St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Saints Rufina and Secunda VVMM
(Regional Memorial)
July 10



Alexander & Companions MM (RM)
(also known as Seven Brothers)

Died c. 150. Alexander is among the martyrs named in the canon of the Roman Mass, added thereto by Pope Saint Symmachus early in the 6th century, but his history is no longer clear. He was buried in the cemetery of the Jordani on the Salarian Way, one of the seven martyrs. The seven were alleged to have been the sons of Saint Felicitas, who were martyred with her at Rome under Antoninus Pius for refusing to sacrifice to the civic gods. They were then taken before four separate judges and sentenced to die in differing ways. The names of the seven are given as Felix, Philip, Martial, Vitalis, Alexander, Silvanus, and Januarius.

They were authentic martyrs, all on July 10, buried at four different cemeteries in Rome; but there is nothing to connect them with one another or with Saint Felicitas. The story appears to be a fictional adaptation of that of the mother of the Maccabees (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Amalburga (Amelberga) of Maubeuge, OSB Widow (AC)
Died c. 690. Amalburga was the niece or sister of Blessed Pepin of Landin, mother of Saints Gudula, Emebert, and Raineld, and the wife of Count Witger. They lived at Ham, near Alost, Brabant. When Witger became a Benedictine monk at Lobbes, Amalburga joined the Benedictine convent at Mauberge. She is often confused with the Amalburga below (Attwater, Benedictines).


Amalburga (Amelberga) of Münsterbilsen, OSB V (RM)
Died c. 770. Amalburga received the veil from Saint Willibrord upon entering the convent of Münsterbilsen in Flanders. Her relics were transferred to the abbey church of Saint Peter at Ghent in 1073 (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Amalburga is a Benedictine nun with a fish. She may be shown standing on King Charles Martel or with an open book and a palm branch (Roeder).


Antony (of the Caves), Abbot
Born near Chernigov, 983; died at Kiev, 1073.

Antony and his successor, Saint Theodosius, should be credited for the introduction of monasticism into Russia, where it was to play an important role in the religious life of the country until the revolution of 1917. For nearly a thousand years the monastery that they founded in Saint Petersburg (Kiev) was to be the home of monks who lived lives of prayer to God and charity to their fellow men. It was not, to be sure, the first monastery in Russia, but the others, which had been founded by Greek bishops or local princes and were modelled on the Byzantine system, had failed to take root. An indigenous form was needed, and it was this that Saint Antony provided with his community at the Caves of Kiev.

Saint Antony began his religious life as an anchorite, but about 1028 went on a pilgrimage to Mount Athos, where he lived as a hermit attached to the monastery of Esphigmenou. He remained there for several years and was reluctant to leave, but the abbot sent him back to Russia saying: The Lord has given you strength in the way of holiness and you must now lead others."

On his return Antony lived for a while in a monastery near Saint Petersburg, but finding the life there too slack he retired to a cave in a cliff above the River Dnieper. He lived on bread, water, and a few vegetables that he grew in a small plot, and any gifts that were brought to him he at once passed on to the poor.

His reputation for holiness grew quickly and among the visitors who came to see him there were many who wished to share his life. Antony, who was no respecter of persons, welcomed them all, young and old, rich and poor, noble and serf. Other caves were dug out, a large one was used as a chapel for the growing community, and later, when prince Syaslav gave them land on the hill above their caves, they built a monastery and church--the first purely Russian monastery, of the Caves of Kiev (Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra).

"Many monasteries were built with the wealth of princes and nobles," says the chronicle, "but this was the first to be built with tears and fasting and prayer." After a while Antony resigned the direction of the community and retired to Chernigov, where he founded another monastery, but towards the end of his life he returned to Saint Petersburg, where he died at the age of 90.

The work begun by Saint Antony was completed and more firmly established by Saint Theodosius, and from Saint Petersburg its influence was destined to spread throughout the whole of Russia (Attwater, Encyclopedia).


Apollonius of Sardis M (RM)
Died early 4th century. Although Apollonius was a native of Sardis in Lydia, Asia Minor, he was scourged and crucified in Iconium (Benedictines). In art, Saint Apollonius is depicted scourged and crucified. Sometimes he is represented as a deacon on a funeral pyre (Roeder).


Bianor and Sylvanus MM (RM)
4th century. The martyrdom of Saints Bianor and Sylvanus inspired a Greek legend, but their extant acta are untrustworthy. They were beheaded in Pisidia, Asia Minor (Benedictines).


Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions MM (AC)
Died 1860; beatified in 1926. These rather late martyrs suffered in Damascus, Syria. This was another turbulent time in the Middle East. The Druz had risen against the Christians in Lebanon. Emmanuel Ruiz, the Spanish-born guardian of the Franciscan friary in Damascus, seven of his brothers, and three Maronite laymen were offered the choice of converting to Islam or death. They chose death and were slain in the friary (Benedictines).


Etto of Fescau, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Hetto of Dompierre)

Died c. 670. Saint Etto is said to have been a native of Ireland, who went to France with Saint Fursey. He is known, however, for his evangelistic efforts in Belgium, where he used Saint Peter's Abbey at Fescan as his headquarters. Until recently, his festival was solemnly kept with a procession of his relics with a mounted escort. In 1920, during the Irish Troubles, Cardinal Mercier of Belgium sent a letter to the Irish bishops expressing Belgium's gratitude for Etto's missionary efforts (Benedictines, Montague). In art, Saint Etto is a bishop surrounded by cattle. He is venerated in Belgium (Roeder).


Lantfrid, Waltram, and Elilantus, OSB (AC)
Died after 770. These three brothers founded the Benedikbeuren in Bavaria, Germany. Saint Lantfrid, the first abbot, was still alive in 770; at his death his brothers succeeded him in turn (Benedictines).


Leontius, Maurice, Daniel & Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 329. A group of 45 Armenians who were martyred at Nicopolis under Emperor Licinius. They were among the last of a great persecution (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Paschasius (Pasquier) of Nantes B (AC)
Died c. 680. Bishop Paschasius of Nantes founded Aindre Abbey and installed Saint Hermenland of Fontenelle as its first abbot (Benedictines).


Blessed Peter Tu M (AC)
Born in Tonkin (Vietnam); died at Annam, 1840; beatified in 1900. Peter was a native catechist martyred for the faith (Benedictines).


Peter of Perugia, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born near Perugia, Italy; died 1007. Peter Vincioli was born into the family of the counts of Agello. He was the abbot-founder of Saint Peter's Abbey at Perugia, where he has an altar dedicated to him in the abbey church (Benedictines). In art, Saint Peter Vincoli is portrayed as a Benedictine holding a book inscribed Sanctus Petrus Pugin hui mon abbas prim et repator etc. (Roeder).


Rufina and Secunda VV MM (RM)
Died 257. Asterius, a Roman senator, had two daughters, Rufina and Secunda. He found for them fiances, Armentarius and Verinus, and since all four betrothed were Christians, the matches seemed perfect.

Soon, however, the Emperor Valerian began to persecute the church and Armentarius and Verinus renounced Christianity. Neither girl would do this. Both decided to escape to Etruria, but on their way they were captured and brought before a prefect named Junius Donatus.

Junius Donatus decided on a cruel torment: he would scourge Rufina while her sister watched. As the scourging began, Secunda shouted, "Why are you honoring my sister in this way and dishonoring me! Please scourge us both at the same time. We both declare that Jesus Christ is God." Realizing that neither girl would recant, Junius Donatus had them beheaded.

A pagan lady named Plautilla buried their bodies outside Rome on the Via Aurelia in a spot known as the Black Forest. It was later renamed the White Forest because of their sacred bones, and the church of Sante Rufina e Secunda was built in their honor in Rome. While they were indeed two Roman maidens martyred under Valerian and buried at Santa Rufina on the Aurelian Way, the above acta are apocryphal (Bentley, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

In art, Saints Rufina and Secunda are represented as two maidens floating in the Tiber River with weights attached to their necks (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.