St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

March 12



Alphege of Winchester, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Elphege the Elder or Elphege the Bald)

Died 951; feast day formerly April 19. Before he was raised to the dignity of bishop of Winchester in 935, Alphege was a monk or hermit. He persuaded many others to enter monastic life, including his kinsman Saint Dunstan and Saint Ethelwold, both of whom he ordained to the priesthood on the same day. His feast is still kept at Winchester and Saint Albans (Benedictines, Farmer).


Bernard of Carinola B (RM)
(also known as Bernard of Capua)

Born in Capua, Italy; died 1109. Bernard was appointed bishop of Forum Claudii in 1087 by Pope Saint Victor III. In 1100, he transferred the see to Carinola, Campania, Italy. He died in extreme old age and is now venerated as the principal patron of Carinola (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Blessed Dionysius the Carthusian, O. Cart. (PC)
Born at Ryckel (near Loos), Flanders; died 1471. At the age of 22, Dionysius earned his doctorate at the University of Cologne. In 1423, he entered the Carthusian Order. He excelled as a mystical writer and on this account has been honored with the title Doctor Ecstaticus. Though he has never been officially beatified, he is commemorated as such in several martyrologies (Benedictines).


Egdunus & Companions MM (RM)
Died 303. Eight Christians were suspended upside-down over a fire in Nicomedia until they were suffocated by the smoke (Benedictines).


Fina of San Gimignano V (AC)
(also known as Seraphina)

Born in San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy, in 1238; died there in 1253. Santa Fina, who is still greatly venerated in her hometown, was a virgin whom a reverse of fortune caused to take a vow of holy poverty. She desperately repented of her sins (her worse apparently was accepting an orange from a boy) after contracting a fatal illness at age 10. It appears, however, that she never became a nun, but rather lived at home under obedience to the Benedictines. She patiently suffered constant, repulsive diseases and continuous neglect on her oaken plank. In a vision, Pope Saint Gregory the Great warned her of her approaching death at the age of 15. As she lay ill, she worked many miracles, some of which are illustrated in Ghirlandaio's frescoes in the Collegiata. For example, she restored a choirboy's sight. At her passing, all the bells of the town spontaneously began to ring, her room was found full of flowers, violets blossomed from her board, and wallflowers sprang from a village tower. Her dead hand cured her nurse of a serious malady (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Jepson, Tabor).

Saint Fina is depicted in art as a maiden holding a bunch of flowers in the town of San Gimignano. She may also be shown lying on a pallet tended by a nurse, as Saint Gregory appears to her, or at her death her pallet is covered with flowers (Roeder). Domenico Ghirlandaio painted an illustrated life of Saint Fina in the frescoes of the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano (Tabor). Fina is the patron saint of at San Gimignano, where her feast is celebrated every five years on the first Sunday in August (Roeder, Tabor).


Blessed Joseph Tshang-Ta-Pong M (AC)
Died 1815; beatified in 1909. Blessed Joseph was a Chinese catechist who was martyred for the faith (Benedictines).


Blessed Justina Bezzoli, OSB V (AC)
(also known as Blessed Francuccia)

Born at Arezzo, Italy; died 1319; cultus confirmed in 1890. At the age of 13, Francuccia entered the Benedictine monastery of Saint Mark in her hometown and took the name Justina. After a time she moved to All Saints Convent. For a time she lived as a recluse at Civitella before returning to the community at All Saints (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Mamilian of Rome M (RM)
(also known as Maximilian)

Date unknown. All that is known about Mamilian is that he was a Roman martyr. It may be that the entry in the Roman Martyrology is actually a duplicate of Maximilian of Theveste and wrongly ascribed to martyrdom at Rome (Benedictines).


Maximilian of Theveste M (RM)
(also known as Maximilian of Tebessa)

Died 296. In the African churches of the late Roman Empire, it was not uncommon for liturgies to include readings from the acta and passios of martyrs. The one often included for Saint Maximilian is the authentic record of his trial in Numidia (now Algeria) and execution for refusing to be conscripted into the Roman army. Maximilian resisted because he didn't want to be tainted by the idolatry of wearing the emperor's image around his neck.

Maximilian also refused because he was a pacifist, perhaps one of the earliest conscientious objectors. There has long been a debate within the Church concerning the radical pacifism advocated by Our Lord and the less stringent, but more practical, position allowing self-defense and just war. Prior to the Edict of Milan and the toleration of Christianity, Christians believed that bearing arms contradicted the Gospel. Tertullian, for example, prohibited military service. Saint Hippolytus said that it was impossible to be a soldier and a catechumen--as contradictory as being a prostitute and catechumen (at least part of his reasoning dealt with the association of soldiers with pagan gods and sacrifices). The Church moderated its position. The Council of Arles (314) said that soldiers who left the army during peacetime would be excommunicated.

About 295, the proconsul Dion went to Theveste to recruit soldiers for the third Augustan legion stationed there. At this time the Roman army was mainly volunteers, but sons of veterans were obliged to serve. Maximilian, the 21-year-old son of the Roman army veteran Fabius Victor, was presented to the recruiting agent. The advocatus Pompeianus, seeing that Maximilian would make an excellent recruit, asked for him to be measured: he was 5'10" tall. The ensuing dialogue between the proconsul Dion and Maximilian has been preserved to this day.

When asked his name, Maximilian replied, "Why do you wish to know my name? I cannot serve because I am a Christian." Nevertheless, orders were given for him to be given the military seal. He answered, "I cannot do it: I cannot be a soldier." When told he must serve or die, he said, "You may cut off my head, but I will not serve. My army is the army of God, and I cannot fight for this world," it was pointed out to him that there were Christians serving as bodyguards for the emperors Diocletian and Maximian. To this he replied, "That is their business. I am a Christian, too, and I cannot serve." Dion then told Victor to correct his son. Victor, who had become a Christian like his son, said, "He knows what he believes, and he won't change his mind."

Dion insisted, "Agree to serve and receive the military seal." "I already have the seal of Christ, my God . . . I will not accept the seal of this world; if you give it to me, I will break it for it is worthless. I cannot wear a piece of lead around my neck after I have received the saving sign of Jesus Christ, my Lord, the son of the living God. You do not know Him; yet He suffered for our salvation: God delivered Him up for our sins. He is the one whom all Christians serve; we follow Him as the Prince of Life and Author of Salvation."

Again Dion stated that there are other Christians who are soldiers. Maximilian answered, "They know what is best for them. I am a Christian and I cannot do what is wrong." Dion continued, "What wrong do those commit who serve in the army?" Maximilian answered, "You know very well what they do."

Threatened with death if he remained obstinate, Maximilian answered, "This is the greatest thing that I desire. Dispatch me quickly. Therein lies my glory." Then he added, "I shall not die. When I leave this earth, I shall live with Christ, my Lord." He was sentenced accordingly: "Whereas Maximilian has disloyally refused the military oath, he is sentenced to die by the sword."

Just before his execution, Maximilian encouraged his companions to persevere and asked his father to give his new clothes to the executioner. We are told that Fabius Victor "went home happily, thanking God for having allowed him to send such a gift to heaven."

The place of Maximilian's death is given as Theveste (Tebessa) in Numidia, but it may have been nearer Carthage, where his body was taken for burial by a devout woman named Pompeiana. It was buried close to the relics of Saint Cyprian.

As a side note, in 295, Diocletian issued an edict linking pagan religious practice to marriage and children. In 300, all soldiers were required to sacrifice to the civic gods (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Markus).

In art, St. Maximilian is a warrior with a banner that says In hoc vinces (Roeder).


Mura McFeredach, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Muran, Murames, Muranus, Muru)

Born in Donegal, Ireland; died c. 645. Saint Mura was appointed the first abbot of Fahan (Innisowen, County Donegal) by Saint Columba, whose staff and little bell still exist. The crozier can be found in the Royal Irish Academy and the bell in the Wallace Collection in London. His cross is also preserved at Fahan as a National Monument. He is the special patron of the O'Neill clan and of Fahan (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).


Paul Aurelian B (AC)
(also known as Paulinus or Pol of Léon)

Born in Cornwall; died March 12, c. 575. The vita of Saint Paul was finished in 884 by a monk of Landévennec, Brittany, named Wrmonoc. It is one of the few of British Celtic saints written prior to the late middle ages.

Saint Paul was a noble Briton, cousin of Saint Samson, and his fellow-disciple under Saint Illtyd. He was educated at Llantwit with Saints David and Gildas. We need no other proof of his wonderful fervor and progress in virtue, and all the exercises of a monastic life, than Illtyd's testimony, by whose advice Paul left the monastery to embrace a more perfect eremitical life.

Some time after, our saint sailing from Cornwall, passed into Armorica, and continued the same austere eremitical life on Caldey Island on the coast of the Osismians, a barbarous idolatrous people in Armorica, or Little Britain. Prayer and contemplation were his whole employment, and bread and water his only food, except on great festivals, in which he took with his bread a few little fish. The saint, mourning over the blindness of he pagan inhabitants on the coast, migrated with twelve companions to Brittany, and instructed them in the faith. Withur, count or governor of Bas, and all that coast, seconded by king Childebert, procured his ordination to the episcopal dignity, notwithstanding his tears to prevent it. His see is now called after him, Saint-Pol-de- Léon.

Count Withur, who resided in the Isle of Bas (Ouessant), bestowed his own house on the saint to be converted into a monastery; and St. Paul placed in it certain fervent monks, who had accompanied him from Wales and Cornwall. He was himself entirely taken up in his pastoral functions, and his diligence in acquitting himself of every branch of his obligations was equal to his apprehension of their weight. When he had completed the conversion of that country, he resigned his bishopric to a disciple, and retired into the isle of Batz, where he died in holy solitude at the age of nearly 100.

During the inroads of the Normans, his relics were removed to the abbey of Fleury, or St. Benet's on the Loire, but were lost when the Calvinists plundered that church. The story related by Wrmonoc is full of legendary material, but there is no doubt that Paul was a powerful evangelist in Finistère. The vita incorporates some traditions of Welsh and Celtic origin, and there are considerable traces of the saint in Wales, where, as in Brittany, he was sometimes called Paulinus. The ancient church at the village of Paul, near Penzance, is dedicated in honor of Pol de Léon. His festival occurs in the ancient breviary of Léon, on the 10th of October, perhaps the day of the translation of his relics. For in the ancient breviary of Nantes, and most others, he is honored on the 12th of March (Attwater, Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Peter of Nicomedia M (RM)
Died 303. Saint Peter was Diocletian's valet (cubicularius) at Nicomedia. He had great pity for the Christian martyrs and shared their fate as one of the first victims of the last great persecution. The flesh was raked from his bones, salt and vinegar poured into the wounds, and finally he was roasted to death over a slow fire. The new calendar associates Peter of Nicomedia with Saints Gorgonius and Dorotheus, who were killed in the same persecution and who have their own feast day as well (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Peter the Deacon, OSB (AC)
Died after 605. Peter, usually described as a Benedictine, was the disciple, secretary, and companion of Saint Gregory the Great, to whom the great pope dictated the four books of his Dialogues. Peter is venerated as the patron of Salassola in the diocese of Biella near Venice (Benedictines).


Blessed Rusticus of Vallumbrosa, OSB Vall., Abbot (AC)
Died 1092. Rusticus was elected third abbot general of the Vallumbrosans in 1076. His relics were elevated in 1200 (Benedictines).


Simeon the New Theologian
Born in Paphlagonia, 949; died at Constantinople, 1022. Saint Simeon is venerated by the Orthodox Church at Constantinople, where he was raised. He was a monk of the Studius who migrated to St. Mamas Monastery in such of a more austere life. He become its abbot and ruled for 25 years. His strictness was met with animosity, so he organized a new community. In Saint Simeon, Byzantine mysticism reached its peak; he followed the spiritual tradition of Saint John Climacus and Saint Maximus the Confessor. Recently his writings have generated interest among Western students (samples can be found in E. Kadloubovsky and G. E. H. Palmer's Writings from the Philokalia (1951)). Simeon is called the "new" theologian to indicate his place in the Orthodox Church as a successor to Saint John the Evangelist and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (Attwater).


Theophanes the Chronicler, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Theophanes of Mt. Sigriana)

Born in Constantinople; died in Samothrace, March 12, 818. Saint Theophanes went from possessing great wealth in his youth to great poverty. While he was still quite young, his father died and left him a huge fortune. He was raised in the court of Emperor Constantine V, married, but by mutual consent, he and his wife separated so that she could become a nun and he a monk. Theophanes built monasteries on Mount Sigriana and on the island of Kalonymos; after six years at the latter, he became abbot of Mount Sigriana. He attended the Council of Nicaea in 787 and when he supported the decrees of the council approving the veneration of sacred images, he came into conflict with Emperor Leo the Armenian, who supported iconoclasm. When Theophanes refused to accede to the emperor's demands, he was scourged, imprisoned for two years, and then banished to Samothrace, where he died in exile soon after his arrival from the injuries he received in prison. He has the appellation "the Chronicler" because he wrote a history covering the years 284-813 entitled Chronographia (Delaney, 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.