Sixtus, Pope Martyr, & Companions
Blessed Agathangelus of Vendôme &
Blessed Cassian of Nantes, OFM Cap. MM (AC)
Died 1638; beatified in 1905. Francis Noury became a Capuchin friar at Vendôme and took the name Agathangelus. He was sent to Egypt in 1633 in an attempt to reconcile the dissident Coptic Christians. He was joined there by Father Cassian. Having failed in their mission, the two monks moved on to Abyssinia. Immediately a German Protestant reported them to King Fasilidas, who had them stoned to death for entering the country (Benedictines).
Albert of Trapani, OC (RM)
Born in Trapani, Sicily; died 1306; cultus confirmed in 1454. At a very young age, Saint Albert enter the Carmelite monastery of his hometown. After his priestly ordination, he was transferred to the house at Messina, where he successfully devoted himself to the conversion of the Jews (Benedictines).
Cajetan (Gaetano) of Thienna, Priest (RM)
Born in Vicenza, Lombardy, Italy, in 1480; died in Naples, Italy, on August 7, 1547; beatified by Urban VIII in 1629; canonized by Clement X in 1671. Saint Cajetan, founder of the blue-habited Theatines, was the son of Lord Gaspar of Thienna (Tiene) and his wife Mary di Porto. Both were known for their piety. At his birth his mother, a fervent Dominican tertiary, dedicated Cajetan to the Blessed Virgin. Although his father died while fighting for the Venetians against King Ferdinand of Naples when Cajetan was only two, the example of his mother helped Cajetan to grow into a man of sweet temper, constant recollection, and unwavering compassion, especially toward the poor and afflicted.
After attaining a doctorate in both civil and canon law at Padua, Italy, he became a senator in Vicenza. He built a parochial chapel at his own expense at Rampazzo, where those living far from the parish church might be catechized and worship. Thereafter he fled to Rome in 1506, where he had hoped to live in obscurity among the crowds; however, Pope Julius II compelled him to accept the office of protonotary in his court. Although Julius II was one of the least inspiring examples of a pope, Cajetan saw through the lustful, simonious, indulgent, war-loving court to the essential holiness of the Church. He knew that despite the vices and follies of Her servants, Holy Mother Church still held the keys to the salvation of the world.
He thanked God for the flowering of the arts in the Renaissance, knowing that the genius of the artist was but a reflection of the creativity of God. Yet he knew that the Church was in need of reformation. Unlike his contemporaries Luther and Savonarola, however, Cajetan wanted to bring about the reform patiently and humbly. He put his trust in the Holy Spirit and the love Christ has for His Bride.
During the thirteen years Cajetan labored in Rome for reform, he did what he could to bring comfort to others: he visited the sick in hospitals and sought out the incurable and the dying in their homes. He had joined the Confraternity of Divine Love, a small, unofficial group devoted to works of charity. They cared for the sick, the poor, foundlings, and prisoners. Gradually their influence spread further afield in Italy.
He resigned as protonotary upon Julius's death in 1513 and was ordained in 1516. The following year, while praying at the Christmas crib in the church of Saint Mary Maggiore, he had a mystical experience. He records, "Encouraged by the Blessed Saint Jerome, whose bones lie in the crypt beneath the crib, I took from the hands of the timid Virgin who had just become a mother her tender Child, in whom the eternal Word had been made flesh."
In 1518, Cajetan returned to Vicenza and his dying mother. There he joined the Oratory of Saint Jerome. Upon Mary di Porto's death, he dedicated his considerable inheritance to relieving distress, first in Vicenza and then in Verona and Venice. He founded a similar oratory at Venice and continued his work, particularly with the incurable.
In 1523, he returned to Rome, Paul Consiglieri, Boniface da Colle, and Bishop Giovanni Pietro Caraffa of Chieti (or Theate), who later became Pope Paul IV. These men helped Cajetan implement his vision of an order of priests whose lives would be as simple as those of the Apostles and who would serve as models for the secular clergy. The members of the Congregation of Clerks Regular (more generally known as the Theatines) were to dress in black and concentrate on the essentials of the priestly life: embracing poverty, spreading charity, and bringing life in the sacraments. The institute was approved by Pope Clement VII with Bishop Caraffa as the order's first provost general.
In 1524, twelve priests installed themselves in a house on the Pinicio in Rome, where Cajetan occupied himself in the humblest tasks. When Rome was sacked three years later by Charles V, the Theatines moved to Venice, where the famine and plague gave them ample opportunity to devote themselves to the service of others. The Venetians called them "hermits" because of their extreme simplicity of life and Cajetan they named "the saint of Providence." Cajetan was elected superior in 1530, and Caraffa re- elected in 1533. That same year the Theatines founded a house in Naples with Cajetan as its superior. Thereafter, the order rapidly spread throughout Italy, then Europe.
In Naples Cajetan fought widespread opposition to the reforms of the bishops and the prevalent heresies. Later, with Blessed John Marinoni, he founded the montes pietatis to help extend loans to the poor and combat usury.
Cajetan, one of the great Catholic reformers, died in Naples, worn out by his frequent travels and many obligations as superior, on a bed of ashes. At his request, he was buried in a common grave in the church of Saint Paul. Many of the reforms of the Council of Trent were anticipated and implemented by Cajetan long before that council convened (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Cajetan is depicted as a Theatine monk with a winged heart. He may sometimes be shown (1) with a book, pen, lily, and flaming heart (not to be confused with Saint Augustine, who never has a lily); (2) seeing a vision of the Holy Family with a lily at his feet; or (3) holding the Christ-Child as an angel holds a lily nearby (Roeder). He is venerated in Chieti and Naples (Roeder).
Carpophorus, Exanthus, Cassius,
Severinus, Secundus, Licinius MM (RM)
Died c. 295. Christian soldiers who were martyred at Como, Lombardy, Italy, during the reign of Maximian Herculius (Benedictines).
Claudia, Matron (AC)
1st century. Saint Claudia, mother of Pope Saint Linus, is said to have been the daughter of the British king Caractacus, who was sent to Rome with his family in chains when he was defeated by Aulus Plautius. Released by Emperor Claudius, one of his daughters took the name Claudia, remained in Rome, was baptized, and is the Claudia mentioned in Saint Paul's second letter to Timothy (4:21). Another tradition makes her the daughter of Cogidubnus, a British ally of Claudius, who took the emperor's name. In a third postulation, Martial mentions a British lady, Claudia Rufina, and says she was married to his friend Aulus Pudens, a Roman senator, which would mean she was the mother of Saints Praxedes and Pudentiana. Another tradition has this senator the Pudens also mentioned in the same letter of Saint Paul (2 Timothy 4:21) (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Dometius (Domitius) the Persian & Companions M (RM)
Died 4th century. Although the Roman Martyrology appears to have three entries for this Domitius (f.d. March 23 and July 5), it is uncertain that they were indeed the same person. The laus reads: "At Nisibis in Mesopotamia Saint Dometius, a Persian monk who with two of this disciples was stoned to death under Julian the Apostate" (Benedictines).
Donatian of Châlons-sur-Marne B (RM)
4th century (?). Second bishop of Châlons-sur-Marne, France (Benedictines).
Donatus of Besançon, OSB B (AC)
Died before 660. Donatus, a monk of Luxeuil Abbey, became bishop of Besançon, France, in 624. Because of his zeal for monasticism, he founded Saint Paul's Abbey in his see. His Regula ad virgines combines elements of the Benedictine Rule with that of Saint Columbanus, the founder of Luxeuil (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Donatus B and Hilarinus (Hilary) M (RM)
Died 361. No one seems quite sure how these two saints became connected. Hilarinus was a monk martyred at Ostia, Italy, under Julian the Apostate; Donatus the second bishop of Arezzo, Italy. Through confusion with another Saint Donatus, he is often thought to have been a martyr, but he appears to have died a peaceful death (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Donatus is portrayed as a young or middle-aged bishop with a sword and dragon. He might also be shown (1) freeing a poisoned well from the dragon; (2) on horseback, raising his crozier at the dragon; (3) kneeling at an altar with an angel whispering to him, a chalice and dragon at his feet; or (4) beheaded with sword or stabbed with a dagger (Roeder). He is the patron saint of Arezzo. In addition to the confusion with the other Donatus, he is mixed up with Donatia of Rheims, who is the patron saint of Bruges (Roeder).
Faustus of Milan M (RM)
Died c. 190. Tradition holds that Saint Faustus was a soldier martyred under Commodius at Milan, Italy; however, there are no extant records of his death (Benedictines).
Blessed Jordan Forzatei, OSB Abbot (AC)
Born in Padua, Italy, in 1158; died at Venice, 1248. Jordan was a monk at Padua until he was made abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Saint Justina. When Frederick II entrusted the government of the city to him, Count Ezzelino imprisoned him for three years. His feast is kept at Padua, Treviso, and Praglia (Benedictines).
Peter, Julian (Juliana) and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 260. It appears that this was a mixed gender group of at least 20 Romans martyred under Valerian and Gallienus (Benedictines).
Sixtus (Xystus) II, Pope M, and Companions MM (RM)
Died August 6, 258; feast day formerly on August 6. Pope Sixtus II was a Greek philosopher who embraced the Christian faith, served as a deacon in Rome, reached this pinnacle of the church's offices on August 30, 257, and lasted in it no more than a year, suffering a brave martyr's death. His name is in the canon of the Roman Mass.
Although Sixtus II was convinced that anyone baptized by a heretic was truly baptized, he nevertheless refused to excommunicate or otherwise punish those theologians who disagreed with him. In his correspondence with Saint Dionysius of Alexandria and Firmilian of Antioch, he upheld the Roman position of their validity. Nevertheless, he resumed relations with Saint Cyprian and the churches Africa and Asia Minor which had been ruptured by Pope Saint Stephen I, his predecessor. In later centuries, the Church decreed that provided a heretic had properly used the formulas of baptism, any person so baptized could not be held to be outside the Christian faith. Why should a man who had embraced the faith be considered a pagan simply because the one who performed the rite of baptism was in error in his own beliefs?
In 253, Valerian, who had the chief of the senate, was elected emperor. At first he was more favorably disposed toward the Christians than any of the emperors before him had been, except Philip; and his palace was full of Christians. Thus, the church enjoyed three years and one-half years of peace. Valerian fell under the influence of the Persian archmagician named Macrianus, who persuaded the emperor that the Christians, as avowed enemies of magic and the gods, obstructed the effects of the sacrifices, and the prosperity of his empire.
According to Saint Cyprian who considered Sixtus an excellent prelate, Valerian had set forth his first decree condemning Christianity in April 257. Shortly, Saint Stephen I was martyred. This persecution lasted three and one-half years until he was taken prisoner by the Persians. Valerian ordered that the farms and estates, the honors and the goods, the freedom and even the lives of those who refused to renounce their faith should be sacrificed. When the persecution intensified the following year, Cyprian wrote to his fellow African bishops:
"Valerian has sent an order to the senate to the effect that bishops, priests, and deacons should forthwith die [even if they are willing to conform], but that senators, persons of quality, and Roman knights should forfeit their honors, should have their estates forfeited, and if they still refused to sacrifice, should lose their heads; that matrons should have their goods seized, and be banished; that any of Caesar's officers or domestics who already confessed the Christian faith, or had should now confess it, should forfeit their estates to the exchequer, and should be sent in chains to work in Caesar's farms. To this order the emperor subjoined a copy of the letters which he hath dispatched to the presidents of the several provinces concerning us; which letter I expect, and hope will soon be brought hither.
"Sixtus suffered in a cemetery on the sixth day of August, and with him four deacons. The Roman officers are very keen on this persecution: the people brought before them are certain to suffer and forfeit their estates. Please notify my colleagues of these details so that our brothers may be ready everywhere for their great conflict, that we all may think of immortality rather than death and derive joy rather than fear from this confession, in which the soldiers of Christ, as we know, are not so much killed as crowned."
The pope took refuge in the catacombs of Praetextatus on the Appian Way. There he was discovered preaching to his flock, seated in his chair. According to some accounts he was still seated, when he was beheaded. Others say that he was taken away for examination and returned to the scene for execution. It is certain that he was beheaded in the cemetery. The Roman Martyrology that he was martyred with his deacons (Felicissimus and Agapitus), subdeacons (Januarius, Magnus, Stephen, and Vincent), and Quartus. (Quartus owes his existence to a bad transcript in which "diaconus Quartus" (the deacon, Quartus) was written in place of the original "diacones quattuor" (four deacons).) It is likely that Sixtus suffered with all seven of the deacons of Rome, the six mentioned today, and Saint Lawrence; the four may not have been subdeacons.
Their bodies were carried across the Appian Way by their mourners, and placed in the cemetery of Saint Callixtus. He was one of the most highly esteemed martyrs of the early Roman church; however, the sayings of a pagan moralist, named Sextus, were wrongly attributed to Sixtus in the middle ages (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, White).
In art, Saint Sixtus is shown holding a money-bag, with his deacon Saint Lawrence and Saint John the Baptist. At times he may be depicted (1) ordaining Saint Lawrence [Fra Angelico]; (2) giving Lawrence a bag of money to give to the poor; or (3) as he is greeted by Lawrence on his way to martyrdom (Roeder).
Victricius of Rouen B (RM)
Died c. 409. It seems that God preserved Victricius from martyrdom because He had other plans. When the saint converted to Christianity, he resigned from the Roman army because, like his friend Saint Martin of Tours he believed military service was incompatible with his new faith. For this he was brutally flogged and sentenced to death. But the sentence was never executed. Victricius became a missionary among the northern tribes of France. After he came bishop of Rouen in 380, he was known as one of the leading prelates of Gaul. About 395, the bishops of Britain sent for him to resolve certain difficulties of an unknown nature. He was definitely a man of importance who "did all that he could, even if he could not do all that needed doing." Although there is no early life of him, he is discussed in several extant letters of his friend Saint Paulinus of Nola. A piece written by Victricius on the Praise of Saints still survives, as well as an important disciplinary document addressed to him by Pope Saint Innocent I (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Vincent of Aquila, OFM (AC)
Born in Aquila, Italy; died 1504; cultus approved in 1785. Vincent was a Franciscan lay-brother who was famous for his mystical gifts (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.