Alexandra, Caldia & Comps. MM (RM)
Died c. 300. Alexandra, Caldia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Juliana, Euphemia, Theodosia, Derphuta, and a sister of Derphuta were all Christian women of Amisus, Paphlagonia, burned to death under Diocletian (Benedictines).
Blessed Ambrose Sansedoni, OP (RM)
(also known as Ambrose of Siena or Ambrose Sassedoni)
Born in Siena, Italy, in 1220; died 1287; cultus confirmed in 1622. Although his birth was attended by the prodigies also associated with Blessed James of Bevagna (of Mevania)--that of three brilliant stars bearing the image of a friar preacher--Ambrose Sansedoni got off to a very bad start by the world's account. He was so badly deformed and so ugly that his own mother could hardly bear to look at him.
He was given into the care of a nurse, who daily took him with her to the Dominican church where she attended Mass. Here it was remarked that the baby, who fretted most of the time, was quiet and content when the nurse would hold him near the altar of relics, and that he cried violently when taken away.
One day, as the nurse was kneeling there with the baby's face covered with a scarf, a pilgrim approached and said to her, "Do not cover that child's face. He will one day be the glory of this city." A few days later, at this same altar, a miracle occurred. The unfortunate child suddenly reached out his twisted limbs and quite distinctly pronounced the sacred name of Jesus. At once, all deformity left him, and he became a normal child.
So early marked with the favor of God, it was only natural that Ambrose would be pious. As a child of seven he would rise at night to pray and meditate, and he daily recited the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin. While still a child, he was charitable to a heroic degree, and busied himself with the poor, the abandoned, and the sick. When he was only two or three years old, his father, who was an illuminator of books, made two little books for him. One was on secular subjects, the other on the saints. Ambrose made no hesitation about choosing the latter as his favorite, and throughout his life he was to exhibit this same choice of the things of God.
Being a handsome and talented young man, Ambrose was beset with difficulties when he expressed his intention of becoming a member of the preaching friars. Parents and friends tried to change his mind, and the devil appeared in several different forms to counsel him against such a step. Ambrose courageously overcame all the obstacles in his path and joined the friars on his 17th birthday.
After his profession in 1237, Ambrose was sent to Paris to study under Saint Albert the Great. With his fellow pupil, Saint Thomas Aquinas, he returned to Cologne with Saint Albert, and thus was associated for some years with the two finest minds of the century. It is said that the humility of Ambrose, and his recognition of the true greatness of Saint Thomas's writings, led him to devote his time to preaching rather than writing. He was sent on many peace-making missions during his 30 years of preaching, and was highly regarded by both popes and Dominicans.
Despite a very active apostolate of preaching in Germany, France, and Italy, Ambrose lived a life of almost uninterrupted prayer. He was often in ecstasy, and, shortly before his death, he was favored with several visions of great beauty. It is said that his death was hastened by the vehemence of his preaching. Sometimes when he preached he levitated and a circle of glory, in which birds of brilliant plumage flitted, surrounded him. Many miracles were reported at his tomb, and he has been popularly called "Saint Ambrose of Siena" since the time of his death (Benedictines, Dorcy).
In art, Blessed Ambrose is a Dominican with a dove at his ear (Roeder). He may also be represented as (1) holding in his hand a model of his native Siena (Benedictines), (2) holding a book, or (3) preaching (Roeder).
Ambrose is the patron of betrothed couples and especially venerated in Siena (Roeder).
Anastasius of Saint Sabas M (AC)
Died c. 797. Anastasius was the archimandrite (superior) of the laura (a cluster of hermitages) of Saint Sabas in Jerusalem. The laura was attacked by robbers and all its monks massacred with the archimandrite at their head. The Greeks keep their feast on the anniversary of their death (Benedictines).
Archippus of Colossi (RM)
1st century. Traditionally, Saint Archippus is considered the first bishop of Colossae. Saint Paul calls Archippus 'my fellow- soldier' (Philem. 2) and admonished him, "Remember the service that the Lord wants you to do and try to carry it out" (Col. 4:17) (Benedictines, Delaney).
Benignus of Flay, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 725. Abbot of the monastery of Fontenelle, Saint Benignus was exiled from the abbey and retired to Flay, where the monks asked him to be their abbot. After the victory of Charles Martel, he returned to Fontenelle, retaining the government of Flay, and died shortly thereafter (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Clement of the Paris Schools (AC)
Died 826. A monk of Saint Gall, Switzerland, possibly Notker Balbulus, reports that Irish Saint Clement came with Albinus to France and announced in the market that they had learning for sale at a time when classical learning was all but forgotten in the West. Their price: food and shelter- -and pupils. Upon hearing this, Blessed Emperor Charlemagne, who held "the Irish in special esteem" (according to Einhard), engaged their services. Albinus was sent to Pavia to head the monastery of Saint Augustine, while he established Clement in his Paris School. There Clement became one of the most famous scholars of the Carolingian court. He succeeded Blessed Alcuin as the head of the Paris Schools when the latter retired to the monastery at Tours. Among those influenced by him was the future emperor, Lothair, who was noted for his interest in the schools of Italy (D'Arcy, Gougaud, Fitzpatrick, Kenney, Montague, O'Hanlon, Tommasini).
Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, OSB B (RM)
Born in Northumbria, England (?) or Ireland, c. 634; died on Inner Farne in March 20, 687; feast of his translation to Durham, September 4.
Saint Cuthbert is possibly the most venerated saint in England, especially in the northern part of the country, where he was a very active missionary. Yet his real nationality is debated. His biographer, Saint Bede, did not specify it. Of course, the English claim him, but so do the Scottish.
There is a good likelihood the he was an Irishman named Mulloche, great-grandson of the High King Muircertagh of Ireland because, according to Moran citing documents in Durham Cathedral, the rood screen bore the inscription: "Saint Cuthbert, Patron of Church, City and Liberty of Durham, an Irishman by birth of royal parentage who was led by God's Providence to England." The cathedral's stained glass windows, which had been registered but destroyed during the reign of Henry VI, depicted the saint's life begin with his birth "at Kells" in Meath. This fact is corroborated by an ancient manuscript viewed by Alban Butler at Cottonian Library. One tradition relates that his mother, the Irish princess Saba, set out on a pilgrimage to Rome, left Cuthbert in the care of Kenswith, and died in Rome.
Thus, Cuthbert, like David, was a shepherd boy on the hills above Leader Water or the valley of the Tweed. Of unknown parentage, he was reared in the Scottish lowlands by a poor widow named Kenswith, and was a cripple because of an abscess on the knee made worse by an attempted cure. But despite this disability he was boisterous and high-spirited, and so physically strong that after he became a monk, on a visit to the monastery at Coldingham, he spent a whole night upon the shore in prayer, and strode into the cold sea praising God.
According to one of Saint Bede's two vitae of the saint, when Cuthbert was about 15, he had a vision of angels conducting the soul of Saint Aidan to heaven. Later, while still a youth, he became a monk under Saint Eata at Melrose Abbey on the Tweed River. The prior of Melrose, Saint Boisil, taught Cuthbert Scripture and the pattern of a devout life. Cuthbert went with Eata to the newly-founded abbey of Ripon in 661 as guest steward. He returned to Melrose, still just a mission station of log shanties, when King Alcfrid turned Ripon over to Saint Wilfrid. It was from Melrose that Cuthbert began his missionary efforts throughout Northumbria.
Cuthbert attended Boisil when the latter contracted the plague. The book of the Scriptures from which he read the Gospel of John to the dying prior was laid on the altar at Durham in the 13th century on Saint Cuthbert's feast. Thus, in 664, Cuthbert became prior of Melrose at the death of Boisil. Soon thereafter Cuthbert fell deathly ill with the same epidemic. Upon hearing that the brethren had prayed throughout the night for his recovery, he called for his staff, dressed, and undertook his duties (but he never fully recovered his health thereafter).
In 664, when Saint Colman refused to accept the decision of the Synod of Whitby in favor of Roman liturgical custom and migrated to Ireland with his monks, Saint Tuda was consecrated bishop in his place, while Eata was named abbot and Cuthbert prior of Lindisfarne, a small island joined to the coast at low tide. From Lindisfarne Cuthbert extended his work southward to the people of Northumberland and Durham.
Afterwards Cuthbert was made abbot of Lindisfarne, where he grew to love the wild rocks and sea, and where the birds and beasts came at his call. Then for eight years beginning in 676, Cuthbert followed his solitary nature by removing himself to the solitude of the isolated, infertile island of Farne, where it was believed that he was fed by the angels. There built an oratory and a cell with only a single small window for communication with the outside world. But he was still sought after, and twice the king of Northumberland implored him to accept election as bishop of Hexham, to which he finally agreed in 684, though unwillingly and with tears.
Almost immediately Cuthbert exchanged his see with Eata for that of Lindisfarne, which Cuthbert preferred. Thus, on Easter Sunday 685, Cuthbert was consecrated bishop of Lindisfarne by Saint Theodore archbishop of Canterbury, with six bishops in attendance at York. For two years Cuthbert was bishop of Lindisfarne, still maintaining his frugal ways and "first doing himself what he taught others." He administered his see, cared for the sick of the plague that decimated his see, distributed alms liberally, and worked so many miracles of healing that he was known in his lifetime as the "Wonder-Worker of Britain." Then at Christmas in 686, in failing health and knowing that his end was near, he resigned his office and retired again to his island cell; but though seriously ill and suffering intensely, he refused all aid, allowing none to nurse him, and finished his course alone.
In the very act of lifting his hands in prayer "his soul sped its way to the joys of the heavenly kingdom." News of his death was flashed by lantern to the watchers at Lindisfarne. Bede reports: "As the tiny gleam flashed over the dark reach of sea, and the watchman hurried with his news into the church, the brethren of the Holy Island were singing the words of the Psalmist: "Thou hast cast us out and scattered us abroad . . . Thou hast shown thy people heavy things."
He was buried at Lindisfarne, where they remained incorrupt for several centuries, but after the Viking raids began his remains wandered with the displaced monks for about 100 years until they were translated to Durham cathedral in 1104. Until its desecration under Henry VIII, his shrine at Durham was one of the most frequented places of pilgrimage for the power of healing that Cuthbert possessed during his lifetime lived on after him. The bones discovered in 1827 beneath the site of the medieval shrine are probably his. He is said to have had supernatural gifts of healing and insight, and people thronged to consult him, so that he became known as the wonder-worker of Britain. He had great qualities as a preacher, and made many missionary journeys. Bede wrote that "Cuthbert was so great a speaker and had such a light in his angelic face. He also had such a love for proclaiming his good news, that none hid their innermost secrets from him." Year after year, on horseback and on foot, he ventured into the remotest territories between Berwick and Galloway. He built the first oratory at Dull, Scotland, with a large stone cross before it and a little cell for himself. Here a monastery arose that became Saint Andrew's University.
His task was not easy, for he lived in an area of vast solitude, of wild moors and sedgy marshes crossed only by boggy tracts, with widely scattered groups of huts and hovels inhabited by a wild and heathen peasantry full of fears and superstitions and haunted by terror of pagan gods. His days were filled with incessant activity in an attempt to keep the spirit of Christianity alive and each night he kept vigil with God.
But unlike the Celtic missionaries, he spoke their language and knew their ways, for he had lived like them in a peasant's home. Once, when a snowstorm drove his boat onto the coast of Fife, he cried to his companions in the storm: "The snow closes the road along the shore; the storm bars our way over the sea. But there is still the way of Heaven that lies open."
Cuthbert was the Apostle of the Lowlands, renowned for his vigor and good-humor; he outstripped his fellow monks in visiting the loneliest and most dangerous outposts from cottage to cottage from Berwick to Solway Firth to bring the Good News of Christ. Selflessly he entered the houses of those stricken by the plague. And he was the most lovable of saints. His patience and humility persuaded the reluctant monks of Lindisfarne to adopt the Benedictine Rule.
He is especially appealing to us today because he was a keenly observant man, interested in the ways of birds and beasts. In fact, the Farne Islands, which served as a hermitage to the monks of Durham, are now a bird and wildlife sanctuary appropriately under the protection of Cuthbert. In his own time he was famed as a worker of miracles in God's name. On one occasion he healed a woman's dying baby with a kiss. The tiny seashells found only on his Farne Island are traditionally called Saint Cuthbert's Beads, and are said by sailors to have been made by him. This tradition is incorporated in Sir Walter Scott's Marmion.
The ample sources for his life and character show a man of extraordinary charm and practical ability, who attracted people deeply by the beauty of holiness.
His cultus is recalled in places names, such as Kirkcudbright (Galloway), Cotherstone (Yorkshire), Cubert (Cornwall), and more than 135 church dedications in England as well as an additional 17 in Scotland. A chapel in the crypt of Fulda was dedicated to him at its consecration (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Colgrave, D'Arcy, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Fitzpatrick, Gill, Montague, Montalembert2, Moran, Skene, Tabor, Webb).
The following legends about Saint Cuthbert reveal as much about their author, the Venerable Bede as they do about Saint Cuthbert. Though they repeat in detail some of what is outlined above, they show the historian's care to note source and authority and show his quick eye that observes nature in detail. The complete biography can be found at the Medieval Sourcebook.
"One day as he rode his solitary way about the third hour after sunrise, he came by chance upon a hamlet a spear's cast from the track, and turned off the road to it. The woman of the house that he went into was the pious mother of a family, and he was anxious to rest there a little while, and to ask some provision for the horse that carried him rather than for himself, for it was the oncoming of winter.
"The woman brought him kindly in, and was earnest with him that he would let her get ready a meal, for his own comfort, but the man of God denied her. 'I must not eat yet,' said he, 'because today is a fast.' It was indeed Friday when the faithful for the most part prolong their fast until the third hour before sunset, for reverence of the Lord's Passion.
"The woman, full of hospitable zeal, insisted. 'See now,' said she, 'the road that you are going, you will find never a clachan or a single house upon it, and indeed you have a long way yet before you, and you will not be at the end of it before sundown. So do, I ask you, take some food before you go, or you will have to keep your fast the whole day, and maybe even till the morrow.' But though she pressed him hard, devotion to his religion overcame her entreating, and he went through the day fasting, until evening.
"But as twilight fell and he began to see that he could not come to the end of the journey he had planned that day, and that there was no human habitation near where he could stay the night, suddenly as he rode he saw close by a huddle of shepherds' huts, built ramshackle for the summer, and now lying open and deserted.
"Thither he went in search of shelter, tethered his horse to the inside wall, gathered up a bundle of hay that the wind had torn from the thatch, and set it before him for fodder. Himself had begun to say his hours, when suddenly in the midst of his chanting of the Psalms he saw his horse rear up his head and begin cropping the thatch of the hovel and dragging it down, and in the middle of the falling thatch came tumbling a linen cloth lapped up; curious to know what it might be, he finished his prayer, came up and found wrapped in the linen cloth a piece of loaf still hot, and meat, enough for one man's meal.
"And chanting his thanks for heaven's grace, 'I thank God,' said he, 'Who has stooped to make a feast for me that was fasting for love of His Passion, and for my comrade.' So he divided the piece of loaf that he had found and gave half to the horse, and the rest he kept for himself to eat, and from that day he was the readier to fasting because he understood that the meal had been prepared for him in the solitude by His gift Who of old fed Elijah the solitary in like fashion by the birds, when there was no man near to minister to him; Whose eyes are on them that fear Him and that hope in His mercy, that He will snatch their souls from death and cherish them in their hunger.
"And this story I had from a brother of our monastery which is at the mouth of the river Wear, a priest, Ingwald by name, who has the grace of his great age rather to contemplate things eternal with a pure heart than things temporal with the eyes of earth; and he said that he had it from Cuthbert himself, the time that he was bishop."
And a second story recorded by Bede:
"It was his way for the most part to wander in those places and to preach in those remote hamlets, perched on steep rugged mountain sides, where other men would have a dread of going, and whose poverty and rude ignorance gave no welcome to any scholar. . . . Often for a whole week, sometimes for two or three, and even for a full month, he would not return home, but would abide in the mountains, and call these simple folk to heavenly things by his word and his ways. . . ."
[He was, moreover, easily entreated, and came to stay at the abbey of Coldingham on a cliff above the sea.]
"As was his habit, at night while other men took their rest, he would go out to pray; and after long vigils kept far into the night, he would come home when the hour of common prayer drew near. One night, a brother of this same monastery saw him go silently out, and stealthily followed on his track, to see where he was going or what he would do.
"And so he went out from the monastery and, his spy following him went down to the sea, above which the monastery was built; and wading into the depths till the waves swelled up to his neck and arms, kept his vigil through the dark with chanting voiced like the sea. As the twilight of dawn drew near, he waded back up the beach, and kneeling there, again began to pray; and as he prayed, straight from the depths of the sea came two four-footed beasts which are called by the common people otters.
"These, prostrate before him on the sand, began to busy themselves warming his feet with pantings, and trying to dry them with their fur; and when this good office was rendered, and they had his benediction, they slipped back again beneath their native waters. He himself returned home, and sang the hymns of the office with the brethren at the appointed hour. But the brother who had stood watching him from the cliffs was seized with such panic that he could hardly make his way home, tottering on his feet; and early in the morning came to him and fell at his feet, begging forgiveness with his tears for his foolish attempt, never doubting but that his behavior of the nights was known and discovered.
"To whom Cuthbert: 'What ails you, my brother? What have you done? Have you been out and about to try to come at the truth of this night wandering of mine? I forgive you, on this one condition: That you promise to tell no man what you saw, until my death.' . . . And the promise given, he blessed the brother and absolved him alike of the fault and the annoyance his foolish boldness had given: The brother kept silence on the piece of valor that he had seen, until after the Saint's death, when he took pains to tell it to many"
Bede relates another story:
After many years at Lindisfarne Abbey, Cuthbert set out to become a hermit on an island called Farne, which unlike Lindisfarne, "which twice a day by the upswelling of the ocean tide . . . becomes an island, and twice a day, its shore again bared by the tide outgoing, is restored to its neighbor the land. . . . No man, before God's servant Cuthbert, had been able to make his dwelling here alone, for the phantoms of demons that haunted it; but at the coming of Christ's soldier, armed with the helmet of salvation, the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, the fiery darts of the wicked fell quenched, and the foul Enemy himself, with all his satellite mob, was put to flight."
Cuthbert built himself a cell on the island by cutting away the living rock of a cave. He constructed a wall out of rough boulders and turf. Some of the boulders were so large that "one would hardly think four men could lift them, and yet he is known to have carried them thither with angelic help and set them into the wall. He had two houses in his enclosure, one an oratory, the other a dwelling place. . . . At the harbor of the island was a larger house in which the brethren when they came to visit him could be received and take their rest. . . ."
At first he accepted bread from Lindisfarne, "but after a while he felt it was more fit that he should live by the work of his own hand, after the example of the Fathers. So he asked them to bring him tools to dig the ground with, and wheat to sow; but the grain that he had sown in spring showed no sign of a crop even by the middle of the summer. So when the brethren as usual were visiting him the man of God said, 'It may be the nature of the soil, or it may be it is not the will of God that any wheat should grow for me in this place: So bring me, I pray you, barley, and perhaps I may raise some harvest from it. But if God will give it no increase, it would be better for me to go back to the community than be supported here on other men's labors.'
"They brought him the barley, and he committed it to the ground, far past the time of sowing, and past all hope of springing: and soon there appeared an abundant crop. When it began to ripen, then came the birds, and its was who among them should devour the most. So up comes God's good servant, as he would afterwards tell--for many a time, with his benign and joyous regard, he would tell in company some of the things that he himself had won by faith, and so strengthen the faith of his hearers--'And why,' says he, 'are you touching a crop you did not sow? Or is it, maybe, that you have more need of it than I? If you have God's leave, do what He allows you: but if not, be off, and do no more damage to what is not your own.' He spoke, and at the first word of command, the birds were off in a body and come what might for ever after they contained themselves from any trespass on his harvests. . . .
"And here might be told a miracle done by the blessed Cuthbert in the fashion of the aforesaid Father, Benedict, wherein the obedience and humility of the birds put to shame the obstinacy and arrogance of men. Upon that island for a great while back a pair of ravens had made their dwelling: And one day at their nesting time the man of God spied them tearing with their beaks at the thatch on the brethren's hospice of which I have spoken, and carrying off pieces of it in their bills to build their nest.
"He thrust at them gently with his hand, and bade them give over this damage to the brethren. And when they scoffed at his command, 'In the name of Jesus Christ,' said he, 'be off with you as quick as ye may, and never more presume to abide in the place which ye have spoiled.' And scarcely had he spoken, when they flew dismally away.
"But toward the end of the third day, one of the two came back, and finding Christ's servant busy digging, comes with his wings lamentably trailing and his head bowed to his feet, and his voice low and humble, and begs pardon with such signs as he might: which the good father well understanding, gives him permission to return.
"As for the other, leave once obtained, he straight off goes to fetch his mae, and with no tarrying, back they both come, and carrying along with them a suitable present, no less than a good- sized hunk of hog's lard such as one greases axles with: Many a time thereafter the man of God would show it the brethren who came to see him, and would offer it to grease their shoes, and he would urge on them how obedient and humble men should be, when the proudest of birds made haste with prayers and lamentation and presents to atone for the insult he had given to man. And so, for an example of reformed life to men, these did abide for many years thereafter on that same island, and built their nest, nor ever wrought annoyance upon any" (Bede).
In art, Saint Cuthbert is dressed in episcopal vestments bearing the crowned head of Saint Oswald (Seal of Lindisfarne). At times he may be shown (1) with pillars of light above him; (2) with swans tending him; (3) as a hermit with a tau staff being fed by an eagle; (4) rebuking crows; (5) rebuilding a hut and driving out devils; (6) praying by the sea; (7) with a Benedictine monk kissing his feet; (8) when his incorrupt body was found with a chalice on his breast (Roeder); or (9) tended by sea otters, which signifies either his living in the midst of waters, or alludes to a legend. It is said that one night as he lay on the cold shore, exhausted from his penances, two otters revived his numb limbs by licking them (Tabor). There is a stained-glass icon of Cuthbert in York Minster from the late Middle Ages, as well as paintings on the backs of the stalls at Carlisle cathedral (Farmer).
The shrine of Saint Cuthbert is at Durham, but he is also venerated at Ripon and Melrose. His feast is still kept at Meath, Saint Andrews, and the northern dioceses of England (Attwater2). He is the patron of shepherds and seafarers, and invoked against the plague (Roeder). His patronage of sailors was the result of his appearance in the midst of violent storms at sea, wearing his mitre, as late as the 12th century. He is said to have used his crozier sometimes as an oar and at other times as a helm to save the struggling sailors from shipwreck. He is also said to have appeared to King Alfred, the conquering Canute the Dane, William the Conqueror, and others at critical moments. Thus, until the time of Henry VIII, soldiers marched under a sacred standard containing the corporal Cuthbert had used at Mass (D'Arcy).
Blessed Eberhard, OSB Cist. (PC)
Died c. 1150. Count Eberhard of Mons, Belgium, went on a pilgrimage to Rome and Compostella in expiation for a crime that he committed as a soldier. To finish his penance, he asked to be hired as a swineherd at the Cistercian abbey of Morimond. When his identity was discovered, he was induced to continue his life of penance as a monk, and accordingly took the vows. In 1142, he founded Einberg and the Mont-Saint-George. He is officially venerated by the Cistercians, but has never been officially canonized by Rome (Benedictines).
Blessed Evangelist & Peregrinus, OSA (AC)
Born in Verona, Italy; died c. 1250; cultus approved in 1837. Evangelist and Peregrinus shared everything from the time that they became friends at schools. Together they joined the Augustinian order. Both were endowed with similar miraculous gifts, and died within a few hours of each other (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Herbert, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died March 20, 687. Saint Herbert was the priestly disciple and good friend of Saint Cuthbert. He lived alone on the island on Lake Derwentwater, later called Saint Herbert's. Each year Herbert would visit Saint Cuthbert at Lindisfarne. In 686, the year before Saint Cuthbert died, he travelled to Carlisle, and Herbert visited him there instead.
Saint Cuthbert told Herbert on this visit that if he had anything to ask he must do so at this time because he foresaw that he would die and the Herbert would not see him again in this world. Herbert wept and begged him not to abandon him, but to pray that since they had served God together in the world, they be taken at the same time. Saint Cuthbert prayed for a moment and then predicted that this would be so. Soon afterward Herbert fell ill and his illness lasted until March 20 of the following year, when both saints died.
In 1374, Bishop Thomas Appleby of Carlisle ordered the vicar of Crosthwaite to celebrate a sun Mass on St. Herbert's Isle each year on his feast, and granted 40 days' indulgence to all who visited it on this day. Ruins of a circular stone building there may be connected with him (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, White).
Blessed Hippolytus Galantini (AC)
Born in Florence, Italy, in 1565; died 1619; beatified in 1825. Hippolytus was a silk-weaver by trade. From age 12 he assisted the priests in teaching children their catechism. This practice was imitated by others, whom Bless Hippolytus formed into the congregation of Italian Doctrinarians, which soon spread throughout Italy (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed John Baptist Spagnuolo, OC (AC)
(also known as Baptista Mantuanus, Baptista Spagnuolo)
Born in Mantua, Italy, in 1448; died 1516; beatified in 1885. Usually called Baptista Mantuanus, his family name Spagnuolo denotes his Spanish origin. He was, however, born in Mantua and studied in Padua. In 1464, he joined the Carmelites. His gift of counsel was so profound that he was elected vicar general of Mantua six consecutive times by his friars, and, in 1513, elected prior-general of the order. He is famous as a Latin poet, having written over 50,000 lines of Latin verse, and is considered one of the most eminent representatives of Christian Humanism in Italy (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed John Buralli, OFM (AC)
(also known as Blessed John of Parma)
Born in Parma, Italy, in 1209; died 1289; cultus approved in 1777. After John was professed and ordained as a Franciscan, he taught theology at Bologna and Naples. In 1247, he was elected the 7th minister general of the Franciscans and held the office for ten years. He visited the Franciscan provinces of different countries, including England, and went to Constantinople as papal legate. He lived out his final 30 years in retirement at the hermitage of Greccio (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed Mark of Montegallo, OFM (AC)
Born in Montegallo, diocese of Ascoli Piceno, in 1426; died 1497. Blessed Mark became a physician and married, but later, by mutual consent, both he and his wife joined the Franciscans. He entered the order at Fabriano. Blessed Mark was ordained a priest and travelled throughout Italy preaching and establishing charitable pawnshops for the poor, known in Italy as Monti di Pietá (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Martin of Braga B (AC)
Born in Pannonia (Hungary) c. 515; died at Braga, Spain, 580. While Martin's origin and early history are uncertain, he was known as a zealous missionary, who evangelized Spain. Around 550, Saint Martin introduced communal monasticism to Galicia (northwestern part of the Iberian peninsula) which he may have learned as a monk in Palestine. His principal foundation was the abbey of Dumium (Mondoñedo) of which he became bishop before his appointment to the see of Braga. He also travelled widely to evangelize the pagans and Arian Suevians (converting their king). Fortunatus compared the bishop of Braga, who was a writer of some importance, with his patron, Saint Martin of Tours. His extant works include a sermon which gives interesting particulars about the rural superstitions he encountered (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Martyrs of Mar Sabas (AC)
Died 796. The entry in the Roman Martyrology is for John, Sergius, and companions--a group of 20 monks of the laura of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem, who were killed in one of the anti- Christian Arab raids. Many more were wounded, and a few escaped. One of the last category, Stephen the poet, has left a detailed account of the event (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed Maurice Csaky, OP (PC)
(also known as Blessed Maurice of Hungary)
Died 1336. Maurice, Prince of Hungary, was persecuted by his father-in-law for his desire to remain in the Dominican Order. He was born into the royal house of Hungary. There had been many heavenly signs before his birth that he was to be an unusual favorite of God, but for the first few years of his life he was so sickly that no one believed he would survive. By the time he was five, he was a delicate, dreamy child who played at saying Mass and leading family prayers. The little chapel in his father's castle was his favorite haunt, and he was always to be found there between sessions in the schoolroom.
When he was still quite small, an old Dominican came one day to visit his parents, and took a great fancy to the handsome little boy. He told the child the story of Saint Alexis, which greatly impressed him. When Maurice knelt to ask the old priest's blessing, the Dominican said prophetically, "This child will one day enter our holy Order and will be one of its joys."
In spite of the several indications that God had designs on Maurice, circumstances conspired against him. His parents died when he was still quite young, leaving him immensely wealthy and solely in charge of his father's estates. A brother, who had entered the Dominican novitiate, died very young. Relatives prevailed upon Maurice to marry. Against all his wishes, he did so.
However, he and his young wife, the daughter of the Count of Palatine, made a vow of continence, and both resolved to became Dominicans as soon as it was possible to dispose of the estates. When his wife fled to the Isle of Margaret in the Danube, and took the veil in Saint Margaret's convent, her father was furious. He went in search of the young husband and found that he, too, had gone to the Dominicans. He settled the matter in the forthright fashion of the times by kidnapping Maurice and locking him in a tower. Here, like another Thomas Aquinas, the young novice settled down to wait until someone tired of the arrangement.
After three months of unfruitful punishment, Maurice was released as incorrigible, and his relatives devoted their attention to getting hold of his estates instead. He went happily off to Bologna to complete his studies, where he remained for three years.
For 32 years, Maurice ignored the throne and the luxuries of the world to live in obscurity and poverty. The picture of him left us by the chroniclers is an engaging one: an earnest, pious priest who made no effort to capitalize on his birth or social graces; a zealous addict of poverty, who managed, by a series of sagacious trades, to have the oldest habit in the house and the dreariest cell. He is said to have said the whole Psalter daily, plus the Penitential Psalms, and the Litany of the Saints.
A number of curious stories are told about him. Once, when he was staying with a Benedictine friend, the friend noticed that he went in and out of locked doors with no trouble at all, and that the rooms lighted up by themselves when he entered. Maurice is supposed to have had the gift of prophecy. A relative of his had cheated the sisters out of some property that Maurice had left them. Maurice told him that the goods would be taken away from him, and that another man, more generous, would give it back to the sisters. The man died shortly thereafter, and the prophecy was fulfilled.
After Maurice's death at least two miracles of healing were reported at his grave: one was a cure from fever, another from blindness. Butler's Lives of the Saints lists him as "Blessed Maurice" and he is still venerated in Hungary, although his cultus has never been formally approved (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).
Nicetas of Bithynia B (RM)
Died c. 735. Nicetas was the bishop of Apollonias in Bithynia. He was persecuted by the iconoclastic emperor Leo III and died in exile in Anatolia (now Turkey) (Benedictines).
Paul, Cyril, Eugene & Companions MM (RM)
Date unknown. A group of seven martyrs who suffered in Syria (Benedictines).
Photina & Companions MM (RM)
Dates unknown. Greek legend identifies Photina as the Samaritan woman of Sychar--the woman at the well--with whom Jesus speaks in the Gospel of Saint John (chapter 4). After telling her neighbors about Jesus, she continued to preach the Gospel, was imprisoned for three years, and died for her faith at Carthage. According to another legend she and her sons, Joseph and Victor, as well as Sebastian, Anatolius, Photius, Photis, Parasceve, and Cyriaca, were all martyred in Rome under Nero. Photina also reputedly converted Emperor Nero's daughter Domnina and 100 of her servants to Christianity before suffering martyrdom. Baronius may have placed them in the Roman Martyrology because he believed that the head of Saint Photina was preserved at Saint Paul's-Outside-the Walls (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia). The monk Michael of Saint Athos Monastery created a picture of Saint Photini, as has Mario Sironi in Christ and the Samaritan Woman.
Blessed Remigius of Strasburg, OSB B (AC)
Died 783. Sometimes styled either a saint or a beatae, Remigius was a son of Duke Hugh of Alsace and a nephew of Saint Ottilien. He was educated at Münster Abbey near Colmar, and later was its abbot. In 776, Remigius was consecrated bishop of Strasburg. Pope Leo IX authorized his feast for the abbey of Münster (Benedictines).
Tetricus of Langres B (AC)
Died 572. Son of Bishop Saint Gregory of Langres and uncle of Saint Gregory of Tours, Tetricus succeeded his father in the see of Langres about 540. Beyond this geneological information, nothing is known of him. Venantius Fortunatus wrote a poem in his honor (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Urbitius of Metz B (AC)
Died c. 420. As bishop of Metz, Saint Urbitius built a church in honor of Saint Felix of Nola, which became the abbey church of the monastery of Saint Clement (Benedictines).
William of Peñacorada, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died c. 1042. William was a monk of the Benedictine (Cluniac) monastery of Satagún, León, Spain. In 998, he fled with the other monks from the Saracens and settled in the solitude of Peñacorada, where he eventually built the monastery of Santa Maria de los Valles, later named after him San Guillermo de Peñacorada (Benedictines).
Wulfram of Fontenelle, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Wolfram, Wulfrannus)
Died at Fontenelle, France, April 20, c. 703 (or 720?); feast of his translation, October 15. The story of Saint Wulfram takes us back to the days of the Franks and the dark gods of the north, and of the wild Teutonic tribes and old Norse sagas, when a handful of devoted men sailed into the northern night with the Cross at their prow and challenged the power of Odin and Thor.
Wulfram came of a gentler race, born and bred in a civilized land, nurtured in the wealthy home of his father, an official of King Dagobert. He found his first employment in the French court under Clotaire III, and, in 682, was rewarded with the archbishopric of Sens in place of its rightful bishop, Saint Amatus. But, strangely moved by God's Spirit to acknowledge the see's licit bishop and by the challenge of the pagan lands, within three years he laid aside his high employments and gave his property of Maurilly to the Church. In order to prepare himself to take the Gospel to the Frisians and obtain the help of monks, he retired for a time at Fontenelle. Then he set sail for Scandinavia with a small group of followers.
Longfellow in his poem, The Saga of King Olaf, vividly describes how during the voyage Wulfram, surrounded by his choristers chanting into the night, held service on deck:
To the ship's bow he ascended,
By his choristers attended,
Round him were the tapers lighted,
And the sacred incense rose.
On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd,
In his robes as one transfigured,
And the Crucifix he planted
It was a hard and evil time, and only with great difficulty did his enterprise make headway. The son of king Radbod was converted. Wulfram, however, was allowed to settle and to preach the Gospel. The missionaries had some success, but as in other parts of Europe during the period, the attitude of the king was likely to be decisive.
Wulfram found that children were sacrificed to appease their heathen gods, hung on roadside gibbets, or fastened to posts on the shore and left to drown with the tide. On great pagan festivals, the people would cast lots to see who should be sacrificed. Immediately the chosen one would be hanged or cut into pieces. In vain he appealed to Radbod to prohibit such inhuman practices, but the king replied that it was the custom of the country and he could not alter it. He even cynically challenged Wulfram to rescue the victims if he could, whereupon Wulfram, taking him at his word, strode into the raging sea to save two children who were helpless and almost submerged.
At other times he cut down the bodies of those who were nearly dead from the gallows to which they were tied and restored them as in the case of Ovon. The lot decided that Ovon should be sacrificed. Wulfram earnestly begged King Radbod to save him: but the people ran to the palace, outraged at such a sacrilege. After much discussion they agreed that if Wulfram's God should save Ovon's life, he should ever serve him and be Wulfram's slave. The saint went into prayer. After hanging on the gibbet for two hours, the man was left for dead. The cord hanging him broke. When the body fell to the ground, Ovon was found to be alive. He was given to the saint and became a monk and priest at Fontenelle.
The missionaries and their miracles so impressed the inhabitants that, filled with fear and wonder, they renounced their false gods and were baptized, and even Radbod himself was converted. But at the point of baptism, Radbod asked where his ancestors were. Wulfram answered that hell was the destiny of idolators. Radbod then declared: "I will go to hell with my ancestors rather than be in heaven without them." Radbod later sent for Saint Willibrord to baptize him, but when the saint arrived the king was already dead. Thus, he was never experienced the mercy of the sacrament.
For twenty years Wulfram continued his arduous missionary activity until failing health compelled him to return to France; but always he is remembered as the captain of a Christian crew, who "bore the White Christ" through the vapors of the northern night.
His relics were translated from Fontenelle to Abbeville, where Wulfram is venerated as patron and where several miracles occurred. In 1062, his relics were moved to Rouen. Both his feasts are celebrated in Croyland Abbey (Lincolnshire), England, probably because their abbot Ingulfph (1086-1109) was a monk of Fontenelle. The vita of Wulfram was written by the monk Jonas of Fontenelle eleven years after his death (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).
Saint Wulfram is depicted in art as baptizing a young king. Sometimes (1) the young king is near him; (2) he is shown arriving by ship with monks and baptizing the king; or (3) he is shown baptizing the son of King Radbod (Roeder).
Wulfram is venerated at Fontenelle, Frisia, and Sens (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.