sinners were still more miraculous; it seemed as if no heart could resist the grace which accompanied his words. Saint Stephen died at Muret. In his last hours he was carried into the chapel, where he heard mass, received extreme unction and the viaticum. His disciples buried him privately, but news of his death drew many to his tomb, which was honored by innumerable miracles.
Four months after his death, the priory of Ambazac, dependent on the great Benedictine abbey of St. Austin, in Limoges, put in a claim to the land of Muret. The disciples of the holy man immediately gave up the ground without any contention, and retired to Grandmont, taking Stephen's remains with them. It is from this site that the congregation received the name Grandmontines.
With its austere rule it never became widespread; however, the successors to Stephen's spirit gained the admiration of many. Abbot Peter of Celles, calls them angels, and testifies that he placed an extraordinary confidence in their prayers (Epistle 8). John of Salisbury, a contemporary author, represents them as men who, being raised above the necessities of life, had conquered not only sensuality and avarice, but even nature itself (Poly. l. 7, c. 23).
The rule of the Grandmontines consists of seventy-five chapters. The prologue reminds its members that the rule of rules, and the origin of all monastic rules, is the gospel: they are but streams derived from this source, and in it are all the means of arriving at Christian perfection pointed out. It recommends strict poverty and obedience, as the foundation of a religious life; forbids compensation for their Masses or to open their oratory to outsiders on Sundays or holy days, because on these days each should attend his parish church. Its religious are forbidden to engage in any lawsuit or to eat meat even in time of sickness. The rule prescribes rigorous fasts, with only one meal a day for a great part of the year.
The rule abounds with great sentiments of virtue, especially concerning temptations, the sweetness of God's service and his holy commandments, the boundless obligation each has to love God and the incomprehensible advantages of praising Him, and the necessity of continually advancing in fervor. It speaks of good works as the flowers of the garland of which our lives should be composed. King Saint Henry II was one of the admirers of the order. He founded several monasteries for the Grandmontines in France and England, and petitioned the Vatican for Stephen's canonization. The austerity of Saint Stephen inspired both Armand de Rancé and Charles de Foucauld (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).
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.