St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter
February 22



Abilius of Alexandria B (RM)
Died c. 98. About AD 84, Saint Abilius was consecrated the third patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, following Saints Mark and Anianus (Benedictines).


Blessed Angelus Portasole, OP B (PC)
Born in Perugia, Italy; died at Ischia in 1334. Angelus was elected bishop of Iglesias in Sardinia in 1330 (Benedictines).


Aristion of Salamis M (RM)
1st century. Saint Aristion is said to have been one of the 72 followers commissioned by Jesus to preach the Good News. His field of evangelization was Salamis, Cyprus. Some say he died there; others say he was martyred at Alexandria (Benedictines). In art, Saint Aristion is shown burning on a pyre (Roeder).


Athanasius of Nicomedia, Abbot (AC)
Born in Constantinople; died c. 818. Saint Athanasius was abbot of the Paulo-Petrine monastery near Nicomedia, who was persecuted by the Iconoclast Emperor Leo the Armenian (Benedictines).


Baradates, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Baradatus)

Died c. 460. In the Philotheus (c. 22, t. 3, p. 868, and c. 27), Theodoret praises the Syrian hermit, Saint Baradates, whom he calls, "the admirable." Baradates lived in a hut made of wooden trellis, leaving it open to the weather. Like other desert solitaries, he clothed himself in the skins of wild animals and punished his body. Detachment from the needs of his body permitted him to place himself continually in the presence of God. By constant prayer he gained wisdom and knowledge of heavenly things. Emperor Leo I of Constantinople wrote to Baradates to consult with him about the council of Chalcedon. Although preferring his eremitical life, when ordered by the patriarch of Antioch to leave it, he obeyed readily. The zeal and divine grace supported his weak constitution (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).


Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
An ancient western custom celebrates the festival of the consecration of a bishop. As the bishop of Rome and head of the universal Church, Saint Peter's feast is celebrated by Christians in a special way. As to the fact: few archaeologists now doubt what the Church has always affirmed, that Saint Peter resumed his work at Rome after his founding of the see of Antioch (as attested by Eusebius, Origen, Jerome, and many others). He served as bishop of Antioch for seven years according to Saint Gregory the Great. Together with Saint Paul, Peter founded a Church at Rome, where he worked for 25 years and where the two were crowned with martyrdom. It was at Rome that Peter took his permanent seat of authority. It was appropriate that Rome should (Encyclopedia). The feast of Natale Petri de Cathedra was included in the calendar of Pope Liberius (c. 354), Gregory's sacramentary, and all martyrologies. We can see that it was celebrated in 6th-century France by its appearance at the Council of Tours.

According to Husenbeth, early Christians, especially in the East, recalled their baptism on its anniversary. On their spiritual birthday, they would renew baptismal vows and render God special thanksgiving for heavenly adoption. That bishops similarly recalled the anniversary of their consecration can be seen in four sermons by Saint Leo and the liturgical celebration of that day for several saints. Today we should thank God for the establishment of His Church, through which we learn of His love and by which we are fed daily on the Bread of Heaven and the word of God. Let us also pray for unity within the Body of Christ (Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).


Elwin (AC)
6th century. Saint Elwin may be the titular saint of Saint Allen's Church in Cornwall. He is said to have accompanied Saint Breaca to Cornwall, but the traditions are not entirely clear or consistent (Benedictines).


Blessed John the Saxon, OSB Monk (AC)
Born in Old Saxony, died 895. The French monk John was invited to England by King Alfred to restore monastic learning and discipline after the devastation of the Danish invaders. He was appointed abbot of Athelingay. John worked zealously to attain the goals of the king. He is considered a martyr because two French monks of his own community murdered him one night (Benedictines).


Margaret of Cortona, OFM Tert. (RM)
Born in Laviano (Alviano?), Tuscany, Italy, 1247; died in Cortona, Italy, February 22, 1297; canonized by Benedict XIII in 1728.

Margaret of Cortona was raised in a poor farm family by her cold stepmother after her own mother died when she was seven. The harshness of her stepmother, combined with beautiful Margaret's indulged propensity to seek pleasure, led her into seduction by nobleman of Montepulciano when she was 18. She followed him to his castle and became his mistress for nine years, always hoping that he would make good his promise to marry her.

She would ride arrogantly out of his castle, dressed in fine silks and despising the poor. She longed to marry the young man, but he refused, even when she bore him a son. One day he failed to return to the castle. Two days later his dog returned alone. He plucked at her dress until Margaret followed him through a wood to the foot of an oak tree, where he began to scratch. To her horror, she found the disfigured, decaying body of her lover in the leaf- covered pit where his murderers had thrown him.

The sight of this rotting carcass, who had been her gallant, struck her with such terror of the divine judgment and the treachery of this world that she became a perfect penitent. When he died, she was evicted from his castle, and gave back all his gifts. In despair she publicly confessed her sins, dressed herself as a penitent, and then tried to atone for her sins by infinite goodness to the poor and prayer.

Unsure of her next step, she returned to her father's home with her son. She threw herself at his feet bathing them in tears to beg his pardon for her contempt of his authority and fatherly admonitions. She spent days and nights in tears. She also attempted to repair the scandal she had caused by going to the parish church with a rope around her neck and asking public pardon. Her father wished to take her back, but her stepmother refused to have such a public sinner under the same roof.

Driven away in shame, she was tempted to give up her good resolves, but she prayed, and an inner voice bade her go at once to Cortona and to confide the care of her soul to the Franciscans. On the way she met two ladies, Marinana and Raneria Moscari, who listened to her story. Moved with pity, they took the mother and her son into their home and care. Later they introduced her to the Franciscans, who soon became her fathers in Christ and they arranged for her son's education at Arezzo (he later became a Franciscan). For three years Margaret struggled diligently against temptation. She was supported in her task by the counsel of two friars, John da Castiglione and Giunta Bevegnati, who was her confessor and later her biographer.

Now, under the severest mortifications, Margaret began her mystical ascent. The wise Franciscans tried to make the distraught woman modify her extreme grief and penances that disfigured her body. Eventually Margaret's peace of mind returned. She began to experience the love of Jesus and to believe that her sins had been forgiven.

Margaret earned her living by nursing the ladies of Cortona, but later gave this up in order to devote herself more fully to prayer and to the corporal work of mercy of caring for the sick poor in her own small cottage. She lived in seclusion on the alms of others. Any unbroken food that she received, she gave to the poor. For herself and her son, Margaret kept only the scraps.

She wanted to become a tertiary of the Friars Minor, but they made her wait for three years before giving her the Franciscan habit. From the time she became a tertiary, Margaret advanced rapidly in prayer and was drawn into very direct communion with her God. Thus, her ecstatic life began in 1277. Christ set her up as an example to sinners and her influence was amazing--many flocked to her for counsel.

She received from Christ these words: "I have made you a mirror for sinners. From you will the most hardened learn how willingly I am merciful to them, in order to save them. You are a ladder for sinners, that they may come to me through your example. My daughter, I have set you as a light in the darkness, as a new star that I give to the world, to bring light to the blind, to guide back again those who have lost the way, and to raise up those who are broken down under their sins. You are the way of the despairing, the voice of mercy."

From near and far came sin-plagued folk to hear from Margaret a word of comfort and counsel. Margaret sent them to the Franciscans and particularly to her confessor, who was later her biographer. When he complained that there were so many of these people, Margaret heard the words: "Your confessor has forbidden you to send him so many men and women who have been converted through your words and tears. He said to you that he could not clean so many stables in one day. Say to him that when he hears confession he does not clean stables, he prepares for me a dwelling in the souls of the penitent."

Not only did the living come to her, so did the dead. The illustrious penitent Margaret distinguished herself by her charity to the suffering souls in Purgatory. They appeared to her in great numbers to ask her assistance. One day she saw before her two travellers, who begged her help to repair injustices they had committed: "We are two merchants, who have been assassinated on the road by brigands. We could not go to confession or receive absolution; but by the mercy of our Divine Savior and His Holy Mother, we had the time to make an act of perfect contrition, and we have been saved. But our torments in Purgatory are terrible, because in the exercise of our profession we have committed many acts of injustice. Until these acts are repaired we can have no repose nor alleviation. This is why we beseech you, servant of God, to go and find such and such of our relatives and heirs, to warn them to make restitution as soon as possible of all the money which we have unjustly acquired." They gave the holy penitent the necessary information and disappeared.

The communications Margaret received did not all relate to herself. In one case she was told to send a message to Bishop William of Arezzo, warning him to amend his ways and to stop fighting with the people of his diocese and living like a worldly prince and soldier rather than a shepherd of souls. Often Margaret was able to mediate in factional disputes and make peace. In 1289, she strove to avert war when Bishop William was again at strife with the Guelfs. Margaret went to him in person but he would not listen. Ten days later he was killed in battle.

She established an association of women to act as nurses and men to finance hospitals for the poor. In 1286, Bishop William of Arezzo gave permission for a whole community of women (whom she called the 'Poverelle') to develop her initiative on a permanent basis. At first Margaret nursed the poor in her own home. Then a lady named Diabella proved a house. The town councilors, at the urging of Uguccio Casali, gave money with which Margaret founded a hospital, Spedale di Santa Maria della Misericordia, for the poor dedicated to Our Lady of Mercy.

About 1289, false and vicious rumors were spread about her relations to the friars. Father Giunta was transferred to Siena, but it was later proven that the rumors were the evil work of gossips, and the holiness of her life became apparent to all. Not only did people come to her for counsel, but also for healing.

The more advanced Margaret became spiritually, the greater were her self-imposed penances. By the end of her life she slept very little and only on the bare ground; ate only bread and raw vegetables with water to drink; wore a rough hair-shirt next to her skin, and used the scourge freely on herself.

It is recorded that at the time of her death at age 50, Margaret saw the many souls that she assisted out of Purgatory form a procession to escort her to Heaven. God revealed this favor granted the Saint Margaret through a holy person of Castello. This servant of God, rapt in ecstasy at the moment of Margaret's death, saw her soul in the midst of this brilliant cortège, and on recovering from her rapture, related the vision to her friends.

On the day of her death, after 29 years of doing penance, she was publicly proclaimed a saint. That same year the citizens of Cortona began to build a church in her honor. All that is left of this original church built by Nicholas and John Pisano is a window.

When the holy penitent died, her corpse was embalmed and solemnly entombed. But people wished to see and venerate the body more closely. Therefore, in 1456, it was taken out of its old shrine, freed of all dust that could have seeped in, newly dressed, and placed so that it was possible to take it out easily and expose it for veneration. Her body is still preserved under the high altar of a new church of which she is the titular patron. The edifice also contains a statue of her and her dog by John Pisano (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Cuthbert, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Martindale--Queen's Daughters, Mauriac, Schamoni, Schouppe, Walsh, White).

In art, Saint Margaret has a dog pulling at her dress and a skull or corpse at her feet. Sometimes she may be shown (1) in a checkered habit, black cloak, and white veil; (2) with a cross and scourge; (3) in an ecstasy with Christ appearing to her (Roeder); or in ecstasy with angels supporting her (White).

She is the patroness of penitent women (Roeder).


Martyrs of Arabia (RM)
Included in this entry of the Roman Martyrology are "many holy martyrs, who were cruelly slain under the emperor Galerius Maximian" in the desert east of the Jordan River and the mountainous region south of the Dead Sea (Benedictines).


Maximianus of Ravenna B (RM)
Born in Pola, Italy, 499; died February 22, 556; feast day formerly February 21. Maximianus was consecrated bishop of Ravenna in 546 by Pope Vigilius. His flock refused his leadership for a long time because he was too humble. He completed the basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, the dedication of which was attended by Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. He also built San Apollinare in Classe and several other churches.

Maximianus devoted himself to the revision of liturgical books and to the emendation of the Latin text of the Bible, and commissioned a large number of illuminated manuscripts. For the high altar in Ravenna he had a hanging made of the most costly cloth, which was embroidered with a portrayal of the entire life of Jesus. In another hanging he had portraits of all his predecessors embroidered on gold ground (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Schamoni).

In a 6th century mosaic at Ravenna, Saint Maximianus is in attendance upon Emperor Justinian. The saint holds a cross and wears a chasuble and stole. His name is over his head (Roeder).


Papias of Hierapolis B (RM)
Died c. 120. Bishop Papias of Hierapolis, who had spoken with those who had known the Apostles, including Saint Polycarp, recorded the information he gleaned from them, but only a few fragments have been preserved (Benedictines, Gill).


Paschasius of Vienne B (RM)
Died c. 312. At the siege of Vienne (Dauphine), its 11th bishop, Paschasius, was eloquent (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Raynerius of Beaulieu, OSB Monk (AC)
(also known as Raynier)

Died c. 967. Saint Raynerius was a Benedictine monk of Beaulieu near Limoges (Benedictines).


Thalassius and Limnaeus, Hermits (AC)
5th century. Bishop Theodoret of Cyr (Syria) also records information about his contemporaries Thalassius and Limnaeus in his Philotheus (c. 22). Saint Thalassius lived in obscurity in a cave near Cyr and was endowed with extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit. His disciple Saint Limnaeus was famous for miraculous cures of the sick, while he himself bore patiently the sharpest colics and other distempers without any human succor. He opened his enclosure only to Theodoret, his bishop, but spoke to others through a window (Benedictines, 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.