St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

March 24



Agapitus of Synnada B (RM)
3rd century. Bishop of Synnada, Phrygia (Benedictines), who is depicted in art between a mitre and a suit of armor (Roeder).


Aldemar the Wise, OSB, Abbot (AC)
Born at Capua, Italy; died c. 1080. Saint Aldemar became a monk at Monte Cassino. From there he was sent to Saint Laurence's convent, Capua, as spiritual director but he became so popular because of the miracles he performed that he was recalled to Monte Cassino. Aldemar founded the Abbey of Bocchignano in the Abruzzi and several other houses that he ruled with much success. He was also a great lover of animals (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Blessed Bertha de'Alberti, OSB Vall., Abbess (AC)
(also known as Bertha of Cavriglia)

Born in Florence, Italy; died 1163. Born into the Alberti family, she is sometimes wrongly named de'Bardi. Bertha entered religious life at the Vallombrosan convent of Saint Felicitas in Florence from where, Blessed Qualdo Galli, the Vallombrosan general, sent her to Cavriglia as abbess. Bertha reformed and governed the convent of Santa Maria de Cavriglia in Fiesole near Florence for ten years until her death on Easter Sunday (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Caimin of Lough Derg, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Camin or Cammin of Inniskeltra)

Died 653; in some places his feast is celebrated on March 25. The Irish Saint Caimin was half-brother to King Guaire of Connaught and Cumian Fada, and himself a distinguished scholar. But he retired from the vanities of the world to live as a hermit on Inish-Keltra (Caltra) in Lough Derg near Galway. Although Saint Columba of Terryglass had founded a monastery on the island a century earlier, Saint Caimin is the reason the people call it "Holy Island" after many disciples were drawn there because of his reputation for holiness. Later in life he founded a monastery and church, named Tempul-Cammin, on the island of the Seven Churches.

The monastery on Inish-Keltra thrived through 1010 (when its last recorded abbot died) despite its being in the direct path of the Danish invaders. The abbey was plundered c. 836 and again in 922. Brian Boru restored the church c. 1009. Now, however, only ruins recall the grandeur of Inish-Keltra's past: the 80-foot tall round tower, early grave markers, and ivy-covered church ruins.

Saint Caimin was a fellow-worker with Saint Senan. A fragment of the Psalter of Saint Caimin, claimed by some to have been copied by his own hand, still exists in the Franciscan library at Killiney, County Dublin. He is also credited with authorship of the Commentary on the Hebrew Text of the Psalms (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Healy, Husenbeth, Montague, Muirhead, Neeson).


Cairlon of Cashel B (AC)
(also known as Caorlan)

6th century. Saint Cairlon was an Irish abbot who is said to have died and been raised again to life by Saint Dageus. Afterwards, when Saint Cairlon had been made archbishop of Cashel, Saint Dageus placed himself and his monks under his rule (Benedictines).


Catherine of Vadstena, Bridg. V (RM)
(also known as Catherine of Sweden)

Born at Ulfasa, Sweden, in 1331; died March 24, 1381; cultus approved in 1484 by Pope Innocent VIII.

Fourth of the eight children of Saint Bridget and her husband, Ulf Gudmarsson of Nierck, Saint Catherine was sent to Risberg Convent to be educated at a very young age. She wished to remain in the convent to pursue a religious vocation, but she was married at age 13 or 14 to Eggard (Edgard) Lydersson von Kürnen, a lifelong invalid and long- suffering man. She and Eggard took a vow to remain celibate and she tended to him with great devotion. He allowed her to do anything she pleased under the direction of the Church.

Catherine grew extremely sad when her father died and Saint Bridget went to live in Rome. For a time (as she herself told Saint Catherine of Siena), she never smiled. In 1349, Eggard permitted Catherine to travel to Rome to visit her mother during the Jubilee of 1350. While in Rome she learned of her husband's death, which Saint Bridget had prophesied. (Farmer says that she returned to Sweden and nursed her husband until his death.) Even then she was for some time extremely unhappy, because Rome in the 14th century was a dissolute place and her mother would not let her go out.

From the time of her husband's death, she lived the life of devotion that she had desired, refusing persistent suitors who wished to marry the beautiful young widow. Some of them even lay in wait for her to carry her off. One was distracted when a hart ran by just as Bridget and Catherine passed. Others, it is said, were blinded. To try to repulse such suitors, and also as an act of humility, Catherine always went about in the most ragged and threadbare clothing.

Soon Catherine was her mother's devoted, reliable, and constant assistant, and served her for the next 25 years. In 1372, she and her mother made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, returning by way of Rome, where Saint Bridget died the following year. Catherine returned with her mother's body to Sweden and there she became abbess of the convent of Vadstena, founded by her mother, and the motherhouse of the Bridgettine (Salvatorian) Order.

Now followed intense work to promote the Bridgettine Order. Bound together in double monasteries, men and women pledged themselves to live in poverty, save for the right to buy as many books as they needed for study and devotion (my kind of order!).

In 1375, she returned to Rome to win papal approval for the order. She succeeded in getting Urban VI's approval but failed in bringing about the canonization of her mother. She died soon after her return from Rome. Her vita was written by Ulpho, a Brigittine friar, thirty years after her death (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth, White).

In art, Saint Catherine is commonly depicted as a Bridgettine abbess with a hind, which, according to legend, protected her from harm on many occasions, including attacks on her chastity (Roeder, White). She may also be shown (1) holding a lily; (2) dressing a poor man's wounds; or (3) as the Blessed Sacrament is brought to her after her death (Roeder).

Saint Catherine's patronage is invoked as protection against abortion, perhaps because of the chastity of her life (White).


Blessed Didacus of Cádiz, OFM Cap. (AC)
(also known as Diego, Diaz)

Born in Cádiz, Spain, in 1743; died 1801; beatified 1894. Saint Didacus joined the Capuchins in Seville in 1759. After his ordination to the priesthood, he began to preach throughout Spain, but chiefly in Andalusia, where he is called 'the Apostle.' Whenever Didacus was not preaching about the Holy Trinity, he could be found in the confessional (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Domangard of Maghera, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Donard)

Died c. 500. The patron saint of Maghera, County Down, Ireland, lived as a hermit on the mountain now called after him Slieve- Donard (Benedictines, Montague).


Epigmenius M (RM)
Died c. 300. A Roman priest martyred under Diocletian. Saint Epigmenius may be identical to Saint Pigmenius (Benedictines).


Hildelid of Barking, OSB Abbess (AC)
(also known as Hildelitha, Hildeltha, Hildilid, Hildelida)

Died c. 717; other feasts are on December 22, September 3, March 7 (translation), and September 23 (translation). Though English, the young Anglo-Saxon princess Saint Hildelid was raised in France. She took the veil there either at Chelles or Faremoutier. Saint Erconwald recalled her to England to train her sister, Saint Ethelburga, to be abbess of Barking. It seems, however, that her association as Ethelburga's sister is in the religious, rather than familial, sense, even though Barking was a family monastery that belonged to Erconwald.

When Ethelburga took the reins as abbess, Hildelid remained there as one of her nuns, and eventually succeeded her about 675. She ruled well for many years, enlarged the rather cramped monastic buildings, and translated the relics of holy nuns from the cemetery to the church. Hildelid won the admiration of Saints Aldhelm, Bede, and Boniface; Saint Aldhelm dedicated his book On Virginity to her and her sisters. The work presupposed advanced Latin reading skills, which indicates the erudition of the nuns. Boniface mentions one of her visions that she described to him. In the diocese of Brentwood, her feast is kept together with that of Saint Cuthburga (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill).


Irenaeus of Sirmium BM (RM)
Died 304; feast day formerly March 25 (due to an error in the Roman Martyrology) and originally on April 6, the date of his death. Saint Irenaeus, bishop of the capital of Pannonia, suffered martyrdom under Diocletian at Sirmium (Mitrovica) in Serbia near Budapest. His acta are authentic and most touching. These relate that Irenaeus was a handsome young bishop, who was arrested and tried before Governor Probus of Pannonia. When the governor informed him of his civic obligation to sacrifice to the gods, Irenaeus answered: "The law of my God commands me rather to suffer all torments than to sacrifice to the gods." When threatened with torture, Irenaeus responds, "You cannot do me a greater pleasure; for by that means you will make me partake of the sufferings of my Savior. When prodded on the rack, Irenaeus says, "I sacrifice to my God, by confessing his holy name, and so have I always sacrificed to him."

The torture was all the greater because Irenaeus' entire family was gathered round him, expressing great concern for his well-being. His children embraced his feet, crying out: "Father, dear father, have pity on yourself and on us." His weeping wife threw herself about his neck, tenderly embraced him, and begged him to save himself for her sake, his innocent children, and the pledges of their mutual love. His sobbing mother sighed and cried, together with their servants, neighbors, and friends. Difficult as it was, Irenaeus recalled our Savior's words, "If anyone renounce me before men, I will renounce him before the Father who is in Heaven."

The governor tried to use his family to tempt him to sacrifice out of compassion for the many who mourned his fate. Unmoved, Irenaeus was sent to prison, where he was repeatedly tormented. During his second hearing, the governor asked if he had living relatives. Irenaeus answered, no. Probus then questioned, "Who then were those that wept for you at your first examination?" Irenaeus replied from Scripture: "Our Lord Jesus Christ hath said: 'He that loves father or mother, wife or children, brothers or relations more than me is not worthy of me.' So, when I lift up my eyes to contemplate that God whom I adore and the joys he hath promised to those who faithfully serve him, I forget that I am a father, a husband, a son, a master, a friend."

Probus said: "But you do not therefore cease to be so. Sacrifice at least for their sakes."

Irenaeus replied: "My children will not lose much by my death; for I leave them for Father that same God whom they adore with me; so let nothing hinder you from executing the orders of your emperor upon me."

Probus: "Don't throw yourself away. I cannot avoid condemning you."

Irenaeus: "You cannot do me a greater favor, or give me a more agreeable pleasure."

Probus then sentenced him: "I order that Irenaeus, for disobeying the emperor's commands, be cast into the river."

Irenaeus replied: "After so many threats, I expected something extraordinary, and you content yourself with drowning me. How comes this? You do me an injury; for you deprive me of the means of showing the world how much Christians, who have a lively faith, despise death, though attended with the most cruel torments." The enraged Probus added that he should be beheaded first. Irenaeus returned thanks to God as for a second victory.

His last words were: "Lord Jesus Christ, who deigned to suffer for the world's salvation, let Your heavens open that Your angels may take up the soul of Your servant Irenaeus, who suffers all this for Your name and for the people formed of your Catholic Church of Sirmium. I ask and implore Your mercy to receive me and to strengthen them in Your faith." Thereafter, he was taken to the bridge of Diana, stripped, beheaded, and thrown into the river (Attwater2, Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).


Blessed John del Bastone, OSB Sil. (AC)
Died 1290. John was one of the first disciples of Saint Silvester at Monte Fano (Benedictines).


Latinus of Brescia B (RM)
Died 115. Saint Flavius Latinus, successor to Saint Viator, became the third bishop of Brescia about AD 84 and governed the see until his death. He is said to have suffered imprisonment and torture with other Christians (Benedictines).


Mark and Timothy MM (RM)
Died c. 150. Two Roman martyrs of post-apostolic times, who are mentioned by Pope Saint Pius I in a letter to the bishop of Vienne in Gaul (Benedictines).


Pigmenius of Rome M (RM)
(also known as Pigmentius)

Died 362. A Roman priest, friend of Bibiana (Viviana), martyred under the same Emperor Julian the Apostate by being thrown into the Tiber River, although Julian had initially spared him in remembrance of his earlier tutelage (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Romulus & Secundus (Secundulus) MM (RM)
Date unknown. Two brothers who suffered in proconsular Africa (Benedictines).


Seleucus (RM)
Date unknown. The only record of the Syrian Saint Seleucus is in Eastern calendars, which honor him as a martyr (Benedictines).


Simon of Trent M (RM)
(also known as Simeon)

Born in Trent, Italy, in 1472; died 1475. According to reports of the time, Simon was a 2-1/2-year-old Christian boy living in Trent, Italy. The story was told that the Jews met in the synagogue on Tuesday of Holy Week to decide how to celebrate Passover that year, which fell on Holy Thursday. Reportedly, they decided to sacrifice a Christian child on Good Friday out of hatred for Christ. A Jewish doctor cajoled young Simon from his home while his parents were attending the Tenebrae service on Wednesday evening. The story continues that he was murdered at midnight on Holy Thursday. The description of his crucifixion is horrid. After his death his body was supposedly hidden in various places to prevent his parents from finding it and finally thrown into the river.

Under intensive and terrible torture, those arrested for the crime admitted to it, were executed after further torture, and burnt. The synagogue was destroyed and a chapel erected on the spot where the child was thought to have been martyred. The child's relics now rest in a stately tomb in Saint Peter's Church in Trent. Though the murder was blamed on the Jews of Trent, there never has been any proof that such a crime was committed for ritualistic purposes. The account of Tiberinus, the physician who inspected the child's body, and the juridical acts can be found in Surius and the Bollandists, with Henschenius's notes on this day.

The trial was reviewed in Rome by Sixtus IV in 1478 but he did not authorize the cultus of Saint Simon. This was done by Sixtus V in 1588, largely on account of miracles worked at his shrine.

While miracles were later reported at the child's tomb, this is not one of the more stellar events in the history of the Church as evidenced by the removal of his name from the Roman Martyrology in 1965 by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, which forbade all future veneration. The cause of the child's death is considered quite uncertain.

Now, you may ask why his feast is celebrated liturgically if it is forbidden. I don't know but I'll venture a guess. There are probably some churches which had been dedicated to his patronage and celebrate their patronal feast day. It is indeed possible that Simon is numbered among the saints in heaven, as evidenced by the miracles, but not for being a martyr, which is the primary reason the cultus was banned (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth, Sheppard).

In art, Saint Simon is a child crucified, tortured, or mocked by Jews. At times he may be shown (1) strangled with a cloth around his neck, holding a banner, nails, and pincers; or (2) with a palm (sign of a martyr) and long bodkin (Roeder).


Timolaus & Companions MM (RM)
Died 303. Timolaus was one of a group of eight who were beheaded at Caesarea, Palestine, under Diocletian. Eusebius gives the names as Dionysius (two), Romulus, Pausis, Alexander (two), and Agapius (Benedictines).


William of Norwich M (AC)
Died 1144. William of Norwich is one of many boy "martyrs" who were allegedly ritually murdered by Jews out of hatred for the Christian faith. There were six other reports in the 12th century and 116 others between the 13th and 20th centuries. In some cases, a Jew did kill a child who happened to be a Christian, but the accusation of religious malice is ill-placed in most, if not all, cases.

At age 12, William of Norwich, an apprentice to a tanner in Norwich, England, died March 25, 1144 (Holy Saturday). He was abducted by a stranger who lured the boy with the promise that he would become the archdeacon's kitchen-boy. Another version says that William was kidnapped by two Jews and ritually tortured and crucified in derision of Christ. On Easter Day, the killers presumably put the body into a sack and hung it on a tree in Thropwood (Mousehold Wood) near the gates of Norwich. His body was found in a wood outside Norwich, where a chapel was built and named Saint William's in the Wood. (The chapel fell into decay before the Reformation after a brief period as a pilgrimage site.) The story was forgotten until in 1149 a Jew named Eleazer was murdered, so William's murder was brought up.

There is no doubt that the boy was murdered, and the murderers may have been Jews, but there is no evidence that the boy was killed by Jews out of hatred for Christians, as was alleged at the time. His uncle Godwin raised the assertion that William was that year's victim of the annual sacrifice. The authorities did not credit the story; but the common people did, and William was venerated locally as a martyr. Because of the miracles said to have occurred at his grave, in 1144, his body was moved into the churchyard of Holy Trinity Cathedral; in 1150, into the choir. His cultus began in earnest when his body was translated in 1154 to the cathedral's martyrs' chapel (later the Jesus Chapel).

Though William's cultus was popular at the time, it didn't last very long. Visions and supposed miracles accompanied a translation; but by 1314 offerings at the shrine were substantially reduced and nearly non-existent by 1343. Even within the community of Norwich itself, there were doubts from the beginning. Papal letters from Innocent IV in 1247 and Gregory X in 1272 vigorously refuted the accusations against the Jews of ritual murder. These may have had some effect on the cultus, which was always only local.

This was the first accusation of its kind, but not the last (see Saint Simon of Trent; Richard of Pontoise; Little Hugh of Lincoln). Belief that the Jews killed Christian children for ritual purposes--though condemned by the popes--was fed in the later middle ages by a growing anti-semitism. No instance of the charge has been substantiated. For more information on the history of William's martyrdom and miracles, see Thomas of Monmouth, a contemporary monk of Norwich who wrote William's vita c. 1169; also the Saxon Chronicle of the person; and Bloomfield's History of Norfolk (Anderson, Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Jessop, Roth, Sheppard).

In art, William is represented as a boy carrying three nails or being stabbed and crucified, while Jews look on. Screen paintings of William survive at Loddon, Eye, and Worstead in East Anglia (Farmer).



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.