Saint Joseph, Guardian of Jesus
Adrian of Maestricht M (AC)
Died c. 668. Saint Adrian was a disciple of Saint Landoald. He was murdered by robbers while begging alms for his community near Maestricht, and afterwards locally venerated as a martyr (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Alcmund M (AC)
(also known as Alchmund, Ealhmund)
Died in England c. 800. Prince Alcmund was born into the royal house of Northumbria as the son (or nephew) of Alchred (765-74) and brother of Osred. He was described as a virtuous prince--humble and generous. During the Danish invasions of England, he and his father were exiled. His subjects, who were being maltreated convinced him to fight for the throne out of compassion for their distress. He met his death at Deorham in Shropshire after more than 20 years of exile among the Picts of Scotland. King Eardwulf was held responsible. The circumstances of his death were such that he was venerated as a martyr, first at Lilleshall, where there were miracles at his tomb, and then at Derby. Several churches were dedicated to him in Shropshire and Derbyshire (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth). In art, Saint Alcmund is an Anglo-Saxon king with a crown and a sword. He is venerated at Derby, Lilleshall, Shropshire (Roeder).
Blessed Andrew de'Gallerani (AC)
Died 1251. Andrew was a distinguished Sienese solider, who accidentally killed a man whom he had heard blaspheming. Exiled from Siena, he led a life of extraordinary penance and charity until he was allowed to return to his native city. There he founded the Brothers of Mercy, an order that lasted until 1308 (Benedictines).
Apollonius and Leontius (Leontinus) BB MM (RM)
Date unknown. Though we know neither the sees nor the dates of martyrdom of these two bishops, their names already occurred in the martyrology of Saint Jerome (d. 420). The Portuguese have claimed them for their see of Braga (Benedictines).
Blessed Clement of Dunblane, OP (AC)
Died 1256-58. One of the pioneers about whom we hear little is the colorful and resourceful Bishop Clement of Dunblane, who received his habit from Saint Dominic's hands and introduced the Dominicans as he preached in Scotland. The monasteries he founded within a few years of the beginning of the Dominican Order served the Church well, and the Church annals are begemmed with the names of the people who made history in that interesting country.
We read the names of Robert Bruce and Lord Douglas on the rolls of benefactors of the Blackfriars. James Beaton, archbishop of Saint Andrews, fled for sanctuary to the Dominican church in 1517; and in 1554, John Knox was called to give an account of his strange doctrines in the Blackfriars Church of Edinburgh.
Clement was Scottish by birth, and having met Saint Dominic at the University of Paris and being received into the order, he was vocal and active in bringing the friars to his homeland. Tradition holds that the Scottish king, Alexander II, in Paris on a diplomatic mission, made a personal appeal to Saint Dominic for missionaries. It is an historical fact that this monarch was their first benefactor when the mission band at last arrived, shortly after Dominic's death.
The priory in the lovely, seaside town of Ayr was founded in 1230, and seven other large houses soon followed. There is record of transactions with the rulers of the region at this time, and, a few years later, King Robert Bruce granted the Dominicans the privilege of grinding their grain at his mill.
Clement was appointed bishop of Dunblane in 1233, by Pope Gregory IX, a devoted friend of Saint Dominic. He worked in this see for 23 years, and, according to an old record, he "labored with unflagging zeal to uproot superstition and destroy vice, to make true and solid piety known and practiced, and to draw the faithful entrusted to his charge to the imitation of all the virtues of Christian perfection, as he himself fulfilled al the duties of a watchful and loving pastor"--a description of a bishop that can hardly be bettered. He is described as being poor himself, and the father of the poor, and all the old writers speak of his zeal in restoring the ruined churches and the neglected rights of the Church.
According to surviving records, he must have been a busy man, this rugged missionary in an equally rugged land. He rebuilt Dunblane Cathedral, visited tirelessly among the outlying regions of his diocese, setting things in order, and solicited most of the funds for reconstruction himself. He was appointed on several papal commissions, once to inquire into the heroic virtues of Margaret of Scotland, another time to determine the validity of a bishop's appointment. He was sent to collect alms for the Holy Land in 1247, at a time when he badly needed the money to rebuild his own diocese.
Through his influence, the episcopal see was transferred from the Isle of Iona, which was frequently inaccessible and always in danger from stormy seas, to a place where it could be readily in touch with the rest of Scotland. He attended the general chapter of the Order held in London in 1250. At one time he had to pronounce a sentence of excommunication on all those who had tried to murder the king.
In spite of these varied and absorbing labors, we are interested to find that he wrote at least three books: a life of Saint Dominic, a book on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and the history of the Dominican Order in Scotland.
When Clement died, he left a legacy of personal holiness so great that even a Protestant historian would say of him: "This man was an excellent preacher, learned above many of that time, and of singular integrity of conversation" (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Gemus of Moyenmoutier, OSB (AC)
Date unknown. Gemus was a monk, probably of Moyenmoutier in Alsace, whose relics were enshrined at Hürbach (Benedictines).
John the Syrian, Hermit (RM)
(also known as John of Pinna or John of Panaca)
6th century. According to the Roman Martyrology, John was a Syrian monk may have been driven from his homeland by the Monophysite persecution. He settled at Pinna near Spoleto, Italy, where he founded a religious house. For 44 years he was abbot of a large monastic colony (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Joseph, Husband of Mary (RM)
1st century; declared patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870, patron of workers by Pope Benedict XV, patron of social justice by Pope Pius XI; name added to the canon of the Mass by John XIII in 1962; second feast at Saint Joseph the Worker on May 1.
"How can a truly virtuous man fail in anything? In what situation will he not be powerful; in what state of poverty will he not be rich; in what obscurity will he not be brilliant; in what inaction will he not be industrious; in what infirmity will he not be vigorous; in what weakness will he not be strong; in what solitude will he not be accompanied? for he will have for company the hope of a happy eternity; for clothing, he will have the grace of the Most High; for ornament, the promises of a halo of glory!
"Let us recollect that the saints were not of a more excellent nature than ours, but were more orderly and regular: that they were not exempt from sins, but that they took pains to correct their faults."
--Saint Ambrose in De Joseph.
All that is known about Joseph is found in the Gospels (primarily Matthew 1-2, but also in Luke 1-2). Matthew broadly represents Joseph's viewpoint, while the Infancy narratives in Luke seem to come from Mary's.
Descended from the royal line of David, Saint Joseph was the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who defended her good name, and foster father and protector of the God Who made him, yet Who wished to be known throughout His life as the son of Joseph.
He saw to Jesus's education and taught him his trade of carpentry or building. Joseph's disappointment upon learning of Mary's pregnancy was said to be assuaged by an angelic vision, and he was the recipient of two more visions: one telling him to seek refuge in Egypt to escape Herod's persecution, and the second, to return to Palestine.
Saint Joseph bore the responsibilities of a father perfectly. A dream told him that King Herod planned to kill the infant Jesus. Joseph took Mary and Jesus away by night to Egypt and thus saved the life of the Savior. He kept the child hidden from Herod's son in case he, too, would have harmed Jesus.
Joseph was with Mary in the stable at Bethlehem when Jesus was born. He was looking after the mother and child when the shepherds and the Magi came to worship him. He took Mary and Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to God in the Temple. He shared Mary's anxieties for her son when Jesus was presumed lost, after their visit to the Temple when he was 12.
After this no more is heard of Joseph in the New Testament except in Luke 4:22, where he is named as the father of Jesus. He is not mentioned as being present at the crucifixion, a fact that persuaded many artists to portray him as an old man who had presumably died by the time Jesus was in his early thirties.
The few Biblical particulars give an impression of a just, kind, dignified and level-headed man, prompt in action but self-effacing. The apocryphal Protoevangelium of James holds that he was an old man when Jesus was born, but this appears unlikely when one considers the fact that he reared Jesus and fulfilled the family duties.
Special veneration to Joseph began in the East, where the apocryphal History of Joseph the Carpenter enjoyed great popularity in the fifth to seventh centuries. It led to devotion from the 17th century to Joseph by all those desiring a happy death because the History tells that Joseph was afraid of death and filled with self-reproach, but was comforted by the words of Mary and Jesus, who promised protection and life to all who do good in the name of Joseph.
Martyrology entries in the West date from the 8th century (Rheinau) and slightly later Irish martyrologies. The 9th-century Irish metrical hymn Félire of Saint Aengus mentions a commemoration, but it was not until the 15th century that veneration of Saint Joseph became widespread in the West, when his feast was introduced into the Roman Calendar in 1479.
Carmelite breviaries from 1480 commemorate his feast, as does the Roman breviary of 1482 and the Roman Missal of 1505.
The notion of Joseph as the foster-father of Jesus fired the imagination of the medieval Church. Saint John Chrysostom pointed to the anxieties of Joseph as a pattern of the trials of all Christians--relieved as they are by God's intervention. Saints Vincent Ferrer (d. 1419), Bridget of Sweden (d. 1373), and Bernardino of Siena (d. 1444) all propagated his devotion, partially in reaction against Medieval mystery plays, in which he is the channel for comic relief.
In the 15th century the French churchman Jean Gerson wrote twelve poems in his honor. Saint Teresa of Ávila chose him as the practical saint who should be patron of the Discalced Carmelite friars and nuns [see her paean, Go to Joseph]. Pope Gregory XV made his feast a day of obligation, but this is not widely observed today. In Quanquam pluries (1889), Pope Leo XIII declared Joseph a model for fathers of families and confirmed that his sanctity was second only the that of the Blessed Virgin. In 1989, Pope John Paul II issued Redemptoris custos (Guardian of the Redeemer) (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Filas, Rondet, White).
Saint Joseph is generally pictured as an elderly man holding a flowering rod with the Christ Child in his arms or led my his hand (this emblem is also associated with Saint Joseph of Arimathea). According to an ancient legend, Mary and the other virgins of the Temple were commanded to return to their homes and marry. When the Blessed Virgin refused, the elders prayed for guidance and a voice from the sanctuary instructed them to call together the unwed males of the House of David. In accordance with the voice, the priest Zacharius instructed the gathered males to leave their staffs on the altar of the temple overnight. Nothing happened. So Zacharius next included those of the widowers, including Joseph.
When Joseph's rod was found the next morning, in flower ("the flower of the rod of Jesse"), he was told to take the Blessed Virgin to wife and keep her for the Lord (Appleton, Tabor). Many times the flowering rod is replaced by a stalk of lilies (Appleton).
At times he may be shown (1) with the Christ Child, two doves in a cage, and a lily; (2) with the Christ Child and a lily; (3) in scenes with the Holy Family; (4) with carpenter's tools; (5) as the angel appears to him in a dream; (6) working in a carpenter's shop with the boy Jesus near him; or (7) dying, supported by Christ and the Virgin (Roeder).
As head of the Holy Family, Saint Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church, of fathers, of opposition to atheistic Communism (he was a worker), of workers, doubters (he married Mary despite her pregnancy), of a happy death (he is said to have died before Jesus and Mary), Austria, Bohemia, Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Peru, Russia, South Vietnam, missions to the Chinese (Sandoval, White), bursers, procurators (Farmer), as well as of carpenters, confectioners (Naples), the dying, engineers, the family, married couples, house-hunters, pioneers, and travellers (Roeder). He is invoked when in doubt, hesitation or when looking for a house (Roeder).
Lactan of Freshford, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Lactinus)
Born near Cork, Ireland; died 672. Saint Lactan was educated at Bangor under Saints Comgall and Molua (Luanis or Lugid). Saint Comgall sent him to be abbot-founder of Achadh-Ur, now Freshford, in Kilkenny. He is credited with many miracles, including cures of paralytics and the mentally ill (Benedictines, Montague).
Landoald, Amantius & Comps. (RM)
Died c. 668. Landoald is said to have been a Roman priest and Amantius, his deacon. They were sent by the pope to evangelize what is now the Maestricht region of Belgium and northeastern France. Landoald founded a church at Wintershoven (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Leontius of Saintes B (AC)
Died 640. Bishop Leontius of Saintes was a friend of Saint Malo, whom he received into his diocese when he was exiled from Brittany (Benedictines).
Pancharius of Nicomedia M (RM)
Died 303. Saint Pancharius, a Roman senator, was a favorite officer of the emperor Maximian. At the outbreak of the persecution he denied, or at any rate concealed, his religion, but on receiving a letter from his mother and sister, he nobly confessed Christ and was beheaded at Nicomedia (Benedictines).
Quartilla, Mark & Comp. MM (RM)
Date unknown. These are martyrs venerated at Sorrento, Italy. The first three were probably a brother and two sisters (Benedictines).
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.