Saint John-Baptiste de la Salle
Blessed Alexander Rawlins M (AC)
Born in Gloucestershire; died April 7, 1595; beatified in 1929. Blessed Alexander was a secular priest who was educated at Rheims and ordained in 1590. He was captured while laboring in the York mission and martyred with Saint Henry Walpole for his priesthood (Benedictines).
Aphraates of Antioch, Hermit (RM)
Born in Syria; died c. 345. Saint Aphraates was born into an illustrious pagan family on Syria's border with Persia (Iran). After his conversion to Christianity, he gave up all worldly possessions and became a hermit at Edessa in Mesopotamia, where he lived in severe austerity. He then moved to a hermitage next to a monastery in Antioch, Syria, and attracted numerous visitors with his reputation for holiness and as a miracle-worker.
He publicly and valiantly opposed Arians, who attempted to exile him, but Emperor Valens refused to allow it because he thought the death of his attendants who had threatened to murder Aphraates was retribution for his threat.
Some scholars considered Aphraates identical with the bishop of the monastery of Mar Mattai near Mosul, Mesopotamia, and the author of Demonstrations, 23 treatises written between 336 and 345 (the oldest document of the Church in Syria), which give a survey of the Christian faith. This Aphraates may have suffered persecution at the hands of King Shapur the Great and was known as 'the Persian sage' (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
In art, Saint Aphraates is a hermit striking a rock from which water gushes out, or refusing a rich robe (Roeder).
Aybert of Crespin, OSB (AC)
(also known as Aibert, Albert)
Born in the diocese of Tournai, France; died 1140. A penitent recluse almost from childhood, Saint Aybert spent most of his time in prayer. Even as a child he kept watch through the night on his knees; when he was too tired to support himself, he would then prostrate himself in prayer. But he always tried to hide his devotion from others, so he would pray in the stable or in the fields. He was equally private in his fasts; therefore, he also ate some morsel so that he could answer his parents truthfully that he had eaten.
One day a poor minstrel came to his father's door and sang a hymn about the virtues and recent death of the hermit Saint Theobald. This inspired the young saint to imitate the faith and action of his elder in faith. He immediately went to Father John at the Benedictine monastery of Crespin in the diocese of Cambrai. The good father lived as a recluse in a cell near the monastery and under its direction. John accepted Aybert as his companion, but soon the student traded places with his master. They rarely ate anything but wild herbs, rarely used a fire, and never cooked.
Eventually, Aybert was received by Abbot Rainer at Crespin Abbey where he was provost and cellarer for 25 years. Yet he never let his exterior occupations interrupt his tears, prayer, or penances. After receiving permission from Abbot Lambert, Aybert spent the next 22 years as a recluse under the obedience of the abbey. But he was never entirely alone; many flocked to him for spiritual advice--so many that Bishop Burchard of Cambray promoted him to the priesthood and erected a chapel near his cell. This gave Aybert the power to minister to his visitors in the confessional and in the Eucharist. Each day he said two Masses: one for the dead and the other for the living. His devotional practice of reciting the Ave Maria 50 times in succession is connected with the origin of the rosary (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Brynach of Carn-Engyle (AC)
(also known as Bernach, Bernacus, Brenach or Bryynach the Irishman)
5th century. Brynach was an Irishman who settled in Wales, where he built a hermitage and a church at a place called Carn-Engyle (Mountain of Angels) overlooking the Nevern (Pembrokeshire). Traditionally, the place received its name because Brynach was in constant communication with the angels. His church became the principal church of the district. Some authors identify him with Saint Brannock of Braunton (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Montague, Moran).
Calliopus M (RM)
(also known as Calliope)
Died c. 303. Calliopus was martyred at Pompeiopolis, Cilicia, by being crucified upside down under Maximian (Diocletian) because of his fidelity to the Cross (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Celsus McAedh B (RM)
(also known as Ceallach or Cellach of Armagh)
Born in Ireland in 1079; died at Ardpatrick, Munster, Ireland, April 1, 1129; feast day formerly celebrated on April 1. While still a layman (though perhaps a Benedictine monk of Glastonbury), Ceallach mac Aedha succeeded to the hereditary abbacy of Armagh, Ireland, in 1105 at age 26. He decided, however, to end the scandal of religious houses governed by secular rulers and was ordained.
In 1106, he was consecrated bishop of Armagh, a role in which he effected many reforms to restore ecclesiastical discipline. He ruled well and effectively and played a major role in restoring Armagh as the primatial see of Ireland. He presided over the synod of Rath Bresail in 1111 with Gilbert of Limerick, the papal legate, when normal diocesan and metropolitan organization was established and various liturgical reforms promulgated. This synod was one of many attempts to bring Irish practice into line with that of Western Europe.
Celsus's mediation was often sought between warring Irish factions. Celsus ended the hereditary succession to his see by sending his crozier to and naming Bishop Saint Malachy of Connor, as his successor on his deathbed--a nomination that caused much pain in the see as described in Saint Malachy's biography. The vita of Celsus was written by his friend, Bishop Saint Malachy (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Montague).
Blessed Christian of Douai (PC)
Date unknown. A priest of Douai, whose relics are in the church of Saint Albinus (Benedictines).
Blessed Eberhard of Schaeffhausen, OSB Monk (PC)
(also known as Evrard)
Born 1018; died 1078. Pious prince Eberhard III, count of Nellenburg, was the husband of the pious Itta and a relative of both Pope Saint Leo IX and the emperor Saint Henry II. Eberhard and Itta protected and built convents into which each was to retire later, including the Benedictine abbey of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, in 1050, where Eberhard retired (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Edward Oldcorne & Ralph Ashley, SJ MM (AC)
Died 1606; beatified in 1929. Edward Oldcorne was born in York, ordained for the priesthood in Rome, and received into the Society of Jesus in 1587. He worked in the Midlands from 1588 until his arrest. He was condemned to death at Worcester for alleged complicity in the Gunpowder Plot. Ralph Ashley was a Jesuit lay- brother who was martyred with Fr. Oldcorne, whom he was attending (Benedictines).
Epiphanius, Donatus, Rufinus, & Comp. MM (RM)
Date unknown. Epiphanius was an African bishop with whom thirteen members of his flock were martyred (Benedictines).
Finan Cam, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Finnian of Kinnitty)
Born in Munster in the 6th century. Saint Finan was a disciple of Saint Brendan, at whose wish he founded and governed a monastery at Kinnitty (Cean-e-thich) in Offaly of which he is the patron (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).
George the Younger B (AC)
Died c. 816. Bishop George of Mitylene, Lesbos Island, is called 'the Younger' because two of his predecessors in that see and century, also named George, are venerated as saints (Benedictines).
Gibardus of Luxeuil, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Gibert)
Died c. 888. Abbot Gibardus of Luxeuil was murdered during the invasion of the Huns. He and his monks fled the abbey into the Vosges mountains but the barbarians found and killed them. Gibardus is venerated at Martinville in the Vosges (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
(also known as Woranus)
6th century. Several Cornish churches are dedicated to this friend of Saint Patrick (Benedictines).
Born in Jerusalem; died c. 180. Saint Hegesippus was a Jewish convert to Christianity in Jerusalem. He spent 20 years in Rome, from the pontificate of Saint Anicetus to that of Saint Eleutherius. He returned to Jerusalem in 177 after visiting most of the important Christian churches, and probably died at Jerusalem. He is considered the father of Church history for his five books on the history of the Church from the death of Christ up to the pontificate of Saint Eleutherius (c. 174-c. 189). Hegesippus was the first to trace the succession of popes from Saint Peter. Saint Jerome warmly commended the work and Eusebius drew on it heavily for his Ecclesiastical History. Unfortunately, only a few chapters of Hegesippus's work are extant. It should be noted that another man named Hegesippus is the compiler of the history of the destruction of Jerusalem, which was based on the history of Josephus (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Henry Walpole, SJ M (RM)
Born in Docking, Norfolk, England, in 1558; died April 7, 1595; beatified in 1929; canonized as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.
Saint Henry studied at Norwich, Cambridge (Peterhouse), and law at Gray's Inn. He was reconciled to the Church when he witnessed the execution of Saint Edmund Campion. He immediately quit studying law in order to study theology at Rheims. Henry entered the Society of Jesus in Rome, 1584, and was ordained there four years later after completing his studies at the English College.
He was sent on the missions to Lorraine, and in 1589, while acting as chaplain to the Spanish troops in the Netherlands, he was imprisoned by the Calvinists at Flushing for a year. When released he taught at Seville and Valladolid, Spain. Thereafter, Henry engaged in missionary activities in Flanders and, in 1593, was sent to the English mission.
Arrested almost on landing, he was imprisoned for a year in York and then in the Tower of London, subjected to numerous tortures, and then convicted of treason for his priesthood at York, where he was hanged, drawn, and quartered with Blessed Alexander Rawlins (Benedictines, Delaney).
Hermann Joseph, O. Praem. (AC)
Born in Cologne, Germany, in 1150; died in Steinfeld, April 7, 1241; equivalently canonized by Pope John XXIII in 1960. His baptismal name, Hermann, was apt for it means 'vir honorabilis, vir exercitus.' Early in life Hermann pictured himself as a handsome knight and the Virgin was to be his lady fair. He had the physical strength of a knight and his capacity for work was exceptional.
Hermann was reportedly as handsome and charming as Saint Norbert, who founded the order Hermann entered. He was of noble bearing, calm appearance, dignified and reserved--master of himself. Yet his face betrayed his extreme sensibility. His gentle eyes gave off 'little sparks' according to those who knew him. He treated his body as a knight does his horse: he mastered it without brutality.
And his mind was as solid as his body. Hermann was of moderate intelligence but he cultivated his mind methodically. At age 7 he began to study literature and gained an appreciation for ancient writers. Nevertheless, he felt his time was better occupied. As severe as he could be with himself, Hermann preserved a courteousness towards others that gave irrefutable evidence that he remained in the presence of his Lady.
Hermann was both an ascetic and a poet. His precocious devotion to the Virgin was inspired by poetry and courtliness. The child was frequently seen absorbed in meditation before the image of Mary; he spoke to her Son spontaneously. Perhaps God blessed him so because his soul would melt in tender love when he remembered the incarnation, and he went into raptures whenever he recited the canticle Benedictus at Lauds. One day he brought some food to symbolize an offering and the image of the Virgin extended her hand to accept his gift. On another occasion this familiarity permitted him to play with Jesus and Saint John. Young Hermann's mental balance forbids us to reject these charming visions. These continuing visions that he experienced made him famous throughout Germany.
At age 12, Hermann decided to abandon the world and enter the monastery of Steinfeld, which had been founded in 920. Between 1121 and 1126, it was occupied by Premonstratensian canons. The monastery authorities decided that Hermann should complete his studies at the order's school in Friesland prior to admittance. With his education completed Hermann returned to Steinfeld and was assigned menial duties, such as serving at table.
Soon Hermann received an assignment that delighted him: He was named sacristan which allowed him to reconcile art and piety. The community soon employed him also to minister to the Cistercian nuns at a nearby convent. Up to the day of his death, he was to have a particular fondness for this ministry.
But Hermann was also an ascetic. He subjected himself to mortifications that his artist's temperament could not properly endure. The slackening of his muscles was accompanied by a weakening of his nerves.
Hermann slept on a hard couch for only a short time each night. After
But Hermann's spiritual balance preserved its stability despite his physical disturbances. The wounded knight was to preserve his soul intact at the center of the marvels, the course of which was to continue without interruption.
Hermann Joseph underwent a final ordeal before he was to be delivered from his tortured body. No doubt it was the only spiritual ordeal of this kind that he had ever experienced: frightful spiders and flies seemed to invade his cell. The presence of a priest dispelled the nightmare, and Hermann Joseph died in peace.
In accordance with his wishes, he was buried in the Cistercian convent at Hoven. His body was exhumed after seven weeks and returned to Steinfeld. An inquisitorial investigation was ordered in 1628, and the body was found to be in a state of perfect preservation. The process of Hermann's canonization was never brought to completion, but he was beatified.
Hermann Joseph's spiritual exercises, as he called them, were surprisingly modern. The five poems he dedicated to the Virgin and Jesus, which seem to have belonged to a private devotion, have been preserved. He also wrote a commentary on the "Song of Songs," which is the only courtly romance read by mystics. He also had a special devotion to Saint Ursula.
Should we be surprised that the monk who sang the praises of the Rose was also the first to sing the praises of the Sacred Heart? In singing the praises of the Sacred Heart, Hermann Joseph did not separate the heart of Mary and that of her Son, the uncreated Wisdom of which she was the Vase of honor and its most perfect receptacle. Just as the Crusade had established the cult of the Holy Sepulchre, that is, of the empty tomb and the Risen Christ, likewise Hermann Joseph did not propose the adoration of the bleeding internal organ which was to mark, in a sometimes disquieting manner, the private revelations of Margaret-Mary Alacoque. The singer of the Sacred Heart honored the organ of tenderness, the Holy Grail.
Most of Hermann's relics rest in a titular altar at Steinfeld, where pilgrim priests say a votive Mass in his honor. Small portions of his relics have been given to several other churches. Some are enshrined and exposed to public veneration Antwerp, Louvain, and Cologne. Emperor Ferdinand II solicited his canonization at Rome, and offered several proofs of miracles for that purpose (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Hermann is depicted as a young Premonstratensian (white habit) with three roses. At times he may be shown (1) carrying the Child Jesus and a branch of roses; (2) with a chalice from which roses spring; (3) kneeling before the Virgin, who touches his hand and gives him an apple; or (4) as a schoolboy with a pen, book, and inkpot (Roeder). He is still venerated in Cologne, Steinfeld, and the Low Countries (Husenbeth, Roeder).
John-Baptist de la Salle, Priest (RM)
Born at Rheims, France, April 30, 1651; died at Rouen, France, on April 7, 1719; canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900; named patron of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950; feast day formerly on May 15.
John-Baptist de la Salle was the eldest of ten children of a wealthy and noble family. He was destined for the priesthood at age 10, tonsured the following year, and was actually made a canon of Rheims cathedral 11 years (1667) before he was ordained a priest in 1678, following his seminary training at Saint Sulpice in Paris. He seemed set for a brilliant ecclesiastical career for he was striking in appearance, well connected, refined, and scholarly. Soon after his ordination, however, he met Adrian Nyel, a layman who was opening a school in Rheims for poor boys in 1679.
He found himself drawn more and more into the project. First he rented a house for the seven masters and fed them at his table. In 1681, he invited them to share his own home in order to instill in them the high educational ideals forming in his own mind. Two of his own brothers left soon after, then five of the school masters. The endeavor seemed about to fail.
Finally, John-Baptist decided to devote himself to the mission. In 1683, he resigned his canonry and distributed his family inheritance for the relief of the famine-stricken in Champagne. Thus freed of other obligations, he dedicated himself to the education of the poor. After a false start, he realized that the first problem was the provision of teachers, so he himself began to train laymen as teachers. He called the twelve young men he gathered together the "Brethren of the Christian Schools' (which did not receive papal approval until 1725). La Salle's original intention was to have priests in his institution to take charge of each house, but when his designated successor Brother L'Heureux, whom he was about to present for ordination, died unexpectedly, he doubted whether he design had been according to God's plan. It was ultimately decided when he drew up the rule in 1695 that they should all in fact be laybrothers and no priest could become a Christian Brother. This work went on simultaneously with opening schools.
Saint John-Baptist de la Salle established the first teachers' colleges because parish priests continually sent him young men to train as teachers before returning to schools in their own villages. He sought to inspire his teachers with "a father's love for their pupils, ready to devote all their time and energies to them, as concerned to save them from wickedness as to dispel their ignorance. There were no such teachers for the poor."
In 1688, he took over a free school in Paris and started teacher training colleges in Rheims (1687), Paris (1699), and Saint-Denis (1709), and established a junior novitiate in 1685 for boys aged 15 to 20. In Paris he also introduced Sunday-schools. In 1700, the brothers opened a school in Rome. By that point they had opened schools in Avignon, Calais, Languedoc, Provence, Rouen, and Dijon.
In 1698, he began teaching the children of those who had come into exile in France with the deposed King James II of England. This brought his ideas and techniques into contact with a more influential sector of society. He was also the first to set up a reform school for delinquent boys at Dijon and even taught prisoners. Today about 20,000 of his brothers, the Christian Brothers, are still teaching throughout the world.
The successful growth of the new congregation provoked violent opposition from professional school-masters and others. In 1702 his enemies managed to get him dismissed, but all his teachers threatened to leave with him, so John-Baptist managed to keep control of his brethren.
His system of education, outlined in The Conduct of Christian Schools (Conduite des ecoles Chretiennes, English translation, 1935), was a milestone in the schooling of the young, with its use of the "simultaneous method" (as opposed to individual instruction) and its teaching through the mother tongue rather than Latin. John-Baptist believed that to teach the poor in Latin (as was the custom) was absurd. They needed to be taught to write and read their own language, and given religious and vocational training.
Matthew Arnold said of this book that later works on the subject hardly improved on its precepts and had none of its religious feeling. La Salle, who had studied at Saint-Sulpice under Louis Tronson, also wrote several works of value on prayer and meditation, including Meditations for Sundays, which was influenced by Bérulle.
Later, spurred by the Jansenists, an attack on teaching anything but manual labor to poor students caused his schools in Paris to be closed, but the storm subsided and they reopened.
John-Baptist resigned in 1717 and retired to Saint Yon, Rouen, where he lived as the humblest of brothers. He suffered from asthma and rheumatism, but would give up none of his habitual austerities. He died on Good Friday at Rouen. In 1937, his relics were translated to Rome (Attwater, Battersby, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Walsh).
Llewellwyn (LLywelyn) & Gwrnerth (AC)
6th century. Welsh monks at Welshpool and afterwards at Bardsey (Benedictines).
Nilus of Sora
(also known as Nil Maikov)
Born c. 1433; died 1508; canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1903.
Nilus, of peasant origin, was a monk of Belozersk near Lake Beloe in Russia. From there he went to Greece and lived for a long time of Mount Athos, where he made a deep study of monastic discipline and mysticism. Returning to Belozersk, in 1480, he established a small colony of semi-hermits near by on the River Sora; they devoted themselves particularly to the study, translation, and diffusion of Greek ascetical writings.
Nilus was essentially a man of freedom and moderation, who opposed religious formalism, exaggeration, and intolerance; but on the subject of monastic property his ideas were severe and uncompromising. Five years before his death he took the lead against Saint Joseph of Volokolamsk and the 'possessors'; monks ought not to own landed estates, said Nilus, but should work for what they need; even their churches should be plain and bare, lest worshippers be distracted from the beauty of God.
He had many supporters, but these 'non-possessors' were destined to lose the day after he was dead. During the 19th century there was a renewal of interest in Saint Nilus and his writings. A short instruction to his monks and a 'monastic rule,' which is really a treatise on religious life, have been translated into English (Attwater).
Pelagius of Alexandria M (AC)
Date unknown. A priest martyred at Alexandria, Egypt, who is mentioned in the Martyrology of Saint Jerome (Benedictines).
Peleusius of Alexandria M (RM)
Date unknown. The Roman Martyrology says that Peleusius was a priest of Alexandria (Benedictines).
Saturninus of Verona B (RM)
Died c. 356. Bishop of Verona of whom nothing else is known (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Ursulina of Bologna V (AC)
Born in Parma, Italy, in 1375; died in Verona, Italy, in 1410. Ursulina was much like Saint Catherine of Siena. She was a mystic accustomed to visions and ecstasies. At age 15, in response to a supernatural voice, Ursulina tried to end the scandals of the "Babylonian Captivity" of Avignon by visiting the antipope Clement VII to persuade him to give up the throne. Unsuccessful, she next went to Rome to ask Pope Boniface IX to resign, and then back again to petition Clement. After a pilgrimage to Rome and the Holy Land, she returned home and narrowly escaped being burned as a sorceress during a civil war in Parma. She fled to Bologna, where she lived for a time before retiring to Verona (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Villicus of Metz B (AC)
Died 568 (f.d. may be April 17 rather than 7th). Villicus governed the see of Metz from 543 to 568. He was praised for his virtues by Venantius Fortunatus (Benedictines).
Blessed William Cufitella, OFM Tert., Hermit (AC)
Born in Noto, Sicily; died 1411; cultus approved in 1537. For 70 years William lived as a Franciscan tertiary hermit at Scicli (Benedictines).
About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with the permission of the author. Note that the content has not been updated since that time and represents the research of the author. An alphabetical index of all saints on our site is available. Source references are also available. HTML formatting © 2007-2008 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.