Saint Eusebius of Rome
Blessed Antony Primaldi and Comp. MM (AC)
Died 1480; cultus approved in 1771. Antony Primaldi was an artisan in Otranto, Italy, who was known for his piety. In 1480, the Turks invaded the city and offered the inhabitants the choice between death and conversion to Islam. The ancient Antony became the spokesman for the town. For himself and 800 men of Otranto, he chose Christ. All of them were hacked to pieces (Benedictines).
Athanasia of Constantinople, Matron (RM)
Born on the island of Aegina; died 860. Some complain that most of the saints were hermits and virgins, priests and popes, who bear little resemblance to the typical Catholic in the pews. Saint Athanasia was married. Not only was she married, she was married twice. Both times she did so reluctantly.
The first time her parents arranged a marriage to an army officer. Although Athanasia would have preferred the religious life, she readily complied with their wishes. Three weeks after their wedding, her husband was killed in a battle with a Moorish raiding party from Spain. The savagery of these raids so decimated the population of Aegina that authorities passed a law that make celibacy illicit. So, Athanasia married again.
She was equally yoked with her second spouse. Together they led a life of good works and prayer so that their home became a center of religious activity. His wealth permitted them the means to extend considerable charity to those in need. In a division of labor, Athanasia visited the sick in their homes in the city and countryside, while her husband remained at home and dispensed aid to all who came to them. On Sundays, Athanasia conducted Bible- reading groups.
After a few years of marriage, her husband decided to become a monk. He turned over all his property to Athanasia, so that she could continue their work. When he had entered the monastery, Athanasia turned their home into a convent. The sisters lived an extremely austere life that was moderated by the able guidance of an abbot named Matthias, who also suggested that they move the convent to a more isolated location called Tamia.
The monastery grew and so prospered at Tamia that the fame of Athanasia reached the ears of the empress at Constantinople. Theodora, the wife of Emperor Theophilus the Iconoclast, called her to Constantinople to help her restore the veneration of images. Athanasia stayed in Constantinople for seven years, and fell deathly ill shortly after her return to Tamia. Nevertheless, Athanasia continued to attend divine office until the eve of her death (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
In art, Saint Athanasia is shown weaving. There is a star over her or on her breast. Sometimes the picture will include Empress Theodora (Roeder). She is venerated in the Eastern Church (Roeder).
Demetrius of Africa M (RM)
Date unknown. This is another of the many martyrs of whom there is no extant information. The Roman Martyrology records simply that he was martyred in Africa on this day (Benedictines).
Blessed Eberhard of Einsiedeln, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 958. Born into Swabia's ducal family, Eberhard became provost of the Strasbourg's cathedral chapter. He resigned in 934 to join his friend Blessed Benno at Saint Meinrad's hermitage on Mount Etzel in Switzerland. After the death of his blinded friend, Eberhard built a Benedictine monastery--Our Lady of the Hermits, which became famous as Einsiedeln--and served as its first abbot (Benedictines, Delaney).
Eusebius of Palestine M (RM)
Died 3rd century. Eusebius, a priest of Palestine, was denounced as a zealous evangelist to Emperor Maximian, arrested and brought before him. Because the local populace complained about Eusebius' Maximian and his governor Maxentius insisted that he should sacrifice to the gods, although no new edict against the Christians had been published. The acta are still extant:
Maxentius: "Sacrifice to the gods freely, or you shall be made to do it against your will."
Eusebius: "There is a greater law which says, You shall adore the Lord your God, and him alone shall you serve."
Maxentius: "Choose either to offer sacrifice, or to suffer the most rigorous torments."
Eusebius: "It is not consistent with reason for a person to adore stones, nothing is viler or more brittle."
Maxentius: "These Christians are a hardened race of men, to whom it seems desirable rather to die than to live."
Eusebius: "It is impious to despise the light for the sake of darkness."
Maxentius: "You grow more obstinate by leniency and entreaties. Therefore I will lay them aside, and frankly tell you, that, unless you sacrifice, you shall be burnt alive."
Eusebius: "As to that, I am in no pain. The more severe or cruel the torments are, the greater the crown will be."
At this point Eusebius was stretched on the rack and his sides torn with iron hooks. Throughout this torture Eusebius repeated, "Lord Jesus, preserve me. Whether we live or die, we are yours." Amazed at his resistance, Maxentius finally ordered that he should be released from the rack.
Maxentius: "Do you know the decree of the senate, which commands all to sacrifice to the gods?"
Eusebius: "The command of God is to take place before that of man."
The irate judge ordered Eusebius to be burnt alive. As the saint walked out with joy painted upon his face, onlookers were amazed.
Maxentius: "You run to an unnecessary death; your obstinacy astonishes me. Change your mind."
Eusebius: "If the emperor commands me to adore dumb metal, in contempt of the true God, let me appear before him."
He said this because the current emperors (Maximian and Diocletian) had not yet issued new laws against the Christians. So, Maxentius had Eusebius confined until Maximian could pass judgment the following day.
Maxentius: "Great emperor, I have found a seditious man who is disobedient to the laws, and even denies to my face that the gods have any power, and refuses to sacrifice or to adore your name."
Maximian: "Let him he brought before me."
A witness advised against it because he believed that the emperor would be moved by compassion or persuasion.
Maximian: "Is he such a man that he can even change me?"
Maxentius: "He will change not only you, but the minds of all the people. If you once behold his looks, you will feel yourself strangely moved to follow his inclinations."
Eusebius was brought into the audience chamber. His joy revealed itself in his dazzling visage. Courage shone in every glance and movement of this venerable, old priest.
Maximian: "Old man, why are you come before me? Speak, and be not afraid."
Eusebius remained silent.
Maximian: "Speak freely; answer my questions. I desire that you be saved."
Eusebius: "If I hope to be saved by man, I can no longer expect salvation from God. If you excel in dignity and power, we are, nevertheless, all mortal alike. Neither will I be afraid to repeat before you what I have already declared. I am a Christian; nor can I adore wood and stones; but I most readily obey the true God whom I know, and whose goodness I have experienced."
Maximian: "What harm is it if this man adores the God of whom he speaks, as above all others?"
Maxentius: "Be not deceived, most invincible emperor; he does not call what you imagine, God, but I know not what Jesus, whom our nation or ancestors never knew."
Maximian: "Go you forth and judge him according to justice and the laws. I will not be judge in such an affair."
Maximian, a rough and generally brutish man, was moved by the modest virtue of this stranger. Like Pilate before him, he would have preferred to save the man who so impressed him, but would not trouble himself to do something that might not be politically expedient. When Maximian left, Maxentius ascended his tribunal, and sternly commanded Eusebius to sacrifice to the gods.
Eusebius: "I will never sacrifice so those which can neither see nor hear."
Maxentius: "Sacrifice, or torments and flames must be your portion. He whom you fear, is not able to deliver you from them."
Eusebius: "Neither fire nor the sword will work any change in me. Tear this weak body to pieces with the utmost cruelty; treat it in what manner you please. My soul, which is God's, cannot be hurt by your torments. I persevere firm in the holy law to which I have adhered from my cradle."
Thereupon Maxentius ordered that Eusebius be beheaded. As the sentence was pronounced, the saint offered thanksgiving.
Eusebius: "I thank you for Your goodness, and praise Your power, O Lord Jesus Christ, that by calling me to the trial of my fidelity, You allowed me to be treated as one of Your own."
It is said that Eusebius heard a from heaven say to him: "If you had not been found worthy to suffer, you could not be admitted into the court of Christ, or to the seats of the just." Shortly thereafter, he knelt down and was decapitated (Husenbeth).
Eusebius of Rome (RM)
Died c. 357. Usuard's ancient martyrology calls this priest who founded a church in Rome (now called titulis Eusebii) a confessor. The spurious acta, say that he was martyred under the Arian Emperor Constantius for having preached against Pope Liberus' signing of the confession of Sirmium. According to these, he was imprisoned for many months and died during confinement (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Eusebius is portrayed being carried to heaven. The angels hold a chain, a chalice, and the Gospel of John. He may also be shown speaking without a tongue (Roeder).
Fachanan of Ross B (AC)
Died late 6th century. Saint Fachanan may have been the first bishop of Ross, Ireland, of which he is the patron. He founded the monastic school of Roscarbery (or Ross-Altair in County Cork) and appointed Saint Brendan as one of its teachers (Benedictines, Montague).
Blessed Juliana Puricelli, OSA (AC)
Born in Busto-Arizio, Italy, in 1427; died at Sacro Monte sopra Varese (near Milan), 1501; cultus approved in 1769. Blessed Juliana was the first companion of Blessed Catherine da Pallanza (Benedictines).
Marcellus of Apamaea BM (RM)
Born in Cyprus; died in Syria, 389. In 380, Emperors Theodosius the Great and Gratian decree that all should profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria. Enforcement of the decree was stepped up in 388, when Theodosius sent soldiers into Egypt, Syria, and Asia Minor to destroy pagan temples. Of course, this angered the pagans.
Soldiers are not necessarily demolition experts. When they arrived in Apamaea, Syria, they had a particularly difficult time pulling down the large and well-built temple of Zeus. Bishop Marcellus, who had been elected to the see because he was a conscientious civil magistrate, told the soldiers that he would be responsible for its destruction and the next day found a volunteer willing to do it for double his normal wages. Marcellus agree and the temple was destroyed by undermining the supporting columns and then burning it.
Marcellus proceeded to have other temples in the area destroyed in the same way until they came to one at Aulona, that was stoutly defended by those who worshipped in it. They party was attacked and Marcellus, who suffered from gout and therefore could not run, was killed by being thrown into the flames. After his death his sons wanted to seek revenge but were restrained by the provincial council, which said that they should rejoice that God had accounted their father worthy to die for the faith (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Walsh).
In art, Saint Marcellus is shown overturning a statue of Jupiter (Roeder).
Maximilian Mary Kolbe (RM)
Born at Zdunska Wola (near Lodz), Poland, in 1894; died at Auschwitz (near Cracow), August 14, 1941; beatified by Pope Paul VI in 1971; canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II.
"Pray that my love will be without limits." --Saint Maximilian Kolbe in his last letter to his mother.
Maxilian Kolbe was the son of Franciscan tertiaries, who were impoverished weavers. He entered the minor seminary at Lwow in 1907 and became a Franciscan in 1910. When their children were grown, his parents followed their natural inclinations and separated to become religious. His mother first entered the Benedictines and later became a Felician lay sister. His father was a Franciscan until he left the order to run a bookstore at the Our Lady's shrine at Czestochowa. At the beginning of World War I, he enlisted with Palsudski's patriots, was wounded by the Russians, and hanged as a traitor to Mother Russia in 1914 at the age of 43.
Maximilian studied in Rome, where he was ordained in 1919. Upon being diagnosed with tuberculosis, he returned to Poland and took up the teaching of ecclessial history in a seminary. After he came close to dying of the disease, he became even more zealous. He founded a militant sodality and a magazine of apologetics for Christians. When he moved the antiquated presses from Cracow to Grodno circulation increased to 45,000. New machinery was installed, which was run solely by priests and lay brothers. Following another attack of tuberculosis, Maximilian re-established the presses near Warsaw at Niepokalanow. Here Kolbe founded a Franciscan community that combined prayer, poverty, and the production of a daily and weekly newspaper using the latest technology.
As unlikely as it may seem, Kolbe's next act was the founding of a Franciscan community at Nagasaki, Japan. In 1936, he was recalled to Niepokalanow as the superior over 762 friars. When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, Kolbe sent most of the brothers home with the warning that they should not join the underground resistance. Those that remained were interned, released, and returned to the monastery, which had become a refugee camp for 3,000 Poles and 1,500 Jews. The remaining friars continued to publish newspapers critical of the Third Reich.
In 1940, the Nazis established a concentration camp at Oswiecim in southern Poland--Auschwitz. Prisoner #16670, a Catholic priest named Maximilian Kolbe, who had refused German citizenship, was arrested on February 17, 1941, on the charge that he was a journalist, publisher, and intellectual. The Gestapo officers who seized Maxilian and four other brothers were amazed at how little food was prepared for the brothers. They were sent to Auschwitz in May 1941.
Priests in Auschwitz were especially vilified. They were given the job of moving loads of logs and were beaten when their strength gave way under the heavy work. One of the savage guards once horsewhipped Kolbe 50 times and left him for dead in a wood. The saint recovered some of his strength, and continued to comfort his fellow prisoners, insisting that everything, even sufferings, came to an end, and the way to glory was through the cross.
Father Kolbe also undertook the task of moving the bodies of the tortured. Throughout his internment, he continued his priestly ministry: hearing confessions in unlikely places and smuggling in bread and wine for covert Masses. He was conspicuous for his compassion towards those even less fortunate than himself.
One day a prisoner escaped, which meant that men from the same bunker must be selected to die. In reprisal the prison guards chose ten men, whom they planned to starve to death. One was a married Polish sergeant named Francis Gajowniczek. Maximilian Kolbe begged the camp commandant to let him take Gajowniczek's place, "I am a Catholic priest. I wish to die for that man." The request was granted. "I am," argued the 47-year-old priest, "old and useless; he has a wife and children" Maximilian Kolbe comforted each one in the death chamber of Cell 18 as they prepared to die with dignity by prayers, Psalms, and the example of Christ's Passion. Two weeks later only four were left alive and Maximilian alone was still fully conscious. His guards could scarcely bear the saint's composure, and they speeded his end by injecting him with phenol.
Although Maximilian Kolbe had been a brilliant scientist, mathematician, and religious journalist, he is remembered for this last act of charity. Kolbe was epitomized the Polish religious and the many unsung heroes of the concentration camps. Pope John Paul II, previously archbishop of Cracow, canonized Father Kolbe in the presence of the sergeant whose life had been saved (Bentley, Farmer).
Blessed Sanctes Brancasino, OFM (AC)
Born at Monte Fabri near Urbino, Italy; died 1490; cultus approved by Pope Clement XIV. Sanctes was a Franciscan lay-brother at Scotameto, Italy (Benedictines).
Ursicius of Nicomedia M (RM)
Died 304. Ursicius, a tribune of the imperial army from Illyrium, was beheaded under Diocletian at Nicomedia (Benedictines).
Werenfrid of Arnheim, OSB (AC)
Died at Arnheim, c. 780. Werenfrid was an English missionary who accompanied Saint Willibrord to Frisia (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Werenfrid is vested for Mass holding a ship with a coffin in it. Sometimes his body is placed in a ship, with or without sails (Roeder). He is venerated at Arnheim, and is the patron of vegetable gardeners. Werenfrid is invoked against gout of stiff joints (Roeder).
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.