St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

Saint Lawrence of Justinian, Priest
(Regional Memorial)
September 5

Blessed Albert of Pontida, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died May 1, 1095. Albert, a soldier in the army of Bergamo, Italy, was severely wounded in battle. He vowed that if he were healed, he would enter religious life. When God healed him, he made a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostella. Upon his return he founded the Benedictine abbey of Pontida near Bergamo, dedicated it to the same Saint James (Santiago), and placed it under obedience to Saint Hugh of Cluny. His relics were enshrined in Santa Maria Maggiore at Bergamo, and, in 1928, they were returned to Pontida (Benedictines).


Albert of Butrio, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1073. Saint Albert founded and was the abbot of Butrio monastery in the diocese of Tortona, Italy (Benedictines).


Alvitus of León, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Avitus, Aluinus, Albinus)

Born in Spanish Galicia; died c. 1073. Saint Alvitus, a relative of Bishop Saint Rudesind of Mondoñedo, entered religious life at the Benedictine (Cluniac observance) abbey of Sahagún. In 1057, Alvitus was appointed bishop of León by King Ferdinand I. He transferred the relics of Saint Isidore from Seville to his diocese of León (Benedictines).


Bertinus of Sithiu, OSB Abbot (RM)
(also known as Bertin, Bercht)

Born near Coutances, France; died at Sithiu, c. 709. Saint Bertinus, one of the greatest Benedictine abbots, became a monk at Luxeuil under Saint Waldebert, who had replaced the Rule of Saint Columban with that of Saint Benedict. His friend, Bishop Saint Omer, invited him and two companions, Saints Mommolinus and Bertrand, to Thérouanne to assist him in evangelizing among the Morini in the low-lying, marshy land near Pas-de-Calais in northern France. The trio persisted despite great physical hardships.

They built the abbeys of Saint-Mommolinus and Sithiu. Bishop Omer appointed Mommolinus as abbot over both under the Rule of Saint Columban. When Mommolinus was consecrated bishop of Noyon about 661, Bertinus replaced him as abbot of Sithiu (called Saint-Bertin after his death) and built it into one of the great monastic, missionary, and agricultural centers of France. From there he spread the Gospel throughout the region. He was such an outstanding abbot that the monastery grew beyond its walls and spawned several new houses. Bertinus selected Saint Winnoc to establish one of these at Wormhoudt near Dunkirk. A church he built with Saint Omer near Sithiu in 663 later became the cathedral of the see of Saint Omer.

The location of Saint-Bertin helped to spread his cultus into Britain. Anglo-Saxon and early Norman ecclesiastics often stopped there on their way to and from Rome. They carried devotion to him home. Bertinus's relics were restored to his abbey in 1052 after having been removed for safekeeping during the invasions of the Northmen (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer).

In art, Saint Bertinus is portrayed as a Black Benedictine with a pastoral staff and a ship in his hand. The ship is his natural emblem because Sithiu was originally accessible only by water. He might also be shown as his soul is carried to heaven by angels (Roeder).


Eudoxius, Zeno, Macarius & Companions MM (RM)
2nd century. These martyrs led a band of Christian soldiers killed for the faith at Melitene, Armenia, under Constantius I. They are said to have numbered more than one thousand (Benedictines).


Genebald (Genebaud) of Laon B (AC)
Died c. 555. Saint Remi appointed his nephew, Saint Genebald, bishop of Laon, France. He is said to have performed seven years of continuous penance from a sin he committed (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Blessed Gentilis (Gentil) of Matelica, OFM M (AC)
Born at Matelica, Marches of Ancona, Italy; died 1340; cultus approved by Pius VI. Gentilis joined the Franciscans in Piceno, then was a hermit on Mount Alvernia. Gathering strength from his prayer, he sowed the faith in Italy, and then among the Islamics of Egypt, Arabia, and finally won martyrdom in Persia at Toringa (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).


Herculanus of Porto M (RM)
Died c. 180 (?). It is uncertain whether Saint Herculanus suffered during the reign of Marcus Aurelius or in another persecution. He died at Porto, near Rome (Benedictines).


Blessed Jordan of Pulsano, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1152. Jordan joined the Benedictine community of Pulsano during the abbacy of its founder, Saint John, and succeeded him as abbot-general from 1139 until his death (Benedictines).


Blessed Joseph Canh, OP Tert. M (AC)
Died 1838; beatified in 1900. Joseph, a Dominican tertiary, was a native physician of Tonkin (Vietnam) who was beheaded for the faith (Benedictines).


Laurence Giustiniani (Lawrence Justinian) B (RM)
Born at Venice, Italy, July 1, 1381; died in Venice on January 8, 1456; canonized in 1670; feast day formerly January 8; September 4 was the date of his episcopal consecration.

Saint Laurence was born into a prominent Venetian family that had produced important scholars, statesmen, prelates, and saints. Although his father, Bernard Giustiniani, died while he was still young, his pious mother lived only for her children and ensured they had an excellent education. From the cradle she recognized in Laurence an uncommon docility and generosity of soul that might point to a religious vocation, yet she desired to keep him for herself.

When he was 19, Laurence had a vision of the Eternal Wisdom in the guise of a maiden encircled with light. She invited him to seek her with happiness, rather than satiate his baser lusts. The youth confided his vision to his uncle, Marino Querino, an Augustinian canon of San Giorgio on Alga Island one mile from Venice. Don Querino recommended that he take on the austerities of a monk at home, that is, try on the role of a religious by putting aside honors, riches, and worldly pleasures, before entering religious life. His mother feared he would damage his health and tried to divert him by arranging a marriage.

Heeding his uncle's advice, he refused his mother's wish for him to marry and instead joined Querino in the monastery. As a young monk, he practice the most severe austerities and went about the city with a sack over his should to beg alms and food for the community. In 1406, Laurence was ordained to the priesthood and made prior of San Giorgio. His deep prayer life that often led to raptures and his spirit of penance provided him with experiential knowledge of the paths of the interior life and a wonderful ability to direct souls. The tears that he shed while offering Mass strongly affected all who assisted and awakened in them a renewed faith.

Thereafter he was general of the congregation, which at the time of his entry into the position had adopted a different rule. Laurence completed this rule by writing its constitutions, so that he became its second founder of this congregation of secular canons. He also preached widely during this time and taught theology.

In 1433, Pope Eugene IV forced Laurence to accept the see of Castello, which then included part of Venice in its diocesan boundaries. He would not be persuaded by the saint to change his mind and appoint a worthier bishop. He took possession of his cathedral so quietly that his own friends knew nothing about it until after the ceremony was complete. He was impatient with the temporal administration of his diocese, and delegated this work to others so that he might be free to personally look after his flock. In 1451, Pope Nicholas suppressed the see of Castello and transferred the patriarchal title of Grado to Venice with Laurence as archbishop.

The senate of the Venetian Republic, wary that this change might lead to a diminution of its prerogatives, began a debate over Laurence's jurisdiction. Laurence sought an audience with the assembled senate and declared his desire to resign a charge for which he was unfit, rather than to feel his burden increased by this additional dignity. His bearing so strongly affected the whole senate that the doge himself asked him not to entertain such a thought or to raise any obstacle to the pope's decree, and he was supported by the whole assembly. Laurence therefore accepted the new office and continually acted in such way that his reputation for goodness and charity increased.

He drew from his prayer life the light, vigor, and courage to direct the diocese as easily as if it had been a single, well- regulated monastery. As bishop of the Jewel of the Adriatic, Laurence did a great deal to restore Saint Mark's and other churches; he also enhanced the beauty of the service. He added parishes, tried to elevate the pastoral work, and to inspire both the secular and the cloistered clergy with his zeal. Not only was he known for his piety, but also for his ability as a peace maker, his spiritual knowledge, and his gifts of prophecy and miracles. He overcame opposition by meekness and patience. Under his direction, the whole spirit of the diocese was changed; crowds flocked to him for spiritual and material aid.

He was of a boundless generosity toward the poor and needy, and stinted himself as regards his dwelling, table, and dress to a point which the strictest orders could not surpass. It is interesting to note that he rarely gave monetary aid except in small amounts because he thought it might be ill-spent. In fact, when a relative asked him for a dowry for his daughter, he replied: "A little is not enough for you; and if I gave you much, I would be robbing the poor." Nevertheless he was open-handed with food and clothes. He even employed married women to seek out those who might need relief but who were too bashful to ask for it.

The writings of Saint Laurence on mystical contemplation, especially The degrees of perfection, are sublime in their simplicity. They are practical, not speculative, and intended to assist the clergy. He had just finished The degrees of perfection when he was seized with a sharp fever. As he lay dying, someone tried to give him a featherbed, but he refused it, saying: "My Savior did not die on a featherbed, but upon the hard wood of the Cross." He was troubled and restless until they laid him on straw.

The saint had no will to make, because he no longer possessed anything of which he could have disposed. During the two days of his illness after he received the last sacraments, many of the city came to receive his blessing. He insisted that the beggars be admitted, as well as the elite, and gave to each a short, final instruction.

Laurence was venerated by popes even in his lifetime. When Eugene IV met him once in Bologna, he greeted Laurence: "Welcome, ornament of bishops!" The saint's nephew and biographer, Bernardo Giustiniani, relates that the corpse remained 67 days without burial. He emphasizes that it was on view for the multitudes that came from afar, and that doctors examined the body and could give no explanation for its incorrupted state (Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Schamoni, Walsh).

In art, Saint Laurence is best recognized by his face, which is typically Venetian: thin, long-nosed, and austere. He has dark, hollow eyes, and an ascetic, rather Dantesque mouth. Laurence seldom wore the grandiose insignia of a bishop. Most often he is portrayed in a severe Venetian gown and close-fitting cap. He may also be shown (1) distributing the vessels of the Church during a famine; (2) as an episcopal cross and banner are carried in front of him and a mitre carried behind him; (3) holding a book, his hand raised to bless; or (4) giving alms (Roeder).


Madrona (Madryne, Matrona)
Born in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; died March 15, 300. Saint Madrona, which means "mistress of the house" in Catalan, was an orphan of Barcelona, then a Roman town on the slope of Mount Jongjuic (Mount Jupiter). Tradition tells us that the orphan searched for life and love and found it in the Catholic faith in Jesus Christ, which had been brought to her hometown by the disciples of Saint Paul. Her rich, powerful, and pagan uncle offered Madrona a home and adopted her. He took her with him when he went to Italy and settled Rome, which he thought would protect her from the corruption of faith in the new God. But in the heart of Catholicism, Madrona discovered the light of faith and was baptized. In order to live more perfectly as a Christian, Madrona dedicated her virginity to her Savior, the supreme fruit of Christian love. Her zeal was demonstrated by her perseverance. At the age of 15, she was martyred when repeated scourging and hunger caused her death in prison (Encyclopedia).


Melchior Grodziecki (Grondech), Istvan (Stephen) Pongracz, SJ, & Marko Krizevcanin (Mark Crisin or Körösy) MM (RM)
Born in Silesia, Poland (now Czech), in 1584 (Grodziecki) and Transylvania, Hungary, 1583 (Pongracz) and Croatia (Körösy); died in Kosice, Hungary, September 5, 1619; beatified by Pius X in 1905; canonized by John Paul II on July 2, 1995.

These two aristocratic martyrs of Kosice died in the religious wars with Hungarian Calvinists. Grodziecki met Pongracz in the Jesuit novitiate at Brno in 1603. They completed the usual course of Jesuit studies in Moravia, Bohemia, and Hungary. When the Hungarian king requested the services of Jesuits to care for Roman Catholics neglected during the 30 Years War, Pongracz was sent to work with Hungarians, and Grodziecki the slavic- and German-speaking peoples. Their ministries were so successful that they became notorious with their Calvinist opponents.

In 1619, the Calvinist prince of Transylvania sought to conquer Kosice to expand his domain. The town fell on September 5 during the Battle of Kosice. The two Jesuits together with the Croatian diocesan priest, Marko Krizevcanin, were captured. Throughout their imprisonment, attempts were made to convert them to Calvinism. They suffered cruel martyrdoms similar to that of Saint Andrew Bobola. Father Krizevcanin was the first to be beheaded, then Grodziecki. Father Pongracz survived the beheading and was dumped with the dead bodies into a sewer to reflect upon his life for an additional day. Their followers were unable to give the bodies Christian burial until 20 years later when their relics were interred in the monastery of Saint Clare in Trnava (Benedictines, and information from a Jesuit website that I forgot to mark).


Obdulia of Toledo V (RM)
Date unknown. Saint Obdulia relics are enshrined at Toledo, where she is venerated as a virgin (Benedictines).


Quintius, Arcontius, and Donatus MM (RM)
Date unknown. These martyrs are venerated at Capua and in other parts of southern Italy (Benedictines).


Romulus the Courtier M (RM)
Died c. 112. Saint Romulus, as his name implies, was a courtier of the Emperor Trajan. Because he chastised his master for his cruelty to the Christians he was given a share in their fate (Benedictines).


Urban, Theodore and Companions MM (RM)
Died 370. Saints Urban and Theodore led a band of 80 priests and clerics who were travelling to appeal to the emperor for relief against the persecutions of his Arian co-emperor Valens. The Arian allowed the holy men to perish on a burning ship for their impudence (Benedictines).


Victorinus of Como B (AC)
Died 644. Bishop Saint Victorinus was a zealous opponent of the Arians (Benedictines).


Victorinus BM (RM)
Died 2nd century. According to the spurious Gesta Nerei et Achillei, Saint Victorinus is said to have been a bishop who, with Saints Maro and Eutyches, accompanied Saint Flavia Domitilla, in her exile to Ponza. He suffered martyrdom in Rome under Trajan (Benedictines).


Vitus of Pontida, OSB (AC)
Died c. 1095. Saint Vitus became a Benedictine monk at Pontida near Bergamo, Italy, during the abbacy of its founder, Blessed Albert (Benedictines).


Blessed William Browne M (AC)
Born in Northamptonshire; died at Ripon, England, in 1605; beatified in 1929. William, a Catholic layman, was hanged in England for the faith (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).



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.