St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

June 23

Agrippina of Rome VM (RM)
Died c. 262. Saint Agrippina was a Roman maiden who was probably martyred under Valerian. She is especially venerated by the Sicilians and the Greeks, who both claim her relics. The first has them at Mineo; the other at Constantinople (Benedictines).

Etheldreda, OSB Widow (RM)
(also known as Audrey, Æthelthryth, Ethelreda, Edilthride, Ediltrudis, Edeltrude)

Born in Exning, Suffolk, England; died at Ely, 679.

"Now Etheldreda shines upon our days, Shedding the light of grace on all our ways. Born of a noble and a royal line, She brings to Christ her King a life more fine." --The Venerable Bede

To her friends and family, this once most famous female Anglo-Saxon saint was Etheldreda. To poor people she was Audrey, and the word "tawdry" originally came from the cheap necklaces that were sold on the feast of Saint Audrey and which were believed to cure illness of the throat and neck. This was because Etheldreda had suffered from neck cancer, which she attributed to divine punishment because she was once vain enough to wear a costly necklace. She had a huge tumor on her neck when she died, but, according the Saint Bede, when her tomb was opened by her sister Saint Sexburga, her successor as abbess at Ely Abbey, ten (or 16) years after her death, her body was found incorrupt and the tumor had healed. Etheldreda was a woman of noble birth, the daughter of King Anna of East Anglia, and sister to Saints Sexburga, Ethelburga, Erconwald, and Withburga. She was born in a time when the religious were uncompromising in their desire for complete conversion of their lives to God. To Etheldreda prayer, the Blessed Sacrament, and works of mercy were essential features of her faith in Jesus Christ. From her youth she devoted herself to piety, purity, and humility. Though she seemed destined for the cloistered life, twice Saint Etheldreda was married and released from these unwelcome ties

At the age of 14, Etheldreda was married to Tonbert. Now some saints have run away from marriage when they felt called to the vowed religious life, but Etheldreda trusted in God. She accepted the wedding calmly and found that Tonbert was equally devout and was happy that they should live in continence. After three (or five) years together, Tonbert died.

For a time she enjoyed the solitude of the island of Ely, which had been part of her dowry, but for reasons of state she married again. Her second husband, Egfrid, son of King Oswy of Northumbria, was just a boy at the time. Etheldreda, though still young herself, treated him as her son or brother, rather than as a husband. She taught him the catechism and directed his spiritual growth, clearly trying to prepare him to accept a marriage of continence.

But after 12 years of this relationship, Egfrid, grown to manhood, tried to make her his wife in fact as well as in name. This alarmed Etheldreda, who then sought the counsel of Archbishop Saint Wilfrid of York. He released her from her marriage and advised her to withdraw to the Benedictine abbey of Coldingham. At last she was able to fulfill her heart's desire. She took the veil at Coldingham under Saint Ebba.

At first Egfrid tried to persuade Wilfrid to order his wife to return to him, but without success. In 672, she founded a double monastery, where the present Ely Cathedral now stands, and ruled it as abbess. Egfrid dispatched armed men to Ely in an attempt to force her to return, but the expedition was unsuccessful.

From the time founded Ely, Etheldreda ceased to wear clothing of fine linen and dressed only in woolen garments. Except at Easter, Pentecost, and Epiphany, she washed only in cold water. Only when she was ill or on great church festivals did she eat more than one meal a day. She prayed for those who did not pray and often kept vigil in the church from midnight until dawn. Seven years after the foundation of Ely Abbey, she died of the plague.

Saint Bede wrote a long hymn in praise of Etheldreda who, judging from the number of churches dedicated to her and calendars containing her name, must have been the most revered of all Anglo- Saxon women saints. This is partly due to the number of miracles that resulted from her intercession, which made Ely an important pilgrimage site (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia).

In art, St. Etheldreda is crowned, holding a crozier, book, and a budding staff. Sometimes she may be pictured (1) asleep under a blossoming tree; (2) with a book and lily; (3) as a fountain springs at her feet; and (4) as the devil flees from her (Roeder). There is a 20th- century English banner with her image on the University of Pennsylvania homepage. Etheldreda is the patroness of Cambridge University (Roeder), and those suffering from throat and neck ailments (Bentley).

Blessed Felix of Cîteaux, OSB Cist. (PC)
Died 1113. Felix is named in the Cistercian menologies as a beatus (Benedictines).

Felix of Sutri M (RM)
Died 257. Saint Felix was a priest in Tuscany, who was scourged to death under emperors Valerian and Gallienus (Benedictines).

Hidulphus (Hydulphus) of Lobbes, OSB (AC)
Died c. 707. Count Hidulphus of Hainault was a courtier of the Austrasian king and husband of Saint Agia. By mutual agreement they separated to lead religious lives and Hidulphus entered the Lobbes monastery, which he had previously helped to found (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

James of Toul B (AC)
Born at Bertigny, Haute Marne, France; died at Dijon, 769. Prior to his elevation to the episcopacy in 756, Bishop James of Toul was a monk of Hornbach Abbey in the diocese of Metz. He did much to further the work of the Benedictines before his death while praying in front of the tomb of Saint Benignus on his return from a pilgrimage to Rome (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

John of Rome M (RM)
Died 362. The Roman priest John was beheaded during the persecution of Julian the Apostate. The relic venerated as the head of Saint John the Baptist at San Silvestro in Capite (the English church in Rome) is more likely belongs to this priest (Benedictines).

Joseph Cafasso (RM)
Born at Castelnuova d'Asti, Piedmont, Italy, in 1811; died 1860; beatified in 1925; canonized in 1947; feast day formerly January 23.

"We are born to love, we live to love, and we will die to love still more." --Joseph Cafasso

Saint Joseph was born into a wealthy peasant family and educated in the seminary of Chieri. The life of Joseph Cafasso, who was ordained a priest in 1833, was written by Saint John Bosco, to whom Joseph served as teacher, adviser, and spiritual director for over twenty years. Three years later after his ordination, Cafasso was appointed professor of moral theology at the ecclesiastical college Saint Francis in Turin, which housed 60 young priests from different dioceses and of diverse political orientations. Ten years later he was appointed superior of the college, and he remained in that position until his death. He also directed a retreat house at Lanzo, but his special apostolate was to prisoners and convicts, especially those preparing for execution. Like Saint Robert Bellarmine, Father Cafasso was undersized and called "the little one," but he made his mark both as a spiritual director and a preacher. He led a very penitential life and was renowned for his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and as a confessor.

From 1827, he directed John Bosco into an apostolate for boys, helped him to settle in Turin, introduced him to wealthy patrons, and came to be regarded as the second founder of the Salesians. In 1860, when he was ill with pneumonia, he made a will bequeathing his goods to Saint Joseph Cottolengo and John Bosco. His funeral, at which Bosco preached, was attended by huge crowds (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer).

Blessed Lanfranc Beccaria, OSB Vall. B (AC)
Born near Pavia, Italy; died 1194. In 1178, Lanfranc was elevated to bishop of Pavia. His episcopate was troubled by heretics and rapacious civil magistrates. He left the city and joined the monks of San Sepolcro, but was recalled. At the time of his death he had determined to become a Vallumbrosian (Benedictines).

Lietbertus of Cambrai B (AC)
(also known as Libert, Liberat)

Died 1076. Saint Libert, a Brabançon nobleman, was raised to the see of Cambrai in 1051 and held that position until his death. He took some of his flock on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but failed to reach it. On his return he built Holy Sepulchre Abbey and other religious foundations. He excommunicated the lord of Cambrai and for that reason was brutally persecuted (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Blessed Mary (Marie) d'Oignies, Widow (AC)
Born at Nivelles, Belgium, c. 1177; died in Oignies, Belgium, in 1213. Marie d'Oignies was only 14 when she married, but she persuaded her husband not to consummate the marriage. They lived together as brother and sister. They then turned their house into a leper hospital, and tended the sick there. Finally, Marie became a recluse in a cell near the church of Oignies, where she was favored by supernatural charismata. In a near contemporary biography, Marie d'Oignes, is said to have had a similar intense contemplation of the Passion 12 years before that of St. Francis. Wounds were detected on her body when it was washed at her death; however, it is not possible to know whether these were self- inflicted or of mystical origin. Marie could miraculously "see the Blessed Sacrament"

Marie's relics were placed in a silver shrine behind the altar at Oignies, a monastery of canons regular in the diocese of Namur. He vita was written by Cardinal James of Vitry, once a canon regular in that monastery, afterwards bishop of Acon in Palestine, and later of Tusculum. Her name is inserted in the calendars of several churches in Flanders, in some of which she has been honored with an office (Benedictines, Harrison, Martindale).

In art, Blessed Marie is pictured as a recluse visited by an angel. She may sometimes be shown (1) with an angel by her side; (2) spinning or praying in her cell; (3) interceding for the souls in purgatory; or (4) as the Virgin spreads her mantle over her to protect her from rain (Roeder).

She is invoked by women in childbirth and against fever (Roeder).

Moeliai (Moelray) of Nendrum, Abbot (AC)
Born in Ireland; died c. 493. Saint Moeliai was baptized by Saint Patrick, who appointed him abbot over Nendrum, where he had Saints Finian and Colman among his disciples (Benedictines).

Peter of Juilly, OSB (AC)
Born in England; died at Juilly, 1136. Saint Peter was a friend of Saint Stephen Harding at Molesme. He was chaplain and confessor to the Benedictine nuns of Juilly-les- Nonnais, which was subject to Molesme. Here Saint Bernard's sister, Saint Humbeline, was abbess. Peter is described as a wonder-worker and great preacher (Benedictines).

Blessed Peter James of Pesaro, OSA (AC)
Died c. 1496; cultus approved by Pope Pius IX. Peter James was an Augustinian friar in Saint Nicholas's at Pesaro (Benedictines).

Blessed Thomas Corsini, OSM (AC)
Born at Orvieto, Italy; died 1343; beatified in 1768. Thomas Corsini was a Servite lay-brother, who spent his live collecting alms for the abbey. He was favored by many visions (Benedictines).

Thomas Garnet, SJ Priest M (AC)
Born at Southwark; died 1608; beatified 1929; canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Born into a distinguished Catholic family, Thomas Garnet was the nephew of the famous Jesuit, Father Henry Garnet, and the son of Richard Garnet, a faithful Catholic who had been a distinguished fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. His early education was at Horsham Grammar School, but at the age of 16 or 17, he was sent to the newly opened College of Saint Omer in France. In January 1595, he and several of the other students set sail for Spain, but not until 14 months later, after many adventures which included a term of imprisonment in England, did he succeed in reaching Spain and the English Jesuit College at Valladolid. There, at the close of his theological course, he was ordained a priest. He was then sent on the English mission with Blessed Mark Barkworth in 1599. His manner of life for the next six years he described in a few words in his evidence when on trial: "I wandered from place to place to recover souls which had gone astray and were in error as to the knowledge of the true Catholic Church."

In 1606, the year he uncle was executed, Father Thomas Garnet was arrested near Warwick shortly after the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. First he was imprisoned in the Gatehouse and then moved to Newgate. Because he had been staying in the house of Mr. Ambrose Rookwood, who was implicated in the conspiracy, and because he was so closely connected to Father Henry Garnet, it was hoped that important information could be extracted from him, but neither threats nor the strictest cross-examination could elicit any incriminating admission. After eight or nine months spent in a damp cell with no better bed than the bare ground, he was deported to Flanders with 46 other priests. While still in England Saint Thomas had been admitted to the Society of Jesus by his uncle, who was superior of the Jesuits in England, and he now proceeded to Louvain for his novitiate. The following year, in September, he returned to England. Six weeks later he was betrayed by an apostate priest and arrested again.

At the Old Bailey he was charged with high treason on the grounds that he had been made a priest by authority derived from Rome and that he had returned to England in defiance of the law. His priesthood he neither admitted nor denied, but he firmly refused to take the Oath of Supremacy. On the evidence of three witnesses who declared that when he was in the Tower he had signed himself Thomas Garnet, Priest, he was declared guilty and was condemned to death.

On the scaffold he proclaimed himself a priest and a Jesuit, explaining that he had not acknowledged this at his trial lest he should be his own accuser or oblige the judges to condemn him against their consciences. The Earl of Essex and others tried up to the last moment to persuade him to save his life by taking the oath, and when the end came and the cart was drawn away they would not allow him to be cut down until it was certain he was quite dead (Benedictines, Delaney, Walsh).

Walhere of Dinant M (AC)
13th century? Saint Walhere was a parish priest in the Walloon district of Belgium. While crossing a river in a boat, he was attacked and killed by a profligate priest whom he was exhorting to reform his life. He is venerated primarily at Dinant (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Zeno and Zenas MM (RM)
Died c. 304. Martyrs beheaded under Diocletian. Zeno was a rich citizen of Philadelphia near the Dead Sea; Zenas was one of the slaves who he had emancipated, but who had remained with Zeno. He had renounced all his possessions, including his slaves whom he freed (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 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.