Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs
Adalgis of Novara, Priest Hermit (AC)
(also known as Adelgis, Algise, Algis)
Died c. 686. Adalgis, an Irish monk and disciple of Saint Fursey, was one of the apostles of Picardy. He labored in the area around Arras and Laon. The village of Saint-Algis grew up around the small monastery he founded in the forest of Thiérarche (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Montague).
Blandina M (RM)
Died in Lyons, France, 177.
The memory of Blandina, a slave, has been preserved in a letter from the survivors of the persecution of the Church at Lyons (Lugdunum) to the Church in Asia Minor, which Eusebius recorded in his history. The letter reports that the official persecutions began with a popular boycott that prevented Christians from entering enter private houses, baths, and markets. Many Christian masters were accused to the officials by their slaves who thereby hoped to escape suspicion themselves.
Through Blandina, ". . . Christ showed that those who in the eyes of men appear cheap, ugly and contemptible, are treated by God with great honor because of their love for Him, which displays itself in power and now mere outward boasting. For while we were all of us trembling and her earthly mistress . . . was in torment lest Blandina, so frail in body, should not be strong enough to acknowledge her faith frankly, the child was filled with such strength that the torturers, who followed one another in relays and tormented her from morning to night with every kind of torture, acknowledged that they were beaten and had nothing more that they could do to her." She repeatedly said, while being tortured, "I am a Christian, and nothing vile is done amongst us." She said this because they were accused of incest and cannibalism (a literal interpretation of Christians' consuming the Body and Blood of Christ).
Blandina's steadfast faith inspired Sanctus, a quite recent convert, and strengthened him.
After a time the Emperor said the apostates should be released; the obstinate executed. Blandina was taken to the amphitheater and "fastened to a stake as though to a cross; she prayed aloud, giving much courage to the others, who beheld with their very eyes, by means of this their sister, Him who had been crucified for them!"
The wild beasts would not touch Blandina, so they put her back in prison. On the last day, she and Ponticus--a 15 year old, were brought out (after having watched the others being tortured daily). Ponticus died first. She was then scourged, burned, tied up in a net and thrown to a savage bull to be tossed and finally she was killed. After the bodies rotted for a week, they were cremated, and the ashes thrown into the Rhone. This occurred under the reign of Marcus Aurelius (Attwater, Benedictines, Martindale)
In art, Saint Blandina is a martyred maiden with a bull near her; otherwise the image may include (1) a net and bull; (2) her being tossed by the bull in the amphitheater; or (3) tied to a pillar with a lion and bear near her (Roeder). This patroness of servant girls is venerated in Lyons and Vienne, France (Roeder).
Bodfan (Bobouan) (AC)
7th century. Tradition says that Saint Bodfan, his father, and other relatives embraced the religious life after Beaumaris Bay was formed by a huge inundation. He is the patron saint of Abern in Carnarvonshire (Benedictines).
Erasmus of Formiae BM (RM)
(also known as Elmo, Erarmo, Ermo)
Died 303. Saint Erasmus is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers (combined feast August 8), who were especially venerated in France and Germany for their efficacious intercessory power. All had/have also individual feast days. Most are non-existent, or shadowy figures of early Christianity popularized by embroidered tales.
Nothing is really known of Saint Elmo since his acta were written long after his death and were based on legends that confuse him with a Syrian bishop of Antioch. He is thought to have been a bishop at Formiae in the Italian Campagna, a hermit on Mount Lebanon, and martyred under Diocletian.
According to his legend, it is said that when the persecutions of Diocletian began, Elmo fled to Mount Lebanon and lived alone on what ravens brought him to eat. Captured by his enemies, he was brought before Diocletian and beaten with clubs weighted with lead and whips. When it was perceived that he was still alive, the saint was rolled in tar and set alight; but still he survived. Thrown into prison with the intention of letting him die of starvation, Erasmus managed to escape.
He was recaptured in the Roman province of Illyricum, after boldly preaching and converting numerous pagans to Christianity. This time his tortures included being forced to sit in a heated iron chair. Finally, according to this version of the legend, he was killed when his stomach was cut open and his intestine wound around a windlass. This late legend of his intestines being drawn out and wound around a windlass may have developed from his emblem of a windlass (signifying his patronage of sailors who use the windlass to wind up the anchor of their ships) being confused with an instrument of torture.
Elmo may have become the patron of sailors because he is said to have continued to preach even after a thunderbolt struck the ground beside him. This prompted sailors, who were in danger from sudden storms and lightning to claim his prayers. The electrical discharges at the mastheads of ships were read as a sign of his protection and came to be called "Saint Elmo's Fire."
Saint Gregory the Great recorded that his relics were preserved in the Formiae cathedral in the sixth century. When Formiae was razed by the Saracens in 842, the body of Elmo was translated to Gaeta (Benedictines, Bentley, Sheppard, White).
Saint Erasmus is depicted in art with his entrails wound on a windlass (Sheppard) or as a vested bishop holding a winch or windlass (White). On the web you can see Matthias Grünewald's The Disputation of Saint Erasmus and Saint Maurice and Nicholas Poussin's The Martyrdom of Saint Erasmus.
Elmo is the patron saint of sailors and Gaeta (White). He is invoked against colic in children, cramp (Sheppard), and, as a result of his legendary form of martyrdom, the pain of women in labor (White), as well as cattle pest (Roeder).
Eugenius I, Pope (RM)
Died at Rome in 657. While Pope Saint Martin was still alive, the Roman priest Eugenius was consecrated bishop of Rome on August 10, 654. How did this happen? Saint Martin condemned Monothelitism and the emperor, Constans, happened to be a Monothelite. Constans sent Theodore Calliopas to forcibly capture the pope and bring him to Constantinople, where he was imprisoned and then exiled to Kherson. Martin died within one month of Eugenius's elevation.
It is a mystery how Eugenius became pope because the Romans refused attempts by the exarch Theodore Calliopas to persuade them to elect another one while Martin was still alive. As is usual during a vacancy, the Holy See was administered by the archpriest, archdeacon, and chief notary. Eugenius may have been an antipope forced on the reluctant Romans by the emperor, or he was chosen freely on the presumed consent of Saint Martin to keep the emperor from forcibly planting a docile tool on the throne of Saint Peter. It is more likely that Saint Martin requested the election, because Eugenius continually refused to yield to imperial pressure and Martin appears to have recognized him as his legitimate successor.
Eugenius was known for his holiness, gentleness, and charity. He had been a cleric from his youth and held various positions within the Church of Rome. Almost immediately after his election, Eugenius was forced to deal with the heresy of Monothelitism, i.e., the Christ had only one will. Eugenius promptly sent legates to inform Constans of his election. Unfortunately, these legates treated Patriarch Peter of Constantinople as being in communion with the Holy See although he remained ambiguous on the question whether Christ had one or two wills. Pope Eugenius disavowed their action and said that they had been given authority to deal only with the emperor. The legates returned to Rome with a synodal letter of Peter that was so obscure that when it was read at Saint Mary Major, the people raised an uproar. His Holiness Eugenius had to delay completing the Mass until he assured them that the objectionable letter would not be accepted.
Eugenius continued to refuse to recognize Peter as patriarch until he would clarify his understanding of Christology. The emperor was furious and would have treated Eugenius as he had Martin. He threatened to roast the pope alive if he were not otherwise occupied with fighting the Islamics, who had captured Rhodes in 654. Their defeat of Constans in the naval battle of Phoenix in 655 saved Eugenius from sharing Martin's fate. Thus, Eugenius was able to end his brief pontificate in peace. He was buried on June 2, 657, in Saint Peter's (Benedictines, Brusher, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Guy of Acqui B (AC)
Died 1070; cultus confirmed in 1853. Saint Guy was bishop of Acqui in Monferrato, Piedmont, Italy, from 1034 to 1070 (Benedictines).
John de Ortega, Hermit (AC)
Died c. 1150. John was a priest in the diocese of Burgos, Spain. After making many pilgrimages--to the Holy Land, Rome, and Santiago de Compostella--he found himself called to the solitary life in a small village near Burgos. From his hermitage he assisted Saint Dominic de la Calzada in the building of bridges, hospices, and other works to aid pilgrims. He feast is celebrated liturgically in his diocese of Burgos (Benedictines).
Marcellinus and Peter MM (RM)
Died 304. Marcellinus, a Roman priest, and Peter, an exorcist, renowned for their zeal and piety, are named in the Roman canon of the Mass. During the Diocletian persecution, they were secretly condemned to die for their faith. The executioner led them into a forest, so that the Christians would be unaware of their deaths or burial site. It was not until they reached a thicket overgrown with thorns and briers, three miles from Rome, that he told them the sentence of the judge. Far from being afraid, the saints cheerfully fell to work themselves. They gathered up the brambles and cleared a spot fit for their sepulcher. After they were beheaded, their bodies were buried in the same place. Some time later their burial site was revealed mysteriously to a pious lady named Lucilla. She and another devout woman named Firmina found and honorably interred their bodies near that of Saint Tiburtius in the catacombs on the Via Labicana at "the two laurels."
Their unreliable later _acta_ say that they converted their jailer and his family while they were in prison, that the site of their execution was called Black Wood and later White Wood, and that the magistrate who condemned them was named Severus.
Evidence of their cultus is strong and early, including feasts in the sacramentaries and calendars and the survival of their tombs. Pope Saint Damasus tells us that, when he was a child, he heard these details from the lips of the executioner himself. The pope inserted them in a Latin epitaph with which he adorned their tomb. Anastasius the librarian testifies, from ancient registers, that Constantine the Great built a church in honor of these martyrs, in which his mother Saint Helena was buried, and that he gave to this church a golden paten, weighing thirty-five pounds, as well as many other rich presents. Honorius I and Adrian I repaired this church and the cemetery of Saint Tiburtius.
It may seem somewhat odd that the bodies of Marcellinus and Peter were translated to Germany. This is how it happened. Blessed Charlemagne's favorite secretary, a German named Eginhard, and his wife Emma mutually agreed to vow perpetual continency. Eginhard became a monk and later was chosen abbot of Fontenelle and, in 819, of Ghent. His letters from Abbot Lupus of Ferrieres reveal that he was terribly grieved at the death of his wife Emma in 836. Eginhard sent his secretary to Rome to procure from pope Gregory IV relics of martyrs to enrich the monasteries which he had founded or repaired. The pope sent him the bodies of SS. Marcellinus and Peter, which Eginhard translated to Strasburg, France. Later he translated them to Michlenstadt, then to Seligenstadt, between Frankfurt and Aschaffensburg, where, in 829, he built a church and monastery in their honor. The story of the translation of their relics, including the miracles that then took place, is recorded in Eginhard's own writings, as well as in works by Sigebert, Aymoinus, Rabanus Maurus, and others. Pope Gregory the Great preached his twenty homilies on the gospels in the church of SS. Marcellinus and Peter at Rome (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Nicholas the Pilgrim (Peregrinus) (RM)
Born in Greece, 1075; died in Trani, Italy, 1094; canonized in 1098. As a teenager, Nicholas migrated from his homeland to Apulia in southern Italy. He wandered through the streets carrying a cross and crying "Kyrie Eleison." Crowds of children would follow him, repeating the same cry. Although he was often treated as a lunatic, when he died at the age of 19, so many miracles were worked at his tomb that he was canonized almost immediately (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Photinus (Pothinus) and Companions MM (RM)
Died 177. Photinus, Sanctus (Sanctius), Vetius, Epagathus, Maturus, Ponticus, Biblides, Attalus, Alexander, Blandina (see separate entry), and companions, were martyrs in Lyons, France, which was the center of trade and government for Roman Gaul. The authentic acta of these martyrs was preserved in a letter from the churches in Vienne and Lyons to those of Asia. The author is believed to have been Saint Ireneaus.
At first they were set upon by an angry pagan mob, whose harsh handling of the 90-year-old Bishop Pothinus left him with wounds that caused his death in prison. Pothinus was raised in Greece and instructed in the faith by the successors to the Apostles. He was sent to Gaul to evangelize Lyons and become its first bishop. On his arrival he was warmly welcomed by the Lyonnaise who were of Greek heritage and built a church and underground crypt on the site of the present-day Saint-Nizier Church. For the next 20 years he preached the Gospel to an ever-growing flock.
The persecutions began under Marcus Aurelius with social ostracism. Christians were prevented from purchasing goods in the market, visiting the public baths, or using other public services. The incident in which Photinus was mortally wounded was just one of many in which gangs of bullies insulted and assaulted the Christians as they moved about town.
Once the mob was finished with Photinus and 57 of his followers, they were arrested and taken into the forum where, after a summary questioning, they were ordered to prison. A young Christian named Epagathus openly protested the injustice of the procedure. He asked to be allowed to defend the others from the absurd and slanderous charges of cannibalism and incest brought against them, but he was silenced and arrested. Ten of the Christians apostatized, but the rest remained steadfast.
Two men, Maturus and Sanctus, were roasted to death on an iron chair. Attalus suffered a similar fate. Alexander, a physician who had encouraged the martyrs, was arrested and summarily condemned to be thrown to the wild beasts. All 48 martyrs suffered tortures of equal viciousness. On the last day only the slave girl named Blandina, whose mistress had already been killed, and the young boy Ponticus remained. The boy was tortured first as Blandina urged him to remain steadfast. Then Blandina was tortured and finally enmeshed in a net and tossed by a wild bull until she perished, kept repeating the simple words, "I am a Christian." So great was her faith and firmness in her hope of salvation that she seemed to feel no pain. After she was beheaded by the sword, "the pagans themselves saying that they had never seen a woman show such courage." Not one of the martyrs wavered in the faith.
The bodies of the martyrs were left in the arena for a week and then thrown into the Rhône (Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Sadoc and Companions MM (AC)
Died 1260; second feast day on May 5. Saint Dominic's dreams of converting the Tartars found realization in his sons. Missionaries did, in fact, go to the North during his lifetime, and many more were sent out by Blessed Jordan of Saxony. The more settled tribes of Poland and Hungary readily accepted the Gospel, and the North was not long in blooming with Dominican convents. But, in the 13th century, the restless millions of the East were riding down upon the fertile plains of Central Europe. Wild Tartar tribes soon destroyed what had been done for their more peaceful relatives, and scarcely a missionary survived to preach his message of peace to them.
Paul of Hungary and his band of 90 died as martyrs, probably in 1241. They were popularly honored as saints early. Soon to follow was the group headed by Blessed Sadoc, which had its headquarters at Sandomir, Poland. So tragic was the early history of the Dominicans in Poland that, even in that martyred country, it is remembered: Polish Dominicans today wear a red cincture to recall the martyred hundreds who shed their blood that Poland might receive the light of faith.
Blessed Sadoc was a student at the University of Bologna when he met Saint Dominic and was received into the order. Being a Slav himself, he was eager to go to the North to preach the word of God. This he was given a chance to do when he and Paul of Hungary were placed in charge of the northern mission band.
Sadoc soon accumulated a number of eager young students and novices, and proceeded to Poland with them. On his first night in the mission field, the devil appeared to Sadoc and reproached him for disturbing his work: "And with such children as these," he said bitterly, pointing to the young novices. With such as these, Sadoc did make havoc with the kingdom of evil: He won many souls to God, and, in the monastery of Sandomir which he founded, Sadoc soon had the satisfaction of seeing a large community working for the glory of God.
In 1260, the Tartars made a fresh invasion into Poland and attacked Sandomir. Blessed Sadoc and his community had assembled for midnight Matins when they received warning of their approaching death. A novice reading the martyrology for the following day, was amazed to see, lettered in gold across the pages of the martyrology, the words: "At Sandomir, the passion of 49 martyrs." On investigation, it was discovered that it was not merely a novice's mistake, but an actual warning that they understood came from heaven.
They spent the day in preparation for death. During the singing of the "Salve Regina," after Compline, the Tartars broke into the church and the slaughter began. One novice, terrified at the thought of death, fled to the choir loft to hide, but, hearing his brothers singing, he realized that they were going off to heaven without him, and he returned to the choir to die with the others.
From this martyrdom came the custom of singing the "Salve Regina" at the deathbed of a Dominican--priest, sister, or brother. It is fitting that a life dedicated to God and Our Lady should end thus, with the battle-cry "Hail, Holy Queen!" echoing up from this valley of tears to be joined by the voices of Dominicans in heaven, who can now see forever the clement, loving, and sweet Virgin Mary (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Stephen of Corvey, OSB BM (AC)
(also known as Stephen of Sweden)
Died c. 1075. Saint Stephen was a monk of Corvey in Saxony, who was appointed regionary bishop of Sweden, where he successfully engaged in missionary work. He was the first to plant the faith on the shores of the sound and was probably martyred at Nora (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
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.