Saint Christina, Virgin Martyr
Aliprandus of Ciel d'Oro, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Leuprandus)
8th century. Saint Aliprandus was the abbot of Ciel d'Oro (in coelo aureo) Monastery at Pavia, Italy. He was related to the royal family of the Lombards (Benedictines).
Blessed Antony Turriani, OSA (AC)
(also known as Turriano, of Torre)
Born in Milan, Italy; died in Aquila, Naples, 1694; cultus confirmed in 1759. Antony studied medicine at Padua. After practicing as a physician in Milan, he became an Augustinian Friar hermit. He made several apostolic journeys, including a three-year stay at Santiago de Compostella, Spain, before settling again in Aquila (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Boris and Glev (Gleb) MM (AC)
(also known as Romanus and David)
Died 1015; Benedict XIII approved their feast for Russian and Ukrainian Catholics in 1724. Boris and Gleb were the sons of the first Christian prince of Russia, Saint Vladimir of Kiev, and Anne of Constantinople, the daughter of Emperor Basil II, the Bulgar slayer. The boys were baptized Romanus and David. After Vladimir's death, the kingdom was to have been divided among his sons, but their eldest half-brother, Svyatopolk, wished to rule alone.
Boris was forewarned of his brother's plans, but when an army gathered to defend him, he called them off, explaining that he could not raise a hand against his brother who now stood in his father's place. With one attendant, Boris spent the night in prayer on the bank of the Alta River, and expressed how sad it was to leave the "marvelous light" of day and his "good and beautiful body." In the morning a gang of Svyatopolk's followers attacked him with spears while Boris prayed for them. On their way to Kiev with his body, the ruffians discovered he was still alive, and completed the job with swords.
Svyatopolk, under a false pretense of friendliness, invited Gleb to Kiev. On the way, Gleb's boat was boarded on the Dnieper River near Smolensk by armed men. He begged them to spare him, refusing to fight back.
When he saw that he could not alter their purpose, he resigned himself to death, saying, "I am in your hands and in the hands of my brother, your prince, I am being slain; I know not for what; but you, Lord, know. And I know, O my Lord, that you said to your apostles that for your name's sake hands would be laid upon them and they would be betrayed by kinsmen and friends, and that brother would bring death to brother." His final death blow was said to have been delivered by his cook, who came from behind to stab his throat "like a butcher killing sheep."
In 1020, another of Vladimir's sons, Yaroslav, usurped Svyatopolk, who died during his escape to Poland. Yaroslav buried the bodies of Boris and Gleb in the church of Saint Basil at Vyshgorod. Miracles were reported at their tomb, and it became a site of pilgrimage.
From the first, the highest motives were attributed to their attitude of resignation--unwillingness to repel injustice to themselves by force and violently oppose an elder brother. Although they were not considered martyrs in the traditional sense, the Russian Church perceived them as "passion bearers"--blameless men who did not wish to die but refused to defend themselves, thus voluntarily submitting to death like Christ. The Greek authorities apparently did not completely understand the theory, but the popular feeling among the Russian people was so intense that they agreed to canonize the brothers. Boris is the patron said of Moscow (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Fedotov, White).
Christiana of Termonde V (AC)
7th century. Saint Christiana is said to have been the daughter of an Anglo-Saxon king. She crossed over to Flanders where she lived until her death. She is the patron saint of Termonde, Belgium (Benedictines).
Christina of Tuscany (of Bolsena) VM (RM)
4th century(?). The story of the Roman Saint Christina venerated at Lake Bolsena in Latium (Tuscany) is simply that of Saint Christina of Tyre, imported from the East and adapted to local conditions. It seems that the legend of the latter was adapted for this probably real martyr under Diocletian, but that her name may not have been Christina. Butler's Lives of the Saints says that this Christina died on the island of Tyro in Lake Bolsena, which may be the reason for the confusion. Both legends are narratives of ordeals endured and of miraculous occurrences, but are without any historical value. There are remains of an early Christian cemetery at Bolsena, but the evidence for its being the burial place of a martyred Christina is unsatisfactory. Farmer does say that there is a surviving shrine and catacomb that bear witness to her existence. Husenbeth claims that her relics are now at Palermo, Sicily (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Christina is a maiden with a millstone. She may be shown (1) with a millstone and two arrows; (2) holding an arrow, crowned in the company of Saint Ursula; (3) pierced by three arrows; (4) in prison breaking idols; (5) with a knife; (6) with tongs; or (7) with an arrow and scepter (Roeder). There is a 6th-century mosaic at Ravenna, Italy, that purports to portray her, but it has no special attributes and may be that of Christina of Tyre (Farmer).
Christina the Astonishing (Mirabilis) V (PC)
Born in Brustheim, near Liège, Belgium, 1150; died 1224; feast day formerly July 4. Fifteen-year-old Christina was left an orphan with her two older sisters. When she was about 22 (some sources say 32, which is more reasonable given the balance of the evidence), she had an epileptic fit and was thought to be dead.
As was the custom Christina was carried into the church in an open coffin, where a Requiem Mass was beginning. Suddenly, after the Agnus Dei, Christina sat up, soared to the beams of the roof, and perched there. The congregation fled in fright, except her elder sister. When the Mass was completed, the priest persuaded Christina to come down from the rafters, where she is said to have taken refuge to escape the smell of sinful human bodies.
Christina told the priest that she had died, gone to hell, to purgatory, and then to heaven. She was allowed to return to earth to pray for the suffering souls in purgatory. In each place she saw many she knew. In her own words:
"As soon as my soul was separated from my body, it was received by angels, who conducted it to a very gloomy place, entirely filled with souls. The torments which they there endured appeared to me so excessive, that it is impossible for me to give any idea of their rigor. I saw among them many of my acquaintances, and, deeply touched by their sad condition, I asked what place it was, for I believed it to be Hell.
"My guide answered me that it was Purgatory, where sinners were punished who, before death, had repented of their faults, but had not made worthy satisfaction to God. From thence I was conducted into Hell, and there also I recognized among the reprobates some whom I had formerly known.
"The angels then transported me into Heaven, even to the throne of the Divine Majesty. The Lord regarded me with a favorable eye, and I experienced an extreme joy, because I thought to obtain the grace of dwelling eternally with Him.
"But my Heavenly Father, seeing what passed in my heart, said to me these words: 'Assuredly, My dear daughter, you will one day be with Me. Now, however, I allow you to choose, either to remain with Me henceforth from this time, or to return again to earth to accomplish a mission of charity and suffering. In order to deliver from the flames of Purgatory those souls which have inspired you with so much compassion, you shall suffer for them upon earth; you shall endure great torments, without, however, dying from their effects. And not only will you relieve the departed, but the example which you will give to the living, and your life of continual suffering, will lead sinners to be converted and to expiate their crimes. After having ended this new life, you shall return here laden with merits.'
"At these words, seeing the great advantages offered to me for souls, I replied, without hesitation, that I would return to life, and I arose at that same instant. It is for this sole object, the relief of the departed and the conversion of sinners, that I have returned to this world. Therefore be not astonished at the penances I shall practice, nor at the life that you will see me lead from henceforward. It will be so extraordinary that nothing like to it has ever been seen."
Thereafter, behaved as one of the great eccentrics of Christendom. Christina fled to remote places, climbed trees and towers and rocks, and even hid in ovens to escape the smell of humans. But more importantly, she did everything possible to suffer in the extreme for the good of other souls. After her resurrection, Christina dressed in rags bound together with saplings, lived by begging in extreme poverty, and renounced all the comforts of life- -even a home.
She would jump into a burning furnace until she could no longer handle it, or into the river in the coldest weather and stay for weeks. Once she was even said to have gotten into a mill-race and been carried under the wheel. She would pray while balancing on a hurdle or curled up in a ball on the ground. In a church at a placed called Wellen, she climbed into the large font and sat in the water. Of course, many thought that she was insane.
Once she was caught by a man who struck her so hard on the leg that it was thought to be broken. She was taken to a surgeon's home where her leg was splinted, and she was chained to a pillar for her own safety. She escaped at night. On one occasion, a priest refused her Communion; she ran wildly down the street and jumped into the Meuse River.
Yet many people came to Christina for good advice. Christina spent the last years of her life in the convent of Saint Catherine at Saint-Trond. While she lived there, she was held in high respect by Louis, the count of Looz, who treated her as a friend, accepted her criticism, and welcomed her at his castle. Blessed Marie d'Oignies respected her as well, the prioress of Saint Catherine's praised her obedience, and Saint Lutgardis sought her counsel. She lived this life of penance for 52 years after she had been raised from the dead.
Christina's experiences were recorded by a contemporary Dominican, Cardinal James de Vitry, in the preface to the Life of Marie d'Oignies, and by the Dominican Bishop Thomas de Cantimpre'. Her body is preserved in the Redemptorist church at Saint-Trond. Her resurrection was witnessed by the whole town and many saw her escape her various tortures unscathed. Her cultus has never been officially confirmed (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Schouppe, Walsh, White).
In art, Blessed Christina is a maiden with dishevelled hair sitting on a wheel with serpents around her. At times she may be shown (1) with a serpent around her wrist (Husenbeth erroneously gives this as Christina of Bolsena or Tuscany (today); (2) with a serpent and palm; or (3) with a wheel and palm (easily confused with Saint Catherine of Alexandria, but she is not crowned and her wheel has no spikes) (Roeder). Christina is venerated at Liège and Trond (Roeder). Some of these emblems seem more appropriate for Christina of Tyre; there may be some confusion.
Christina of Tyre VM (RM)
Probably legendary, the evidence for the existence of Christina of Tyre (Phoenicia) is unsatisfactory. Her story, which is recorded below, is the basis for that of Saint Christina of Tuscany. Nevertheless, the lives of the saints teach us what is important. Even fictional stories can help us to put our values in proper perspective.
To be a saint is not enough just to avoid sin and obey the commandments; a saint is someone who loves God, lives with God and thinks with God. And when a Christian loves, lives, and thinks with God none of the commandments will be a burden to him, nor will he be tempted to do any of the things that are forbidden, since their effect would be to separate him from God. True happiness comes only from God, and to find this happiness in God is the essence of saintliness. The saints who have gone before us show us the path to this happiness by showing us the path to God.
Saintliness and happiness, then, are the vocation of every Christian. One of the greatest mysteries and mercies of God is that he asks us to be saints and also gives us the means to become such. The glory of God and the happiness of man are one and the same thing. That is what the saints have learned, and that is what we can learn from them. Moreover the saints who are now living the everlasting life near to the throne of God are watching over us and interceding with the Lord on our behalf. They are not only our examples and models, they are also our friends and protectors.
Saint Christina was born at a time when Christians of the East and West were still united in a single Church. Her acts have come down to us from some ancient Greek texts, among them a papyrus that dates from the 5th century.
We know that her father Urbanus was governor of the tow of Tyre and of the surrounding province, a position in which he was responsible for maintaining the official pagan religion. Christina, of course, was also brought up as a pagan, but by the time she was 12 her virtues were so great that her father, fearing that she might convert to Christianity, locked her away in a tower with two servants. However, one of the servants was herself a Christian; she instructed Christina in the faith, and later a priest baptized her in secret.
When he heard of this, Urbanus ordered his daughter to abjure her faith and to return to the worship of the idols. Misunderstanding the nature of the Trinity, he said: "You already serve three gods, so why can't you also serve the gods of the empire?" Christina refused; her two former servants were replaced by 12 young ladies of the highest society, but it wasn't long before they had all been converted by Christina and received the baptism in secret. One evening they all escaped from the tower and defaced the statues of Jupiter, Apollo, and Venus.
Urbanus' fury was so great that he at once imprisoned Christina and subjected her to cruel punishments; finding her adamant in her faith, he then ordered her to be thrown into the midst of an enormous bonfire, but the flames left her unharmed. This was but the first of a long series of intended tortures and miraculous deliverances. A large stone was tied around her neck and she was thrown into the middle of a lake, but the stone refused to sink. She was taken back to her prison cell and during the night Urbanus decided to have her beheaded, but by the next morning he was dead.
The new prefect at first tried to persuade Christina to renounce God, but was as unsuccessful as Urbanus. She was flogged by soldiers and cast into a cauldron of boiling oil and sulphur, but once again emerged unharmed. Accused by the pagan priests of practicing black magic, she was taken before the statue of Apollo in the temple. Confident in the power of her faith, she ordered the statue to come down from its pedestal and to walk 15 paces out of the temple; and at once the statue obeyed.
A third prefect ordered her to burn incense to the idols, and was met with the same obstinance. This time Christina was thrown into an oven that had been heated white hot. The door was closed on her and for five days the furnace was kept at extreme heat, but when the door was opened she was found to be safe and unscathed. She was next exposed to poisonous snakes, but instead of stinging her they coiled affectionately round her neck and feet. When the pagan priest attempted to goad them on, they turned on him and stung him to death, but Christina, after calming down the panicked crowd and replacing the snakes in their sacks, restored him to life.
But at length God put an end to her trials. She was taken into an arena where her tongue, which had so often proclaimed her faith, was cut out, and after that she was shot to death with arrows. This legend seems to be a confutation of those of Saints Barbara, Catherine of Alexandria, and Ursula.
Saint Christina is celebrated on the same day in both the Greek and Roman Churches; she was martyred at a time when they both formed one Church, and we may pray to her to hasten the day when we are once again united (Encyclopedia, Farmer).
In 15th- and 16th-century paintings by Cranach and Paul Veronese, her attributes are a millstone, a wheel, pincers, and arrows (Farmer).
Declan of Ardmore B (AC)
Born at Desi (Decies), Waterford, Ireland, 5th century. Declan, an Irish monk, was baptized by and a disciple of Saint Colman. He appears to have been an Irish evangelist before the arrival of Saint Patrick. He may have made two pilgrimages to Rome and later became the first bishop of Ardmore, a see confirmed by Patrick during the synod of Cashel in 448. Many miracles are attributed to Declan, who is much honored in Dessee (formerly Nandesi) (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Dictinus of Astorga B (AC)
Died 420. Saint Dictinus was a heretic. Yet the grace of God can overcome even heresy. Saint Ambrose converted Dictinus from Priscillianism, and the latter recanted his errors at the council of Toledo (Spain) in 400. Soon after that he was consecrated bishop of Astorga (Benedictines).
Germoc of Cornwall (AC)
6th century. Saint Breaca's brother, Saint Germoc, was an Irish chieftain who settled in Cornwall near Mount's Bay (Benedictines).
Godo (Gaon) of Oye, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born in Verdun, Burgundy, France; died c. 690. Saint Odo, nephew of Saint Wandrille, was professed a Benedictine monk by his uncle at Fontenelle. Later he became the abbot-founder of Oye Abbey near Sezanne-en-Brie (Benedictines).
Blessed John Tavalli of Tossignano (AC)
Born at Tossignano near Imola, Italy; died 1446; cultus confirmed by Benedict XIV. John Tavalli studied at the University of Bologna before joining the order of the Gesuati. In 1431, he was named bishop of Ferrara. He is best remembered, however, as the translator of the Bible into Italian (Benedictines).
John Boste, Priest M (RM)
Born at Dufton, Westmorland, England, c. 1544; died at Dryburn near Durham, England, July 24, 1594; beatified in 1929; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. John Boste studied at Queen's College, Oxford, and was a fellow there. He became a Catholic in 1576, went to Rheims in 1580, and was ordained there the following year. Father Boste was sent to the English mission, ministered to the Catholics of northern England, and became an object of an intensive manhunt. He was betrayed by a Francis Ecclesfield near Durham, and taken to London, where he was crippled for the rest of his life by the racking he was subjected to. Sent back to Durham, he was condemned to death for his priesthood and hanged, drawn, and quartered at Dryburn near Durham (Benedictines, Delaney).
Blessed Joseph Fernandez, OP M (AC)
Born in Spain, 1774; died in Tonkin (Vietnam), 1838; beatified in 1900 by Pope Leo XIII. Joseph was professed a friar in the Dominican Order. Thereafter, he was ordained a priest and sent into the mission field of Tonkin (1805), where he served as provincial vicar. Father Fernandez is honored with Ignatius Delgado and Companions for his beheading for the faith (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Kinga of Poland, OFM Tert. V (AC)
(also known as Cunegunde(s), Kioga, Zinga)
Died July 24, 1292. Saint Kinga was the daughter of King Bela IV of Hungary and his wife, Mary, daughter of Emperor Theodorus Lascharis of Constantinople. Her lineage, however, included more than secular nobility. Kinga was the niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary and great-niece of Saint Hedwig. In 1239, Kinga married Prince Boleslas the Chaste, sovereign of Lesser Poland (Cracow, Sandomire, and Lublin), but by mutual consent the couple never consummated the marriage. Prayer, mortification, alms, and daily attendance on the poor in the hospitals, employed her time. During their 40 years of marriage Kinga and Boleslas shared the many sufferings to which the Tartar invasion subjected them. After Boleslas's death in 1279, Kinga took the veil in the Sandecz (Sandez) Abbey, which she had built for the Poor Clare nuns. She was venerated with singular piety in the diocese of Cracow and other parts of Poland, and her name was solemnly inscribed among the saints by Alexander VIII, in 1690 (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Lewina of Berg VM (AC)
5th century. The first extant record of Saint Lewina dates from 1058, when her relics were translated from Seaford (near Lewes) or Alfriston in Sussex, England, with those of Saint Idaberga (not sure which one) and portions of Saint Oswald, to Saint Winnoc's Abbey Church in Bergues, Flanders, where she had been venerated and her relics honored by numerous miracles, especially at the time of the translation. A history of these miracles was written by Drogo, an eyewitness to several of them. Lewina is reputed to have been a British maiden martyred by the invading Saxons (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Blessed Louise of Savoy, Poor Clare Widow (AC)
Born in 1462; died 1503; beatified in 1839. Louise, daughter of Blessed Duke Amadeus IX of Savoy and cousin of Blessed Joan of Valois, married Hugh of Châlons in 1479. About ten years later, he left her a widow. She joined the Poor Clares at Orbe, where she collected food for the community. She rendered her service in a gracious, cheerful manner that won the admiration of all (Benedictines).
Menefrida of Cornwall V (AC)
5th century. Another saintly progeny of the prolific Saint Brychan of Brecknock, Menefrida is the patron of Menver in Cornwall (Benedictines).
Meneus (Hymenaeus) and Capito MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyrs who are commemorated in both the Roman and Greek menologies, but about whom nothing is known (Benedictines).
Niceta and Aquilina MM (RM)
Date unknown. The names were originally Nicetas and Aquila, who were allegedly soldier-martyrs. In the apocryphal acta of Saint Christopher, the names are given in the feminine form and applied to two harlots (Benedictines).
Nicholas (Nils) Hermanssön B (AC)
Born in Skeninge, Sweden, c. 1326-1331; died 1391; said to have been canonized in 1414 (or 1416).
Nicholas, the son of Herman and Margaret of Skeninge, was raised to piety. He was educated in Paris and Orléans, France, in civil and canon law. He was ordained a priest, served as a canon in Sweden, and became tutor to the sons of Saint Bridget of Sweden to whom he was a devoted friend. In 1361, he was appointed archdeacon of Linköping,
Nicholas led a life of abstinence: On Fridays he fasted on bread with a little salt and water; sometimes fasting completely from Thursday evening until midday on Saturday. In 1374, he was promoted to bishop of Linköping. In that dignity Nicholas had to overcome considerable opposition from both the civil authorities and a reluctant clergy who resented his attempts at reforming both the organization of the church and morality. Nicholas persisted patiently and eventually overcame the opposition.
He is highly honored in Sweden as a liturgist and poet, who devoted his talents to liturgical compositions. This was especially so after the return of the body of Saint Bridget to her convent of Vladstena in Linköping. He had already helped Vladstena by writing its constitutions. Nicholas worked tirelessly for his friend's canonization, which became official about the time of his death.
Nicholas's cult arose immediately thereafter; vita were written and cures described. An enquiry into his life and miracles began in 1417, and Pope Martin V confirmed his cultus. The translation of relics occurred in 1515, and eight years later his Office was authorized. His cultus ended with the Reformation. The Benedictines note that this canonization cannot be proven; he might be better considered as a beatus. In some places, his feast is given as May 2 (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Sigolena of Troclar, OSB Abbess (AC)
(also known as Segolena, Segoulème)
Died c. 769. Daughter and early widow of French noblemen of Aquitaine, Sigolena became a nun in the convent of Troclar on the Tarn in southern France, where she was later chosen as abbess (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Sigolena is an abbess curing a plague sufferer in the train of the emperor (Roeder). She is the patroness of Albi (Roeder).
Ursicinus of Sens B (RM)
Died c. 380. Saint Ursicinus is registered as the fourth bishop of Sens, France. He was an opponent of Arianism (Benedictines).
Victor, Stercatius and Antinogenes MM (RM)
Died 304. These brothers are said to have been martyred at Merida in Estremadura, Spain. It is likely that Victor was martyred there; however, Stercatius and Antinogenes were probably part of the group who suffered with Saint Theozonus of Sebaste in Armenia (Benedictines).
Vincent of Rome M (RM)
Date unknown. Saint Vincent was martyred outside the walls of Rome on the road to Tivoli (Benedictines).
Wulfhade and Ruffinus MM (AC)
Died 675. Although the legend that grew up around the names of these martyrs contradicts the known facts of history, they may well have been genuine martyrs. It is said that these two Mercian brothers, sons of King Wulfere who had succeeded Peada, were converted and baptized by Bishop Saint Chad of Litchfield about 670. While at prayer, they were martyred by their then-pagan father, who later underwent remarkable penance for his crime. Their mother, Queen Emmelinda, had their bodies buried at Stone, Staffordshire, and covered their tombs with stones in the Saxon manner. These stones were later used to build a church over the spot.
Wulhere's father Penda had persecuted Christians, but his elder brother Peada had allowed Christianity to be established in his realm. There is much speculation as to the date of Wulfere's conversion and whether he actually committed the crime or took responsibility for the acts of some of his courtiers.
The procurator of the Peterborough Abbey built at Stone travelled to Rome and prevailed upon the pope to enroll the martyrs among the saints. He left the head of Saint Wulfhade, which he had taken with him, in the church of Saint Laurence at Viterbo (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).
In art, these two are a pair of princely huntsmen who pursue a stage, which takes refuge with Saint Chad, sitting by a pool (Roeder). They are venerated at Lichfield, York, England (Roeder) and are patrons of the town and monastery of Stone (Husenbeth).
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.