Bishop Saint Anselm, Doctor
Anastasius I of Antioch B (RM)
Died 599. This patriarch of Antioch is often confused with his namesake, "the Sinaite." Anastasius, a man of singular learning and piety, believed in total detachment from the temporal world. Evagrius (Eccl. Hist., 1.4, c. 38, 39) reports that he observed perpetual silence except when charity or necessity compelled him to speak. Anastasius was particularly adept at comforting the afflicted.
One would think that a man who did not speak would not get into trouble. Nevertheless, he was a resolute opponent of the imperial politico-theological rule. He vigorously opposed Emperor Justinian's heretical insistence that Jesus, during his mortal life, suffered no pain, i.e., that Christ simply appeared to be a man. For his opposition, Anastasius was threatened with deposition by Justinian, and actually banished from his see for 23 years by Justin II. Anastasius was finally restored to Antioch by Saint Gregory the Great and Emperor Maurice, but died five years later leaving us a legacy of several letters and pious sermons (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Anastasius the Sinaite, Hermit (RM)
Died c. 678. A Palestinian hermit on Mount Sinai, Anastasius participated in all the Christological controversies of his time, in Syria, Egypt, and elsewhere. He has left ascetical and theological writings of considerable value (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Anselm of Canterbury, OSB B, Doctor (RM)
Born in Aosta, Piedmont, Italy, c. 1033; died at Canterbury, England, on Holy Wednesday, April 21, 1109; canonized and included among the Doctors of the Church by Pope Clement XI in 1720.
"O Lord our God,
grant us grace to desire Thee with our whole heart;
that, so desiring, we may seek,
and, seeking, find Thee;
and so finding Thee, may love Thee;
and loving Thee, may hate those sins
from which Thou hast redeemed. Amen."
In the days of the Normans, when the roads of Europe were crowded with pilgrims and when monasteries rose on every hand, a band of wandering Italian scholars from Lombardy under the leadership of Blessed Abbot Lanfranc of Bec, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, found their way to Avranches in Normandy where they founded the most famous school in Christendom. Among these scholars and by far the most distinguished was Anselm of Aosta, whose youth had been spent in the green Alpine valleys and clear mountain air.
Anselm was a poet and a dreamer, who carried always about him something of the grandeur of his native hills. It seemed that Anselm's native intelligence might have died on the vine had he continued his education at home, but he was allowed to study later at the abbey at Aosta, where he flowered.
This first phase of his monastic education was to instill into his life an indelible fragrance. Anselm prayed and sought God on the summit of the mountains that surrounded the city of Aosta. Already his whole personality was formed: a seeker always in search of God, posing questions to which only the faith gives answers and clarifying his faith through a mind that was ceaselessly avid for new insights.
At age 15, Anselm wished to enter a monastery, but his father Gondulf, a Lombard nobleman, disapproved and prevented it. (His mother, Ermenberge, was related to the marquis of Turin and the House of Savoy.) Anselm fell gravely ill as a result. Then, unable to fulfill his dream and without spiritual support after the death of his mother, Anselm turned to the worldly which his father introduced to him.
After his complete victory, Gondulf should have been satisfied. But life defies all hopes. Instead, Gondulf developed a tenacious hatred of his son, who had been progressing along the path on which his father had set him. It was this situation that Anselm left with his home in 1056 to study in Burgundy.
While studying in Burgundy under the abbot Blessed Herluin, he became a disciple of the then prior Lanfranc and became a monk at Bec in 1060. Despite his youth (age 30), succeeded Lanfranc as prior only three years later when Lanfranc was elected abbot of Saint Stephen's in Caen. It must have been hard for one so young and inexperienced in religious life to rule his elders. But Anselm countered rudeness with gentleness, hatred with clarity, anger with an unchangeable patience.
He also had a keen and original mind. In 1078, upon the death of Herluin, founder of the abbey, the monks chose Anselm to succeed him. Anselm's marvelous erudition, his eminent virtue, and, above all, his gentleness and goodness conferred a striking prestige on him, so that many foreign monks came to place themselves under his direction. This was the origin of a vast correspondence that has been handed down to us, in which Anselm shows himself open to all needs, responds to all questions, understands all concerns. He instructed, corrected, reformed, and proposed using all means, the exact conception of monastic life which he never ceased to live at its deepest level.
The position of abbot required him to travel often to England to inspect abbey property there. In 1092, the English clergy, who had come to know him over the years, nominated Anselm to succeed Lanfranc, who had died three years earlier, in the see of Canterbury. At first, Anselm, busy with his studies and absorbed in the writing of theology, resisted the call, until he was dragged to the sick-bed of the king at Gloucester, and the pastoral staff was forced into his unwilling hand.
To the astonishment of the King William II (William Rufus), he met his match in Anselm. When Anselm finally left Bec in 1093 and arrived again in England, they king refused to allow Anselm to call the needed synods. Anselm also was confronted with a demand for a gift to the royal exchequer of 500 pounds for the king's approval of his nomination. Anselm rejected the request and rounded on the king. "Treat me as a free man," he said, "and I devote myself and all that I have to your service; but if you treat me as a slave, you shall have neither me nor mine." This resulted in Anselm's banishment from court. While some bishops supported the king, barons rallied to Anselm's cause. He left the country, and was not recalled until the following reign.
During this period Anselm retired to a mountain village where he spent the time happily in writing his great work on the Atonement, Cur Deus homo?, an attempt to explain why God had been obliged to become man in Jesus. Anselm argued that if God had merely forgiven men's sins, His mercy would have conflicted with the demands of justice. To reconcile mercy and justice an offering was needed greater than men's disobedience. Only God could make such an offering, argued Anselm, but only man ought to. Therefore, only a God-made-man could and should make it--as Jesus did on the Cross.
In 1097, Anselm travelled to Rome, where Pope Urban I upheld Anselm's nomination, refused Anselm's offered resignation, and ordered King William II to permit Anselm's return and yield back confiscated Church property.
At the pope's request, Anselm was present at the Council of Bari in 1098 and defended the filioque, the controversial doctrine on the procession of the Holy Spirit. He was instrumental in resolving the doubts of the Greek bishops in southern Italy about this issue.
At an Easter conference the indignation of Christendom was expressed at his enforced exile: "One is sitting among us from the ends of the earth, in modest silence, still and meek. But his silence is a loud cry. This one man has come here in his cruel wrongs to ask for the judgment and equity of the Apostolic See. And this is the second year, and what help has he found? If you do not all know what I mean, it is Anselm, Archbishop of England." And with these words, the bishop of Lucca, who was the speaker, struck his staff violently on the floor.
Anselm returned to Canterbury in 1100 at the request of King Henry II, successor to William Rufus, landing at Dover five months later. Almost immediately the king and Anselm were at odds over lay investiture--the new king demanded his re-induction as archbishop, but Anselm boldly refused. Anselm returned to Rome in 1103, where he confronted the pope on this issue. Pope Paschal II supported Anselm's refusal of lay investiture of bishops to King Henry. Nevertheless, Anselm remained in Rome until about 1106 or 1107.
A compromise was struck when Henry renounced his right to the investiture of bishops and abbots and Anselm agreed to pay homage to the king for temporal possessions. The reconciliation lasted for the rest of Anselm's life. The king grew to trust Anselm so much that he made him regent while he was away in Normandy in 1108.
In 1102, at a national council in Westminster, Anselm vigorously denounced slavery in emulation of Saint Wulfstan. As a pastor he encouraged the ordination of native Englishmen among his clergy, for whom he enforced celibacy; and he restored to the calendar the names of some of the English saints that he predecessor Lanfranc had removed.
Anselm stands out as a link between Saint Augustine of Hippo and Saint Thomas Aquinas and is called the 'father of Scholasticism.' He preferred to defend the faith by intellectual reason rather than scriptural arguments.
As the first to successfully incorporate the rationalism of Aristotlelian dialectics into theology, Anselm wrote on the existence of God in Monologium and Proslogium (deduces God's existence from man's notion of a perfect being, which influenced later great thinkers such as Duns Scotus, Descartes, and Hegel). His Cur Deus homo? was the most prominent treatise on the Atonement and Incarnation ever written. Other writings include De fide Trinitatis, De conceptu de virginali, Liber apologeticus pro insipiente, De veritate, letters, prayers, and meditations.
Anselm also rediscovered the precious maternal influence, lost since childhood, with her whom Jesus has given us for a mother. She inspired his most beautiful prayers. She gave him the soul of a child. She guided him in his constant search for God. One might think of Anselm as an old, dried up theologian. But that would be an error. Anselm's intellectual rigor was softened by the sensitivity of his mind and the generosity of his heart. He wrote, "I want to understand something of the truth which my heart believes and loves. I do not seek thus to understand in order to believe, but I believe in order that I may understand."
Anselm was one of the most human of saint and balanced of monks. Perhaps his early wanderings helped to form him so. Even after nine centuries, the charm of his personality still radiates. He himself was aware of the attraction that he held over those around him. He recognized it without any evasiveness: "All the good people who have known me have loved me, and all the more so when they knew me at close hand."
As a statesman he was deficient: the monastery, not the court, was where he was comfortable. Many incidents recorded of his life testify to the attractiveness of his personal character. In the Paradiso (canto XII), Dante mentions him among the spirits of light and power in the Sphere of the Sun.
Thus Anselm, the man who never wished to be archbishop and who refused it at first with clenched hands, secured the freedom of the Church against lawless tyranny and secular obstruction in a despotic age. As a statesman and scholar, by his courage and patience, and in grace and piety, he was the outstanding ecclesiastic of his day. His biography was written by his own secretary, the monk Eadmer of Christ Church, Canterbury, who recorded Anselm's life in meticulous detail (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Church, Encyclopedia, Gill, Southern, White).
In art, Anselm is depicted as an archbishop or a Benedictine monk, (1) admonishing an evildoer; (2) with Our Lady or Virgin and Child appearing to him; (3) with a ship; or (4) exorcising a monk (Roeder, White). He is venerated at Aosta and Turin (Roeder).
Apollo, Isacius & Crotates (Codratus) MM (RM)
Died c. 302. This trio of servants of Alexandra, wife of Diocletian, died for the faith. Crotates was beheaded and the other two starved to death in prison (Benedictines).
Felix, Silvius, & Vitalis MM (RM)
Date unknown. Saint Arator was a priest in Alexandria, Egypt, put to death with four others in one of the earlier persecutions. No particulars are now extant (Benedictines).
Blessed Bartholomew of Cervere, OP M (AC)
Born at Savigliano, Italy, in 1420; died at Cervere, Piedmont, 1466; beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1853. In the venerable tradition of death in the cause of truth, Blessed Bartholomew of Cerverio was the fourth Dominican inquisitor to win his crown in the Piedmont--the stronghold of the Catharists, who had taken the lives of Saint Peter of Verona, Blessed Peter de'Ruffi, and Blessed Anthony of Pavonio.
Even in his early years Bartholomew displayed a precocious solemnity and piety. He entered the Order of Preachers in Savigliano and progressed rapidly in his studies. On May 8, 1452, Bartholomew received his licentiate, doctorate, and master's degree from the University of Turin; the only time in the history of the university that anyone had acquired three degrees in one day.
Bartholomew taught for a year at the university, then was made prior of his monastery. In his short apostolate of 12 years, he converted many heretics and worked steadfastly to eradicate heresy. He was appointed inquisitor in Piedmont, which made it clear to him that a martyr's death was marked out for him. Being a Dominican in Lombardy was a dangerous business, at best; to be appointed inquisitor meant that the heretics were given a target for their hatred.
In many ways the murder of Bartholomew and his companions repeats the martyrdom of Peter of Verona. Bartholomew knew beforehand that he was to die, and he made a general confession before starting out on his last trip. He remarked to his confessor, "They will call me Bartholomew of Cerverio, though I have never set foot there. Today I go there as inquisitor, and there I must die." On the road to Cerverio in the diocese of Fossano, he and his party were attacked by five heretics. His companions were wounded, but escaped. Bartholomew died, riddled with dagger wounds, before they could get help.
Some people of Savigliano saw a bright light in the sky over Cerverio and surmised what had happened. They went out and brought home the relics, marveling that, despite all the wounds, the martyr had not bled. Laying him down in the church of the Dominicans, they saw his wounds bleed, and they hastily rescued the blood for relics. He was buried in the Dominican church of Savigliano, and, later, when the church was ruined by revolution, the relics were moved to the parish church.
A chapel was built at the site of the martyrdom and richly decorated with narrative frescoes. Processions were made there several times a year by the people of Savigliano and Cerverio, invoking Bartholomew against thunder and hail especially. At the same place, a fig tree was honored for many years for its connection with Blessed Bartholomew; it was supposed to have sprung up at the time of the martyrdom, at the very place the martyr fell (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Beuno of Wales, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Beunor)
Died c. 630; he has another feast on January 14. There is evidence that Beuno was a Welsh man of importance, founder of several monasteries. His story that has been handed down to us is a legend written in 1346, but it may contain elements of truth. According to the legend, Beuno was the son of Beugi (Hywgi) and grandson of a Welsh prince. He was educated in Herefordshire, perhaps at Bangor Abbey, near which there is still a village called Llanfeuno. Beuno was the uncle of Saint Winifred, who was restored to life after her suitor severed her head.
The legend says that Cadvan was king of North Wales, and had recently been victorious over King Ethelred of Northumberland, who, about 607, had massacred the monks of Bangor. Saint Beuno gave the king a golden sceptre, and the prince in turn assigned a spot for Beuno's monastery near Fynnon Beuno (Beuno's Well), in the parish of Llanwunda, of which he is titular saint. But as he was laying the foundation, a woman came to him with a child in her arms, saying that the ground was this infant's inheritance. Troubled by this, the holy man took the woman with him to the king and told him that he could not devote to God another's patrimony. The king refused to pay any attention to his remonstrances. So the saint left. But Gwyddeiant, the king's cousin, immediately went after him, and bestowed on him the township of Clynnog Fawr, his undoubted patrimony, where Beuno built his church about the year 616. King Cadvan died about that time; but his son and successor Cadwallon surpassed him in his liberality to the saint and his monastery.
It is related, among other miracles, that when a certain man had lost his eyebrow by some hurt, Saint Beuno healed it by applying the iron point of his staff: and that from this circumstance a church four miles from Clynnog, perhaps built by the person so healed, retains to this day the name of Llanael Hayarn, i.e., church of the iron brow.
His name is particularly associated with Clynnog in Caernarvonshire, where he may well have had a small monastery. There are many other foundations (including Aberffraw and Trefdraeth on Anglesey Island), both in central East Wales and in Clwyd, dedicated to him that may have be established by his disciples. Clynnog Fawr later passed into the hands of Benedictines of the congregation of Cluny (Clugni), from which it gets its name; previously it was named after its founder.
Beuno died and was buried at Clynnog Fawr, where a stone oratory was built over his tomb. Later his relics were translated to a new church (Eglwys y Bedd), where miracles were reported. The beautiful stone church is large and magnificent as is Saint Beuno's chapel, which is joined to the church by a portico. In this chapel, the fine painted or stained glass in the large windows is much effaced and destroyed, except a large figure of our blessed Savior extended on the cross. Opposite this crucifix, about three yards from the east window, is Saint Beuno's tomb, raised above the ground, and covered with a large stone, upon which people still lay sick children, in hopes of being cured.
Beuno's cultus survived the Reformation. During the reign of Elizabeth I, there were complaints that lambs and calves were offered at his tomb and later brought back because Beuno's cattle "prospered marvelous well." Sick people were still brought to the supposed grave towards the end of the 18th century, where they bathed in his holy well and spent the night in his tomb. The ruins of his primitive oratory were excavated in 1914. In our age, Beuno's memory has been revived by the Jesuits' establishment of Saint Beuno's College in northern Wales (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth). In art, Beuno is shown restoring his niece's head (Roeder). He is chiefly venerated at Clynnog (Roeder).
Conrad of Parzham, OFM Cap. (AC)
Born in Parzham (near Passau), Bavaria, Germany, December 12, 1818; died April 21, 1894; beatified in 1930; canonized in 1934. John Birndorfer, as he was known in the world, belonged to those reflective peasant souls who are led by their work with nature almost automatically to preoccupation with the supernatural. For him to be alone in the fields was to be alone with God.
When at the age of 31, he realized that God was calling him to a monastic life, he left Parzham, renounced his prosperous farm, and joined the Capuchins as a lay brother. After taking his solemn vows he was sent to the monastery of Altötting, Germany. Beside the monastery is a shrine of the Mother of God, annually visited by several hundred thousands of pilgrims. In such a cloister, where the bell never rests, the doorkeeper's job is unusually heavy.
For 41 years, Brother Conrad attended to the cloister door and performed his duties with perfect tact and care and with imperturbable patience, always humble, pious, helpful, unassuming, and diligent. No one ever saw him irritable or churlish. No one ever heard from his lips malicious gossip or frivolous judgment or even an idle word, although he had dealings with innumerable people in the course of many years. His occupation made such demands on him that he often did not find time to eat with the brothers.
His self-sacrificing charity towards pilgrims and the poor, children and itinerant journeymen won him the hearts of the people, and the striking answers to his prayer caused people to recommend themselves to his good offices in prayer.
Three days before his death he recognized that he was no longer able to cope with the throngs at the door and relinquished his office (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Schamoni).
Cyprian of Brescia B (AC)
Died 582. The relics of Bishop Cyprian of Brescia, Lombardy, Italy, are enshrined in the church of San Pietro in Oliveto at Brescia (Benedictines).
Blessed Fastred of Cambron, OSB Cist. Abbot (AC)
(also known as Fastrede de Cavamiez)
Born in Hainault; died 1163. Fastred de Cavamiez was received into the Cistercians by Saint Bernard. In 1148, he was dispatched with a colony of monks to be abbot-founder of Cambron in Cambrai diocese. In 1157, he became abbot of Clairvaux and, in 1162, of Cîteaux itself. Nevertheless, he never released himself from the obligations of poverty (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Frodulphus of Barjon, OSB Hermit (AC)
(also known as Frou)
Died at Barjon, c. 750. Frodulphus, disciple of Saint Medericus (Morry or Merry), became a monk at Saint Martin's in Autun, from which he was driven by the Saracen invasion. Thereafter, he settled in Barjon, Côte d'Or. He is buried next to Saint Merry in Paris (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Malrubius, Abbot M (AC)
(also known as Maelrubha)
Died c. 721-724. Descended from the princely line of Niall, Saint Malrubius was a member of Saint Comgall's glorious company at Bangor Abbey, where he was ordained to the priesthood. He migrated to Scotland to spread the Gospel among the Picts much as Saint Columba did in the 6th century. There he led an austere monastic life and was known for his piety, learning, and miracles.
He founded a church at Applecross in County Ross on the Isle of Skye from which he led a revival of the Celtic Church. It is said that, at the age of 80, he was massacred by Norwegian pirates whom he tried to evangelize. According to legend, the parish church at Urquhart is said to have been the site of the chapel built over the site of his execution. A six-mile area around his burial mound outside Applecross, Cloadh Maree, was accorded all the rights and privileges of a sanctuary.
Place names throughout the western highlands, particularly between Loch Carron and Loch Broom, note Malrubius as titular patron. Twenty-one known parishes were dedicated to Malrubius under names such as Maree, Mulruby, Mary, Murry, Summuruff, and Summereve. He is invoked for the cure of insanity, because so many were healed at his holy well and spring near his cemetery and oratory on Inis Maree in Loch Maree. Malrubius is venerated especially in Aberdeen and Connaught (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Husenbeth, Montague, Montalembert, Moran, Mould, Simpson, Skene).
Simeon Barsabae B and Companions MM (RM)
Died at Ctesiphon, Persia, in 341. One of the longest entries in the Roman Martyrology is devoted to Saint Simeon and his companions, who were martyred in Persia during the extremely cruel and violent persecution of Christians under King Shapur. Simeon was appointed metropolitan of Persia (Seleucia and Ctesiphon) by the Council of Nicaea. He was accused by Shapur of treasonable correspondence with the Christian Roman emperor, Constantius II, and of other offenses. He was ordered to conform to the Zoroastrian religion and worship the sun.
He protested his loyalty to the crown, but refused to apostatize: "The sun," he said, "went into mourning when its Creator and Master died on the cross." For refusing Simeon was tortured and imprisoned.
On Good Friday, Simeon was forced to witness the beheading of some 100 of his flock, including Abdechalas (priest), Ananias (priest), Usthazanes (the king's tutor and repentant apostate), Pusicius (oversee of the king's workmen who had encouraged Ananias), and others. Then, he himself was beheaded. Some time later Simeon's sister, Saint Pherbutha (Tarbula), a dedicated virgin, was charged with witchcraft. She, her sister, and another woman were sawn to death.
Simeon's successors in the see of Seleucia-Ctesiphon--Saint Shahdost and Saint Barba'shmin--were both martyred. Thereafter, the see was vacant for nearly 40 years. Thousands of Christians perished and many fled abroad during the persecution (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Walter of Mondsee, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1158. Abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Mondsee in Upper Austria (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.