St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

Saint Ignatius of Loyola
July 31

Calimerius of Milan BM (RM)
Born in Greece; died c. 190. Saint Calimerius was educated in Rome by Pope Saint Telesphorus. He became bishop of Milan and evangelized the Po Valley. He was martyred under Emperor Commodus by being cast headlong into a deep well. Calimerius is buried under the high altar of his church at Milan (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Democritus, Secundus, and Dionysius MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyrs of either Phrygia or Africa about whom nothing is known (Benedictines).

Blessed Emmanuel Phung and Peter Qui MM (AC)
Died at Chaudoc in West Cochin-China in 1859; beatified in 1909. Emmanuel Phung, born at Dan-nuoc, Cochin-China (Vietnam) about 1796, was a native catechist. Peter, born at Bung, was ordained to the priesthood. Both died for the faith: Emmanuel was garrotted and Father Peter was beheaded (Benedictines).

Fabius of Mauritania M (RM)
Died 300. Fabius was a Roman soldier who was beheaded at Caesarea in Mauritania, during the reign of Diocletian, for refusing to carry a standard bearing the emblems of idols (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Firmus of Tagaste B (RM)
Date unknown. Saint Augustine says that this saint was firm by name but firmer yet by faith. He endured the most frightful tortures rather than betray the hiding place of a member of his flock. Saint Augustine's laus led Baronius to insert the name of Saint Firmus in the Roman Martyrology, although no extant acts were available (Benedictines).

Germanus (Germain) of Auxerre B (RM)
Born in Auxerre, France, c. 378; died at Ravenna, Italy, 448. Saint Germanus studied civil law in Rome and embarked upon a secular career. He was a high Roman official before his ordination to the priesthood in 418. Shortly thereafter he was consecrated bishop of Auxerre. He had relations with the church in Britain, to which he travelled in 429 and 447, and where he succeeded in completely eradicating Pelagianism. He led the Britons to their great "Alleluia" victory over the Saxons. He died in Ravenna, Italy, while on a mission for his people (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Germanus is a bishop with an ass at his feet. Sometimes the image may contain huntsmen and wild game around him, or Germanus leading a dragon with seven heads (Roeder).

Although this entry is incomplete, more information on Saint Germanus can be found on the New Advent site.

Helen of Skövde (Sköfde), Widow M (AC)
Died c. 1145-1160; canonized in 1164 by Alexander III. Saint Sigfrid, apostle of Sweden, brought the noble matron Helen of Vastergötland to the faith. When she was widowed at a youthful age, she dedicated her wealth to the service of the poor and the Church. Thereafter, Helen made a pilgrimage to Rome (or the Holy Land), and upon her return she was murdered as the result of a family feud--her son-in-law's relatives believed that she had plotted to kill him. Helen was buried at Skövde in the church which she had built and was canonized on the strength of the miracles that occurred there. Until the Reformation, Saint Helen was highly honored in Sweden and on the isle of Zeeland in Denmark, which claimed some of her relics. Her body was richly enshrined in a church dedicated to her eight miles from Copenhagen. There a miraculous well, called Saint Lene Kild or Saint Helen's Well, still draws even Lutherans. Helen is regarded as the patroness of Vastergötland and, by some, of all Sweden (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth).

Ignatius of Loyola, Priest Founder (RM)
Born in Loyola Castle, Azpeitia, Guipuzcoa, Spain, c. 1491; died July 31, 1556; canonized in 1622; declared by Pope Pius XI to be the patron of spiritual exercises and retreats.

"We were created to praise, to reverence and to serve God. And everything else on the face of the earth was created for our sake, to help us to achieve the goal for which we were created."

"In a time of desolation, never forsake the good resolutions you made in better times. Strive to remain patient--a virtue contrary to the troubles that harass you--and remember that you will be consoled."

"Prefer neither health nor sickness, neither riches nor poverty, neither honor nor ignominy, neither a long life nor a short one."

"We must put aside all judgment of our own, and keep the mind ever ready and prompt to obey in all things the true Spouse of Christ our Lord, our holy Mother, the hierarchical Church."

--Saint Ignatius

Every saint is unique (although these biographies might not always make them seem so). They are saints because they fulfilled the unique purpose for which God created them. Too many of us are seeking to be that which our peers or families want us to be, rather than allowing the Master Artist to mold us. The man we know as Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, is among the most unique.

He was the most brilliant or erudite or holy of men--in fact, one who knew him wondered why he was canonized. He was, of course, zealous and devout, but so are many that we know. But, perhaps, this is why he was singled out for the distinction of canonization: He was a man who recognized that ordinary gifts can be used in spectacular ways by God, when an individual allows the Master Artist to use His powers and creativity in them.

He took a group of ordinary men, put them under the power of God, taught them how to listen to His voice, and formed a new sword for the Church of unequalled sharpness and strength. The daring projects of the Jesuits were carefully considered, using the virtue of prudence or wisdom, before drawing upon an almost superhuman courage and endurance to implement the designs they believed were planned by God.

Iñigo de Recalde de Loyola (the name is actually a copyist error that was accepted by the Bollandists because it was so pervasively used) was the youngest of twelve children.

He was a page at the court of the provincial governor before he began his career as a soldier in the army of the Duke of Nagara. At the siege of Pamplona in 1521, he was so seriously injured that he needed to convalesce for months. During this time he read a life of Jesus and other lives of the saints. "Since these men were as human as I am," he noted, "I could be as saintly as they were." After his recovery, instead of re-enlisting as a soldier, he exchanged his military dress for the clothing of a beggar, and at Montserrat in Barcelona visited the famous portrait of the Virgin in the Benedictine monastery; there he hung his sword before her.

Ignatius then retired to a place called Manresa, and in deep prayer and discipline wrote the first draft of his famous Spiritual Exercises, a manual for training the soul to grow daily nearer to God.

The saint now went on a pilgrimage to Rome and to Jerusalem, riding from Jaffa to the Holy City on a donkey. He returned to Europe, and for the next seven years--at Spanish universities and at Paris- -devoted himself to study. In Paris he laid the foundation for the great Society of Jesus. Six students joined him in vowing poverty, chastity, ad obedience, in joining themselves altogether by means of the Spiritual Exercises and in determining once their studies were over to preach Christianity in Palestine.

War in the Middle East made this last plan impossible. Instead Ignatius and his followers offered their services to Pope Paul III. In 1540, the pope formally approved the Society of Jesus. Ignatius lived sixteen more years. During which he tirelessly watched over the development of the Jesuits which grew from a handful of men to over 1,000 throughout Europe, working as missionaries and in universities and other schools (Bentley).

In art, Saint Ignatius is a bearded Jesuit, often with a book of the Jesuit Rule, kneeling before Christ. He may also be shown (1) with Christ bringing him a Cross; (2) with Christ as the Good Shepherd; (3) with Christ and Saint Peter before him (Feed My lambs); (4) holding the Rule, with Saint Francis Xavier or other Jesuit saints (IHS on his breast); (5) in Mass vestments, his hand resting upon his Rule, light in the heavens; (6) with a dragon under his feet; (7) holding the Rule, IHS, and Heart pierced by three nails (Roeder).

Blessed John (Giovanni) Colombini, Founder (RM)
Born in Siena, Italy, c. 1300; died 1367; beatified by Pope Gregory XIII. If John Colombini can win God's favor, there is hope for all of us. By all accounts, this rich Sienese merchant who held the position of first magistrate (gonfalionere) was an ambitious, avaricious, and ill-tempered man. He himself was converted while reading the story of the conversion of Saint Mary of Egypt in the The Lives of the Saints. Thereafter, he devoted himself to works of charity and founded a society of lay brothers called the Gesuati, which were approved in 1367--just 37 days before his death (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

In art, Blessed John has a short beard, white habit, dark leather belt, and bare feet. Generally, he has IHS on his breast (Roeder). He is venerated in Siena (Roeder).

Justin de Jacobis B (AC)
Born at San Fele, Lucania, Italy, on October 9, 1800; died in the Valley of Alghedien, Ethiopia, on July 31, 1860; beatified in 1939; canonized in 1975 by Pope Paul VI.

Saint Justin was a great apostle of Africa and the true founder of the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) mission. Even during his youth in Naples, he was known for his extreme piety. At the age of 18, he joined the Congregation of the Mission, which is also known as the Vincentians after the founder Saint Vincent de Paul. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1824 and excelled at preaching, especially to the rural poor because he had a special gift of making the faith attractive to both the scholar and the ignorant. After he helped to found a Vincentian house at Monopoli, he served as superior at Lecce (Apulia). In 1836-1837, Father Justin served the sick with heroic charity in the cholera epidemic in Naples. Then he was chosen by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith as Prefect Apostolic for Ethiopia.

In 1839, he left for his mission field with a few companions. Upon his arrival at Adua, Father Justin found no warm welcome. Abyssinia was an unhappy country politically. Most of the country was Islamic or Coptic Christians who had been in schism from the Church for many centuries. Adding to the difficulties, the "Franks," i.e., Western foreigners, had gained a reputation for being arrogant and heretical. Following the Portuguese intransigence in the 16th century, all Catholic missionaries had been excluded for 200 years. But Saint Justin's attitude of courtesy as an expression of his truly Christian love for each individual he encountered, helped him in the long, slow work he had accepted.

He adopted the whole culture of the country, including the language, and amid persecution, prison, and hardship labored with indefatigable zeal that led to success in improving relations with the local churches. In 1840 or 1841, he was invited by the Coptic clergy to participate in a delegation of Ethiopian prelates to Cairo. Their mission was to request that the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria appoint one of his monks as Abuna (patriarch) of the Ethiopian Church. In Cairo, the patriarch denounced the presence of Father de Jacobis and intrigued to appoint one Salama, a very young and not very capable man, as patriarch. Justin persuaded some of the delegation to accompany him to Rome to meet with the pope and seek reunion with the Holy See. The venture failed but Justin gained credit and confidence.

While he did not overcome the enmity of the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, nor the Metropolitan Salama, head of the Ethiopian church, he did found missions, a school and a seminary at Guala, and named native clergy. In 1846, a vicarate apostolic of the Galla was established with the Capuchin William Massaia as its first bishop. Additionally, his converts are estimated at 12,000, among them Blessed Michael Ghebre (Gara Mika'el).

The arrival of a Western bishop and the growth of the mission led to an outbreak of persecution at the instigation of Salama who issued instructions "to kill Abba Jacob and all his people. . . . to kill one who follows their religion is to earn seven heavenly crowns hereafter." The college was closed, Catholicism was proscribed, and Bishop Massaia was forced to return to Aden. Father Justin barely escaped the martyrdom that claimed the life of Blessed Michael, who died in captivity.

In 1848 or 1849 at Massawa, Father Justin, now a hunted man, was constrained to accept the title of Vicar Apostolic and secretly receive episcopal consecration at the hands of Bishop Massaia in order to help his scattered flock. Although he remained a priest of the Latin rite, he was also given faculties to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments according to the ancient Ethiopic rite to enhance his ministry.

By 1853, he had ordained some 20 Ethiopians, was ministering to 5,000 Catholics, and was able to reopen the college. But in 1860, Kedaref Kassa became king as Theodore II and in return for the support of Abuna Salama launched another persecution of Catholics.

In due course, Saint Justin was arrested in an attempt to make him "disappear." But, after several months' imprisonment at Gondar, his guards released him in a wild area from which he was able to make an agonizing journey to Halai in southern Eritrea. He tried to return to his flock at Tigrai, but had to remain on the coast of the Red Sea. Bishop Justin's work was now circumscribed to the area along the Red Sea; but this still meant exhausting journeying.

He was again imprisoned for extending hospitality to a French political mission. This time he was forced to endure long marches, rapid changes of climate, and a fatal fever. Again he was released and attempted to return to Halai on horseback, accompanied by a priest, and a group of monks and students. When he found he could ride no further, he knew that it was time to give up his spirit. He was anointed, his head supported by a rock in the desert, and spoke his last words: "Pray hard, little ones, for I am going to die. I won't forget you. . . . I am dying." Thus, Saint Justin died of a fever on the roadside near Halai.

He is buried in a church at Hebo, in the far north of the country, where his shrine is carefully preserved, and his memory is still very much alive among the people who feel that he was one of them. Saint Justin was an impressive pioneer of ecumenism as well as of missionary achievement. Cardinal Messaia wrote of this man of enormous tact, "God chose him to be a teacher even more by example than by words" (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, White).

Note: I have no idea why the dates in some sources differ by one year from others.

Neot of Cornwall, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died c. 877-880. According to tradition, Saint Neot was a monk of Glastonbury and a priest, who became a hermit in Cornwall at the place now called after him. His relics were subsequently taken to Saint Neot's in Huntingdonshire (Benedictines).

In art, Saint Neot is an old Benedictine with a pilgrim's staff and hat. He may be sitting with his feet in a pool as a hind runs to him for protection (Roeder). Neot is venerated in Glastonbury, Malvern, and Saint Neot's (Cornwall) (Roeder).

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.