St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

May 8



Acacius of Byzantium M (RM)
(also known as Agathus, Agario, Acato)

Died c. 303. Saint Acacius was a Cappadocian centurion in the Roman army stationed in Thrace, who was tortured and beheaded at Byzantium under Diocletian. Constantine the Great built a church in his honor (Benedictines).

In art, Saint Acacius is a centurion with a bunch of thorns. He may also be shown (1) in armor with a standard and shield, or (2) in Byzantine art, with Saint Theodore Tyro (Roeder). He is venerated as San Acato in Avila and Cuenca (Spain) and as Saint Agario in Squillace (Calabria, Italy) (Roeder).


Blessed Amatus Ronconi, OSB (AC)
Born in Rimini, Italy; died 1292. Amatus made four pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostella before becoming a lay-brother at San Giuliano Abbey near Rimini (Benedictines).


Blessed Angelus of Masaccio, OSB Cam. M (AC)
Died 1458. Angelus spent his life at the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria di Serra in the Marches of Ancona. He was martyred by the Fraticelli or Bertolani heretics because of his vehement preaching in defense of the Catholic faith (Benedictines).


Benedict II, Pope (RM)
Born in Rome, Italy; died March 8, 685. Not much is known of Saint Benedict's youth except that he was active in Church affairs. He became a Scripture scholar and an expert in sacred chants. Elected to succeed Leo II in 683, his consecration was delayed almost a year until June 26, 684, awaiting the emperor's confirmation. During his term, he amended the process to speed approval of papal elections by having the exarch of Ravenna confirm the election, rather than the emperor, thus eliminating long delays.

Benedict was greatly respected by Emperor Constantine the Bearded, who sent him locks of his sons' hair, making them the pope's spiritual sons. Benedict brought back to orthodoxy Macarius, the ex-patriarch of Antioch, from his Monothelitism, and restored several Roman churches. He upheld the cause of Saint Wilfred of York, who sought the return of his see from which he had been deposed by Saint Theodore. Benedict ruled for only 11 months. He is the patron saint of Europe (Benedictines, Delaney, White).


Boniface IV, Pope (RM)
Born at Valeria, Abruzzi, Italy; died 615. Son of a doctor named John, Boniface may have been a student under Gregory the Great. Boniface was possibly a Benedictine monk of Saint Sebastian in Rome and became a dispensator when he entered papal service. He was elected pope in 608, was responsible for converting the Roman temple of the gods, the Pantheon in Rome, into a Christian church dedicated to Our Lady and all the saints. Boniface corresponded with Saint Columba (or Saint Columbanus?), who chided him for some of his theological stances while expressing devotion and loyalty to him (Benedictines, Delaney).


Desideratus of Bourges B (AC)
6th century. Desideratus succeeded Saint Arcadius as bishop of Bourges (Benedictines).


Dionysius of Vienne B (RM)
Died after 193. Saint Dionysius is said to have been one of the ten missionaries sent into Gaul with Saint Peregrinus by Pope Sixtus I in the early 2nd century. He succeeded Saint Justus as bishop of Vienne in the Dauphiné. Some have erroneously described him as a martyr (Benedictines).


Gibrian (AC)
Died (perhaps) c. 515. The Irish hermit Saint Gibrian was the eldest of nine (or eight) siblings, all of whom migrated to Brittany where they became saints. They include his brothers Tressan (Trasain, a priest), Helan(us) (priest), Germanus, Abran (seems to be Gibrian himself), Petran, and sisters Franca, Promptia, Possenna. Gibrian labored near Rheims and was buried at a place now called after him Saint Gibrian. His cultus spread because of the many miracles reported at his tomb, especially the healing of blindness. His relics were translated to the basilica of Saint Remigius in Rheims (Benedictines, Montague).


Helladius of Auxerre B (RM)
Died 387. Helladius was bishop of Auxerre, France, for 30 years. He converted his own successor, Saint Amator, to a devout life (Benedictines).


Blessed Ida of Nivelles, OSB Widow (AC)
(also known as Itta, Iduberga)

Died 652. After the death of Blessed Pepin of Landen, his wife Ida built a double monastery at Nivelles. She and her younger daughter, Saint Gertrude entered the monastery, which was placed under the Benedictine Rule and governed by Gertrude (Benedictines). Several art historians give a stag with flaming horns as the emblem of Saint Ida of Nivelles, but it seems likely that this is a confusion with Ida of Toggenburg, whose proper attribute it is (Roeder). She is invoked against toothache and erysipelas (Roeder).


Magdalen of Canossa, Founder (RM)
Born in Verona, Italy, March 1, 1774; died there on April 10, 1835; declared venerable on January 6, 1927; beatified December 7, 1941, by Pope Pius XII; canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 2, 1988; feast day formerly on May 14.

Saint Magdalen was only five years old when her father, the marquis of Canossa, died. Two years later her mother remarried and abandoned her four children to the care of their uncles. Although they treated the children well enough, their French governess was harsh. Perhaps as a result of this ill-treatment, Magdalen suffered a painful illness when she was fifteen. Upon her recovery, she was determined to become a nun. In October 1791, she enter the Carmel for a short time before returning home to manage her father's estate until she was 33.

During the Napoleonic wars, her family took refuge in Venice. There she had a dream in which she saw the Blessed Mother surrounded by six religious dressed in brown. Our Lady led them two by two into a church filled with women and girls, into a hospital, and into a hall filled with bedraggled children. She admonished the religious to serve all three, but especially to help the poor children. Almost immediately she began tending the sick in the city's hospitals and working with children..

The family returned to Verona, where they were visited by Napoleon himself. Magdalen requested from him the empty convent of Saint Joseph, which she intended to use for the poor. Several women had already joined her in her charitable work and with the gift of the convent, they opened the first house of her institute, the Daughters of Charity. Its mission followed her vision: the education of poor girls, the service of the sick in hospitals, and the teaching of the catechism in parishes.

The doors of the house in the San Zeno district was opened to poor girls on May 8, 1808. Thereafter, community prospered and its fame spread. The Canossians were invited to open a house in Venice, then in Milan, Bergamo, Trent, and elsewhere in northern Italy. Since Saint Magdalen's death, well over 400 have been established throughout the world.

Saint Magdalen drew up the rule in Venice. The congregation received formal papal approval from Pope Pius VII in 1816 and definitive approval from Pope Leo XII in an apostolic brief dated December 23, 1828. When she was declared venerable by Pope Pius XI in 1927, he wrote that "many are charitable enough to help and even to serve the poor, but few are able deliberately to become poor with the poor."

But that is exactly what the marchioness did. She herself tended the poorest and dirtiest children. Although the congregation's primary concern was poor and neglected children, she also founded high schools and colleges, especially for the deaf and dumb. Magdalen organized closed retreats for females. In Venice, she even launched a small congregation of men to carry on similar work with boys. Following her death, the Daughters of Charity entered the mission field.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the hectic pace of her life, Saint Magdalen developed enormous powers of recollection and prayer. She attained remarkable levels of contemplation. On several occasions, witnesses observed her rapt in ecstasy, and once she was seen levitating.

Towards the end of her life, Magdalen was bent almost double and could sleep only in a sitting position. She became seriously ill in Bergamo at the end of 1834 and was taken back to the mother house in Verona. By Holy Week 1835, she knew she was dying, though none of her doctors agree with her. She asked for the last rites, then died suddenly (Benedictines, Walsh).


The Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel (RM)
Today's feast commemorates the appearance of the archangel Michael (meaning "Who is like God?) on Mount Gargano near Manfredonia in southern Italy in the 6th century. In this apparition to the bishop of Siponto, the archangel requested that a church be built in his honor at the site. When the emperor Otho III reneged on his word not to kill the rebellious Roman senator Creseentius, he was overcome with remorse. Saint Romuald assigned him the penance of a barefoot pilgrimage to Saint Michael's on Mount Gargano (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Odrian of Waterford B (AC)
Date unknown. Odrian is one of the early bishops of Waterford, Ireland (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Peter of Tarentaise, OSB Cist. B (RM)
Born at Saint-Maurice (near Vienne), Dauphiné, France, 1102; died at Bellevaux, 1175; canonized in 1191. First, it should be noted that there are two saints named Peter of Tarentaise: today's bishop and one who became known as Pope Innocent V (born c. 1225).

Few bishops have both been so successful as Peter of Tarentaise and so unwilling to take up the office. His one true desire was to be a Cistercian monk. He had entered a Cistercian monastery at Bonnevaux when he was 20 (12 according to some sources), persuading his parents and brothers and sister to follow him into the religious life. Before he was 30, he was chosen to be abbot of a new Cistercian house at Tamié in the desolate Tarentaise hills, overlooking the pass which was the chief route from Geneva to Savoy.

Here he was entirely happy. He struck up a fruitful friendship with Count Amadeus III of Savoy. Together they built a hospital for the sick--a place which also served as a guest house for strangers passing over the Little Saint Bernard mountain pass. Peter like nothing better than to join in conversation with those staying in this hospital, humbly waiting upon his guests with his own hands.

But in 1142, he was elected archbishop of Tarentaise. Saint Bernard and the general chapter of his order compelled Peter to accept the office. The whole Cistercian order decided that whatever the saint wished, they must accept. Peter's predecessor had been so incompetent and lax that he had been deposed. The diocese was in complete disorder. Reluctantly Peter set about its renovation, refusing to let his personal feelings hamper the work. Only once did he give way.

He replaced the lax and careless cathedral clergy with canons regular of the Order of Saint Augustine. He regularly visited his entire diocese; recovered property that had been alienated; appointed good priests to parishes; arranged for the education of the young; made foundations to serve the poor; and made it possible to appropriately celebrate the rites of the church everywhere. The author of his vita, who was his constant companion throughout his episcopacy, recounts many miracles wrought by Saint Peter, including physical healings and the multiplication of provisions during famines.

After 13 years as archbishop, he ran off and secretly offered himself as a lay member of a Cistercian house in a remote area of Switzerland. Of course, he was found concealing himself under the guise of a novice lay brother, but not until a year had elapsed. The reluctant archbishop was forced to return to his see by his new superiors. He was greeted with joy at his homecoming. Again, he set to work with a will, founding travellers' refuges on the Alpine passes. He also endowed a charity for the free distribution of soup and bread for the hill-farmers during the lean spring months; this came to be known as pain de mai, May-bread, and continued until the French Revolution.

Peter was not completely happy outside a monastery. He often visited the Grande Chartreuse, where he was attended by a young monk later to be known as Saint Hugh of Lincoln.

Uncompromisingly Peter supported the true pope, Alexander III, against his false rivals--even though the antipope Victor was supported by no less than the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Though it seemed that he was the only subject who dared to openly oppose the pretender, Saint Peter preached in Alsace, Lorraine, Burgundy, and parts of Italy in an attempt to establish the claims of the true pontiff. He spoke out fearlessly in various councils and even in the presence of the emperor himself, who was so impressed by his sanctity and courage that he permitted him to speak freely.

Such an honest man could be trusted to intercede between the warring kings of England and France. In 1174, Pope Alexander III requested that he meet with King Louis VII of France and Henry II of England. Though he was old, he set out at once and stopped to preach everywhere en route. He met both sovereigns near Chaumont in the Vexin, where the French court was being held, but did not succeed in reconciling them. On returning to Tarentaise from this mission of peace, he became ill near Besançon and died as he was being carried into the abbey of Bellevaux (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Walsh).


Victor Maurus M (RM)
(also known as Victor the Moor)

Born in Mauritania, North Africa; died in Milan, Italy, in 303. Saint Victor was a soldier in the Praetorian Guard who is associated by Saint Ambrose, bishop of Milan from 374 to 397, with the martyrs SS. Nabor and Felix. He was martyred under Maximian. Many churches, especially in Milan, are dedicated to his honor. His cultus spread readily as far as England. Although little is known of his life, hagiographers have not hesitated to add details to the little information that is available (Benedictines, Farmer). In art, Saint Victor is depicted as a Moorish soldier trampling on a broken altar. He might also be portrayed as being roasted in an oven or a brazen bull, or thrown into a furnace. He is venerated in Milan (Roeder).


Wiro, Plechelm & Otger, OSB MM (RM)
(Plechelm is also known as Pleghelm & Otger as Odger or Oteger)

Born in Northumbria; died c. 739 or 753 (the later date seems more probable). While Wiro is believed to have been a native of Northumbria, he might possibly be from Ireland or Scotland--the record is not clear. (The Roman Martyrology styles him Wiro, bishop of Scotiae.) His biographer tells us that he was ordained a priest and with Plechelm (a fellow Northumbrian and priest) and Otger (a deacon) went to Rome, where Wiro and Plechelm were consecrated regionary bishops. Others say that Wiro was consecrated bishop of Utrecht by Saint Boniface. He joined with Boniface in his letter of correction to King Ethelbald of Mercia in 746. After doing missionary work in Northumbria, they went to Friesland in the Netherlands where they evangelized the inhabitants of the lower Meuse Valley under the direction of either Saint Swithbert or Saint Willibrord. They built a small church and monastery at Peterkloster (later Odilienberg) on land granted them by Pepin of Herstal. Later they were martyred by the Frieslanders while preaching the Gospel. The relics of Wiro and Plechelm were translated to the church they built at Roermond, but Otger's remained at their original burial place at Odilienberg (Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).

Saint Wiro is portrayed as hearing the confession of the king. He is venerated in Peterkloster (Odilienberg) (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.