Bernard of Montjoux (Menthon), OSA (RM)
Born probably in Italy, c. 996; died at Novara, Lombardy, Italy, c. 1081. Little is known for certain about Saint Bernard. He is said to have been ordained a priest, made vicar general of Aosta, and spent more than four decades conducting missionary work in the Alps, systematically visiting every mountain and valley.
He built schools and churches in the diocese but is especially remembered for two Alpine hospices he built to aid travellers lost in the mountain passes named Great and Little Bernard after him. He collected endowments for the rest houses and staffed them with men who in time became Augustinian canons regular and built a monastery. The order continued to serve travellers there into the 20th century. The Saint Bernard dog was especially breed to assist travellers in this mountainous region.
He is sometimes erroneously referred to as Bernard of Menthon and the son of Count Richard of Menthon, which he is not (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).
In art, Saint Bernard is a black monk, or canon in an alb and almuce (fur cape), leading the devil by a chain. (He shouldn't be confused with the white Bernard of Clairvaux, who sometimes also has the devil chained at his feet.) Sometimes his depiction may include (1) corn, vine, and lightning near him, or (2) him kneeling at a reading desk with a vision of God appearing outside the window (Roeder).
He was proclaimed the patron saint of Alpinists and mountain climbers by Pope Pius XI (himself a mountaineer) in 1923 (Delaney), who at time also severely criticized the fictions that have been incorporated into the written vita of the saint (Attwater). His is consider the protector of crops against storm (Roeder).
Caraunus of Chartres M (RM)
(also known as Caro, Caranus, Ceraunus, Cheron)
5th century. A Christian native of Gaul of Roman descent, Saint Caraunus preached the Gospel in Gaul, and was killed by robbers near Chartres. After the death of his Christian parents, Caraunus distributed his material possessions to the poor and retired into a desert. The local bishop learned of his holiness and ordained him a deacon.
From that point he dedicated himself entirely to the ministry of the word. He preached in several provinces before coming to Chartrain, where he found only a small number of Christians--the descendants of those who had been converted by Saint Potentianus and Saint Altinus. Here Caraunus met with success. Soon he had to choose disciples to assist him in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, while he set out for Paris.
Just three leagues from Chartres, he was beset by a gang of robbers. At their approach, he advised his disciples to hide themselves, so they escaped. When the thugs from that he carried nothing of value, the killed him.
His disciples buried his body near Chartres on a hill now called the Holy Mount. Later a church and monastery were built over his tomb. The relics of Saint Caraunus are kept in the abbey of his name near Chartres. The president of Lamoignon obtained one bone of them, in 1681, for the church which is dedicated to the saint at Mont-couronne, one of the parishes of Baville. The feast of his translation is kept at Chartres on the 18th of October (Benedictines, Husenbeth). In art, Saint Caraunus is portrayed carrying his own head. He is venerated in Chartres (Roeder).
Crescens, Dioscorides, Paul and Helladius MM (RM)
Died c. 244. Crescens, Dioscorides, and Paul were Roman Christians who were burned to death. Helladius does not seem to have belonged to this group (Benedictines).
Emilius, Felix, Priamus, and Lucian MM (RM)
Date unknown. All that is known of this group of martyrs are the churches in Sardinia dedicated to them (Benedictines).
Germanus (Germain) of Paris B (RM)
Born near Autun, France, c. 496; died in Paris, France, May 28, 576; canonized 754.
Saint Germain was ordained in Autun in 530 and ten years later was elected abbot of the monastery of Saint Symphorian there. About 556, he was in Paris when the bishopric fell vacant and was appointed both bishop and archbishop to King Childebert I.
In no way did the great office affect the saint's pattern of life. Always austere, he was continuously pestered by the poor and never repulsed them; history has given him the title, "father of the poor." Germain was unwearying and fearless in his endeavors to put a stop to civil strife and to curb the viciousness of the Frankish kings, but with little effect.
Through Germain, God cured King Childebert of an illness and converted him from licentiousness. It was to him that Saint Radegund appealed successfully for protection against her brutal husband, Chlotar I.
When he died, the great poet Venantius Fortunatus wrote a eulogy of his life which, in spite of its many incredible miracles and legends, fittingly thanks God for a vigorous and noble saint.
The oldest and greatest of the medieval abbeys of Paris, Saint- Germain-des-Prés, was in fact founded in the saint's own lifetime--in 558 by King Childebert I. Saint Germain consecrated it to Saint Vincent and to the Holy Cross. When Germain died at the age of eighty, he was buried in this abbey in a sumptuous tomb that the French revolutionaries destroyed; and when he was canonized it was reconsecrated in his name. That King Childebert I should have founded such a place of Christian learning is a tribute to the influence of Saint Germain (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley).
Saint Germanus is depicted in art lying in bed and extinguishing a fire by his prayers. At times he may also be shown with a chain and key in his hand or as Saint Peter appears to him with a key (Roeder). Germanus is the patron of choral singing, and invoked against fever, fire, and on behalf of prisoners (Roeder).
Gizur of Iceland B (AC)
Died 1117. Both Gizur's father and grandfather had been bishop of Iceland. Often such dynasties degenerate to the point of offering a successor unworthy of the position; however, Gizur was a man suited to be king, Viking leader, or bishop. Bishop Gizur divided the nation into two dioceses: Skaholt in the southwest and Holar in the north. He also recorded Iceland's laws, which had previously only been handed on orally. He may have been connected with Iceland's development of sagas, poetry, and history, as well as the people's exploration of Greenland and Newfoundland. Gizur introduced tithes and provided for the poor, carrying out a taxation census to make this policy possible.
Gizur's family had been pivotal in the country accepting Christianity. In 1000, the Icelandic Althing (assembly), composed of a pagan majority and a Christian minority who had been converted through English, Norwegian, and German settlers, had been deeply divided about the future of the nation. The Althing decided that the country needed to have only one religion to be determined by a single wise man chosen by the assembly and accepted by all. The wise man decided that Iceland must have Christianity for its religion and the Icelandic law. The only concessions to paganism to be permitted were the exposure of unwanted children to the elements, and the private practice of sacrifice to the traditional gods. After a few years these concessions were abolished.
Foreign priests were soon replaced by native ones after Gizur the White, who had been one of the first to accept baptism, was consecrated bishop. He may or may not have been a widower at the time of his episcopal ordination--an unimportant matter except to those who do not believe that an exception proves the rule. His son and grandson followed in his footsteps. Reformers in the Church disapproved of hereditary succession to episcopal offices, but it was the custom in much of Scandinavia until the time of Saint Eystein of Trondheim.
Saint Gizur's cultus was approved for Reykjavik and Iceland (Farmer).
Heliconis (Helconides) of Thessalonica VM (AC)
Died c. 250. The Thessalonian virgin Saint Heliconis was arrested at Corinth and beheaded during the persecution of Decius (Benedictines).
Ignatius of Rostov B
I can find nothing about him. Any leads would be appreciated.
Blessed John Shert, Thomas Ford, and Robert Johnson MM (AC)
Died at Tyburn in 1582; beatified in 1886. These are martyrs of the Reformation, killed for their priesthood.
John Shert: Born at Shert Hall near Macclesfield, Cheshire, England. Blessed John was educated at Brasenose College, Oxford. After his conversion to the Catholic faith, he studied for the priesthood at Douai and Rome. In 1576, he was ordained. Three years later, he was sent to the English mission.
Thomas Ford: Born in Devon, England. Thomas was another martyr converted to Catholicism during his study days at Oxford's Trinity College. He, too, entered the seminary at Douai, where he was ordained in 1573. In 1576, he began his work in the English mission field, where he labored in Oxfordshire and Berkshire until his arrest six years later.
Robert Johnson: Born in Shropshire. Blessed Robert received his education for the priesthood in Douai and Rome. He spent his first four years as a priest on the Continent prior to beginning his service in London in 1580 (Benedictines).
Justus of Urgell B (RM)
Died after 527. Justus is the first recorded bishop of Urgell in Spanish Catalonia. He is numbered by Saint Isidore among the "illustrious men" of whom he wrote the lives. Saint Justus has left an interesting commentary on the Song of Songs (Benedictines).
Blessed Margaret Plantagenet Pole M (AC)
Born at Farley Castle, Bath, England, August 14, 1471; died in London, May 28, 1541; beatified in 1886.
Margaret Plantagenet, daughter of the duke of Clarence and niece of King Edward IV and Richard III of England, married Sir Richard Pole about 1491 and bore him five children. When Henry VIII became king, she was widowed and had her estates, which had been forfeited by attainder, returned to her by Henry, who made her countess of Salisbury in her own right.
She was governess of the king's daughter Mary, but incurred his enmity by her disapproval of his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Despite his remark that she was the holiest woman in England, she was forced to leave the court. When her son Reginald Cardinal Pole wrote against the Act of Supremacy, Henry swore to destroy the family. In 1538, two other sons were arrested and executed on a charge of treason, even though Cromwell wrote that their only crime was being brothers of the cardinal.
Margaret was arrested ten days later and in May 1539, Parliament passed a bill of attainder against her for complicity in a revolt in the North, and she was imprisoned in the Tower for two years. When another uprising occurred in Yorkshire in April 1541, she was summarily beheaded on Tower Hill at the age of 70. She was never tried and no guilt was ever proven against her except her possession of a white silk tunic (possibly planted) embroidered with the Five Wounds, which was supposed to connect her with the uprising in the North (Benedictines, Delaney).
Blessed Paul Hanh M (AC)
Born in Cochin-China; died 1859; beatified in 1909. Although Paul was a Catholic, he abandoned his faith to join a band of outlaws. When arrested, however, he professed his religion--remaining steadfast throughout frightful tortures. He was beheaded near Saigon (Benedictines).
Podius of Florence, OSA B (RM)
Died 1002. Podius, son of the margrave of Tuscany, Italy, became a canon regular and eventually bishop of Florence from 990 to 1002 (Benedictines).
Senator of Pavia B (AC)
Died 480. This Saint Senator was bishop of Pavia, Italy (Benedictines).
Senator of Milan B (RM)
Died 480. Senator was a Milanese priest who, as a young man, attended the Council of Chalcedon as a legate of Pope Saint Leo the Great. Afterwards he became archbishop of Milan (Benedictines).
Blessed Stephen of Narbonne and Companions MM (AC)
Died 1242; cultus approved in 1866. Stephen was a member of the Inquisition of Toulouse, France, and a Franciscan. Together with 11 companions--Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, and one secular priest--he was murdered at Avignonet by the Albigensian heretics (Benedictines).
William of Gellone, OSB (AC)
Died 812; canonized 1066. Duke of Aquitaine and a member of Charlemagne's entourage, William manifested the qualities of the ideal Christian knight when campaigning against the Saracens in southern France. Afterwards he built a monastery at Gellone, diocese of Lodève, not far from Aniane, which he peopled with monks from the latter abbey. He also joined the community as lay-brother. Later the abbey was renamed after him Saint-Guilhem- du-Desert (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.