Pope Saint Celestine V
Pudentiana & Pudens MM
Blessed Alcuin of York, OSB Abbot (PC)
(also known as Flaccus Albinus)
Born in York, England, c. 735; died at Saint Martin's in Tours, France, May 19, 804. Alcuin studied under Saint Edbert at the York cathedral school, was ordained a deacon there, and, in 767, became its head. Under his direction it became a well-known center of learning.
Alcuin travelled to Rome to obtain the pallium for his bishop and at Parma met Charlemagne who immediately enlisted his services in the cause of education. He was invited by Charlemagne to set up a school at his court in Aachen, Germany, in 781, where Charlemagne himself became a pupil. Alcuin also became Charlemagne's adviser.
Alcuin was appointed abbot of Saint Martin's Abbey at Tours in 796 by Charlemagne. At Tours he restored the monastic observance with the help of Saint Benedict of Aniane. Later his was abbot of monasteries at Ferrières, Troyes, and Cormery. It is not certain if Alcuin was ever ordained beyond the diaconate, though some scholars believed he did become a priest in his later years.
Under his direction the school at Aachen became one of the greatest centers of learning in Europe. He was the moving force and spirit of Carolingian renaissance and made the Frankish court the center of European culture and scholarship. He fought illiteracy throughout the kingdom, instituted a system of elementary education, and established a higher educational system based on the study of the seven liberal arts, the trivium and the quadrivium, which was the basis of the curriculum for medieval Europe.
He encouraged the use of ancient texts, was an outstanding theologian and exegete. Using his skills he fought the heresy of Adoptionism, which was condemned at the Synod of Frankfurt in 794, and exerted an influence on the Roman liturgy that endured for centuries. He wrote biblical commentaries and verse and was the author of hundreds of letters, many still extant, and a widely used rhetoric text, Compendia.
He died at Saint Martin's in Tours, where he had developed one of his most famous schools. Though his cult has never been formally confirmed, many martyrologies list his name as beatus. He may also have been a Benedictine (Attwater2, Benedictines, Delaney).
Blessed Augustine Novello, OSA (AC)
(also known as Matthew of Taormina)
Born in Taormina, Sicily; died 1309; cultus confirmed in 1759. After receiving his doctorate in law at Bologna, Matthew of Taormina was appointed chancellor to King Manfred of Sicily. At one point he was left for dead on the battlefield at Benevenuto. After his recovery he joined the Augustinian friars as a lay brother and took the name Augustine Novello. His gifts were soon discovered and he was commanded to receive priestly ordination. Augustine helped to draft new constitutions for the order. Eventually, he became prior general of the Augustinian friars, confessor to the pope, and legate. He spent the last nine years of his life as a hermit (Attwater2, Benedictines, Roeder).
In art, Augustine is an Augustinian friar with a book listening to an angel who whispers to him. He may also be shown performing various miracles (Roeder).
Blessed Bellatanus & Savinus, OSB Cam. Hermits (AC)
Date unknown. These two were Camaldolese hermits of Montacuto in the region of Perugia, Italy (Benedictines).
Calocerus and Parthenius MM (RM)
Died 250 (or 304?). Calocerus and Parthenius were brothers, allegedly eunuchs in the palace of Tryphonia, wife of Emperor Decius. They were burned alive for their faith at Rome during her husband's persecution of Christians (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson).
Cyriaca and Companions VV MM (RM)
Died 307. This group includes six Christian maidens who were martyred at the stake in Nicomedia under Maximinian Galerius (Benedictines).
Cyril of Trèves B (AC)
5th century. The relics of Bishop Cyril are enshrined in the abbey church of Saint Matthias in Trier, Germany (Benedictines).
Dunstan of Canterbury, OSB B (RM)
Born at Baltonsborough near Glastonbury, England, c. 909; died 988.
Dunstan, born of a noble Anglo-Saxon family with connections to the ruling house of Wessex, was one of the great figures in English history. He received his early education from the Irish monks at Glastonbury. While still young, he was sent as a page to the court of Athelstan.
He had already received the tonsure, and his uncle, Bishop Saint Alphege the Bald of Winchester, encouraged him to join the religious life. Dunstan hesitated for some time and nearly got married, but after recovering from a skin condition he believed to be leprosy, he received the habit (in 934) and holy orders from his uncle the same day as Saint Ethelwold circa 939.
He returned to Glastonbury and is thought to have built a small cell next to the old church, where he engaged in prayer, study, and manual labor that included making bells and sacred vessels for the church and copying or illuminating books. He is said to have excelled as a painter, embroiderer, harpist, bell-founder, and metal worker. As Dunstan would play the harp and sing to the nuns of the abbey as they embroidered his designs. Once, it is said, when he hung up his harp on the wall and left the room for a while, the harp continued to play of its own accord, caused, no doubt, by a current of air vibrating the strings. But the residents of the abbey took it to be an omen of Dunstan's future greatness.
Dunstan also loved the music of the human voice: when he sang at the altar, wrote a contemporary, "he seemed to be talking with the Lord face to face." As one skilled in the arts, Dunstan stimulated the revival of church art.
Athelstan's successor, Edmund, called him to court to act as a royal counselor and treasurer. In 943, King Edmund I narrowly escaped death while hunting, he appointed Dunstan abbot of Glastonbury with the commission to restore monastic life there and richly endowed the monastery. According to the old Saxon chronicle, Dunstan was only 18 when he became abbot of Glastonbury.
Dunstan restored the monastery buildings and the Church of Saint Peter. By introducing monks among the priests already in residence, he enforced regular discipline without making waves. He made the abbey into a great center of learning. Dunstan also revitalized other monasteries in Glastonbury.
The murder of King Edmund was followed by the accession of his brother Edred, who made Dunstan one of his top advisors. Dunstan became deeply embroiled in secular politics and incurred the wrath of the West Saxon nobles for denouncing their immorality and for urging peace with the Danes.
In 955, Edred died and was succeeded by his 16-year-old nephew Edwy. On the day of his coronation, Edwy left the royal banquet to see a girl named Elgiva and her mother. For this he was sternly rebuked by Dunstan, and the prince deeply resented the chastisement. With the support of the opposing party, Dunstan was disgraced, his property confiscated, and he was exiled.
He spent a year then in Ghent, Flanders, and there he came into contact with reformed continental monasticism. This experience fueled his vision of Benedictine perfection that would inspire his work from then on.
A rebellion broke out in England; the north and east deposed Edwy and put his brother Edgar the Peaceful on the throne. Edgar recalled Dunstan and appointed him chief adviser, in 957 bishop of Worcester, and bishop of London in 958. On Edwy's death in 959, the kingdom was reunited under Edgar, who appointed Dunstan archbishop of Canterbury in 961. Together the two initiated a policy of reform to solidify both the Church and the country. At Canterbury, Dunstan founded an abbey east of the city and three churches: Saint Mary, SS. Peter and Paul, and Saint Pancras.
In 961, Dunstan went to Rome to receive the pallium and was appointed by Pope John XII a legate of the Holy See. With this authority, he set about re-establishing ecclesiastical discipline, under the protection of King Edgar and assisted by Saint Ethelwold, the bishop of Winchester, and Saint Oswald, the bishop of Worcester and the archbishop of York. In those days, English monastic life had almost vanished as a result of the Danish invasions. They restored most of the great monasteries, such as Abingdon, that had been destroyed during the Danish incursions and founded new ones.
Dunstan founded monasteries at Bath, Exeter, Westminster, Malmesbury, and other places. He drew up rules for each to instill good order. Recalcitrant secular priests were ejected and replaced by monks in Winchester, Chertsey, Surrey, and Dorset. About 970 a conference of bishops, abbots, and abbesses drew up a national code of monastic observance, the Regularis Concordia. It was in line with continental custom and the Rule of Saint Benedict but had its own features: the monasteries were to be integrated into the life of the people, and their influence was not to be confined within the monastery walls.
Clergy who had been living scandalous lives or boldly disregarding canonical laws of celibacy were reformed. Dunstan remained firm in his moral standards, even to deferring Edgar's coronation for 14 years--likely due to a disapproval of Edgar's scandalous behavior. He modified the coronation rite, and some of his modifications devised for Edgar's coronation in Bath in 973 survive to this day.
Through 16 years of Edgar's reign, Dunstan acted as his chief adviser, criticizing him freely. One on occasion when the king had been guilty of immorality, Dunstan withstood him to his face, refusing to take his outstretched hand and turned abruptly from him with the words: "I am no friend of the enemy of Christ." Later he imposed a penance that for seven years the king was not to wear his crown.
Dunstan continued to direct the state during the short reign of the succeeding king, Edward the Martyr, Dunstan's protege. The death of the young king, connected with the antimonastic reaction following Edgar's death, grieved Dunstan terribly. His political career now over, he returned to Canterbury to teach at the cathedral school, where visions, prophecies, and miracles were attributed to him. He was especially devoted to the Canterbury saints, whose tombs he visited at night.
On the feast of the Ascension in 988 the archbishop was ill but celebrated Mass and preached three times to his people, to whom he declared that he would soon die. Two days later he died peacefully in his Cathedral of Christ Church, where he is buried. He is considered the reviver of monasticism in England. It has been said that the 10th century gave shape to English history, and that Dunstan gave shape to the 10th century. He composed several hymns, notably Kyrie Rex spendens (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Duckett, Fisher, Gill, White).
In art, he is shown as a bishop holding the devil (or his nose) with a pair of pincers; or with a crucifix speaking to him (White). He might also be shown (1) holding the tongs; (2) working as a goldsmith; (3) playing a harp; (4) with a host of angels near him; (5) with a dove; or (6) as a monk prostrate at the feet of Christ (in a drawing said to be his own) (Roeder).
He is the patron saint of armorers, goldsmiths, locksmiths, jewelers (Delaney, White), blacksmiths, musicians, and the blind (Roeder).
Blessed Francis Coll Guitart, OP (AC)
Born at Gombreny, Catalon, in 1812; died at Vich, April 2, 1875. After studying at the diocesan seminary at Vich, Francis entered the Dominican Order at the priory of Gerona in 1830. In 1835, the anticlerical government closed the house of studies at Gerona and dispersed the Dominican students. From that day until his death, Francis maintained a heroic fidelity to his Dominican vocation without the support offered by community life.
Eventually he was ordained at the diocesan seminary at Vich in 1836. After several years of parish ministry, he pursued itinerant preaching along with his friend Saint Anthony Claret. He founded the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation to teach the children of the poor in the village where he preached. In December 1869, Blessed Francis suffered a stroke which left him completely blind (Dominicans).
Hadulph of Saint-Vaast, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 728. Hadulph simultaneously held the offices of abbot of Saint-Vaast and bishop of Arras-Cambrai (Benedictines).
Blessed Humiliana de'Cerchi, OFM Tert. (AC)
Born in Florence, Italy, in 1220; died 1246; cultus approved by Pope Innocent XII. Humiliana married at the age of 16. After the early death of her husband, she became the first cloistered Franciscan tertiary at Florence (Benedictines).
Ivo Hélory, OFM Tert. (RM)
(also known as Ives, Ybus, Yvo of Kermartin)
Born at Kermartin near Tréguier, Brittany, 1253; died at Lovannec, Brittany, on May 19, 1303; canonized in 1347.
Ivo was the son of a Breton lord. At age 14 he went to Paris for a 10-year course of studies, and gained a great reputation for his proficiency in philosophy, theology, and canon law. He began an austere regime of life, wearing a hair shirt, sleeping for short hours on a straw mat with a book or stone for a pillow, and abstaining from meat and wine. He went on to Orléans to study civil law under the famous jurist Peter de la Chapelle.
After returning to Brittany, Ivo was made a judge of the ecclesiastical court by the archdeacon of Rennes. He also received minor orders. He dispensed justice with such care and kindness that he was esteemed even by the losing sides. In time, he became official to Alan de Bruc, the bishop of Tréguier.
Ivo's free defense of the poor earned him the title "Advocate of the Poor." In addition to acting as judge in his own court, he pleaded for the helpless in other courts; he frequently paid their expenses and visited them in prison. Although it was the custom of the age that lawyers accept 'gifts' as a matter of course, he refused these bribes. He worked to reconcile differences out of court, in order to save the parties the cost of unnecessary litigation.
In 1284, Saint Ivo was ordained to the priesthood. From 1287, when he resigned his legal office, he devoted his time to his parishioners first at Tredrez and then at Lovannec. He was in demand as a preacher, even outside his own parish. He was frequently called upon as an arbitrator. His legal knowledge was always at the disposal of his parishioners, as were his time and goods. Ivo's countrymen have always had a great regard for Saint Ivo, "an attorney who was an honest man."
He built a hospital, nursed the sick, and distributed his harvests or their revenues to the poor. He was known to give the clothes off his back to beggars; once he gave a beggar his bed while he slept on the doorstep. His austerities became more rigorous with time, despite his failing health. He died after preaching Mass on Ascension Eve (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, White).
In art, Saint Ivo is a lawyer enthroned between rich and poor litigants, inclining towards the poor. He may also be portrayed as surrounded by suppliants, holding a parchment and pointing upwards, or in a lawyer's gown, holding a book, with an angel near his head and a lion at his feet (Roeder).
He is the patron saint of lawyers, advocates, canon lawyers, judges, and notaries, of abandoned children and orphans, and Brittany, where Yves is a favorite baptismal name (White).
Joaquina Vedruna de Mas, Widow Foundress (AC)
(also known as Joachima)
Born in Barcelona, Spain, 1783; died at Barcelona, 1854; beatified 1940; canonized in 1959. Joaquina married the Spanish nobleman Theodore de Mas with whom she had eight children. In 1816, Theodore was killed in the Napoleonic wars. Ten years later, after ensuring that her children were provided for, the 42-year-old Joaquina retired to Vich, where she founded the Institute of the Carmelites of Charity, whose sisters are dedicated to tending the sick and teaching. In spite of serious challenges posed by civil war and secular opposition, the institute soon spread into Catalonia. Thereafter communities were established throughout Spain and South America. Although she actually died during a cholera epidemic, she was slowly dying of paralysis for four years. Nevertheless, Joaquina exhibited the highest level of trust in God, selflessness, and prayer (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Blessed John Duns Scotus (AC)
Born in Duns, Berwickshire, Scotland, c. 1265; died 1308; cultus confirmed by John Paul II on March 20, 1992.
Bl. John Duns Scotus was one of the most important and influential Franciscan theologians. His major contributions included the founding of the Scotistic School in Theology and clarifying the theology of the Absolute Kingship of Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his philosophic refutation of evolution.
Immediately after his birth, Blessed John was baptized. His early Christian formation was in the home of his pious parents, the parish priest, and the monks of the Cistercian Abbey of Melrose, where he received his catechetical instruction. At the monastery he developed an ardent love for the Mother of God, the patrimony of Saint Bernard to the Cistercians.
Unfortunately, John suffered some learning disability. His mind was unable to grasp the truths of the faith and he had difficulty learning to read and write. His faith saved him; through the intercession of the Blessed Mother, Seat of Wisdom, he was healed. She appeared to him during prayer and granted his request. His sudden change from dunce to scholar astonished his teachers and classmates. From that time he resolved to use his heaven-bestowed gift of intelligence to glorify the Mother of God.
He entered the Franciscan novitiate at Dumfries, Scotland, at the age of 15, where he made steady progress in his studies and in virtue. The following year he was professed and sent to study theology at various schools. On March 17, 1291, John was ordained priest by Bishop Oliver Sutton of Lincoln at the church of St. Andrew of the Monks of Cluny. Thereafter he began a series of travels between England and France to pursue advanced philosophical and theological studies.
On Christmas Eve in 1299 at the Oxford Convent, the Blessed Mother appeared to John as his contemplated the mystery of the Incarnation. She placed the Child Jesus in his arms to receive the sweet kisses of the Word Incarnate. Perhaps this incident inspired John to write so profoundly about the Incarnation as God's supreme demonstration of His love for man.
Blessed Peter Wright, SJ M (AC)
Born at Slipton, Northamptonshire, England; died at Tyburn in 1651; beatified in 1929. Peter was a convert to Catholicism, who studied for the priesthood at Ghent and Rome. In 1629, he joined the Jesuits and was a chaplain to the royalist army during the English civil war. He was condemned to death for his priesthood and executed at Tyburn (Attwater2, Benedictines).
Peter Morrone, Pope, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Peter Celestine V)
Born at Isernia in the Abruzzi, Italy, c. 1210-1214; died near Anagni, on May 19, 1296; canonized in 1313 by Pope Clement V. Peter was the 11th of 12 children of a peasant family. He became a hermit at age 20, but left his cell to study for the priesthood and was ordained in Rome. Later he professed himself as a Benedictine monk at Faizola in 1246.
Then, in 1251, he was permitted to return to the solitary life on Monte Morrone in the Abruzzi hills near Sulmona. His holiness attracted large crowds around him. After five years, he retired with two companions to Monte Majella in quest of greater solitude but was persuaded to go back to Monte Morrone, where he lived for many years as the head of a group of hermits that he organized first into a community and later into a monastery with a strict rule. In 1274, he received approval of his order of monks, the Celestines. In 1287, Morone began the construction of Santa Maria di Collemaggio Basilica in Aquila.
After the death of Pope Nicholas IV over two years passed without any agreement on a successor, until on July 5, 1294, the cardinals gathered in Perugia despairingly sought to end the deadlock by electing a 'stop-gap': their choice fell on the 84-year-old Peter of Morrone. (One source says that Peter reputedly threatened the cardinals with the wrath of God if they did not elect a new pope at once.)
Peter was shocked by the cardinals' choice. Despite his grave misgivings he submitted, taking the name of Celestine, and was consecrated bishop of Rome at Aquila on August 29, 1294. The results were disastrous because Celestine was unfitted for the papal office in every respect except his holiness.
In his simplicity, otherworldliness, and naivete he made the most elementary blunders; he became the innocent tool of the politics of King Charles II of Naples. Heartbroken at his failure, miserable in his new surroundings, and overwhelmed by the burden of the office he had not sought and was incapable of filling, he abdicated his office before a consistory of cardinals at Naples on December 13 the same year. He had been pope for less than five months.
A few days later the stern and rigid Cardinal Gaetani was elected as Boniface VIII in his place. Boniface feared that the popularity of his holy predecessor might lead some plotters to attempt to use Celestine for their own ends, put him back on the papal throne, and cause a further split in Christendom. The old man tried to slip away to the mountains or across the seas, but he was found and at Boniface's orders shut up in narrow quarters at the castle of Fumone, near Anagni. Saint Celestine said, "I wanted nothing in the world but a cell, and a cell they have given me." Ten months later he died, and was buried at Aquila, the most pathetic figure in the history of the papacy (Attwater, Ayscough, Benedictines, Delaney).
In art, Saint Peter Celestine is depicted as a pope with a dove at his ear and the devil trying to disturb him. He is the patron of bookbinders (Roeder).
Philoterus of Nicomedia M (RM)
Died 303. Philoterus, a nobleman of Nicomedia, was martyred there under Diocletian. His supposed acta are unreliable (Benedictines).
Pudens M (RM)
2nd century. Some believe this saint to be the same Pudens mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:21; a Roman senator baptized by the Apostles. Pudens' feast is mentioned in the Sacramentary of Saint Gregory. He is the father of the martyr Pudentiana (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Husenbeth).
Pudentiana of Rome VM (RM)
(also known as Potentiana)
Died c. 160. A lady of Rome, the daughter of Senator Saint Pudens and sister of Saint Praxedes, Pudentiana is said to have given her wealth to the poor and helped bury martyred Christians. While tradition relates that she died at the age of 16, nothing is known about her life with certainty. The titulus Pudentis or ecclesia Pudentiana in Rome, said to have been her father's palace, is considered the most ancient in the whole world.
It is likely that this name was assumed to be a dedication to Saint Pudentiana, wherein it may simply indicate the original owner, much as in the case of Saint Cecilia. In the early church, it was known as the church of the Pastor because Saint Peter lodged therein and celebrated the Mass there. In revising the Breviary, Pope Benedict XIV declared the acta of Saints Praxedes and Pudentiana unworthy of credence and the feast day was suppressed in the Roman calendar (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth, Tabor). In art, Saint Pudentiana is generally portrayed with Saint Praxedis. She takes up the blood of martyrs with a sponge. She is venerated in Rome (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.