Saint Matthew, Apostle
Boniface of Tarsus M (RM)
Died c. 307. Saint Boniface was the chief steward of a beautiful, young and socially ambitious Roman noblewoman, named Aglae. Several times she entertained the entire city with public shows. Aglae held lascivious plans for her steward. Although Boniface was an alcoholic and addicted to debauchery, he also possessed virtues to a remarkable degree: hospitality, liberality, and compassion. He was known to assist any stranger in need and to wander the city streets at night seeking out those whose miseries he could relieve.
After several years of working for Aglae, she, moved by Divine grace, said to him, "You must realize how deeply mired we are in vice. We have not considered that we must appear before God to give an account of all our actions. I have heard it said that they who honor those that suffer for the sake of Jesus Christ shall have a share in their glory. In the East, the servants of Jesus Christ every day suffer torments, and lay down their lives for His sake. Go there and bring me the relics of some of those conquerors, that we may honor their memories, and be saved by their assistance."
Before he left he told Aglae: "I won't fail to bring back with me the relics of martyrs, if I find any; but what if my own body should be brought to you for that of a martyr?" She reproved him for joking about so serious a matter. Thus, Boniface travelled East to secure relics for his mistress, a man renewed in spirit and finally convicted in his faith. Sorrow for his past sins grew as he travelled, and so did his acts of penance.
He went to Tarsus in Cilicia, where the persecution of Christians was raging under governor Simplicius. Immediately upon arrival Boniface left his horses in the charge of his servants and went to the court, where he found Simplicius seated in his tribunal and many martyrs suffering. One was hung by his feet over a fire, another racked, a third being sawed apart, and another 17 suffering various cruel tortures. Boniface boldly saluted these champions of Christ, "Great is the God of the Christians, great is the God of the holy martyrs. I beseech you, the servants of Jesus Christ, to pray for me, that I may join with you in fighting against the devil."
This, of course, was considered an insult to the governor, who angrily asked who he was. Boniface replied that he was a Christian, and that having Jesus Christ for his master, he feared nothing the governor could inflict to make him renounce that sacred name. With that the enraged Simplicius ordered sharp reeds to be thrust under his nails and boiling lead to be poured into his mouth. Boniface called upon Jesus for assistance, then begged the prayers of the other martyrs, who all joined in petitioning God for him. The people, disgusted by so much cruelty, began to raise a tumult, and cried out, "Great is the God of the Christians." Alarmed, Simplicius withdrew.
But the next day he ordered Boniface to be brought before him a second time. The martyr appeared constant and undaunted. The judge commanded that he be cast into a caldron of boiling pitch; but he came out without receiving any hurt. Finally, Boniface was condemned to beheading. After saying a short prayer for the pardon of his sins and the conversion of his persecutors, he cheerfully presented his neck to the executioner.
Meanwhile his servants had gone searching for him. They finally ran into the jailer's brother who told them that a stranger had been beheaded the day before for his faith in Christ. They identified Boniface's dead body and head, and requested that they be allowed to take them home. This was permitted upon payment of 500 pieces of gold. They had the body embalmed and carried it back to Aglae, who met them outside Rome with priests, candles, and perfume in order to give him a Christian burial. Later she built a chapel on the site of his tomb. From that time Aglae led a secluded, penitential life and, dying fifteen years after, was buried near the relics of Boniface.
The body and head of Boniface were found in Rome in 1603. His relics are enshrined under the high altar in the church of SS. Alexius and Boniface on the Aventine, formerly called Saint Boniface. These acta are not entirely reliable; they are not contemporary sources (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Boniface of Ferentino B (RM)
6th century. Bishop Boniface of Ferentino, Tuscany, Italy, reigned during the time of Emperor Justin and was commemorated by Saint Gregory the Great (Benedictines).
Carthage the Younger, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Carthach, Mochuda)
Born at Castlemaine, Kerry, Ireland; died near Lismore, Ireland, on May 14, c. 637; cultus confirmed in 1903. This swineherd was probably named Cuda. He became a disciple of Saint Carthach the Elder who ordained him and from whom he took his name. About 590, he became a hermit at Kiltlaugh and then at Bangor under Saint Comgall.
After visiting several monasteries, Carthage settled for a time at Rahan in Offaly, and then in 595 he founded a monastery there and ruled over 800 monks, two of whom were Britons who tried to drown him because they felt it was time for the monastery to have a new abbot. Carthage wrote a rule in metrical verse, a later version of which still exists. He also was probably a bishop at Fircall.
After 40 years, the foundation provoked the jealousy of monasteries on adjacent lands, and Carthage and his monks were driven away by Blathmac, a local ruler. He led his monks to the banks of the Blackwater and founded a new monastery at Lismore, where he survived long enough to give his monks a firm foundation to what was to become one of the most famous of all Irish monastic schools. One of its students was Saint Cathal, who was elected bishop of Taranto, Italy, during his return from the Holy Land.
Saint Carthage was exceptionally strict about the holding of property; at Rathan he would not allow the community to have horses or oxen to help in the tillage. Nevertheless, the Lismore Crozier is a treasured item of Irish art--now residing in the National Museum at Dublin. The saint retired to a cave near Lismore where he spent his last years as a hermit (Attwater, Benedictines, Carthage, Delaney, Montague).
Dyfan M (AC)
(also known as Deruvianus, Damian)
2nd century. Dyfan is said to have been one of the missionaries sent to the Britons by Pope Saint Eleutherius at the request of King Saint Lucius. His church of Merthyr Dyfan shows the popular tradition that he ended his days on earth in martyrdom (Benedictines).
Erembert of Toulouse, OSB B (AC)
Born at Wocourt near Passy; died c. 672. Erembert became a Benedictine at Fontenelle Abbey about 640. He was appointed bishop of Toulouse, France, c. 656, and ruled for 12 years. In his old age he resigned and returned to Fontenelle (Benedictines).
Blessed Giles of Santarem, OP (AC)
Born at Vaozela near Coimbra, Portugal, c. 1185-1190; died at Santarem, Portugal, 1265; cultus approved in 1748.
So many romantic legends intertwine themselves with the story of Blessed Giles that it is difficult to see the man himself. His life, even stripped of its legend, however, is the story of the triumph of grace in the human soul.
He was the son of Rodrigues de Vagliaditos, governor of Coimbra under King Sancho the Great. From his childhood, Giles was destined for the priesthood for which he studied at Coimbra. He was ordained at an early age, but with no good intention, for he saw in the priesthood only a chance to wield power. His father's influence gained for him a number of rich benefices, which he used sinfully for power and pleasure.
Being a brilliant student, he advanced rapidly in his chosen field of medicine, an art that was at the time often linked with necromancy or black magic. He neglected his priestly duties and seemed bent only on the pleasures of life.
Legend takes up the story from here and relates that Giles, a thoroughly irreligious and pleasure-seeking young man, set out for Paris to work for higher degrees in medicine. On the advice of a stranger he met on the way, he went to Toledo instead and became a student of the black arts. According to one legend, he met the devil and signed a contract with him, in which he promised his soul in return for a universal knowledge of medicine. Thereupon he spent seven years in bondage to his evil master, learning all his arts.
Having gained the highest degrees in medicine, Giles went to Paris and became a successful physician. At the peak of worldly success, he began to have horrible visions. He saw himself in a cemetery of a monastery of which he enjoyed the revenues. There he saw a specter who carried a skull and an hourglass. The specter knocked at one and then another of the tombs, calling out, "Arise, faithful monk!" At each summons another fearful specter appeared, until at one tomb there was no answer.
"Giles," he called. "What--not there?" He poised the hourglass and murmured, "There are yet a few sands to run!" After this fearful vision, says the legend, Giles repented of his misspent life, destroyed his magic books and potions, and set out in haste for Coimbra on foot.
At Palencia he met the friars of the newly founded Order of Preachers. He was still troubled by diabolical attacks, but they helped him to make his peace with God. Joining them, he spent seven years in terrible penance, after which Our Lady returned to him the fateful scroll he had signed with Satan.
Such a legend adds color to the calendar of saints, but it would be hard to tell how much of it is true. It is known that Giles had spent his youth badly, and that after entering the Dominicans he did fervent penance. By nature he was witty and charming, and he found the silence hard to keep. Actual violence to his natural disposition was necessary to make him into the humble and reserved religious he later became.
Blessed Giles occupied several positions of authority in the order, including provincial of Portugal, and his medical skill proved to be a blessing in the care of his sick brethren. He made a practice of going about the dormitories, cleaning up the students' rooms while they were at class. His heroic penance did much to undo the scandal he had caused in his early years.
Giles was sent back to Portugal after his early training, and his preaching was noteworthy, even in that age of renowned preachers. He founded a number of monasteries and did much to establish the Dominicans in Portugal. His last years were filled with visions and ecstasies. He lived to be very old, regarded by all but himself as a very great saint (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Justa, Justina, & Henedina MM (RM)
Died c. 130. Martyrs venerated in Sardinia who were killed by Hadrian (117-138) either at Cagliari or Sassari (Benedictines).
Maria-Domenica Mazzarello V (AC)
(also known as Mary Dominic)
Born at Mornese near Genoa, Piedmont, Italy, 1837; died at Nizza Monferrato, Italy, on April 27, 1881; canonized in 1951 by Pope Pius XII.
Maria-Domenica was the daughter of a peasant. She worked in the fields as a child, and when 17 joined the sodality of Daughters of Mary Immaculate founded at the inspiration of Saint John Bosco. In 1860, she contracted typhoid while nursing her sick relatives. Thereafter, unable to work in the fields, she started a dressmaking business with a friend, Petronilla.
A brush with death often teaches us to order our priorities aright. Thus it was with Maria-Domenica. The young woman became devout and joined the parish sodality. In 1864, Don Bosco visited Mornese hoping to found a boys' school. While he was unable to see his hope become a reality there, he managed to interest Maria-Domenica and Petronilla in working with girls, as he had been with boys. First one and then other companions joined her in a life of regular piety, and so her institute, Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians, came into being with eleven sisters professing themselves that same year (1864) and fifteen more receiving the habit under the governance of Maria-Domenica.
Although she was uneducated, Maria-Domenica was an outstanding leader. The sisters used John Bosco's model for teaching through encouragement, charity, and joy. In 1872, Don Bosco received permission from Pope Pius IX to canonically found the congregation of nuns for teaching girls. In 1874, Maria-Domenica was elected superior-general of the Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians, popularly known as the Salesian Sisters with the mother-house at Nizza Monferrato.
The congregation grew rapidly. In 1876, she sent six nuns to found a house in Argentina to which many Italians emigrated. By 1900 there were nearly 800 foundations in existence and activities expanded to charitable works as well as teaching. Today the congregation has 1,400 houses in 54 countries.
In 1881, she had to return suddenly from Marseilles due to illness. John Bosco met and comforted her, but she said that it was time for her to leave because she now had her passport. She died soon after at the age of 44. Her body is enshrined beside that of John Bosco in Turin (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).
Matthias of Jerusalem, Apostle B (RM)
Died at Colchis(?), c. 120; feast day formerly February 24. Mentioned in the New Testament only in Acts 1:21-26, where, after the Ascension of Jesus, Matthias was selected by lot to replace Judas Iscariot. As Saint Peter is quoted in the Acts of the Apostles, Matthias was "one of the men who accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day he was taken up from us." Matthias, says Peter, was a "witness to Christ's resurrection."
For some time a Gospel, said to be authored by Matthias, circulated in the early Christian world, but this has now been lost, apart from a few sentences quoted in other writers.
Unreliable legend had him preaching in Judea, Cappadocia, and on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where he endured great persecutions; he suffered martyrdom, perhaps at Colchis or Jerusalem.
His alleged relics were removed by Empress Saint Helena and are now venerated at Saint Matthias's Abbey in Trier, Germany. There appears to be some confusion between Matthias and Matthew in some of the early writings and legends (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, White).
In art, Saint Matthias is an elderly apostle holding or being pierced with an axe (German images), lance (Italian images), halberd, scimitar, or sword (Appleton, Roeder, Tabor). He is often confused with Saint Matthew, who should not hold a halberd, and with Saint Jude, who is generally represented as a younger man (Roeder).
Michael Garicoïts (RM)
Born near Bayonne, Basque, April 15, 1797; died 1863; canonized in 1947. Michael was the eldest son of Pyrenean peasants, Arnold and Gratianne Garicoïts, whose door was always open to the priests escaping the persecutions during and after the French Revolution. As a boy he was hired out as a shepherd to a neighboring farmer. He often expressed to his parents his desire to become a priest, but they believed it was an impossible dream because they were so poor. His grandmother, however, believed that all things are possible with God.
One day she went to discuss Michael's vocation with the parish priest of Saint-Palais, who had previously found refuge in the Garicoïts' cottage. He arranged for Michael to work for the clergy and later in the kitchen of the bishop of Bayonne in return for his education. Thus, his educational expenses at the College of Saint-Palais and at Bayonne were handled. Michael studied philosophy at Aire and theology in the major seminary at Dax. In December 1823, he was ordained to the priesthood in Bayonne by Bishop d'Astros.
He worked for two years as vicar in a parish at Cambo, where the pastor was ill. During that time he stimulated faith and combatted the heresy of Jansenism by promoting frequent communion and introducing devotions to the Sacred Heart. Then he was appointed professor of philosophy and, eventually, rector of the diocesan seminary at Bétharram--a post he filled with distinction. When the bishop decided to merge the seminary with that of Bayonne, Fr. Michael found himself left with two other priests to carry on the services. They started to live a community life.
A scheme was taking shape in Fr. Michael's mind for training priests to do mission work. In order to further discern God's plan, Michael attended a retreat in Toulouse directed by the Jesuit Father Le Blanc. He opened his heart to this good priest and was encouraged to persevere, saying: "You will be the father of a congregation that will be our sister." And, indeed, the constitution that Michael drew up resembled that of the Society of Jesus.
When Saint Andrew Fournet died in 1834, Fr. Michael, provided continued help to Saint Elizabeth Bichier des Ages with the Daughters of the Cross, also known as the Sisters of Saint Andrew the Apostle. She in turn encouraged Michael in his founding of the society of missioners called Priests of the Sacred Heart of Bétharram (Bétharram Fathers) in 1838.
After encountering many difficulties the congregation grew and spread beyond France and across the Atlantic (Attwater, Benedictines).
Blessed Petronilla of Moncel, Poor Clare Abbess (AC)
Died 1355. Petronilla was born into the privileged family of the counts of Troyes. She was the first abbess of the convent of Poor Clares at Moncel, Burgundy, founded by King Philip le Bel (Benedictines).
Pontius of Cimiez M (RM)
Died c. 258. The relics of Pontius, a martyr under Valerian at Cimella (Cimiez) near Nice, Savoy, France, were translated to Tomietes Monastery in Languedoc. He has given his name to the town of Saint-Pons. The fifth-century Bishop Saint Valerian of Cimiez wrote three panegyrics about Pontius in which he relates the many miracles wrought by the intercession of the martyr (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Tuto of Ratisbon, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Totto)
Died 930. Abbot Tuto of Saint Emmeram at Ratisbon (Regensburg), Germany, became bishop of the city and secretary to Emperor Arnold (Benedictines).
Victor and Corona MM (RM)
Died c. 176. Saint Victor and his wife Corona were martyred, probably in Syria. The details of their martyrdom as compiled in their Acta are untrustworthy (Benedictines). In art, Victor and Corona are portrayed as they are ripped asunder between trees (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.