St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Feast of the Visitation
May 31



Blessed Camilla Varani, Poor Clare Abbess (AC)
Died 1527; cultus confirmed in 1843. Camilla governed a convent founded by her father in Camerino, Italy (Benedictines).


Cantius, Cantianius, Cantianella & Protus MM (RM)
Died May 31, c. 304. Two brothers, Cantius and Cantianus, along with their sister Cantianella, were members of an illustrious Roman family, the Anicii, and near relations of the Emperor Carinus, who supported the Christians in Gaul. They were orphaned but their tutor or guardian, a man named Protus, happened to be a Christian and taught them the faith. When the persecution under Emperor Diocletian started, the three orphans and their guardian decided on flight. Before leaving Rome they sold their home and possessions. Apart from what they needed for their journey, they gave the proceeds to the poor. Then the fugitives attempted to escape to their estate in Aquilea. They were pursued and captured at a place called Aquae Gradatae.

General Sisinnius and Governor Dulcidius had no problem dealing with the rank and file confessor, but felt obliged to consult with Emperor Diocletian regarding the disposition of personages of so great a family. Diocletian ordered that they should be beheaded if they refused to offer sacrifice to the civic gods. Although all four knew that the penalty for holding fast to Christianity would be death, not one agreed to make a sacrifice to the pagan gods. They were all beheaded. Zoelus, a priest, honorably embalmed and buried their bodies in the same monument. The of Aquae-Gradatae has been changed to San Cantiano. Their acts are genuine, published by Mabillon in an appendix to his Gallican Liturgy. The panegyric preached in their honor by Saint Maximus of Turin is extant (Benedictines, Bentley, Husenbeth).

This group is represented in art as two youths, a girl, and their tutor with a staff and faggot. Sometimes there picture may show (1) a sword; (2) them fleeing in a chariot, beheaded before an idol; or (3) with palms and sword, Protus is depicted as a bishop. They are the patrons of children, and venerated in Aquileia (Roeder).


Crescentian of Sassari M (RM)
Died c. 130. Crescentian was martyred in Sassari, Sardinia, under Emperor Hadrian during the same persecution that ended the lives of Gabinus and Crispulus (today). Crescentian is still held in great veneration on the island (Benedictines).


Feast of the Visitation
Amazing! A young, unwed girl finds herself pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Should she hide from the possibility of the just sentence of death by stoning? No, instead the peasant maiden hurries to her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, whom the angel said was heavy with child. Miracles all around. But not just big miracles, such a the virginal conception and fruit in a withered womb. There is the miracle of charity: Mary must have realized that her cousin's pregnancy would be difficult at such an advanced age and went to share her burden. Then there is the miracle of the revelation of life in the womb as the children danced in greeting; the prophet meets his Savior. What joy! To top it off, we have the bridge between the Old Testament and the New in the Magnificat. Today is indeed a day of celebration of life and fruitfulness in the spring of the year.


Hermias of Cappadocia M (RM)
Died 170. Saint Hermias, a veteran soldier, was martyred at Comana in Cappadocia. The hagiographer Baronius erroneously placed the site of his martyrdom in Pontus (also in Cappadocia). He is especially venerated in the Greek liturgy (Benedictines).


Blessed James (Jacobo) Salomone, OP (AC)
Born in Venice, Italy, 1231; died 1314; beatified in 1526. In a little chapel in Forli, built as a tomb for honored dead, there are three Dominicans laid in close proximity. One side is occupied by Blessed Marcolino of Forli. The center position is held by Carino of Balsamo, the assassin of Saint Peter Martyr, whose long penance and popular holiness are now under consideration for his possible beatification; the third place is that of Blessed James of Salomonio, who was the spiritual director of Carino.

James was the only child of noble parents. His father died when he was very small, and his mother became a Cistercian nun, leaving him to the care of his grandmother. She did well by her orphaned grandson, and James became a good and studious boy who responded eagerly to any spiritual suggestions. Under the direction of a Cistercian monk, he learned to meditate, and on the monk's counsel, James became a Dominican at the convent of SS John and Paul (or Santa Maria Celeste) in Venice as soon as he was old enough. He gave most of his money to the poor, and arrived at the convent with just enough left to buy a few books. Seeing that one of the lay brothers there was in need of clothing, he gave his small sun to the lay brother and entered empty-handed.

James wore the Dominican habit with dignity and piety, if not with any worldly distinction, for 66 years. He was humble and good and obedient, and there was nothing spectacular about his spirituality. He was well-known for his direction of souls, but he fled even from the distinction this work brought him.

Even his retiring habits did not protect him, for the people of Venice beat a path to his door. In self-defense, he transferred to another house, that of Forli. This was a house of strict observance and very poor. Nothing could suit him better. For the remainder of his life he worked and prayed in Forli, going out to visit the sick in the hospitals and spending long hours in the confessional. His charity to the poor and the sick gave him the name "Father of the Poor" (Benedictines, Dorcy).

James is represented in art as surrounded by a horde of petitioners (Dorcy) or as a Dominican with a staff and book, the Christ-child is over his heart or he holds a heart with "IHS" (Roeder). He is especially invoked against cancer of which he died (Dorcy) and honored as the protector of Forli, Italy (Roeder).


Lupicinus of Verona B (RM)
5th century. Bishop Lupicinus of Verona was described as "the most holy, the best of bishops" (Benedictines).


Mechtildis of Edelstetten, OSB Abbess V (AC)
(also known as Mechtildis of Diessen)

Born at Andechs, Bavaria, in 1125; died at Diessen on the Ammersee, Bavaria, May 31, 1160. At the age of five Mechtildis, the daughter of Count Berthold of Andechs and his wife Sophia, and sister of Blessed Euphemia, was given into the care of the double monastery of Diessen in Bavaria, which they had founded. Her education by the sisters helped her to grow into a pious maiden of prayer and austerity. The Cistercian monk, Engelhard, tells us that she rarely spoke, but when she did her words were jewels. She stayed at the convent, received the habit, and eventually was elected abbess.

The bishop of Augsburg, who highly esteemed her, requested that she take charge of the convent of Edelstetten, which was in need of reform. Mechtildis knew that at the age of 28, she was incapable of handling the situation with her own powers. With the Holy Spirit's help, however, all things are possible. When Pope Anastasius IV enjoined her to meet the challenge, she allowed herself to be installed as abbess. At first the young, noblewoman was well received, but when she began to enforce the rule, she met opposition. The bishop came to her assistance and expelled the worst malcontents.

The rest of the sisters were won over by the holy life of their superior, enhanced as it was by the extraordinary gifts and graces which became evident to all. She healed the sick, restored speech to the dumb, and sight to one of the nuns. Often she was rapt in ecstasy for hours. Her fame spread. Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa) was proud to claim her as a kinswoman. Having a premonition of her own death, Mechtildis resigned from her office and returned to Diessen, where she died (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Walsh).


Blessed Nicholas of Vaucelles, OSB Cist. Abbot (AC)
Died c. 1163. Blessed Nicholas was an early Cistercian. He and his father gave up worldly success in order to profess their vows before Saint Bernard. Nicholas became abbot of Vaucelles and is venerated by the Cistercians (Benedictines).


Paschasius of Rome, Deacon (RM)
Died c. 512. The generosity of the Church in Her judgements is demonstrated by the acceptance of Saint Paschasius the Roman deacon. In good faith he sided with the antipope Laurence in opposition to Pope Saint Symmachus. He is known to have written several theological works, which have been lost. Nevertheless, his name is remembered by Saint Gregory the Great in his Dialogos (IV, 40) (Benedictines).


Petronilla of Rome VM (RM)
1st (?) or 3rd century. In the cemetery of Domitilla, Rome, is a fresco dating from the 4th century that shows Saint Petronilla about to be put to death. A member of the Domitilla family, she was killed because she had refused to marry a nobleman named Flaccus, preferring to devote herself totally to her Savior. She has been venerated from the earliest times.

Among the legends connected with Petronilla is the notion--no doubt derived partly from her name--that she was the daughter of Saint Peter or that she ministered to him. While this was included in several 6th-century Gnostic apocrypha, most scholars do not accept this. It is certain, however, that around the middle of the 3rd century a young virgin of this name was martyred because of her faith. In some of the stories, her intended groom wanted her killed but she died after fasting three days.

In the 8th century, her tomb was translated to Saint Peter's Basilica, where her chapel became the burial place for French kings. Because Blessed Charlemagne and Carloman were considered Saint Peter's adopted sons, his supposed daughter became their patroness. The chapel includes embellishments by Michelangelo and Bramante. Mass on this day in St. Peter's is offered for France and attended by French residents of Rome (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer).

In art, Saint Petronilla is an early Christian maiden with a broom. She might also be shown (1) with a dolphin; (2) as her grave is opened and her body is found with flowers in her hair; (3) in the company of Saint Peter; or (4) spurning a king who offers a marriage ring (Roeder). Farmer notes that her usual emblem in English late medieval stained glass and painted screens is a set of keys--borrowed, of course, from her father, Saint Peter.

Petronilla is the patroness of mountain travellers and the dauphins of France, by reason of the dolphin which was reputedly found carved on her sarcophagus (Roeder).


Blessed Thomas Du M, OP Tert. (AC)
Born in Tonkin (Vietnam) in 1774; died 1839; beatified in 1900. Blessed Thomas was a native priest of Tonkin who became a Dominican tertiary and worked in the province of Nam-Dingh. He was tortured and beheaded for the faith (Benedictines).


Vitalis of Monte Subasio, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died 1370. Vitalis was a monk at Monte Subasio near Assisi. Then he became a hermit for 20 years at Santa Maria delle Viole nearby under the obedience of the abbot of his former community (Benedictines).


Winnow, Mancus and Myrbad (AC)
6th century. Three Irish saints who lived in Cornwall, where they have churches dedicated to their memories (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.