Feast of the Birth of Mary
Adela of Messines, OSB Widow (PC)
Died Ypres, Flanders, 1071. Saint Adela, widow of Count Baldwin IV of Flanders, received the Benedictine habit from Pope Alexander II and retired to Messines Convent near Ypres (Benedictines).
Adrian (Hadrian) M and Natalia (RM)
Adrian died at Nicomedia on March 4, c. 304; other feasts for the martyr are celebrated on March 4 and August 26; September 8 is the date of the translation of his relics to Rome.
Saint Adrian, a Roman imperial officer (either a pagan or a catechumen), watched as 23 Christians were being beaten before Emperor Maximian at the imperial court of Nicomedia. Their bravery prompted him to cry out, "Let me be counted as one of these, for I too am a Christian."
When his Christian wife of 13 months, Natalia, learned the reason for her husband's arrest, she was extremely proud. She ministered to Adrian and his fellow prisoners, who suffered excruciating tortures, and arranged for her husband to be catechized while interned. After Adrian had been sentenced to death, visitors were forbidden, but Natalia disguised herself as a boy and bribed her way into the prison to ask Adrian's prayers for her in heaven.
Natalia accompanied her husband to the executioner's block where he was to be cut to pieces. As the axe dismembered Adrian over an anvil, Natalia managed to save one of his hands. Distraught, she had to be restrained from casting herself into the fire when Adrian's body was burned with those of other martyrs. A rain storm extinguished the fire, allowing the Christians to gather the remains and bury them. (Another version of the story relates that the prisoners were to be burned to death, but the rain put out the fire.)
A few months later a pagan official began pestering Natalia to marry him. She had no intention of consorting with the heathen who had been responsible for Saint Adrian's death. She set sail to Argyropolis on the Bosporus, near Constantinople, taking her husband's hand with her. There she died peacefully on December 1 and is said to have been buried among the martyrs. Adrian's relics were later translated to Rome, then to Decline, Flanders, where they were placed by Count Baldwin VI (husband of Saint Adela of Messines) in the abbey now named Saint Adrian (if I understood this circuitous tale correctly). Many miracles were wrought at this shrine and attributed to Saint Adrian.
It is unknown which version or how much of this romantic story is true. There were two martyrs named Adrian who suffered at Nicomedia: one under Diocletian and the other under Licinius (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Husenbeth, White).
In art, Saint Adrian is portrayed as a Roman soldier with an anvil. His hand may be chopped off on the anvil or Natalia may be shown holding his severed limbs (Roeder). Sometimes he may be shown with a sword, lion, or hammer; as being thrown from a cliff into the sea (perhaps another Adrian?), or being brought to land by dolphins(?) (White). Adrian is the patron of soldiers, butchers (Roeder), arms dealers (who use anvils in their work), and prison guards, and is invoked against the plague (White). They are venerated in Lisbon (Roeder).
Blessed Alanus de Rupe, OP (PC)
(also known as Alain or Alan de la Roche)
Born in Brittany, France, 1428; died in Zwolle, the Netherlands, c. 1475-79; cultus never officially confirmed.
Alan de la Roche is credited by many with inventing, popularizing, or revising the Rosary. Although he began the claim that Saint Dominic was the inventor of the Rosary (or the recipient of it from the Blessed Mother herself), the Jesuit Bollandists, Herbert Thurston (one of the foremost hagiographers ever), and the prudent Cardinal Schuster all agree that the first biographers of Dominic did not make this claim. In fact, there is evidence that the Rosary was in existence long before Dominic was born. It is clear that the legend of the origin of the Rosary as a gift from the Blessed Virgin to Saint Dominic while he was in ecstasy was begun by Blessed Alan
Some object to the extravagant miracles he relates in his popular book on the subject. Nevertheless, he founded the Confraternity of the Psalter of Jesus and Mary (now called the Confraternity of the Rosary) in Douai, France, in 1470. The first printed manual of the Confraternity of the Rosary, which explained how to say it and laid out the now general 15 mysteries, was published in Cologne in 1476.
Alan entered the Dominican Order at Dinan in the diocese of Saint- Malo in Brittany when religious life in the region was at a low ebb. He migrated from there to the Netherlands, where he preached, wrote, and organized. He was extraordinarily devoted to the Blessed Mother and never missed an opportunity to preach the Rosary.
Much of his history is shrouded because records were destroyed during the wars of the times in which he lived. He was a professor at Saint-Jacques in Paris, Lille, and Douai, so he must have been a capable and sound theologian. He received his master's degree in sacred theology in 1474. His best-known work was done in the Rheinland near Cologne, but he travelled throughout Europe including Poland, where he was visitator. By the time of his death, he was such a popular figure that it is difficult to sift the legend from the fact.
Alan is supposed to have had a vision of the Blessed Mother, who encouraged him to revive devotion to the Rosary. Thus, he preached on it and Saint Dominic, especially in Germany, where the founder's personal influence had never been felt. He also hoped that the confraternity he founded at Douai would become an international one. Previously such local groups were started by soon died out.
He (or Father James Sprenger) established a confraternity at Cologne during wartime, and centered it around the Rosary Altar, at which the faithful prayed for peace. When peace was won, he arranged for a feast of thanksgiving. He also petitioned Emperor Frederick III to arrange with the pope for an international confraternity to be begun and unified and organized to last by establishing certain obligations of prayer and penance for its members. The feast was held on the Feast of the Birth of Mary in 1479. The emperor's signature was first on the Register of the Confraternity, followed by that of his wife Eleanor and son Maximilien, then all his court. Blessed Alan died that very day.
But his confraternity did not die with him. Five thousand names were added within the first few months; 50,000 by the end of the year. In less than 25 years, the confraternity had reached every corner of Europe, perhaps because it meant so much for isolated individuals to be united in such an international effort and share in the work and merit of a great religious order. Membership offered indulgences never before available to the laity. Members were required to enroll with the Dominican fathers, say either the 150 Psalms or the complete Rosary once weekly, and receive the sacraments at stated times. Members were also allowed to enroll deceased friends and relatives who could then share in the indulgences. The confraternity still exists today in every Dominican parish, and the indulgences are yet available (Benedictines, Dorcy, Encyclopedia).
In art, Blessed Alanus is depicted as a Dominican holding a banner of the rosary as the Blessed Virgin takes him by the hand (Roeder).
Ammon, Theophilus, Neoterius & Companions MM (RM)
Date unknown. A group of 25 Christians martyred at Alexandria. All the names are known, but not the date or other information (Benedictines).
Corbinian of Freising B (RM)
Born at Châtres (near Melun), France; died 730. This early apostle of Bavaria was baptized Waldegiso after his father, but his mother changed his name to Corbinian, after herself--it must a been a very interesting family life! He lived as a anchorite for 14 years in a cell that he built near a chapel in Châtres on the road to Orléans. The fame of his sanctity, which was increased by the occurrence of several miracles and the prudent advice that he gave in spiritual matters, drew several followers whom he formed into a religious community under his discipline.
The distraction that this gave him made him think of seeking some new place where he might live in obscurity, and because he also had a devotion to Saint Peter, he determined to go to Rome and become an anchorite. He visited Pope Saint Gregory II to received his apostolic blessing on his new undertaking. But when the holy father discovered the saint's abilities, he admonished Corbinian to use his talents to harvest God's fields. The Frank agreed because he had learned to listen to what he thought was God's voice.
So Gregory sent Corbinian, who may already have been a bishop or who was so consecrated by Gregory, to preach in Bavaria, where he put himself under the protection of Duke Grimoald. After having successfully increased the number of Christians, he fixed his residence at Freising, in Upper Bavaria, which, however, did not become a regular episcopal see until Saint Boniface made it such in 739.
Though indefatigable in his apostolic duties, Corbinian was careful not to undertake more than he could handle, lest he should forget what he owed to his own soul. He always performed the divine office leisurely, and reserved several hours daily for holy meditation, so that he would have the spiritual resources with which to complete his obligations in the mission field.
When Saint Corbinian discovered that his Christian patron Grimoald had defied Church discipline by marrying his brother's widow, Biltrudis, he refused to deal with the duke until they separated. But the lady Biltrudis was offended by this truth and persecuted Corbinian in the hope of cowing him into allowing her to be reinstated. She abused him as a foreign interloper, specifically, a British bishop--which of course he was not. Losing hope she conspired to have him murdered. The saint took refuge at Meran, and remained in semi-exile until Grimoald (who had rejoined Biltrudis in his absence) was killed in battle shortly after and Biltrudis was carried off by the Franks.
Thereafter, Corbinian was recalled by Grimoald's successor, and continued his missionary work throughout Bavaria. Corbinian was buried at a monastery he had founded at Obermais, at Meran, but his body was brought to Freising in 765 by Aribo, his second successor and biographer (Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth, Walsh).
In art, Saint Corbinian is portrayed as a bishop making a bear carry his luggage because it has eaten his mule. The image may show just the bishop and a bear. Corbinian might also be shown with Duke Grimoald at his feet and the bear and mule in the background (Roeder).
Disibod (Disibode, Disen) of Bingen, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 700. Disibod was an Irishman, perhaps a bishop, who became disillusioned by his unsuccessful attempts to reform his compatriots. He migrated to the Continent with several companions. There they founded a monastery on a hill in the Nahe Valley near Bingen, Germany, which became known as Disibodenberg or Disenberg (Mons Disibodi). There they were more successful in winning souls for Christ. The monastery later became famous as the residence of Saint Hildegard, who wrote his vita in 1170 based on a mystical revelation. The few facts in the vita are simply the traditions about him that were then current (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth, Montague). In art, Saint Disibod sits reading in a cell with a rosary and cross, his episcopal insignia at his feet. There are also some pictures of Disibod with Saint Hildegard of Bingen (Roeder). He is venerated at Disenberg and Bingen (Roeder).
Eusebius, Nestabus, Zeno, and Nestor MM (RM)
Died 362. These martyrs were massacred by a mob in the Gaza, Palestine, during the reign of Julian the Apostate because they had desecrated a pagan temple. The first three are brothers; Saint Nestor is the youth who was said to have died the day after his comrades. They were seized in their homes, thrown into prison, and severely scourged. The townspeople, gathered in the amphitheater, wanted the impudent men punished and, as often happens in large crowds, the emotional level rose to a frenzy. As a body they ran to the jail, hauled the confessors out of jail, and roughly dragged them across the pavement, as others pummeled them with stones, rocks, clubs, whatever was at hand. Women quit their work to run the points of their spindles into them, pour scalding water over them, and pierce them with their spits. Thus mangled, with their skulls so broken that their brains smeared over the ground, the martyrs were dragged to the pit outside town where dead beasts were thrown, and set ablaze. Their remains were mingled with those of the dead animals so that they would be more difficult for other Christians to recover. This is likely to be a fairly accurate account that was recorded in Church History by Theodoret and by So zomen (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Ina and Ethelburga (PC)
Died at Rome, Italy, 727-730. It is said that Ina was an Anglo-Saxon king of Wessex (688- 726), who had a reputation as a trouble maker, but whose wife Ethelburga taught him right uses of his power and possessions. He is best remembered for restoring Glastonbury Abbey. He abdicated about 726 in order to make a pilgrimage with Ethelburga to Rome, where they ended their days in piety and penance (Benedictines, Encyclopedia- Feb.).
Blessed Martyrs of Japan (AC)
Died at Nagasaki, Japan, 1628 (1634?); beatified in 1867. These brave Christians all grew up amid scenes of terror, when Christians were dying regularly, yet they maintained the faith and developed it. The most complete information I have comes from the Dominicans and concentrates on just two of the martyrs, but will provide some background. There may be other martyrs that should be included in this list, but these are the ones I found:
Antony (Blessed) of Saint Bonaventure, OFM -- Born in Tuy, Galicia, Spain, 1588. After studying in Salamanca, Blessed Antony joined the Franciscans. He was appointed to serve in the Manila mission, where he was ordained priest. Thereafter he migrated to Japan, where he is recorded to have reconciled 2,700 apostates before he was burned alive.
Antony (Blessed) of Saint Dominic, OP Tert. -- 20-year-old native of Japan, a member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, and a friend of Blessed Dominic Castellet, the vicar provincial; beheaded.
Dominic (Blessed) of Nagasaki, OFM -- Native catechist, who, while he was imprisoned at Omura, received the Franciscan habit from Blessed Antony of Saint Bonaventure; burned alive.
Dominic (Blessed) Nifaki -- Two-year-old son of Louis Nifaki, beheaded.
Francis (Blessed) Nifaki -- Five-year-old son of Louis Nifaki, beheaded.
James (Blessed) Fayaxida, OP Tert. -- Japanese layman who joined the Dominican tertiaries before his decapitation for the faith.
John (Blessed) Tomaki, OP Tert. -- Japanese layman, member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, a very active Catholic and the proud father of four sons who were also martyred: Blessed Dominic (age 16), Michael (age 13), Paul (age 7)
John (Blessed) Inamura, OP Tert. -- Japanese layman, member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, beheaded for assisting the missionaries.
Jordan (Blessed) of Saint Stephen, OP -- Born in Sicily, Jordan became a Dominican and read all he could about the Oriental missions. When someone from the Philippines requested help, he convinced his superiors to send him. So, he joined other missionaries sailing from Seville, Spain, for the New World. During the voyage, he translated a biography of Saint Dominic from Spanish into Latin.
In Manila he was appointed infirmarian to the Chinese hospital so that he could learn Chinese and Japanese. He also studied the religious customs and superstitions of the people he would be teaching. Eventually he went to Japan disguised as a Chinese layman--it is unknown how a Sicilian could possibly do that!
Few priests were still able to preach during the persecutions. Once Jordan was saved by Blessed Dominic of Eriquicia. He was not as lucky on the Feast of Saint Dominic, when Thomas of Saint Hyacinth and he decided to visit a group of Christians who had not had a priest for eight years. That night one of the Christians warned them that the emperor's soldiers were nearby hunting for an Augustinian. The two priests tried to escape to prevent endangering the Christians, but were caught.
They were imprisoned for three months, repeated interrogated. During this time a native who spoke Portuguese came to them, pretending to be a Christian who had apostatized. He trampled on the crucifix, and the priests, heavily chained, tried to rescue it. They were condemned to die in the pits by being burned alive after undergoing the water torture--it took seven days for them to die. Dorcy relates that Jordan and Thomas of Saint Hyacinth were martyred on November 11, 1634; the Benedictine do not list Jordan and set the date for Thomas on September 8, 1628.
Laurence (Blessed) Jamada -- member of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, son of Blessed Michael Jamada, beheaded.
Louis (Blessed) Nifaki, OP Tert. -- Like Blessed John Tomaki, Louis was a Japanese member of the Dominican tertiaries. He was beheaded with two of his sons, Blessed Francis (age 5) and Dominic (age 2), for sheltering missionaries.
Matthew (Blessed) Alvarez, OP Tert. -- Beheaded because he was a native catechist and a member of the Third Order of the Friar Preachers.
Michael (Blessed) Jamada, OP Tert. -- Another Japanese layman and Dominican tertiary who was beheaded.
Michael (Blessed) Tomaki -- 13-year-old son of John Tomaki, beheaded.
Paul (Blessed) Aybara, OP Tert. -- Japanese catechist beheaded for the faith.
Paul (Blessed) Tomaki -- seven-year-old son of John Tomaki, beheaded.
Thomas (Blessed) of Saint Hyacinth, OP -- Thomas was another native catechist, born in Nagasaki and trained by the Jesuits who had also trained his parents as catechists. Thomas joined the Dominicans in Manila, the Philippines, where he was ordained. His scholastic record at the University of Santo Thomas was good; he perfected his Spanish and studied everything that he thought would make him more useful as an evangelist. As an able theologian, Thomas was the model of all virtues. With three others dressed as laymen, he made his way back to Japan through Formosa. They worked in the Dominican mission in Japan until each was caught; Thomas lasted the longest--four years. He was burned alive with Blessed Dominic Castellet (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Kingsmark (Cynfarch Oer, Kinemark) of Wales (AC)
Died 5th century. Saint Kingsmark is said to have been a Scottish chieftain who lived in Wales, where some churches are dedicated to him. The book of Llan Dav relates that he was a disciple of Saint Dyfrig and lent his name to Llangynfarch near Chepstow. One church dedicated to a Cynfarch at Llanfair Dyffryn, Clwyd, used to have a sanctus Kynvarch represented in a stained-glass window (Benedictines, Farmer).
Nestor of Gaza M (RM)
Died 362. Saint Nestor was a mere youth who was martyred Anthedon (Gaza), Palestine, during the persecutions of Julian the Apostate. He was among the group of Christians, including Saint Eusebius, who were brutally tortured. Half-dead they were dragged to the place of execution, but some in the crowd were moved by pity for the handsome youngster and insisted that he be left on the road to die. A Christian named Zeno, a cousin of the three other martyrs, returned to take Nestor to his home, where he died the following day. Zeno was later captured and whipped for this kindness (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Sergius I, Pope (RM)
Born at Palermo, Italy; died in Rome, September 7, 701. Saint Sergius, the son of a Syrian merchant, was raised in Palermo and educated at Rome, where he became a priest. He succeeded Pope Conon on December 15, 687, despite the claims of Pascal and Theodosius, when he was supported by the exarch John of Ravenna. However, Sergius was forced to pay John the amount of the bribe promised by Pascal to the exarch to support his (Pascal's) nomination.
In 689, Sergius baptized Saint Caedwalla, king of the West Saxons. He consecrated Saint Willibrord bishop in 695 and encouraged the English missionaries in Germany and Friesland. He also defended Saint Wilfrid.
A storm was raised in 693 when Sergius refused to sign the decrees of the Council of Trullanum, which had been convened the previous year by Emperor Justinian II. Although there was only one Western bishop in attendance, the council had passed canons applicable to the whole Church. If Sergius accepted these decrees, it would have meant that Constantinople was on an ecclesiastical level with Rome. Hoping to force Sergius to sign, the emperor sent Zachary, the commander of his bodyguard, to Rome to bring Sergius to Constantinople. The people of Rome and Ravenna resisted Zachary, and forced him to seek the protection of the pope. Eventually he was forced from the city. The issue was settled when Justinian was deposed in 695.
Pope Saint Sergius, who had attended the schola cantorum in Rome, is also remembered for encouraging liturgical music and decreeing that the Agnus Dei be sung at Mass (Benedictines, Delaney).
In art, Saint Sergius is shown sleeping as an angel brings him the episcopal insignia for Bishop Saint Hubert of Liège (Roeder).
Timothy and Faustus MM (RM)
Date unknown. Martyrs at Antioch, Syria (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.