Ampelius of Milan B (AC)
Died c. 672. Bishop Saint Ampelius Milan wielded a great influence for good among the invading Lombards (Benedictines).
Angelelmus of Auxerre B (PC)
Died 828. Angelelmus is said to have been abbot of SS. Gervase and Protase and then bishop of Auxerre from c. 813. He was famed for his generosity and charity (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Apollonius of Brescia B (RM)
Date unknown. Apollonius, bishop of Brescia, Lombardy, Italy, is mentioned in the acta of SS. Faustinus and Jovita which, however, is not a reliable source. His relics are enshrined in the cathedral of Brescia (Benedictines). In art, Saint Apollonius is portrayed as a venerable bishop administering Holy Communion. He is venerated in Brescia (Roeder).
Blessed Benedict XI, OP Pope (RM)
Born in Treviso, Italy, 1240; died in Perugia, Italy, April 25, 1304; beatified by Pope Clement XII in 1736. Nicholas Boccasini was born into a poor family of which we know little else, though there are several different traditions concerning it. One claims that his father was a poor shepherd. Another that he was an impoverished nobleman. Whichever he was, he died when Nicholas was very small, and the little boy was put in the care of an uncle, a priest at Treviso.
The child proved to be very intelligent, so his uncle had him trained in Latin and other clerical subjects. When Nicholas was ten, his uncle got him a position as tutor to some noble children. He followed this vocation until he was old enough to enter the Dominican community at Venice in 1254. Here, and in various parts of Italy, Nicholas spent the next 14 years, completing his education. It is quite probable that he had Saint Thomas Aquinas for one of his teachers.
Nicholas was pre-eminently a teacher at Venice and Bologna. He did his work well according to several sources, including a testimonial from Saint Antoninus, who said that he had "a vast store of knowledge, a prodigious memory, a penetrating genius, and (that) everything about him endeared him to all." In 1295, he received the degree of master of theology.
The administrative career of Nicholas Boccasini began with his election as prior general of Lombardy and then as the ninth master general of the Order of Preachers in 1296. His work in this office came to the notice of the pope, who, after Nicholas had completed a delicate piece of diplomacy in Flanders, appointed him cardinal in 1298.
The Dominicans hurried to Rome to protest that he should not be given the dignity of a cardinal, only to receive from the pope the mystifying prophecy that God had reserved an even heavier burden for Nicholas. As papal legate Nicholas travelled to Hungary to try to settle a civil war there.
Boniface VIII did not always agree with the man he had appointed cardinal-bishop of Ostia and dean of the sacred college. But they respected one another, and in the tragic affair that was shaping up with Philip the Fair of France, Cardinal Boccasini was to be one of only two cardinals who defended the Holy Father, even to the point of offering his life.
Philip the Fair, like several other monarchs, discovered that his interests clashed with those of the papacy. His action was particularly odious in an age when the papal power had not yet been separated completely from temporal concerns.
The French monarch, who bitterly hated Boniface, besieged the pope in the Castle of Anagni, where he had taken refuge, and demanded that he resign the papacy. His soldiers even broke into the house and were met by the pope, dressed in full pontifical vestments and attended by two cardinals, one of whom was Cardinal Boccasini. For a short time it looked as though the soldiers, led by Philip's councilor William Nogaret, might kill all three of them, but they refrained from such a terrible crime and finally withdrew after Nicholas rallied the papal forces and rescued Boniface from Anagni.
Cardinal Boccasini set about the difficult task of swinging public opinion to the favor of the pope. Successful at this, he stood sorrowfully by when the pontiff died, broken-hearted by his treatment at the hands of the French soldiers. On October 22, 1303, at the conclave following the death of Boniface, the prophesied burden fell upon the shoulders of the cardinal-bishop of Ostia, who took the name Benedict XI.
The reign of Benedict XI was too short to give him time to work out any of his excellent plans for settling the troubles of the Church. Most of his reign was taken up with undoing the damage done by Philip the Fair. He lifted the interdict on the French people that had been laid down by his predecessor and made an uneasy peace with Philip. He worked to reconcile warring parties in Europe and the Church and to increase spirituality. His reign, short though it was, was noted for its leniency and kindness.
There are few personal anecdotes regarding Benedict, but at least one worth telling. Once, during his pontificate, his mother came to the papal court to see him. The court attendants decided that she was too poorly dressed to appear in the presence of the Holy Father, so they dressed her up in unaccustomed finery before allowing her to see her son. Benedict, sensing what had happened, told them he did not recognize this wealthy woman, and he asked them where was the little widow, pious and poorly dressed, whom he loved so dearly.
Benedict XI died suddenly in 1304. He had continued to the end with his religious observances and penances. Some people believed that he had been poisoned, but there has never been any evidence that this was the case. Many miracles were performed at his tomb, and there were several cures even before his burial (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy).
In art, Pope Benedict wears a Dominican habit and papal tiara, while holding the keys. He is venerated in Perugia (Roeder).
Bonitus of Monte Cassino, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died c. 582. Saint Bonitus, abbot of the Benedictine motherhouse of Monte Cassino, governed during the period in which the Lombard Zoto of Benevento plundered and destroyed the monastery (c. 581). The monks fled to the Lateran in Rome and Bonitus died shortly thereafter (Benedictines).
Claudius, Nicostratus, & Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 288. Claudius, Nicostratus, Castorius, Victorinus, and Symphorina are described in the very untrustworthy acta of Saint Sebastian as having suffered martyrdom at teh same time as that saint. They are very likely identical with the group known as the Four Crowned Martyrs (Benedictines).
Ercongota of Faremoutiers, OSB V (AC)
(also known as Ercongotha, Erkengota)
Died 660; feast day at Ely and Faremoutier is February 21 and at Meaux, February 26. Ercongota was the daughter of King Erconbert of Kent and Saint Sexburga, who became abbess of Ely. Together with her aunt, Saint Sethrida, she was a nun at the double monastery of Faremoutier under her aunt, Saint Ethelburga. Ercongota died while still young, but Saint Bede relates traditions of her visions and prophecies. She visited the older nuns to say farewell and ask their prayers before her death. Angelic visitors arrived at the monastery at the moment of her death. The fragrant scent of balsam emanating from her grave at St. Stephen's Church testified to her sanctity (Benedictines, Farmer).
Ethelburga of Faremoutiers, OSB Abbess (RM)
(also known as Aubierge, Ćdilburh)
Died c. 664. The daughter of King Anna of the East Angles, Ethelburga longed to live the life of a nun. It seems that she lived in a family of saints that included her sister Saint Etheldreda.
Her eldest sister, Saint Sexburga, married King Erconbert of Kent. Sexburga influenced her husband a great deal. The Venerable Bede says that Erconbert was "the first English king to order the complete abandonment and destruction of idols throughout the kingdom." He also ordered everyone to observe the Lenten fasts. Their daughter, Saint Ercongota, entered a convent in Gaul with her aunts Ethelburga and Sethrida because, according to Bede, "as yet there were few monasteries in England."
About 660, Ethelburga succeeded her convent's founder, Saint Fara and her half-sister Sethrida, as abbess of the monastery of Faremoutier in the forest of Brie. She began to build a church there dedicated to all twelve Apostles, but she died before completing it and was buried in the half- finished building in 665. Later the nuns decided they could not afford to complete the church and Ethelburga's relics were reinterred in the nearby church of Saint Stephen the Martyr. At that time, her body was found to be incorrupt.
Ethelburga is mentioned in the Roman, French, and several English martyrologies (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
In art, Saint Ethelburga is depicted as a Benedictine abbess carrying the instruments of the Passion. She is invoked to cure rheumatism (Roeder).
Felix of Nantes B (AC)
Died January 8, 584. Felix was a 37-year-old married man when he was called to became the 16th bishop of Nantes, France, about 549. He was born into an illustrious family of Aquitaine, perhaps in Bourges or possibly in Brittany. He was renowned for his virtue, eloquence, and erudition. His zeal for discipline was revealed in the regulations he made for his own diocese, and the decrees of the third council of Paris in 557, the second of Tours in 566, and the fourth of Paris in 573. His charity to the poor was boundless; he sold his own patrimony to enlarge monies available for their relief. Because he believed that no one should be left in distress, he considered the revenues of the church as the patrimony of the poor and administered them wisely for their use.
He counted the poet Venantius Fortunatus as a friend, who mentions that Felix wrote a poetic panegyric on Queen Saint Radegund and completed the cathedral begun by his predecessor. Fortunatus describes the cathedral as composed of three naves, of which the middle was supported by great pillars. A great cupola was raised in the middle. The church was covered with tin, and within was only azure, gold, mosaic paintings, pilasters, foliage, various figures, and other ornaments.
Count Canao on Vannes had killed three of his brothers and imprisoned a fourth named Maclian. After Felix was consecrated, he interceded to save the prisoner's life and regain his freedom. Even Saint Gregory of Tours testified to Felix's eminent sanctity, although he had earlier complained that Bishop Felix had unjustly accused him of nepotism toward Gregory's nephew Peter. Felix is also credited with being a peace- maker. Count Guerech II of Vannes had plundered Rennes and Vannes and repulsed the troops of King Chilperic; yet he withdrew and made peace at the request of Felix. After governing the see of Nantes for 33 years, he died. Today is the anniversary of the translation of his relics (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Hedda (Haeddi) of Winchester, OSB B (RM)
Died 705. In 676, Saint Hedda, an Anglo-Saxon monk and abbot, probably of Whitby where he had been educated, was consecrated bishop of the divided diocese of Wessex by Saint Theodore. He moved his see from Dorchester, near Oxford, to Winchester, corresponding to the emergence of Southampton-based Saxons as more powerful than the settlers of the Thames Valley. He was a great benefactor of Malmesbury and King Ina's chief advisor, who acknowledged Hedda's help in framing his laws.
Hedda ruled the diocese for about 30 years, spanning the reigns of King Centwine, Saint Caedwalla, and Ina. Little, however, is known of his episcopate except that he translated the relics of his predecessor, Saint Birinus, and was highly esteemed by his contemporaries. Saint Bede said that he was "a good and just man, who in carrying out his duties was guided rather by an inborn love of virtue than by what he had read in books."
There were many cures at his tomb; others occurred when dust taken from it was mixed with water. Hedda's relics can still be found in Winchester Cathedral. His name was added to the Roman Martyrology by Baronius in the 16th century, although his feast was already kept at Crowland Abbey and in the monasteries of Wessex (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer).
He may be shown in art ordaining Saint Guthlac of Croyland (Crowland) (Roeder).
Illidius (Allyre) of Clermont B (RM)
Died 385; feast day in Clermont is kept on June 5. Saint Gregory of Tours greatly venerated Saint Allyre, the fourth bishop of Clermont, Auvergne, France. His relics are kept with singular veneration in the ancient Benedictine abbey in the suburb of Clermont which bears his name (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Blessed Laurence Humphrey M (AC)
Born in Hampshire, England; died at Winchester, c. 1591; beatified in 1929. Laurence converted to Catholicism, for which he was hanged, drawn, and quartered at the age of 20 (Benedictines).
Maolruain (Maelruain) of Tallaght, Abbot (AC)
"Labor in piety is the most excellent work of all. The kingdom of heaven in granted to him who directs study, him who studies, and him who supports the student." --Saint Maolruain.
Saint Maolruain was the founder and abbot of the monastery of Tallaght in County Wicklow, Ireland, on land donated by King Cellach mac Dunchada of Leinster in 774. Tallaght Abbey became the mother house of the Culdee movement, which Maolruain co-founded with Saint Oengus.
The Culdee movement, intended to regularize the rules of Irish monasticism according to traditional ascetical practices, was codified in several of the saint's writings: The teaching of Mael-ruain, Rule of the Celi-Dé, and The monastery of Tallaght. These promoted both for both the ascetic and the intellectual life, promoted community prayer with repetitions of the Psalter and genuflections, insisted upon stability and enclosure, and called for clerical and monastic celibacy.
In typical Irish fashion, the Culdee movement was marked by extremism. Women were discussed as "men's guardian devils." Ascetic practices included total abstinence from alcohol. Sundays were observed like the Jewish sabbath. Vigils in cold water or with the arms extended in cruciform and self-flagellation were recommended. Fortunately or not, the movement failed because it lacked all constitutional means of making the reform permanent, although it called for tithes from the laity to support it.
Like other Irish reformers, Maolruain emphasized spiritual direction and confession of sins by establishing rules for both. Tallaght's devotional life was marked by special veneration of both its patrons: the Blessed Virgin and Saint Michael the Archangel.
Intellectual and manual work were integral to life at Tallaght. There are, Maolruain wrote, "three profitable things in the day: prayer, labor, and study, or it may be teaching or writing or sewing clothes or any profitable work that a monk may do, so that none may be idle."
Maolruain, with Oengus, was also the compiler of the martyrology named after that place. The movement led to the production of the Stowe Missal, formerly enshrined, which is a unique record of early Irish liturgical practices. A church was built in 1829 on the medieval remains of Maolruain's abbey. The locals maintained a long-standing custom of processing house-to-house, dancing jigs and drinking, on his feast, until it was suppressed by the Dominicans in 1856 (Benedictines, Farmer, Montague).
Medran and Odran (AC)
6th century. The brothers Saints Medran and Odran were disciples of Saint Kieran of Saighir. One of the brothers remained with Kieran until the end; the other founded a monastery at Muskerry and became its abbot (Benedictines).
Date unknown. Saint Merryn is the titular patron of a place in Cornwall. He may be identical with the Breton saint honored at Lanmerin and Plomelin. During the medieval period, the legendary Saint Marina was believed to have been its patron. For this reason, the Cornish St. Merryn observed the feast on July 7, whereas the Breton feast was on April 4 (Farmer).
Odo of Urgell B (RM)
Died 1122. Born into the house of the counts of Barcelona, Saint Odo trained for and undertook a military career. Then he entered the service of the Church, first as archdeacon of Urgell in the Pyrenees. After his consecration by Pope Urban II as bishop of Urgell in 1095, he demonstrated his outstanding love of the poor (Benedictines).
Palladius of Ireland B (AC)
Died 432; feast day formerly celebrated on October 7. The story of Palladius, recorded by Saint Prosper of Aquitaine, is caught up in that of Pope Saint Celestine I. Palladius, a deacon at Rome, was responsible for sending Saint Germanus of Auxerre to Britain in 429 to combat Pelagianism and in 431 was himself consecrated bishop of the Irish. He landed near Wicklow and worked in Leinster, where he encountered much opposition, but made some converts and built three churches. Acknowledging his lack of success in Ireland, he migrated to Scotland to preach to the Picts, and died soon after he arrived at Fordun, near Aberdeen (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney).
Pantaenus of Alexandria (RM)
Born in Sicily; died c. 216. Saint Pantaenus was a convert from Stoicism. He became the head of the catechetical school of Alexandria, which reached the height of its prestige under his direction. He is said to have ended his life as a missionary in India, but it is more likely that he worked in Ethiopia (Benedictines). In art, Saint Pantaenus is shown lecturing from the pulpit (Roeder).
Peregrinus, Lucian, Pompeius, & Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 120. Peregrinus, Lucian, Pompeius, Hesychius, Papius, Saturninus, Germanus, and Astius were martyred in Macedonia under Trajan. Bishop Astius of Dyrrachium (Durazzo), Macedonia, was crucified. The others were Italians who sought refuge in Macedonia against persecutions in their homeland. They were seized, because they expressed sympathy for the plight of Astius, loaded with chains, and thrown into the sea (Benedictines).
Blessed Roger Dickenson and Ralph Milner MM (AC)
Died at Winchester, England, 1591; beatified in 1929. Roger Dickenson was born at Lincoln and educated at Rheims, France, where he was ordained to the priesthood in 1583. He worked in the mission fields of England and was hanged for his proselytizing efforts. Milner, born at Stackstead, Hantshire, was a husbandman martyred for providing shelter to Fr. Dickenson (Benedictines).
Sethrida (Saethryth), OSB Abbess V (AC)
Died c. 660; feast day formerly on January 10. Saint Sethrida was the stepdaughter of King Anna of the East Angles (or Saxons?). She entered religious life at the abbey of Faremoutiers-en-Brie under it foundress Saint Burgunofara, whom she succeeded as abbess. She is half-sister to SS. Etheldreda, Sexburga, Ethelburga, and Withburga (Benedictines, Gill).
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.