St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

King Saint Stephen of Hungary
(Optional Memorial)
August 16

Ambrose of Ferentino M (RM)
Died c. 303. The acta of the centurion Ambrose, who was martyred at Ferentino, Italy, during the Diocletian persecutions, are preserved only in a 14th-century manuscript (Benedictines).


Blessed Angelus Agostini Mazzinghi, OC (AC)
Born in Florence, Italy, 1377; died there in 1438; cultus approved in 1761. Angelus, a member of the influential Agostini family, became a Carmelite in Florence. After his priestly ordination, he taught theology and served as prior at the abbeys in Frascati and Florence, and later as provincial. He is revered as a model religious (Benedictines).


Armagillus of Brittany, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Armagilus, Armail, Armael, Armahel, Armel, Arthmael, Arzel, Ermel, Erme, Ermin, Ermyn, Hermel, Thiarmail)

Born in southern Wales; died c. 552-570. The monk Armagillus, a cousin of Saint Samson and Saint Cadfan, crossed the English Channel to Brittany with many kinsfolk. With the help of King Childebert, he founded and was abbot of Saint-Armel-des-Boscheaux and Plou- Ermel (Ploermel), which still has 8th-century, stained-glass windows depicting scenes from his life. A church called Saint Erme is dedicated to him in Cornwall, perhaps because King Henry VII of England believed that Armagillus's intercession saved him from shipwreck off the coast of Brittany. His earliest known vita dates only from the 12th century, but his cultus spread from Brittany to Normandy, Anjou, and Touraine. His feast was added to the Sarum Calendar in 1498 (Benedictines, Farmer, Roeder).

In art, Saint Armagillus is portrayed as a Benedictine abbot receiving envoys from the king (Roeder). There is a statue of Armagillus in Henry VII's chapel at Westminster, and another on Cardinal Morton's tomb at Canterbury. In paintings on the reredos (the decorative backdrop to the altar against a wall) of Romsey Abbey and elsewhere, he may be represented in armor and a chasuble, leading a dragon with a stole around its neck. This image recalls a legend that the saint lead a dragon to Mont-Saint-Armel and commanded it to dive into the river below (Farmer).

Saint Armagillus is invoked to cure headaches, fever, colic, gout, and rheumatism. He is the patron of hospitals (Farmer).


Arsacius (Ursacius) of Nicomedia (RM)
Died on August 24, 358. Saint Arsacius was a Persian soldier of the Roman army during the reign of Emperor Licinius. After his conversion he was persecuted for his faith but released. From that time he lived as a hermit in a tower overlooking Nicomedia, and became known for his miracles and gift of prophecy. He foretold the town's destruction by the earthquake of 358. Some of the survivors found refuge in the tower, where the found Arsacius dead body in an attitude of prayer (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).


Blessed Beatrix (Brites) of Silva, OSB Cist. Abbess (AC)
Born in Portugal in 1424; died 1490; cultus confirmed in 1926. As the daughter of the count of Viana, the 20-year-old Beatrix accompanied Princess Isabel of Portugal to the Spanish court. Shortly thereafter, Beatrix took the veil at the Cistercian Saint Dominic of Silos convent at Toledo. She later founded the Benedictine Congregation of the Immaculate Conception (Conceptionists), centuries before the definition of the perpetual sinlessness of the Blessed Mother. After Beatrix's death, Cardinal Cisneros gave the sisters the rule of Saint Clare (Benedictines).


Diomedes of Tarsus M (RM)
Born in Tarsus, Cilicia; died at Nicaea, Bithynia, c. 300-311. Physician by profession and zealous evangelist by advocation, Saint Diomedes was arrested and martyred for his faith under Diocletian (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Eleutherius of Auxerre B (RM)
Died 561. Bishop of Auxerre, France, from 532-561 (Benedictines).


Blessed Laurence Loricatus, OSB Hermit (AC)
Born at Fanello or Facciolo, Apulio, Italy, c. 1190; died at Subiaco in 1243; cultus approved in 1778 by Pius VI. Laurence was raised to be a soldier, but when his accidently killed a man, he was overcome with remorse. Laying aside his arms, he made a pilgrimage of penance and expiation to Santiago de Compostella. Upon his return to Italy, he entered the Benedictine monastery of Subiaco. He obtained permission to begin his 34 years of eremitical life among the ruins of one of the 12 monasteries founded on the mountain by Saint Benedict. There he practiced the strictest poverty by giving away any offerings left by visitors to the poor. Shepherds and pilgrims who discovered his hiding place soon joined him in building a small community. He was given the surname "loricatus" because he wore a coat of chain mail next to his skin as an act of penance. His fame attracted Cardinal Hugolino (a.k.a. Pope Gregory IX) who persuaded Laurence in 1224 to take off his breastplate. At the death of Laurence, Amico de Canterano, who had shared his life for 24 years, succeeded him as the leader. He wrote a book of prayers that is still extant. Although Pope Innocent IV opened the canonization process for Laurence in 1244--just a year after his death, it was never completed. His relics, including a manuscript in his own hand and his breastplate, are enshrined at the Sagro Speco (Saint Benedict's Cave) at Subiaco (Benedictines, Farmer).


Blessed Ralph de la Futaye, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Ralph de Flageio)

Died 1129. Ralph helped Blessed Robert of Arbrissel found a new Benedictine congregation, while he was a monk of Saint-Jouin-de-Marne. Thereafter, in 1092, Ralph was the abbot-founder of the double monastery of Saint-Sulpice in the diocese Rennes, France (Benedictines).


Rock of Montpellier (RM)
(also known as (Roch, Roche, Rocco, Rochus, Rollox, Roque, Rollock, Seemirookie)

Born at Montpellier, Languedoc, France, c. 1350; died 1380. There appears to be no agreement on the exact dates of Rock's birth and death. Some set his birth as early as 1295; deaths for his death range from 1325 to 1390 and calculate his life span at a range of 29 to 83 years. Obviously, there is no entirely reliable record of Rock's life; however, the legends are fairly consistent.

Rock's father, a rich merchant, was one of the magistrates of Montpellier, perhaps its governor. At the age of 20, the orphaned saint sold all his possessions and, dressed in sackcloth and barefoot, began a pilgrimage to Rome. When he reached northern Italy, he found most of the land ravaged by plague (which is the reason some believe it was in 1348). After nursing the sick in hospitals, he sought out those with no one to care for them, supposedly at Acquapendente, Cesena, Rome, Rimini, and Novara. Because there was no cure for the plague, anyone who tended those who had contracted the disease was hailed as a saint. But by Rock's ardent faith and loving care, many of the sick recovered, often when he made the Sign of the Cross over them.

He spent three years in Rome, praying every day at the tombs of the Apostles, begging for his food in the streets, and caring for the sick. On his way back home, he himself contracted the plague and fell sick near Piacenza in northern Italy. Rather than occupying a hospital bed that might be needed by someone else, Rock went into the woods to die. As he lay there, weakened by hunger and illness, a dog found him, but went away. Soon the dog returned with a piece of bread in its mouth that it had stolen from its master's table. Each day the same thing happened until the owner noticed the dog's behavior. One day he followed his pet into the forest. Between them they cured the saint, who before he left converted and baptized his benefactor. He then spent some time in Piacenza curing people, as well as their cattle.

Rock arrived in Montpellier during a period of civil unrest. No one, including his uncle who was then governor, recognized the young man who had been radically transformed by disease. Another version, judged more reliable, reports that Rock died in Angera (Angleria, Angers?), Lombardy, Italy, where he was captured as a spy. In either case, he was arrested and imprisoned for five years as a spy in the disguise of a pilgrim. He was found dead in the dungeon one day. Finally he was identified by a birthmark on his breast in the shape of a cross, when they stripped his body to prepare it for burial. He had been dead but a short time when his first posthumous miracle was wrought: the congenital limp of Justin, his jailer, was healed when he nudged Rock's body with his foot to determine that he was dead.

His canonization was hasten because a local plague broke out when the Council of Constance was assembled between 1414 and 1418. The delegates hastily begged Saint Rock's intercession, the plague ended, and Rock's cultus was approved. His relics are claimed by Arles and Venice, where Tintoretto decorated his church with a series of paintings. Saint Rokeshill in Sussex, England, recalls his memory. Saint Rock's cultus, which had declined during the 16th century, was revived by the papal approval of his office for hermitages and churches dedicated to him. It was reinvigorated during outbreaks of cholera in the 19th century (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, White).

In art, Saint Rock is a young pilgrim with one leg bared to show a plague spot. He often has a dog with him--the one that found him when he was ill, who may be licking the plague spot. Sometimes he is shown being visited by an angel as he lies among the plague- stricken (Roeder). Rock is one of the most popular patrons against the plague, especially in France, Germany, and Italy (Roeder). He is also the patron of physicians, surgeons, cattle, prisoners, Istanbul (White), street-pavers, old clothes dealers, cooks, and invoked against all contagious diseases (Encyclopedia).


Serena of Rome (RM)
Died c. 290. The Roman Martyrology, basing the information on the spurious acta of Saint Cyriacus, records that Saint Serena was the "sometime wife of the emperor Diocletian," the great persecutors of Christians. Her identity, however, is doubtful (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Simplician of Milan B (RM)
Died August 13, 400. In his old age Saint Simplician, a disciple of Saint Ambrose, succeeded his friend as bishop of Milan in 397, but lived to govern it for only three years. He played a leading role in the conversion of Saint Alipius and an ever-grateful Saint Augustine. The bishop of Hippo praised him for his learning and zeal (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).


Stephen (Istvan) of Hungary, King (RM)
Born at Esztergom, c. 975; died at Szekesfehervar (Buda), Hungary, on August 15, 1038; canonized by Gregory VII in 1083; feast day was September 2; feast of his translation, August 20.

Vaik (baptized Istvan or Stephen) and his father, the duke of Geza, were baptized the same day in 985 by Saint Adalbert of Prague. What is unusual is that Stephen should have grown into such a zealous Christian. His father had converted out of political necessity. The Magyars had settled in Hungary at the end of the 9th century and the elite had become nominal Christians.

In 995, Stephen married Gisela, sister of the man who would become Emperor Saint Henry II, and in 997 succeeded to his father's dukedom over the Magyars of Hungary. After engaging in warfare to consolidate the country, Stephen introduced limited feudalism, retained control over the people as a whole by reducing the powers of the nobles, abolished tribal divisions, and established counties with governors that he appointed.

Having restored order to the country and consolidated the Magyars into a national unity, he sent Saint Astrik (Anastasius) to Rome to obtain approval to organize an ecclesiastical hierarchy and to request that Pope Silvester II recognize him as king. The pope agreed, probably with the acquiescence of Emperor Otto III whose ambassadors were in Rome at the time. When the pope's legate arrived, Saint Stephen went to meet him and listened, standing with great respect as they were read, to the pope's bulls confirming Stephen's religious foundations and the elections of bishops. Thus, in 1001, Stephen was solemnly coronated the first king of Hungary with the crown sent to him by Pope Silvester. This is the famous crown captured in World War II by the American army and returned to Hungary by the United States in 1978.

Stephen, together with his wife, worked energetically for the conversion of his people to Christianity, establishing episcopal sees and monasteries; among his foundations were the Benedictine Saint Martin's Abbey of Pannonhalma, which still functions as such, and the see of Vesprem and the primatial see of Esztergom, which he placed in the hands of Saint Astrik, Hungary's first archbishop. He built the church in Szekesfehervar, where the Hungarian kings were crowned and buried. Stephen also secured the services of prominent foreign monks, such as Saint Gerard Sagredo, the abbot of San Giorgio Maggiore of Venice, who tutored Stephen's only son, the young Saint Emeric (Imre). His father had diligently trained his son to succeed him, but he died prematurely in a hunting accident in 1031.

But his methods with recalcitrant pagans were marked by the roughness of the age and place. He established Christianity as the state religion and severely punished superstitious customs derived from paganism. Blasphemy and adultery were equally treated as crimes such as theft and murder. He both commanded all except the clergy to marry and forbade marriages between Christians and pagans. Tithes were commanded to support the poor and the churches. Every tenth town was required to build a church and support a priest, and the king himself supplied the furnishings for each. At times there was a lively resistance, supported by his political rivals.

Saint Stephen holds an honored place in Hungarian history, and seems personally to have had a better title to sainthood than some other royal and national heroes. His own virtue was a silent sermon to all who knew him. He was accessible to all and treated the poor and oppressed with justice. He also used to distribute alms to the poor, sometimes in disguise, and almost lost his life in this activity.

His last years were embittered by ill-health and the shameless quarrels among his relatives regarding the succession to the crown. Miracles were claimed at his tomb shortly after his death. Stephen's relics were solemnly enshrined in the Church of Our Lady (Buda) in 1083 at the same time as those of his son Saint Emeric by order of Pope Saint Gregory VII (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Walsh, White).

In art, Saint Stephen is dressed in royal regalia with a sword and banner of the cross. He may also be shown (1) offering the regalia to the Virgin; (2) on horseback; (3) with his son, Saint Emeric (Roeder); (4) holding a church in his hand; or (5) holding a standard with the figure of the Blessed Virgin on it (White). Stephen is the patron saint of Hungary (Roeder).


Titus of Rome, Deacon M (RM)
Died c. 410 (or 426?). Long after the general persecutions of Christians had passed, the Roman deacon was killed by a soldier during the sacking of the city by the Goths. Titus's offense was distributing alms to the half-starved populace (Benedictines).


Uguzo (Lucius) of Carvagna M (AC)
Date unknown. Saint Uguzo's cultus, which has flourished in Milan since 1280, has been repeatedly approved by Rome. He was a poor shepherd in the mountains of Carvagna in the Italian Alps, who gave all his surplus to the poor and to churches. He was killed by one of his former employers who envied his virtue (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.