North American Martyrs
Saint Paul of the Cross
Altinus (Attinus) of Orléans BM (AC)
1st or 4th c. As is the case with many of the early founders of Christian churches, Saint Altinus was alleged to be a disciple of Our Lord--which he was in establishing the churches of Orléans and Chartres. However, it is unlikely that he lived during the time of Christ; more likely he was a martyr of the 4th century (Benedictines).
Aquilinus of Evreux B (RM)
Born in Bayeux, France, c. 620; died 695. Saint Aquilinus served Clovis II for 40 years. Upon returning from the war against the Visigoths, he and his wife retired to Evreux to devote themselves to works of charity. Although Aquilinus was consecrated bishop of the city when his virtue became known, he managed to continue his life as a hermit while fulfilling the duties of this office. In art, Aquilinus is portrayed as a blind bishop giving alms (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Roeder)
Beronigus (Veronicus), Pelagia & Comp. MM (RM)
Date unknown. Part of a group of 51 Christians put to death at Antioch, Syria, in one of the early persecutions (Benedictines).
Cleopatra of Syria, Widow, and Varus M (AC)
Died 319. The Palestine widow Saint Cleopatra secured the body of Saint Varus, and enshrined it in her home at Derâ'a, Syria. On the day it was dedicated as a church, her 12-year-old son died. The grieving mother was comforted, however, when her son and Saint Varus appeared to her in a vision (Benedictines).
Desiderius of Lonrey OSB, Monk (AC)
Died c. 705. The monk Desiderius of Lonrey became a disciple of Saint Sigiran and a recluse at Le Brenne (Ruriacus) in the diocese of Bourges, France (Benedictines).
Eadnot of Dorchester, OSB B
Died 1016. Eadnot, a monk of Worcester and later abbot of Ramsey, was chosen as bishop of Dorchester in 1006. In this office he was closely associated with Saint Oswald of York. Eadnot died in a battle against the Danes, and is sometimes termed a martyr (Benedictines).
Ethbin of Kildare, Abbot (RM)
Born in Great Britain; died c. 600. Saint Ethbin's noble father died when he was only about 15 years old. His widowed mother then entrusted his education to his countryman, the great Saint Samson, at Dol Abbey in Brittany. At Mass one day, he really heard the words: "Every one of you that cannot renounce all that he possesses, cannot be my disciple." He immediately resolved to renounce the world. Because he was a deacon, Ethbin sought the permission of his bishop to withdraw from the world. Upon receiving it, Ethbin retired to the abbey of Taurac in 554. For his spiritual director, the saint chose another: Saint Winwaloë. The community was dispersed by a Frankish raid in 556 and Winwaloë died soon thereafter. Ethbin then crossed over to Ireland, where he led the life of a hermit in a forest near Kildare called Nectensis (unidentified) for 20 years. There was no cultus for Saint Ethbin in Ireland. His relics are claimed by Montreuil and Pont-Mort (Eure), France. It has been suggested by P. Grosjean that the silva called Necensis could be a corruption of Silvanectensis (i.e., Senlis, France), rather than Ireland (Benedictines, Farmer, Husenbeth).
Eusterius of Salerno B (RM)
Died 5th century. All that remains of Eusterius's memory is that he was the fourth bishop of Salerno (Benedictines).
Frideswide of Oxford, OSB V (RM)
(also known as Fredeswinda, Frevisse)
Died c. 735; second feast day is February 12. Her maxim from childhood is said to be: "Whatsoever is not God is nothing."
Little can be said for certain about Frideswide because the earliest written account dates only from the 12th century, when her abbey became an Augustinian foundation. William of Malmesbury recorded the legend from a version attributed to Prior Robert of Cricklade. Nevertheless, recent historical and archeological research has clarified the background and some of the details of the saint's traditional legend.
This account follows the archetypical miracles of God preserving His holy virgins. The story goes that Frideswide was a Mercian princess, the daughter of Didian (or Dida) of Eynsham, whose lands included the upper reaches of the River Thames. Her father, a sub- king under the Mercian overlordship, endowed minster churches at Bampton and Oxford.
Frideswide took a vow of perpetual virginity, but Algar, a local prince, (or Æthelbald of Mercia) could not believe that she would not marry him. Desiring to fulfill her vow, she fled into hiding at Binsey (near the current Oxford), where she remained for three years as Algar continued to search for her. Then Algar was struck blind. When he renounced his desire to marry her, his sight was restored at Bampton upon Frideswide's intercession.
Eventually, Frideswide was appointed the first abbess of the Benedictine Saint Mary's double monastery at Oxford, where she peacefully lived out the balance of her life. The convent flourished becoming the site of Christ Church and her name was not forgotten as the town of Oxford arose around the abbey.
Most of the early records of the monastery were destroyed in a fire set in 1002 while Scandinavians were inside the church in the attempted massacres triggered by the notorious decree of Ethelred II. The existence of her shrine is formally attested by 'On the Resting Places of the Saints' in Die Heiligen Englands in the 11th century. In the twelfth century her convent was refounded for Augustinian canons.
In 1180 in the presence of the archbishop of Canterbury and King Henry II of England, her remains were translated to a new shrine in the monastery church. A yet greater shrine was built nine years later. Countless pilgrims visited her relics. Twice a year Oxford University held a solemn feast in her honor and came to venerate her bones. In 1440, the archbishop of Canterbury declared her patroness of the university.
Then in 1525 Cardinal Wolsey suppressed Saint Frideswide's monastery. Two decades later the monastery church became the new cathedral of Oxford. But the shrine containing Frideswide's relics had been broken up by Protestant reformers to use in other buildings in 1538. Happily some Catholics preserved the saints bones.
Meanwhile Catherine Dammartin, the wife of the Protestant professor Peter Martyr Vermigli, had been buried in the cathedral. About 1558-1561, in an extraordinary burst of fanaticism James Calfhill, a Calvinist canon, dug up her bones and mixed them with those of Saint Frideswide, adding the epitaph Hic jacet religio cum superstitione ('Here lies religion with superstition').
Part of her shrine has been reconstructed from pieces found in a well at Christ Church, where her remains are marked with four elegant candlesticks in Christ Church.
It may be assumed that Frideswide was foundress and abbess of a religious house at Oxford in the 8th century; her shrine was in the church of a monastery there in 1004, on the site of Christ Church. It is unexplained how this obscure saint, under the name of Frevisse, came to have a cultus at the village of Bomy in the middle of Artois (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Farmer, Stenton).
In art she is a crowned abbess with an ox near her. Sometimes she is shown being rowed down the Thames by an angel with her two sisters. Frideswide is the patroness of Oxford and Oxford University (Roeder).
Isaac Jogues and Companions MM (RM)
(also known as the North American Martyrs)
Born in France; died 1642-1649; canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI; feast day formerly on March 16 and September 26; cultus extended universally in 1969 as the protomartyrs of North America.
These martyrs probably mean nothing to our European friends, but they were among the earliest saints of North America. All were French born Jesuits: Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues, Antony Daniel, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, and Noel Chabanel, priests; and John Lalande and René Goupil, lay-brothers. They selflessly worked among the native Hurons until they met their death at the hands of mortal enemies of the Hurons: the Iroquois and the Mohawks. The Iroquois were animated by the bitter hatred of the missionaries, whom they subjected to indescribable tortures before putting them to death.
René (Renatus) Goupil (1606 to September 29, 1642) was born at Anjou, France. Amazingly, ill health forced him to leave the Jesuits, yet he was willing and able to accompany the missionaries after he had become a successful surgeon. In 1638, he went to Quebec to work among the Jesuit missions as an attaché to the hospital in Quebec. He became a lay assistant for the mission to the Hurons in 1640. While on a journey with Isaac Jogues in 1642, he was captured by a group of Iroquois and tomahawked to death on September 29 at Osserneon near Albany, New York, for making the sign of the cross on the brow of some children. He was the North American protomartyr.
Isaac Jogues (Born at Orléans, France, on January 1, 1607; died October 18, 1646) was the son of wealthy parents. He studied at the Jesuit school in his home town and entered the Society of Jesus at Rouen in 1624. He continued his education at Le Flèche. After his ordination in 1636, he requested and received permission to work as a missionary in Quebec, Canada. He took the Gospel to the Mohawks and in the course of his labors penetrated to the eastern entrance of Lake Superior, one thousand miles inland--the first European to do so.
Fr. Jogues' plan to preach the Gospel to the Sioux Indians in the region of the Mississippi headwaters came to an end when he was captured, together with René Goupil and other Jesuits, by an Iroquois war party on October 3, 1642. They had just completed a mission of mercy to the Hurons, who were suffering from famine and disease, when they were ambushed by the enemies of the Hurons. Saint René was killed. The rest were held for 13 months in slavery and so cruelly tortured that Father Jogues lost the use of his hands. (Pope Urban VIII permitted him to say Mass despite this deformity. This was a unique dispensation in the history of the Church. The holy father observed, "It would be unfitting to refuse permission to drink the blood of Jesus Christ to one who has testified to Christ with his blood.")
The Dutch Calvinists from Fort Orange (Albany, New York) negotiated continuously for his release. When he was about to be slowly roasted to death they helped him to escape to New York--thus, he became the first Catholic priest to come to that state. From New Amsterdam (as New York was then called), he travelled by small ship to England, arriving there on Christmas Day completely destitute. He finally reached France, where the Queen Mother received him with extreme deference, but in 1644 he requested to be allowed to return to Quebec.
Less than three years after his captivity, he set out with Jean de Lalande for his place of imprisonment (Osserneon, now Auriesville, NY), this time as a missionary to the Iroquis with whom a peace treaty had been signed. During this second visit, Father Isaac left behind a box of religious objects. These were wrongly believed to be the cause of an epidemic and a crop failure that occurred soon after his departure.
On his third visit, a member of the Mohawk Bear clan, believing him to be a sorcerer, blamed him for the suffering of his people. One afternoon the Mohawk invited Jogues for a meal. The priest was seized, together with the Jesuit lay-brother, Saint John Lalande. The other missionaries with them had fled at that change of attitude they sensed among the natives. Jogues and Lalande were beaten and slashed with knives and that evening Isaac Jogues was tomahawked. The next day Lalande was killed in the same way. Their heads were struck off and impaled on the settlement palisade, and their trunks thrown into the Mohawk River about 40 miles west of Albany, NY, near Midland, Ontario.
There is a portrait of Father Isaac that was painted in 1644 during his visit to France. In it you can see that only the middle and ring fingers remain of his right hand. He is a slender, white- haired man with a very long and flaring nose, deep-set eyes, curly hair, beard, and mustache. After his death, the fatal tom ahawk wound was added.
John de Lalande (Born at Dieppe, France; died 1646) travelled to Quebec to become a donné (lay assistant) to the Jesuit missionaries. In 1646, he accompanied Isaac Jogues on a trip to the territory of the Iroquois after a peace treaty with them had just been signed. They were captured by a war party of Mohawks. John was tomahawked and beheaded at Osserneon near Albany, on October 19, the day after Fr. Jogues had suffered a similar fate there.
Antony Daniel (Born at Dieppe, France, on March 27, 1601; died July 4, 1648) studied law but abandoned it to join the Jesuits at Rouen in 1621. He taught in Rouen for four years, studied theology at Clermont, was ordained in 1630, and was then assigned to the college at Eu. With three other priests he was sent as a missionary to Cape Breton Island, Arcadia, New France (Canada), in 1632. A year later Fr. Daniel went to Quebec. He was successful in his missionary work among the Hurons, even founding a school for Native American boys at Quebec in 1636. In 1648, Fr. Daniel was martyred by a party of Iroquois at the Indian village of Teanaustaye near Hillsdale, Ontario.
Charles Garnier (Born at Paris, France, c. 1605; died 1649), son of the treasurer of Normandy, was educated at Louis-le-Grand College and joined the Jesuits in Paris in 1624. He continued his studies at Clermont, taught at the Jesuit college at Eu for three years, and was ordained in 1635. The following year he was sent to Quebec, Canada, with Father Pierre Chastellain and two other priests as missionaries to the Hurons. Charles was murdered by a war party of Iroquois on December 7, 1949, at the Indian village of Etarita, where he was stationed.
Noel Chabanel (Born near Mende, France, on February 2, 1613; died December 8, 1649), after joining the Jesuits in 1630, was sent to New France in 1643 to evangelize the Hurons. He became assistant to Fr. Garnier at Etarita in 1649 and was murdered by an apostate Indian while returning from a visit to neighboring Sainte Marie.
John de Brébeuf (Born at Condé-sur-Vire, Normandy, France, on March 25, 1593; died March 16, 1649) was the son of farmers. He attended the university at nearby Caen and worked on his parent's farm before joining the Jesuits at Rouen in 1617. Although he was almost forced to leave the society when he contracted tuberculosis and was so affected that he could neither study or teach for the customary periods, he was ordained in 1622. It is remarkable, therefore, that in 1625 he requested to be sent to Canada as a missionary. There, despite opposition from the Protestant Huguenots, trading company officials, and renegade Indians, Father de Brébeuf labored among the Hurons for the next 24 years--but not without interruption.
In 1629, when the English captured Quebec, he was ousted with other Jesuits and forced to return to France. For a time Fr. Brébeuf was treasurer at the Jesuit college in Eu until the English returned Canada to the French in 1633. At that time he went back into the mission field. From this time until his death, his evangelizing efforts were richly rewarded.
At the request of the Hurons, Father de Brébeuf lived among them, sometimes with companions, and sometimes alone. He preached and catechized in their own language. But his work had to overcome superstition, violence, cannibalism, and the fact that he belonged to an alien, conquering race. He founded schools and baptized over 200 neophytes in one year.
When smallpox killed thousands of Indians in 1637, the missionaries were blamed by the tribal medicine men for the disaster. Brébeuf was condemned to death, but spoke so eloquently of the after-life that he was given a reprieve. He stayed with the Indians until 1640, when he went to Quebec for four years. Then returned to the Indians.
He was captured together with Gabriel Lalemant by Iroquois, enemies of the Hurons, on March 16 at Sainte-Marie, near Georgian Bay, and was cruelly tortured for hours, mutilated, burned to death, and finally eaten. Known for his holiness and courage, he was responsible for some 7,000 conversions among the Indians, and composed a dictionary and catechism in Huron.
Gabriel Lalement (Born at Paris, France, 1610; died 1649) joined the Jesuits in 1630. He taught at Moulins for three years, and after further study at Bourges, was ordained in 1638. After teaching at La Flèche and Moulins, he was sent to Canada at his request in 1646 as a missionary.
He, too, worked among the Hurons, became assistant to Saint John de Brébeuf at Saint Ignace in 1649, and was with him in the village when the Iroquois attacked and destroyed it on March 16, killing all the inhabitants except the two priests. After torturing them, the Iroquois tomahawked them to death the next day (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer, Melady, Parkman, Schamoni, Wynne).
John of Rila, Abbot
Born in Bulgaria; died at Rila, 946. Saint John was one of the earliest native Bulgarian monks. He spent 60 years in the Rhodope mountains south of Sofia, where he founded the great monastery of Rila. This monastery survived until the buildings were converted into a meteorological station by the Communist government in 1947. It is unstated, but I believe that Saint John is only on the Orthodox calendars (Attwater).
Laura of Córdova, Abbess M (AC)
Born in Córdova, Spain; died 864. In her widowhood Laura became a nun at Cuteclara, then its abbess. She was martyred by the Moorish conquerors who threw her into a cauldron of boiling pitch or molten lead (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Lupus of Soissons B (AC)
Died c. 540. Saint Lupus was a nephew of Saint Remigius of Reims. He became bishop of Soissons (Benedictines).
Paul of the Cross, Priest (RM)
Born at Ovada, Piedmont, Italy, in 1694; died in Rome, Italy, October 18, 1775; canonized in 1867; feast day formerly on April 28.
Paolo Francesco Danei was well brought up by devout, middle-class parents (a.k.a. impoverished nobility). At 15, while still living with his parents in Castellazzo, Lombardy, Paul adopted a lifestyle of rigorous austerity and great mortifications. When he was 20 he volunteered for the Venetian army to fight against the Turks, but he soon found he was not meant to be a soldier. After his discharge, he resumed his life of prayer and penance. He refused marriage, and spent several years in retreat at Castellazzo.
In 1720, had a vision of our Lady in a black habit with the name Jesus and a cross in white on the chest. In the vision, the Blessed Virgin told him to found a religious order devoted to preaching the Passion of Christ (hence their name, Passionists). Paul experienced such mystical communications all his life, and came to distrust them; however, he acted promptly on these first ones.
The bishop of Alessandria discerned that Paul's visions were authentic, and gave him permission to proceed to draw up a rule for the new order. Thus, Paul wrote the Passionist rule during a 45- day retreat. With his brother, Giovanni Baptista, who became his inseparable companion and closest confidant, he went to Rome to seek papal approval, which was refused at first. On their return to Rome in 1725, they were granted permission by Pope Benedict XIII to accept novices. Two years later (1727), the holy father ordained the two brothers as priests in the Vatican basilica.
After their ordination he and his brother started the first Passionist house, on the Monte Argentaro peninsula (near Orbitello) in Tuscany. The first ten years were difficult, for both internal and external reasons. Many of their first novices left because of the severity of the rule. Perseverance won. In the end austere life of the missioners and the fervent preaching of their founder made their mark.
The first monastery was opened in 1737. In 1741, Pope Benedict XIV approved a modified rule, and the "Barefoot Clerks of the Holy Cross and Passion" began to spread throughout Italy. They were in great demand for their missions, which became famous.
Paul was elected first superior general, against his will, at the first general chapter at Monte Argentaro and held that position the rest of his life. He preached all over the Papal States to tremendous crowds, raised them to a fever pitch as he scourged himself in public, and brought back to the faith the most hardened sinners and criminals (What would Saint Hippolytus say to that!).
He was blessed with supernatural gifts--prophecy, miracles of healing, appearances to people in visions at a distance--and was one of the most celebrated preachers of his day. People fought to touch him and to get a piece of his tunic as a relic. Though the two main objectives of the order were service to the sick and the dying, Paul's special concern was the conversion of sinners, for which he prayed for 50 years.
The Passionists received final approbation from Pope Clement XIV in 1769. Two years later, Paul's efforts to create an institute of nuns came into being with the opening of the first house of Passionist nuns at Corneto. Paul lived to see the congregation firmly established. After a three-year illness, Paul died and was buried in the Basilica of SS John and Paul, given to the order by Pope Clement.
Saint Paul of the Cross was always interested in the religious state of England. Thus, it is heartening to note that the leader of the first Passionists to work there, Father Dominic Barberi (d. 1849), who received John Henry Newman into the Catholic Church, was also beatified in 1963 (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, White).
Peter of Alcántara, OFM (RM)
Born at Alcántara, Estremadura, Spain, in 1499; died at Arenas, 1562; canonized in 1669.
Sixteenth century Spain provided the Church with a wealth of heroes--most of whom seemed to know one another. I hope you enjoy this story of a man who truly fell in love with God at an early age.
Peter Garavito's father, who was a lawyer and governor of the province, died in 1513 and two years later, after studying law in Salamanca, 16-year-old Peter entered the Observant Franciscans at Manxarretes (Manjaretes). At 22 he was sent to Badajoz to found a friary.
He was ordained at the age of 25 (1524), and preached missions in Spain and Portugal. After serving as superior at Robredillo, Plasencia, and Estremadura, Peter finally had his request for solitude granted with an appointment to the friary at Lapa, though he was also named its superior. For a time he served as chaplain to the court of King John III of Portugal. This period of his life is uneventful, but all the time he was longing for a yet more rigorous following of the Franciscan rule.
After he was elected provincial for Saint Gabriel at Estremadura in 1538, he was able to take definite steps to begin the reform, but his efforts were not well received during the provincial chapter at Placensia in 1540. So, he resigned as minister provincial. For two years (1542-44) he lived as a hermit with Friar Martin of Saint Mary on Arabida Mountain near Lisbon and was named superior of Palhaes community for novices when numerous friars were attracted to their way of life. During that period he had become convinced of the need for a vigorous Catholic reform, a Counter-Reformation with which to oppose the Protestant Reformation.
Unable to secure approval for a stricter congregation of friars from his provincial, his idea was accepted by the bishop of Coria. Finally, with the approval of Pope Julius III, c. 1556, he founded the Reformed Friars Minor of Spain, usually called the Alcatarine Franciscans, which established not only monasteries but also Houses of Retreat where anyone could go and try to live according to the Rule of Saint Francis. The friars lived in small groups, in great poverty and austerity, going barefoot, abstaining from meat and wine, spending much time in solitude and contemplation.
Three years later, in 1559, the new order was enlarged with the addition of a new province, that of Saint Joseph. But the Reformed Franciscans failed to win the support of the other Franciscans; Conventuals and Observants, both jealous of their privileges, continued to quarrel over the inheritance of Saint Francis.
At the time of his death in 1562, Saint Peter was still uncertain of the future of his work, which had been placed under the Conventuals. But the example which he set was followed by Saint Teresa of Ávila and there was thus born Saint Joseph of Ávila, the first Reformed Carmel in Spain. Even if Peter's work was surpassed by that of Saint Teresa, it was instrumental in releasing in Spain, and then throughout Europe, a movement of vigorous revival which gave strength to the Church at a time when it was sorely needed.
Teresa and Peter were intimate friends for the last four years of her life. After they met in 1560, he became her confessor, advisor, and admirer. His ferocious and almost unbelievable asceticism is not myth, but rather described by Teresa in a celebrated chapter of her autobiography. She wrote with awe that his penances were "incomprehensible to the human mind." They had reduced him, she tells us, to a condition in which he looked as if "he had been made of the roots of trees."
He practiced asceticism from the age of 16 until his death, opposing a will of iron against the doubtlessly acute temptations of his body. He slept for no more than two hours each night, and even then he did not lie down, but slept either in a hard wooden chair or kneeling against the wall. His cell was no more than 4- ½ feet long. He ate extremely little, at first going for three days, and then for a week without food. When he did eat, he destroyed the taste of the food by sprinkling it with ashes or earth. He never drank wine.
He never wore shoes, or even sandals, and went about barefoot. He never wore a hat or a hood, and exposed his head to the icy rains of winter or the scorching sun of summer. He wore a hair shirt, and though he possessed a cloak, he never wore it in cold weather. He went everywhere on foot, or at the most would ride on a donkey.
Consumed with fever, he refused a glass of water, saying "Jesus was ready to die of thirst on the cross." For three years he never raised his eyes from the ground. And yet, "With all his holiness," wrote Saint Teresa of Ávila, "he was very kindly, though spare of speech except when asked a question, and then he was delightful, for he had a keen understanding."
Such asceticism may seem self-centered and excessive to us today. Some may think that there are sufficient mortifications in the normal course of life without adding to them. But asceticism has been in the Church since the days of the Desert Fathers, and though the practices of the ascetics might seem horrible, unnecessary, or even ridiculous to us, the Church has never reproved them; indeed, they are to be recommended for the active as well as for the contemplative. And who is to say that the present unhappy state of the world would not be greatly changed for the better if people did follow ascetic practices?
Peter's asceticism, however, is only one aspect of his life of great holiness and incessant labor devoted to the restoration in Spain of the primitive Franciscan rule.
Saint Peter was one of the great Spanish mystics and his Treatise on Prayer and Meditation (1926 English translation) was said by Pope Gregory XV to be "a shining light to lead souls to heaven and a doctrine prompted by the Holy Spirit." This treatise was used later by Saint Francis de Sales. His mystical works, intended purely for edification, follow traditional lines.
"He had already appeared to me twice since his death," wrote Teresa of Ávila, "and I witnessed the greatness of his glory. Far from causing me the least fear, the sight of him filled me with joy. He always showed himself to me in the state of a body which was glorious and radiant with happiness; and I, seeing him, was filled with the same happiness. I remember that when he first appeared to me he said, to show me the extent of his felicity, 'Blessed be the penitence which has brought me such a reward'" (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Underhill).
In art he is depicted as a Franciscan in radiance levitated before the Cross, angels carry a girdle of nails, chain, and discipline. Sometimes he is shown (1) walking on water with a companion, a star over his head; (2) praying before a crucifix, discipline (scourge), and hairshirt; or (3) with a dove at his ear, cross and discipline in the picture. He is venerated at Alcántara and Pedrosa (Roeder).
In 1862, he was declared the patron of Brazil (Delaney).
Philip Howard M (RM)
Born in 1557; died October 19, 1595; beatified in 1929; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.
Philip was the eldest son of Thomas Howard, fourth duke of Norfolk, who had been beheaded under Queen Elizabeth I in 1572. Philip's godfather was Philip II of Spain. On his mother's side, Philip was earl of Arundel and Surrey. His life's story is not so surprising given this heritage of high-birth and martyrdom.
Although Philip was baptized as a Catholic, he was raised as a Protestant. For years he was an indifferent Christian, neglectful of his faith. At the tender age of 12 or 14, he was married to Anne Dacre, his foster sister. He studied at Cambridge for two years. Although Queen Elizabeth had executed his father, she made Philip one of her favorites. The son was dazzingly handsome, witty, and a good dancer. Philip became a wastrel at Elizabeth's court, involved in many love affairs, refusing to set eyes on his young wife who waited patiently at Arundel House.
Even during this period of dissipation, Philip was extravagant in helping the poor and sick. He servants worshipped him because he treated every individual courteously. About this time his grandfather died and he inherited the title and estates of the earl of Arundel. Deeply impressed by Saint Edmund Campion when he debated theology with the deans of Windsor at London, Philip reformed his life, was reconciled to his neglected wife, and eventually fell deeply in love with her.
About the same time as Campion's defense of the faith, Anne Dacre and Philip's favorite sister, Lady Margaret Sackville, were reconciled to the Catholic Church. Elizabeth immediately banished Anne Dacre and placed her under house arrest in Surrey, where she gave birth to their first daughter. Philip was imprisoned in the Tower of London for a short time. Upon his release, he, too, returned to the Catholic Church in 1584 with fervor and conscientiousness.
In late April 1585, Philip tried to escape across the English Channel to Flanders with his family and brother William as so many Catholics of his country had done before. But the captain of the ship he had hired betrayed him. Again, he was thrown into the Tower, where he was severely beaten and accused of treason for working with Mary, Queen of Scots. The charge was not provable, but he was fined 10,000 pounds. His pleas for mercy and to be allowed to see his wife, daughter, and newborn son went unanswered by the queen.
On various occasions it was reported to his wife that the earl was drinking in prison, that he had affairs with all kinds of loose women, and was entirely indifferent to religious concerns. Even where he was at the point of death in 1596, it was made a condition that he must renounce his faith if he wanted to see Anne and the children before he died.
At the time of the Spanish Armada, he was again accused of treason (though he was in the Tower of London at the time) and ordered executed--a sentence that was never carried out. He was kept imprisoned in the Tower and died there six years later, on October 19, perhaps poisoned (Benedictines, Delaney, Undset).
Ptolomaeus (Ptolemy) and Lucius MM (RM)
Died c. 165. The Roman Ptolomaeus was sentenced for teaching the catechism and converting a woman who had previously engaged in unspecified sexual sins with her husband. Her husband wanted to continue their indulgence; therefore, the woman requested a divorce. Consistent with Saint Paul's admonition, her friends persuaded her to remain with her husband in the hope of bringing him to faith. Word came from Alexandria that his behavior was worsening, so she finally issued a declaration of dissolution. Her husband filed a complaint against her for leaving him without his consent and reported that she was a Christian. He also persuaded a centurion to ask Ptolomaeus whether he was a Christian. The honest man, upon answering that he was, was put in chains and imprisoned for a long time until he was taken before Urbicius. He again confessed that he was a Christian because he was "fully aware of the benefits he enjoyed because of Christ's doctrine." When Urbicius ordered him to be executed, the Christian bystander, Lucius, protested that Ptolomaeus had not been convicted of adultery, fornication, murder, clothes-stealing, or any crime. "Your sentence, Urbicius, does not befit the Emperor Pius nor his philosopher son [Marcus Aurelius] nor the holy senate." Urbicius answered, "I think you too are one of them." Lucius responded, "Indeed I am." Thereupon, he too was executed. Their passion under Antoninus Pius is recounted by Saint Justin Martyr, their contemporary (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Farmer).
Theofrid of Carmery OSB, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Theofroy, Chaffre)
Born in Orange, France; died 728. Theofrid, a monk and abbot of Carmery-en-Velay (later renamed Monastier-Saint-Chaffre), died as a result of the ill-treatment of the invading Saracens. He has always been venerated as a martyr (Benedictines).
Blessed Thomas Hélye, Confessor (AC)
Born at Biville, Normandy, in 1187; died at the castle of Vauville, Manche, in 1257; cultus confirmed in 1859. Blessed Thomas led an ascetic life in his parents' home and devoted part of his time to teaching the catechism to the poor. His bishop requested that he receive presbyterial ordination. Thereafter he was an itinerant preacher throughout Normandy. Later he was appointed almoner to the king (Benedictines).
Varus of Upper Egypt M (RM)
Died 307. His authenticated acta report that Varus was a Roman soldier in Upper Egypt ordered to guard a prison in which certain monks condemned to death were confined. Upon seeing one of them expire in his dungeon, Varus insisted on taking his place and was immediately hanged from a tree (Benedictines). Varus is depicted as a Roman soldier holding a flail (Roeder).
Veranus of Cavaillon B (RM)
Born at Vaucluse, France; died c. 590. The miracles of Bishop Saint Veranus of Cavaillon were recorded by Gregory of Tours (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.