St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day
 

September 12

Ailbhe (Albeus, Ailbe) of Emly B (AC)
5th or 6th century (died 526-540?). Although many are under the mistaken belief that Saint Patrick was the first to bring Christianity to Ireland, Saint Ailbhe was converted by British missionaries. Some legends say that he was baptized by a priest while a boy in northern Ireland; another that he was baptized and raised in a British settlement in Ireland.

In either case, he had travelled to Rome before Patrick's arrival-- and some say that he was consecrated bishop there. Upon his return to Ireland, he became the disciple of Patrick and, according to some, was consecrated the first archbishop of Munster by him. Ailbhe fixed his see at Emly (Imlech, County Tipperary, though the cathedral is now at Cashel), which is officially listed by the Vatican as being founded in the 4th century, making it the oldest continuous see in Ireland. So even the testimony that Ailbhe was the first archbishop is unreliable.

He was known as a powerful preacher and a model of sanctity, who won many souls to the faith. Although he lived in the world in order to care for the souls of his flock, he was careful for his own soul, too. He made frequent retreats and engaged in habitual recollection. Saint Ailbhe especially loved to pray in front of the sea. King Aengus of Munster gave him Aran Island (Co. Galway) on which he founded a great monastery and established Saint Enda as abbot. He also drew up a still extant rule for the community.

When in his old age he wanted to resign and retire to the solitude of Thule (Shetland? Iceland? Greenland?) to prepare for death, the king stationed guards at the ports to prevent his flight. Thus, Saint Ailbhe died in the midst of his episcopal labors and is deemed the principal patron of Munster.

There are many legends about Saint Ailbhe: that he baptized Saint David of Wales; that an angel showed him the "place of his resurrection"--Emly; that he was in constant dialogue with the angels. Even his name points to a legend: Ailbhe, said to mean "living rock" in Gaelic, was a foundling left under a rock and suckled by a she-wolf, and thus named by his adoptive family. The story continues that later, while he was hunting with some companions, an aged female wolf ran to him for protection (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Husenbeth, Montague).


Autonomus of Bithynia BM (RM)
Died c. 300. The Greeks say that Saint Autonomus, an Italian bishop, escaped the fury of Diocletian's persecution by migrating to Bithynia in Asia Minor. There he was a great evangelist and was martyred (Benedictines).


Curonotus of Iconium BM (RM)
Died c. 258. Bishop Curonotus of Iconium (Lycaonia, Asia Minor) was martyred during the reign of Valerian (Benedictines).


Eanswida of Folkestone, OSB Abbess (AC)
(also known as Eanswith(a), Eanswide, Eanswyth)

Died August 31, c. 640; this is probably a memorial of the translation of her relics; feast day at Saint Augustine, Canterbury, and Durham is celebrated on August 31.

From her infancy Saint Eanswida, the daughter of King Eadbald of Kent and granddaughter of King Saint Ethelbert, found delight in prayer. Rejecting the world and its foolish vanities, she refused all offers of marriage, which she felt would interrupt her devotions and contemplation. King Eadbald finally consented to allowing her to found a monastery on the coast near Folkestone, Kent, where she served as its abbess and died at an early age. It seems likely that she was trained in France and that hers was the first convent in England.

The monastery was destroyed by the Danes, but restored by King Athelstan, then refounded in 1095 for the Black Benedictines. Part of it was swallowed up by the sea, and so the community was moved to Folkestone. Her relics were translated to the church built by Eadbald in honor of Saint Peter, but later known as Saints Mary and Eanswida. In 1885, a Saxon coffer was found in the north wall containing the bones of a young woman, which were assumed to be those of Saint Eanswida (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).

In art, Saint Eanswida is portrayed as a crowned abbess with a book and two fish. She is venerated at Folkestone (Roeder), where her image is incorporated on its seals (Farmer).


Guy of Anderlecht (RM)
(also known as Guido(n) or Wye of Láken)

Born near Brabant; died at Brussels, Belgium; c. 950-1012; feast day formerly on September 2.

Saint Guy, commonly called The Poor Man of Anderlecht, was the son of poor, but pious, parents who were richly blessed by their faith. They were not able to give their son a formal education, but were diligent in instructing him in the faith. They taught him the counsels of Saint Augustine that Christians should be detached from earthly possessions. Guy prayed throughout his life to be preserved from greed, to love poverty, and to bear all its hardships with joy. This detachment from the need to own, endowed the saint with love for his neighbor; he gladly fed the poor while he himself fasted and divided the little he had among them.

Legend says that when Guy grew to manhood, he was a farm laborer, who prayed as he plowed the fields, sometimes replaced at the plow by his guardian angel. He then wandered for a time until he arrived at the church of Our Lady at Laeken, near Brussels, whose priest was struck with his piety and hired Guy as sacristan. Guy gladly accepted the offer; and the cleanliness and good order that appeared in everything under his direction struck all who entered the church.

Like many other simple folk of every age, Guy was enticed by a merchant of Brussels to invest his small savings in a commercial venture, with the unusual motive of having more at his disposal to relieve the poor and leisure for contemplation. Unfortunately, the ship carrying their goods was lost leaving the harbor, and Guy, who had resigned his position as sacristan and been replaced, was left destitute. He recognized his mistake in following his own ideas and in forsaking secure and humble employment to embark, though with good intention, on the affairs of the world, and he blamed himself for the loss.

In reparation, Guy made a pilgrimage on foot to Rome and Jerusalem, wandering from shrine to shrine for seven years. Finally, he made his way back to Belgium and Anderlecht, where he was received almost immediately into the public hospital of Anderlecht and he died from exhaustion and illness.

His cultus did not arise immediately. In fact, his grave was forgotten until a horse uncovered it. The horse's owner hired two local boys to enclose the site in a high, solid hedge to ensure that others would not unwittingly trample on Guy's grave. The boys ridiculed the benefactor's act of reverence for the dead and were seized by strange stomach aches. Writhing in agony, they died. For some reason, this moved the local people to make pilgrimages to his grave and to build an oratory over it.

In 1076, a church was constructed and Guy's relics translated therein. Guy's sanctity was confirmed almost immediately thereafter by miracles wrought at his intercession. On June 24, 1112, a bishop acknowledged the relics with a grand ceremony and Guy's vita was composed. In 1595, the relics were enshrined in a new reliquary. During the 17th century, they were moved from place to place to escape pillage during wars. It seems that they were captured by the Protestants in the 18th century, although there is a "last acknowledgement of the venerable treasure" that occurred on September 11, 1851.

Over time his cultus increased locally, until now much folklore has accrued around his name and shrine, particularly associated with horses. Cabdrivers of Brabant lead an annual pilgrimage to Anderlecht until the beginning of World War I in 1914. They and their horses headed the procession followed by farmers, grooms, and stable boys leading their animals to be blessed. The description of the village fair that ended the religious procession sounds like fun. There would be various games, music, and feasting, followed by a competition to ride the carthorses bareback. The winner entered the church on bareback to receive a hat made of roses from the parish pastor (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Walsh).

In art, Saint Guy is depicted as a pilgrim with hat, staff, rosary, and ox at his feet. He might also be shown as a peasant or a pilgrim with a book (Roeder). Guy is venerated at Anderlecht, where he is considered the patron of laborers and sacristans, and protector of sheds and stables. He is invoked to calm infantile convulsions (Encyclopedia).


Hieronides, Leontius, & Companions (RM)
Died c. 300. Saint Hieronides was a ancient deacon, who was cast into the sea at Alexandria, Egypt, with the brothers Saints Leontius and Serapion and others, including Seleucus (Selesius), Valerian and Straton, during the reign of Diocletian (Benedictines).


Blessed Juvenal Ancina, Cong. Orat. B (AC)
Born at Fossano, Piedmont, Italy, in 1545; died 1604; beatified in 1869. Juvenal, a professor of medicine at the University of Turin, accompanied the ambassador of Savoy to Rome in 1575 to serve as his private physician. That same year in Rome he met Saint Philip Neri and joined his Oratory. Eventually Juvenal was ordained and sent to Naples to open another oratory there. In 1602, the priest who had become especially known for his work among the poor, was consecrated bishop of Saluzzo. Immediately he began a visitation of his diocese. Upon his return to his cathedral, he was poisoned by a friar whom he had reprimanded for his evil life (Benedictines).


Macedonius, Theodulus and Tatian MM (RM)
Died 362. This trio was roasted alive on gridirons at Mevos, Phrygia, for having broken into a pagan temple and destroyed idols during the restoration of paganism under Julian the Apostate (Benedictines). In art, these martyrs are illustrated during their martyrdom on a gridiron (Roeder).


Blessed Mary Victoria Fornari-Strata, Foundress (AC)
Born at Genoa, Italy; died December 15, 1617; beatified in 1828. In 1579, at the age of 17, Victoria Fornari of Genoa married Angelo Strata. They lived together happily until Angelo died nine years later. For some time his widow was distraught. She was also deeply anxious about the future of her six children. For their sake she was about to marry again, when she was granted a vision of the Virgin Mary. Victoria later wrote down the Virgin's words to her, "Be brave and courageous. I shall take both you and your children under my wing. Live in peace, without anxiety. Trust yourself to my care and above all devote yourself to the love of God." The vision was more than fulfilled. Although Victoria still lived charitably, giving away most of her wealth, her children never felt any want. In 1604, with money provided by one of her wealthy friends, Victoria and ten other women began the practical work of setting up a religious house. All 11 were professed as nuns the following year. So successful was their venture, that a second house of "Blue Nuns" (as they were called because of the color of their cloaks) was set up in 1612, and soon the order had spread from Italy to France. Victoria remained their superior until her death (Benedictines, Bentley).


Blessed Miro of Vich, OSA (AC)
Died 1161. Miro was an Augustinian canon regular of Saint John de las Abadesas near Vich, Catalonia (Benedictines).


Sacerdos of Lyons B (RM)
Died 551. As bishop of Lyons (544-551), Sacerdos presided at the council of Orléans in 549. He is remember as an adviser to King Childebert (Benedictines).


Silvinus of Verona B (RM)
Died c. 550. Bishop of Verona, Italy.


Blessed Thomas Zumárraga and Mancius of St. Thomas, OP MM (AC)
Died at Omura, Japan, 1622; beatified in 1867. Thomas Zumárraga (born 1575 in Vitoria, Spain) was sent to the Japanese mission as a Dominican. He was imprisoned for three years at Suzuta (Omura) and burnt alive with several companions, including Blessed Mancius, a native catechist (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.