St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Saint Silverius, Pope
(Regional Memorial)
June 20



Adalbert of Magdeburg, OSB B (RM)
Died 981. At the age of 70, Princess Saint Olga of Kiev was baptized in Constantinople. The last woman to rule Russia for may centuries, this remarkable lady asked Emperor Otto the Great to send a missionary from Germany to convert her subjects. Adalbert, a monk of the Benedictine Saint Maximin's at Trier (Trèves), was sent by Otto with a small group to evangelize Russia. They had just begun their work when Princess Olga's pagan son Svyatoslav deposed his mother in 961. The missionaries were forced to flee, and many of Adalbert's companions were killed by the heathen near Kiev. He escaped with difficulty and returned to Mainz, Germany, where he served at the imperial court for four years.

Otto appointed Adalbert abbot of an important monastery at Weissenberg, where he became known as a patron of learning. He held that part of a monk's duty was to record the history of God's world, and so we still possess a chronicle of Adalbert's time, written by his brothers at Weissenberg.

Many of Otto's subjects were ready to revolt whenever they thought insurrection might succeed. Otto therefore decided to found a new, fortified city, Magdeburg, to dominate Saxony. He wanted it to become a Christian center as well as a fortress so he founded a new abbey and persuaded the pope to create a new see. In 968, Adalbert was given the office of archbishop of Magdeburg with jurisdiction over the Slavs beyond the Elbe together with the Wends. He spent the balance of his life trying to evangelize the Wends, reform religious communities in his diocese, and establish three new dioceses. After ruling the see for 13 years, he died while on a visit to Merseburg (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).


Bagnus of Calais, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Bain or Bainus of Thérouanne)

Died c. 710. Saint Bagnus was a monk at Fontenelle under Saint Wandrille. In 685, he became the fifth bishop of Thérouanne, which then included Calais. Because Merville, where Saint Mauront had built Breuil monastery, was in the diocese of Thérouanne, Saint Bain translated the body of Saint Amatus to Mauront's newest church at Douai. When SS. Luglius and Luglianns, two Irish hermits, were murdered by highwaymen in his diocese, Saint Bain buried them with great honor in the chapel of his castle at Lilleres, where they are honored as patrons of the town.

After shepherding his flock for 12 years, Saint Bagnus resigned his bishopric and retired again to Fontenelle. Three years later, he was again its abbot. Out of his great devotion to the relics of the saints, he translated the bodies of Saints Wandrille, Ansbert, and Wulfram, from the chapel of Saint Paul, built by Wandrille as the burial-place, into the great church of Saint Peter, in which the monks celebrated the divine mysteries.

Towards the end of his life Pepin placed Bagnus in charge of the newly restored Fleury Abbey (now Saint Benet's) on the Loire near Orléans, while he still governed Fontenelle. He is the principal patron of Calais (Benedictines, Husenbeth).


Benignus of Breslau, OSB Cist. M (PC)
13th century. Saint Benignus was a Cistercian monk martyred by the Tartars in Breslau, Silesia, with many other members of his abbey. His feast is commemorated by the Cistercians (Benedictines).


Edburga of Caistor, OSB V (AC)
(also known as Idaberga, Edburge, Eadburh)

Died late 7th century. It is odd that a pagan, King Penda of Mercia, should have born so much fruit for the Kingdom of God. He was a staunch opponent of Christ, yet four of his daughters, including Edburga, rank among those in the heavenly court. Her sisters by blood and faith were Saints Kyneburga (wife of King Alfred of Northumberland), and Kyneswide and Chinesdre, who consecrated their virginity to God when they entered the convent of Dormundcastor or Caistor in Northamptonshire. Edburga also seems to have made her vows and was buried there. When her brother Wulhere finished Peterborough, her relics with those of her three sisters were translated to the new foundation. About 1040, the monk Balger carried all their relics and some of those of Saint Oswald to Berg Saint Winnoc in Flanders, probably by the authority of King Hardecanute of England, son of Emma, who had lived in Flanders in his youth. The relics of Saints Oswald, Edburga, and Lewin were lost in a great fire at the abbey in 1558. Yet an inscription there informs us that some of their dust still remains in the tomb (Benedictines,Husenbeth).

I am somewhat confused. There are several Edburga's who lived about the same time. Different sources make various of them the daughter of Penda, but each has a different history beyond that point. Count it be the Penda suffered from the same problem as George Forman?


Florentina (Florence) of Carthagena, Abbess (RM)
Born in Carthagena, Spain; died c. 636. Florentina was the only sister of Saints Leander, Fulgentius, and Isidore. When their parents died while Florentina was still young, she was placed in the care of Leander. Later she enter the convent whose rule Leander wrote, and eventually she became its abbess (Benedictines).


Blessed Francis Pacheco and Companions, SJ MM (AC)
Born at Ponte da Lima, Portugal in 1566; died in Nagasaki, Japan, 1626; beatified in 1867. Francis entered the Society of Jesus in 1586 and in 1592 he was ordained priest. He labored in Macao and Japan as rector, provincial, vicar general, and administrator of the diocese. He was burned alive with two other European Jesuits, a Japanese Jesuit, four Japanese laymen, and a Korean (Benedictines).


Goban (Gobain, Govan), OSB M (AC)
Born in Ireland; died c. 670. Goban was ordained priest in his native land. Then he became a monk under and disciple of Saint Fursey at Burgh Castle in Suffolk. He accompanied his abbot on his mission to evangelize East Anglia. Both saints then crossed to France. For a short time Goban lived at Corbeny, before the abbey was built, and later they settled together as hermits at Laon. From there they withdrew into the forest on the Oise. There Goban founded a stately church dedicated to Saint Peter, now called Saint Gobain, on land given to him by King Clotaire III. Here Goban was beheaded by thieves at a place now called Saint-Gobain and previously known as Le Mont d'Hermitage. His relics were lost during the Thirty Years War, except for his head which is still in his church (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth). In art, Saint Goban is a Benedictine in Mass vestments holding a book and a sword (Roeder). He is venerated in Burgh (Suffolk) and Saint Goban (Oise) (Roeder).


Helia (Heliada) of Öhren, OSB Abbess (AC)
Died c. 750. Saint Helia was abbess of the Benedictine convent of Öhren in Trier, Germany (Benedictines).


John of Matera, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as John of Mathera or Pulsano)

Born at Matera in the Basilicata; died at Pulsano, Italy, 1139. Early in his life John entered a Benedictine monastery, where he earned a reputation for austerity. For a while he joined Saint William at Monte Vergine, but left him to become a popular preacher at Bari. Later founded a community at Pulsano near Monte Gargano, the first of a series of foundations that coalesced into a new Benedictine congregation (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint John is an abbot driving away the devil with a rod (Roeder).


Macarius of Petra B (RM)
Died c. 350. Bishop Macarius of Petra, in the Holy Land, strongly opposed the Arians at the Council of Sardica. As a result they orchestrated his deposition and banishment to Africa, where he died. His original name was Arius, but he changed it to distance himself from the arch-heretic (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Blessed Michelina Metelli, OFM Tert. Widow (AC)
(also known as Michelina of Pesaro)

Born at Pesaro, Urbino, Italy, in 1300; died 1356; cultus confirmed in 1737. Michelina was born into the family of the counts of Pardi. When she was 12, she married Duke Malatesta, who left her a widow at the age of 20. Upon the death of her only child, she determined to change her life, but her parents, thinking that she was mad, locked her up. At last they gave her liberty. She then renounced her inheritance, became a Franciscan tertiary, and lived as one until her death (Benedictines). In art, Michelina is a young Franciscan tertiary kneeling in ecstasy in the midst of a storm with a pilgrim's hat and staff by her (Roeder).


Novatus of Rome (RM)
Died c. 151. Novatus was reputed to have been the son of Pudens and brother of Saint Praxedes and Saint Pudentiana (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Paul and Cyriacus MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyrs who suffered at Tomi, Lower Moesia (on the Black Sea) (Benedictines).


Silverius, Pope M (RM)
Born in Frosinone, Campania, Italy; died December 2, c. 537. Saint Silverius's story clearly illustrates the harm that can be done to the Church by those who seek to exploit it for their own selfish purposes or political advancement. The subdeacon Saint Silverius was son of Pope Saint Hormisdas, who had been married before his consecration and whose Formulation of Hormisdas helped to end the Monophysite schism of Acacius. In the rivalry between the Ostrogoths and the Byzantine Empire, the papacy was an important factor in the balance of power. Because Agapitus had died in Constantinople, the Ostrogoth King Theodehad of Italy knew that the emperor would name his candidate for the see without delay. To circumvent the imposition of the emperor's candidate, Theodehad named Silverius pope in April 356. Soon after Theodehad compelled the Roman clergy to elect (or acquiesce to) Silverius to succeed Pope Saint Agapitus. Thus, he was ordained bishop of Rome on June 1 or 8, 536.

The Byzantines naturally supposed that Silverius was a puppet of the Goths; an opinion that was reinforced when he denied Empress Theodora's request to acknowledge the Monophysites Anthimus as patriarch of Constantinople and Severus as patriarch of Antioch. Thus, he exposed himself to the bitter enmity of Theodora, who was a domineering woman and did not hesitate to act without the knowledge of Emperor Justinian. Indeed, the consequences were so predictable that Silverius is said to have remarked that by signing the letter of refusal to the request of the empress, he was also signing his on death warrant. He was right; Theodora was a woman who would tolerate no opposition.

A few months later, in an attempt to save Rome from the destruction the Ostrogoth General Vitiges visited upon the suburbs, Silverius and the senate opened Rome's gates to the lesser evil, Belisaurus, the commander of the Byzantine armies in Italy. A forged letter accusing Silverius of being responsible for Vitiges' devastation proved unsuccessful in implicating Silverius. Nevertheless, like Justinian, Belisaurus had an intriguing wife, Antonina, and it was largely at her prompting that he deposed Silverius on the false accusation of conspiring with the Goths and the next day replaced him with Theodora's protege, Deacon Vigilius.

Silverius was kidnapped and taken to Patara in Lycia, Asia Minor. All this was done without the knowledge of Emperor Justinian. When he received a message from the bishop of Patara telling him what had happened, he immediately gave orders that Silverius be reinstated in the Holy See and an investigation instituted. Shortly after his return to Italy, he was captured by Vigilius's supporters and imprisoned on Palmarola in the Tyrrhenian Sea near Naples. Antonina, eager to ingratiate Theodora, prevailed on her husband to let them deal with Silverius as they chose. He did not survive long in prison. Either left to die of starvation or was murdered by Antonina's hired assassin, Silverius died a martyr's death after less than two years in office.

It is uncertain how Vigilius's appointment to the papal see was regularized. Nevertheless, Silverius was vindicated in one way-- after his death Pope Vigilius ceased to support Theodora and held firm in defense of orthodoxy (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Walsh, White).

Pope Saint Silverius is generally portrayed as a pilgrim pope with a small piece of bread on a plate. He might also be shown with a paten or while armed men approach as he sits by a table on which is a scroll, Justentor pane tribulationi et aqua angustie (Roeder). He may be depicted holding a church (White).


Blessed Thomas Whitbread & Comp., SJ MM (AC)
Born in Essex, England; died 1679; beatified in 1929. Thomas was educated at Saint Omer and joined the Society of Jesus in 1635. He was provincial of the English mission and at the time of the Popish Plot was convicted with four other Jesuit priests on a false charge of conspiring to murder Charles II. For this he was hanged at Tyburn (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.