Saint Hedwig, Religious
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin
Today the Church honors a queen (Hedwig), a tailor (Gerard), and four slaves (Martinian and his brothers); a missionary (Gall) and a hermit (Junian); and male (Gerard Majella) and female (Margaret Mary Alacoque) visionaries. Holiness is possible for each of us, regardless of our station in life.
Ambrose of Cahors B (RM)
Died after 772. Saint Ambrose, the 13th bishop of Cahors. resigned his see in order to live as a recluse. After a pilgrimage to Rome he died at Ernotrum (now Saint-Ambroise-sur-Arnon), in Berry (Benedictines).
Anastasius of Cluny, OSB (AC)
Born in Venice, Italy, c. 1020; died 1085. Although Saint Anastasius was a man of considerable substance and learning, he became a monk of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. When he could no longer respect his abbot, who was accused of simony, Anastasius left. In 1066, Saint Hugh of Cluny made his acquaintance and invited him to join the famous abbey of Cluny. After about seven years, Gregory VII ordered him to go to Spain to preach to the Moors. He did so, but after another seven years, he returned to Cluny; then he lived for a time as a recluse near Toulouse. Recalled again to Cluny, he died on the way (Benedictines).
Balderic (Baudry) of Montfauçon, Abbot (AC)
7th century. He and his sister, Saint Bova, were children of Sigebert I, king of Austrasia. Eventually he became the abbot-founder of Montfauçon in Champagne as well as the founder and protector of a convent in Rheims, where his sister was professed (Benedictines).
Baldwin of Laon M (AC)
(also known as Balduinus, Baldunus, Baudoin)
Died c. 670-680. Saint Baldwin, son of Saint Salaberga and brother of Abbess Saint Anstrude of Laon, was that town's archdeacon. He was murdered by personal enemies who were angered by the severity of his life--a rebuke to them. There is some question as to whether he should be considered a martyr (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Bercharius of Moûtier-en-Der, OSB Abbot M (RM)
Died 696. Saint Bercharius, monk of Luxeuil, became the first abbot of Hautvilliers, which had been founded by Bishop Saint Nivard of Rheims. Thereafter, he himself founded two new monasteries, Moûtier-en-Der for monks and Puelle-moutier for nuns. He went on pilgrimage to Rome and Palestine and on his return settled at his foundation. A young monk, whom he had corrected, fatally stabbed him in the night. Because Bercharius died, forgiving his murderer, he is venerated as a martyr (Benedictines).
Bertrand of Comminges B (AC)
Died 1123; canonized by Alexander III. Bishop Saint Bertrand governed the see of Comminges with energy, courage, and zeal for fifty years. His work to restore the town, which is now included in the diocese of Toulouse, France, has led him to be considered its second founder (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Bolonia VM (AC)
Died 362. A maiden of 15 who was martyred under Julian the Apostate, and who has left her name to the village of Saint Boulogne in the Haute Marne (Benedictines).
Conogan (Gwen, Albinus) of Quimper B (AC)
Died 460. This is one of those saints that is next to impossible to locate. Conogan is one spelling of 'Gwen,' which means 'white,' and so in turn is translated into the Latin 'Albinus.' Conogan was the successor to Saint Conentin (12-12) in the see of Quimper, Brittany. His memory is still held in great veneration there (Benedictines).
Dulcidius (Dulcet, Doucis) of Agen B (AC)
Died c. 450. Saint Dulcidius, succeeded Saint Phoebadius as bishop of Agen, France (Benedictines).
Eliphius (Eloff) of Toul M (RM)
Died 362. An Irishman--or Scot--by birth, Saint Eliphius preached the Good News in Toul, France, and won about 400 souls for Christ. Eliphius, his brother Eucharius, and two sisters were beheaded at Toul under Julian the Apostate. Mount Eliph, where they were buried, honors his memory. Their relics were translated to Cologne, Germany, in the 10th century (Benedictines, D'Arcy, McManus, Montague).
Eremberta of Wierre OSB, Abbess (PC)
Late 7th century. Niece of Saint Wulmarus and first abbess of the nunnery of Wierre, which he built for her (Benedictines).
Florentinus of Trèves B (RM)
4th century. Florentinus succeeded Saint Severianus as bishop of Trèves (Trier, Germany). There is much controversy about him and about his reputed predecessor (Benedictines).
Gall, Abbot (RM)
Born in Ireland; died at Arbon, Switzerland, c. 640. Saint Gall studied at Bangor under Saints Comgall and Columban(us), became versed in Scripture, and was ordained. He was one of the 12 who accompanied Saint Columbanus to Gaul (France) and helped him found the abbey of Luxeuil. He continued to follow Columbanus into exile in 610 and then to Austrasia, where he preached with little success in the region around Lake Zurich, and for two years in the area near Bregenz.
When Columbanus went to Italy in 612, Gall remained behind because of ill health and on his recovery became a hermit on the Steinach River, attracting numerous disciples. In time, Saint Gall Monastery occupied this site and during the Middle Ages was a leading center of literature, the arts, and music.
According to one story Columbanus and Gall parted ways because the leader suspected Gall of malingering, and imposed on him a penance, which Gall faithfully observed, of not celebrating Mass during the continuance of Columbanus's life.
Reputedly he was twice offered bishoprics by King Sigebert, whose betrothed he had freed of a demon. He is also reported to have been offered the abbacy of Luxeuil on the death of Saint Eustace but declined, to remain a hermit. He died sometime between 627 and 645 at Arbon, Switzerland, and is considered the apostle of that country (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
In later times many legends grew up about him which had little basis in fact. He was not, for instance, the founder of the renowned monastery which bore his name; this was inaugurated about a century after his death, on the site of his settlement, and is now represented by the cathedral at Sankt Gallen and the very famous monastic library there (Attwater, Encyclopedia, Joynt).
In art, Saint Gall is portrayed as an abbot blessing a bear that brings him a log of wood. He may be shown holding a hermit's tau staff with the bear or carrying a loaf and a pilgrim's staff (Roeder). Gall is venerated as an apostle of Switzerland and as the patron of geese and poultry (Roeder).
Blessed Gerald of Clairvaux OSB Cist., Abbot (AC)
Born in Lombardy, Italy; died 1177. Gerald was professed at the Cistercian monastery of Fossanuova in the Roman Campagna, and eventually was chosen abbot. In 1170, he was promoted to the abbacy of Clairvaux. Gerald was killed by an unruly monk while on a canonical visitation to Igny (Benedictines).
Gerard Majella, C.SS.R. (RM)
Born at Muro Lucano, Italy, 1726; died at Caposele, 1755; canonized 1904.
Born the son of a tailor, he was a tailor's apprentice at the death of his father. Gerard was turned down by the local Capuchins when he tried to join (because of his youth), and became a servant in the household of the bishop of Lacedonia, a cantankerous master who treated him badly.
On the death of the bishop in 1745, he returned home and opened a tailor shop. He joined the Redemptorists as a lay-brother in 1748 and was professed by its founder, Saint Alphonsus Ligori in 1752.
He served as tailor and infirmarian and became known for his extraordinary supernatural gifts--bilocation, prophecy, ecstasies, visions, and infused knowledge. Though not a priest, his spiritual direction and advise were sought by clergy and communities of nuns, to which he gave conferences. He was most successful in converting sinners, and was widely known for his holiness and charity.
When, in 1754, he was accused of lechery by one Neria Caggiano--a charge she later admitted was a lie--he did not deny her charges, and his puzzled superiors put him under surveillance and excluded him from communion for months, until the girl admitted that she had lied. When asked by Saint Alphonsus why he had kept silence in such circumstances, Gerard replied that he thought that was what was required in the face of unjust accusations.
He was sent to Naples soon after but when the house there was inundated by visitors wanting to see him, he was sent to Caposele a few months later, served as the porter there, and ministered to the poor of the town.
He spent the last few months of his life raising funds for new buildings at Caposele, where he died of consumption on October 15 at age 29. He was canonized in 1904 and is the patron of childbirth (Attwater, Carr, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Hedwig (Jadwiga, Avoice), OSB Cist. Queen Religious (RM)
Born in Bavaria c. 1174; died in Silesia, 1243; canonized 1267.
Hedwig was one of the eight children born to Berthold IV, the count of Andechs, who ruled over the Tyrol and Istria (Croatia and Dalmatia). Two of her brothers became bishops and two of her sisters became queens. One of them, Gertrude, who married Andrew II of Hungary, was the mother of Saint Elizabeth (of Hungary, my fav!).
As a child she was placed in the Benedictine monastery of Kitzingen in Franconia (see Saint Thecla).
In 1186, when she was 12 years old, Hedwig was married to 18-year- old Henry the Bearded, prince of Poland and future duke of Silesia. She bore him 6 (some say 7) children and the family was closely knit. But from 1209 onwards she and her husband agreed to live in perpetual continence. Hedwig was then 35 and Duke Henry was barely past 40, but he submitted to the austere disciple without complaint or resistance.
After succeeding to his father's dukedom in 1202, and under Hedwig's influence, Henry founded the monastery of Cistercian nuns at Trebnitz (near Breslau, now Wroclaw), the first convent of women in Silesia. The convent was built with the labor of those convicted of crimes. It was the first of a large number of such establishments founded by the couple, including houses of Augustinian canons, Cistercian monks, and Dominican and Franciscan friars, by which religion and German culture were spread over their territories.
Henry also founded the Hospital of the Holy Ghost in Breslau, and Hedwig founded a hospital for female lepers.
Following the example of his wife, he was sustained by a great and ennobling piety. He let his beard grow in the manner of Cistercian converts (when his name Henry the Bearded) and greatly reduced his household expenses, devoting the money that he saved to charitable purposes. After their separation Henry never again wore gold, silver, or purple.
There have been few duchesses like her. She was humble, serving the poor and the lepers, pardoning offenses, helping her enemies, and bringing aid to even the most insolent and hardened sinners. She kept barely a hundredth part of her income, giving the rest away with an open hand. Beneath her tattered cloak she wore a hair shirt. She went about with naked feet in all weather, and when, in obedience to her confessor, she bought a pair of new shoes, she carried them under her arms. She scourged herself and subjected her soul and her body to countless mortifications.
Towards the end of her life she had the gift of working cures and making predictions. Several miracles are recorded of her--she fell asleep, it was said, one night while reading the Bible by candlelight; the book caught fire and burned, but was undamaged. A blind man's sight was restored because of her blessing.
As for Henry I, her good and faithful husband, she outlived him by five years. In 1227, Henry engaged in fighting Conrad of Masovia for the land of Ladislaus of Sandomir who had been killed in battle. Henry triumphed and established himself at Cracow, but he was kidnapped during Mass and taken by Conrad to Plock. Hedwig followed and helped bring the two to a peaceful agreement, which included the marriage of her two granddaughters to Conrad's sons. Upon Duke Henry's death in 1238 Hedwig moved into the monastery at Trebnitz. Hedwig did not cry at her husband's death; she consoled the sorrowing nuns instead.
God treats harshly those whom he loves. All her children died before she did, except for one daughter, Gertrude, who was the abbess of the convent of Trebnitz. Two of her sons dishonored the family name by engaging in fratricidal wars, and another son, Henry the Pious who succeeded his father, was killed in 1241 by the Tartars at the battle of Liegnitz. Again, Hedwig comforted the others.
She took the habit of the nuns but not the vows, wishing to administer her property as she wished to help the needy. She predicted her own death, insisting on being anointed before anyone else would acknowledge she was in danger. Worn out by the hardships she had endured, she died in 1243, in her seventieth year.
Riches have never been able to buy entrance into heaven. Hedwig, the duchess with the naked feet and workworn hands, had no need to knock on the gates which, at her approach, swung open of themselves. And someone was on the threshold to greet with open arms the woman who had freely given of her heart, her wealth, and her light, and who had been a supreme example of the life of poverty in the example of God (Attwater, Bentley, Delaney, Encyclopedia, White).
The policies and foundations of Duke Henry and Saint Hedwig were important in Silesian history through the increase of German influence they brought to the country (Attwater).
She is the patroness of Silesia, and venerated in Franconia.
Depicted in art with the church and a statue of the Virgin Mary in her hands; or washing the feet of the poor; or barefoot with her shoes in her hands; or in a religious habit with the robes and crown of a princess near her (White). Sometimes she is seen holding a picture of the Virgin and Child in her hand or Christ blessing her from the Cross (Roeder).
Junian the Hermit (AC)
5th century. A hermit at Commodoliacus--now Saint Junien (Haute Vienne), in the diocese of Limoges, France (Benedictines).
Kiara (Chier) of Kilkeary V (AC)
Died c. 680. An Irish maiden, directed in the religious life by Saint Finian. She lived near Nenagh, County Tipperary, at a place now called after her: Kilkeary (Benedictines).
Lull (Lullus) of Mainz, OSB B (RM)
Died at Hersfeld, 786. Probably a native of Wessex, England, he was educated at Malmesbury Monastery, where he became a deacon. At 20 he travelled to Germany, where he labored as a missionary, noted for his learning, under Saint Boniface, who ordained him.
He was sent to Rome on a mission to Pope Saint Zachary by Boniface, was consecrated his coadjutor when he returned, and succeeded to the see of Mainz on Boniface's death. He was a most worthy successor, a good pastor and zealous missionary. Letters to and from him show that he was anxious to form a good library, and he in turn was asked to send books to other people.
He became involved in a long jurisdictional dispute with Saint Sturmi, abbot of Fulda, deposed him, but saw him restored and the abbey declared independent by King Pepin. This led to Lull refounding the monastery of Hersfeld in Hesse c. 768, where he retired late in life (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney).
Magnobodus (Mainboeuf) of Angers B (AC)
Died c. 670. A Frank of noble birth, appointed at the demand of the people bishop of Angers (Benedictines).
Margaret Mary Alacoque V (RM)
Born July 22, 1647, at L'Hautecourt, Burgundy; died at Paray-le- Monial, 1690; canonized 1920.
"Love triumphs, love enjoys, the love of the Sacred Heart rejoices!"
Saint Margaret Mary is nearly the antithesis of yesterday's saint, Teresa of Ávila. As joyful as Teresa was; Margaret Mary was dour and humorless. Teresa was gregarious; Margaret Mary self- contained. Both were sickly, but dealt with it differently. Both were visionaries. This proves once again that no personality precludes sanctity.
Margaret Mary was the daughter of the respected notary Claude Alacoque and Philiberte Lamyn. Her father died when she was around eight, leaving her family in a precarious financial situation, so that for several years they were at the mercy of some domineering and rapacious relatives.
She was sent to school with the Poor Clares at Charolles. She fell ill with a painful rheumatic condition at 12 and was bedridden until she was 15. The family home had been taken over by her sister, and her mother and she were treated with undeserved severity and almost like servants. Her sister often refused her permission to attend church. "At that time," she wrote later, "all my desire was to seek happiness and comfort in the Blessed Sacrament.
At 20, she was pressed to marry but after a long struggle with herself decided to fulfill the vow she had made earlier to the Virgin and entered the Order of the Visitation. She was confirmed at 22 and took the name Mary. Her brother furnished her dowry and she joined the convent at Paray-le-Monial. During her retreat before her profession, which she made on November 6, 1672, she had a vision of Jesus in which he said, "Behold the wound in my side, wherein you are to make your abode, now and forever."
She worked in the infirmary, and the slow-moving, awkward Margaret Mary suffered much under the active and efficient infirmarian, Sister Catherine Marest.
On December 27, 1673, the feast of Saint John the Evangelist, as she knelt at the grill before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, she experienced a vision in which the Lord told her to take the place that Saint John had occupied at the Last Supper, and that she would act as His instrument. Jesus revealed His Sacred Heart as a symbol of His love for mankind, saying:
"My divine Heart is so inflamed with love for mankind . . . that it can no longer contain within itself the flames of its burning charity and must spread them abroad by your means."
Then it was as if He took her heart and placed it next to his own, and then returned it burning with divine love into her breast.
She had three more visions over the next year and a half in which he instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and in the final revelation, the Lord asked that a feast of reparation be instituted for the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi.
The Wisdom of God also told her, "Do nothing without the approval of those who guide you, so that, having the authority of obedience, you may not be misled by Satan, who has no power over those who are obedient."
She told her superior, Mother de Saumaise, about the visions, was treated contemptuously and was forbidden to carry out any of the religious devotions that had been requested of her in her visions. She became ill from the strain, and the superior, searching for a divine sign of what to do, vowed to believe the visions if Margaret Mary was cured. Margaret Mary prayed and recovered, and her superior kept her promise.
A group within the convent remained skeptical of her experiences, especially when, in 1677, she told them that Jesus had twice asked her to be a willing victim to expiate their shortcomings. The superior ordered Margaret Mary to present her experiences to theologians. They were judged to be delusions, and it was recommended that Margaret Mary eat more.
Blessed Claude La Colombière, a holy and experienced Jesuit, arrived as confessor to the nuns, and in him Margaret Mary recognized the understanding guide that had been promised to her in the visions. He became convinced that her experiences were genuine and adopted the teaching of the Sacred Heart the visions had communicated to her. He departed not long after for England.
During the next years, Margaret Mary experienced periods of both despair and vanity, and she was ill a great deal. In 1681 Claude returned; in 1682 he died. In 1684 Mother Melin became superior and elected Margaret Mary her assistant, silencing any further opposition.
Her revelations were made known to the community when they were read aloud in the refectory in the course of a book written by Blessed Claude. Margaret Mary became novice mistress and was very successful.
Her revelations in the open now, she encouraged devotion to the Sacred Heart, especially among her novices, who observed the feast in 1685. The family of an expelled novice accused her of being unorthodox, and bad feelings were revived, but this passed and the entire house celebrated the feast that year.
A chapel was built in 1687 at Paray in honor of the Sacred Heart, and devotion began to spread in the other convents of the Visitidines, as well as throughout France.
Margaret Mary became ill while serving a second term as assistant to the superior and died during the fourth anointing step of the last rites. As she received the Last Sacrament, she said, "I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus."
(She actually died on October 17, but the Church celebrates her today.) She, Saint John Eudes, and Blessed Claude are called "saints of the Sacred Heart."
Margaret Mary's patience and trust during her trials within the convent contributed to her canonization in 1920. The devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, 75 years after her death. Her visions and teachings have had considerable influence on the devotional life of Catholics, especially since the inauguration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the Roman calendar in 1856 (Attwater, Delaney, Kerns, White).
Depicted as a nun in the Visitation habit holding a flaming heart; or kneeling before Jesus, who exposed his heart to her (White).
In art, Saint Margaret Mary is portrayed as a nun to whom Christ offers His Sacred Heart (Roeder).
Martinian, Saturian, Maxima and Companions MM (RM)
Died 458. Four Afro-Roman brothers, reduced to slavery in the house of an Arian Vandal in Mauritania. They were encouraged to suffer for Christ by their fellow-slave named Maxima. The four brothers were martyred under Genseric by being dragged to death by horses. Maxima died in peace (Benedictines). In art, these saints are depicted as four brothers dragged to their deaths by wild horses (Roeder).
Mommolinus (Mummolinus) of Noyon, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 686. A native of Constanz, Switzerland, Mummolinus became a monk at Luxeuil, and eventually was sent to Saint Omer, where he was appointed superior of the Old Monastery (now Saint-Mommolin). From there he migrated to the New Monastery (Sithin), which had been founded by his great friend and fellow monk Saint Bertinus (9- 5) or Bertin the Great. Finally in 660 he was raised to the see of Noyon-Tournai (Benedictines).
Saturninus, Nereus and Companions MM (RM)
Died c. 450. A band of 365 martyrs who suffered in Proconsular Africa under the Vandal king Genseric. Some authorities maintain that this is merely a second listing of the band of martyrs led by Saints Martinian and Saturian (Benedictines).
Vitalis (Vial) of Moirmoutier, OSB Hermit (AC)
Died c. 740. An Anglo-Saxon who became a Benedictine at Moirmoutier, and afterwards a hermit on Mt. Scobrit, near the Loire (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.