Saint Mary Magdalene
Blessed Augustine Fangi, OP (AC)
Born at Biella, Italy, 1430; died in Venice, 1493; beatified in 1872. Miracles around the tomb of Augustine of Biella led to his beatification in 1878, after he had long been forgotten by everyone, except the residents of the little town at the foot of the Alps where he lived. His is another example of a life noted for piety and regularity, but quite unremarkable for unusual events or venturesome projects.
Augustine's father was a member of the Fangi family, who were wealthy and noble, and, because of this, he had planned a secular career for his son. But when the Dominicans came to Biella, his plans were changed, for Augustine was completely charmed by their way of life and begged to be admitted. He entered, while quite young, the new convent that the Dominicans had built at Biella.
Augustine's had a reputation for penance, even at a time when people were not as squeamish as they are today. Not only did he inflict harsh penances upon himself, he also bore with patience whatever pain and annoyance life granted him gratuitously. At one time he was required to undergo a surgical operation without, of course, any anaesthetic. He did so without making the slightest outcry. In fact, he said afterwards that his mind was so intensely focused on something else that he hardly noticed what was being done to him. His mind was on that "something else" most of the time, for he prayed continually.
In 1464, Augustine was made prior at Soncino. Several of his best known miracles were performed there. At one time, a deformed child, who had died without baptism, was restored to life, by Augustine's prayer, long enough to be baptized. At another time, when he was passing down the street, he met a little boy who was crying bitterly, because he had broken a jug of wine. Augustine gathered up the shards and put them back together again. Then, with a prayer, he refilled the jug and handed it back to the startled child. Still another time, through his intercession, a woman was delivered from possession of five devils.
Augustine spent his last ten years in the convent in Venice, and he died there on the Feast of Saint Mary Magdalene. He was buried in a damp place. Forty years later, on the occasion of some repairs to the church, his coffin, found floating on water, was opened. His body and habit were still intact. This did much to promote interest in his cause. Nevertheless, it was more than three centuries before he was finally beatified (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Cyril of Antioch B (RM)
Died c. 300. Saint Cyril succeeded Timaeus as patriarch of Antioch in 280. Although he was persecuted by Diocletion, he appears to have died in peace (Benedictines).
Dabius (Davius) of Scotland (AC)
Date unknown. The Irish priest Dabius preached effectively in his homeland before migrating to Albany, Scotland. He is the titular patron of several churches, including the parish of Domnach Cluana in the County Down, and of Kippau in the Highlands. He may be identical with Saint Movean (Biteus), who was a disciple of Saint Patrick (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Joseph of Palestine (RM)
Died c. 356. Saint Joseph was a Jew, who belonged to the Biblical school of Tiberias, one of several established by the Jews following the destruction of the Temple. The one at Tiberias produced Massoretic doctors, who are famous for the invention of the vowel points to preserve the pronunciation of written Hebrew. After prolonged interior resistance, he became a Christian and was much favored by Emperor Constantine, who bestowed on him the title of comes (count). He devoted himself to building churches and spreading the Gospel in the Holy Land. He hosted Saint Eusebius of Vercelli, Saint Epiphanius, and others (Benedictines).
Mary Magdalene (RM)
1st century; feast of her translation, especially in the Eastern Church, is May 4. Saint Mary Magdalene, the "Apostle to the Apostles," was the first to encounter the Risen Jesus. Just when it seems the real Mary Magdalene is revealed in Scripture, there are questions. She is further obscured by the legends that surround her following the Resurrection. There is a considerable difference of opinion, particularly between the exegetes of the East and the West as to the identity of Mary Magdalene.
Largely due to the influence of Saint Gregory the Great's writings, the Western liturgies have identified her with the unnamed sinner (Luke 7:36ff; cf. Luke 8:2) and Mary of Bethany, the sister of SS. Lazarus and Martha (see John 11). There is also a third Mary, who came from Magdala on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee near Tiberias in Judea. This is the woman from whom Jesus "had cast out seven devils" (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). She was one of the women present at Calvary and was the first to witness the Resurrection, which Jesus told her to announce to the disciples.
In the opinion of the Eastern liturgists (and the venerable opinion of Saint Ambrose), there are three different people, and it certainly seems doubtful that Mary of Bethany and Mary the Sinner were the same person. Or does it?
Modern scholars do not believe they are the same woman because there is the question of the two different origins (Bethany and Magdala). But it has been suggested that if they are identical, it would be easier to explain why three adults siblings were living together without their spouses. If Mary of Bethany is the sinful woman (assumed to be a prostitute or whore) and her brother and sister took her in after she repented, they would be considered tainted.
Nevertheless, the Eastern tradition of the repentant woman, Mary of Bethany, and Mary Magdalene being three different women has been adopted in the revised Roman calendar of 1969.
However, it is very probable that after the repentance of Mary the Sinner, she should have followed Jesus to the last and have been present at the Crucifixion. Such, at any rate, is the belief of the many faithful who have venerated her as the classic example of the repentant woman who was forgiven by Jesus and who thereafter followed and served him.
Mary Magdalene, the woman exorcised of seven devils, ministered to the Lord in Galilee (Luke 8:2) and was among the women at the Crucifixion (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25). With Joanna and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, she discovered the empty tomb and heard the angelic announcement of the resurrection of Christ (Matt. 28:1ff; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-10). She was the first person to see Christ later that same day (Matt. 28:9; Mark 16:9), to which Saint John (20:1-18) adds the moving account that the Master gave her a message to deliver to the brethren.
According to an ancient Eastern tradition, Mary Magdalene accompanied John and the Blessed Virgin to Ephesus, where she died and was buried. One of the tales of the Middle Ages was that she was betrothed to Saint John the Evangelist when Jesus called him, and that in anger "gave herself to all delight." Jesus, not wishing to damn her when the cause of her behavior was his calling of Saint John, converted her to penance.
A later pious legend in the West tells of her travelling to Provence, France, with Martha, Lazarus, and others to evangelize Gaul. These sources hold that she spent the last 30 years of her life in a cavern of La Sainte-Baume in the Maritime Alps, and was miraculously transported just before her death to the Chapel of Saint-Maximin, from whom she received the last sacraments and by whom she was buried at Aix.
Her relics have been claimed by various places at various times, but none of the stories can be authenticated. Saint Willibald is said to have seen her tomb in Ephesus in the 8th century. Vézelay (France) has claimed her relics since the 11th century (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, White).
In art, Mary Magdalene's emblem is a jar of ointment and she always has long hair. Among the scenes that may be portrayed, she is shown (1) wiping Christ's feet at the house of Simon; (2) anointing Him at Bethany; (3) with Martha [Caravaggio's painting]; (4) with Martha at the raising of Lazarus from the dead; (5) clinging to the foot of the Cross; (6) kissing or anointing Christ's feet at the Lamentation; (7) with the other two Marys at the tomb; (8) at His feet at Noli me Tangere (do not touch me) [view Fra Angelico's, Correggio's or Alonso Cani's versions]; (9) casting aside her jewels in the presence of Christ; (10) wringing her hands and spurning jewels; (11) weeping; (12) penitent in the desert with long hair and an ointment jar; (13) with Saint Mary of Egypt; (14) old and haggard, clad only in her long hair; (15) uplifted by angels at the canonical hours; or (16) in various scenes of shipwreck with Martha and Lazarus on their way to Marseilles (Roeder).
Because Mary Magdalene is described as weeping at Jesus' tomb on Easter Sunday, she is often portrayed in art as weeping, or with eyes red from having wept. This is the source of the English word "maudlin," meaning "effusively or tearfully sentimental." There is a Magdalene College at Oxford and a Magdalene College at Cambridge (different spelling), both pronounced "Maudlin."
Saint Mary Magdalene is especially venerated in Marseilles, Saint Maximin le Sainte-Baume, and Vézelay, France (Roeder). She is the patron of repentant sinners and of the contemplative life (Farmer).
Meneleus of Ménat, OSB Abbot (RM)
(also known as Menele, Mauvier)
Born at Anjou, France; died c. 720. Saint Meneleus, whose family was closely allied to Emperor Charlemagne, always wanted to serve Christ whole- heartedly. When he reached his majority, his parents forced him to accept a ring sent to him by a great lord, named Baronte, as a token of his betrothal to the lord's daughter. Wanting only to serve God, he fled to Auvergne where he became a monk of Corméry-en-Velay Abbey near Puy, probably at the hands of Saint Chaffre. Here Menelaus lived for seven years under Abbot Saint Eudo. Thereafter, he became the abbot-restorer of the monastery of Ménat near Clermont. Menelaus is highly venerated in Auvergne and Anjou (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Movean (Biteus) of Inis-Coosery Abbot (AC)
Date unknown. Movean was a disciple of Saint Patrick and abbot of Inis-Coosery in County Down. He seems to have also worked in Perthshire, where he is thought to have died as a hermit (Benedictines).
Pancharius of Besançon M (AC)
Died c. 356. Bishop Pancharius of Besançon was much persecuted by the officials of the Arian Emperor Constantius (Benedictines).
Philip Evans, SJ, and John Lloyd, Priests MM (RM)
Died at Cardiff, Wales, on July 22, 1679; beatified in 1929; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as two of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Philip Evans was born in Monmouthshire, Wales, in 1645, and educated at Saint-Omer. He joined the Society of Jesus when he was 20 and was ordained at Liège, Belgium, in 1675. Father Philip was sent back to Wales to minister to the Catholics in the southern part of the country. For several years he zealously ministered to his flock unmolested, but the civil authorities turned a blind eye until November 1678. Although John Arnold, a justice of the peace and hunter of priests, offered a 200 pound bounty for his arrest, Father Evans refused to leave his flock untended.
Meanwhile, John Lloyd, a native of Breconshire (Brecknockshire), Wales, was educated at Ghent, Belgium, and Valladolid, Spain, where he was ordained in 1653. The following year he returned to Wales and ministered to his fellow countrymen for 24 years.
In December 1678, Father Evans was arrested at the home of Christopher Turberville at Sker, Glamorgan. When he refused to take the Oath of Supremacy, he was imprisoned alone in Cardiff Castle, until he was joined several weeks later by John Lloyd, who was arrested at Penllyn, Glamorgan. They had both been arrested in the hysteria of the Titus Oates plot to kill King Charles II.
After five months, the two priests were brought to trial, but when no evidence of their complicity could be produced, they were charged with being priests, which was illegal in the realm. Few were willing to serve as witnesses against them. Finally, they were convicted on the evidence of two poor women who were suborned to say that they had seen Father Evans celebrating Mass.
Following the trial they were returned to prison, where they were allowed a great deal of liberty- -so much liberty that when an official came to tell them they were be executed the following day, Father Evans was playing tennis and would not return to his cell until he had finished it. Father Evans spent his remaining hours playing the harp and talking to his well-wishers who came to visit them. It almost seems as though the local people were reluctant to have treated them in such an uncharitable manner.
They were executed on Gallows Field (at the northeastern end of what is now Richmond Road). Father Evans addressed the onlookers in Welsh and English and, turning to his fellow martyr, said: "Adieu, Mr. Lloyd, though for a little time, for we shall shortly meet again." After Evans death, Father Lloyd made only a brief speech because, as he said, "I never was a good speaker in my life" (Benedictines, Delaney, Walsh).
Plato of Ancyra M (RM)
Died c. 306. Saint Plato, brother of Saint Antiochus, was a rich young man, who was martyred at Ancyra (Ankara) in Galatia. He is held in high veneration in the East (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Syntyche of Philippi (RM)
1st century. Saint Syntyche was a fellow-worker of Saint Paul in spreading the Gospel. She is mentioned by Saint Paul (Philippians 4:2-3) as being a female member of the Church at Philippi and one of those "whose names are in the book of life" (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Theophilus of Cyprus M (RM)
Died 789. Theophilus, an officer of the imperial forces, was captured by the invading Saracens at Cyprus when he was stationed there. As admiral of the Christian fleet, he refused to flee when the battle went against him. After a year's imprisonment, he was martyred for refusing to deny his faith (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Wandregisilus (Wandrille, Vandrille), OSB Abbot (RM)
Born near Verdun about 600, France; died 668. Saint Wandrille was born into a noble family related to Blessed Pepin of Landen and raised at the Austrasian court. He was a courtier of King Dagobert of Austrasia, where he had among his fellows seven or eight future saints. In spite of his desire for the monastic life, Wandrille was appointed count of the palace and married out of deference to his parents. About 628, by mutual agreement, he separated from his wife. She became a nun and he became a monk at the Benedictine abbey of Montfauçon in Champagne under Saint Balderic (Baudry).
A few months later he left to become a hermit at Saint-Ursanne in the Jura Mountains, where lived in a log hut for about five years. Then Wandrille went to Bobbio. After a pilgrimage to Rome, in 637, he entered Romain-Moûtier Abbey on the Isere, where he spent the next decade and where he was ordained by Saint Ouen of Rouen.
He left Romain-Moûtier to found the famous abbey of Fontenelle in Normandy, which he developed into a missionary and spiritual center, including a school of arts and crafts. He became involved in helping and preaching to the inhabitants of the surrounding area. The abbey- church, which came to be called Saint-Wandrille, was consecrated in 657. Soon Fontenelle had a community of over 300 monks, which adopted the Rule of Saint Benedict after his death.
Wandrille's relics were moved during the Viking invasion to Étaples, Chartres, Boulogne, and Mont-Blandin (Ghent). His feast spread from Ghent and was celebrated in southern England before the Norman Conquest. His abbey had at least three cells in England-- the most important at Ecclesfield in South Yorkshire and Upavon (Wiltshire). From these cells, his cultus spread to other English monasteries, including York and Hereford. A fine, 11th- century illustrated Life of Wandrille survives at Saint-Omer. At least some of his relics were recovered by his abbey, where his feast is still celebrated (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
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.