Alphonsus Rodriguez, SJ (RM)
(also known as Alonso)
Born in Segovia, Spain, July 25, 1533; died at Palma de Majorca in 1617; beatified 1825; canonized 1888; feast formerly on October 31.
"The difference between adversity suffered for God and prosperity is greater than that between gold and a lump of lead." --Saint Alphonsus.
Brother Alphonsus proves Mother Teresa's axiom that small things done with great love is the call of the Christian. Every day Alphonsus Rodriguez prayed to more than 20 confessors, martyrs, and Church Fathers. He had a great veneration for Saint Ursula, and though modern scholarship has done much to revise and alter the story of her martyrdom, the fact remains that a liturgy might be clumsy and inaccurate and yet represent a far more fertile and living expression of religious life than one which has been cleaned and scoured to the point of rendering it sterile.
Surely the candor and devotion of Saint Alphonsus is of greater value than the scientific researches of our professors of liturgy. He was a bit mad perhaps--when he was told to eat his plate, he took his knife and tried to cut it into pieces and swallow them. Perhaps that sounds stupid, but it was he who was in the right for he had, on entering the Jesuits, made his vow of obedience, and his obedience was so perfect that he obeyed hasty or perhaps joking orders to the letter.
Alphonus was the third child of a large family of wool merchants. When Blessed Peter Favre and another Jesuit came to preach a mission at Segovia, they stayed with Alphonus's family and took up the invitation for a short holiday at their country house. Young Alphonsus, then about 10, went with them and was prepared for his First Communion by Blessed Peter.
When he was 14, Alphonsus was sent with his elder brother to study under the Jesuits at Alcala. Before the year was out, their father Diego was dead and it fell to Alphonsus interrupt his studies to manage the family business. When he was 23, his mother retired and Alphonus inherited his father's business. Like Saint Francis of Assisi, he sold cloth all day long, buying with one hand and selling with the other.
He married Maria Suarez when he was 27. Soon the business was failing due to hard economic times. Then his little daughter died. When he was about 35, his wife died shortly after giving birth to their only son. Two years later his mother died. The business didn't prosper either. This succession of misfortunes forced Alphonsus to seriously consider God's plan for his life. He began to realize that he was meant to do something different from the numerous businessmen who led exemplary but unheroic lives in Segovia. So he sold his business and took his son to live with the boy's two maiden aunts, Antonia and Juliana.
From these two ladies, Alphonsus learned to meditate for at least two hours a day. He was an assiduous communicant. His life was austere and happy, though he still longed to devote himself to God. So, after abandoning his business, he resumed his studies at the point where he had broken them off. He had always taken religion seriously so when his son died, Alphonsus decided it was finally time to become a Jesuit, if possible, as an ordained priest.
Alphonsus was nearly 40, barely literate, and his health tenuous. It's no wonder that the Jesuits of Segovia unhesitatingly refused him entry. Undaunted, Alphonsus presented himself to Father Luis Santander, SJ, at the novitiate of the Jesuits of Aragon at Valencia. Father Santander recommended him to be ordained as soon as possible, and requested that he learn Latin. He had given away most of his money by now, so he became a hired servant, hoping to pay for his necessary extra education by this and by begging. Thus, he put himself through school with the young boys.
Happily the provincial of the order spotted the saintliness of Alphonsus's life, and, in 1571, overruled those who had refused him permission to join them. He was admitted as a lay brother and six months later was sent to Palma de Majorca, where, after serving in various capacities, he became door-keeper at Montesión College.
He was diligent in carrying out his assignments, but every spare moment was given to prayer. Though he achieved a marvelous habitual recollection and union with god, his spiritual path was far from an easy one. Especially in his later years he suffered from long periods of aridity. Yet he never despaired, knowing that in God's own time he would be seized again in an ecstasy of love and spiritual delight. Persevering, Brother Alphonsus professed his final vows in 1585, at the age of 54.
Many of the varied people who were thus brought into contact with him learned to respect him and value his advice; in particular Saint Peter Claver as a student used to consult him frequently and received from Brother Alphonsus the impetus for his future work among the slaves of South America.
In May 1617, the rector of Montesión, Father Julian, was struck with rheumatic fever. Alphonsus spent the night interceding for the priest. In the morning, Father Julian was able to celebrate Mass.
After receiving Communion on October 29, Alphonsus lay as if dead, but he was in ecstasy. At midnight on October 31, the ecstasy ended and the final death pangs began. One-half hour later the brother regained his composure, lovingly looked at his brethren, and kissed the crucifix. Still a porter, he died in 1617, saying only one word: Jesus.
A collection of his notes, reflections, thoughts, which he wrote down at the request of his superiors, along with some quotations that he borrowed from the spiritual classics but which were mistakenly attributed to him, was frequently copied and widely circulated during his lifetime. Many people found true spiritual nourishment in them. There is a sonnet on Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez among Gerard Manley Hopkins' Poems (2nd ed., 1930).
Alphonsus bears considerable resemblance to the Carmelite Brother Lawrence, of the next generation. He was a man of practically no education, but he had deep religious sensibility of a mystical kind. His faith was uncomplicated and simple, untroubled either by Protestantism or the threat of Islam. He had cultivated the Spanish faith of his father and mother, he believed in Jesus Christ, the Holy Church, and in the communion of saints (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Walsh, Yeomans).
This Alphonsus Rodriguez must not be confused with two Jesuit contemporaries of the same names, one a writer of well-known religious books, the other a martyr in Paraguay. Neither of these has been canonized, though the second is venerated as a beatus.
In art he is depicted as an old Jesuit with two hearts on his breast, connected by rays of light to Christ and the Virgin. Venerated at Majorca (Roeder).
Blessed Angelus of Acri, OFM Cap. (AC)
Born at Acri (diocese of Bisignano), Calabria, Italy, in 1669; died in 1739; beatified in 1825. Angelus twice attempted unsuccessfully to become a religious. The third time, after a tempestuous novitiate, he was professed as a Capuchin. His public life as a preacher was again quite unsuccessful in the beginning and "tempestuously successful" afterwards (Benedictines).
Arilda of Gloucestershire VM (AC)
Date unknown. Saint Arilda, Gloucestershire virgin, died in defense of her chastity. The church at Oldbury-on-the-Hill is dedicated to her (Benedictines).
Artemas of Lystra B (AC)
1st century. The Greeks venerated this disciple of Saint Paul, who is mentioned by the apostle in his letter to Titus (3:12). A later tradition has made of him a bishop of Lystra (Benedictines).
Asterius of Amasea B (AC)
Died c. 400. Bishop Asterius of Amasea in Pontus, Asia Minor, was renowned as a preacher: 21 of his sermons are still extant. From his writings we know that he studied rhetoric and law in his youth. Although he practiced as a barrister for a time, he could not long ignore his calling to the priesthood, which eventually led to his elevation to the see of Amasea. Saint Gregory the Great describes this good pastor as overflowing with the Holy Spirit.
His sermons highly recommend charity to the poor, revealing his own favorite virtue. His place in time is known because of the references he makes in his sermons to Julian the Apostate and the Consul Eutropius. They also show that the Church already kept the feasts of Christmas, Easter, Epiphany, and martyrs. His reflections are just and solid; the expression natural, elegant, and animated. They abound with lively images and descriptions both of persons and things.
In his homily on Saints Peter and Paul, Saint Asterius repeatedly teaches the pre-eminent jurisdiction Saint Peter received over all Christians. His panegyric to Saint Phocas encourages the invocation of saints, the veneration of their relics, and pilgrimages to pray before them.
The following passage is from his sermon, On the Holy Martyrs:
"We keep through every age their bodies decently enshrined, as most precious pledges; vessels of benediction, the organs of their blessed souls, the tabernacles of their holy minds. We put ourselves under their protection. The martyrs defend the church, as soldiers guard a citadel. The people flock in crowds from all quarters, and keep great festivals to honor their tombs.
"All who labor under the heavy load of afflictions fly to them for refuge. We employ them as intercessors in our prayers and suffrages. In these refuges the hardships of poverty are eased, diseases cured, the threats of princes appeased. A parent, taking a sick child in his arms, postpones physicians, and runs to one of the martyrs, offering by him his prayer to the Lord, and addressing him whom he employs for his mediator in such word as these.
"'You who have suffered for Christ, intercede for one who suffers by sickness. By that great power and confidence you have, offer a prayer on behalf of fellow-servants. Though you are now removed from us, you know what men on earth feel in their sufferings and diseases. You formerly prayed to martyrs, before you were yourself a martyr. You then obtained your request by asking; now you are possessed of what you asked, in your turn assist me. By your crown ask what may be our advancement. If another is going to be married, he begins his undertaking by soliciting the prayers of the martyrs. Who, putting to sea, weighs anchor before he has invoked the Lord of the sea by the martyrs?'"
The saint describes with what magnificence and concourse of people the feasts of martyrs were celebrated over the whole world. He says, the Gentiles and the Eunomian heretics, whom he calls New Jews, condemned the honors paid to martyrs, and their relics; to whom he answers:
"We by no means adore the martyrs, but we honor them as the true adorers of God. We lay their bodies in rich shrines and sepulchers, and erect stately tabernacles of their repose, that we may be stirred up to an emulation of their honors. Nor is our devotion to them without its recompense; for we enjoy their patronage with God."
He says the New Jews, or Eunomians, do not honor the martyrs, because they blaspheme the King of martyrs, making Christ unequal to his Father. He tells them that they ought at least to respect the voice of the devils, who are forced to confess the power of the martyrs:
"Those whom we have seen bark like dogs, and who were seized with frenzy, and are now come to their senses, prove by their cure how effectual the intercession of martyrs is."
He closes this sermon with a devout and confident address to the martyrs (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Blessed Benvenuta Bojani, OP Tert. V (AC)
Born in Cividale, Friuli, Italy, 1254; died 1292; cultus approved in 1763.
Benvenuta was the last of seven daughters. Her parents, too, must have been amazing people in comparison with so many in our time. When the silence of the midwife proclaimed that her father had been disappointed once again in his desire for a son, he exclaimed, "She too shall be welcome!" Remembering this she was christened by her parents Benvenuta ("welcome"), although they had asked for a son. A vain older sister unsuccessfully tried to teach the pious little Benvenuta to dress in rich clothing and use the deceits of society. Benvenuta hid from such temptations in the church where she developed a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. By the age of 12, Benvenuta was wearing hairshirts and a rope girdle. As she grew the rope became embedded in her flesh. When she realized the rope must be removed, she couldn't get it off, so she prayed and it fell to her feet. For this reason she is often pictured in art holding a length of rope in her hands.
Having become a Dominican tertiary at an early age, she added the penances practiced by the sisters to those she had appropriated for herself. All her disciplines, fasting, and lack of sleep soon caused her health to fail and she was confined to bed for five years. Thereafter, she was too weak to walk, so a kind older sibling carried her to church once a week for Compline (Night Prayer) in the Dominican church, her favorite liturgy after the Mass.
After evening prayer on the Vigil of the Feast of Saint Dominic, Dominic and Saint Peter Martyr appeared to Benvenuta. Dominic had a surprise for her. The prior was absent at the Salve procession, but at the beginning of Compline she saw Dominic in the prior's place. He passed from brother to brother giving the kiss of peace, then went to his own altar and disappeared. At the Salve procession, the Blessed Virgin herself came down the aisle, blessing the fathers while holding the Infant Jesus in her arms.
Benvenuta spent her whole life at home in Cividale busy with her domestic duties, praying, and working miracles. She was often attacked by the devil, who sometimes left her close to discouragement and exhaustion. When someone protested against the death of a promising young child, Benvenuta commented, "It is much better to be young in paradise than to be old in hell." The devil often appeared to her in horrifying forms but was banished when Benvenuta called upon the Virgin.
Benvenuta's companions called her "the sweetest and most spiritual of contemplatives, so lovable in her holiness that her touch and presence inspired gladness and drove away temptations." This is amazing in light of the severe penances that she imposed upon herself--and another sign of blessedness that she didn't judge others by her standards for herself (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Blessed Bernard de la Tour, O. Cart. (PC)
Died 1258. A Carthusian monk of Portes, diocese of Belley, who became the 13th superior general of the order (Benedictines).
Claudius, Lupercus & Victorius MM (RM)
Died c. 300. These three brothers, sons of the centurion Saint Marcellus, were martyred at León, Spain, during the reign of Diocletian. They are the titular saints of Saint Claudius in Galicia, one of the earliest Benedictine abbeys in Spain (Benedictines).
Dorothy of Montau, Widow (PC)
Born at Montau near Marienburg, Prussia, Germany, on February 6, 1347; died June 25, 1394. Though she was never canonized, Saint Dorothy is widely venerated in central Europe, particularly among the Prussians, who have selected her as their patron saint. Like Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Bridget of Sweden, who were her contemporaries, she was favored by divine grace with many visions, revelations, and ecstasies, especially during the last years of her life.
As a 17-year-old peasant girl, she married a wealthy swordsmith from Danzig named Albert (Albrecht) by whom she had nine children. Of these only the youngest survived, a daughter who later became a Benedictine nun. Albert appears to have been surly and bad- tempered, and it seems likely that their married life, at least in its early years, was far from ideal. However, Dorothy's gentleness, fortitude, and kindness gradually softened him, and in 1384, he agreed to accompany her on a pilgrimage to Aachen.
After other pilgrimages to Einsiedeln and Cologne, they planned to make one to Rome for the jubilee that was to be held in 1390; but while they were making their preparations, Albert fell ill and so Dorothy went alone, travelling on foot and begging her food. By the time she returned from Rome, where she had been delayed by a sickness, her husband had died.
Now that she had become a widow, Dorothy was able to fulfill a dream she had long cherished of retiring from the world. In 1391, she went to Marienwerder where, after spending two years on probation, she became a recluse in the church of the Teutonic Knights.
On May 2, 1393, she had herself walled up in a cell that measured 6' x 6' and was about 9' tall. Of the three windows one opened to the sky, the second to a cemetery (and through which she also received food) and the third on to the altar of the church where, as was often the custom in those regions, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed all day.
Like many others, Dorothy had an intense devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and was often favored with mystic visions of it. Her reputation for holiness grew rapidly and many people came to her seeking counsel or miraculous cures.
However, the rigors of her mode of life, added to the severe austerities she practiced, soon broke her health and she died in May 1394, after living only a little more than a year in her cell. Many miracles were attributed to her, and an account of her visions and ecstasies has been left by her confessor (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Dorothy's emblem is a lantern and a rosary. Sometimes she is surrounded by arrows in paintings of her. Venerated at Montau and Marienwerder, Prussia (Roeder).
Egelnoth the Good, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Ethelnoth)
Died 1038. The monk Saint Egelnoth of Glastonbury was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury from 1020 and served in that capacity until his death (Benedictines).
Eutropia of Africa M (RM)
Died 253? Saint Eutropia was martyred at Alexandria, probably under Valerian (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Gerard of Potenza B (RM)
Born in Piacenza, Italy; died 1119; canonized by Pope Callistus II. Gerard was enrolled among the clergy of Potenza and elected bishop there at an advanced age (Benedictines).
Germanus of Capua B (RM)
Died c. 545. Bishop Saint Germanus of Capua (Italy) was a great friend of Saint Benedict. In 519, Pope Saint Hormisdas sent Germanus to Constantinople as papal legate to heal the 40-year-old Acacian schism. Although the schism was abolished, Germanus appears to have met with ill-treatment at the hands of the schismatics, but escaped. At the hour of Germanus's death, Saint Benedict saw his soul being carried to heaven.
Pope Saint Gregory the Great relates (Dialogues, 4, 40):
"While I was young and still a layman, I heard told to the seniors, who were well-informed men, how the Deacon Paschasius appeared to Germanus, bishop of Capua. Paschasius, deacon of the Apostolic See, whose books on the Holy Spirit are still extant, was a man of eminent sanctity, devoted to works of charity, zealous for the relief of the poor, and most forgetful of self.
"A dispute having arisen concerning a pontifical election, Paschasius separated himself from the bishops, and joined the party disapproved by the episcopacy. Soon after this he died, with a reputation for sanctity which God confirmed by a miracle: an instantaneous cure was effected on the day of the funeral by the simple touch of his dalmatic.
"Long after this, Germanus, bishop of Capua, was sent by the physicians to the baths of Saint Angelo. What was his astonishment to find the same Deacon Paschasius employed in the most menial offices at the baths!
"'Here I expiate,' said the apparition, 'the wrong I did by adhering to the wrong party. I beseech of you, pray to the Lord for me: you will know that you have been heard when you shall no longer see me in these places.'
"Germanus began to pray for the deceased, and after a few days, returning to the baths, sought in vain for Paschasius, who had disappeared. He had but to undergo a temporary punishment because he had sinned through ignorance, and not through malice."
(Benedictines, Husenbeth, Schouppe).
Herbert of Tours, OSB B (AC)
Dates unknown. Abbot Herbert of Marmoűtier was later elevated to archbishop of Tours, France (Benedictines).
Blessed John Slade M (AC)
Born in Manston, Dorset, England; died 1583; beatified in 1929. John Slade was a student at New College, Oxford. He became a schoolmaster, and was martyred at Winchester for denying the royal supremacy in spiritual matters (Benedictines).
Julian, Eunus, Macarius & Comps. MM (RM)
Died c. 250. Saint Julian and Saint Eunus are identical with the martyrs of that name commemorated on February 27; Saint Macarius is again mentioned on December 8. The duplication has been caused by the insertion in the Roman Martyrology of another group of 16 Alexandrian martyrs that includes the above. This larger group is commemorated in the Greek calendar on this day (Benedictines).
Lucanus of Lagny M (RM)
5th century. Saint Lucanus is reputed to have been martyred at Lagny, near Paris, where his relics are enshrined and where he is venerated as patron (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, he carries his own head (Roeder).
Marcellus of Tangier M (RM)
(also known as Marcellus the Centurion)
Died 298. During the festivities held by a Roman legion at Tingis (Tangiers) in celebration of Emperor Maximian's birthday the centurion Marcellus, regarding such festivities as idolatrous, refused to sacrifice to the gods. He threw off his military belt and tossed away his arms and vine-branch, the insignia of his rank. When the festival was over, he was brought before a judge named Fortunatus. When questioned, Marcellus declared, "I serve only the eternal king, Jesus Christ."
Fortunatus remanded Marcellus to lay his case before Emperor Maximian and Constantius Caesar, who was then in Spain and favorably disposed to Christians. Instead Marcellus taken under guard before the deputy praetorian prefect, Aurelius Agricolan, who was then at Tangier. After an exchange between the two that is still preserved, Marcellus pleaded guilty to repudiating his allegiance to an earthly leader, and was executed by sword for impiety.
It was afterwards said that the official shorthand writer, Saint Cassian, was so indignant at the sentence that he refused to report the proceedings, and that he too was executed in consequence. In all probability this is a fictitious addition to the authentic account of Saint Marcellus, though there seems to have been a martyr at Tangier named Cassian.
The relics of Saint Marcellus were translated to León, Spain, were they are kept in a rich shrine. Marcellus is the patron of the city (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Husenbeth).
Maximus of Cumae M (RM)
Died 304. According to the Roman Martyrology, Saint Maximus was martyred at Apamea in Phrygia under Diocletian. However, it is more likely that he died at Cuma (the ancient Cumae) in Campania, Italy (Benedictines).
Blessed Nanterius of Saint-Mihiel OSB, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Nantier, Nantere)
Died c. 1044. Nanterius was abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Mihiel (S. Michaelis ad Mosam) in Lorraine, diocese of Verdun, France (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Saturninus of Cagliari M (RM)
Died 303. According to his untrustworthy acta, Saint Saturninus was beheaded during a pagan festival of Jupiter at Cagliari, Sardinia, under Diocletian (Benedictines).
Serapion of Antioch B (RM)
Died 199. Bishop Serapion of Antioch was praised by Eusebius and Saint Jerome for his theological writings, which, however, have been lost (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Talarica of Scotland B (AC)
(also known as Talarican)
6th century. A bishop, probably Pictish, in whose honor various Scottish churches were dedicated. Mentioned in the Aberdeen Breviary (Benedictines).
Theonestus of Altino BM (RM)
Died 425. Saint Theonestus, reputed bishop of Philippi, Macedonia. is said to have been driven from his see by the Arians and to have been sent by the pope with several companions (among whom was Saint Alban of Mainz) to evangelize Germany. When they arrived at Mainz, they were obliged to flee from the invading Vandals, and on their way home Theonestus was martyred at Altino in the Veneto. Probably Theonestus is a local martyr of Altino having no connection with the others (Benedictines).
Zenobius and Zenobia MM (RM)
Died 285-290. Bishop Zenobius, a physician at Aegae (now Alexandretta) on the coast of Asia Minor, is probably identical with the saint of the same name from Antioch, whose body was torn with hooks. If this is so, his martyrdom took place somewhat later under Diocletian. Zenobia is said to have been his sister (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.