St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

Feast of
Saints Philip & James,
May 3

Adalsindis of Bze, Abbess (AC)
Died c. 680. Saint Adalsindis, sister of Saint Waldalenus, was abbess of a convent near Bze under the supervision of her brother, who had founded the monastery of the town (Benedictines).

Alexander and Antonina MM (RM)
Died 313. The laus of the Roman Martyrology reads: "At Constantinople the birthday of the martyrs SS Alexander, the soldier, and Antonina, a virgin. In the persecution of Maximian she was condemned to the stews by Festus the Governor. But she was secretly delivered by Alexander, who changed garments with her and remained there in her place. She was afterwards commanded to be tortured with him, and both were together cast into the flames, with their hands cut off, and were crowned after ending a mighty contest" (Benedictines).

Alexander I PM, Eventius, & Theodulus MM (RM)
Died c. 113. Died c. 113-119. Tradition relates that, after a lengthy imprisonment, Pope Saint Alexander I and two priests, Eventius and Theodulus, were burned and then beheaded during Hadrian's persecution. During his imprisonment, Alexander is said to have brought Saint Quirinus and his daughter Saint Balbina to the faith. Today's saints were buried on the Via Nomentana near Rome. Their relics were later translated to the church of Saint Sabina, which now belongs to the Dominicans. Although called Pope Alexander in the Roman Martyrology, all sources agree that this is probably an erroneous listing (Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Husenbeth). In art, Pope Alexander wears a triple tiara and holds a triple cross and book. His name is in the halo (Roeder).

Blessed Alexander of Foigny, OSB Cist. (PC)
Born in Scotland, c. 1180; died 1229. Alexander, descended from Scottish kings, entered the Cistercian abbey of Foigny (Fusciniacum) in the diocese of Laon as a lay brother (Benedictines).

Blessed Alexander Vincioli, OFM B (AC)
Born in Perugia, Italy; died at Sassoferrato, Italy, 1363. Pope John XXII chose the Franciscan Alexander Vincioli as his confessor and named him bishop of Nocera in Umbria (Benedictines).

Diodorus and Rhodopianus, Deacons MM (RM)
Early 5th century. These two deacons were martyred in Caria, Asia Minor, during the reign of Diocletian (Benedictines).

Ethelwin of Lindsey B (AC)
8th century. Saint Ethelwin was a monk at Ripon Abbey. He succeeded Saint Cuthbert as a hermit on Farne Island, where he lived for twelve years. After his death, he was buried at Lindisfarne. This may be the same person as Saint Elwin of Lindsey, to whom Farmer gives the feast of June 29. He reports that "Challoner seems to have invented May 3 as his feast, with his brother Saint Aldwyn, abbot of Peartney and two other brothers, Edilhun and Egbert" (Benedictines, Farmer).

Finding of the Holy Cross
Today commemorates Saint Helena's discovery of the True Cross in Jerusalem in 335 in the course of excavating the foundation for Constantine's basilica of the Holy Sepulchre on Mount Calvary. It is significant that the finding of the Cross is associated with Emperor Constantine, who signed the Peace of Milan permitting the toleration of Christianity as a result of a vision of the Cross in the sky.

Saint Helena of the True Cross

Details about Helena's share in the finding of the Cross and some of the cures associated with it may be apocryphal. They say that the emperor's 80-year-old mother made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to walk in the footsteps of her Lord. She wanted to venerate the wood of the Cross on which hung the Savior of the world, but no one seemed sure of where to find it. The heathens, presumably, hid it and, some said, built a temple to Venus over the spot. Moreover, Saint Jerome tells us that the pagans erected a statue of Jupiter in the place where Christ rose from the dead. Helena consulted the locals who told her that if she could find the sepulchre, she could locate the instruments of the punishment, because the Jews had a custom of burying such detestable objects in a hole near the burial place of executed criminals.

When the empress then ordered the temple and pagan statues to be destroyed and the rubbish removed, they discovered the Holy Sepulchre and three crosses near it, together with the nails that had pierced our Savior's body and the plaque that hung on the Cross. The plaque had become detached, so they didn't know which was Christ's Cross. Bishop Saint Macarius suggested that the three crosses be taken to the home of a prominent lady who was extremely ill. There he prayed that God would regard their faith and laid each cross in turn gently to the sick woman. At the touch of one, the woman immediately and completely recovered. This one was declared the True Cross.

The stem and title of the Cross were venerated at Jerusalem before the end of the 4th century as described by the pilgrim Egeria and others. From there it spread to Rome, where Santa Croce Basilica was built to house the relics of the Passion and Cross, and thence to other churches in the West. The title was placed in a lead box over one arch of Santa Croce, where it was discovered again in 1492. At that time the inscription in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin was in red letters, and the wood was whitened; these colors are since faded and the words "Jesus" and "Judaeorum" are eaten away. The board is nine inches long, but must have been 12".

The main part of the cross was enclosed by Helena in a silver shrine and committed to the care of Bishop Macarius. Saint Paulinus in a letter to Severus relates that daily chips were cut from this Cross and given to the devout, but the sacred wood never suffered diminution. Saint Cyril of Jerusalem wrote in 346 that "the saving wood of the Cross was found at Jerusalem in the time of Constantine and that it was distributed fragment by fragment from the spot." He compares this miracle to the feeding of the 5,000.

This feast was suppressed in the 1969 revision of the Roman calendar (Farmer, Husenbeth).

Juvenal of Narni B (RM)
(also known as Juvenalis)

Died 369. Saint Juvenal was ordained to the priesthood by Pope Saint Damasus and became the first bishop of Narni in central Italy. According to legend, he saved Narni from the Ligurian and Sarmatian invaders by calling down a great thunderstorm. He is styled a martyr by Saint Gregory the Great, but this is uncertain. Because over the centuries hagiographers have confused him with other saints of the same name, little can be said definitively about his life (Benedictines, Coulson, Husenbeth). Saint Juvenal is depicted in art as holding a sword in his mouth. He may also be portrayed holding a chalice (Roeder).

Philip of Zell, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died c. 770. The town of Zell, Germany, grew up around Saint Philip's cell, after which it was named. He was an Anglo- Saxon pilgrim who became a hermit near Worms, was joined there by several disciples, and established a monastery. He was also a good friend of King Pepin (Benedictines).

Philip and James, Apostles (RM)
(James is also known as Giacomo, Jacobo, Jacques)

1st century; feast day formerly on May 1. Philip was born in Bethsaida, Galilee, and may have been a disciple of Saint John the Baptist. He is mentioned as one of the Apostles in the lists of Matthew (10:3), Mark (3:18), Luke (6:14), and in Acts (1:13). Aside from the lists, he is mentioned only in John in the New Testament, where he has the gift of raising the questions everyone else is afraid to ask, and appears to be a careful, level-headed man.

Philip was called by Jesus Himself (John 1:43-48) on the day after Saint Peter and Andrew and began his evangelizing efforts by bringing Nathaniel (a.k.a. Bartholomew) to Jesus. Philip also shows us a bit about how to evangelize: When Nathaniel ask, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" He appeals for a personal inquiry: "Come and see."

Philip was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes (John 6:1-15), when he engaged in a brief dialogue with the Lord (John 6:5-7), and was the Apostle approached by the Hellenistic Jews from Bethsaida to introduce them to Jesus (John 12:21ff). Just before the Passion, Jesus answered Philip's query to show them the Father (John 14:8ff), but no further mention of Philip is made in the New Testament beyond his listing among the apostles awaiting the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room (Acts 1:13).

According to tradition, he preached in Greece and was crucified upside down at Hierapolis in Phrygia under Emperor Domitian, c. 80 AD. Philip's alleged relics were translated to Rome and placed in the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles, where an ancient inscription records that it was originally dedicated to Saints Philip and James. The Golden Legend says that Philip drove away a dragon of the Temple of Mars with the Cross. Some later traditions develop the role of Philip's supposed daughters in the early Church, but many of these confuse today's saint with Philip the Deacon (cf. Acts 8; 21:8).

James, the son of Alphaeus and Mary, is named in the same lists of Apostles in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and in Acts 1:13 is one of the other apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem after Christ's Ascension. James is mentioned as one of the "brothers" (parthenos) of the Lord (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3) with Joseph, Simon, and Jude and is called the "brother of the Lord" (most likely meaning a first cousin) in Galatians 1:19. It was to James that Peter wanted the news of his miraculous escape transmitted (Acts 12:17), and James seems to have been regarded as the head of the primitive Church of Jerusalem. He was the one who suggested that only four Jewish practices be imposed on Gentile Christians (Acts 15:13-21), beginning this statement with the words, "It seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us. . . ." Paul reported to him and sought his approval several times.

This James seems to be the James of the Epistle of James who opens the letter by calling himself "servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," which may indicate it was an official Church title; James uses the tone of authority of one well known in the Church and accustomed to wielding authority.

Traditionally, biblical exegetes have considered James, the son of Alphaeus, as the same James called "the brother of the Lord," the James who speaks with the voice of authority in the early Church; many modern scholars, however, hold that there may have been two men named James, one the son of Alphaeus and one of the Twelve, and the other "the brother of the Lord" and author of the epistle. Among the reasons cited is that James speaks of the Apostles in the past tense and does not identify himself as an Apostle; the apparent distinction between this James and the Apostle James in 1 Corinthians 15:7; and the elegant Greek literary style used that the author of the epistle, which is unlikely to be that of a Galilean peasant.

The name "James the Less" is usually applied to James the son of Alphaeus, because of the reference in Mark 15:40, where he is called "James the Less" or "James the Younger." According to the converted Jew Heggesippus, a 2nd-century ecclesiastical historian, James was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Pharisees and then stoned to death about the year 62 AD. The contemporary Jewish historian Josephus records that the bishop James was stoned to death. Ancient legendary sources recorded in the Golden Legend say that he was killed by the blow of a fuller's club after his fall from the temple. He lived just long enough to forgive his killers. This James is also known as "the Just." Eusebius contended that the catastrophes that later struck Jerusalem were a punishment for their treatment of one "who was the most righteous of men" (Appleton, Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Tabor, Walsh, White).

In art since the 15th century, Saint Philip is portrayed as an apostle holding a long cross, or a staff with a small cross on it (Appleton, Tabor), which resembles a ceremonial object rather than the instrument of his crucifixion. It is like the staves used by Saint Michael and Saint Margaret in overcoming dragon-like demons, and likely refers to the incident in the Temple of Mars. The cross may be seen in images of Philip as (1) a weapon against the dragon (paganism); (2) his instrument of martyrdom; or (3) a sign that he was a missionary preacher who stressed the victory of the Cross (Appleton).

Philip might also be shown (1) crucified on a tall cross; (2) with loaves and fishes; (3) with a loaf and book; (4) with a snake or dragon; (5) with descendit ad inferna on a book or scroll; (6) baptizing the Ethiopian eunuch; (7) casting a devil from the idol of Mars; or (8) with his brother Andrew. Like Andrew, he is often, though not invariably, of venerable appearance.

Saint James is depicted in art as facially similar to Jesus, whose cousin he is said to have been. He may be portrayed (1) with a club or large mallet (Tabor); (2) holding his epistle, either as a book or scroll; (3) with the prophet Haggai and the words credo in Spiritu Sanctu; (4) as a child with a toy mill; or (5) flung from the pulpit or a pinnacle of the temple (Roeder). A 13th- century sculpture at Chartres shows Saint James with the fuller's club. In addition to the emblems of their martyrdom, the Apostles were each given other distinctive symbols in the 14th-15th centuries (Appleton).

Philip is the patron of hatters, pastry chefs (Roeder), and Uruguay. James is the patron of the dying due to his deathbed forgiveness of his murderers (White).

Early manuscripts of the Martyrology of Saint Jerome place the feast of Philip on May 1. The feast of James may have been joined to that of Philip after the joint dedication of the basilica in Rome to their honor. The traditional date was moved because May Day was dedicated to Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955 and the following day honors Saint Athanasius. In 1955, the Feast of Philip and James was transferred to May 11, but in 1969, it was again moved to May 3. Eastern Churches celebrate the feast on November 14 (Farmer).

Scannal (AC)
Died after 563. The celebrated missionary Saint Scannal was a disciple of Saint Columba (Benedictines).

Timothy and Maura MM (RM)
Died at Antino, Egypt, in 298. Joined in life as husband and wife for three weeks, the newly-weds Timothy and Maura were nailed against a wall because Timothy, a reader, refused to hand over the Sacred Books. They consoled and encouraged each other during the nine days they hanged there until their martyrdom under Diocletian (Benedictines, Coulson).

Blessed Ventura Spellucci, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born at Spello (near Assisi), Italy, in the 12th century. After joining the Italian Cruciferi under the Benedictine Rule, Ventura built an abbey-hospice on his family estate, where he governed as abbot until his death (Benedictines).

About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on 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.