Memorial of Saint Monica
Blessed Agilo of Sithiu, OSB Abbot (PC)
Died 957. Saint Gerard of Brogne invited Agilo, a monk of Saint-Aper in Toul, France, to restore the monastic discipline at Sithin's Saint Bertin (Benedictines).
Blessed Angelus of Foligno, OSA Erem. (AC)
Born in Foligno, Italy, 1226; died 1312; cultus confirmed in 1891. Angelus entered the Augustinian friary when he was 20. Like Blessed Angelus of Borgo San Sepolcro, he was a good friend of Saint Nicholas of Tolentino. Angelus founded three Augustinian houses in Umbria (Benedictines).
Anthusa the Younger VM (RM)
Date unknown. Saint Anthusa is believed to have been a Persian, who was martyred there by being sewn into a sack and drowned in a well (Benedictines).
Caesarius of Arles B (RM)
Born at Châlons, Burgundy, France, c. 470; died at Arles, August 27 c. 542. Caesarius is depicted in art as a bishop led by people with candles. He is especially venerated at Arles, France (Roeder). This entry will be completed in 1999.
David Lewis, SJ Priest M (RM)
Born at Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, in 1616; died at Usk, August 27, 1679; beatified in 1929; canonized in 1970 by Pope Paul VI as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
David was the son of a Protestant school teacher and a Catholic mother. Amazingly enough, he was the only one of the nine siblings to have been raised as a Protestant--but that did not last for long. After studying law at the Middle Temple in London, he accompanied a nobleman's son to the Continental as his tutor. While visiting Paris, David was converted to Catholicism.
By 1638, he was studying for the priesthood at the English college in Rome. Two years after his ordination in 1642, he joined the Jesuits, who sent him to the English mission for a short time, then recalled him to Rome to serve as the spiritual director for the English college.
In 1648, David was sent to Wales, where he used the alias Charles Baker and a farmhouse at Cwm (Monnow Valley) in southern Wales as his headquarters for the next 31 years. This same inconspicuous building was the College of Saint Francis Xavier, the center for Jesuit missionary activities in western England. When the persecution of Catholics was unleashed by the fictitious Titus Oates Plot, David escaped Cwm but was betrayed by a servant and captured at Llanfihangel Llantarnam. Following a two-month imprisonment at Monmouth, he was tried at Usk. Although no evidence could be found to link him to the conspiracy, he was convicted of being a Catholic priest, hanged, drawn, and quartered.
He is buried in a now Anglican parish in Usk, with a prominent grave stone giving the details of his canonization in Latin and English. There is an annual, well-attended pilgrimage to Usk, which begins with Mass at the Catholic church and continues with a processional Rosary to Saint David's grave (Benedictines, Delaney).
Decuman (Dagan) of Wales M (AC)
Died 716; feast day in Norwich and Roscarrock is August 30. A 15th-century vita tells us that Saint Decuman was a Welsh monk from Rhoscrowther (Llandegyman), Pembrokeshire (Dyfed), who settled as a hermit near Dunster in Somersetshire, where he was beheaded by an assassin while in prayer. The legend continues that he carried his own head to a nearby well. He appears to have had a well-established cultus in Cornwall, Wales, and Somerset, where there are dedications in his honor. He is the patron of Watchet and Saint Decumans in Somerset, England (Benedictines, Farmer). In art, Saint Decuman is portrayed as hermit holding a processional cross (Roeder).
Ebbo of Sens, OSB B (AC)
Born in Tonnerre, France; died 740. About 709, Saint Ebbo, a monk of Saint-Pierre-le-Vif, was consecrated bishop of Sens, France. He saved the city when it was besieged by Saracens in 725 (Benedictines).
Blessed Ebbo of Hamberg (Hamburg), OSB Abbot
Etherius (Alermius) of Lyons B (AC)
Died 602. Saint Gregory the Great commended Saint Etherius to Augustine of Canterbury, who was en route from Rome to his see in England (Benedictines).
Euthalia of Lentini VM (RM)
Date unknown. The Bollandists are unconvinced of the existence of this presumed virgin martyr of Leontini, Sicily (Benedictines).
Blessed Gabriel Mary (AC)
Born near Clermont, France, in 1463; died 1532; cultus approved in 1647. Gilbert Nicholas felt called to the religious life, but he was rejected by several. He was finally received into the Franciscan Observant house of Notre-Dame-de-la-Fon near Rochelle, where he took the name Gabriel Mary. He was the confessor of Saint Jane de Valois and assisted her in the foundation of the order of Annonciades (Benedictines). In art, Blessed Gabriel Mary is generally portrayed with Blessed Jane de Valois, a crowned abbess with rosary and crucifix (Roeder).
Gebhard of Constance B (AC)
Died 995. In 983, Bishop Gebhard of Constance (979-995) founded the Benedictine monastery of Petershausen near Constance, where he was buried (Benedictines). In art, Saint Gebhard is depicted as a bishop with a crowned skull bearing a papal tiara near him or on a book. He may be shown reaching his staff to a lame man or with the Blessed Virgin appearing to him. He is venerated at Petershausen (Roeder).
Honoratus, Fortunatus, Arontius (Orontius) & Sabinian (Savinian) MM (RM)
Died c. 303. This quartet was beheaded at Potenza under Maximian. They are among the groups commemorated under the appellation of "The Twelve Holy Brothers" (Benedictines).
Hugh or Little Hugh of Lincoln (AC)
Died (Friday) August 27, 1255. This Hugh of Lincoln is another of the several boys who were said at various times and places to have been martyred by the Jews, often during the Paschal season. "Little" Hugh's legend is enshrined in Chaucer's Prioress's Tale. Hugh was said to have been lured into the home of a Jew name Koppin (of Joppin), who scourged the little boy, crowned him with thorns, crucified him, and then threw his body into a well. The story continues that when Koppin and other Jews were arrested, Koppin confessed the crime, denounced his co-religionist, and explained that it was the Jewish custom to crucify a Christian child annually.
Some versions of the tale become outrageously gruesome. One reports that the child's nose and upper lip were cut off, some of his upper teeth broken, and after the crucifixion his side was pierced with a sword out of hatred for Christ.
According to the evidence presented, it seems more likely that the eight-year-old fell into a cesspit while chasing a ball and was discovered a month later by Jews gathered for the wedding of the daughter of a chief rabbi. Fearing that they would be unjustly charged, they tried to hide the body. It was found with the stomach ruptured (the gases of corruption may have caused the stomach to burst) and 93 Jews were arrested.
King Henry III conducted the trial concerning Hugh's death, which led to the execution of 19 Jews by hanging at Lincoln. (Another version says that they were dragged to death by horses.) The others were bailed out of prison by Franciscans who interceded for them and paid heavy fines. Miracles were reported when Hugh's body was recovered from the well. It should be noted that there is no evidence of any ritual killing of the type described (Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth, Shepperd)
John of Pavia B (RM)
Died 813. Bishop of Pavia, Lombardy, Italy, from 801 to 813 (Benedictines).
Licerius (Lizier) of Counserans B (RM)
Born in Lérida(?), Spain; died c. 548. The Spanish Saint Licerius migrated to France. In 506, he became bishop of Counserans (now part of the see of Pamiers), which he governed for 44 years. The Roman Martyrology mistakenly calls him the bishop of Lérida (Ilerda) (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Malrubius, Hermit (AC)
Died c. 1040. Malrubius, an anchorite in Merns (Kincardineshire), Scotland, was entirely occupied by penitential exercises and meditation. During the Norwegian incursion he left his cell to minister to his countrymen. He also tried to use the opportunity to preach the Gospel to the intruders, but instead he was martyred (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Marcellinus (Marcellus), Mannea, John Serapion, Peter & Comp. MM (RM)
Died c. 303. The acta we have for this group of Egyptian martyrs is authentic. Marcellinus (a tribune), his wife Mannea, his three sons (John, Serapion, and Peter), a bishop, three clergymen, eight other laymen, and another woman who comprised the entire Christian community of a small place (now believed to be Oxyrinchus), were taken to Thmuis and beheaded (Benedictines).
Margaret the Barefooted, Widow (RM)
Born at San Severino (near Ancona), Italy; died 1395. At the age of 15, the poor girl Margaret was married to a man who abused her. She bore it with patience for many years (Benedictines).
Monica, Matron (RM)
Born at Tagaste or Carthage, North Africa, in 331-2; died at Ostia, Italy, in 387.
Monica, the eldest of three children of Christian parents, was reared by a family retained, who led her charges in a strict life. According to one story, the servant never allowed them to drink between meals because, "It is water you want now, but when you become mistresses of your own cellar, you will want wine--not water--and the habit will remain with you. Nevertheless, when as a young girl she was given the duty of drawing wine for the family, she ignored the maxim and indulged in wine until the day an angry servant caught her drunk and called her a "winebibber." From that day she made a vow (that she kept) that she would never drink anything but water.
She married the pagan Patricius who had an uncontrollable temper. Her mother-in-law, also a pagan, usually sided with Patricius and told false tells to the servants about Monica, who met all their insults with silence. Although he felt some contempt for her devoutness and generosity to the poor, he respected her. Her silence would overcome her husband's wrath. He never physically abused her, despite his explosive temper, and when other women showed her bruises received at the hands of their husbands, Monica told them that their tongues brought the treatment upon them.
Over time her meekness, humility and prayers transformed Patricius, who became a catechumen, and her mother-in-law. The formerly formal relationship of the couple developed into a warm, spiritual devotion. He died a happy death soon after his baptism in 370.
The marriage produced three children that lived: Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua. Her eldest, Saint Augustine, was born in 354. He was inscribed as a catechumen in infancy, but was not baptized. He was gifted with a mother who spoke often of God's love and her faith.
When widowed about 371, at the age of 40, Monica vowed to belong wholly to God, renounced all worldly pleasures, and ministered to the poor and orphaned while still fulfilling her maternal duties, especially the conversion of her wayward son.
The family was relatively poor, but a rich citizen of Tagaste met Augustine's educational expenses at the university in Carthage. Monica hoped studying philosophy and science would bring back her wayward son to God, but she did not realize Carthage was a seething mass of iniquity.
Augustine had a 15-year, faithful common-law marriage and a son named Adeodatus or "given by God." In Carthage, he joined the heretical Manichees and persuaded others to follow suit. The Manichean doctrine that bodily actions had no moral significance brought relief to Augustine's troubled soul. He returned to Tagaste for his vacation and Monica threw him out. When Monica heard that Augustine had become a Manichean and was living a dissolute life, she refused to allow him to live in her home. He was not to return until he had renounced his errors and submitted to the truth. Unlike many modern minds, Monica refused to allow her son's life to be devastated by a vain deceit.
Then she had a vision in which she seemed to be standing on a wooden beam, despairing of his fall, when a shining being asked her the reason for her lamentation. She answered and he told her to stop crying. Looking toward the spot he indicated, she saw Augustine standing of the beam next to her. She repeated the vision to her son, and he replied playfully that they might easily be together if Monica renounced her faith.
After completing his studies, Augustine opened a school of oratory in Carthage and instructed his disciples in the principles of Manicheism. In doing so, he discovered that the Manicheans were more adept in attacking Catholicism than in establishing the truth of their own theories. And his new religion was incapable of relieving his grief at the death of a close friend.
Augustine tells us that Monica shed "more tears for my spiritual death than other mothers shed for the bodily death of a son." Monica kept praying for her son's conversion for 17 years. To add power to her prayers, she fasted, making Holy Communion her daily food and she was often favored with the grace of ecstasy. An unnamed bishop comforted her that her son was young and stubborn, but that God's time would come because "The son of so many tears cannot possibly be lost."
At the age of 29, Augustine finally tired of the frivolity of Carthage, moved to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to accompany him, but he tricked her and sailed alone. Soon after his arrival he became deathly ill. He recovered and opened his school. Monica fretted because of the tone of his letters and the reputed vice of Rome, so she followed him after selling her few remaining possessions. In the meantime, Saint Symmachus offered Augustine a chair in rhetoric in Milan, after he won a competition. When she arrived in Rome, he had already left, but she hurried on to Milan.
Upon arrival in Milan, Augustine had paid a courtesy visit to Bishop Saint Ambrose, to whom he felt attraction of a kindred spirit. Augustine came to love the bishop as a father and went every Sunday to hear Ambrose as an orator as he preached. At the age of 30, Augustine began to see the folly of Manicheism and its gross misrepresentation of the Church, but he still did not believe. When Monica arrived in Milan, her first visit was also to Ambrose and they understood one another at once. She became his faithful disciple and Ambrose's "heart warmed to Monica because of her truly pious way of life, her zeal in good works, and her faithfulness in worship. Often when he saw [Augustine] he would break out in praise of her, congratulating [the son] on having such a mother." And Augustine wryly notes: "He little knew what sort of a son she had."
Monica turned to Ambrose for spiritual direction, especially in regards to practice. In response to one of her questions on fasting, he gave the famous response: "When I am here, I do not fast on Saturday, but I fast when I am in Rome; do the same, and always follow the custom and discipline of the Church as it is observed in the particular locality in which you find yourself."
Monica and Augustine began to attend Mass together and to discuss the bishop's sermons afterwards. Monica had deeply studied philosophy and theology so that she might be able to deal intelligently with Augustine's difficulties. He began to realize how many things he believed that he could not prove, but accepted on the testimony of others. And so Augustine fulfilled the maxim that "conversions are rarely brought about though an immediate influx of divine grace, but through the agency of events and persons." Saint Monica used every possible wile to bring her son into contact with the bishop.
Augustine had reached a critical point, he must choose God or his mistress. Ever the meddlesome mother, Monica arranged a marriage for him but had to leave him to his decision. She began her penitential discipline in a convent.
Meanwhile Augustine attracted a group of friends in Milan with whom he daily read and discussed the Scriptures. An old priest, Saint Simplicianus, told him of the courageous conversion of old Victorinus, whose translation of Plato he had been reading and convicted Augustine of his cowardice. Pontitianus told him of the life of Saint Antony the Hermit and of how two courtiers had been converted by reading his story.
Immediately after Augustine finally recognized the darkness of his soul, his eyes fell upon Paul's epistle, "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh and the concupiscence thereof." Saint Alypius, his friend, too opened the book and read, "He that is weak in faith take unto you."
Augustine went at once to Monica and told her what had happened. Her agony was ended! He attributed his conversion primarily to her. When his instruction was over, he was baptized by Ambrose on Holy Saturday, 387.
Monica's faith purchased for the Catholic Church its keenest philosopher, most comprehensive theologian, most persuasive apologist, and most far-seeing moralist, a wise administrator, a powerful preacher, and a penetrating mystic. Countless now live under the Augustinian rule.
Four years after their arrival in Milan, during a stop at Ostia en route back to Tagaste, Monica told her son: "What I am still to do, or why I still linger in this world, I do not know. There was one reason, one alone, for which I wish to tarry a little longer: that I might see you a Catholic Christian before I die. God has granted me this boon, and more, for I see you his servant, spurning all earthly happiness. What is left for me to do in this life?" Saint Monica died about two weeks later at the age of 56, Augustine was then 33.
Saint Monica's relics are enshrined at Saint Augustine's Church in Rome near the Piazza Navona; other relics are at Arrouaise (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, S. Delany, White).
In art, Saint Monica is portrayed in widow's reeds or a nun's habit in scenes with her son Augustine. She might also be shown: (1) enthroned with a book among Augustinian nuns; (2) kneeling with Augustine with an angel over them as she holds a scarf, handkerchief, or book in her hand; (3) praying before an altar with Augustine; (4) saying farewell to him as he departs by ship; (5) holding a tablet engraved with IHS (Roeder); or (6) receiving a monstrance from an angel (White). In this 15th-century Flemish painting, Saint Monica is shown with the Madonna and Child, and Saints Augustine, John the Baptist, and Nicholas of Tolentino.
She is venerated at Ostia (near Rome), Italy, and in all Augustinian houses (Roeder). She is the patron saint of married women and mothers (White).
Narnus of Bergamo B (RM)
Died c. 75. Said to have been the first bishop of Bergamo, Italy, and to have been consecrated by Saint Barnabas (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Poemen (Poemon, Pastor) of Skete, Hermit Abbot (RM)
Died c. 450. Poemen was one of the most famous of the Egyptian desert fathers. He lived at Skete and was abbot of the nearby hermits who lived in the abandoned ruins of a pagan temple at Terenuth (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Rufus and Carpophorus (Carpone) MM (RM)
Died 295. Rufus was a deacon according to the untrustworthy acta of this duo. They were martyred at Capua, Italy, during the Diocletian persecutions. Nothing more is known with certainty (Benedictines).
Rufus (Rufinus) of Capua BM (RM)
1st century. The Roman Martyrology calls Saint Rufus bishop of Capua, Italy, and a disciple of Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna. He may be more properly identified with the deacon Rufus because he does not appear to have been a bishop. His legend says that he was the father of a girl whom Apollinaris raised from the dead (Benedictines, Farmer).
Syagrius (Siacre) of Autun B (AC)
Died 600; feast day September 2 in some martyrologies. Bishop Syagrius of Autun (c. 560-600) was active in political and ecclesiastical affairs. He was involved in trying to re-establish peace in Saint Radegund's Holy Cross monastery at Poitiers. He travelled to Nanterre with King Saint Gontram of Burgundy for the baptism of Clotaire II. At the recommendation of Saint Gregory the Great, he hosted Saint Augustine of Canterbury on his way to England. That same holy pope entrusted many important commissions to Syagrius, granted him the pallium, and decreed that he and his successors should have precedence after the archbishop of Lyons. A celebrated relic of Saint Syagrius is displayed at Val-de-Grace in Paris (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
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.