Saint Peter Chanel, Martyr
Blessed Adalbero of Augsburg, OSB B (PC)
Died 909. Adalbero, scion of the family of the counts of Dillingen, was uncle to Saint Ulric. He became a monk in 850 and afterwards was successively abbot of Ellwangen, abbot-restorer of Lorsch, and bishop of Augsburg (after 887). Adalbero also served as chief adviser of Arnulf of Bavaria, tutor to his son Louis, and regent of the Empire during the latter's childhood. He was well-versed in science and the arts, especially in music (Benedictines).
Aphrodisius, Caralippus, Agapitus & Eusebius MM (RM)
1st century. A French legend, now universally rejected, makes this Aphrodisius an Egyptian who sheltered the Holy Family during their flight into Egypt. He is alleged to have been martyred with the other three in Languedoc. Their story is related by Saint Gregory of Tours (Benedictines).
Artemius of Sens B (AC)
Born in Sens, France; died 609. Artemius became bishop of Sens. He admitted to public penance a Spaniard named Baldus (Bond), whom he trained to be a great saint (Benedictines).
Cronan of Roscrea, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Croman)
Born in Munster, Ireland; died c. 626. Cronan was a monk and maker of monks, but there are no reliable accounts of his life. He is patron of Roscrea, County Tipperary, one of the several monasteries that he founded, and highly venerated in the region (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Gill, Husenbeth, Montague).
Cyril of Turov B
Died 1182. Few details of the life of Saint Cyril survive. He was a hermit monk, who left his cell to become an outstanding bishop and preacher in pre-Mongol Russia. Cyril is said to have been "an exponent of the Greek tradition on the Russian soil," "an unique example of theological devotion in ancient Russia," and a biblical scholar (Attwater2, Coulson).
Gerard the Pilgrim (AC)
Died c. 639 (?). Gerard was one of four English pilgrims--the other three were Ardwine, Bernard, and Hugh--who died at Galinaro in southern Italy. Many scholars doubt their historicity (Benedictines).
Blessed Gerard of Bourgogne, OSB Cist. Abbot (PC)
Died 1172. Gerard followed Saint Fastred as abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Cambron (Benedictines).
Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla (AC)
Born in Magenta (near Milan), Italy, on October 4, 1922; died April 28, 1962. Gianna Beretta, the tenth of 13 children, was raised and educated by pious parents, who taught her the life is a great gift from God to be embraced with gratitude. Consequently, she had a strong hope in God's providence and was convinced of the effectiveness of prayer.
As a teenager and young adult, she was a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society and volunteered her time to work among the elderly and poor. At the same time she diligently applied herself to her studies, earning degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949. The following year, she opened a medical clinic in Mesero near her hometown. She specialized in pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and thereafter gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly, and the poor.
Gianna saw medicine as her means of serving the Creator; thus, she increased her generous service to Catholic Action. Yet, unlike many of the earlier saints, Gianna exhibited a real joy for living. She loved skiing and trekking through the mountains. Some thought that such a good Christian woman should enter the convent; but after prayerful reflection, she knew that her vocation was marriage and cooperation with God "to forming a truly Christian family."
On September 24, 1955, she married Pietro Molla in Saint Martin's Basilica in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. Gianna was no cardboard saint. She knew and joyfully embraced the demands of balancing her obligations as a career woman, wife, and mother. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi; in December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura.
In September 1961, towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she discovered that she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to God's care. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the next seven months joyfully dedicating herself to her tasks as mother and doctor; however, she was worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.
A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child--I insist on it. Save the baby." Thus, Gianna Emanuela was born on the morning of April 21, 1962. Despite all efforts to save both mother and child, today's saint died less than a week later in horrible pain. After repeatedly exclaiming, "Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you," the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The body of the new blessed lies in the cemetery of Mesero near Magenta (L'Osservatore Romano, 4/27/94).
Louis Mary Grignion de Montfort (RM)
Born in Montfort (near Rennes), Brittany, on January 31, 1673; died at Saint-Laurent-sur-Sevre, France, on April 28, 1716; beatified in 1888; canonized by Pope Pius XII in 1947.
Saint Louis de Montfort Louis' parents were poor, hard-working people who raised eight children, the oldest of whom was Louis. In the normal course of events, Louis would have learned a trade and helped to educate his siblings, but early in his life his mother recognized that he was destined for the priesthood. At the pleading of her and his teacher, he was allowed to begin his studies. Some charitable people provided the funds for his education.
As a very young child, Louis had organized Rosary societies, preached sermons, told stories of the saints, and led the Rosary with groups of neighborhood children.
He was particularly devoted to Our Lady, and he took her name in confirmation. As a student with the Jesuits at Rennes, he continued his devotions; he joined the sodality, and became an exemplary member. When he had completed his studies, he left for Paris in 1693 to begin his studies for the priesthood. He walked the 130 miles in the rain, sleeping in haystacks and under bridges, and, on arriving in Paris, he entered a poverty-stricken seminary in which the students had scarcely enough to eat, which caused him serious illness. On the verge of ordination, his funds were withdrawn by his benefactor, and it looked as though Louis would have to return home. He was taken in by a kindly priest, however.
Louis was ordained in 1700, and, after saying his first Mass in the Lady Chapel of Saint Sulpice, he was sent as chaplain to a hospital in Poitiers where mismanagement and quarreling were a tradition. He endeared himself to the patients, and he angered the managers of the hospital when he reorganized the staff. Consequently, he was sent away, but not before he had laid the foundation of what was later to be a religious congregation of women known as the Institute of the Daughters of Divine Wisdom at Poitiers, to nurse the sick poor and conduct free schools.
This rebuff was not the first Louis had to suffer; in the seminary, his superiors had exhausted themselves in trying his patience-- making him seem to be a fool. All his life he was to meet the same stubborn opposition to everything he tried to do. Many of the clergy, even some of the bishops, were infected with Jansenism, and they fought him secretly and openly. In his work giving missions, his moving from one place to another was occasioned as often by the persecution of his enemies as it was by the need of his apostolate. Going to Rome, he begged Pope Clement XI to be sent on the foreign missions, but he was refused and sent back to Brittany, France, as missionary apostolic. He returned in his usual spirit of buoyant obedience, even though he knew that several bishops had already forbidden him to set foot in their dioceses.
For the rest of his life, Louis gave flamboyant missions in country parishes, some of which had been without the care of a priest for generations. Ruined churches were repaired, marriages rectified, children baptized and instructed, and Catholicity rebuilt. He joined the third order of Dominicans, and everywhere he went, he established the Rosary devotion. People who came to his missions out of curiosity, remained, and his preaching did much to renew religion in France.
His enemies were as busy as he was, however. They gave false reports to the bishops, drove him from place to place, and, in one case, succeeded in poisoning him. The poison was not fatal, and it had an unforeseen result. While he recuperated from its evil effects, he wrote True devotion to the Blessed Virgin, which he himself prophesied would be hidden away by the malice of men and the devil. After nearly 200 years, the manuscript was rescued from its hiding place, and, only a few years ago, it was given the publicity that it deserved.
In 1715, Louis founded a second religious congregation to train helpers in his forceful methods of preaching called the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia).
Luchesius of Umbria (AC)
(also known as Luchesio, Lucius)
Born near Poggibonsi, Umbria, Italy; died 1260. Luchesius, a miserly grocer, money changer, and corn merchant, is venerated as the first Franciscan tertiary. About 1221, Saint Francis of Assisi relieved of him wicked practices by enlisting him in the Third Order along with his wife Blessed Bonadonna. Thereafter the couple spent their lives in almsdeeds and penance (Attwater2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Mark of Galilee BM (RM)
Died 92. Saint Mark is said to have been a Galilean by descent and the first missionary bishop and martyr in the province of the Marsi (Abruzzi) in Italy (Benedictines).
Pamphilus of Sulmona B (RM)
Died c. 700. Bishop Pamphilus of Sulmona (a see later joined to that of Valva) and Cofinium, in the Abruzzi, was accused by his flock to Pope Sergius of Arian practices, chiefly, it seems because of his singing Mass before daybreak on Sundays--but he completely vindicated himself (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Patrick (Patricius), Acatius,
Menander & Polyenus MM (RM)
Date unknown (though it is recorded on May 19, this second feast celebrated by the Greeks). The acta of Prusa's (Broussa in Bithynia) second bishop, Patrick, are considered authentic. The names of the others have been added in the early calendars. His acta say that Proconsul Julius of Bithynia, having come to Prusa to bath in its famous hot springs and sacrifice to the Esculapius and to Health, found himself refreshed and invigorated. He attributed his renewed well-being to these divinities and gratefully wanted to make a return by obliging Patrick to sacrifice to them.
He had the bishop brought before him and said, "You, who being led away by silly tales, are weak enough to invoke Christ, deny if you can the power of our gods, and their providential care over us. In granting us these mineral waters, endued by them with salutary virtues. I therefore insist on your sacrificing to Esculapius, as you hope to avoid being severely tormented for your non-compliance."
Patrick: "How many wicked things are contained in the few words you have bean uttering!"
Julius: "What wickedness can you discover in my discourse, who have advanced nothing in it but what is plain matter of fact? Are not the daily cures, wrought by these waters, clear and manifest? Don't we see and experience them?"
Patricius did not deny the salutary effects of the waters, nor the cures wrought by them, but endeavored to convince the governor and the listeners that these waters, and all other things, had received their being and perfection from the one only true God, and his Son Jesus Christ. And while he was endeavoring to account for their heat and ebullition, from secondary causes, he was interrupted by the proconsul's crying out: "You pretend, then, that Christ made these waters, and gave them their virtue?"
Patrick: "Yes; without all doubt he did."
Julius: "If I throw you into these waters to punish you for your contempt of the gods, do you imagine your Christ, whom you suppose the maker of them, will preserve your life in the midst of them?"
Patrick: "I do not contemn your gods, for no one can contemn what does not exist: I would have you convinced that Jesus Christ can preserve my life, when I am thrown into these waters, as easily as he can permit them to take it away: and that whatever relates to me, or is to befall me, is perfectly known to him, as he is present everywhere; for not a bird falls to the ground, nor a hair from our heads, but by his good will and pleasure. This I would have all look upon as an oracle of truth itself; and that an eternal punishment in hell awaits all such as, like you, adore idols."
Enraged at these words, the proconsul commanded that Patrick be stripped and cast into the scalding water. As they carried out the order, he prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, assist Your servant."
Several of the guards were scalded by the dashing of the water, which left Patrick untouched--much like the three children in the Babylonian furnace. Julius grew more angry that God protected the saint. He next ordered that Patrick be decapitated. The martyr, having recommended his soul to God by a short prayer, knelt down, and had his head struck off pursuant to the sentence. The faithful that were present at the execution carried off his body, and gave it a decent interment near the high road. Some name Constantinople as the chief place of his veneration and suggest that he suffered there and that his relics were preserved in a famous church which bore his name. Both the Greek and Roman calendars join him with Saint Acacius, Menander, and Polyaenus, who were also beheaded for the faith (Benedictines).
Blessed Paul Khoan,
Peter Hieu, & John Baptist Thauh MM (AC)
Died 1840; beatified in 1900 (they may be included in the Martyrs of Vietnam who were canonized in 1988). During the first 20 years of the 19th century, Christianity made steady progress in Vietnam until it was dramatically interrupted by the persecution of the Annamite king Minh-Mang (1820-1841). From 1832, Minh excluded all foreign missionaries and ordered Vietnamese Christians to renounce their faith by trampling on the crucifix. Churches were destroyed and evangelization forbidden. Death and hardship was the lot of those who continued to hold on to the faith. Some of those captured were drugged to induce temporary retractions: others endured fearsome tortures, including cutting of the limbs joint by joint. Paul Khoan was a native of Tonkin, and a priest attached to the Paris Foreign Missions Society for 40 years. He was in prison for two years before he was beheaded. Peter Hieu and John Baptist Thauh were also natives of Tonkin and catechists attached to the society. They were beheaded with Khoan (Benedictines, Farmer).
Peter Louis Mary Chanel, Priest M (AC)
Born at Cluet, near Belley, France, in 1803; died on Futuna, Oceania, in April 28, 1841; canonized in 1954.
Peter Chanel was a model pupil, model vicar, model parish priest, and model missionary. He began life as a shepherd to his father's sheep. The Abbé Trompier of the parish of Cras, however, recognized the intelligence and devoutness of the young boy and obtained permission to have Peter attend the small school he had started. Peter performed well and went on to the seminary.
After his ordination in 1827, he was given the parish of Crozet, which had earned a bad reputation. Over three years, his attendance to the sick gained the confidence of the parishioners and brought about a spiritual revival.
In 1831, wishing to become a missionary, the peasant's son was one of the first to join the missionary Society of Mary which was formed at Lyons, France, in 1822, but taught another five years in the seminary of Belley. In 1836, the Marists received papal approval, and Peter was sent with a small band of missionaries to New Hebrides in the Pacific. With a lay-brother and an English layman, Thomas Boog, Peter went to the Islands of Futuna, under French sovereignty near Fiji, where cannibalism had only recently been forbidden by the local ruler, Niuliki.
The missionaries gained the confidence of the people by attending the sick, learning the language, and beginning to teach. The chieftain Niuliki became jealous of their influence, however, and was further angered when his own son said he wished to be baptized. Three years after his arrival, when his companions were away, Peter was attacked by a band of warriors who killed him with a club and cut up his body with their hatchets.
His martyrdom served his cause, however, for within a few months the island was Christianized. When called upon to justify his conversion, one of Chanel's catechumens had said of him, "He loves us. He does what he teaches. He forgives his enemies. His teaching is good."
Because he was the first martyr of the South Seas, Peter Chanel is the patron of Oceania (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, White).
Pollio of Pannonia & Companions MM (RM)
Died April 27, c. 304. We have the passio of Saint Pollio, a lector of the Church of Cybalae in Pannonia (Hungary), who was burnt alive under Diocletian. Governor Probus had already killed the priest Saint Montanus at Singidon, Bishop Saint Irenaeus at Sirmium, and others. On the day the governor arrived at the town of Cibales, Pollio was arrested. The lector Pollio, a man of great virtue and a lively faith, was presented to Probus as he alighted from his chariot and accused of irreligious speech and action. Probus asked his name. "I am Pollio, the chief of the readers.
Probus: "Of what readers?"
Pollio: "Why, of those who read the word of God to the people."
Probus: "I suppose you mean by that name a set of men who find ways and means to impose on the credulity of fickle and silly women, and persuade them to observe chastity, and refrain from marriage."
Pollio: "Those are the fickle and foolish who abandon their Creator to follow your superstitions; while our hearers are so steady in the profession of the truths they have imbibed from our lectures, that no torments prevail with them to transgress the precepts of the eternal King."
Probus: "Of what king, and of what precepts do you speak?"
Pollio: "I mean the holy precepts of the eternal King, Jesus Christ."
Probus: "What do those precepts teach?"
Pollio: "They inculcate the belief and adoration of one only God, who causes thunder in the heavens; and they teach that what is made of wood or stone, deserves not to be called God. They correct sinners, animate and strengthen the good in virtue: teach virgins to attain to the perfection of their state, and the married to live up to the rules of conjugal chastity: they teach masters to command with mildness and moderation slaves to submit with love and affection, subjects to obey all in power in ail things that are just; in a word, they teach us to honor parents, requite our friends, forgive our enemies, exercise hospitality to strangers, assist the poor, to be just, kind, and charitable to all men; to believe a happy immortality prepared for those who despise the momentary death which you have power to inflict."
Probus: "Of what felicity is a man capable after death?"
Pollio: "There is no comparison between the happiness of this and the next life. The fleeting comforts of this mortal suite deserve not the name of goods, when compared with the permanent joys of eternity."
Probus: "This is foreign to our purpose; let us come to the point of the edict."
Pollio: "What is the purport of it?"
Probus: "That you must sacrifice to the gods."
Pollio: "Sacrifice I will not, let what will be the consequence; for it is written: He that shall sacrifice to devils, and not to God, shall be exterminated."
Probus: "Then you must resolve to die."
Pollio: "My resolution is fixed: do what you are commanded."
Probus then condemned him to be burnt alive; and the sentence was immediately executed a mile outside town (Attwater2, Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Probe and Germaine VV MM (AC)
4th century. These two were Irish virgins who refused marriage and were found near Laon, then murdered (Encyclopedia).
Prudentius of Tarazona B (RM)
Born in Armentia, Alava, Spain; died in Tarazona, Spain, after 700. After having been a hermit for some years, Prudentius was ordained a priest and became bishop of Tarazona (not Tarragona) in Aragon. He is the patron of that diocese (Benedictines).
Theodora and Didymus MM (RM)
Died 304. A pious fiction tells of Theodora, a beautiful young girl in Alexandria, who was arrested and sentenced to live in a house of prostitution for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian. Didymus, a fellow Christian, helped her escape by exchanging clothes with her. It was a brilliant idea, properly executed, but when the trickery was discovered, Didymus was arrested and sentenced to death. Theodora returned to the city from hiding, hoping to secure the release of Didymus by surrendering her own life. But so great was the fury of the prefect that he ordered both of them to be killed.
Another version says that Theodora fell dead when she was rescued by Didymus; when Didymus's act was discovered, he was beheaded. Sometimes Didymus is portrayed as a pagan converted by her purity in the brothel (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Valeria of Milan M (RM)
1st century? Allegedly, Valeria was the mother of SS. Gervase and Protase and wife of Saint Vitalis. She is said to have been martyred in Milan; however, she appears to be a fictitious character. The casket which once contained her supposed relics is in the British Museum (Attwater2, Benedictines, Farmer). In art, Saint Valeria is depicted with her sons, Gervasius and Protasius, and her husband Saint Vitalis of Milan. She may be shown being beaten with clubs for refusing to sacrifice to pagan gods. She is venerated in Milan (Roeder).
Vitalis of Milan M
1st century? There are two 2nd century saints called Vitalis, but the one who is commemorated today was reputedly a rich man who lived in Milan, Italy. He was happily married to Saint Valeria with at least two fine children, SS. Gervase and Protase, whose remains were discovered and enshrined by Saint Ambrose in the 4th century. The only crime of Vitalis was that he became a Christian. Another martyr was to be executed in Ravenna and Vitalis stood by him, urging him not to lose his faith in the face of this final trial. The authorities were enraged. They stretched Vitalis on a rack and then buried him alive.
His wife, too, was attacked by vicious pagans and died of her wounds just outside Milan when Marcus Aurelius was emperor. Because their acta are spurious, their cults have supposedly been discontinued; however, I still find their names on the revised calendar and in the canon of the Ambrosian Mass. A conundrum (Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
In art, Saint Vitalis is portrayed with stones in his lap, seated between his two sons, Gervasius and Protasius, who each hold a stone. He may also be shown (1) buried alive in a pit; (2) stoned; (3) with a whirlbat; or (4) as a young layman with two sons (Roeder).
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.