St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

April 8



Aedesius of Alexandria M (RM)
(also known as Edese, Edesius)

Born in Lycia; died at Alexandria, Egypt, on April 8, c. 306. Aedesius's laus in the Roman Martyrology states: "At Alexandria, the memory of Saint Aedesius, martyr, a brother of Blessed Apphian, who, under Maximian Galerius the emperor, openly withstood an impious judge because he handed over to pimps virgins consecrated to God." The Church historian Eusebius (De Martyr. Pales., ch. 5) and Aedesius's Chaldaic acta give us further details. According to these, he was a philosopher, who continued to wear the cloak after his conversion to Christianity. Perhaps because of his standing among the educated, he seems to have had no qualms about professing his faith before magistrates. Apparently, he was imprisoned several times and had been condemned to work in the mines of Palestine. Upon his release, he sought refuge in Egypt, but found the persecution was more virulent there under the Prefect Hierocles. Aedesius, particularly offended by the enslavement and prostitution of consecrated virgins, boldly presented himself before the governor. He was seized by the soldiery, afflicted with most cruel punishments, and drowned in the sea for the Lord Christ (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

This is obviously a very confused story; Roeder has entries under both Aedesius and Edese, which appear to be the same. In art, Saint Aedesius is shown shipwrecked with his brother Saint Frumentius [sic]. Saint Edese has his legs wrapped in oiled linen before he is burned to death (Roeder). The first appears to be more in line with the story recorded in the Roman Martyrology.


Amantius of Como B (RM)
Died 440. Bishop Amantius succeeded Saint Provinus in the see of Como, Italy, where he is still highly (Benedictines).


Blessed Clement of Saint Elpidio, OSA (AC)
Born in Osimo; died 1291; cultus approved in 1572. Clement, the hermit friar of Saint Augustine, was chosen general of the order in 1270. In that position, he drew up its constitutions, where were approved in 1287. For this reason he is considered the second founder of the Augustinians (Benedictines).


Concessa of Carthage M (RM)
Date unknown. A martyr venerated from ancient times at Carthage (Benedictines).


Dionysius of Corinth B (RM)
Died c. 180; feast day in the Greek Church is November 20 or 29. Bishop Dionysius of Corinth was an outstanding leader of the Church in the second century, as well as an eloquent preacher. He is now best remembered as an ecclesiastical writer with which he attempted to instruct, exhort, and comfort those at a distance. Several of his letters to various churches are still extant. Especially noteworthy is that in which he records the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul in Rome. He says that after initiating the faith at Corinth, the Apostles both went to Italy, and there sealed their testimony with their blood. The Church historian Eusebius mentions several of his instructive letters to other churches. One extends thanks to the church of Rome, under the pontificate of Saint Soter, for the traditional alms received from them. He writes: "From the beginning, it is your custom to bestow your alms in all places, and to furnish subsistence to many churches. You send relief to the needy, especially to those who work in the mines; in which you follow the example of your fathers. Your blessed bishop Soter is so far from degenerating from your ancestors in that respect, that he goes beyond them; not to mention the comfort and advice he, with the bowels of a tender father towards his children, affords all that come to him. On this day we celebrated together the Lord's day, and read your letter, as we do that which was heretofore written to us by Clement." He means that they read these letters of instruction in the church after the reading of the holy Scriptures, and the celebration of the divine mysteries.

In another place Dionysius complains about the rampant heresies that sprang from the adoption of pagan philosophical principles, rather than from any perverse interpretation of the scriptures. Dionysius point out the source of the heretical errors and the philosophical sect from which each heresy arose.

The Greeks honor Saint Dionysius as a martyr because he suffered much for the faith, though he seems to have died in peace; while the Latin Church styles him a confessor. Pope Innocent III translated his relics to Saint Denys Abbey near Paris, where the monks believed him to be Dionysius the Areopagite (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Herodion, Asyncritus & Phlegon MM (RM)
1st century. Bishop Herodion of Patras, a kinsman of Saint Paul (Romans 16:11), was martyred with Bishop Asyncritus of Marathon and Bishop Phlegon of Hyrcania, both mentioned by the Apostle, at the instigation of the Jews (Benedictines).


Januarius, Maxima & Macaria MM (RM)
Date unknown. African martyrs of whom nothing else is known (Benedictines).


Blessed Julian of Saint Augustine, OFM (AC)
Born at Medinaceli (diocese of Segovia), Castile, Spain; died 1606; beatified in 1825. Julian was rejected twice before finally gaining admittance to the Dominican Order as a lay-brother at Santorcaz. He accompanied the Franciscan preachers on their missions. It was his custom to ring the bell through the streets to summon people to the sermon (Benedictines).


Julia (Julie) Billiart V (RM)
Born in Cuvilly (near Beauvais), Picardy, France, on July 12, 1751; died on April 8, 1816; beatified in 1906; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Julia, baptized Marie Rose Julia Billiart, was born to prosperous peasant farmers who also owned a small shop in Cuvilly. Early in life she evinced an interest in religion and helping the sick and the poor. At 14, she took a vow of chastity and dedicated herself to the service and instruction of the poor.

She was paralyzed by shock when someone shot a gun at her father, while she was sitting next to him. Thereafter, she was an invalid for 22 years. Although she was in pain, this malady gave her the luxury of spending more time in prayer.

In 1790, the curé of Cuvilly was replaced by a priest who had taken the oath prescribed by the revolutionary authorities, and Julia rallied the people to boycott him. She also helped find safe houses for fugitive priests, and for this reason was taken to Compiegne, where she had to change addresses often for her safety.

A friend brought her to Amiens to the house of Viscount Blin de Bourdon after the Reign of Terror. There she met Frances Blin de Bourdon, Viscountess de Gézaincourt, who became her friend and worked with her. Daily the viscountess and a small group of pious women gathered in Julia's sickroom for the sacrifice of the Mass. Throughout the French Revolution (1794-1804), Julia encourage the group in their works of charity. Heightened persecution forced Julia and Frances to move to a house belonging to the Doria family at Bettencourt, where, with a group of women, they conducted catechetical classes for the villages.

At Bettencourt Julia met Father Joseph Varin, who was convinced that the saint was meant to achieve great works. When Frances and Julia returned to Amiens, they laid the foundations of the Institute of Notre Dame, whose objects were to see to the religious instruction of poor children, the Christian education of girls of all classes, and the training of religious teachers. They also opened an orphanage.

The rules of the institute were somewhat innovative, requiring the abolition of the distinction between choir and lay sisters. At a mission held by the Fathers of the Faith of Amiens in 1804, the teaching of women was given to the Sisters of Notre Dame. At the end of the mission, Father Enfantin asked Julia to join him in a novena without telling her why, and on the fifth day, the feast of the Sacred Heart, he ordered her to walk. After 22 years as an invalid, at the age of 44, she got up and realized that she was cured.

Now fully functional, she worked to extend the new foundation and to assist at missions conducted by the Fathers of the Faith in other towns. She did this until the work was halted by the government. The educational work continued, however, and convents were opened at Namur, Ghent, and Tournai.

Unfortunately, Father Varin's post of confessor to the sisters was filled by a young priest who estranged Julia from the bishop of Amiens, and the bishop pressed for her withdrawal from his diocese in 1809. She moved the mother house to Namur, joined by nearly all the sisters, where she was well received by the bishop.

Soon she was vindicated and invited to return to Amiens, but since it was too difficult to restore the foundation there, Namur became the motherhouse. As of 1816, it was clear that Julia's health was failing rapidly. While repeating the Magnificat, she died. By the time of her death 15 convents had been established (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Walsh, White).


Perpetuus of Tours B (RM)
Died December 30, 490, or April 8, 491. Perpetuus, born of a senatorial family, became bishop of Tours c. 460. He dedicated the revenues of his estates to the relief of those in need. The poor, it is recorded, were his heirs (though apparently this will was a 17th century forgery): he left them pastures, groves, vineyards, houses, gardens, water-mills, gold, silver, and his clothing.

He also venerated his great predecessor Saint Martin, the soldier who had sliced his cloak in two and given half to a beggar. Martin was buried in a basilica in Tours and Perpetuus rebuilt and enlarged this fine building to house the countless pilgrims who flocked to his tomb.

One hundred twenty years later, Saint Gregory of Tours mentions that Perpetuus decreed that all the people in his diocese should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, save at a few church festivals. He also declared several Mondays in the Christian year as fasts, particularly in the time that became Advent. So great was Perptuus's influence that these fasts were still being observed in the diocese of Tours over a century after his death. And so powerful was his memory that, 13 centuries after his death, some unknown forgers drew up a fake will for the saint, declaring: "You, my dearly beloved brothers, my crown, my joy, that is to say, Christ's poor, needy, beggars, sick, widows, and orphans, you I hereby name and decree to be my heirs." Though the will was a fake, the true spirit of Saint Perpetuus shines through it (Benedictines, Bentley, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Perpetuus is a bishop directing the building of a church. Sometimes the sick may be shown being healed at his tomb or as his relics are carried in procession (Roeder).


Redemptus of Ferentino B (RM)
Died 586. Bishop Redemptus of Ferentino (Hernicis), a town south of Rome, was a friend of Saint Gregory the Great, who bears witness to his sanctity (Benedictines).


Walter of Pontoise, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born in Andainville, Picardy, France, c. 1030; died 1099.

The Bible says that the road to holiness is narrow but it doesn't tell you that the road is straight or clear. Sometimes we need to find our way to God as though following a path through a forest. Sometimes the sun pokes through but often we walk in darkness, not quite knowing whether the destination is near or far. We grope. We trip over debris from dead trees or overgrown vines. We must continue to trust that God is leading us to Himself.

Saint Walter followed a meandering path. He enjoyed his studies and became a professor of rhetoric and philosophy, for which he won success, honor, and praise. But he wasn't happy because he wasn't sure that he was on the right road to God. So, he entered the Benedictine monastery of Rebais-en-Brie (diocese of Meaux) with enthusiasm, where he practiced the most severe austerities in the hopes of escaping worldly applause. Each day until his death, Walter added some new practice of penance to his former austerities to remind himself of the obligation of continually advancing in spirit towards God.

At Rebais he found a peasant rotting in the abbey prison. Walter found it inconceivable that one could be kept in a monastery by bonds other than those of love. One night he gave the peasant the key to his fields. In the morning Walter faced the abbot's wrath, an inquisition, confession, and punishment.

After several years in Rebais (1060), Walter was made abbot of a new monastery near Pointoise, which is now called Saint Martin's. King Philip I personally made the investiture, handing him the Cross. The king considered it a bond to him, but Walter coldly placed his hand not under but over the hand of the king, saying: "It is not from you, but from God that I accept the governance of this abbey." Shock and surprise were the rather normal result, how could a man give God precedence over that of an earthly potentate?

Once again Walter enjoyed success, honors, and praise. In order to escape from the accolades, he left his cloister and walked to Cluny, where there were hundreds of monks among whom he could be anonymous. Or, at least, that's what he believed. Unfortunately, he was quickly recognized and compelled to return to Pointoise.

Once again he questioned whether he was on the road to God or the road to perdition. What if God wanted him elsewhere? He tested himself to see if his new vocation was that of a hermit and determined that it was.

One night, Walter, who had gotten into the habit of making escapes, climbed over the abbey wall. He took the road to Touraine to cover his tracks from those who were bound to seek him. In his hermitage, Walter thought he had found heaven on earth. Of course, terrestrial paradises never last for long. Soon the monks of Pointoise found him on an island in the Loire, and led him back to the abbey.

Walter must have been a very lovable character if, each time he disappeared, his monks would seek him out until they discovered him. They must have thought he had a very odd way of practicing stability, but they would not have changed their wandering abbot because he left them only in order to search for God.

The saintly abbot still wanted to flee the admiration of his fellows, but he knew that his monks would eventually catch up with him wherever he roamed. Then he had a brilliant idea: He would make his journey ad limina. He would return his cross to the holy father and at long last he would be free to seek God in his own way. He left for Rome, planning never to return to Pointoise.

God had different plans for Walter. In Rome, he explained his situation to Pope Gregory VII but the saintly pope refused Walter's plea. "Turn back, Father Abbot. From now on you must walk along the roads of the cloister and not along the grand highways of the world."

Was Walter disappointed? He was radiant. For the pope had spoken, and the pope was the spokesman for Jesus Christ. Thus, Jesus had shown him the way. And because, ever since his novitiate, he had searched for God with all his soul and all his heart and even with all his legs, he was given to understand that the image of our life that God fashions is infinitely preferable to the image that we fashion for ourselves.

When we understand that--and when that knowledge sinks from our head into our heart--then there's nothing else to do save go to heaven. Which Walter did on Good Friday in 1099. After diligent scrutiny the bishops of Rouen, Paris, and Senlis declared several miracles wrought at his tomb authentic and translated his relics on May 4. Abbot Walter Montague moved them again in 1655, and richly decorated his chapel. His life was written by a disciple (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 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.