St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo B
(Optional Memorial)
March 23

Benedict of Campania (RM)
(also known as Benedict the Hermit)

Died c. 550. This saint was a contemporary of Saint Benedict of Monte Cassino. He lived as a hermit in the Campagna region of Italy. The Goths tried to burn the monk alive, but he miraculously escaped the next day (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Domitius, Pelagia, Aquila, Eparchius & Theodosia MM (RM)
Died 361. Saint Domitius was a Phrygian who was martyred by Julian the Apostate, probably at Caesarea in Palestine. It is possible that he is the unnamed martyred in the acta of Saint Basil of Ancrya. He publicly attacked the public entertainments in the circus, which were dedicated to the heathen gods (Benedictines).

Ethelwald of Farne, OSB (AC)
(also known as Ethelwald or Oidilwald the Hermit)

Died 699 (either March 23 or April 21). In 687, Saint Ethelwald, a holy priest-monk of Ripon Monastery, succeeded Saint Cuthbert as the hermit on the lonely island of Farne. The Venerable Bede relates the story of a miracle wrought by Ethelwald: His prayers abated a severe wind storm, which had threatened Guthrid and two other visiting monks from Lindisfarne with shipwreck. Upon Ethelwald's death, his body was translated to Lindisfarne and laid next to those of Saints Cuthbert and Edbert. Later his relics were carried from place to place with those of Cuthbert until they were settled in Durham cathedral. Many miracles were attributed by Florence of Worcester to the intercession of Saint Ethelwald (Attwater2, Benedictines, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).

Felix of Montecassino, OSB (AC)
Died c. 1000. Saint Felix was a Benedictine who lived his life in one of the daughter houses of Monte Cassino. Many miracles were recorded at his tomb. For this reason his remains were raised for veneration by the bishop of Chieti, Italy (Benedictines).

Felix and Companions MM (RM)
5th century. This group of 21 martyrs may have suffered in the same Vandal persecution as Saint Victorian and Companions. All that is certain is that they died in Africa (Benedictines).

Fidelis M (RM)
Date unknown. He may be a member of the group of 21 martyrs led by Saint Felix (Benedictines).

Gwinear, Phiala & Comp. MM (AC)
(Gwinear is also known as Fingar, Guigner, Gwinnear)

Died 460. This saint's vita was not written by Anselm, probably a Cornish canon, until about eight centuries after his death. There is evidence that the basics of the story are true. When Saint Patrick was evangelizing Ireland, he came to the court of King Clito and was treated with scorn. But the king's son Gwinear was more courteous than his father. Though not yet a Christian, he recognized Patrick's piety and rose to his feet to offer the saint his own seat.

Later, as he was hunting and at the same time meditating on Christianity, he was converted. Gwinear let his horse go free and began to live as a hermit. After King Clito's death, the saint returned home, but not to assume the throne. Instead he took 770 men and women (including his converted sister Piala) to spread the Christian faith in Wales and Brittany. At first they landed at the mouth of the Hayle River.

Among the celebrated miracles alleged to have been performed by the saint, one--at Puvigner in Brittany--indicates his reputation for loving animals. Short of water the saint struck the ground and created not one fountain but three: one for himself, the other two for his dog and his horse.

The saint and many of his followers died as martyrs. The Cornish tyrant Teudar had long hated the Christians. He kept a lake filled with reptiles in amongst which he threw those he disliked. It is said that Teudar came upon a band of Gwinear's Christian friends "from behind" and killed them.

Later Gwinear and some companions came across their bodies. The saint knew his own martyrdom could not be far off. "Here brethren is the place of our rest," he told his companions. "Here God has appointed that we should cease from our labors. Come therefore and let us gladly sacrifice our lives for him. Let us not fear them that kill the body. Rather let us fear him who has power to cast both body and soul into hell."

Shortly afterwards the saint was caught by Teudar and beheaded at Hayle near Penzance. A basilica was built in later years over his grave. And the Cornish village of Gwinear bears his name to this day. He is also still venerated in Pluvigner (diocese of Vannes), Brittany, as Saint Guigner, where his legend has adapted to local conditions. At Pluvigner, there is a stained glass window of Gwinear hunting a stag with a cross between its antlers (reminiscent of Saint Eustace) and a well near the church to which processions go on the day of Pardon.

Some of Gwinear's company escaped and gave their names to churches from Saint Ives to Porthleven. While there is no reliable evidence that Gwinear and his companions were Irish or missionaries nor that they were massacred by a tyrant, the historical record suggests that he came from Wales with another local saint, Meriadoc, evangelized the district of Comborne and Gwinnear (Cornwall), and went to Brittany (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

Joseph Oriol (RM)
(also known as José Orioli)

Born in Barcelona, Spain, on November 23, 1650; died there on March 23, 1702; beatified by Pope Pius VII on May 15, 1896; canonized in 1909. Father Joseph Oriol is remembered for the heroism of his virtues, for the example he proposes to Christians, and for the singular favors God accorded him.

Joseph is a saint among thousands of saints; but, for more than three centuries, history and legend together have justified the cognomen his parishioners gave him, even before he died: "wonder- worker of Barcelona." A saint among thousands of saints; but, for about three centuries, history and legend have emphasized the healings, the prophecies, the miracles of all kinds of which Joseph Oriol was the instrument.

Joseph Oriol was born of a poor family. His good conduct, his particular devotion to the Blessed Sacrament persuaded his parish priest to prepare him for the priesthood. He earned a doctorate in theology. In 1675, he was ordained and soon Innocent XI granted him a benefice at Santa Maria del Pino in his native city. In spite of his attempts and temptations, Joseph Oriol never left his parish.

Although he hoped to evangelize the infidels, God showed him that he had another vocation. On his way to Rome, Father Joseph fell ill and experienced a vision that outlined his new mission: He was to reinvigorate the faith of lukewarm hearts in Barcelona. Thus, Joseph Oriol instructed children, evangelized soldiers, and prayed and urged others to pray for the living and the dead.

He wore a hair-shirt, lived only on bread and water for 26 years, and used the discipline on himself. Nevertheless, he is not remembered for his austerity, but rather for his faith, hope, and love of God and neighbor. He epitomized the exercise of these virtues to such a high degree of perfection that the Devil was worried, persecuted him and even left his imprint on his flesh. But only on the flesh. Joseph Oriol remained firm on the path of justice and God manifested his Power and favors through his servant with extraordinary gifts. Death finally ended his life on the date he had announced.

Others would prefer, perhaps, that for the above conventional picture we substitute the one of the wonder-worker, the image of a veritable "medium," worthy heir of the charlatans of paganism, worthy rival of the sorcerers of fetishism, a conjurer as well as a man contemptuous of natural laws.

But that kind of picture does not deal with holiness. Holiness takes hold of man and utilizes him. It takes hold of the conscious and the unconscious, it takes hold of the miracle-man who, without holiness, would be less than a man, the inverted reflection of a saint (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Julian M (RM)
Date unknown. The Roman Martyrology calls Julian a confessor, but it appears that he was also a martyr (Benedictines).

Liberat and Companions (RM)
Died 484. Saint Liberat, who was a physician, his wife, and children were exiled by the Vandals under Hunneric. When they had been arrested, their infant children were taken from them. His wife stemmed his tears by saying: "Think no more of them, Jesus Christ himself will take care of them, and protect their souls." While in prison she was told by the heretics that her husband had conformed. For this reason, when she met him at their trial, scolded him in open court for having abandoned God. He told her that their tormentors had lied in an attempt to persuade her to do likewise. Twelve young children, when dragged away by the persecutors, held their companions by the knees till they were torn away by violence. They were beaten and scourged daily for a long time; yet by God's grace every one of them persevered until they were allowed to escape into exile (Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

Maidoc of Fiddown, Abbot (AC)
5th century. Saint Maidoc, the Irish abbot of Fiddown in Kilkenny, was very highly esteemed (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Nicon and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 250. Nicon, a distinguished Roman soldier, was converted to Christianity while traveling in the East. His master, Theodosius of Cyzicus, left him in charge of 200 disciples. When persecution threatened Palestine, they fled to Sicily where they were martyred under Decius. In error, the Roman Martyrology assigns their suffering to Caesarea in Palestine (Benedictines).

Blessed Peter Ghisengi, OSA (AC)
(also known as Peter of Gubbio)

Born at Gubbio, Umbria, Italy; died c. 1250-1350(?); cultus confirmed by Pope Pius IX. Blessed Peter was a scion of the distinguished Ghisleni family. He became an Augustinian hermit and later the provincial of his congregation. He is venerated at Gubbio, where his relics rest and where many miracles were reported at his tomb (Attwater2, Benedictines).

Blessed Rafqa Shabaq al-Rayes V (AC)
(also known as Rafka, Rebecca, Pierina, or Boutrosiya)

Born in Hemlaya, Lebanon, June 29, 1832; died October 23, 1914; beatified November 17, 1985.

Too often we forget that there are other rites within the Catholic Church beyond the Roman Rite. Blessed Rafqa (Rebecca) is God's gift to the universal Church from the Maronites, which hale from Lebanon. Raqfa, like the bride in the Song of Songs, listened to her Beloved's call: "Come from Lebanon, my promised bride, Come from Lebanon, come on your way. Look down from the heights of Amanus, From the crests of Senir and Hermon, The haunt of lions, The mountains of leopards. The scent of your garments Is like the scent of Lebanon. She is a garden enclosed, My sister, my promised bride; a garden enclosed A sealed fountain Fountain of the garden, Well of living water, Streams flowing down from Lebanon!" [vv. 4:1-15].

Pierina (Petronilla), the only child Mourad Saber Shabaq al-Rayes and his wife Rafqa Gemayel, was named after Saint Peter on whose feast she was born in the land of the Canaanites and Phoenicians. This blind seer, known as the "Little Flower of Lebanon," the "Purple Rose," and the "Silent, Humble Nun," related the story of her life to her mother superior months before her death.

Life in Lebanon was not easy even in the 19th century and was made more difficult for Pierina by the death of her mother when she was six years old. She worked as a house maid in Syria for four years (1843-1847) and a few years later (1853) entered the Marian Order of the Immaculate Conception as a postulant at the convent of Our Lady of Liberation in Bikfaya. Saint Maron's Day 1855 she was received as a novice and took the name Anissa (Agnes). Five years later she witnessed the massacre of Christians in Deir-el-Qamar. In 1871, her order was united with that of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to form the Order of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Each nun was given the choice of entering the new order, another existing order, or being dispensed from her vows.

Throughout her life, Raqfa was gifted with extraordinary revelations by voices, dreams, and visions. In 1871, Sister Anissa went to Saint George's Church in Batroun to pray about the future of her vocation. That night she dreamed that Saint Antony the Hermit told her to become a nun in the Baladiya Order of the Maronites. At the age of 39 (July 12, 1871), she responded to the dream by entering the ascetic Baladiya Order at the cloistered convent of Saint Simon in El-Qarn, where she was known as Boutrosiya from Hemlaya. She made her perpetual vows and received the veil from Father Superior Ephrem Geagea al-Bsherrawi on August 25, 1873, and took the name Rafqa (Rebecca).

As a member of an ascetic order, in 1885, Rafqa asked our Lord to let her share in His suffering. From that night on her health began to deteriorate. Shortly she was blind and crippled and still she imposed greater penances upon herself, such as eating only the leftover scraps of food. She continued to share in the prayers of the community and its work by spinning wool and knitting of stockings. By 1907, Sister Rafqa was totally paralyzed and in constant pain, but by uniting her suffering with Christ's she was able to bear all with joy, without complaint.

Four days after her death, her superior, Sister Doumit experienced the first of many miracles wrought at the intercession of Blessed Rafqa (Hourani, Zayek).

Blessed Sibyllina Biscossi, OP Tert. (AC)
(also known as Sybillina)

Born in Pavia, Italy, in 1287; died 1367; cultus approved in 1853; beatified in 1854.

"All things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). How many of us would have the faith to trust in God's providence as did this holy woman? As Mother Angelica has witnessed, true faith is knowing that when the Lord asks you to walk into the void, He will place a rock beneath your feet. True faith is to be able to praise God in all things; to say with Job, "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

Sybillina's parents died when she was tiny and as soon as she was old enough to be of use to anyone, the neighbors, who had taken her in at the time she was orphaned, put her out to work. She must have been very young when she started to work, because at the age of 12, when she became blind and could not work any more, she already had several years of work behind her.

The cause of her blindness is unknown, but the child was left doubly destitute with the loss of her sight. The local chapter of the Dominican tertiary sisters took compassion on the child and brought her home to live with them. After a little while of experiencing their kind help, she wanted to join them. They accepted her, young though she was, more out of pity than in any hope of her being able to carry on their busy and varied apostolate.

They were soon agreeably surprised to find out how much she could do. She learned to chant the Office quickly and sweetly, and to absorb their teaching about mental prayer as though she had been born for it. She imposed great obligations of prayer on herself, since she could not help them in other ways. Her greatest devotion was to Saint Dominic, and it was to him she addressed herself when she finally became convinced that she simply must have her sight back so that she could help the sisters with their work.

Praying earnestly for this intention, Sybillina waited for his feast day. Then, she was certain, he would cure her. Matins came and went with no miracle; little hours, Vespers--and she was still blind. With a sinking heart, Sybillina knelt before Saint Dominic's statue and begged him to help her. Kneeling there, she was rapt in ecstasy, and she saw him come out of the darkness and take her by the hand.

He took her to a dark tunnel entrance, and she went into the blackness at his word. Terrified, but still clinging to his hand, she advanced past invisible horrors, still guided and protected by his presence. Dawn came gradually, and then light, then a blaze of glory. "In eternity, dear child," he said. "Here, you must suffer darkness so that you may one day behold eternal light."

Sybillina, the eager child, was replaced by a mature and thoughtful Sybillina who knew that there would be no cure for her, that she must work her way to heaven through the darkness. She decided to become a anchorite, and obtained the necessary permission. In 1302, at the age of 15, she was sealed into a tiny cell next to the Dominican church at Pavia. At first she had a companion, but her fellow recluse soon gave up the life. Sybillina remained, now alone, as well as blind.

The first seven years were the worst, she later admitted. The cold was intense, and she never permitted herself a fire. The church, of course, was not heated, and she wore the same clothes winter and summer. In the winter there was only one way to keep from freezing--keep moving--so she genuflected, and gave herself the discipline. She slept on a board and ate practically nothing. To the tiny window, that was her only communication with the outside world, came the troubled and the sinful and the sick, all begging for her help. She prayed for all of them, and worked many miracles in the lives of the people of Pavia.

One of the more amusing requests came from a woman who was terrified of the dark. Sybillina was praying for her when she saw her in a vision, and observed that the woman--who thought she was hearing things--put on a fur hood to shut out the noise. The next day the woman came to see her, and Sybillina laughed gaily. "You were really scared last night, weren't you?" she asked. "I laughed when I saw you pull that hood over your ears." The legend reports that the woman was never frightened again.

Sybillina had a lively sense of the Real Presence and a deep devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. One day a priest was going past her window with Viaticum for the sick; she knew that the host was not consecrated, and told him so. He investigated, and found he had indeed taken a host from the wrong container.

Sybillina lived as a recluse for 67 years. She followed all the Masses and Offices in the church, spending what few spare minutes she had working with her hands to earn a few alms for the poor (Attwater2, Benedictines, Dorcy).

Theodolus of Antioch (RM)
(also known as Theodore, Theodoricus)

Date unknown. The only fact known about this saint is that he was a priest of Antioch, Syria. He does not appear to have been martyred (Benedictines).

Turibius Mongrovejo B (RM)
(also known as Toribio of Turribius of Lima)

Born in Mayorga, León, Spain, on November 16, 1538; died at Santa (Sana) near Lima, Peru, on March 26 (or 23), 1606; beatified by Pope Innocent XI on June 28, 1679; canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726; feast day formerly on April 27.

Turibius (Toribio) Alphonsus was the son of Don Luis Alfonso de Mogrovejo and Dona Ana de Robles y Moran. Although he was devoted from a young age, he had no plans to become a priest. He studied at Valladolid and Salamanca, and was such a successful student that he became a professor of law at the University of Salamanca. In February 1571, although he was still a layman, King Philip II appointed him the chief judge of the ecclesiastical court of the Inquisition at Granada.

In 1580, when the authorities required an archbishop of strong character to work to convert the Peruvians of Lima, they selected Turibius. He was horrified by this decision, and he presented the canons forbidding the promotion of laymen to Church offices to support his contention. He was overruled, however, was ordained priest, consecrated bishop, and arrived in Lima, Peru, on May 24, 1581.

The saint proved to be a wise selection because he was a most zealous shepherd of souls. Upon his arrival he was confronted with an enormous diocese of 18,000 square-miles--his first visitation took him seven years--and one in which the Spanish were guilty of mistreatment of the native population. Undaunted he began his work, traversing his entire diocese three times, generally on foot because there were no roads, defenseless, and often alone, exposed to tempests, torrents, deserts, wild beasts, tropical heat, and fevers.

He came into immediate conflict with the secular authorities over the treatment of the Quechuans, whose rights he defended and whose dialects he learned to speak. He found that many of the baptized Indians knew little or nothing about Christianity and proceeded to evangelize them. He fought injustice and vice, among the clergy as well as the laymen, and succeeded in eliminating many of the worst abuses. At the same time, he helped Spaniards who were too proud to ask for help in such a way that they were not aware of his assistance.

He himself baptized and confirmed nearly a million souls. He continuously studied the various Indian dialects to assist in converting the native population. Among his flock were Saint Rose of Lima, whom he befriended and confirmed, Saint Francis Solanus, Saint Martin de Porres, and Saint John Massias.

He founded many churches, religious houses, and hospitals, and, in 1591, founded the first American seminary in Lima. He also assembled 13 diocesan synods. His favorite topic when preaching was: "Time is not our own and we must give a strict accounting of it."

Turibius fell ill at Pacasmayo but worked to the end. On one of his journeys he arrived at Sana in dying condition; he dragged himself to the sanctuary and there received the viaticum, dying almost immediately thereafter. He left his belongings to his servants and the rest of his property to the poor.

His cultus was strongly celebrated in Latin America on April 27, until his feast was added to the universal calendar on March 23. He was selected for this worldwide cultus as a type of pioneering missionary and reforming bishop, and as a representative of South America, whose enormous Catholic population is often forgotten (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Schamoni, White).

In art, Saint Turibius is portrayed as a bishop kneeling on the altar steps, surrounded by angels (Roeder). Saint Turibius is the patron saint of bishops of Latin American (White).

Victorian, Frumentius & Comps. MM (RM)
Died at Hudrumetum in 484. When Huneric succeeded his father Genseric as the Arian king of the Vandals in 477, the African Catholics were extended a degree of toleration. But in 480, he again began persecuting priests and virgins and by 484 extended his rage to simple believers.

Victorian, a wealthy Catholic of Adrumetum, was appointed proconsul by Hunneric. He always behaved with fidelity toward the king until the day Hunneric sent a message to him demanding that he conform to the Arian perversity of the Faith. Victorian immediately gave his answer: "Tell the king that I trust in Christ. If his majesty pleases, he may condemn me to the flames, or to wild beasts, or to any torments: but I shall never consent to renounce the Catholic church in which I have been baptized. Even if there were no other life after this, I would never be ungrateful and perfidious to God, who hath granted me the happiness of knowing him, and who hath bestowed on me his most precious graces."

Of course, Hunneric did not take this answer well. Victorian was subjected to torture, which he suffered with joy, ending in his martyrdom.

The Roman Martyrology records that four other wealthy merchants were martyred on that same day. The two of them were merchants of Carthage, both named of Frumentius. The other two were brothers of the city of Aquae-regiae, Byzacona, who were apprehended for the faith, and conducted to Tabaia. They had promised each other and begged God to allow them to suffer and die together. The persecutors hung them in the air with great weights at their feet. One of them, under the excess of pain, begged to be taken down for a little ease.

His brother feared that he might be losing the will to remain faithful. From his rack he cried out: "God forbid, dear brother, that you should ask such a thing. Is this what we promised to Jesus Christ? Should not I accuse you at His terrible tribunal? Have you forgotten what we have sworn upon his body and blood, to suffer death together for his holy name?"

These words encouraged the other: "No, no; I ask not to be released: on the contrary, add new weights, if you please, increase my tortures, exert all your cruelties till they are exhausted upon me."

They were then subjected to new tortures including being burnt with red-hot plates of iron, but miraculously their bodies bore no sign of scars or bruises. Finally, their tormentors left them saying: "Everybody follows their example, no one now embraces our religion" (Attwater2, Benedictines, 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.