Saint Justin Martyr
Blessed Alphonsus Navarrete, OP, and
Ferdinand of Saint Joseph Ayala, OSA MM (AC)
Alphonsus was born in Valladolid, Old Castile, Spain, 1571; Ferdinand was born at Ballesteros, Toledo, Spain, in 1575; both died on the Tacaxima Island in 1617; beatified in 1867.
Dominicans were, according to legend, the first missionaries to Japan, and 1530 is given as the date of their martyrdom. However, no conclusive proof exists regarding their names or number, and Saint Francis Xavier rightly holds the title of apostle to this island kingdom.
Following in Xavier's footsteps came other missionaries, and, for about 40 years, they worked with great results among the people. Then, in the closing years of the century, persecution flared, and the blood of martyrs cried out with a louder voice than that of the preachers.
Ferdinand took the Augustinian habit in Mentilla, and in 1603, was sent to Mexico, and thence to Japan in 1605 as vicar provincial. He worked at Osaka with great success until his capture and execution en route to Omura.
The first Dominican to die in the great persecution was Alphonsus Navarrete. When Alphonsus was very young, he gave up his inheritance to enter the Dominican Order in Valladolid and, after he had completed his studies, was sent to the Philippine missions. The great persecution had just begun in Japan. The year before Alphonsus left Spain, a group of 26 Christians, including many Franciscans and three Japanese Jesuits, were crucified in Nagasaki.
Despite the dangers, the Dominicans, who had been excluded from Japan for several years, yearned to go into the perilous mission field. Alphonsus in particular, after a trip to Europe to recruit missionaries in 1610, begged to be allowed to go to Japan. In the following year his offer was accepted and he was sent as superior of the missionary band. During the short interval of peace, they began their work, and, during six years of growing danger, they instructed the people and prepared them for the dreadful days to come.
The missionary career of Alphonsus was brief, and it was always overshadowed by the threat of death that beset the Christians in that unhappy country. However, in the few years of his apostolate, his accomplishment was immeasurable. Like his Divine Master, he went about teaching and baptizing the people. He is called the "Vincent de Paul of Japan," because it was he who first began the tremendous task of caring for the abandoned babies there. He anticipated the work of the Holy Childhood Society by gathering up the homeless waifs and providing for their support from money he begged of wealthy Spaniards.
The warning bell of the great persecution was sounded with the martyrdom in Omura of two priests, a Franciscan and a Jesuit. Alphonus Navarrete and his Augustinian companion Ferdinand went to Omura with the intention of rescuing the relics of the martyrs and consoling the Christians. They were captured on the way, and with a young native catechist, were beheaded. Their bodies were thrown into the sea.
Five years later, on the hill of the holy martyrs of Nagasaki, more than 50 Christians sealed their faith with their blood. Some of the martyrs were beheaded, some were burned at the stake. In the group were nine Jesuits, including the famous Father Charles Spinola, nine Franciscans, and nine Dominicans, among whom were the Blesseds Alphonsus de Mena, Angelo Orsucci, and Hyacinth Orphanel. Louis Bertrand, a nephew of the saint of that same name, perished in the same persecution.
Thousands of Japanese Christians, from tiny children to old grandparents, died amid terrible torments in the profession of their faith. The anger of the persecutors was turned against all priests, brothers, and catechists, tertiaries, and Rosarians, and they made fearful attempts to stamp out all traces of the hated religion in the country. Pope Pius IX, in 1867, solemnly beatified 205 of the martyrs, among whom were 59 Dominicans of the first and third orders and 58 members of the Rosary Confraternity. Although all did not die at the same time nor place, they are listed under the name of Alphonsus Navarrete, who was the first to die (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Blessed Alphonsus de Mena, OP M (AC)
Born at Logroño, Spain; died at Nagasaki, Japan, September 10, 1622; beatified in 1867. This Alphonsus became a Dominican at Salamanca. He was a nephew of Blessed Peter Navarrete, whom he accompanied to Japan, where he was burned alive at Nagasaki with a group led by Blessed Charles Spinola, SJ (Benedictines).
Atto of Oca, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 1044. Saint Atto was a Benedictine monk of Oña, Old Castile, under Saint Iñigo. Later he was bishop of Oca-Valpuesta (Benedictines).
Blessed Bernard, Mary, and Gracia, OSB Cist. MM (AC)
Died c. 1180. Achmed, Zoraida, and Zaida were the children of Almanzor, the caliph of Lérida, Catalonia (Spain). Achmed was converted to Christianity, joined the Cistercians at Poblet (Populetum) near Tarragona, took the name Bernard, and proceeded to evangelize his siblings. The Zoraida took the name Mary and Zaida that of Gracia--both were affiliated in some way with the Cistercians. When they tried to convert their brother Almanzor, he betrayed them to the executioners and they were martyred. Alcira, Valencia, Spain, is under their patronage (Benedictines).
Caprasius (Caprais) of Lérins, Abbot (RM)
Born in Gaul; died c. 430. Saint Caprasius retired to the island of Lérins to live as a hermit. He wasn't alone for long. Soon he was joined by Saint Honoratus and his elder brother Saint Venantius. Together they traveled to the East to visit the monastic colonies there. Venantius died in Greece; the other two returned to Lérins, where Saint Honoratus founded the famous abbey, and on his being appointed bishop of Arles, he was succeeded by Caprasius as abbot (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Clarus of Aquitaine BM (AC)
Date unknown. Saint Clarus is said to have been sent from Rome to evangelize Aquitaine as a regionary bishop. There he was martyred. He should not be confused with Bishop Saint Clarus of Nantes (Benedictines).
Conrad (Cuno) of Trèves BM (AC)
Died 1066. Of the noble family of Pfullingen in Swabia, Germany, Conrad's uncle, Saint Annon, archbishop of Cologne, appointed him bishop of Trier, Germany, in defiance of the right of election of the Trèves chapter. Conrad was seized on his way to Trier and cast from the battlements of the castle of Uerzig. He is venerated as a martyr (Benedictines).
Blessed Conrad of Hessen, OSB Cist. Abbot (PC)
Born in Herlesheim, Ober-Hesse, Germany; 13th century. Conrad entered the Cistercian order at the abbey of Haina in which he was the cellarer for more than 15 years (Benedictines).
Crescentian of Saldo M (RM)
Died c. 287. Saint Crescentian, a soldier, is said to have been beheaded at Saldo near Città de Castello (the ancient Tiphernum) in Italy. His existence is doubtful (Benedictines).
Eneco of Ona, OSB Abbot (RM)
(also known as Enneco, Iñigo)
Born at Calatayud, Bilboa, Spain; died at Oña on June 1, 1057; canonized in 1259 by Pope Alexander III. Eneco was a hermit who became a monk of San Juan de la Peña, Aragon, just after the Cluniac observance had been introduced. After serving his as prior, he resumed his eremitical life. Reluctantly, about 1029, he accepted the abbacy of Oña (near Burgos) in Old Castile at the insistence of King Sancho the Great of Navarre, whose father- in-law, Count Sancho of García, had founded the monastery in 1010 and placed it under the governance of his daughter Saint Tigridia. Eneco had refused the pleadings of the king's envoys, but surrendered his will to remain a solitary when Sancho himself visited him. Eneco became known as a peacemaker because of his ability to reconcile differences within the abbey and between communities and individuals. Eneco also had the gift of working miracles. When a severe draught threatened a total failure of the crops, he prayed, and rain fell in abundance. Another time he is said to have fed a great multitude with three loaves. He was away from the monastery when he contracted his last illness and had to be carried home. Though he was mortally ill, Eneco's persistent charity led him to think first of others. Upon his arrival he asked that refreshments be served to the boys who had escorted the party with torches. As no one else had seen the boys, it was concluded that they must have been angeles. Not only did the monastery grow under his rule, he was so beloved that Christians, Jews, and Saracens alike mourned his death (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Walsh).
Blessed Ermengardis, OSB Cist. Widow (AC)
Born in Angers, c. 1067; died c. 1147. Ermengardis married the duke of Brittany around 1092. She received the Cistercian habit from the hands of Saint Bernard about 1130 (Benedictines).
Felinus and Gratian MM (RM)
Died 250. Felinus and Gratian, soldiers in the imperial army, were martyred at Perugia under Decius. Their relics were translated to Arona near Milan in 979 (Benedictines).
Blessed Felix of Nicosia, OFM Cap. (AC)
Born in Nicosia, Sicily, in 1715; died 1787; beatified in 1888. Saint Felix began life as an apprentice to a cobbler. He tried unsuccessfully several times to become a religious. Finally, Felix was professed as a lay-brother. Like several other holy monks of lowly birth, he became a beggar for the monastery. In the course of his wanderings, he preached the Gospel, reclaimed numerous sinners, and helped the poor and the sick (Benedictines).
Firmus M (RM)
Died c. 290. An Eastern martyr who suffered under Maximian (Benedictines).
Fortunatus of Spoleto (RM)
Died c. 400. Fortunatus, a parish priest of Territa near Spoleto, Italy, was famed for his charity and miracles (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Gaudentius of Ossero, OSB B (AC)
Died 1044. Gaudentius was appointed bishop of Ossero, Istria, in 1030. In 1032 he travelled to Rome to appeal against his persecutors On his return he fell ill at Ancona, and, upon his recovery, Gaudentius resigned his see (1042) and became a Benedictine under Saint Peter Damian (Benedictines).
Blessed Herculanus of Piegare, OFM (AC)
Born at Piegare near Perugia, Italy; died 1541; beatified in 1860. Herculanus was one of the foremost preachers of the Franciscans (Benedictines).
Ischirion (Ischyrion) and Companions MM (RM)
Died 250. Ischirion was an Egyptian official who was impaled for the faith under Decius with five of his soldiers. He is commemorated also on December 22 (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Ischirion is impaled on a stake (Roeder).
Blessed James of Strepar, OFM B (AC)
Born in Poland c. 1350; died 1411; cultus approved in 1791. James worked successfully in the office of vicar-general of the Franciscan missions among the schismatics and pagans of western Russia. In 1392, he was appointed archbishop of Halicz in Gallicia (Benedictines).
Blessed John Storey M (AC)
Born in northern England; died at Tyburn in 1571. After receiving a doctorate in law at Oxford University, John Storey was appointed president of Broadgate Hall and first Regius Professor of civil law. Sometime after 1547, he married and became a member of Parliament. In that capacity he opposed several laws enacted by Elizabeth I and Edward VI against the Catholics. He was imprisoned, but managed to escape overseas. Elizabeth's spies, however, followed him, kidnapped him, and forcibly returned him to England, where he was martyred from alleged treason (Benedictines).
Blessed John Pelingotto, OFM Tert. (AC)
Born in Urbino, Italy, in 1240; died 1304; cultus approved in 1918. John was the son of a merchant. He was received into the Third Order of Saint Francis and devoted his whole life to prayer and works of charity (Benedictines).
Justin M (Justin the Philosopher) (RM)
Born in Flavia Neapolis, Samaria, c. 100; died 165; feast day formerly on April 13 or 14.
"Is this not the task of philosophy to enquire about the divine?" --Saint Justin Martyr.
The blood of the martyrs flourished in its hundred-fold increase, as Saint Justin has well observed: "We are slain with the sword, but we increase and multiply; the more we are persecuted and destroyed, the more are deaf to our numbers. As a vine, by being pruned and cut close, shoots forth new suckers, and bears a greater abundance of fruit; so is it with us."
Saint Justin was a layman and the first great Christian philosopher who wrote books of sizable length. His own writing gives details of his life. According to his account his pagan parents were of Greek origin. He was given a liberal education and devoted himself particularly to rhetoric, poetry, and history. He then moved on to the study of philosophy, and he studied the system of the Stoics, then gave it up because it taught him nothing of God.
He applied to the school of Pythagoras but was told that a preliminary knowledge of music, geometry, and astronomy would be required. He came into contact with a respected Platonist, however, who led him to the science of God.
One day, while wandering near the seashore, reflecting upon one of Plato's maxims, he saw an impressive-looking old man, whom he engaged in a discussion about the maxim. The man told him of a philosophy nobler and more fulfilling than any he had yet studied-- one that had been revealed by God to the Hebrew prophets and culminated in Jesus Christ.
Justin was inspired to study the Scriptures and to learn about Christianity. He found that while the teachings of Plato are not identical to Christianity, they led him to embrace the teachings of Jesus. He is said to have become converted by his reading and by observing the heroism of martyrs. He became a Christian at the age of 30 and was baptized at Ephesus or Alexandria, both cities that he visited.
In his teaching as well as his writing, he described the faith of the Christians and what took place at their meetings, an approach that most early Christians avoided in order to protect their rites from profanation. He tried to show that faith was compatible with rational thought.
He travelled much and held disputations with pagans, heretics, and Jews. At a time when Christians were continually subjected to persecution by the civil authorities, his first open defense of Christianity was addressed to the Emperor Antonius Pius, along with the emperor's three adopted sons. His second great public defense, written about the year 161 was addressed to the Roman Senate itself.
Justin did not believe that everything he learned before becoming a Christian must necessarily be untrue. "Those who have been inspired by the creative word of God, see through this a measure of the truth," he wrote. "We are taught that Christ, the first-born of God, is the word of which the whole human race partakes, so that those who before him lived according to reason may be called Christian, even though accounted atheists." Justin wanted to embrace people like the Greek Socrates and the Jewish father Abraham into the fold of Christianity.
At last he came to Rome, where he opened a Christian school, with Tatian as one of his students. At some point he presented his Apology to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. He argued in public with a Cynic named Crescens, whom he accused of ignorance and misrepresentation. It is believed that it was through the machinations of Crescens' followers that Justin was arrested.
He was brought before Rusticus, the prefect of Rome, and records of his trial still exist. He stated his beliefs openly. When asked to sacrifice to idols, Justin replied, "No right-minded man forsakes truth for falsehood." He was sentenced to be scourged and beheaded. Six other Christians, including a woman, died with him (Bentley, White).
Saint Justin is depicted in art with an ax or a sword--the instrument of his martyrdom (White). Justin is the patron of philosophers and philosophy, and apologists (White).
Juventius M (RM)
Date unknown. Juventius was a Roman martyr, whose relics were translated in the 16th century to the Benedictine abbey of Chaise- Dieu, Evreux, France (Benedictines).
Pamphilius and Companions MM (RM)
Born in Beirut (Berytus), Lebanon; died 309. Saint Pamphilius studied at Alexandria under Pierius before settling down at Caesarea, where he built up the library founded by Origen. The noted philosopher, Scripture scholar, and theologian was ordained there to the priesthood. He fostered learning and protected all his students. His household became famous for its practice of fraternal love, slaves and domestics were treated as sons and brothers. Arrested by the governor of Palestine, Urbanus, he was tortured and imprisoned and finally martyred under Galerius. His deacon and ten other companions suffered with him. Eusebius, the church historian, was his disciple and assumed the name "Pamphili" in gratitude for the favors received from today's saint. The extant writings of Pamphilius can be found at the New Advent site (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). Saint Pamphilius is generally dressed in a philosopher's gown and holds a book in art, though he may sometimes be shown holding a razor, sword, or knife (Roeder).
Proculus the Soldier of Bologna BM (RM)
Died c. 304. Proculus is said to have been a Roman officer, martyred at Bologna, Italy, under Diocletian. He has been held in great veneration in Bologna from very ancient times (Benedictines).
Reverianus, Paul, and Companions MM (RM)
Born in Italy; died 272. Bishop Reverianus and Paul, a priest, where sent to Gaul to preach the Good News. They labored in the area around Autun until they were martyred with several companions under Aurelian (Benedictines).
Ruadan of Cornwall (of Quimper) B (AC)
(also known as Ronan, Rumon, Ruadhan, Ruan)
Died 6th century. Saint Ruadan was patron of the abbey of Tavistock in Devonshire, as well as several places in Cornwall and Brittany. He is important in the traditions of Brittany, where he died, and the region of Laon. Ruadan is buried at Locronan. Every six years the faithful make a processional pilgrimage along the traditional 10-mile route followed by Ruadan during his mission. Today's saint should not be confused with the Irish Saint Ruadan (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Montague).
Secundus of Amelia M (RM)
Died 304. While the historicity of Secundus is unprovable, he is said to have been drowned in the Tiber at Amelia during the Diocletian persecutions. He is the patron of several places in central Italy (Benedictines).
Simeon of Syracuse (of Trèves), OSB Hermit (RM)
Born in Syracuse; died 1035; canonized in 1042. Saint Simeon was educated in Constantinople, lived as a hermit by the Jordan, and then joined a community at Bethlehem. Later he migrated to Mount Sinai and again became a hermit, first in a small cave near the Red Sea and then on the summit of Sinai.
He was sent by the abbot of Mount Sinai on a mission to the duke of Normandy. After a series of adventures he settled at Trèves (Trier), Germany, where he was walled up by the archbishop and lived under the obedience of the abbot of the great Benedictine monastery of Saint Martin. It was the abbot of this monastery who assisted Simeon at his death and wrote his life. Saint Simeon was the second saint to be formally canonized (Benedictines).
Tegla (Thecla) of Denbighshire V (AC)
Date unknown. Tegla is the titular patron of the church and holy well at Llandegla in Denbighshire (Benedictines).
Blessed Theobald Roggeri of Vico (of Alba) (AC)
Born at Vico, Liguria; died 1150. Theobald was born into a good family, left home, and chose to work as a cobbler in Alba in the Piedmont. After a pilgrimage to Compostella, he earned his living as a carrier, sharing his wages with the poor and suffering (Benedictines). In art, Theobald is a pilgrim with shoemaker's tools. He is venerated in Liguria and the Piedmont. Theobald is the patron of cobblers and is invoked against fever and sterility (Roeder).
Thespesius of Cappadocia M (RM)
Died c. 230. A Cappadocian martyred under Alexander Severus (Benedictines).
Whyte (White, Wite, Witta, Candida) (AC)
Date unknown. We don't really know much about Saint Whyte, though there are several possibilities according to various legends. She gave her name to the place where she is buried, Whitchurch Canonicorum in Dorset. Her modest shrine is the only one, other than that of Saint Edward the Confessor, to have survived intact. There are several theories on her identification. She may be a West Saxon of whom no other record survives. She might be the Welsh Saint Gwen whose relics King Athelstan gave to this church. A third theory holds that Saint Whyte is actually the male Bishop Saint Albinus of Buraburg, also known as Saint Witta, a companion of Saint Boniface, martyred with him and then translated back to Wessex. William Worcestre and John Gerard both mentioned her relics. Saint Thomas More referred to the custom of offering cakes or cheese to the saint on her feast--probably only at this church. In 1900, her leaden coffin was opened. It was inscribed Hic requiescunt reliquie sancte Wite. The badly damaged reliquary held the bones of a small woman who died about the age of 40, so it appears that the third theory fails (Farmer).
Wistan of Evesham M (AC)
(also known as Wystan, Wigstan)
Died 849. Wistan, prince of Mercia, is said to have been put to death by Bertulph, king of Mercia, when he was regent of the kingdom during Wistan's youth. The saint's shrine was in Evesham Abbey (Benedictines, Gill). In art, Wistan is a Saxon prince leaning on a sword. He is venerated at Repton (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.