Saint Bede, Priest, Doctor
Pope Saint Gregory VII
Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin
Aldhelm of Sherborne, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Adhelm, Aldelmus)
Born in Wessex, England, c. 640; died at Doulting in Somerset, May 25, 709. In the 7th century an Irish monk named Maeldubh settled in the lonely forest country that in those days lay in the northeast of Wiltshire. After living for a time as a hermit, he gathered the children of the neighborhood for instruction. In the course of time his hermitage became a school and so continued after his death, acquiring fame as a community of scholars known as Malmesbury.
To this center of learning came a young and clever boy called Aldhelm, a kinsman of Ina (Ine), King of Wessex. He was to be the first English scholar of distinction. After studying under Maeldubh, he learned what he could from Saint Adrian and Saint Theodore at Canterbury, where he probably became a Benedictine monk (though he may have done so earlier at Malmesbury).
He returned to Malmesbury and under Aldhelm the school became a monastery, of which he was appointed abbot about 675. He knew Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and attracted scholars from other lands. He was also a poet, and was so full of music that it was said that he could play every musical instrument in use. In course of time he established other smaller religious communities in the neighborhood and, thereby, advanced education in all of Wessex.
He was an advisor to Ina and held in high regard by King Alfred, who wrote down this story about him. Aldhelm was distressed because the townspeople were indifferent to the Mass, either by absenting themselves or by gossiping and remaining inattentive when they attended. He therefore stood on the town bridge and acted the part of a minstrel by singing popular ballads and reciting his verses interspersed with hymns, passages from the gospels, a bits of clowning in hopes of winning 'men's ears, and then their souls.' The result was that he soon collected a crowd of hearers and was able to impart simple religious teaching to them; 'whereas if he had proceeded with severity and excommunications, he would have made no impression whatever upon them.'
Later, at the request of Pope Sergius I, he accompanied Coedwalla, the West Saxon king, to Rome. Later still, he took an active part in disputes between the Celtic and the Anglo-Saxon Church. He addressed a famous letter to Gerent, king of Dumnonia (Devon and Cornwall), explaining the date on which Easter ought to be kept by the Celtic clergy there. At one famous synod (Whitby?) Aldhelm attempted reconciliation with what remained of the old British Church in Cornwall, which was then a kingdom with its own king.
In 705, Aldhelm became the first bishop of Sherbourne, his appointment dating from the time of the division of the old diocese of Wessex into Sherborne and Winchester. His brief episcopate was marked by energy and enterprise. He had travelled a long way from the days when he joined the school in the forest and sang as a minstrel on Malmesbury Bridge. But always he is remembered as the Saxon poet-preacher, who first translated the Psalms into the Anglo-Saxon tongue, and who sang the words of Scripture into the hearts of the common people. In King Alfred's words: 'Aldhelm won men to heed sacred things by taking his stand as a gleeman and singing English songs on a bridge."
His English writings, hymns and songs, with their music, have all perished; of his Latin works, the longest are a poem in praise of holy maidens and a treatise on virginity written for the nuns of Barking in Essex. In his lighter moments he composed Latin verse and metrical riddles. As a scholar, Saint Aldhelm has been described as 'ingenious,' and it has been well said that the Latin language went to his head. He liked to play with words and his writing was so involved and obscure as often to be unintelligible; but his reading was extensive--so extensive that he has been described as the first English librarian.
In his own day Aldhelm had a wide influence in southern England. He was buried at Malmesbury Abbey. The cape in Dorset usually called Saint Alban's Head is properly Saint Aldhelm's Head (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Duckett, Gill).
In art, Saint Aldhelm is portrayed as a bishop in a library. He is venerated at Malmesbury (Roeder).
Bede, Priest, Doctor (RM)
Born in Northumbria, England, 673; died at Jarrow, England, on May 25, 735; named Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1899.
In the days when Northumbria was a great scholastic center with famous schools at Jarrow and York, Bede was the most distinguished of its scholars. Beginning at age seven (or three?), he was educated at the newly-founded monastery at Wearmouth-Jarrow under Abbots Benedict Biscop and Ceolfrid. In 703, he was received as a monk by Saint Benedict Biscop and ordained a priest at age 30 by Saint John of Beverley. Except for a few brief visits elsewhere, Bede spent the rest of his life in Jarrow; never going further afield than Lindisfarne and York.
"I have spent my whole life," he says, "in the same monastery, and while attentive to the rule of my order and the service of the Church, my constant pleasure lay in learning or teaching or writing." He numbered 600 monks among his pupils and became the Father of English learning. "I have devoted my energies to the study of Scriptures, observing monastic discipline, and singing the daily services in church."
Bede was a prodigious worker, the author of 45 volumes, including commentaries, text-books, and translations. His range was encyclopedic, embracing the whole field of contemporary knowledge. He wrote grammatical and chronological works, hymns and other verse, letters, and homilies, and compiled the first martyrology with historical notes. These are in Latin, but Bede was also the first known writer of English prose (since lost). Bede's Biblical writings were extensive and important in their time, but it is as an historian that he is famous. The Latin of the hymns 'The hymn for conquering martyrs raise' and 'Sing we triumphant hymns of praise' was written by Bede
His supreme achievement, completed in 731, was his History of the English Church and People, in the laborious preparation of which he searched the archives of Rome (? most sources say he never left England), collecting and collating documents, and set forth in detail the first authoritative history of Christian origins in Britain. To this he added Lives of five early abbots of Wearmouth and Jarrow. Nor until his last illness had he any assistance: "I am my own secretary; I dictate, I compose, I copy all myself."
Many stories have gathered round his name. This one is probably mythic: On a visit to Rome with other scholars, he found them puzzled by an inscription of cryptic letters upon an iron gate. A passing Roman citizen, seeing their confusion, sneered at Bede and rudely called him an English ox, when, to his surprise, Bede at once read out the meaning. From that time, because of the range of his wisdom and the keenness of his intellect, he was given the title of venerable.
But the best-known story is related by his contemporary Saint Cuthbert of how when illness and weakness came upon him at the end of his life, his translation of Saint John's Gospel into the English tongue was still unfinished. Despite sleepless nights and days of weariness, he continued his task, and though he made what speed he could, he took every care in comparing the text and preserving its accuracy. "I don't want my boys," he said, "to read a lie or to work to no purpose after I am gone." His friends begged him to rest, but he insisted on working. "We never read without weeping," remarked one of them.
When it came to the last day, he called his scribe to him and told him to write with all possible speed. "There is still a chapter wanting," said the boy, as the day wore on; "had you not better rest for a while?" But Bede persisted with his task. "Be quick with your writing," he answered, "for I shall not hold out much longer."
When night fell, the boy said: "There is yet one sentence not written." "Write quickly," Bede replied; and when it was done, he said: "All is finished now," then after sending for his fellow monks and distributing to them his few belongings, in a broken voice he sang the Gloria and passed to his reward on Ascension Eve.
Of all the writers in Western Europe from the time of Saint Gregory the Great until Saint Anselm, Saint Bede was perhaps the best known and most influential, especially in England. He was a careful scholar and distinguished stylist. His works De Temporibus and De Temporum Ratione established the idea of dating events anno domini (A.D.).
Already in 853 a church council in Aachen referred to him as 'the venerable,' i.e., worthy of honor. Saint Boniface called Bede 'a light of the church, lit by the Holy Spirit.' To Alcuin, himself the 'schoolmaster of his age,' he was 'blessed Bede, our master.' (Alcuin claimed Bede's relics worked miraculous cures.) Bede is the only Englishman whom Dante names in the Paradiso. The center of Bede's cultus is Durham, where his shrine is located, and York (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Duckett, Gill, Hamilton Thompson, White).
A good deal of further information on Saint Bede is available on the Internet, including his Life of St. Cuthbert. Saint Bede is depicted in art as an old monk writing with a quill and rule. He might also be shown (1) studying a book, (2) holding up a pitcher with light from heaven falling on him, or (3) supported by monks as he is dying (Roeder). He is the patron saint of scholars and historians (White).
Blessed Claritus (Chiarito) Voglia (PC)
Born in Florence, Italy; died there in 1348. Claritus founded the convent of Augustinian nuns in Florence in 1342. His wife became a nun there, and he remained in the convent at a manservant until his death (Benedictines).
Dionysius of Milan B (RM)
Died c. 359. Saint Dionysius succeed Saint Protasius as bishop of Milan in 351. In 355, he was banished to Cappadocia by the Arian emperor Constantius for having upheld the cause of Saint Athanasius. Dionysius died in exile, but Saint Ambrose had his remains translated to Milan (Benedictines).
Dunchadh of Iona, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Dumhade, Dumhaid, Dunchad)
Died March 24, 717. Dunchadh was born into the line of Conall Gulban. He became a monk at Killochuir in southeast Ulster and, from 710 until his death, ruled the abbey of Iona, Scotland. During Dunchadh's abbacy, Saint Egbert finally convinced the Celtic monks of Iona to adopt the Roman customs--tonsure, date of Easter, Benedictine Rule. For Saint Bede, this was the final sign of unity from diversity, which was the main theme of his Ecclesiastical History. Dunchadh is the titular saint of Killclocair, in the diocese of Armagh. His feast is still celebrated in Donegal on May 25; elsewhere it is March 24. He is the patron of sailors in Ireland (Benedictines, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).
Egilhard of Cornelimünster, OSB M (PC)
Died 881. Egilhard was the 8th abbot of Cornelimünster, near Aachen, Germany. He was killed by the Normans at Bercheim (Benedictines).
Gennadius of Astroga, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 936. Gennadius, a monk at Argeo, near Astorga, Spain, was the abbot-restorer of San Pedro de Montes, and a zealous propagator of the Benedictine Rule throughout northwestern Spain. About 895, he was consecrated bishop of Astorga, but he resigned five years before his death in order to live as a hermit in his beloved San Pedro (Benedictines).
Gregory VII (Hildebrand), OSB Pope (RM)
Born in Ravaco (near Saona), Tuscany, Italy, c. 1021; died in Salerno, May 25, 1085; canonized 1606 by Pope Paul V (or 1584 according to one source).
Saint Gregory has been criticized in past generations as an ambitious tyrant, even being called 'Holy Satan.' He is now generally recognized as having pursued an uncompromising policy that was driven by a desire for justice.
The son of a poor carpenter, Gregory was baptized Hildebrand. His modest beginnings made him indifferent to the materialism of most ecclesiastics of the period. As a young man, he was placed in the care of an uncle who was the superior of the monastery of Saint Mary on the Aventine in Rome, was professed a Benedictine, and educated at the Lateran school.
Squat and insignificant in appearance, Hildebrand had great force and ability. One of his teachers, John Gratian, was so impressed with him that when he became pope (or antipope, depending on how you view history) in May 1045 as Gregory VI, he appointed Hildebrand as his secretary. He accompanied Gregory VI into Germany when he was deposed in December 1046.
According to tradition, after the Gratian's death in 1047, Hildebrand became a monk at Cluny, then run by Saint Odilo and Saint Bruno of Toul, who was to become Pope Saint Leo IX in 1049. Hildebrand became abbot of Saint Paul- outside-the-Walls and acted as economus to the pope, restoring financial order to the treasury, order to the city, and acting as a support to the pope's efforts at reform.
He was recognized, in fact, as "the power behind the throne" during the reign of the next four popes. Hildebrand, as papal legate to France, mediated between Lanfranc and Berengarius of Tours during the controversy over the Eucharist. He also presided over the Council of Sens in 1054, which condemned Berengarius.
Hildebrand was influential in securing the election of Bishop Gebhard of Eichstaett as Pope Victor II in 1055, was papel legate to Empress-Regent Agnes of Germany's court in 1057 to get her to accept the election of Pope Stephen, and helped secure the election of Bishop Gerhard of Florence as Pope Nicholas II in 1059. During the Nicholas's pontificate, Hildebrand was instrumental in the publication of the papal decree mandating that the election of popes was to be vested in the college of cardinals and was responsible for negotiating a treaty of alliance with the Normans in the Treaty of Melfi in 1059. By now he was the best-known and most powerful prelate in the Church. He was appointed chancellor of the Apostolic See by Pope Alexander II.
After the death of Alexander II in 1073, Hildebrand, by then a cardinal and archdeacon, was elected pope by an overwhelming vote, and took the name Gregory VII upon his consecration on June 30. He immediately set to work to reform a very corrupt and decadent Church--a huge and thankless task. The secular and ecclesial rulers of the time would work against him. Bishoprics and abbeys were sold, simony was accepted, clerical celibacy was flamboyantly disregarded, tithes and offerings were misused and even bequeathed to the children of incontinent priests.
He deposed Archbishop Godfrey of Milan for simony, enacted decrees against simony and married clergy at his first synod in Rome, in 1074, and ordered an end to lay investiture at his second synod in 1075--decrees that aroused opposition. This was the investing of bishops and abbots elect with the symbols of their offices by lay princes, a practice that led to serious abuses and harm to religion.
A council assembled in Paris claimed that the new decrees were intolerable. Gregory held fast and went further in the abolition of the system of lay investiture, excommunicating anyone--even a king--who should confer an investiture in connection with an ecclesiastical office.
Gregory was generally successful with his reforms in England except in the matter of lay investiture, which right William the Conqueror refused to surrender; gradually Gregory succeeded in France by replacing practically the whole episcopate; but in Germany and northern Italy he met continued resistance. Unable to trust his own bishops, he used legates to announce and enforce his decrees. His most cunning enemy was Henry IV of Germany, who raised the clergy of Germany and northern Italy and antipapal nobles against Gregory. In the midst of celebrating Christmas midnight Mass in Saint Mary Major's, Gregory was kidnapped by Roman nobles and held captive for several hours until the people rescued him.
Henry called a meeting of German bishops at Worms to denounce him in 1076, the Lombardy bishops refused to obey him, and Henry sent an envoy to Rome to inform the cardinals that Gregory was a usurper and would be replaced by the emperor [letter]. Gregory excommunicated Henry the following day, releasing his subjects from allegiance to him, a hallmark in the history of the papacy. German nobles who felt no loyalty to Henry seized this opportunity to decide that Henry should forfeit his crown unless he received absolution from the pope within a year and appeared before a council over which Gregory should preside at Augsburg the following February.
Henry confronted with mutiny in Germany and unable to raise an army to march on Italy, was obliged to capitulate. After frantic appeals by letter to the pope, Henry swallowed his pride and decided to appear to comply. Accompanied by his wife, baby, and one attendant, the humiliated Henry crossed the Alps in the bitter winter of 1077 and approached the pope at the castle of Canossa. He was refused admission and spent three days, barefoot and dressed as a penitent, in the snow at the gate of the castle. While there might have been suspicion of Henry's motives, nothing could be proven, and Henry was admitted, whereupon he accused himself and was absolved.
Gregory's handling of the situation greatly changed the relation between church and state. In fact, Henry was merely biding his time. Nobles elected Henry's brother-in-law, Rudolph of Swabia, in his place, despite the lifting of the excommunication. Gregory wished to remain uninvolved but, in 1080, was forced to reinstate the excommunication and support Rudolph, who was killed in battle in October that year, when Henry violated all his agreements with him.
Henry worked for the election of Guibert, the archbishop of Ravenna, as antipope Clement III, and upon Rudolph's death, invaded Italy. He attacked Rome for two years and finally took it in 1084. Gregory sought harbor in the Castle Sant'Angelo. When Gregory refused Henry's demand that he crown him emperor, Henry had Guibert consecrated pope, and then Guibert crowned Henry emperor. Gregory remained at Sant'Angelo until he was eventually rescued by an army under Robert Guiscard, the Norman duke of Calabria. The sacked the city, which, of course, distressed the Romans, who vented their anger on Gregory because he had summoned Norman aid.
Gregory fled to Monte Cassino for a time and then to Salerno, out of favor and in broken health, having been abandoned by 13 of his cardinals. Gregory made one last appeal to the people but died the following year. He forgave his enemies as he lay dying and lifted all excommunications he had declared with the exceptions of Henry IV and Guibert. "I have loved righteousness and hated iniquity and that is why I die in exile," were among his last words. We can take it as his own judgement of his life. He had great and imperial aims and a noble courage. He believed that the unity of the Church stands far above the strife and clash of men, and that politics must be subordinate to moral and spiritual power.
In large measure, Gregory was successful in rejuvenating the Church, and the reforms of his pontificate marked a turning point in the history of the Church. It is now generally agreed by historians that his struggles with the monarchs of Europe were not a bid for personal power, as some used to think, but a titanic defense of the freedom of the Church against secular domination.
He had indeed fought single-heartedly and without personal ambition to free the Church from dependence on secular powers. But he pushed the claims of the papacy in respect of civil governors to unheard of lengths with unexampled vigor, and appeared to put too much reliance on secular and legal means to attain religious ends.
Though he did not clearly and unequivocally win the struggle, he did delineate the issues, particularly that of lay investiture, which 37 years after his death was won by the Concordat of Worms in 1122, when Emperor Henry V guaranteed the free election of bishops and abbots and renounced the right to invest them with the ring and staff--the symbols of their spiritual authority.
Gregory was unsuccessful in his efforts to reunite the Eastern churches to Rome, and his struggle with Henry prevented him from launching a crusade against the Turks and to drive the Saracens from Spain. Gregory's personal integrity and his strength in adversity cannot be questioned, and his name is deservedly given to a whole era of ecclesiastical reform and development; but he was never the object of a widespread cultus. He was canonized in 1606 by Pope Paul V, and despite the French and Austrian objections, Pope Benedict XIII made his feat day universal in the Church (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Gill, MacDonald, White).
In art, Saint Gregory is dressed as pope and holds a book and ring. Otherwise, the Virgin and Child may appear on the altar, from whom a ray of light pieces Gregory's heart. A dove rests on his shoulder. He might also be shown being driven from Rome by soldiers (Roeder).
Injuriosus and Scholastica (AC)
Died c. 550. Injuriosus and Scholastica were husband and wife. The lived together in Auvergne in perpetual continence throughout their marriage as Les Deux Amants (Benedictines).
Leo (Lye) of Troyes, Abbot (RM)
Died c. 550. Leo was the monk who succeeded Saint Romanus as abbot of Mantenay, near Troyes, France (Benedictines).
Madeleine (Mary Magdalen) Sophie Barat V (RM)
Born in Joigny, Burgundy, France, December 12, 1779; died in Paris, France, May 21, 1865; canonized 1925.
"Hard work, dangerous for an imperfect soul, brings a great harvest for those who love the Lord." --Saint Madeleine Barat.
Madeleine's father, Jacques Barat, owned a small vineyard and also worked as a cooper. Louis, her elder brother by 11 years who later became a priest, was Madeleine's godfather and determined to give her an education at least as good as that of any boy of the time. He also imposed on her strict discipline and penance. Madeleine loved her lessons and her Latin and Greek, her mathematics and science and history gave her enormous pleasure. For a while the brother was imprisoned during the Revolution, but he escaped and took his sister to Paris, where she studied religion.
Madeleine grew into charming womanhood and yet retained a desire to serve God in the modest capacity of a Carmelite lay sister. But God's call came from elsewhere. A group of French priests of the Sacred Heart decided to establish a society of women devoted to teaching girls--the feminine counterpart of the Jesuits. The leader, Joseph Varin (afterwards a Jesuit), heard of Madeleine through her brother, and, in 1800, received her and three companions as nuns, commissioning them to found a society to educate girls. They started the first school of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Amiens in 1801.
Madeleine was scarcely 23--younger than any of her companions--but unanimously they elected her their superior. She ran the order for the next 63 years. The society spread throughout France, absorbed a community of Visitation nuns at Grenoble in 1804 (among whom was Blessed Philippine Duchesne, who took the society to the United States in 1818).
Times were not always easy. The order was nearly wrecked in its early stages by the ambition of the chaplain in Amiens; but the patience and tact of Mother Barat and Father Varin prevailed, and together they drew up the rules of the society which were finally adopted in 1815. The society was formally approved by Pope Leo XII in 1826. The July Revolution of 1830 banished the sisters' novitiate for a time to Switzerland. But Madeleine was glad to travel, opening schools outside as well as inside France. Mother Barat led a life of extraordinary laboriousness as she organized the life and work of an ever-growing congregation, which became one of the best-known and most efficient educational institutes under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church.
The secret of her endurance and determination was the religious spirit that inspired all her undertakings; she was endowed with wisdom and insight to a remarkable degree, joined with endearing modesty and attractiveness. By 1865, her society had founded 105 houses and schools in 12 countries (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Williams).
Mary Magdalene de'Pazzi V (RM)
Born in Florence, Italy, 1566; died there on May 25, 1607; canonized in 1669; feast day formerly May 29.
Mary Magdalene was born into a distinguished family and baptized Catherine. She was educated at the Saint John Convent in Florence. She was pressed to marry but refused, and at 16 she joined the Discalced Carmelites at Saint Mary of the Angels Convent in Florence in 1582. When she was professed the following year, she took the name Mary Magdalene.
She held various offices in the convent and was extremely capable, eventually becoming superioress. While seriously ill, she experienced many ecstasies. After recovering, she practiced extreme mortifications and then fell into a five-year period of acute inner trials and aridity. When she emerged from this state in 1590, she experienced deep spiritual consolations from then on; sisters copied down what she said while in ecstasies, and these accounts were later published. They bear the imprint of the natural beauty of her life.
Mary Magdalene found her vocation in prayer and penance for the reform of "all states of life in the Church" and for the conversion of all men. She believed that suffering brought one to a profound spiritual plane and helped to save one's soul. Mary Magdalene was reputed to have the gift of prophecy and to be able to read minds and perform great cures.
She was an invalid for the last three years of her life and died at the convent. Her body is at the Church of Saint Maria degli Angeli in Florence and is claimed to be incorrupt (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, White).
She is depicted in art as a Carmelite with the Instruments of the Passion kneeling before the Holy Trinity. Christ crowns her with thorns, the Virgin gives her roses (Roeder). She may also be shown (1) receiving the Blessed Sacrament from Jesus; (2) receiving a white veil from the Virgin Mary; (3) being presented to or receiving a ring from Jesus; (4) crowned with thorns and embracing a cross, with rays falling on her from a monstrance; or (5) with flames issuing from her breast (White).
Mary MacKillop, Foundress (RM)
Born in Australia in 1842; died there on May 25, 1909; canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1995.
Although Mary MacKillop's heritage was Scottish, she is Australia's first native-born saint. Her father was a seminarian educated at the Scots College in Rome, but left before his ordination. Instead he emigrated to Australia where he met his future bride. Though it was an unhappy marriage, perhaps because he was often away from home travelling to Europe, it produced good fruit that was nurtured by the father.
In 1860, Mary became a governess in Penola, south Australia, where she met Father Julian Tenison Woods. He became her spiritual director. Several years later they founded a new congregation of Josephites, whose mission was to found schools and orphanages to provide much needed educational outlets. The first rule was drawn up in 1867 and received episcopal approval the following year. In 1869, Mary professed her final vows.
The next few years were difficult, during the absence of the Australian bishops at the First Vatican Council. Mary established a foundation in Brisbane. At the same time, Fr. Woods undermined her work by encouraging some visionary nuns, insisting on excessive poverty, and refusing all state funding. Upon the return of the bishops, Father Woods was removed from the direction of the sisters, who then numbered over 100 in 34 schools.
The bishop of Adelaide, an alcoholic who listened to gossip, attempted to control the congregation. He excommunicated its foundress on the charge of disobedience, then dispensed 47 nuns from their vows. In 1872, on his deathbed, he apologized for his actions and absolved Mary from excommunication. The Holy See sent a delegation to investigate. Their findings led the Vatican to support MacKillop and her nuns against some of the local bishops.
In 1873, Mary travelled to Europe, where she was well-received in Rome. The Holy Father permitted the congregation to have a superior-general, who could move the sisters from house to house within the congregation but across diocesan borders. The rule of poverty was also modified to permit the sisters to own, rather than simply rent, property. During her time in Europe, Mary MacKillop also visited England, Ireland, and Scotland to obtain new recruits for the enterprise and funding to support it. MacKillop was elected to the office of superior-general in 1875.
MacKillop's exemplary attitude towards the bishops who opposed her was complemented by the outstanding work of the congregation. Protestants, as well as Catholics, loudly praised their charity to the poor, their personal poverty, and their abstinence from active proselytizing. They found many supporters who contributed to their mission.
Beginning in 1885, the congregation was again under attack by the bishops, but found support from Rome. The Holy See, however, believed that MacKillop had remained in charge too long, so another superior-general was elected and served from 1888 until 1998. During that time, Mary served as visitor to the houses of New Zealand. At the death of her successor, Mary again took up the reigns and remained as superior-general until her own death. The congregation flourished even in the face of internal dissensions. The foundress suffered from rheumatism for many years, but finally died of a stroke.
Photographs of Mary MacKillop reveal a beautiful woman with a firm jaw and chin. About 1,000 of her letters survive. They show that she was a woman of patient persistence in adversity and a respect for authority. Some see Mary as a feminist pioneer; others as one who cared for Aborigines in difficult times; still others connect her with conservation of the eucalyptus, which is her emblem in art.
The congregation has spread to Peru. In Australia, they are the primary providers of Catholic education to girls. In 1981, the congregation numbered about 1,800 (Farmer).
The Three Marys
1st century. This feast is observed in Camargue at the mouth of the Rhône (and elsewhere) in honor of Mary Madgalen, Mary the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25), and Mary the mother of James (Mark 15:40). It is associated with the legend that these three Marys, together with Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, his sister Martha, who had been 'cumbered about much serving,' and other pious people, driven out of Palestine, arrived at Marseilles and proceeded to evangelize Provence. The beginnings of this baseless story are first found only in the 11th century in connection with the alleged relics of Mary Magdalen at Vézelay, Burgundy. Nevertheless, it is still popularly believed in Provence and other places (Attwater).
Maximus and Victorinus MM (AC)
(also known as Mauxe and Venerand)
Born at Brescia, Italy; died near Evreux, France, c. 384. Maximus and Victorinus were brothers sent from Rome by Pope Saint Damasus to evangelize Gaul. They were martyred by barbarians near Evreux. According to later legends, Maximus was a bishop and his brother a deacon. They are said to have infiltrated the armies of the barbarians in order to evangelize them, but merely suffered persecution instead of winning souls. They then travelled into France with two priests, Mark and Etherius, through Auxerre, Sens, and Paris until they reached Evreux. At nearby Acquiney they were seized by a troop of infidels (or according to others of Arian heretics), who beheaded them. Mark and Etherius escaped and returned later to bury the bodies of the martyrs in an old church that had been plundered by the Vandals.
When Richard I, was duke of Normandy and Guiscard, bishop of Evreux, about the year 960, the relics of SS. Maximus and Venerand were discovered at Acquiney by someone named Amalbert. He attempted to carry off this sacred treasure, and leave behind only the heads of the two martyrs with the old inscription engraved on a marble stone: "Hic site sunt Corpora SS. Maximi et Venerandi." As Amalbert was crossing the Seine near Fontenelle, he was seized with a miraculous sickness and obliged to deposits the relics at the monastery, where Richard built a new chapel for them. These relics were burnt by the Huguenots.
The relics remaining in Acquiney were kept in a Benedictine church built over their tomb, until it fell into decay. At that time the bishop of Evreux, de Rochechouard, translated the relics into a parish church and deposited them under the high altar. On May 25, these relics are carried in procession to the place where the saints received the crown of martyrdom.
During a draught in the spring of 1559, the relics were carried in a solemn procession to the church of Notre Dame at Evreux. Abundant rain followed. This happened again in June 1615 and 1726, when they were carried after the head of Saint Swithin. Each time draught was ended (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Pasicrates, Valentio and Comp. MM (RM)
Died c. 302. Four soldiers, martyred at Silistria in Moesia (Bulgaria), belonged to the group of Saint Julius of Dorostorum (Benedictines).
Blessed Peter Van M (AC)
Born c. 1780; died 1857; beatified in 1909. Blessed Peter was a lay catechist who was beheaded at Son-Tay in western Tonkin (Benedictines).
Urban I, Pope M (RM)
Born in Rome, Italy; died there on May 23, 230. Pope Saint Urban, son of Pontianus, was elected pope c. 222 to succeed Pope Saint Callistus I. He ruled during a relatively peaceful period of the early Church. Although he died on May 23, he was buried on May 25, which is celebrated as his feast day (Benedictines, Delaney, Gill). At least one epistle survives him. Saint Urban is portrayed in art after his beheading, with the papal tiara near him. Otherwise, he may be depicted (1) as idols fall from a column while he is beheaded; (2) scourged at the stake; (3) seated in a landscape as a young man (Saint Valerian) kneels before him and a priest holds a book; or (4) sometimes as a pope with a bunch of grapes (confused with the bishop, Saint Urban of Langres). He is invoked against storm and lightning (Roeder).
Zenobius of Florence B (RM)
Born in Florence, Italy; died c. 390. Bishop Zenobius of Florence, Italy, was a great friend of Saint Ambrose and Pope Saint Damasus. He was well educated, particularly in philosophy. In his search for wisdom, Zenobius discovered the folly of idolatry and opened his ears to the Gospel preached by Christians. His parents reacted violently against what they deemed an infraction of parental authority when they discovered that Zenobius had been baptized privately by the bishop of Florence. Zenobius placated them by answering with meekness and constancy and interweaving a rational account of his faith. Soon he was able to win them over to Christ. Because of his zealous desire to serve Christ in His church, Zenobius was ordained a deacon. In that role he preached with such great efficacy that his reputation became known to both Bishop Ambrose of Milan and Pope Damasus, who called him to Rome and sent him to Constantinople as papal legate in connection with the Arian problem.
Upon the death of Damasus, Zenobius returned to Florence, where he succeeded to the episcopal chair. Through his admirable humility, modesty, abstinence, and charity, Zenobius proved himself a true successor to the Apostles. The words of his teaching were confirmed by miracles. The prayers and work of Zenobius was blessed with great fruit as many people converted to the faith. Saint Zenobius died during the reign of Honorius and his relics placed with veneration in the great church at Florence (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Zenobius is a bishop raising to life a child killed by an ox cart. He may sometimes be shown with a child near him or with the city of Florence behind him (or the Florentine lily on the morse of his cope). Zenobius, patron and principal apostle of Florence, is invoked against headache (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.