Abdiesus the Deacon M (RM)
(also known as Hebedjesus)
4th century. Abdiesus was one of the vast multitude of Persians martyred under King Shapur II. This persecution lasted from 341 to 380. Abdiesus is styled a deacon in the Roman Martyrology, and is probably not to be confused with another martyr of the same name who was bishop of Cashcar (Benedictines).
Abrosimus of Persia M (RM)
(also known as Abrosima)
Died 342; feast day is November 10 in the Orthodox Church. Saint Abrosimus, a Persian priest, was stoned to death with many of his flock under King Shapur II (Benedictines).
Acepsimas of Hnaita BM (RM)
(also known as Acesimus of Honit)
Died October 10, 376. Saint Acepsimas, an octogenarian bishop of Hnaita (Honita) in Assyria (western Persia), was racked and flogged to death under Shapur II. His acta are quite authentic-- recorded by Saint Maruthas, a near contemporary, and mentioned by Sozomen. The priests Aithala and Joseph suffered with him. The Roman Martyrology commemorates many others who suffered about this time in the same persecution.
Maruthas writes that in the 37th of the 40 years of persecution a new edict was published that stated: "They abolish our doctrine; they teach men to worship one only God, and forbid them to adore the sun or fire; they use water for profane washing; they forbid persons to marry, to be soldiers in the king's armies, or to strike any one; they permit all sorts of animals to be killed, and they suffer the dead to be buried; they say that serpents and scorpions were made, not by the devil, but by God himself."
These were the charges laid upon the ancient Bishop Acepsimas, who was arrested and taken to the governor in Arbela. When asked how he could deny the divinity of the sun, the bishop expressed astonishment that any man would prefer a creature to the Creator. For this insolence he was thrown to the ground, scourged, and then imprisoned.
Meanwhile the priest Joseph of Bethcatuba and Deacon Aithalas of Beth-nudra, who was renowned for his eloquence, sanctity, and learning, were brought before the same governor. Joseph answered the charges much as Acepsimas did: that he was a Christian, and had always taught the sun to be an inanimate creature. This response resulted him Joseph being stretched on the ground and beaten successively by ten executioners until his body seemed to be one open wound. Seeing what they had done to his body, Joseph said: "I return you the greatest thanks I am able, Christ, the Son of God, who have granted me this mercy, and washed me with this second baptism of my blood, to wipe away my sins." This infuriated his persecutors, who redoubled their efforts to tear his body apart (Benedictines). In art, Saint Acepsimas is an Oriental bishop loaded with chains. He is venerated in the Eastern Church (Roeder).
Agapitus I, Pope (RM)
Died in Constantinople on April 22, 536. The Roman Agapitus, son of a murdered priest named Gordian, was archdeacon of the Roman clergy and an old man when elected pope on May 13, 535. As pope he showed great vigor in opposing the Monophysites. He died while on a mission for the Ostrogoth King Theodahad to convince Justinian to forego a threatened invasion of Italy. Agapitus was unsuccessful, but while there he convinced Justinian to remove Patriarch Anthimus, a Monophysite, and replace him with Mennas, whom Agapitus consecrated. His body was taken back to Rome on September 20, on which date a second feast is celebrated in the Roman Martyrology. Like many other Italian saints on the period, he owes his cultus to the devotion of Saint Gregory the Great (Benedictines, Delaney).
Aithalas of Persia M (RM)
(also known as Aithilahas)
Died 377. Aithalas was a Persian priest (or deacon) of bishop Acepsimas (Benedictines).
Arwald and Arwald MM (AC)
Died 686. These martyrs are called by the name of their father, a prince of the Isle of Wight, whose proper names were lost. They were put to death by soldiers of King Ceadwalla, then a pagan, on the day after their baptism (Benedictines).
Azadanes (Azadames), Azades,
Tharba & Companions MM (RM)
Died in Persia in 342. Azadanes, a deacon, and Azades, a high- standing officer at the court of the Persian King Shapur II, were martyred together with Abdeisus and others (Benedictines).
Caius, Pope M (RM)
Died c. 296. All that is known about Saint Caius has come to us through unreliable tradition. It is said that Pope Caius was a Dalmatian and a relative of Emperor Diocletian. December 17, 283, he became pope. During the tranquil initial years of his pontificate, Caius decreed that bishops must be priests before consecration to the episcopacy. He is honored as a martyr because of his sufferings: During Diocletian's persecution of Christians, he fled and was forced to live for eight years in concealment in a cave or the catacombs. The degree of unreliability of this tradition is demonstrated by the fact that the Diocletian persecution did not begin until six or seven years after his death (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Saint Caius is portrayed in art wearing the papal tiara with Saint Nereus. He is venerated in Dalmatia and Venice (Roeder).
Epipodius and Alexander MM (RM)
Died 178. Epipodius and Alexander were young, unmarried men, friends of long standing. They lived at Lyons, France, as good Christians and tried to avoid capture by the pagans during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius by hiding with a widow who lived just outside the city. When they were captured, the judge mocked Epipodius, saying:
"We worship the gods with revels and jollity and festivity. You people follow a somber and sorrowful religion: you worship a man who was nailed to a cross, who could not endure that one enjoy all of life's pleasures, who condemns joy and is pleased to have worshippers exhausted by fastings. After all, what can one expect from a God who could not guarantee his own life.
"Too bad that a young man like you should perish for the defense of a bad cause. Do you take us for atheists? Do we not also have a religion and gods? Our gods love joy, banquets, the succulent pleasures of life form part of their cult."
The crowd cried out. Epipodius said nothing in reply, and the judge order him to be killed by the sword. Two days later his friend Alexander was flogged and then crucified (Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Francis Venimbene, OFM (AC)
(also known as Francis of Fabriano)
Born at Fabriano, Italy, in 1251; died c. 1322; cultus confirmed in 1775. Francis, the son of a doctor, joined the Franciscans in 1267. He was a disciple of Saint Bonaventure. He founded the first Franciscan library and wrote a defense of the Portiuncula indulgence (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Leo of Sens B (RM)
Died 541. Saint Leo was bishop of Sens for 23 years. He defended the rights of his own see against the pretensions of King Childebert and reproed Saint Remigius (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Leonides of Alexandria M (RM)
(also known as Leonidas)
Died 202. The Alexandrian martyr Leonides was the father of seven children, one of whom was Origen whose clothes had to be concealed by his mother in order to prevent him from accompanying his father to his martyrdom. He was himself a distinguished philosopher. Prior to his beheading under Laetus, governor of Egypt, during the reign of Septimus Severus, his property was confiscated and he was imprisoned for being a Christian (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Mareas and Companions MM (RM)
Died 342. Bishop Mareas was another martyr under King Shapur II. Together with him suffered 21 others bishops, nearly 250 priests, many monks and nuns, and a vast number of laity. The church of Persia was brought to the verge of extinction (Benedictines).
Opportuna of Montreuil, OSB V, Abbess (AC)
Born near Ayesmes, Normandy; died c. 770. Saint Opportuna was the sister of Saint Chrodegang, bishop of Séez. When she was still very young, Opportuna received the veil from her brother and entered the Benedictine convent of Montreuil at Almenèches, three miles from Séez, where her cousin Saint Lantildis governed. (Chrodegang was killed on the way to visit the abbey.) Later Opportuna succeeded her cousin as abbess. Opportuna, a model of humility, obedience, mortification, and prayer, is described as "a true mother to all her nuns."
Her cultus has always flourished in France. In 1009, during the invasion of the Normans in the reign of Charles the Bald, her relics were translated to the priory of Moussy between Paris and Senlis. Later they were moved to Senlis. In 1374, her right arm and a rib were enshrined in a small church dedicated to her in Paris near a hermitage called Notre Dame des Bois Paris. As the city grew, so did the church. Most of Opportuna's head still rests at Moussy; her left arm and part of her skull at Almenèches; and a jaw bone in the priory of Saint Chrodegang at Île-Adam. The Parisien shrine is carried in processions with those of Saints Honoratus and Geneviève (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Opportuna holds an abbess's crozier and a casket of relics. She may also be shown with the Virgin appearing at her deathbed or as a princess with a basket of cherries and a fleur-de- lys (Roeder). She is venerated at Ayesmes in Normandy (Roeder).
Parmenius and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 250. The priests Parmenius, Helimenas, and Chrysotelus, and the deacons Luke and Mucius were beheaded near Babylon when Emperor Decius invaded Mesopotamia (Benedictines).
Rufus of Glendalough, Hermit (AC)
(also known as Rufin)
Date unknown (c. 202?). Saint Rufus was a hermit at Glendalough, where he was buried. Some writers call him a bishop (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Segnorin of Basto, OSB V (AC)
(also known as Senorina)
Died 982. Segnorin, related to Saint Rudesind of Mondoñedo, was entrusted to the care of her aunt, the abbess Godina of the convent of Saint John-de-Vieyra (Venaria). Segnorin later joined the community and succeeded her aunt. As abbess she moved the community to Basto in the diocese of Braga, Portugal (Attwater2, Benedictines). Saint Segnorin is depicted in art as an abbess reading in a library with a crucifix before her and a large jar at her side (Roeder).
Soter, Pope (RM)
Born at Fondi (near Gaeta), Italy; died 174. After the death of Pope Anicetus in the middle of the 2nd century, Soter was elected to this danger-fraught office about 166-167. His influence was widespread, partly because of his charity (known from a letter of Bishop Saint Dionysius of Corinth), his personal kindness, and especially his care for those who had been persecuted for their faith by being deported to the mines and prisons.
This kindliness did not mean that Pope Soter looked kindly on error. During his pontificate, a number of Christians, known as Montanists, were preaching that the heavenly Jerusalem would soon descend near Pepuza, a town in Phrygia. These Montanists condemned their fellow-Christians as far too lax: they did not fast enough, it was alleged; they should never marry again if one partner had died; they did not prophesy enough, for they lacked the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The movement was dividing the Church and causing violent quarrels among the faithful. Soter did not hesitate to condemn its leaders, sending round an encyclical outlining their errors.
Soter may have died a martyr's death (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Tarbula of Persia VM (RM)
(also known as Pherbutha, Tarbo, Tarba)
Died May 5, 345. Tarbula was the virgin sister of the great bishop-martyr Saint Simeon Barsabba'e. After her brother's death, Tarbula was accused by the Jews of having used witchcraft to cause King Shapur's wife to sicken. She was sawn in half together with her sister and another woman (Attwater, Benedictines).
Theodore of Sykeon (Sikion) B (RM)
(also known as Theodore of Sikion)
Born in Sykeon, Galatia, Asia Minor; died April 22, 613. The beginning of Theodore's life was infortuitous: He was the bastard child of a girl named Mary who, with her sister, kept an inn at the village of Sykeon. They prostituted themselves to their customers. His father was a circus artist, who specialized in acrobatic camel- riding and had nothing to do with his son. Perhaps his mother was a nominal Christian--she had her son baptized.
When Theodore was only six, Mary wanted him to enter the service of the emperor. She prepared for him a gold belt and expensive clothing to make him presentable at court. Then Saint George appeared to her in a dream and she abandoned this plan. Instead she arranged for Theodore's education with a local teacher.
About this time, the inn was transformed by the arrival of an elderly man, named Stephen, whose cooking transformed the inn into a place renowned for its cuisine. Thus, the women were able to forego prostitution as an additional source of income. Even as a child, Theodore showed a propensity for holiness, which was encouraged by Stephen and heightened following his recovery from a near fatal attack of the bubonic plague. Theodore would skip dinner, depriving himself of nourishment, in order to spend the time in church praying at the shrine of Saint George. He would shut himself up in the cellar or in a cave under a disused chapel at Arkea, about eight miles from home. Later his mother married a prominent businessman of Ankara and left him with his grandmother and aunt, whom as a young man he converted to better ways.
Theodore himself became a monk when on a visit to Jerusalem. Reputedly at the age of 18, he was ordained to the priesthood by his own bishop. Theodore exercised considerable influence, perhaps because of the gifts of prophecy and miracles bestowed on him by God. It is said that he grew suspicious of a finely wrought chalice that turned out to have been made from a prostitute's chamber pot. As a priest-monk he led an austere life: He lived on vegetables, fasted frequently, and wore an iron girdle. When he settled in Mossyna, he helped in the treatment of girls believed to be troubled by unclean spirits.
Strangely, it is recorded that he requested that he be placed in a wooden cage from Christmas to Palm Sunday. Later, he moved into an iron cage suspended on the face of the rock in mid-air above his cave. As a penance he wore an iron breastplate (perhaps in remembrance of his favorite Saint George?) and iron rings for his hands and feet and an iron collar and belt. As is recorded of many Irish saints and desert Fathers, Saint Theodore is said to have been familiar with wild animals--even bears and wolves.
He founded monasteries in his own country and governed the one in his native town, although he frequently retired to a remote and secluded cell because his hermitage, transformed by many visitors seeking his counsel and disciples, had become a complex of buildings including a large church, monastery, and guest house.
In spite of his strong objection, about 590, Theodore was elected bishop of Anastasiopolis, not far from Turkey's capital of Ankara, and consecrated by Archbishop Paul of Ankara. His episcopate was marked by a long series of miracles. An African monk, Antiochus, who came to see Theodore on behalf of a town pillaged by barbarians describes the saint: "He had eyebrows that met each other . . . was about a hundred years old, the hair of his head was as white as wool and hung down to his loins; so too did his beard, and his nails were very long. It was about sixty years since he had touched wine or oil, thirty since he had tasted bread. His food was uncooked vegetables with salt and vinegar; his drink water." Theodore helped Antiochus with his mission and consulted him about the possibility of resigning his episcopate.
Theodore wanted to resign because competing demands on his time-- governing his abbey and diocese--left too little time for prayer. Often his prayers were interrupted to settle disputes or deal with administrative details. The final straw was civil unrest in the villages that belonged to the Church and were entrusted to laymen who oppressed the villagers. Theodore was accused by one of them, Theodosius, with instigating the peasants to revolt. Theodosius finally kicked away the chair on which the bishop was sitting and knocked him on his back.
After 10 years Theodore resigned this office and retired to Saint Michael at Acrena (Akreina) near Pidrum (Tchardak) and Heliopolis. He visited his patron Emperor Maurice at Constantinople and healing one of the princes of a skin disease (leprosy or elephantiasis?). The emperor and empress invited him to their table. There it was decided that all the monasteries should have the power of sanctuary and that the appointment of abbots should be in the jurisdiction of the patriarch rather than the local bishops. Returning to his oratory, he lived as a monk again and continued to work miracles until his death at Sykeon. He was also a great promoter of the cultus of Saint George.
A long vita of Saint Theodore was written by one of his disciples; it is mostly a record of healings of the sick and the possessed and other marvels attributed to this holy man, and of anecdotes illustrating the virtues of his character. He seems to have become a physician and had the gift of reconciling married couples which led to barren wives having children. It does, however, provide a lively picture of life in Asia Minor just before the Arab occupation. Theodore's relics were translated to Constantinople (Attwater, Benedictines, Dawes, Farmer, Walsh).
Blessed Wolfhelm of Brauweiler, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1091. The Rhinelander Wolfhelm joined the Benedictines at Saint Maximinus, Trier, Germany. From there he migrated to Saint Pantaleon's at Cologne, and then became abbot successively of Gladbach, Siegburg, and Brauweiler, where he ended his days. He is described as a great student of Holy Scripture and a lover of the Benedictine Rule. Although he was renowned in his time and well respected, few details are known regarding his career (Attwater2, 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.