St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

April 12



Alferius, OSB (AC)
(also known as Alfere, Adalfere, Alpherius, Adalfericus)

Born in Salerno, Italy, in 930; died 1050; cultus confirmed in 1893. Saint Alferius, born into the Norman Pappacarbone family, was ambassador from the court of Gisulf, duke of Salerno, to France when he fell ill at the abbey of Chiusa, Italy. Upon his recovery, he professed himself at Cluny under Saint Odilo. The duke of Salerno asked him to return home to reform the monasteries of his principality, and Alferius obeyed but the task was beyond his capabilities.

The saint settled at the picturesque Mount Fenestra near Salerno and there founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity of La Cava under the Cluniac Rule. Soon the abbey had hundreds of affiliated houses and became a potent civilizing influence in southern Italy and Sicily. Alferius governed the abbey until he was age 120. He died on Holy Thursday, alone in his cell after he had celebrated the Mass and washed the feet of his brothers, including the future Pope Victor III. The cults of eleven other abbots of La Cava were confirmed in 1893 and 1928 (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Walsh).


Blessed Andrew of Montereale, OSA (AC)
Born at Mascioni (near Rieti), Italy, in 1397; died 1480; cultus confirmed in 1764. When Andrew was 14 he joined the Augustinians at Montereale. After being ordained a priest, he preached for 50 years throughout Italy and France, while disciplining his own body by severe fasts. Known for his holiness and his learning, Andrew was for a time provincial of his order in Umbria (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Angelo Carletti, OFM (AC)
(also known as Angelus of Chivasso)

Born in Chivasso (near Turin), Italy; died 1495; cultus approved by Benedict XIII. Saint Angelus studied law in Bologna and practiced it at Monferrato. He was elected senator of the Piedmont, but left all public honors to become an Observant Franciscan in Genoa. Soon, he was filling important church offices because he was a steadfast leader and he was popular among people of all ranks and temperments. He was famous for his tireless efforts to rescue the poor from the clutches of usurious money-lenders. When he was over 80 years old, Carletti preached among the Saracens and Waldensians and effected many conversions. He also wrote a book of "Moral Cases" (the Summa Angelica) (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Constantine of Gap B (RM)
(also known as Constantius)

Died 529. Constantine was the first bishop of Gap, France, about whom nothing else is known (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Damian of Pavia B (RM)
Died 710. Bishop Damian of Pavia, Lombardy, Italy, was elected to that office in 680. He vigorously opposed the Monothelites, and acted successfully as peacemaker between the Byzantine emperor and the Lombards (Benedictines).


Erkemboden of Thérouanne, OSB B (AC)
Died 714; Attwater places his feast on April 20. As a monk of Sithiu at Saint-Omer, Saint Erkemboden succeeded the founder, Saint Bertinus, as abbot. Thereafter he became bishop of Thérouanne, while continuing to rule the abbey. He was bishop for 26 years. So many miracles occurred at his shrine that pilgrim came in droves, leaving so many offerings that within a few years of his death it was possible to built a cathedral in his honor (Attwater2, Benedictines, Montague).


Julius I, Pope (RM)
Born in Rome; died there in April 12, 352. Saint Julius, son of Rusticus, was elected pope on February 6, 337, to succeed Pope Saint Mark. Soon Julius was involved in the Arian controversy when Eusebius of Nicomedia opposed the return of Saint Athansius to the see of Alexandria in 338. The Arian bishops in the East sent three deputies to Julius to accuse Athanasius. Julius shared the charges they presented with Athanasius, who thereupon sent his representatives to Rome. Upon questioning them, he decided that the accusations of Eusebius were false.

At the insistence of the Arians, Julius convened a synod in Rome in 340 or 341 in which Athanasius and other orthodox bishops participated. Neither the Arians or semi-Arians attended. When Julius demanded the they appear before him, they answered by convening the council of Antioch in 341 during which Eusebuis and his followers elected George as patriarch of Alexandria, whereupon the Arians elected Pistus (so now there are three bishops of the same see).

In a letter to the Eusebian bishops, Julius declared that Athanasius was the rightful patriarch of Alexandria and reinstated him. In it the Holy Father demonstrates the authority of the bishop of Rome. He writes:

"If they [Athanasius and Marcellus] had been guilty, you should have written to us all, that judgment might have been given by all: for they were bishops and churches that suffered, and these not common churches, but the same that the apostles themselves had governed. Why did they not write to us especially concerning the church of Alexandria? Are you ignorant, that it is the custom to write to us immediately, and that the decision ought to come from hence? In case therefore that the bishop of that see lay under any suspicions, you ought to have written to our church. But now, without having sent us any information on the subject, and having acted just as you thought proper, you require of us to approve your measures, without sending us any account of the reasons of your proceedings. These are not the ordinances of Paul, this is not the tradition of our fathers; this is an unprecedented sort of conduct. I declare to you what we have learned from the blessed apostle Peter, and I believe it so well known to everybody, that I should not have mentioned it, had not this happened."

This letter is considered one of the most momentous pronouncements of the Roman see, according to the historian Socrates, who wrote: "Julius, by virtue of the prerogative of his see, sent the bishops into the East, with letters full of vigor, restoring to each of them his see." Sozomen similarly writes: "For, because the care of all belonged to him, by the dignity of his see, he restored to every one his church."

The matter was not really settled until the Council of Sardica (Sofia), summoned by the Emperors Constans and Constantius in 342 or 343 at the urging of Julius, which declared Julius's action correct and that any deposed bishop had the right of appeal to the pope in Rome. It declared Athanasius and Marcellus of Ancyra as orthodox and restored them to their respective sees. (This was an ecumenical council but is considered as an appendix to the Council of Nicaea because it only confirmed its decrees, although it enacted 21 disciplinary canons.)

Julius, a model of charity and wisdom, also built several basilicas and churches in Rome before his death (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).


Mechtildis, Hermit
Died c. 1200. Scottish Saint Mechtildis (Matilda) wanted to indulge in deeper prayer without bothering others, so she moved into the wilderness of Lappion, where she lived in a cabin (Encyclopedia)


Blessed Meinhard of Yxkill, OSA B (AC)
Died 1196. The Augustinian canon regular Meinhard preached in Latvia. In 1184, he was consecrated bishop and fixed his residence in Yxkill on the Düna. (The see was transferred to Riga in 1201) (Benedictines).


Blessed Peter of Montepiano, OSB Vall. (AC)
Died 1098. A Vallombrosan abbot of San Virgilio at Brescia, who ended his life as a hermit at Montepiano, Tuscany, Italy (Benedictines).


Sabas the Goth M & Comp. MM (RM)
(also known as Sabbas)

Died 372. The account of the martyrdom of Saint Sabas was recorded in a letter soon after his death at the hands of a Gothic ruler north of the Danube. Saint Jerome tells us that King Athanaric of the Goths began persecuting Christians in his tribe about 370. Sabas, converted to Christianity in his youth, was lector to the priest Sansala, apparently at Targoviste in modern Romania.

We are told that Sabas exemplified the Christian virtues of obedience and humility, and that he loved to sing the divine praises in church and decorate the altar. His desire for chastity was so great that he refrained from even speaking to women unless it was absolutely necessary. Most of all, Sabas loved the truth.

Sabas denounced the practice of some Christians of pretending to eat meat offered to pagan gods though in reality it had not been sacrificed to the gods by arrangement with some officers. He said that they had renounced the faith by their pretense. For this, he was forced into exile but later was allowed to return.

During another persecution the following year, some Christians swore that there were no Christians among them. Sabas loudly proclaimed his Christianity. After his first arrest, he was released as an insignificant fellow, owning nothing but the clothes on his back, 'who can do us neither good nor harm.'

Just before Easter 372, the persecution was renewed. Atharidus and his troops broke into the lodgings of the sleeping Sansala, bound him, and threw him on a cart. They pulled Sabas out of bed without allowing him to dress and dragged the modest saint naked over thorns and briars, forcing him along with whips and staves. At daybreak Sabas said to his persecutors: "Have not you dragged me, quite naked, over rough and thorny grounds? Observe whether my feet are wounded, or whether the blows you gave me have made any impression on my body." His body bore no bruises or abrasions, which enraged his tormentors, causing them to rack him on a make- shift devise.

Sabas refused an opportunity to escape when the mistress of the house in which they were lodged overnight, untied him. He spent the rest of the night helping the woman to dress victuals for the family.

The next day he was hung upon a beam of the house, and offered and refused meats that had been sacrificed to idols. One of Atharidus's slaves struck the point of his javelin against the saint's breast with such violence that all present believed Sabas had been killed. But he was unharmed. At this, Atharidus declared that Sansala should be dismissed, but Sabas must be drowned.

On the banks of the river, the officers wanted to let him go. Overhearing them, Sabas asked why they were so dilatory in obeying their orders? Then he continued, "I see what you cannot: I see persons on the other side of the river ready to receive my soul, and conduct it to the seat of glory: they only wait the moment in which it will leave my body."

Thereupon he was tied to a pole and held down in the Buzau (Mussovo) River until he was dead; 'This death by wood and water,' says the correspondent, 'was an exact symbol of man's salvation,' i.e., symbols of baptism and the cross. When he was dead, they drew his body out of the water, and left it unburied: but the Christians of the place guarded it from birds and beasts of prey.

Junius Soranus, duke of Scythia, a man who feared God, sent the body to Cappadocia. A letter was sent with these relics from the church of Gothia to that of Cappadocia governed by Saint Basil, which contains an account of the martyrdom of Sabas, and concludes thus: "Wherefore offering up the holy sacrifice on the day whereon the martyr was crowned, impart this to our brethren, that the Lord may be praised throughout the Catholic and Apostolic Church for thus glorifying his servants."

About 50 other Christians were martyred during this same persecution and are honored today (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Sabas is pictured suspended by his fingers from a fig tree, or being thrown into a river (Roeder). Click here to view an anonymous icon at Hilandar monastery, Mt. Athos, or an anonymous Russian icon of Saints Sava and Symeon of Serbia. He is venerated in Romania (Roeder).


Tetricus of Auxerre, OSB BM (AC)
Died 707. Saint Tetricus, abbot of Benedictine Saint-Germanus Abbey at Auxerre, was elevated to city's episcopal chair by popular acclamation. The saint died at the hand of his archdeacon Raginfred, who killed him with a sword as he lay asleep on a bench. Immediately he was venerated as a martyr (Attwater2, Benedictines).


Victor of Braga M (RM)
Died c. 300. In his chronicle, Vasaeus records that Saint Victor was baptized by blood. The catechumen was beheaded at Braga, Portugal, under Diocletian for refusing to sacrifice to idols (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Vissia of Fermo VM (RM)
Died c. 250. This Italian maiden was martyred at Fermo, Italy, under Decius (Benedictines).


Wigbert of Friesland (AC)
Died 690. Anglo-Saxon Saint Wigbert became a disciple of the Irish Saint Egbert. After spending two years bringing the Gospel to Friesland, he returned to Ireland to die (Benedictines).


Zeno of Verona B (RM)
(also known as Zenone)

Born in North Africa; died at Verona, Italy, April 12, 371 (or 380); additional feasts in Verona are celebrated on May 21 (translation) and December 6 (episcopal consecration). Because Saint Zeno's sermon on the martyrdom of Saint Arcadius appears to be an eyewitness description, Zeno was probably born in Mauretania near Algiers before 302.

On December 8, 362, during the reign of Julian the Apostate, Saint Zeno was consecrated bishop of Verona, Italy, possibly by Bishop Aussenzius of Milan. Soon after his arrival in Verona, he fought against the idolatry that had spread throughout the city; he even managed to reduce it in the surrounding country where paganism was more entrenched. He also strongly opposed the Arian heresy, and defended the eternal generation of the Word, the intimate union of the Holy Spirit and the Son with the Father.

His success, in part, was due to his training as an orator. Zeno drew large crowds for his sermons, 93 of which still exist--the earliest collection of Latin homilies we possess. In fact, the crowds were so massive whenever Zeno preached that he was obliged to build a bigger cathedral. Each Easter many whose hearts were converted were baptized into the faith. He preached often to a group of nuns who lived in a convent he himself had founded. Long before Saint Ambrose did the same in Milan, Zeno encouraged virgins living at home to be consecrated.

While Zeno had a reputation as a hard-working pastor, who was zealous in building churches, in almsgiving, and in purging Arianism, he is remembered primarily as an ecclesiastical writer, especially on the topic of the virgin birth of our Lord. His sermons are of interest for the information they provide about Christian teaching, worship, organization, and life in the fourth century. He emphasizes the importance of the Sacraments for the Christian life. To him, Baptism is "the sacrament that truly calls men from death to life." Even though his sermons never mention the Eucharist, he indirectly stresses its importance by speaking of the "precious bread and wine that comes from our Father's table" and admonishing his flock that "none of you should ever take the Sacrifice unworthily, because offering unworthily is sacrilege, and taking unworthily is deadly." Saint Zeno offers practical advice for the Christian life. He notes that faith in God's revealed truth is necessary, but more important for eternal salvation is charity.

Most of the extant details about Saint Zeno's life derive from medieval documents that mix facts and legend. According to these stories, Zeno loved fishing in the River Adige (the second longest in Italy) that flows through Verona and may have been a fisherman before his consecration. For this reason, his symbol today is a fish. He also chose to live in great poverty and seclusion. By the precepts and example of this good pastor, the people were so liberal in their alms, that their houses were always open to poor strangers, and none of their own country had the need even to ask for relief. He congratulates them upon the interest they accumulate in heaven by money bestowed on the poor, by which they not only subdue avarice, but convert its treasures to the highest advantage, and without exciting envy. "For what can be richer than a man to whom God is to acknowledge himself debtor?" This inspiration to charity proved vital when the Goths overran the neighborhood and took many captives. The people of Verona were foremost in offering all they possessed to ransom these prisoners.

Zeno is said to have saved the city of Pistoia, Italy, from flood by creating an exit for the waters of the Rivers Arno and Ombrone through what is now known as the Gonfolina Pass.

Saint Gregory the Great mistakenly calls Zeno a martyr, but the ancient missals of Verona and Saint Ambrose call him a confessor. This same Gregory relates a miracle that took place two centuries after Zeno's death based on an eyewitness account. In 589, when the River Adige threatened to drown most of Verona, the people flocked to the church of their holy patron Zeno. The waters seemed to respect its doors, they gradually swelled as high as the windows, yet the flood never broke into the church, but stood like a firm wall, as when the Israelites passed the Jordan; and the people remained there 24 hours in prayer until the waters subsided. The devotion of the people to Saint Zeno increased because of this and other miracles; and, in the reign of Pepin, son of Blessed Charlemagne and brother of Louis Debonnaire, Bishop Rotaldus of Verona, translated Zeno's relics into a spacious, new church.

The body of the saint lies today in one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches of Italy, San Zeno Maggiore in Verona. In the tympanum over the great west doorway is sculpted the dark-skinned saint, who holds a fishing rod as he tramples down the devil. Zeno's tomb is in the huge, 12th-century crypt, where they were placed in 807 after having rested in various churches (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Zeno is a bishop with a fish (a symbol for baptism or of an angler?) tied to his crozier, or holding a fishing rod (Ferguson, Roeder). He is invoked for children learning to speak and walk (Roeder) and as the patron of Verona (Ferguson).

Particular thanks for supplementary information goes to the Veronese fan of Saint Zeno, Francesco Foti.



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.