Blessed Adelelmus of Engelberg, OSB Abbess (PC)
(also known as Adelhelm)
Died 1131. Saint Adelelmus, a monk of Saint Blasien in the Black Forest of Germany, was sent to found the Engelberg Monastery in Switzerland, of which he became prior and subsequently abbot (Benedictines).
Aldetrudis of Maubeuge, OSB Abbess (AC)
(also known as Adeltrudis)
Died c. 696. Born into another very holy family, Saint Aldetrudis was the grand-daughter of Saints Walbert and Bertilia, daughter of Saints Vincent Madelgarus and Waldetrudis (Waudru), niece of Saint Aldegund of Maubeuge, and sister of Saints Landric, Dentelin, and Madelberte. She had no choice but to be a saint. Having been confided to the care of her Aunt Aldegund at Maubeuge, she eventually succeeded her as its second abbess (Benedictines).
Ananias and Companions MM (AC)
Died c. 298. Saint Ananias was a priest of Phoenicia who was martyred under Diocletian. He was thrown into prison, converted his jailer (Peter) and seven other soldiers of the guard. All were put to death together (Benedictines).
Avertanus of Limoges, OC (AC)
Born in Limoges, France; died 1380. Carmelite laybrother and pilgrim whose holiness spread after his death. He died of the plague outside Lucca while en route with Saint Romeo to Palestine (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Caesarius Nazianzen (RM)
Born c. 329; died 369. Son of Gregory the Elder, bishop of Nazianzen, and brother of Gregory Nazianzen, Saint Caesarius studied philosophy and medicine at Alexandria and Constantinople and became a famous physician.
He was named physician to Emperor Julian the Apostate, a schoolmate of his brother. When Julian apostatized he tied to persuade Caesarius to do likewise. He rebuffed the emperor's efforts to get him to abjure his religion though he was yet only a catechumen. Finally, he resigned his position to avoid continued harassment, although Julian exempted him from the various edicts promulgated against Christians. Later, Caesarius was physician to Emperor Jovian, and Emperor Valens made him treasurer for his own private purse.
Like so many Christians of the period, Caesarius remained a catechumen nearly all his life. He was baptized in 368 after he had narrowly escaped death in an earthquake in Nicaea, Bithynia. When he died, he left his fortune to the poor. We owe all the information we have about Caesarius to the funeral oration delivered by his brother Gregory. The Greeks honor his memory on March 9, as Nicephorus testifies, (Hist. l. 11, c. 19,) and as appears from the Menaea: the Roman Martyrology he is named on the 25th of February (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Husenbeth).
Blessed Constantius of Fabriano, OP (AC)
Born in Fabriano, Marches of Ancona, Italy, 1410; died at Ascoli, Italy, 1481; equivalently beatified in 1821 (or 1811).
Constantius Bernocchi is as close to a 'sad saint' as it's possible for a Dominican to get; he is said to have had the gift of tears. However, that is not his only claim to fame.
Constantius had an remarkable childhood, not only for the usual signs of precocious piety, but also for a miracle that he worked when he was a little boy. Constantius had a sister who had been bedridden most of her nine years of life. One day, the little boy brought his parents in to her bedside and made them pray with him. The little girl rose up, cured, and she remained well for a long and happy life. Naturally, the parents were amazed, and they were quite sure it had not been their prayers that effected the cure, but those of their little son.
Constantius entered the Dominicans at age 15, and had as his masters Blessed Conradin and Saint Antoninus. He did well in his studies and wrote a commentary on Aristotle. His special forte was Scripture, and he studied it avidly. After his ordination, he was sent to teach in various schools in Italy, arriving eventually at the convent of San Marco in Florence, which had been erected as a house of strict observance. Constantius was eventually appointed prior of this friary that was a leading light in the reform movement. This was a work dear to his heart, and he himself became closely identified with the movement.
Several miracles and prophecies are related about Constantius during his stay in Florence. He one day told a student not to go swimming, because he would surely drown if he did. The student, of course, dismissed the warning and drowned. One day, Constantius came upon a man lying in the middle of the road. The man had been thrown by his horse and was badly injured; he had a broken leg and a broken arm. All he asked was to be taken to some place where care could be given him, but Constantius did better than that--he cured the man and left him, healed and astonished.
Constantius was made prior of Perugia, where he lived a strictly penitential life. Perhaps the things that he saw in visions were responsible for his perpetual sadness, for he foresaw many of the terrible things that would befall Italy in the next few years. He predicted the sack of Fabriano, which occurred in 1517. At the death of Saint Antoninus, he saw the saint going up to heaven, a vision which was recounted in the canonization process.
Blessed Constantius is said to have recited the Office of the Dead every day, and often the whole 150 Psalms, which he knew by heart, and used for examples on every occasion. He also said that he had never been refused any favor for which he had recited the whole psalter. He wrote a number of books; these, for the most part, were sermon material, and some were the lives of the blesseds of the order.
On the day of Constantius's death, little children of the town ran through the streets crying out, "The holy prior is dead! The holy prior is dead!" On hearing of his death, the city council met and stated that it was a public calamity.
The relics of Blessed Constantius have suffered from war and invasion. After the Dominicans were driven from the convent where he was buried, his tomb was all but forgotten for a long time. Then one of the fathers put the relics in the keeping of Camaldolese monks in a nearby monastery, where they still remain (Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia).
Donatus, Justus, Herena & Comp. MM (RM)
3rd century. A band of 50 martyrs who suffered in Africa under Decius (Benedictines).
Ethelbert of Kent, King (RM)
(also known as Ædilberct, Æthelberht, Aibert, Edilbertus)
Born c. 560; died at Canterbury on February 24, 616; feast day formerly February 24.
In the days of the Saxons, Ethelbert, great-grandson of Hengist, the first Saxon conqueror of Britain, reigned for 36 years over Kent beginning about 560, the oldest of the kingdoms. Although he had been defeated by Ceawlin of Wessex at the battle of Wimbledon in 568, Ethelbert became the third bretwalda of England, exercising supremacy over all other Saxon kings and princes south of the Humber. Under his rule Kent was the most cultured of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms; it was closely associated with the Frankish Rhineland.
He married a Christian princess, Bertha, granddaughter of King Clovis of the Franks and sister of Chilperic's brother Charibert, king of Paris. Bertha brought with her to England her own chaplain, Bishop Saint Liudhard of Senlis, and in a church built in Roman times in Canterbury that was dedicated to Saint Martin, he preached the Gospel in a heathen land.
Bertha herself was lovable and gentle, and though we know little of her life, her memory remains as a bright light shining in the darkness of those ancient days. Bertha was a zealous and pious Christian princess, who by the articles of her marriage had free liberty to exercise her religion. To Ethelbert and his people she brought the pattern and example of a Christian life and prepared the way for the coming of Augustine (Austin). Although in one place Saint Gregory the Great compares her piety and zeal to that of Saint Helen, as late as 601, he reproached her for not having converted her husband.
Although Ethelbert was a very courteous man, he was himself not yet a Christian. When Augustine and his missionaries, sent from Rome by Gregory the Great, landed on the isle of Thanet and requested Ethelbert's permission to preach, he ordered them to remain where they were and arranged for them to be well tended until he had reached a decision.
Ethelbert feared that the missionaries might be magicians, so he would not receive them indoors, in case he needed to retreat quickly from their sorcery. In that time they believed at that time, an evil spell would be ineffective outdoors. So the king arranged to meet them in the open air on Thanet Island under a great oak.
They came in the bright morning light, the emissaries of Rome, bearing before them a great silver cross and a picture of our Lord painted on a large wooden panel, and chanting Gregorian strains. At their head marched Augustine, whose tall figure and patrician features were the center of attention. it was a moving sight, and who could have foretold all that the day held in store for England! As the paraded forwarded they prayed for their salvation and that of the English.
The king, surrounded by a great company of courtiers, invited the visitors to be seated, and after listening carefully to what Augustine had to say, gave a generous answer: "You make fair speeches and promises, but all this is to me new and uncertain. I cannot all at once put faith in what you tell me, and abandon all that I, with my whole nation, have for so long a time held sacred. But since you have come from so far away to impart to us what you yourselves, by what I see, believe to be the truth and the supreme good, we shall do you no hurt, but, on the contrary, shall show you all hospitality, and shall take care to furnish you with the means of living. We shall not hinder you from preaching your religion, and you may convert whom you can."
He accommodated them in the royal city of Canterbury and before the year was over there were 10,000 converts according to a letter from Saint Gregory to Patriarch Eulogius of Alexandria. On Whit Sunday 597 (traditionally, though it is more likely to have occurred in 601), King Ethelbert himself was baptized by Saint Augustine. In 601, Gregory wrote an encouraging letter to Ethelbert, congratulating him on becoming a Christian. Not since the conversions of Constantine and Clovis had Christendom known an event so thrillingly momentous.
From that time, Ethelbert was changed into another man. His only ambition during the last 20 years of his life was to establish the perfect reign of Christ in his own soul and in the hearts of his subjects. His ardor in penitential exercises and devotion never abated. It must have been difficult to master his will in the while wielding temporal power and wealth, but Ethelbert continuously advanced in the path of perfection.
In the government of his kingdom, his thoughts were completely turned upon the best means of promoting the welfare of his people. He enacted wholesome laws, abolished the worship of idols, and turned pagan temples into churches. While he granted religious freedom to his subjects, believing conversion by conviction was the only true conversion, thousands of them also became Christians. His code of laws for Kent is the earliest known legal document written in a Germanic language. The first law decreed that any person who stole from the church or clergy must make immediate reparation.
Ethelbert gave his royal palace of Canterbury to Saint Augustine for his use, founded a cathedral there, and built the abbey of Saints Peter and Paul (later called Saint Austin's) just outside the city walls. He also laid the foundations for Saint Andrew's in Rochester and many other churches. King Ethelbert was instrumental in bringing King Sebert (Sabert) of the East Saxons and King Redwald of the East Angles to faith in Christ. He built the cathedral of Saint Paul's in London in the territory of King Sebert.
Saint Gregory the Great, delighted with the progress made in the English mission field, sent a number of presents to King Ethelbert. The pope wrote that "by means of the good gifts that God has granted to you, I know He blesses your people as well." He urged King Ethelbert to destroy the shrines of idols and to raise the moral standards of his subjects by his own good example.
Upon his death, Ethelbert was buried beside his first wife Bertha in the porticus (side-chapel) of St. Martin in the Abbey Church of SS. Peter and Paul. Later his relics were deposited under the high altar of that same church, then called Saint Austin's. Polydore Virgil reports that a vigil light was kept before the tomb of Saint Ethelbert, and was sometimes an instrument of miracles even in the days of King Henry VIII. There seems to have been an unofficial cultus at Canterbury from early times, but his feast is found in calendars only from the 13th century, and generally on February 25 or 26, because Saint Matthias occupied February 24. He is commemorated in both the Roman and British Martyrologies (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).
Gerland of Girgenti B (AC)
Born in Besançon, France; died 1104. Saint Gerland is said to have been related to the Norman conqueror of Sicily, Robert Guiscard. He was consecrated bishop of Girgenti by Urban II, and labored for the restoration of Christianity in Sicily after the expulsion of the Saracens. It is said that Gerland was continually saddened by the sight of the world (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed James Carvalho and Companions, SJ M (AC)
Died 1624; beatified in 1867. James was a Portuguese Jesuit who labored as a missionary in the Far East. Together with 60 other Christians he was slowly martyred by exposure to cold at Sendai in Japan (Benedictines).
Blessed Sebastian Aparicio, OFM (AC)
Born in Galicia, Spain; died 1600; beatified in 1787. Sebestian was a farm laborer and then valet to a gentleman of Salamanca. He emigrated to Mexico, where he was engaged by the government in building roads and in conducting the postal service between Mexico and Zacateca. After the death of his second wife, he became a Franciscan lay brother at Puebla de los Angeles. He lived there for another 26 years begging alms for the community (Benedictines).
Tarasius of Constantinople B (RM)
(also known as Tharasius)
Died 806. Tarasius's father, George, was a judge held in high esteem for his even-handed justice, and his mother, Eucratia, no less celebrated for her piety. (He was the uncle or great-uncle of Saint Photius.) He was raised in the practice of virtue and taught to choose his friends wisely.
As a layman, he was secretary of state to the ten-year-old Constantine VI. In the midst of the court and all its honors, surrounded by all that could flatter pride or gratify sensuality, Tarasius led a life like that of a professed religious.
Empress Irene, regent for her son, privately a Catholic during her husband's lifetime, schemed to gain power over the whole government to end the persecution of the Catholics by the Iconoclasts. She was an ambitious, artful, and heartlessly cruel women, but she was opposed to Iconoclasm. At the same time, Paul VI, patriarch of Constantinople, resigned his see in repentance for conforming to the heresy of the deceased Emperor Leo. As soon as Irene learned that he had taken the religious habit of Florus Monastery, she visited him and tried to dissuade him. Paul's resolution was unalterable for he wished to repair the scandal he had given. He suggested Tarasius as a worthy replacement.
And so Irene named the layman Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople. There was unanimous consent by the court, clergy, and people. Tarasius objected, in part because he felt a priest should be chosen, but primarily because he could not in conscience accept the government of a see that had been cut off from Catholic communion. Finally, he accepted the position upon condition that a general council should be called to settle the dispute over the use of images. He was consecrated on Christmas Day, 784.
Soon after his consecration he wrote letters to Pope Adrian I (as did Irene) and the patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem requesting their attendance or that of their legates at the seventh ecumenical council. The Holy Father sent legates with letters to the emperor, empress, and patriarch that, in the presence of his legates, the false council of the Iconoclasts should first be condemned and efforts made to re-establish holy images throughout the empire. (His legates, who assumed the presidency of the council, were Peter, archpriest of the Roman church, and Peter, priest and abbot of Saint Sabas in Rome.)
The Eastern patriarchs, being under the yoke of the Islamics, could not come for fear of offending their overlords, but they sent their deputies. The council opened at Constantinople August 1, 786, but was disturbed by the violence of Iconoclasts; therefore, the empress dispersed the council until the following year.
The Second Council of Nicaea at the Church of Hagia Sophia was attended by the pope's legates, Tarasius, John (priest and monk representing the patriarchs of Antioch and Jerusalem), Thomas (for the patriarch of Alexandria), and 350 bishops, plus many abbots and other holy priests and confessors. The assembled agreed that it was the sense of the Church to allow holy pictures and other images a relative honor, but not, of course, that worship that is due to God alone. He who revers the image, it was emphasized, reveres the person it represents. Once the council was ended, synodal letters were sent to all churches and, in particular, to the pope for his approval of the council, which was forthcoming.
In keeping with the resolutions of the General Council of Nicaea in 787, Tarasius restored statues and images to the churches and worked to eliminate simony. He also forbade the use of gold and scarlet among his clergy.
The life of Tarasius was a model of perfection to his clergy and people. He lived austerely, slept little, and became known for his acts of charity. He would take the meat from his table to distribute among the poor with his own hands and assigned them a large, fixed revenue. To ensure hat no one would be overlooked, he visited all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople. Reading and prayer filled all his leisure hours. It was his pleasure, in imitation of our Lord, to serve others rather than being served by them. He powerfully exhorted universal mortification of the senses, and was particularly severe against all theatrical entertainments.
Constantine turned against him in 795 when Tarasius refused to sanction his divorce from Empress Mary, whom his mother had pressured him to marry. Constantine even tried to coerce his support by deceit saying that Mary had plotted to poison the bishop. Tarasius remained firm, replying, "Tell him I will suffer death rather than consent to his design."
Next Constantine tried flattery. He said: "I can conceal nothing from you whom I regard as my father. No one can deny that I may divorce one who has attempted to take my life. The Empress Mary deserves death or perpetual penance." He produced a vial of poison that he pretended she had prepared for him. The patriarch, convinced that Constantine was trying to hoodwink him, responded that although Mary's crime was horrid, his second marriage during her lifetime would still be contrary to the law of God.
Constantine wished to marry Theodota, one of Mary's maids, and forced his wife into a convent. But Tarasius still refused to perform the marriage ceremony. This scandalous example led to several governors and other powerful men divorcing their wives or entering bigamous relationships, and gave encouragement to public lewdness. Saints Plato and Theodorus separated themselves from the emperor's communion to show their abhorrence of his crime. Tarasius did not think it was prudent to excommunicate the emperor who might restore iconoclasm in a resultant rage.
Tarasius was persecuted by Constantine thereafter. No one could speak to the patriarch without the permission of the emperor. Spies watched his every move. Tarasius's servants and relatives were banished. This semi-confinement gave Tarasius more free time for contemplation. While being persecuted for his orthodoxy by the emperor, Saint Theodore and his monks of Studium accused Tarasius of being too lenient. Some days you just can't win!
Irene won over the elite, seized power and had Constantine imprisoned and blinded (such gentle folks, eh?) with so much violence that he died in 797. During her five-year reign, she recalled all those who had been banished. After Nicephorus seized the throne in 802, Irene was exiled to Lesbos. Tarasius completed his 21-year reign under Nicephorus tending to his flock and saying Mass daily. Shortly before his death, Tarasius fell into a trance, as his biographer, who was present, relates, and he seemed to be disputing with a number of accusers who were busily scrutinizing all the actions of his life and making accusations. The saint appeared to be i great agitation as he defended himself against their charges. But a wonderful serenity succeeded, and the holy man gave up his soul to God in peace.
God honored the memory of Tarasius with miracles, some of which are related by the author of his vita. His feast was first celebrated by his successor. Fourteen years after Tarasius's death, the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian dreamed just before his own death that he saw Saint Tarasius highly incensed against him, and heard him command one named Michael to stab him. Leo, thinking this Michael to be a monk in the saint's monastery, ordered him to be brought before him and even tortured some of the religious to hand him over, but there was no Michael among them. Leo was killed six days later by Michael Balbus (Benedictines, Husenbeth, Walsh, White)
In art, Saint Tarasius is an Eastern bishop with a picture of saints by him. He may also be shown at the time the emperor visited him on his death bed; or serving the poor at table (Roeder, White).
Blessed Victor of Saint Gall, OSB (AC)
Died 995. Victor was a Benedictine monk of Saint Gall in Switzerland who became a recluse in the Vosges, where he died (Benedictines).
Victorinus and Companions MM (RM)
Died February 25, 284. Victorinus, Victor, Nicephorus, Claudian, Dioscorus, Serapion and Papias were Corinthian who were exiled to Egypt after confessing their faith before the Proconsul Tertius. They were martyred at Diospolis in the Thebaid during the reign of Decius (Numerian?), under the governor Sabinus, for their Christian faith.
After various tortures, Victorinus was thrown into a great mortar (according to the Greeks, of marble.) Then the executioners began by pounding his feet and legs, saying to him at every stroke: "Spare yourself, wretch. It depends upon you to escape this death, if you will only renounce your new God." The prefect grew furious at his constancy, and at length commanded his head to be beat to pieces. The sight of the atrocities committed against Victorinus heightened the fervor of his fellows, rather than tempering it as the governor had intended.
When the tyrant threatened Victor with the same death as Victorinus, he only desired him to hasten the execution; and, pointing to the mortar, said: "In that is salvation and true felicity prepared for me!" He was immediately cast into it and beaten to death. Nicephorus, the third martyr, was impatient of delay, and leaped of his own accord into the bloody mortar. The judge, enraged at his boldness, commanded not one, but many executioners at once to pound him in the same manner. He caused Claudian, the fourth, to be chopped in pieces, and his bleeding joints to be thrown at the feet of those that were yet living. He expired after his feet, hands, arms, legs, and thighs were cut off.
At one point in the proceedings, after Victorinus, Victor, Nicephorus, and Claudian had already been executed, the governor tried to reason with the remaining prisoners to abjure their faith. "We would rather ask you to inflict on us any still more excruciating torment than you can devise," they replied in unison. "We will never violate the fidelity we owe our God or deny Jesus Christ our Savior, for He is our God from whom we have our being and to whom alone we aspire."
The enraged tyrant commanded Diodorus to be burned alive, Serapion to be beheaded, and Papias to be drowned. These martyrs are named in the Roman and other western martyrologies on February 25; however, the Greek Menaea, and the Menology of the emperor Basil Porphyrogenitus honor them on January 21, the day of their confession at Corinth (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Walburga, OSB Abbess (RM)
(also known as Bugga, Gaudurge, Vaubourg, Walpurga, Walpurgis)
Born in Devonshire, Wessex, England; died at Heidenheim, Swabia, Germany, February 25, 779; feasts of her translation are celebrated May 1, October 12 (to Eichstätt), and September 24 (to Zutphen).
When Saint Boniface evangelized the Germans, he took with him as fellow apostles his two nephews, Willibald and Winebald, who were the sons of Saint Richard, king of the West Saxons. So successful was their enterprise that fresh reinforcements of missionaries were requested and the monasteries of England were stirred by the news of their progress. Indeed, it was hardly possible to restrain the ardent faith and enthusiasm of those who wanted to join them, and there sailed boat after boat of eager volunteers.
Nor in that stirring hour were the womenfolk unmoved in their wish to follow, and Boniface asked for a colony of nuns to be sent out. Among them was his own niece, Walburga, a nun of Wimborne under Saint Tatta and sister of Willibald and Winebald, for she, too, had heard the call and had immediately followed Saint Lioba to Germany.
Walburga had been educated at the double monastery of Wimbourne in Dorset and decided there to consecrate her life to God by becoming a nun. When she answered the call to Germany, she spent two years evangelizing in Bischofsheim, impressing the pagans with her medical skills.
Winebald founded a double monastery at Heidenheim, where she was appointed abbess and Winebald ruled the men. She must have been a remarkable woman, for so great was her influence that on his death the bishop of Eichstätt appointed Walburga in his place and gave her charge over both the men's and women's congregations. Walburga died as abbess of Heidenheim, whence her relics were translated to Eichstätt.
This English woman had the curious destiny of attaining a place in German folklore. The night of May 1 (the date of the transfer of her relics to Eichstätt in 870) became known as Walpurgisnacht. May 1 had been a pagan festival marking the beginning of summer and the revels of witches, hence the traditions of Walpurgisnacht, which have no intrinsic connection with the saint. Nevertheless, her name became associated with witchcraft and other superstitions (cf. Goethe's Faust, pt. i, Walpurgis night in the Hartz mountains). It is possible, however, that the protection of crops ascribed to her, represented by the three ears of corn in her icons, may have been transferred to her from Mother Earth (Walborg).
Her shrine was an important pilgrimage site because of the 'miraculous oil' that exudes from the rock on which her shrine is placed. A fine collection of 16th- to 20th-century phials for its distribution is kept at Eichstätt. In 893, Walburga's relics were inspected and diffused, some to the Rhineland, others to Flanders and France, which spread her cultus to other countries. One important center was Attigny, where Charles the Simple established a shrine in his palace chapel and named her patron of his kingdom. Today she lies peacefully in the vault of the 17th- century Baroque church bearing her name--a symbol not of witchcraft, but of Christian healing and mission (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill).
In art, Saint Walburga is generally portrayed as a royal abbess with a small flask of oil on a book. At times (1) she may have three ears of corn in her hand; (2) angels hold a crown over her; (3) she is shown in a family tree of the Kings of England; (4) she is shown together with her saintly brothers; or (5) miracles are taking place because of the oil extruding from her tomb (Roeder). She is venerated at Eichstätt (Roeder).
Walburga has been portrayed by artists from the 11th until the 19th centuries. Especially noteworthy is a 15th-century tapestry cycle of her life. A modern abbess of Eichstätt was sufficiently important to be selected to negotiate the surrender of the town to the Americans at the end of the Second World War.
Saint Walburga is invoked against coughs, dog bite (rabies), plague, and for good harvests (Roeder).
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.