Abban of Abingdon (AC)
(also known as Abben)
2nd century. This early saint gave his name to Abingdon, formerly Abbendun, in Berkshire England. The use of -dun (fortress or seat) indicates a Celtic origin, which, if true, would make Abban the earliest Irish saint. He is saint to have come from Ireland to England, where he was baptized about 165 AD. He preached effectively and received a generous land grant in Berroccense (Berkshire) on which he founded a monastery. Another monastery, funded by Prince Cissa and founded by Hean, replaced this one in 685 (D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick, Montague, O'Hanlon).
Agnes of Poitiers, Abbess (AC)
Died 588. Saint Radegund chose Agnes to be abbess of Holy Cross Convent at Poitiers. Agnes adopted the Rule of Saint Caesarius given to her by the holy bishop of Arles himself. She is best known as the friend of the poet Saint Venantius Fortunatus (Benedictines).
Alexandrian Martyrs (RM)
Died 372. The Roman Martyrology particularly mentions Catholics martyred in the church of Theonas, but includes many others of both sexes who were killed or exiled from Alexandria at the time of Saint Athanasius's fifth exile, under the Arian Emperor Valens (Benedictines).
Anno of Verona B (AC)
(also known as Annon, Hanno)
Born in Verona; died 780. Bishop Anno of Verona is remembered chiefly in connection with the translation of the relics of SS. Firmus and Rusticus (Benedictines).
Erconwald of London, OSB B
(also known as Erkenwald)
Born in East Anglia; died in London, c. 686; second feast day on April 30. In 675, Saint Theodore of Canterbury appointed Erconwald bishop of the East Saxons with his see in London. His shrine in Saint Paul's Cathedral was a much visited pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages, but little is known of his life except that he founded a monastery at Chertsey in Surrey and a convent at Barking in Essex. He appointed his sister, Ethelburga, abbess of the latter, while he governed the former. Erconwald took some part int he reconciliation of Saint Theodore with Saint Wilfrid (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia). Erconwald is portrayed in art as a bishop in a small 'chariot' (the Saxon equivalent of a bath chair) in which he travelled because of his gout. Sometimes there is a woman touching it or he may be shown with Saint Ethelburga of Barking (Roeder). Erconwald is invoked against gout (Roeder).
Euthymius the Illuminator, Abbot (RM)
Born in Iberia (Georgia); died on May 13, 1028. Euthymius accompanied his father, Saint John the Iberian, to Mount Athos when his father brought him back from Constantinople, where he and other Iberian youths had been held hostage by the emperor. Euthymius helped his father build Iviron Monastery on Mount Athos for Iberian monks, and, about 1002, succeeded him as abbot.
After 14 years as abbot, Euthymius resigned to devote himself to his translations, which were of great service to the church. He translated from Greek into Iberian (Karthvelian) the Bible, some sixty writings of the Fathers (Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ephrem, Gregory the Great, John Cassian), biblical commentaries, lives of the saints, and liturgical books. Summoned to Constantinople by Emperor Constantine VIII to explain the disturbances that were occurring between the Greek and Iberian monks, Euthymius met his death en route from injuries caused by a fall from his mule (Attwater, Delaney).
Blessed Fortis Gabrielli, OSB Hermit (AC)
Born in Gubbio, Umbria, Italy; died 1040; cultus approved in 1756. Fortis was a hermit in the mountains near Scheggia, under the guidance of Blessed Ludolph, founder of Fontavellana. Later he entered that monastery and was professed as a monk-hermit (Benedictines).
Blessed Gerard of Villamagna, OFM Tert. (AC)
(also known as Gerard of Monza)
Born in Tuscany, Italy, 1174; died 1242; cultus approved in 1833. As esquire to a knight, Gerard participated in the crusades and was taken prisoner. On being ransomed, he returned to Italy, joined the Franciscan tertiaries, and lived the rest of his life as a hermit (Benedictines). In art, Gerard is normally depicted as an old Franciscan tertiary with a branch of cherries or cherry blossoms. Sometimes he may be shown (1) with a bowl and spoon at his feet; (2) distributing bread from a mule; (3) praying near a tree; (4) with a staff and rosary; (5) with a missioner's cross; or (6) with Saint Philip Ciardella. He is a patron of the sick (Roeder).
Glyceria of Trajanopolis VM (RM)
Died c. 177. The Roman maiden Glyceria lived with her father at Trajanopolis, Greece. She was martyred at Heraclea in the Propontis (Benedictines).
John the Silent B (RM)
Born at Nicopolis, Armenia, in 454; died near Jerusalem, 558. At the death of his prominent parents and he was 20, John founded a monastery and become a monk with ten companions in his native city. Despite their youth, the little community led a most edifying life of devotion and hard work. As their leader, John acquired a reputation for sanctity that led to the archbishop of Sebaste's choosing him, at age 28, as bishop of Colonia (Taxara), Armenia, against his will.
Nevertheless, for nine years he executed his episcopal functions with zeal, even to the point of depriving himself of the necessities of life in order to relieve the poor. As much as possible, he continued to lead the life of a monk. Then his inability to remedy certain evils combined with the pull of a secluded life. He resigned his position and headed quietly for Jerusalem.
His vita says that in prayer one night, John saw a bright cross in the air and heard a voice say, "If you want to be saved, follow this light." At length he followed it to the laura of Saint Sabas near Jerusalem. Hiding his episcopal dignity, he entered the monastery of 150 monks, where he spent the rest of his life. At first Saint Sabas assigned him under the steward to fetch water, carry stone, and serve the workmen building a new hospital. Having obediently carried out his work in this position, Sabas made him guest-master.
When Sabas recognized that his novice was on the road to Christian perfection, he allowed John to occupy a separate hermitage. John left his cell only on Saturdays and Sundays to attend public worship in the church. After three years as a hermit, he was chosen to be steward of the laura.
Four years later, Saint Sabas thought John was worthy of ordination to the priesthood. Upon their arrival at the church of Mount Calvary, where John was to be presented to Patriarch Saint Elias for ordination, he turned to the patriarch and said, "Holy father, I have something to tell you in private: afterwards, if you judge me suitable, I will receive holy orders." During the private interview and after he bound the bishop to secrecy, John revealed: "Father, I have been consecrated bishop. But on account of my many sins I have fled and sought out this desert to await the coming of the Lord."
Elias reported to Sabas that he would be unable to ordain John because of what he had revealed. As they returned to the laura, Sabas was deeply grieved because he feared that John must have committed a terrible crime. His fears were relieved when God revealed the situation to him during his earnest prayer--but he was not to divulge the secret.
In 503, both Sabas and John were forced to leave the laura for the nearby desert. Six years later, when Sabas was recalled, John also returned and lived in his hermitage for another forty years. Although his humility and love of obscurity would have made the hidden life preferable, John's sanctity and wisdom drew numerous people seeking his advice. He now saw it was God's will to lead others to God. When alone he occupied himself with uninterrupted exercises of love and praise until his death (Benedictines, Walsh).
In art, Saint John is portrayed as a bishop with his finger on his lips (Roeder).
Blessed Juliana of Norwich, OSB Hermit (PC)
Born c. 1342; died in Norwich, England, c. 1423; she has never actually been beatified.
Among the English mystics none is greater than the Lady Julian, who lived near Norwich, England, in a three-roomed hermitage in the churchyard of Conisford. Absolutely nothing is known of her life before becoming an anchorite. In fact, we do not even know her name; she has been given the name of the church where she had her cell. An old English historian writes: "In 1393, Lady Julian, the anchoress here was a strict recluse, and had two servants to attend her in her old age. This woman was in these days esteemed one of the greatest holiness."
She lived in an age of startling and confusing contrasts. It was the time of the Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, Piers Plowman and Wat Tyler, when the old social patterns were breaking down. But none of this is reflected in her quiet and retired life or in the pages of her spiritual autobiography, Revelations of Divine Love, which is the most sublime of all expositions of its kind in English. Her masterpiece encompasses the love of God, the Incarnation, redemption, sin, penance, and divine consolation.
"These revelations," she writes, "were shown to a simple creature unlettered, the year of our Lord 1373, the eighth day of May." She desired above all to know the suffering of our Lord--what she called "the mind of His Passion"--and that nothing might stand between herself and God. She tells us that when at the age of 30 she was at the point of death and the curate was sent for to administer the last rites, "he set the Cross before my face and said: 'I have brought you the Image of thy Maker and Savior: Look thereupon and comfort yourself with it.'"
She spent the next 20 years meditating upon the 16 revelations that followed in a state of ecstasy, of Christ's Passion and the Trinity. She saw the red blood flow from under the Crown of Thorns; she saw the Virgin, a young and simple maid; she saw our Lord a 'homely loving.' Then God showed her a little thing--a hazel nut in the palm of her hand. She thought: what may this be? and was answered: "It is all that is made. God shaped it. God gave it life. God maintains it."
Thus, she learned the goodness of God, in which is our highest prayer and which "comes down to our lowest need." And still regarding the Crucifix, she saw the stream of God's mercy falling like showers of rain, and looked upon the tokens of His Passion. She saw our Lord dying and underwent the torments and agony of His suffering. "And thus I saw Him, and sought Him; I had Him and I wanted Him." It seemed, she said, as if He were seven nights dying, so outdrawn was His anguish, suffering the last pain, seven nights dead, continually dying, in a cold dry wind. "Thus was I taught to choose Jesus for my Heaven, whom I saw only in pain at that time . . . to choose only Jesus in good times and bad. . . . He shall make all well that is not well. . . . Prayer unites the soul to God."
In this way, this remarkable book pursues its course, full of deep insight and feeling: "In Christ our two natures are united." "Our soul can never have rest in things that are beneath itself." "God can do all that we need." "I knew well that while I beheld in the Cross I was surely safe." And its last word is: "Love was our Lord's meaning." At the time of her death she had a far-spread reputation for sanctity, which attracted visitors from all over England to her cell (Benedictines, Delaney, Gill).
Mael of Bardsey (AC)
(also known as Mahel)
6th century. Saint Mael followed Saint Cadfan from Brittany into Wales, where he became one of the solitaries of the isle of Bardsey (Benedictines).
Merewenna of Rumsey, OSB Abbess (AC)
(also known as Merwenna, Merwinna)
Died c. 970; original feast day was February 10, feast of translation is October 23. Merewenna was the first abbess of Rumsey convent in Hampshire, when it had been restored under King Edward the Peaceful (or Edgar?) refounded it in 967. Under her direction the monastery prospered and attracted princesses, including Saint Elfleda by whom she lays in the abbey church (Benedictines, Farmer).
Mucius of Byzantium M (RM)
(also known as Mocius)
Born in Byzantium; died there in 304. Mucius, a Roman citizen, became a priest and was martyred under Diocletian for having overturned a pagan altar (Benedictines).
Natalis of Milan B (AC)
Died 751. Natalis was bishop of Milan from 740 to 751 (Benedictines). In art, Natalis is a bishop near a child who is holding a book. He can be confused with Saint Ambrose (Roeder).
Onesimus of Soissons B (AC)
Died c. 361. Fifth bishop of Soissons (Benedictines).
Peter Regalatus, OFM (RM)
(also known as Peter Regalado)
Born in Valladolid, Spain, 1390; died March 30, 1456; canonized by Benedict XIV in 1746; another feast day was March 30. The nobly born, 13-year-old Peter entered the Franciscan order in his hometown, after convincing his widowed mother that all would be well. He later migrated to Aguilar del Campo in New Castile, which had been established by Father Peter Villacretios. There today's saint began his efforts at reforming this and several other friaries--primarily through his own example of austerity, penance, and prayer. The feast of the translation of his relics is today (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Servatus of Tongres B (RM)
(also known as Servais)
Died in Tongres, Belgium, May 13, 384. Bishop Servatus of Tongres (Belgium) hosted Saint Athanasius, when the latter was an exile in the West because of the Arian persecutions. He strenuously defended his friend and the cause of orthodoxy, especially at the council of Sardica (Sofia). Saint Gregory of Tours relates that Servatus foretold invasion of Gaul by the Huns and implored the divine mercy to avert that scourge by watching, fasting, prayers, many tears, and a pilgrimage to Saint Peter's tomb in Rome in 382. Regardless of his pleading with the Almighty, God revealed to him that punishment was necessary. Still weeping, he hastened back to Tongres, where he sickened and died soon after. Gregory testifies that many miracles occurred at his tomb, which caused a church to be built over the relics of the man who had governed the diocese for 37 years. Most of his relics are housed in the collegiate church in Maestricht. Shortly after his death, the city of Tongres was plundered by Attila. Some have claimed that Servatus moved his see to Maestricht, but the translation was made only after the destruction of Tongres (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Servatus is generally a bishop with three wooden shoes. He may sometimes be portrayed (1) at a reading desk with a shield by him with three wooden shoes; (2) being met at the city gate by burghers as he holds the key and is attended by an angel; (3) with a key in one hand, placing his crozier on a dragon; (4) striking water; or (5) with an eagle fanning him as he sleeps in the sun dressed as a pilgrim (Roeder). Servatus is invoked against foot troubles, lameness, rheumatism, rats, and mice (Roeder).
Valerian of Auxerre B (AC)
Died after 350. Valerian, the third bishop of Auxerre, championed the Catholic faith against the error of Arianism (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.