St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

March 21

Blessed Alphonsus de Rojas, OFM (AC)
Died 1617; feast day at Coria is celebrated March 26. Alphonsus progressed from professor at Salamanca, to tutor to a young duke, to canon of Coria, to a Franciscan friar (Benedictines).

Brillus of Catania B (RM)
(also known as Birillus)

Died c. 90. Saint Brillus is reputed to have accompanied from Antioch Saint Peter, who consecrated him bishop of Catania, Sicily. He died in extreme old age (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Blessed Clementia of Oehren, OSB Widow (AC)
Died 1176. Clementia, the daughter of Count Adolph of Hohenburg, was a model wife until the death of her husband. Thereafter she became a nun at Oehren in Trier, Germany (Benedictines).

Enda of Arranmore, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Eanna, Endeus, Enna)

Born in Meath; died at Killeany, Ireland, c. 530 or 590; feast day formerly on March 16.

In the 6th century, the wild rock called Aran, off the coast of Galway, was an isle of saints, and among them was Saint Enda, the patriarch of Irish monasticism. He was an Irish prince, son of Conall Derg of Oriel (Ergall) in Ulster. Legend has it that the soldier Enda was converted by his sister, Saint Fanchea, abbess of Kill-Aine. He renounced his dreams of conquest and decided to marry one of the girls in his sister's convent. When his financÚ died suddenly, he surrendered his throne and a life of worldly glory to become a monk. He made a pilgrimage to Rome and was ordained there. These stories told of the early life of Saint Enda and his sister are unhistorical, but the rest is not. More authentic vitae survive at Tighlaghearny at Inishmore, where he was buried.

It is said that Enda learned the principles of monastic life at Rosnat in Britain, which was probably Saint David's foundation in Pembrokeshire or Saint Ninian's in Galloway. Returning to Ireland, Enda built churches at Drogheda, and a monastery in the Boyne valley. It is uncertain how much of Enda's rule was an adaptation of that of Rosnat.

Thereafter (about 484) he begged his brother-in-law, the King Oengus (Aengus) of Munster, to give him the wild and barren isle of Aran (Aranmore) in Galway Bay. Oengus wanted to give him a fertile plot in the Golden Vale, but Aran more suited Enda's ideal for religious life. On Aran he established the monastery of Killeaney, which is regarded as the first Irish monastery in the strict sense, `the capital of the Ireland of the saints.' There they lived a hard life of manual labor, prayer, fasting, and study of the Scriptures. It is said that no fire was ever allowed to warm the cold stone cells even if "cold could be felt by those hearts so glowing with love of God."

Enda divided the island into ten parts, in each of which he built a monastery, and under his severe rule Aran became a burning light of sanctity for centuries in Western Europe. Sheep now huddle and shiver in the storm under the ruins of old walls where once men lived and prayed. This was the chosen home of a group of poor and devoted men under Saint Enda. He taught them to love the hard rock, the dripping cave, and the barren earth swept by the western gales. They were men of the cave, and also men of the Cross, who, remembering that their Lord was born in a manger and had nowhere to lay His head, followed the same hard way.

Their coming produced excitement, and the Galway fishermen were kept busy rowing their small boats filled with curious sightseers across the intervening sea, for the fame of Aran-More spread far and wide. Enda's disciples were a noble band. There was Saint Ciaran of Clonmacnoise, who came there first as a youth to grind corn, and would have remained there for life but for Enda's insistence that his true work lay elsewhere, reluctant though he was to part with him. When he departed, the monks of Aran lined the shore as he knelt for the last time to receive Enda's blessing, and watched with wistful eyes the boat that bore him from them. In his going, they declared, their island had lost its flower and strength.

Another was Saint Finnian, who left Aran and founded the monastery of Moville (where Saint Columba spent part of his youth) and who afterwards became bishop of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy. Among them also was Saint Brendan the Voyager, Saint Columba of Iona, Jarlath of Tuam, and Carthach the Elder. These and many others formed a great and valiant company who first learned in Aran the many ways of God, and who from that rocky sanctuary carried the light of the Gospel into a pagan world.

The very wildness of Aran made it richer and dearer to those who lived there. They loved those islands which "as a necklace of pearls, God has set upon the bosom of the sea," and all the more because they had been the scene of heathen worship. There were three islands altogether, with lovely Irish names: Inishmore, Inishmain, and Inisheen.

On the largest stood Saint Enda's well and altar, and the round tower of the church where the bell was sounded which gave the signal that Saint Enda had taken his place at the altar. At the tolling of the bell the service of the Mass began in all the churches of the island.

"O, Aran," cried Columba in ecstasy, "the Rome of the pilgrims!" He never forgot his spiritual home which lay in the western sun and her pure earth sanctified by so many memories. Indeed, he said, so bright was her glory that the angels of God came down to worship in the churches of Aran (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, D'Arcy, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Healy, Husenbeth, Kenney, Montague).

Isenger of Verdun B
9th century (?). One of the early Irish bishops of Verdun in northern Germany, who hailed from the Irish monastery of Anabaric (D'Arcy, O'Hanlon).

Martyrs of Alexandria (RM)
Died 342. The Roman Martyrology reads "At Alexandria, the commemoration of the holy martyrs who were slain on Good Friday under the emperor Constantius and Philagrius the Prefect, when the Arians and heathens rushed into the churches." Saint Athanasius who escaped from the tumult has left a description in his second apology (Benedictines).

Philemon & Domninus MM (RM)
Date unknown. The Romans Philemon and Domninus preached the Good News in various parts of Italy, until they were martyred--probably at Rome (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Blessed Santuccia Terrebotti, OSB Widow (AC)
Born in Gubbio, Umbria, Italy; died 1305. Santuccia married and bore a daughter who died young. She and her husband mutually agreed to separate and enter religious life. She became a Benedictine at Gubbio and rose to be an abbess. Under her the community migrated to Santa Maria in Via Lata, on the Julian Way, Rome. There she inaugurated a stricter adherence to live the Benedictine Rule, although the sisters are usually called the Servants of Mary, popularly called Le Santuccie (Attwater2, Benedictines).

Serapion of Arsinoe, Abbot (AC)
4th century? Saint Serapion, one of the most famous of the desert fathers, ruled over 10,000 monks scattered throughout the desert and monastery near Arsinoe in Upper Egypt. These monks hired themselves as laborers to the farmers in order to join prayer and labor. Palladius says that each man received a wage of twelve artabes, or about forty Roman bushels or modii--all which they handed over to their abbot. These men of great austerity were given enough to subsist throughout the rest of the year and the rest was distributed among the poor, which met the needs of all the indigent nearby as well as many in Alexandria, to which several barges of grain were shipped each year. Serapion, although a priest in active ministry, joined his monks in their penitential labor, so that he could partake in their charity. His name is inserted by Saint Peter Canisius in his Germanic Martyrology on this day (Benedictines, Husenbeth). In art, he is depicted as a field laborer with a sickle (Roeder).

Serapion the Scholastic B (RM)
(also known as Serapion or Sarapion of Thmuis)

Died in Egypt c. 365-370. Serapion was an Egyptian monk of great erudition and a penetrating intellect. For a time, he ran the famous catechetical school of Alexandria, Egypt, but resigned in order to spend more time in prayer and penitential exercises. Thus, early in life he was a disciple of Saint Antony in the desert. He was also a good friend and supporter of Saint Athanasius, who tells us in his Life of Saint Antony that when Serapion visited Antony the latter often told the former events that were occurring at a distance in Egypt. Upon his death, Antony left Serapion one of his tunics of hair.

Following his consecration as bishop of Thmuis (near Diospolis) in the Nile delta, Serapion became a leading figure in ecclesiastical affairs. He was a vigorous opponent of Arianism (the Son is not consubstantial with the Father) and an avid supporter of Athanasius. For this stance, he was banished by Emperor Constantius and called a confessor by Saint Jerome. As soon as the blasphemy of Macedonianism arose, Serapion vigorously opposed this denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit and informed Athanasius, who wrote against it in four letters addressed to Serapion, in 359, while Athanasius was hiding in the desert.

Serapion also wrote an excellent book against Manicheism in which he shows that our bodies may be made the instruments of good or evil depending upon the disposition of the heart, and that both just and wicked men are often changed to the other type. It is, therefore, a self-contradiction to pretend with the Manichees that our souls are the work of God, but our bodies of the devil, or the evil principle. He also wrote several learned letters, and a treatise on the titles of the Psalms, quoted by St. Jerome, but which are now lost.

Above all, Serapion has become the best known of the saints with this name because a sacramentary ascribed to him, called the Euchologion, was discovered and published in 1899. This collection of liturgical prayers, which has been translated into English, was intended primarily for the use of a bishop. It is valuable for the knowledge of early public worship in Egypt

At Serapion's request, Athanasius composed several of his works against the Arians. A letter addressed to him Concerning the death of Arius still exists. So great was Athanasius's opinion of Serapion that he desired him to correct or add to them anything that he thought was wanting. Socrates relates that Serapion gave an abstract of his own life--an abridged rule of Christian perfection--that he often repeated: "The mind is purified by spiritual knowledge (or by holy meditation and prayer), the spiritual passions of the soul by charity, and the irregular appetites by abstinence and penance." Serapion died in exile (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on 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.