Saint Camillus de Lellis
Blessed Boniface of Savoy, O. Cart. B (AC)
Died 1270; cultus confirmed in 1838; feast day formerly on March 13. Boniface was the son of Count Thomas of Savoy. He entered the Grande Chartreuse as a youth, became a Carthusian monk and then prior of Mantua. He served seven years as administrator of the diocese of Belley (1234-41), before serving as bishop of Valence. In 1241, Boniface was elected archbishop of Canterbury through the influence of his niece, Eleanor, wife of King Henry III of England, but did not enter his see until 1244. His appointment and attempts to reform the see were very unpopular. He tried to effect economies in the heavily debt-ridden see met but was met with strenuous opposition, particularly from the suffragans of the various sees he attempted to visit. He excommunicated the bishop of London and the clergy of Saint Bartholomew's, and while an appeal to Rome upheld his visitation rights he was forced to rescind his excommunications, and his visitations had restrictions placed upon them. He acted as regent for Henry while the king absent from the country, accompanied him on a diplomatic mission to France, and successfully negotiated a peaceful solution to difficulties over the succession in his native Savoy. He died en route to a crusade with Edward I at the castle of Sainte- Hélène des Millières in Savoy and was buried at Hautecombe (Benedictines, Delaney).
Camillus de Lellis, Priest (RM)
Born at Bucchianico, Abruzzi, Italy, 1550; died 1614; canonized in 1746; feast day formerly July 18. To Saint Camillus de Lellis the only people that mattered were the sick, for in serving them he was serving God. With other people he was hard, brusque and obstinate, but with the sick he was gentle and loving. In his eyes charity was the only thing that made life worth living, the surest way of bringing man closer to God, the only true life-blood of the Church; charity that Saint Paul had said was greater even than faith and hope. What makes the life of Saint Camillus all the more amazing is that he himself suffered from a disease of the feet and legs that forced him to leave the Capuchins.
Once a cardinal asked to see him while he was busy tending the sick. "His Excellency will have to excuse me," said Camillus. "For the moment I am with Our Lord. I will see His Excellency when I have finished." To another cardinal, who was a member of the administrative council for the hospitals in Rome, he said: "Monsignor, if some of my poor people suffer from hunger or die because of this shortage of food, I swear to God that I will accuse you in front of his mighty Judgment Seat."
Camillus made sweeping reforms in the hospitals that were nothing short of revolutionary. His ideas were few and simple, but they were full of common sense and nobility of heart. At a time when medicine was backward, when attendants and orderlies were recruited from among hardened criminals and chaplains and almoners from among priests who had been suspended from their regular duties.
The filth and squalor that had been a standard feature of hospitals were eliminated, and he himself would often get down on his knees and scrub the floor. New arrivals were washed, their beds were made regularly, the dirty linens were changed, wounds were dressed carefully, and for the first time the patients were separated into different wards according to the nature of their maladies.
From the moment of entry, each patient was given personal attention. Day and night, Camillus would go from bed to bed, listening to complaints, watching over the dying, giving Communion and Extreme Unction, making sure that a person was properly cured before being allowed to leave, and seeing to it that the food served was of good quality and properly cooked.
If the administration was slow in giving him the supplies that he needed, he would go out on foot or with a little donkey and beg from door to door. "I do not think," he said, "that in the whole world there is a field of flowers whose scent could be sweeter to me than is the small of these hospitals." "These holy places," as he once called the hospital, were also the best places to convert souls to God.
But his charity was not confined within the walls of the hospitals. He sought out the destitute who lived on the Quirinal or under the arches of the Coliseum. He visited the sick in their homes and organized a soup kitchen on the Piazza Maddalena.
Nor did he confine himself to Rome, for he and his companions, the Camillans, extended their activities to Milan, Genoa, Florence, Mantua, Messina, Palermo, to the battlefields of Hungary where the Austrian and Italian armies were fighting against the Turks (1595- 1601), travelling on foot in shabby and travel-stained clothes, indifferent to the bitter cold of winter the scorching heat of summer. "The sun is one of God's creatures," he said, "and will do me no more harm than God allows him to."
Like many other saints, this man of genius had a wild and reckless youth before discovering his vocation. His mother was nearly 60 when he was born. His father was a minor nobleman who had been a captain in the army of Charles V. At the age of 17, the 6'6" youth went with his father to fight in the service of Venice against the Turks, but at the last moment he was prevented from joining his troops by an ulcerous growth in his right leg, a painful, ugly problem that was to remain with him throughout his life.
After another attempt to serve in the Venetian forces, he went in 1571 to the hospital of Saint James (San Giacomo) in Rome for incurables as a patient and servant, but was soon dismissed. "This young man is incorrigible, and completely unsuited to be an infirmarian," said the report on him; but in fact he returned there several times, for the ulcer in his leg kept opening, and the only way in which he could have it attended to was by working in the hospital.
He entered the service of Spain, but the expedition against Tunis for which he enlisted was called off and the fleet was taken out of commission. Depressed, demoralized, and out of work, Camillus drifted about until he came to Naples where he fell into the habit of compulsive gambling. His few possessions--his sword, his cloak, his shirt--were soon lost, and he was reduced to a state of penury in the fall of 1574.
For a while he lived by begging alms in church doors. Chastened by his penury and remembering a vow he had once made in a fit of remorse to join the Franciscans, Camillus contracted a job as a laborer on some Capuchins buildings in Manfredonia. On Candlemas Day, when he was 25, he entered the novitiate of Capuchins but could not be professed because of his leg. He was also denied by the Franciscan Recollects.
Camillus returned to and was admitted to the hospital of Saint James, where he found his true vocation. Abandoning his attempts to become a Franciscan, at which he had tried and failed four times, he devoted himself to remedying the appalling conditions he found there. Two other members of the staff, Bernardino Norcino, a storeman, and Curtio Lodi, a steward, joined him to form the nucleus of the Camillans. Encouraged by Saint Philip Neri, he resigned from Saint James and in 1584 was ordained a priest by the exiled Thomas Goldwell of Saint Asaph, the last English bishop of the old hierarchy. He was given an annuity by Fermo Calvi, a gentleman of Rome. Camillus decided to leave Saint James, against the advice of his confessor, Philip Neri.
After moving two or three times, he and his companions settled down in an establishment in the street called Botteghe Oscure. The short rules he prescribed for his order required going daily to the hospital of the Holy Ghost to serve.
Gradually the seed that he planted grew into a mighty tree. On March 18, 1586, Pope Sixtus V approved his congregation and in the same year the order received its distinctive habit--a black cloak with a red cross on the right shoulder. Soon afterwards they were given the hospice of the Magdalen near the Pantheon, and on September 21, 1591, Pope Gregory XIV raised them to the rank of an order, that of the "Ministers of the Sick."
In 1588, he was invited to Naples, and with 12 companions founded a new house. Galleys holding plague victims were forbidden to dock, and Camillus and his members would embark to minister to the sick. Two brothers died, becoming the first martyrs of this order.
Camillus himself was the first Prefect General of the order, which spread so rapidly that by 1607, seven years before his death, it had eight hospitals, 15 houses, and over 300 members; and already over 170 members had already died while carrying out their duties. To the three great vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, the Camillans added a fourth: "O Lord, I promise to serve the sick, who are Your sons and my brothers, all the days of my life, with all possible charity"
By 1591, Camillus was suffering several other painful diseases in addition to his ulcerous leg, but he refused to be waited upon. He resigned as superior in 1607. He assisted at the general chapter in 1613 and visited the houses with the new superior general. In Genoa, he became very ill, but recovered and continued the visitation. Camillus suffered a relapse and received the last sacraments from Cardinal Ginnasi. He had revolutionized nursing, insisting upon fresh air, suitable diets, isolation of infectious patients, and spiritual assistance to the dying, for which reason the order was also called "the Fathers of a Good Dying" or "Agonizantes" (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, White).
In art, Saint Camillus is a layman tending the sick (Roeder). He was declared the patron of the sick and their nurses by Leo XIII (Benedictines).
Blessed Caspar de Bono, O. Minim. (AC)
Born in Valencia, Spain, in 1530; died 1604; beatified in 1786. Caspar was a silk merchant, then a trooper, and finally a Minim friar. After his ordination in 1561, he was twice appointed corrector provincial of the Spanish province of the order (Benedictines).
Cyrus of Carthage B (RM)
Date unknown. This saint may have been the result of a confusion or copyist's error. Saint Possidius, who wrote the vita of Saint Augustine of Hippo, reports that the Carthaginian bishop delivered a sermon on the feast of Saint Cyrus. More likely, this should have been Saint Cyprian (Benedictines).
Deusdedit of Canterbury, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Frithona)
Died October 28 (or July 14), 664; feast day formerly on January 14. Deusdedit was a South Saxon, who became the first Anglo-Saxon primate when he succeeded Saint Honorius as archbishop of Canterbury in 653. He helped to build the monastery of Medehamstede (Petersborough) in 657, and founded the convent on Thanet Island. He consecrated Damian bishop of Rochester. Nothing further is known of him except that he died during the great pestilence, on the same day as King Erconbert of Kent, and was buried in the monastery church of Saints Peter and Paul (later Saint Augustine's) in Canterbury. His shrine remained there until the Reformation (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
Felix of Como B (RM)
Died c. 390. Saint Felix is said to have been the first bishop of Como, He was an intimate friend of Saint Ambrose (Benedictines).
Heraclas of Alexandria B (RM)
Born in Egypt c. 180; died 247. Heraclas and his brother Saint Plutarch were the first students at Origen's catechetical school in Alexandria. There they were converted to Christianity by their master. Heraclias became Origen's assistant, was ordained, and succeeded Origen as head of the school when Bishop Demetrius of Alexandria condemned Origen in 231. Heraclias succeeded Demetrius as bishop of Alexandria that same year. Thinking it was safe to return, Origen went back to Alexandria, was excommunicated by his former disciple, and was driven from the city (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Humbert of Romans, OP (PC)
Born at Romans, Dauphiné, France, in 1193; died there in 1277.
The contribution of Humbert of the Romans to Dominican life can never be overestimated. While he has never been formally beatified, he has been given the popular title of "blessed" since his death. His name is associated with the foundation of the order and the clarification of its rule and constitutions, which reveals the sure touch of his saintly and logical mind.
Humbert came from a large family, several of whom became religious; one of them was a Carthusian. He met the Dominicans at the University of Paris, where he was teaching on the faculty of arts and studying theology in 1224.
There is a charming story concerning his choice of a vocation to the Dominicans. He was kneeling one day in the cathedral of Notre Dame during the Office of the Dead being chanted by the canons. His mind kept wandering to the choice of a vocation, for his family had been friendly with the Carthusians for many years, and his brother had already joined them.
As he debated with himself, an old priest wandered down from the choir and engaged him in quiet conversation. He asked Humbert where he came from, and Humbert replied that he was a parishioner. The old priest regarded him shrewdly and said, "Do you remember what you promised at your baptism--to renounce the devil and all his pomps? Why don't you become a Friar Preacher?"
Humbert could hardly keep his mind off the priest's words, and at the responsory for the lesson, "Where shall I fly if not to You?," he decided once and for all that he would become a friar. He went to consult with his professor of theology, Hugh of Saint Cher, who was planning to become a Dominican himself as soon as he could arrange his affairs. On the feast of Saint Andrew, Humbert knelt at the feet of Blessed Jordan of Saxony and asked for the habit of the Dominicans.
The first task of the new brother was teaching at Lyons. His profound knowledge of Scripture recommended him for the highest teaching posts in the order. In 1240, when he was elected provincial of Lombardy, he began his administrative career.
From that time until his death, there was scarcely an event of any importance to the order in which he did not play a part. As provincial of France, from 1244 to 1254, he worked steadily to stabilize relations of the order and the university, perhaps foreseeing that there would one day be a showdown between the two great forces there. He was offered the patriarchate of Jerusalem, which he refused, and at the election of Gregory IX he received nearly enough votes to be elected pope.
Humbert was a careful canonist, and he carried around a master copy of the Dominican Constitutions in order that a copy could be made in the various houses. In his time the order had begun to feel the need for uniformity more than ever before, for its members were spreading to the far parts of the earth, and local regulations differed.
This was nowhere more clearly seen than in the liturgy, which differed not only with each diocese but with each basilica. When the brethren of various provinces got together for a general chapter, it was harrowing to try to chant the office. Humbert, along with several others, was appointed to begin work on a unification of the liturgy, even before he became master general in 1254. After his election as the fifth master general of the order, he intensified his efforts in this behalf.
Most of the regulations of the Dominican liturgy that have come down to us are in the words of Humbert. His principal contribution appears to be the unification of the liturgy. He set up a norm and insisted that all the varying elements conform to it, apologizing to the brethren meekly for the fact that some of them would be disappointed in the forms chosen ("since one cannot please everyone").
Many distinguishing features of the Dominican Mass can trace their definite form to this talented and sincere man who devoted his energies to the quiet task of building a structure that would wear through the centuries.
The dignity and clarity of the Dominican Constitutions likewise owe a debt to this man who wrote so clearly and unequivocally of the spirit that Dominic had left to his children, and which was in Humbert's day just being recorded for posterity. Humbert was also successful in the development of the foreign missions, and in the definitive planning of the studies of the Dominicans (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Idus of Leinster B (AC)
5th century. Saint Idus was a disciple of Saint Patrick, by whom he was baptized. Patrick appointed him bishop of Alt-Fadha in Leinster. He is often invoked in the old Irish prayer in verse which bears the name of Saint Moling (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Justus of Rome M (RM)
One of the alleged sons of Saint Symphorosa (Benedictines).
Blessed Kateri Takewitha (AC)
Born in Osserneon (Auriesville), New York, United States, in 1656; died at Caughnawaga, Canada, on April 17, 1680; declared venerable by Pope Pius XII; beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II; feast day formerly April 17; Memorial in the U.S.
Kateri was the daughter of a Christian Algonquin woman who was captured by Iroquois and married to a pagan Mohawk chieftain. Kateri was orphaned when her family died during a smallpox epidemic. The disease also left her with a pocked face and impaired eyesight, yet she had an inner vision that was 20-20.
When Kateri was converted and baptized in 1676 by Father Jacques de Lamberville, a Jesuit missionary, she was shunned by her relatives and became the subject of abuse to the point that she afraid for her life due to their disapproval of her new religion. She ran away from the village in 1677 and travelled through 200 miles of wilderness to the Christian Indian village of Sault-Sainte-Marie near Montreal, Canada.
Kateri made her First Communion on Christmas that year and took a vow of chastity in 1679. She became known for her spirituality and austere lifestyle, and miracles were attributed to her. She was called the "Lily of the Mohawks."
After her death at Caughnawaga, Canada, her grave became a pilgrimage site and place of many miracles for Christian Native Americans and French colonists. She was the first Native American proposed for canonization (Delaney, White).
Libert (Lisbert) of Saint-Trond, OSB M (AC)
Born at Malines; died 783. Count Libert of Adone was baptized and educated by Saint Rumoldus, from whom he received the Benedictine habit. Afterwards he migrated to the abbey of Saint-Trond, where he was martyred by invading barbarians (Benedictines). In art, Saint Libert is portrayed by Joan Galle as a young knight with a laurel wreath even though he was actually a Benedictine monk. He is venerated at Malines (Roeder).
Marcellinus of Oldensee (RM)
(also known as Marchelm, Marculf)
Died at Oldensee (Oldenzeel), c. 762. Anglo-Saxon monk who followed Saint Willibrord to the Netherlands. Together with Saint Lebuin, he preached the Gospel to the people of Over-Yssel. In 738, he accompanied Saint Boniface to Rome (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). Saint Marcellinus is portrayed in art in a chasuble with a book and pencase. At times there may be two poor men kneeling before him, or he may be shown preaching with Saint Lebuin (Roeder). He is venerated at Over-Yssel (Holland) and the Oldensee but his relics rest at Deventer (Roeder).
Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain M
Born on Naxos, c. 1748; died on Mount Athos, July 14, 1809; canonized by the Orthodox Church in 1955.
In 1775, Nicodemus, a 26-year-old student, was forced by Turkish persecutors to flee from Smyrna. He joined a Dionysiou Monastery on Mount Athos, which Greeks call the 'Holy Mountain,' and stayed there for the rest of his life. Nicodemus was one of the two best- known Greek religious writers of his age, a canonist, hagiographer, liturgist, ascetic, and mystic.
He found inspiration in the writings of western Catholic Christians as well as in those of his own Orthodox Church. He translated into Greek the Spi ritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, upon which he modelled a volume of meditations, and the Spiritual Combat of Lorenzo Scupoli. He saw the rules of the church as a means of guiding men and women in the right direction, the way a rudder guides a ship, so he made a collection of Greek church laws that he called the Pidalion, which in Greek means 'rudder.'
His greatest work, compiled in collaboration with Saint Macarius of Corinth (who had been driven from his diocese by the Turks), was to edit and publish a book on mysticism and prayer, the Philokalia (which means 'Love of what is beautiful'), which was first printed in Venice in 1782. The book concerns itself above all with a prayer renowned in Greek Christendom, the so- called 'Jesus-prayer':
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy upon me.
The Philokalia is a collection of passages from the spiritual writings of the Greek fathers and ascetics, which has had a deep and lasting influence among Eastern Orthodox Christians. An Athonite abbot has written that "Almost all the monks of the Holy Mountain regard Saint Nicodemus as their chief elder and spiritual guide." Two volumes of extracts from the Russian version of the Philokalia were published in English in 1951 and 1954 (Attwater, Bentley).
Optatian of Brescia B (RM)
Died c. 505. Bishop of Brescia c. 451 to 505 (Benedictines).
Phocas of Sinope BM (RM)
Died 117. Saint Phocas, listed as a martyr under Trajan, was the bishop of Sinope on the Black Sea. He appears to be a legendary figure derived from the life of Saint Phocas the Gardener whose feast day is September 22 (Attwater, Benedictines). In art, Saint Phocas is an Oriental layman holding a shovel or among garden produce. At times he may be shown (1) with a flowering pink (Smyrna or Saint Phocas Pink) or (2) with a sword. He should not be confused with Saint Fiacre, who is always an ecclesiastic. Phocas and his shovel can be seen on the mosaics of Saint Mark's in Venice (Roeder). Phocas is the patron of gardeners and is venerated at Smyrna (Roeder).
Procopius of Sazaba, OSB Abbot (RM)
Born in Bohemia; died March 25, 1053; canonized by Pope Innocent III in 1204; feast day formerly July 4. Procopius studied in Prague where he was also ordained. He became a canon, was a hermit for a time, and then was founding abbot of the Basilian abbey of Sazaba in Prague. Procopius is one of the patrons of Czechoslovakia (Benedictines, Delaney). In art, Saint Procopius lets the devil plough for him. He may be portrayed (1) as an abbot with a book and discipline, devil at his feet; (2) with a stag (or hind) near him; (3) with SS Adelbert, Ludmilla, and Vitus (patrons of Prague); or (4) as a hermit with a skull and a girdle of leaves (Roeder). This Russian icon shows Saint Procopius together with Nicetas, and Eustathius.
Blessed Richard Langhorne M (AC)
Born in Bedfordshire, England; died 1679; beatified in 1929. Richard Langhorne read law at the Inner Temple and was called to the bar in 1654. He was executed at Tyburn for alleged complicity in the 'Popish Plot' (Benedictines).
Ulric of Zell, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Ulric of Cluny)
Born in Regensburg, Germany, 1018; died 1093. As a boy, Ulric acted as a page to Empress Agnes. Wishing to pursue a religious life, he was received by his uncle Notker, the bishop of Freising. After being ordained to the diaconate, he was appointed archdeacon and provost of the cathedral. He regulated divine worship and the confessional. Ulric was extremely generous, using his fortune to help those in distress.
When he returned from a pilgrimage to Rome and Jerusalem, he found his offices had been filled by another. He decided to become a monk, and he went to Cluny, where, in 1052, he received the habit from Saint Hugh. He was ordained a priest, and after acting as confessor at Cluny for a time, he became chaplain to the nuns at Marcigny. The honor bestowed on him by these offices caused jealousy among some of the brothers. He was also troubled by terrible headaches, and eventually he lost his sight in one eye.
He returned to Cluny and was later sent to open a priory on the Rüggersberg. There he became involved in a dispute with the bishop of Lausanne, who was supporting Emperor Henry IV against the Holy See. As a result, he was called back to Cluny and asked to establish a new monastery at Grueningen near Breisach. Unhappy with the location, he instead founded the monastery in Zell in the Black Forest of Germany.
Backed by the bishop of Basel, Ulric founded a convent of nuns as well at Bollschweil. There he reputedly cured a girl of cancer. A great concern to him was that devotion be regulated among the monks, he explained that he was weeping for the sins of his fellow monks. To remedy this, while acting as the novice master, he wrote the three books of the constitutions of the Abbey of Cluny--the Cluniac Customary, for the direction of the monastery. He was blind for the last two years of his life (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, White).
William of Breteuil, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1130. Saint William restored Breteuil Monastery, in the diocese of Beauvais, during his abbacy. It had been ruined during the Norman invasions (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.