St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

Saint Martha, Virgin
July 29

Blessed Beatrix of Valfleury, OSB Cist. V (PC)
Died 1268; cultus not yet approved. Beatrix, a Cistercian nun of Valfleury, became prioress of Our Lady of Nazareth near Lier in Brabant (Benedictines)

Callinicus of Paphlagonia M (RM)
3rd century. Callinicus is especially venerated in the Eastern Churches. He was a native of Paphlagonia, Asia Minor, who was burned to death for the faith. Metaphrastes recorded the full details of his martyrdom (Benedictines).

Faustinus of Spello (RM)
4th century. Saint Faustinus was a disciple of Bishop Saint Felix of Martano (Spello) near Spoleto, Italy, and the bishop's attendant at his martyrdom. Saint Faustinus himself suffered for Christ before passing away peacefully at Todi, Umbria, Italy (Benedictines).

Felix (Felice) II, Pope (?) (RM)
Died 365; other feasts on March 1 and November 1. This is another confusing saint--one who is highly controversial. The accounts of his life are conflicting. He appears neither to have been a martyr nor a pope--in fact, he may have been an anti-pope. Felix was intruded into the see of Rome in 355, when Pope Liberius was exiled by the Arian emperor Constantius II. The reasons why he was listed in the Roman Martyrology are still heatedly debated (Benedictines). In art, Saint Felix is a pope with a banner picturing a griffin (arms of Lucignano). He is the patron of Lucignano (Roeder).

Blessed Joseph Tshang, John Baptist Lo, & Martha Wang MM (AC)
Died 1861; beatified in 1909. Joseph Tshang was a native seminarian born in the province of Su-tchuen, China, c. 1832. John Baptist Lo, born in 1825, was a Chinese servant. Martha Wang, a native of Tonkin, carried letters from Joseph and John to their bishop. She was arrested and all three were beheaded at Tsin-gai (Benedictines).

Kilian, Abbot (AC)
7th century. Saint Kilian, an Irish abbot of a monastery in the island of Inishcaltra, authored one of the lives of Saint Brigid of Kildare (Benedictines, Montague).

Blessed Louis Bertrán and Companions, OP MM (AC)
Born in Barcelona, Spain; died 1629; beatified in 1867. Blessed Louis is a relative of the more famous Saint Louis Bertrán (d. 1581), the apostle of Colombia, South America. After his profession in the Dominican Order, he was sent to the Philippine Islands in 1618 and then to Japan, where he worked until his martyrdom by being burned alive with two companions at Omura (Benedictines).

Lucilla, Flora, Eugene, Antony, Theodore & Comp. MM (RM)
Died c. 260. Twenty-three Christians suffered under Gallienus. Their martyrdoms are recorded on four separate days: today's group; SS. Faustus and companions; SS. Lucy and Companions; and SS. Lucy, Antonius, and Companions (Benedictines).

Lupus (Leu, Loup) of Troyes B (RM)
Born at Toul, France, c. 383; died at Troyes, c. 478. The noble, eloquent, and erudite Saint Lupus had all the qualities needed to succeed in his chosen profession of law. He practiced for some time and earned a good reputation as a barrister. Lupus married Pimeniola, a sister of Saint Hilary of Arles. Six years later (426) husband and wife took a mutual vow of perpetual continence and Lupus became a monk at Lérins with his wife's blessing. He sold much of his estate and gave it to the poor. For about a year he lived under obedience to Saint Honoratus until he was named bishop of Troyes and Honoratus, bishop of Arles.

It is said that when Honoratus was named bishop, Lupus returned to Maçon in Burgundy to dispose of an estate. En route back to Lérins, he was met by deputies of the Church of Troyes, bringing news of the death of Saint Ursus and his own selection to the see. In his humility, he initially refused but finally compromised by receiving consecration at the hands of the prelates of Sens and continuing the practices of a monk. Even as bishop he wore only sackcloth and a single tunic, lay upon boards, prayed throughout every other night, often fasted completely for three days and then ate only barley bread.

Throughout his episcopate, he labored with apostolic zeal despite his austerities. Lupus displayed such prudence and piety that Saint Sidonius Apollinaris calls him, "The father of fathers and bishop of bishops, the chief of the Gallican prelates, the rule of manners, the pillar of truth, the friend of God, and the intercessor to him for men." He spared no pains to save one lost sheep, and his work was often crowned with a success which seemed miraculous. For example, when a man named Gallus forsook his wife and withdrew to Clermont, Lupus wrote to him through Bishop Sidonius of Clermont. After Gallus read the prudent letter that was tempered with sweetness he immediately returned to his wife. Upon witnessing this, Sidonius cried out, "What is more wonderful than a single reprimand, which both affrights a sinner into compunction and makes him love his censor!"

This saint is commonly identified with the Lupus who accompanied Saint Germanus of Auxerre on his first visit to Britain to rid the country of Pelagianism. Near the end of the 4th century, the British monk Pelagius and the Scottish Celestius introduced their heresy into Africa, Italy, and the East. They denied the corruption of human nature by original sin, and the necessity of Divine grace. The British prelates asked those of Gaul for assistance in eradicating this evil, and, during the council of Arles in 429, Germanus and Lupus were deputed. They accepted the commission with zeal and ended the heresy through their prayers, preaching, and miracles.

It was said that when Attila, calling himself 'the Scourge of God,' and his Huns overran Rheims, Cambray, Besançon, Auxerre, and Langres in 451, and was threatening Troyes, Lupus took a decisive part in saving his province from the invaders, but the story is almost certainly a fiction. It says that Lupus prostrated himself in prayer for many days, fasted, and wept that God might spare his people. Then he dressed in the full episcopal regalia and went to meet Attila. The story continues that Attila was moved by reverence at the sight of the bishop at the head of a procession of his clergy. After a conversation in which Lupus reminds Attila that he can do only what God allows, Attila spared the city. It goes on to say that when Attila was defeated by the Roman general Aetius at Chalons, Attila requested that Lupus accompany him in retreat as far as the Rhein because he believed that the presence of the prelate would protect him and his army. The Romans, believing that Lupus was helping the Huns to escape, forced the bishop to leave Troyes for two years during which time he lived as a hermit in the mountains.

He died after having governed the see of Troyes for 52 years. At first he was buried in the Augustinian church of Saint Martin in Areis, then out of the walls of Troyes. The head of Saint Lupus is housed in one of the richest shrines in France. It is in the form of a bishop made of silver and adorned with jewels, including diamonds. The rest of his relics are in another silver shrine in the Augustinian abbey church of Saint Lupus. Many churches in England bear his name, as do the members of the family surnamed 'Sentlow,' which is derived from 'Saint Leu' (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Lupus is depicted with a diamond falling from heaven as he celebrates Mass. He may be shown (1) holding a chalice with a diamond in it or (2) at the altar, giving a diamond to a king (Roeder).

Martha V (RM)
Died c. 80. Martha was the sister of Mary (usually identified in the West as the Magdalene) and Lazarus. She lived with them in Bethany, a small town near Jerusalem. Jesus preached in Judea and visited their home often.

Martha may have been the eldest, for she directed the household and took special pains to make Jesus comfortable. Active in her ministrations, she asked Jesus to direct her sister, the more contemplative Mary, to help her serve him, and he replied, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her" (Luke 10:38-42). Thus, Jesus reminds us that active works can distract us from God, while contemplation brings one closer.

It was Martha who went out to meet Jesus after the death of Lazarus. She met him when he was still a few miles outside their village. Martha said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." She added that she still believed God would grant whatever Jesus asked.

In response to this act of faith, she was the first to hear one of Jesus' deepest revelations. As Jesus continued to question her, Martha said she believed her brother would rise again on the last day. Then Jesus said to Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Martha replied, "Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God" (John 11:1-44).

According to medieval legend, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus went to France after the death of Jesus and evangelized Provence (Attwater, Bentley, Delaney, White).

In art, Saint Martha is portrayed as a housewife with a dragon and an aspergillus. At times the image may include (1) a book and aspergillus; (2) keys and an aspergillus; (3) keys and a ladle; (4) a ladle; (5) with Martha veiled and her hands folded in lamentation by the Magdalene; (6) Mary in scenes from the Gospel; or (7) with Lazarus and Mary, crossing the sea to Marseilles (Roeder). White says that she is often bearing a distaff or any symbol of housework, such as a bunch of keys.

Martha is venerated in Provence, especially in Aix and Tarsacon. She is patroness of housewives, innkeepers (Roeder), house servants, waiters, and cooks (White).

Olaf of Norway, King M (RM)
(also known as Olave, Ola, Olao, Tola, Tooley)

Born 995; died at Stiklestad, July 29, 1030; canonized in 1164. Saint Olaf was the son of a Norwegian jarl, Harald Grenske. At a precociously early age (about 12), Olaf was allowed to join a band of viking pirates. In the course of his rovings he fought for Richard of Normandy, and for Ethelred II in England against the Danes in 1013. In 1010, Olaf the Fat received baptism in Rouen, France, at the hands of Archbishop Robert. In 1015, at the age of 20, he returned to Norway and succeeded his father. He then proceeded to capture most of Norway back from the Danes and Swedes, defeated Earl Sweyn at the battle of Nesje in 1016, and became ruler of Norway.

After his brilliant military conquest, the recently baptized Olaf set about subjecting his realm to Christ. He brought Christian clergy from England and elsewhere into the country. One of these foreigners, Grimkel, was chosen bishop of Nidaros (Trondheim), his capital. On Grimkel's advice, Olaf published many good enactments and abolished ancient laws and customs contrary to the Gospel.

Unfortunately, like Saint Vladimir of Russia and Olaf Tryggvesson before him, he used force and bribery to destroy paganism and impose the new religion on his people. He attempted to unify the country, but some of his legislation and political objectives were not everywhere accepted. In fact, his rule caused widespread discontent. He was merciless to his enemies and so it was not long before the nobles revolted in 1029 and he was driven out by the Anglo-Danish King Knut (Canute). Olaf fled to Russia but returned to Norway in 1031 with a few Swedish troops in an attempt to regain his kingdom, but was killed in battle at Stiklestad on the Trondheim fjord.

In circumstances somewhat resembling those of Saint Eric of Sweden, Olaf Haraldsson became the national hero-saint of Norway. He was unpopular in his lifetime, but miracles were reported at his tomb on a steep sandbank by the River Nid, where he had fallen. Here a spring gushed out whose waters became credited with healing power and other miracles were reported. The following year Bishop Grimkel ordered that he was to be venerated as a martyr and that a chapel be built over the place.

He had been zealous for Christianity, albeit crudely, he had died what was called a martyr's death, and his name was made to stand for Norwegian independence. In 1075, his incorrupt body was enshrined in what became the cathedral of Nidaros (Trondheim), which replaced the chapel, and became a site of pilgrimage. During the Reformation his body was removed and reburied. His cultus was aid by the unpopular rule of Swein, Canute's son; Canute's death in 1035 resulted in the flight of many Danes from Norway and the accession of Olaf's son Magnus. Thereafter his cultus spread rapidly. Adam of Bremen (c. 1070) wrote that his feast was celebrated throughout Scandinavia.

In England, more than 40 ancient churches were dedicated in his honor (Saint Olave's) in London, York, Exeter, Lincoln, and elsewhere, especially in Viking areas, and his feast can be found on many English calendars including London, Norwich, Exeter, Winchester, York, and the monasteries of Ramsey, Sherbourne, Abbotsbury, Launceston, and Syon.

Olaf was a Christian name in England before the Conquest. In Gaelic it became Amlaibh (Aulag), from which the Hebridean surname 'Macaulay' derives. In English, the name was corrupted by the addition of a 'T' (elided from the final sound of 'saint') to become 'Tooley' (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Walsh).

In art, Saint Olaf is depicted as a king with a lance and covered cup or ciborium, who tramples on a crowned demon. Sometimes he is shown (1) enthroned, a man under his feet; (2) standing on an armed man; (3) with a halberd and dagger; (4) with a halberd and loaf; or (5) with a halberd and axe (Roeder). In English iconography Olaf is included on the seals of Grimby Abbey and Herringfleet Priory in Suffolk, on the 15th-century screen at Barton Turf in Norfolk, on an ivory crozier in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and in glass at York Minster. The most complete example is six medallions from Olaf's life in the Beatus initial of the 13th-century Carrow Psalter, which was written in East Anglia and can be found in the Walter's Art Gallery in Baltimore, Maryland, in the United States.

He is venerated in East Anglia (Roeder) and the patron of Norway (Farmer).

Prosper of Orléans B (RM)
Died c. 453. Bishop Prosper of Orléans is often confused by the saints of the same name from Aquitaine and Reggio (Benedictines).

Seraphina (RM)
Died c. 426. The Roman Martyrology ascribes this saint to a Civitas Mamiensis, which some writers place in Armenia, others in Spain or Italy (Benedictines).

Serapia of Syria VM (RM)
Died 119. Saint Serapia (Seraphia) was a Syrian slave who converted Saint Sabina and was martyred with her under Hadrian (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Serapia holds a tablet or book; sometimes she appears with Saint Sabina (Roeder).

Simplicius, Faustinus & Beatrice (Viatrix) MM (RM)
Died c. 303. The record of these two brothers and their sister who were martyred in Rome under Diocletian is known from the Martyrology of Jerome.

Their untrustworthy acta say that the brothers were cruelly tortured before they were beheaded. Beatrice retrieved their bodies from the Tiber River and buried them. Thereafter she was given refuge in the home of a pious widow named Lucina. Together they engaged in acts of charity and fervent prayer throughout the day and night. Seven months later Beatrice's hiding place was discovered by a pagan kinsman, who turned her into the authorities in order to gain control of her estate. She resolutely refused to pay tribute to lifeless gods; therefore, she was strangled in prison.

Lucina buried her body next to that of her brothers in the Ad Ursum Pileatum cemetery on the highway to Porto. Pope Saint Leo (died 461) translated their relics to a church he built in their honor in Rome. (Another source says that the relics were translated to Saint Bibiana's in Rome, but omits the time.) In 1868, the cemetery of Generosa was discovered beside this road; it had a small church dating from the time of Pope Saint Damasus (died 384), with contemporary frescoes and inscriptions. These list Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrix together with an unknown Rufinianus. The relics of this trio now rest in Saint Mary Major (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

Sulian (Silin) (AC)
6th century. Saint Sulian may be identical with the Breton Saint Sulien of Cornouaille and Domonée. He was the founder and abbot, but not the patron, of Luxulyan in Cornwall. There is considerable, but understandable, confusion between Sulian and another Saint Sulinus of East Brittany and the Welsh Saint Tysilio (Suliau). There appears to be three separate saints (Farmer).

Blessed Urban II, OSB Pope (RM)
Born at Châtillons-sur-Marne, Champagne, France, c. 1042; died in Rome on July 29, 1099; beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1881. Odo of Lagery was born of a noble family of the counts of Semur. He studied under Saint Bruno at Rheims, became archdeacon there, and, about 1070, became a Benedictine monk at Cluny. Saint Hugh named Odo prior. Then he was sent to Rome to assist Pope Gregory VII's reform of the Church, became his chief adviser, and was named cardinal-bishop of Ostia in 1078.

Odo was legate to Germany, 1082-85, was briefly imprisoned there by Emperor Henry IV, and on March 12, 1088, he was elected pope to succeed Blessed Pope Victor III and took the name Urban II. Urban was faced by antipope Clement III, who held Rome and whom he had anathematized at the Synod of Quedlinburg in Saxony he had held in 1085 and who was supported by Emperor Henry IV.

Urban held a synod at Melfi in 1089 that decreed against lay investiture, simony, and clerical marriages, but it was not until 1094 that he was able to sit on the papal throne in Rome. In 1095, he summoned a council at Clermont-Ferrand, France, at which the Gregorian decrees requiring clerical celibacy and denouncing lay investiture and simony were reiterated and "the Truce of God" was proclaimed a law of the Church. It also anathematized King Philip I of France for putting aside his wife, Bertha, and marrying Bertrada, wife of the count of Anjou.

As a result of the request from Eastern Emperor Alexis I, Urban preached the First Crusade. His appeal was greeted with tremendous enthusiasm; launched in 1097, the crusade led to the capture of Jerusalem in 1099.

When Emperor Henry IV left Italy in 1097 and the party of antipope Clement III (Guibert) left Rome the following year, Urban was finally triumphant over his most persistent opponents. He called a council at Bari in 1098 that was unsuccessful in an attempt to effect a reconciliation between Rome and Constantinople.

His entire pontificate was marked by conflicts with secular rulers, especially Emperor Henry IV; Urban excommunicated Henry, King Philip I of France, and would have excommunicated William Rufus of England except for the intercession of Saint Anselm (Benedictines, Delaney).

William Pinchon of Saint-Brieuc B (RM)
Born in Brittany; died 1234; canonized in 1253 by Pope Innocent IV. Although William was born into an illustrious Breton family, he possessed very admirable virtues: an innocence of manner, meekness, humility, chastity, charity, and devotion. Bishop Josselin of Saint-Brieuc both tonsured and ordained William as deacon, then priest. Thereafter he served as a canon of the diocese until his elevation to the bishopric in 1220. During the 14 years of his episcopate, he suffered banishment to Poitiers and other indignities because of his defense of the rights of the Church.

He made no show of his austerities: It was a long time before his domestic servants realized that he never used the soft bed that they prepared for him. Instead he sleep on bare boards to train his spirit to rise above the weakness of his body. The poor were his treasures. Whenever he had given away all he possessed, he would borrow the stores of others to relieve them. Despite an arduous schedule, he never deprived his spirit of nourishing prayer which gave meaning to all he did. Upon his death, William's body was buried in the cathedral. In 1248 it was taken up and found to be incorrupt (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on 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.