Anastasia the Patrician VM (AC)
6th century. Anastasia is reputed to have been a noblewoman of Constantinople, who found favor with Emperor Justinian, thus eliciting the jealousy of the empress. In order to escape her wrath, Anastasia fled to the desert and joined a convent near Alexandria. Upon the death of the empress when Justinian initiated a search for her, Anastasia disguised herself and entered a community of monk-hermits in Scythia, where she lived as a man for 28 years. Her existence is questioned (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Anastasia is a noble lady seated by a tomb in prayer with a palm and a book (Roeder).
Blessed Andrew of Strumi, OSB Vall. Abbot (AC)
(also known as Andrew the Ligurian)
Born in Parma, Italy; died 1097. Andrew was the disciple and chief supporter of the deacon Saint Arialdo of Milan in the campaign against simony in Milan. After his master's martyrdom, Andrew became a Vallombrosan monk. Eventually he was made abbot of San Fedele at Strumi on the Arno. He excelled as a peacemaker between Florence and Arezzo. He is also the biographer of SS. John Gualbert and Arialdo (Benedictines).
Attalas of Bobbio, Abbot (RM)
Born in Burgundy, France; died 627. Saint Attalas was educated under Bishop Aregius of Gap, professed himself a monk at Lérins, but followed Saint Columbanus to Luxeuil in search of a stricter rule. When the Irish missionaries were expelled from France because Columbanus decried Austrasian King Theodoric for keeping concubines, Attalas went with the Irish saint to Bobbio, Italy. He helped Columbanus build the abbey in Bobbio on land granted them by the Lombard King Agilulf and succeeded him as abbot in 615. It was during Attalas's abbacy that most of the monks stood out against the severity of the Columbanian Rule. Attalas was, like Columbanus, a vigorous opponent of Arianism and was known for the miracles he performed. He died at Bobbio and was buried there in the same tomb as his predecessor (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Montague). Saint Attalas is portrayed in art as an abbot near a mill with his staff in hand. He may also have a chair near him or be shown with Saint Columbanus (Roeder). He is venerated at Lérins and Luxeuil (Roeder).
Caius and Alexander MM (RM)
Died c. 172. Caius and Alexander were martyred at Apamea, Phrygia, under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Prior to their deaths, they had distinguished themselves as opponents of the Montanists (Benedictines).
Codratus & Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 258. Codratus (Chuadratus), Dionysius, Cyprian, Anectus, Paul, and Crescens were Greeks, who were beheaded at Corinth during the reign of Valerian. Codratus, a mere child, had previously been driven into the woods to escape the Decian persecution in 250 (Benedictines).
Droctoveus of Paris, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Droctonius, Drotté)
Born at Auxerre France; died c. 580. Saint Drotté studied under Saint Germanus of Paris before being name as abbot of Saint-Symphorien Abbey at Autun. Drotté was renowned for his learning and extraordinary spirit of mortification and prayer. When Germanus became bishop of Paris, he appointed his former student as abbot of the Parisian monastery of Saint-Vincent and the Holy Cross, built by King Childebert. Here Drotté was buried in the abbey renamed Saint-Germain-des-Prés after the death of Germanus (Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).
Emilian of Lagny, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Eminian)
Died 675. Saint Emilian was another of the Irish missionary-monks, who migrated to the Continent, where he became the abbot of a monastery in Lagny, France (Benedictines).
Failbhe the Little, Abbot (AC)
Died 754. Saint Failbhe was abbot of Iona for seven years before his death at age eighty (Benedictines).
Forty Armenian Martyrs (RM)
Died 320. Emperor Licinius ordered every Christian in Cappadocia to renounce the faith. This reversed the policy of toleration that his brother-in-law Constantine had introduced in 313. The governor of Lesser Armenia, Agricolaus, published this decree before his army, but forty soldiers of the twelfth, "Thunderstruck," legion refused to obey.
When persuasion, promises, and torture failed to sway these 40 men of various nationality and one faith, Agricolaus worked out a plan he considered certain to make them recant. Outside the city walls of Sebaste (Sivas, Turkey) was a frozen lake. He ordered the forty Christians to strip and lie on the ice. At the edge of the lake a huge bathful of water was placed over a fire, continually tempting the Christians to abandon their torment on the ice.
One of the soldiers broke, and jumped into the water. The intense contrast between the cold he had endured and the heat of the bath killed him. Another soldier, seeing the faith of the other 39 and having experienced a dream of an angel, stripped himself and joined them, accepting the 40th place. The next day almost all were dead, except the youngest, a boy named Melito. His brave mother carried her child after the corpses of the rest until he too died in her arms, then laid his body by the side of the others.
Many ecclesiastical writers of that period speak of this group of martyrs, including Saints Basil, Ephrem, Gregory of Nyssa, Gaudentius of Brescia, John Chrysostom, Sozomen, and others. They are still highly venerated in the East on March 9.
The relics were sent to both Annesis (Caesarea) and Constantinople. Although there is variation in the details of the story, there is substantial congruence among the panegyrists. A possibly contemporary Testament of the Forty Martyrs of Christ survives, which records their last messages to friends and relatives. The historicity of some of the details is doubted (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
Forty-Two Martyrs of Persia (RM)
Date unknown. All details are lost regarding these 42 martyrs (Benedictines).
Himelin of Vissenaeken (AC)
(also known as Hymelin)
Died c. 750. Saint Himelin, an Irish or Scottish priest, is said to have been the brother of Saint Rumold of Malines. He died and was buried at Vissenaeken, near Tirlemont, Belgium, on his return from a pilgrimage to Rome. His shrine, in turn, is a noted pilgrimage center (Benedictines, Montague).
Blessed John of Vallumbrosa, OSB Vall. (AC)
Born in Florence, Italy; died c. 1380. Saint John's story reminds us that religious face many temptations, not all of them of the flesh. Like many monks, John of the Holy Trinity spent hours pouring over books. Unlike most, he became addicted to forbidden books and was drawn into the secret practice of necromancy and the Black Arts. When discovered, he was called before the Vallumbrosan abbot-general. At first he denied this sin against humility and God's goodness, but finally he confessed, found guilty, and imprisoned. His internment proved to be his salvation: he came to true repentance and undertook voluntary penance, fasting to the point of emaciation. Eventually, his brothers implored him to return to the community. He, however, preferred to remain in prison as an anchorite until his death at a very old age. In his solitude, he attained great sanctity. John was an elegant writer and a friend of Saint Catherine of Siena, who often appeared to him and died the same year (Benedictines).
John Ogilvie, SJ M (RM)
Born in Banffshire, Scotland, c. 1579; died at Glasgow, Scotland, March 10, 1615; beatified in 1929; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1976 (the first Scottish saint since Margaret in 1250).
John Ogilvie, son of the Calvinist baron of Drum-na-Keith and Lady Douglas of Lochleven, returned to the faith of his fathers and forsook his heritage in this world as the result of a passionate course of theological studies and ardent prayers for light. The laird of Drum-na-Keith had sent his eldest son abroad so that his 13-year-old John could have the full benefit of French Calvinism as he studied for a few years at Louvain.
This is characteristic of the violent religious turmoil of the age: the boy of 15 was entirely absorbed by an interest in religion--and wanted to be clear about which faith was the 'true' one. He himself explained later that what decided the question for him--and for me--was his experience that the Roman Catholic Church included all kinds of people--emperors and kings, princes and noblemen, as well as burghers, peasants, and beggars--but that it overtopped them all--no man was above the Church.
John had also seen that the Church could impel people of all classes to renounce the whole world to devote themselves entirely to God. And the final reason, the one which in the end led to his conversion, was his having seen that the men who gave their lives and their blood for Christ, those who had died to spread Christianity among mankind, had been martyrs for the Christianity of Rome and not for that of Geneva or Wittenberg.
At the age of 17 (1596), John Ogilvie returned to Catholicism, because he wished to belong to the Church of the martyrs. Twenty years later, he himself suffered the death of a martyr.
After his reception into the Catholic church at the Scots College at Louvain, John continued his studies at Ratisbon (Regensburg) and Olmütz. In 1600, he joined the Jesuit novitiate at Brünn (Brno), where he enjoyed the Jesuit education in the liberal arts and sciences as well as religious studies and spiritual formation. For ten years he worked in Austria, mainly at Graz and Vienna, before he was assigned to the French province. Ogilvie was ordained at Paris in 1610 and stationed in Rouen, where he learned of the persecution of Catholics in his homeland. In 1613 received permission to go to Scotland to minister to the persecuted Catholics there.
Using the alias John Watson, purportedly a horse trader and/or a soldier back from the wars in Europe, he worked in Edinburgh, Renfrew, and Glasgow. He found that most of the Scottish Catholic noblemen had conformed, at least outwardly, and were unwilling to help a proscribed priest. Unable to make much of an impression, he went to London to contact one of the king's ministers and then to Paris for consultation. He was sharply told to return to Scotland, which he did.
In Edinburgh Ogilvie stayed at the house of William Sinclair, a lawyer whose son he tutored. He ministered to a congregation and visited imprisoned Catholics. Eventually Ogilvie was successful in winning back a number of converts to the Church. Soon he attracted the attention of Archbishop Spottiswoode, once a Presbyterian but now carrying out in Scotland the religious policies of James I and VI.
He was betrayed by a man named Adam Boyd, who trapped him by pretending to be interested in the faith. He was imprisoned, treated to the French torture of "the boot," and forcibly kept from sleep for eight days to compel him to reveal the names of other Catholics--which he refused. Steadfastly, he remained loyal to the crown in temporal matters. After months of torture he was found guilty of high treason for refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of the king in spiritual matters and for refusing to apostatize. He managed to write an account of his arrest and treatment in prison, which was smuggled out by visitors.
When Saint John appeared in court at Edinburgh in December 1613, he questioned why Catholics were persecuted. He claimed the right to the faith that had not only shown itself compatible with the order of society, but had been the main factor in the creation of that order and in the birth of the nation. He said, "Neither Francis [of France] has forbidden France, nor does Philip [of Spain] burn for religion but for heresy, which is not religion but rebellion."
Heir of Drum-na-Keith, who had forsaken his family, his home, and his estate to become a Jesuit and a priest, says to Spottiswoode and the other reformed clergymen who owed their position and all they possessed to the favor of King James:
"The King cannot forbid me my own country, since I am just as much a natural subject as the King himself. . . . What more do we owe him than our ancestors to his ancestors? If he has all his right to reign from his ancestors, why does he ask for more than they have left him by right of inheritance? They have never had any spiritual jurisdiction, nor have they ever exercised any; nor held any other faith than the Roman Catholic."
Finally, John Ogilvie was hanged at Glasgow (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Moore, Undset).
Kessog of Lennox BM (AC)
(also known as Mackessog)
Born in Cashel, Ulster, Ireland; died c. 560. Son of the king of Cashel (Munster), Saint Kessog is said to have worked miracles even as a child. He left Ireland to evangelize Scotland, where he was consecrated a missionary bishop. Using Monks' Island in Loch Lomond as his headquarters, he evangelized the surrounding area until he was martyred, though where is uncertain--some claim at Bandry where a heap of stones was known as St. Kessog's Cairn, and others abroad. Part of the cairn at Bandry was removed in the 18th century to clear the way for a road. At that time, a stone statue of Kessog was found inside it. Luss was the principal center of his cultus with a sanctuary granted by Robert the Bruce.
Many extravagant miracles were ascribed to Kessog, who is the patron of Lennox. A celebrated Scottish church still bears the title of St. Kessoge-Kirk. For a long time the Scots used his name for their cry in battle, but later changed it for that of Saint Andrew. They sometimes painted Kessog in a soldier's habit, holding a bow bent with an arrow in it (Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Macarius of Jerusalem B (RM)
Died c. 335. Saint Macarius was named bishop of Jerusalem in 314. He fought the Arian heresy and was one of the signers of the decrees of the Council of Nicaea. According to legend, he was with Saint Helena when she found three crosses and was the one who suggested that a seriously ill woman be touched with each of the crosses; when one of them instantly cured her, it was proclaimed the True Cross. He was commissioned by Constantine to build a church over Christ's sepulcher and supervised the building of the basilica that was consecrated on September 13, 335. He died soon thereafter (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Peter de Geremia, OP (AC)
Born in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, in 1381; died 1452; cultus approved in 1784.
God has a mission for each of us and has given us the gifts to successfully complete the purpose for which He created us. Our job is to discern our role in His creation. The gifts He has given us can be the instrument of our damnation when used against His purposes; when we discern correctly through prayer and spiritual direction these same talents and abilities can sanctify us and those around us. It's not too late to seek God's will for your life--in fact, we should attempt to understand His will for our every action, each day, using all the gifts his has given us.
Peter Geremia was unusually gifted. He was sent early to the University of Bologna, where he passed his studies brilliantly, and attracted the attention and praise of all. On the brink of a successful career as a lawyer, he experienced a sudden and total conversion.
Having retired one night, he was pleasantly dreaming of the honors that would soon come to him in his work, when he heard a knock at the window. As his room was on the third floor, and there was nothing for a human to stand on outside his window, he sat up, in understandable fright, and asked who was there.
A hollow voice responded that he was a relative who had just died, a successful lawyer who had wanted human praise so badly that he had lied to win it, and now was eternally lost because of his pride. Peter was terrified, and acted at once upon the suggestion to turn, while there was still time, from the vanity of public acclaim. He went the next day to a locksmith and bought an iron chain, which he riveted tightly about him. He began praying seriously to know his vocation.
Soon thereafter, God made known to him that he should enter the Dominican Order. He did so as soon as possible. His new choice of vocation was a bitter blow to his father, who had gloried in his son's achievements, hoping to see him become the most famous lawyer in Europe. He angrily journeyed to Bologna to see his son and demanded that he come home. The prior, trying to calm the excited man, finally agreed to call Peter. As the young man approached them, radiantly happy in his new life, the father's heart was touched, and he gladly gave his blessing to the new undertaking.
Peter's brilliant mind and great spiritual gifts found room for development in the order, and he became known as one of the finest preachers in Sicily. He was so well known that Saint Vincent Ferrer asked to see him, and they conversed happily on spiritual matters. He always preached in the open air, because there was no church large enough to hold the crowds that flocked to hear him.
Being prior of the abbey, Peter was consulted one day when there was no food for the community. He went down to the shore and asked a fisherman for a donation. He was rudely refused. Getting into a boat, he rowed out from the shore and made a sign to the fish; they broke the nets and followed him. Repenting of his bad manners, the fisherman apologized, whereupon Peter made another sign to the fish, sending them back into the nets again. The records say that the monastery was ever afterwards supplied with fish.
Peter was sent as visitator to establish regular observance in the monasteries of Sicily. He was called to Florence by the pope to try healing the Greek schism. A union of the opposing groups was affected, though it did not last. Peter was offered a bishopric (and refused it) for his work in this matter.
At one time, when Peter was preaching at Catania, Mount Etna erupted and torrents of flame and lava flowed down on the city. The people cast themselves at his feet, begging him to save them. After preaching a brief and pointed sermon on repentance, Peter went into the nearby shrine of Saint Agatha, removed the veil of the saint, which was there honored as a relic, and held it towards the approaching tide of destruction. The eruption ceased and the town was saved.
This and countless other miracles he performed caused him to be revered as a saint. He raised the dead to life, healed the crippled and the blind, and brought obstinate sinners to the feet of God. Only after his death was it known how severely he had punished his own body in memory of his youthful pride (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Simplicius, Pope (RM)
Born at Tivoli, Italy; died 483. Simplicius was elected pope to succeed Pope Saint Hilary on March 3, 468. He defended the action of the Council of Chalcedon against the Monophysite heresy, labored to help the people of Italy against the marauding raids of barbarian invaders, and saw the Heruli mercenaries in Roman service revolt and proclaim Odoacer king in 476 during his pontificate. Odoacer's deposition of the last Roman emperor, Romulus Augustus, and his occupation of Rome in 476 marked the end of the Roman Empire (Benedictines, Delaney).
Victor M (RM)
Date unknown. The martyr Victor is eulogized by Saint Augustine in Psalm 115, 15. He may have suffered in North Africa under Decius, but nothing certain is known (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
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.