Saints Cyril and Methodius
Abraham of Harran B (AC)
(also known as Abraames)
Died at Constantinople, c. 422. Saint Abraham was a hermit in Syria, who succeeded in converting a village on Mount Libanus in Lebanon by borrowing money to pay its taxes (and who said goodness doesn't pay!) and, thus, keeping its citizens out of prison. After instructing them for three years, he left them in the care of a holy priest and returned to his solitude. Eventually he became bishop of Harran (Charres or Carres) in Mesopotamia, which he helped to form in the Christian ways. As bishop, he combined the discipline, recollection, and penance of a monk with the labors of his vocation as a pastor. He influenced Theodosius the Younger and his court, in fact, he died at Constantinople while on a visit to the emperor, who kept and wore one of Abraham's garments (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Blessed Angelus of Gualdo, OSB Cam. (AC)
Born at Gualdo, diocese of Nocera, Italy, c. 1265; died January 25, 1325; cultus confirmed in 1825. In his youth, Angelus travelled barefoot from Italy to Compostella in northern Spain. He was professed a Camaldolese lay-brother and for forty years lived as a hermit walled up in his cell. His entire life was distinguished by extreme simplicity, innocence, and gentleness (Benedictines).
Antoninus of Sorrento, OSB Abbot (RM)
Died 830. Antonius was a Benedictine monk in one of the daughter houses of Monte Cassino. When he was forced to leave his monastery because of the wars raging in the country around him, he became a hermit until he was invited by the people of Sorrento to live among them. He did so as an abbot of Saint Agrippinus. He is now venerated as the patron of Sorrento (Benedictines). In art, Saint Antonius is a Benedictine holding a standard and the city wall (Roeder).
Auxentius of Bithynia, Hermit (RM)
Born in Syria; died on Mount Skopa on February 14, 473. Auxentius, son of the Persian Addas, was an equestrian guard of Emperor Theodosius the Younger. He served God in the position by serving his prince faithfully and providing witness to his fellows by spending his free time in solitude and prayer. During this portion of his life, Auxentius often visited the holy hermits to spend the nights with them in tears and singing the divine praises, prostrate on the ground. Finally, he left his position to become a hermit in the desolate area around Mount Oxia (Oxea), about eight miles from Constantinople. He was accused of heresy at the Council of Chalcedon but cleared himself of charges of Eutychianism before Emperor Marcion. Thereafter, he resumed his eremitical life on Mount Skopa (Siope) near Chalcedon, where he attracted numerous disciples by his austerity and holiness and assisted troubled souls who came to drink at the fountain of his wisdom. He also attracted a group of women who formed a community of nuns at the foot of the mountain. While he was still living, Sozomen highly commended his sanctity and had his monastery's church placed under the protection of Auxentius(Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Bassus, Antony, & Protolicus MM (RM)
Date unknown. These martyrs were cast into the sea at Alexandria, Egypt. Some ancient accounts add nine fellow-sufferers to this group (Benedictines).
Died 7th century(?). The legend of an apostle and holy bishop of the Orkney Islands (especially of Kirkwall) by this name lacks any historical basis. There are no place names or church dedications connected with him there, although there are several to Saint Columba. While the venerable Bollandists consider him among the praetermissi . . . et rejecti, his legend still connects him with Saints Palladius and Sylvester (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Cyril, Monk, and Methodius B (RM)
Born in Thessalonika, Greece; Cyril in 827, Methodius in 815 (some say 826); died respectively in Rome on February 14, 869 and probably at Stare Mesto (Velehrad, Czechoslovakia) on April 6, 884; feast day formerly on July 7 (or March 9); Pope John Paul II in 1981 declared them joint patrons of Europe with Saint Benedict.
". . . We pray Thee, Lord, give to us, Thy servants, in all time of our life on earth, a mind forgetful of past ill-will, a pure conscience and sincere thoughts, and a heart to love our brethren; for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord and only Savior."
--From the Coptic Liturgy of Saint Cyril.
Cyril and Methodius were brothers, born into a senatorial family, who both rose to high positions in the world--Methodius became governor of a colony in the Slav province of Opsikion; Cyril, a leading philosopher at the University of Constantinople. Cyril, the younger of the two, was baptized Constantine and sent at an early age to study at the imperial university at Constantinople under Leo the Grammarian and Photius, was ordained deacon, and in time took over Photius's position at the university. Cyril also served as librarian at the church of Santa Sophia, where he earned the reputation and surname 'the Philosopher.' Methodius was also ordained. Both renounced the life of this world and went to live in a monastery on the Bosphorus.
In 861, Emperor Michael III sent Cyril deep into the Dnieper-Volga regions of Russia to convert the Khazars, who were Jews. His brother accompanied him. Both brothers were brilliant linguists and soon familiarized themselves with the Khazar language. They came back to their monastery after a successful mission, and Methodius became abbot of an important monastery in Greece.
Almost immediately (863) they were sent by the then Patriarch Photius of Constantinople to convert the Moravians at the request of Prince Rostislav. German missionaries had been unsuccessful in their attempts to convert the Moravians; Cyril and Methodius met with success because of their knowledge of the Slavonic tongue.
They invented an alphabet called glagolitic, which marked the beginning of Slavonic literature (the Cyrillic alphabet traditionally ascribed to Cyril was probably the work of his followers in Bulgaria, although both could have been inventions of Saint Cyril). Cyril, with the help of his brother, translated the liturgical books into Slavonic.
Meanwhile, they incurred the enmity of the German clergy because of their free use of Slavonic in Church services and because they were from Constantinople, which was suspect to many in the West because of the heresy rife in the East. Further, their missionary efforts were hampered by the refusal of the German bishop of Passau to ordain their candidates for the priesthood.
In Rome the pope had heard of their good work. Pope Nicholas I summoned them to meet him, but when they reached Rome he had died. The travelled at an unfortunate time; Photius had incurred excommunication (because he had been illegally appointed) and their liturgical use of Slavonic was strongly criticized. Nicholas's successor, Adrian II, received them warmly. They presented him with the alleged relics of Pope Saint Clement, which Cyril was said to have miraculously recovered from the sea in Crimea on his was back from the Khazars.
Adrian was convinced of their orthodoxy, approved their use of Slavonic in the liturgy, and was so delighted and impressed by Cyril and Methodius that he determined that they should be consecrated bishops. It is believed that before this could happen, Constantine became a monk at SS. Boniface and Alexus in Rome and took the name Cyril, but probably died before his consecration as bishop. He was buried in the beautiful church of San Clemente on the Coelian in Rome, where there is an ancient fresco depicting Cyril's funeral. (His earthly remains were discovered in the lower part of the church in 1880 and now lie in a chapel dedicated to him and his brother, set off the right aisle of this church.)
Methodius was consecrated bishop and struggled on alone, often in dangerously hostile lands. He bore a letter from the Holy See commending him as a man of "exact understanding and orthodoxy." At the request of Prince Kosel of Moravia and Pannonia, Pope Adrian revived the ancient archdiocese of Sirmium (now Mitrovitsa), consisting of Moravia and Pannonia, independent of the German hierarchy, and made Methodius archbishop at Velehrad, Czechoslovakia (I don't know which two of the countries this is now part of).
Although he was supported by the pope, many German bishops resented his work among the Moravians (and probably the loss of territory). King Ludwig (Louis the German), urged on by the bishops, deposed Methodius at a synod at Ratisbon (Regensburg) and actually imprisoned him for two years in 870. Pope John VIII secured his release and returned him to his see, but thought it politic to forbid his use of Slavonic in the liturgy, although Methodius was authorized to use it in preaching. At the same time John reminded the German bishops that Pannonia and the disposition of sees throughout Illyricum belonged to the Holy See.
During the following years, Methodius continued his work of evangelization in Moravia, but he made an enemy of Rostislav's nephew, Svatopluk, who had driven his uncle out. Methodius rebuked Svatopluk for his wicked ways. Accordingly, in 878, the archbishop was reported to the Holy See for continuing to hold Mass in Slavonic and for heresy, in that he omitted the words "and the Son (filioque)" from the creed, which at that time had not been introduced everywhere in the West, not even in Rome. Methodius was summoned again to Rome in 879. John was convinced that he was not heterodox, and impressed by Methodius's arguments, again permitted the use of Slavonic in the Mass and public prayers.
Finally, Methodius returned to Constantinople to complete a translation of the Bible that he and Cyril had begun together. Methodius's struggle with the Germans continued throughout the balance of his life. Methodius was subjected to serious vexations, especially from his suffragan Bishop Wiching of Nitra, who was so unscrupulous as to forge a papal letter in his own favor. After Methodius's death, Wiching drove out his principal followers, including Saint Clement Slovensky, who took refuge in Bulgaria.
These two heroes of the faith are considered the "Apostles of the Slavs" or "of the Southern Slavs." Even today the liturgical language of the Russians, Serbians, Ukranians, and Bulgars is that designed by the two brothers. Their feast was extended to the universal Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1880. Methodius is regarded as a pioneer in the use of the vernacular in the liturgy and as a patron of ecumenism (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Schamoni, Walsh, White).
In art, the two can be identified as an Oriental bishop and monk (anonymous Russian icon) holding up a church between them.
Sometimes Bulgarian converts surround them; at other times Methodius holds up a picture of the Last Judgement (Roeder). Cyril is sometimes portrayed in a long philosopher's coat (White). They are especially venerated by the Bulgarians (Roeder). Their patronage includes Europe and the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia (White).
Cyrion, Bassian, Agatho, and Moses MM (RM)
Date unknown. These Alexandrian martyrs are listed together because all perished at the stake. Cyrion was a priest, Bassian a lector, Agatho an exorcist, and Moses a layman (Benedictines).
Dionysius and Ammonius MM (RM)
Date unknown. Dionysius and Ammonius were beheaded, probably at Alexandria, Egypt (Benedictines).
Eleuchadius of Ravenna B (RM)
Born in Greece; died 112. Saint Eleuchadius was converted by Saint Apollinaris, first bishop of Ravenna. In his absence Eleuchadius governed the church there. He succeeded Saint Adheritus as the third bishop of Ravenna (Benedictines).
John Baptist of the Conception, C. Trinitarian (AC)
(also known as John Garcia)
Born in Almodovar, Toledo, Spain, 1561; died 1613; beatified in 1819. John Garcia entered the Trinitarian Order at Toledo and 17 years later joined the party of reform in that order. As superior, he inaugurated such a revival at Valdepeņas in 1597. The reform, called the Discalced Trinitarians, was approved by Rome and John had to endure on that account the bitter opposition of the 'unreformed.' At the time of his death, 34 houses had adopted the reform (Benedictines).
Lienne (Leone) of Poitiers
4th century. Confidant of Saint Hilary (Encyclopedia).
Maro of Beit-Marun, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Maron)
Died c. 435. Saint Maro was a hermit on a mountain in Syria near the Orontes River, where he had a little hut covered with sheep skins to shelter him from the weather, but lived in a spirit of mortification in the open air most of the time. When he found a pagan temple nearby, he dedicated it to God and made it his oratory. In 405 Maro was ordained to the priesthood.
Saint John Chrysostom had a singular regard for Maro. During one of his banishments, John wrote from Cucusus and commended himself to Maro's prayers and begged to hear from him at every opportunity (Chrysostom's epistle 36).
Under the direction of Saint Zebinus, Maro learned to pray without ceasing. Zebinus surpassed all the solitaries of his time in his assiduity to prayer to which he devoted whole days and nights without any weariness or fatigue. His ardor for prayer seemed to increase, rather than slacken with time. Zebinus gave advice to those who sought it in as few words as possible in order to spend more time in heavenly contemplation.
Maro imitated Zebinus's constancy in prayer, yet he not only received all visitors with great tenderness but also encourage them to stay with him. Few, however, were willing to pass the night standing in prayer. God rewarded Maro's charity and constancy with abundant graces including the gift of healing. He prescribed admirable remedies against all vices, which drew crowds to him.
So great were the number of people drawn to God by Maro's words and
Upon Maro's death, a pious contest ensued among the neighboring provinces about his burial. A spacious church was built over his tomb adjoining the monastery of Saint Maro in the diocese of Apamea between Apamea and Emesa (Homs). The people in Lebanon and Syria called Maronites (a rite united to the Universal Church) are said to derive their name from this monastery, Bait-Marun, and look on Saint Maro as their patriarch and patron saint (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Blessed Nicholas Palea, OP (AC)
(also known as Nicholas the Prior)
Born in Giovinazzo near Bari, Naples; died in Perugia, Italy, in 1255; cultus confirmed in 1828.
Born of a noble Neapolitan family, Nicholas was named for the great wonder-worker who had once lived in the kingdom. At 8 he was already practicing austerities. He would not eat meat, even on feast days, because he had been favored by a vision of a young man of great majesty who told him to prepare for a lifetime of mortifications in an order that kept perpetual abstinence.
Sent to Bologna for his studies, he met Saint Dominic and was won by him to the new order. He was the companion of Saint Dominic on several of the founder's journeys to Italy, and warmed his heart at the very source of the new fire which was to mean resurrection to so many souls.
Saint Nicholas of Bari had been noted for his astounding miracles,and his young namesake began following in his footsteps while yet a novice. When on a journey with several companions, he met a woman with a withered arm. Making the Sign of the Cross over her, he cured her of the affliction.
At one time, as he entered his native Bari, he found a woman weeping beside the body of her child, who had been drowned in a well. He asked the woman the name of the child, and being told it was Andrew, he replied, "After this, it's Nicholas. Nicholas, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, arise!" The little one revived, alive and well. The child of his sister Colette, mute from birth, brought her famous uncle a basket of bread. "Who sent the bread, child?" Nicholas asked her. "My mother," she replied, and from then on she was cured.
As provincial of the Roman province, Nicholas was wise, prudent, and kind. He established priories in Perugia in 1233 and Trani in 1254. He received many novices and did much of his work among the young religious. Once he was called to the assistance of a novice who had been deceived by the devil and would not go to confession. He showed the young man the true state of his soul and undid the work of the evil one.
Nicholas earned great fame as a preacher. On one occasion, when he was preaching in the cathedral of Brescia, two irreverent young men began disturbing the congregation and soon made such a commotion that Nicholas could not make himself heard. Nicholas left the cathedral to a neighboring hill and there called to the birds to come to listen to him. Like the birds in the similar story of Saint Francis, flocks of feathered creatures fluttered down at his feet and listened attentively while he preached. At the end of the sermon they flew away singing.
After a lifetime of preaching and miracles, Nicholas, forewarned of is death by a visit from a brother who had been dead many years, went happily to receive the reward of the faithful. Miracles continued to occur at his tomb and through his intercession. Among these was the miracle by which life was given to a baby born dead. His parents had promised to name the baby Nicholas if the favor were granted, and to their great joy their child lived (Benedictines, Dorcy).
In art, Saint Nicholas is presented as a Dominican with a birch and a book (Roeder). He is venerated in Giovinazzo and Perugia, Italy (Roeder).
Nostrianus of Naples B (RM)
Died c. 450. Bishop Nostrianus of Naples valiantly opposed Arianism and Pelagianism (Benedictines).
Died 660. First bishop of Frankish birth (Encyclopedia).
Proculus, Ephebus & Apollonius MM (RM)
Died 273. Protectors of the body of Saint Valentine (below) according to his untrustworthy acta, martyred by decapitation. The Bollandists have identified this Proculus with the bishop Proculus of Terni (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Theodosius of Vaison B (AC)
Died 554. Bishop of Vaison in France and predecessor of Saint Quinidius (Benedictines).
Valentine of Terni BM (RM)
Died c. 269. Valentine of Terni (Interamna) and of Rome are probably the same martyr according to the Bollandists.
The origin of Saint Valentine's Day is obscure, as is the custom of sending valentines. It was supposed, according to the rural tradition (dating in England at least to the time of Chaucer), to be the time of the mating of birds, and among young people the practice grew of choosing on this day, by lot or otherwise, a friend or lover for the ensuing year. It was a light-hearted custom. A folded paper would bear the name of one's secret friend, or through the post would go a card of sentimental verse and fanciful emblems.
Elia tells a story about an artist, who, living across from a young girl whom he did not know, but whose daily passing gave him pleasure, resolved to send her, unknown, a valentine, for she was all happiness and innocence and just the right age to enjoy receiving one. He painted a picture for her one fine, gilt paper, then posted it. From his window the next day he saw his precious gift delivered. He watched her open it with delight, and saw her wonder as she unfolded it, and as she danced and clapped her hands; for she had no lover, and took it as a fairy gift, a God-send, as they used to say when the benefactor was unknown. "It would do her no harm," says Elia, "it would do her good for ever after. It is good to love the unknown." So God sends His gifts to us from His own secret store. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father."
Others claim that the custom of St. Valentine's Day records the survival of elements of the pagan Roman Lupercalia festival, which took place on the Ides of February. To abolish the heathen's lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess February Juno, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.
But this day really celebrates sadder memories--and more glorious-- for it marks the martyrdom of the faithful. The Roman Martyrology celebrates the bishop of Interamna (Terni) about 60 miles from Rome, who was scourged, imprisoned, then beheaded there by order of Placidius, prefect of Interamna.
Many scholars believe that Valentine of Rome is identical with Valentine of Terni. It is suggested that the bishop of Interamna had been a Roman priest who became bishop, was sentenced in his diocese, and brought to Rome for his execution. After his death his relics were translated to Terni. The stories of the two bishop martyrs, however, are remarkably similar.
There is no other record of Valentine. Though far removed from the saccharine customs and fancies that now surround his name, his memory shines in the darkest age of persecution as one who helped the followers of Jesus, as one who proclaimed the Good News. Out of the night would come a secret message or through the darkness an unknown hand, bringing hope and comfort. We can imagine what it would mean to some imprisoned or tormented spirit, and the thrill it would bring, that someone loved and cared. Valentine was that unknown benefactor, the secret friend of the martyrs, who gloried in the work of their rescue.
It is interesting to note that, since 1835, the Carmelite church in Dublin has claimed his relics (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, White).
In art, Saint Valentine is portrayed as a bishop with a crippled or epileptic child at his feet. At times (1) there may be a cock near him, (2) he may be shown refusing to adore an idol, or (3) his martyrdom by beheading may be depicted (Roeder).
Valentine is the patron of beekeepers, engaged couples, travellers, and young people. He is invoked against epilepsy, fainting, plague, and for a happy marriage (Roeder).
Valentine of Rome M (RM)
Died in Rome c. 269. The acta of Saint Valentine seem to derive from those of the Persians SS. Marius and Martha, who with their sons Saints Audifax and Abachum were martyred in Rome and buried on the Via Cornelia. It is likely that this Valentine is the bishop of Terni, which is about sixty miles from Rome.
Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome and a physician who was put in chains for assisting the martyrs. He was arrested by Calpurnius, the prefect of the city, and placed in the custody of Asterius, his chief officer. But Valentine preached to the guard in charge of him, and, like Saint Paul, converted his jailer. God did this through Valentine by restoring the sight of Asterius's adopted daughter. The jailer and his entire household, like that of Saint Cornelius, were baptized. Unfortunately, this led to Valentine's further punishment, for it roused the anger of Emperor Claudius the Goth, who condemned him to be beaten with clubs, then beheaded. Asterius and his entire family are also said to have been martyred.
A little after Valentine's execution, a pious matron named Sabinilla claimed his body and buried on her property on the Via Flaminia, where a basilica was erected in 350. The basilica was destroyed in the 7th century by Honorius I. Today the church is in ruins near a catacomb that presents the double originality of preserving in the vestibule of the entrance one of the most ancient paintings of the crucifixion, dating to the 7th century, and having its galleries in the bedrock of the hill, completely recut by a wine merchant who made it his wine cellar. His relics were translated to the Church of Saint Praxedes. He is probably the same person as Valentine of Terni (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, White).
In art Valentine is portrayed as a priest bearing a sword; or holding a sun; or giving sight to a blind girl (White). He is the patron of lovers (White).
Blessed Vincent of Siena, OFM (AC)
Died 1442. Vincent was a Franciscan for 22 years. He accompanied Saint Bernardinus of Siena in his travels throughout Italy (Benedictines).
Vitalis, Felicula & Zeno MM (RM)
Date unknown. These martyrs are listed in the Roman Martyrology as suffering at Rome but nothing else is known about them, except that the connection of Zeno with Vitalis and Felicula seems slight. Saint Zeno is the patron of an ancient basilica on the Appian Way mentioned by William of Malmesbury. Some hagiographers have made Zeno the brother of Saint Valentine, but that seems to be an error (Benedictines, Farmer).
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.