Solemnity of All Saints
Today's individual saints appear
following the brief essay below.
Solemnity of All Saints
"'Be holy as I am holy,' says the Lord. As Christians we are all called to holiness because we are His children. Every Christian should be a saint. Indeed, for a Christian to live in a state of sin is a monstrous contradiction." --Curé d'Ars.
It has recently been claimed that the decline in the cult of saints and in pilgrimages to holy places is spiritually beneficial for Christians, so that their attention will be turned exclusively towards Jesus. There is, however, a danger to the faith in attempting to become too intellectual and sophisticated, and thereby becoming too cold, methodical, and rational. In the face of the divine mysteries and matters that are beyond human comprehension our minds should be kept open.
"The saints are like so many little mirrors in which Jesus Christ sees Himself. In His apostles He sees His zeal and love for the salvation of souls; in the martyrs He sees His constancy, suffering, and painful death; in the hermits He sees His obscure and hidden life; in the virgins He sees His spotless purity; and in all the saints He sees His unbounded charity. And when we honor the virtues of the saints, we are but worshipping the virtues of Jesus Christ. . . ." -- Curé d'Ars
We render God a worship of adoration and dependence with faith, hope, love, and a profound humbling of our souls before His supreme Majesty. We honor the saints with a feeling of respect and veneration for the favors God granted them, for the virtues they practiced, and for the glory with which God has crowned them in heaven. We commend ourselves to their prayers.
"It is a most precious grace that God should have destined the saints to be our protectors and our friends. Saint Bernard said that the honor we give them is less a glory for them than a help to us, and that we may call upon them with full confidence because they know how greatly we are exposed to dangers on earth, for they remember the perils that they themselves had to face during their lifetimes." -- Curé d'Ars.
The friendship that binds us to all the saints, and which is encouraged and commemorated by the feast-days of the Church, is not the invention of a handful of bigots or a commercial stunt manufactured by merchants of religious medallions. The communion of saints answers a definite need, and insofar as we neglect any one of the forms of spiritual life we are cutting ourselves off from a source of divine grace and making ourselves just a little blinder than we are already.
We too can be saints and we must all strive to become so.
"The saints were mortals like us, weak and subject to the passions, as we are. We have the same help, the same means of grace, the same sacraments, but we must be like them and renounce the pleasures of the world, shunning the evils of the world as much as we can and remaining faithful to grace. We must take the saints as our models or be damned, that we must live either for heaven or for hell. There is no middle way." --the Curé d'Ars.
The Church has celebrated some feast in honor of the saints from the period of primitive Christianity. There is tentative evidence of the celebration to honor all the martyrs in the writings of Tertullian (died 223) and Gregory of Nyssa (died 395). It was definitely observed at the time of Saint Ephraem (died 373), who in the Nisibene Hymnus mentions a feast kept in honor of "the martyrs of all the earth" on May 13. It should be noted that on May 13, c. 609, Pope Saint Boniface IV dedicated the Pantheon of Rome in honor of our Lady and all martyrs--another instance of something pagan baptized by Christianity for a new purpose dedicated to God. The Venerable Bede says that the pope designed that "the memory of all the saints might in future be honored in the place which had formerly been devoted to the worship, not of gods, but of demons."
By 411 as indicated in the Syriac Short Martyrology, throughout the Syrian Church the Friday in the Octave of Easter was celebrated as the feast of "all the martyrs." Chaldean Catholics still maintain Easter Friday in honor of the martyrs.
Since at least the time of Saint John Chrysostom (died 407), the Byzantine churches have kept a feast of all the martyrs on the Sunday after Pentecost (Chrysostom, A panegyric of all the martyrs that have suffered throughout the world).
We are not quite sure how November 1 came to be commemorated in honor of all the saints in the West. We do know that by AD 800, Blessed Alcuin was in the habit of keeping the solemnitas sanctissima of All Saints on November 1, preceded by a three-day fast. His friend Bishop Arno of Salzburg had presided over a synod in Bavaria (Germany) which included that day in its list of holy days (Walsh).
Why has the Church included such a day in its calendar? To honor all the saints--known and unknown to us--reigning together in glory; to give thanks to God for the graces with which He crowns all the elect; to excite ourselves to humble imitation of their virtues; to implore the Divine Mercy through the help of these intercessors; and to repair any failures in not having properly honored God in His saints on their individual feast days.
Saint Bernard wrote: "It is our interest to honor the memory of the saints, not theirs. Would you know how it is our interest? from the remembrance of them I feel, I confess, a triple vehement desire kindled in my breast--of their company, of their bliss, and of their intercession.
"First, of their company. To think of the saints is in some measure to see them. Thus we are in part, and this the better part of ourselves, in the land of the living, provided our affection goes along with our thoughts or remembrance: yet not as they are. The saints are there present, and in their persons; we are there only in affection and desires. Ah! when shall we join our fathers? when shall we be made the fellow-citizens of the blessed spirits, of the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and virgins? when shall we be mixed in the choir of the saints?
"The remembrance of each one among the saints is, as it were, a new spark, or rather torch, which sets our souls more vehemently on fire, and makes us ardently sigh to behold and embrace them, so that we seem to ourselves even now to be amongst them. And from this distant place of banishment we dart our affections sometimes towards the whole assembly, sometimes towards this, and sometimes that happy spirit. What sloth is it that we do not launch our souls into the midst of those happy troops, and burst hence by continual sighs! The church of the first-born waits for us; yet we loiter. The saints earnestly long for our arrival; yet we despise them. Let us with all the ardor of our souls prevent those who are expecting us; let us hasten to those who are waiting for us."
Secondly, he mentions the desire of their bliss; and, lastly, the succor of their intercession, and adds: "Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my friends. You know our danger, our frail mould, our ignorance, and the snares of our enemies; you know our weakness, and the fury of their assaults. For I speak to you who have been under the like temptation; who have overcome the like assaults; have escaped the like snares; and have learned compassion from what you yourselves have suffered.--We are members of the same Head.--Your glory is not to be consummated without us. . . ." (Bernard of Clairvaux, Serm. 5 de fest. omnium sanct., n. 5, 6).
In his sermon on the Vigil of Saints Peter and Paul, Bernard also writes: "He who was powerful on earth is more powerful in heaven, where he stands before the face of his Lord. And if he had compassion on sinners, and prayed for them while he lived on earth, he now prays to the Father for us so much the more earnestly as he more truly knows our extreme necessities and miseries; his blessed country has not changed, but increased his charity. Though now impassible, he is not a stranger to compassion: by standing before the throne of mercy, he has put on the tender bowels of mercy. . . ."
Amabilis of Auvergne (of Riom) (AC)
Died 475. It seems that Amabilis was precentor of the cathedral at Clermont and afterwards parish priest of Riom in Auvergne (Benedictines). Saint Amabilis is portrayed as a bishop with an angel playing music to him. He is venerated at Auvergne and Riom. Invoked against fire, snake-bite, poison, wild beasts, possession, and madness (Roeder).
Austremonius of Clermont B (RM)
(also known as Stremoine)
1st or 3rd century. Stremoine, one of the seven missionaries sent from Rome to evangelize Gaul, preached in Auvergne and was the first bishop of Clermont-Ferrand. Stremoine was venerated after he was eulogized by the 17th bishop of Clermont and by Saint Gregory of Tours in his history (1.1, c. 30). His head is preserved in the abbey at Issoire; most of the rest of his body is enshrined in the abbey of Mauzac near Riom and Saint-Guoine in Aquitaine (Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Benignus of Dijon M (RM)
3rd Century. The cultus of this martyr began in the early 6th century with the discovery of an ancient tomb at Dijon. Subsequently, a Passio of Saint Benignus made its appearance; it was said to have had its origin in Italy, but the story it tells is manifestly spurious in all its versions. There is a remote possibility that Benignus was a missionary priest from Lyons, martyred at Epagny, near Dijon, in the late second century (probably under Aurelian, 270-275).
According to the 6th century legend, Saint Benignus, along with another priest and a deacon, were sent by Saint Polycarp to preach the Gospel in Gaul. Their adventures included being shipwrecked at Corsica, landing at Marseilles and making their way perilously up the rivers Rhone and Saone. They reached Autun, where Benignus converted a nobleman who later was martyred (Saint Symphorianus).
He and his companions separated, to evangelize different parts of Gaul. He worked openly, despite the danger to Christians. Inevitably Benignus was denounced to the authorities and put on trial. He refused to sacrifice to pagan idols or to Caesar. He refused to deny Christ. Attempts were made to make him change his mind by savage tortures. Eventually he was put to death.
His impressive sarcophagus can still be seen in the crypt under the cathedral at Dijon in what was a large Roman cemetery. In the 6th century, Saint Gregory of Langres built a basilica and monastery on the site. William of Volpiano built a larger church there for his Cluniac monastery, which revived monasticism in Normandy in the 11th century. The church and the tomb of Saint Benignus have survived an earthquake (1280) and the French Revolution (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Farmer).
Roeder says there it is difficult to sort out the graphic attributes of several Benignus's. It appears, however, the Benignus of Dijon, on the seal of the abbey, is represented as having a dog by him and holding a key (Roeder). A late medieval carved cantor's staff of Benignus, depicting his fingers as damaged during his martyrdom, remains at Dijon (Farmer).
Cadfan of Wales, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Catamanu, Catman)
Died probably at Bardsey in the early 6th century. A missionary from Letavia (probably in Brittany but possibly in southeastern Wales) to Wales, Cadfan founded monasteries at Towyn in Merionethshire and Llangadfan in Montgomeryshire, and later a monastic center on the island of Bardsey (Ynys Enlli), where he was first abbot. Bardsey developed into a great center of monasticism. It is said that as he went from Towyn to Llangadfan he passed through Pistyll Gadfan, Eisteddfa Gadfa, and Llwbyr Gadfan.
His holy well could be found in the churchyard at Towyn, near his chapel (since destroyed), where many were cured of rheumatism, scrofula, and skin diseases. It continued to attract pilgrims long after the Reformation. Baths and changing-rooms were added until it went into disuse about 1894.
In the church at Towyn, there is a stone pillar, called the Cadfan stone, with an ancient inscription that marks the place of his burial:
"Beneath a similar mound lies Cadfan, sad it should enclose the praise of the earth. May he rest without blemish."
A Cadfan also has an active cultus in Finistère and Côtes du Nord, Brittany. While it is generally held that this is the same Cadfan (the reason for thinking that he was a Breton), there are still problems in making the connection between the two. The question may never be settled. The Breton Cadfan is the patron of a church at Poullan, near Douarnenez. There is an extant statue of him in military garb at Briec (Benedictines, Delaney, Farmer).
Caesarius & Julian (Lucian) MM (RM)B
Dates unknown. The names of both Caesarius, an African deacon, and Julian, a priest, appear in the earliest martyrologies. They were both martyred at Terracina, Italy, where it was the custom to periodically have a young man volunteer to jump off a cliff into the sea as a sacrifice to the titular deity of the city, Apollo. The citizens would treat the young man as a goose to be fattened-- he would be pampered, fed treats, and richly clothed before he gave himself up to the sea. Witnessing the sacrifice, Caesarius shouted against the abominable superstition. The priest of Apollo had him arrested and taken before the governor, who sentenced the deacon and his priest to be sewn into a sack and thrown into the sea.
The church of Saint Caesarius of the Appian Way in Rome, now a title of one of the cardinal deacons, is dedicated to Saint Caesarius the African. The church had fallen into ruins and was magnificently rebuilt by Clement VIII for his nephew Cardinal Deacon Sylvester Aldobrandini (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Caesarius, Decius (Dacius) & Companions MM (RM)
Dates unknown. A group of seven martyrs who suffered at Damascus, Syria (Benedictines).
Caesarius of Clermont B (AC)
Died post 627. The 19th or 22nd bishop of Clermont (Benedictines).
Ceitho of Wales (AC)
6th century. One of five brothers, saints of the great Welsh family of Cunedda. A church at Pumpsant was dedicated to the five brothers. That at Llangeith in Cardiganshire, was founded by Saint Ceitho (Benedictines).
Cledwyn of Wales (AC)
(also known as Clydwyn)
5th century. Patron saint of Llangledwyn in Carmarthenshire. Alleged to have been the eldest son of King Saint Brychan, and to have succeeded him as ruler of part of his dominions (Benedictines).
Blessed Conradin of Brescia, OP (PC)
Born at Bornato (near Brescia), Italy; died 1429. During the time of the Western Schism, Conradin was born to staunch Catholics of nobility and wealth. His parents provided their children with a thoroughly Catholic education and upbringing, which paid dividends in the lives of their offspring. Conradin studied civil and canon law at the University of Padua, where he became acquainted with the Dominicans. He was professed a Dominican in 1413, finished his studies, was ordained, and became a model friar just as he was formerly a model student of purity and charity.
After being chosen prior of his friary in Brescia at a young age, he was appointed prior of the larger house at Bologna, sent there to restore primitive observance of the Rule of Saint Dominic. It was a difficult task because plague and schism had infected the order, the country, and the Church. Few were entering religious life, so even the most idealistic felt it might be good to rewrite the rule to relax the discipline and shorten the training period to keep the novitiate alive. Conradin held the line and continued to enforce the primitive form of the rule.
Twice Conradin was imprisoned for defending the pope. Plague had stricken Bologna forcefully during Conradin's abbacy. The situation was especially bleak for Bologna, which was under a published papal interdict because the populace had rebelled against papal authority. The interdict was ignored by most. Conradin tried to sway the people to repentance before it was too late, hoping that the interdict might be lifted. The Bolognese refused to listen, even as they were dying of the plague. Tired of his hounding, Conradin was captured, badly beaten, and imprisoned. Later, the prior prevailed and the city submitted to the pope.
In recognition of his work as mediator, Pope Martin V intended to name Conradin a cardinal, but the prior refused. In 1429, when a fresh outbreak of the plague called all the friars once more to the streets to assist the dying, Conradin also fell victim to the disease (Benedictines, Dorcy).
Cyrenia and Juliana MM (RM)
Died 306. Two Christian women burnt to death at Tarsus in Asia Minor under Diocletian (Benedictines).
Dingad of Wales (AC)
(also known as Digat)
Died 5th century. Saint Dingad was another son of the chieftain Brychan of Brecknock. He led a monastic or eremitical life at Llandingad (Llandovery, Dyfed) in Monmouthshire, southern Wales. The patron of Dingestow (Gwent) may be today's saint or Dingad ab Nudd Hael, king of Bryn Buga (Benedictines, Bowen, Farmer).
Floribert of Ghent, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Florbert)
Died c. 660. Floribert was appointed abbot of the new Belgium monasteries of Ghent Mont-Blandin and Saint-Bavon by Saint Amadus (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Genesius of Fontenelle, OSB B (AC)
Died c. 679. After being prior at Fontenelle, Genesius was chosen abbot-chaplain of the palace by Queen Saint Bathildis, and in 658 raised to the see of Lyons. He died at the nunnery of Chelles while on a visit there (Benedictines).
Germanus of Montfort, OSB Monk (AC)
Died c. 1000. Born at Montfort, Germanus studied at Paris and was ordained a priest. Afterwards he entered the abbey of Savigny and was made prior of Talloires. He ended his life as a recluse. His relics were elevated by Saint Francis de Sales in 1621 (Benedictines).
Gwythian (Gwithian, Gothian) (AC)
Date unknown. Saint Gwythian, patron of a church in northern Cornwall and a nearby ruined chapel, settled at Towednack and was probably associated with Saint Winwaloë (Farmer).
Blessed Jerome Hermosilla and Companions, OP MM (AC)
Died 1861; beatified in 1906 by Pope Pius X.
Little is known of the early lives of Bishop Jerome Hermosilla or Bishop Valentine Berrio-Ochoa. That they were chosen for the Oriental mission is evidence that they were courageous and resourceful men, probably adept in language.
Jerome was a native of La Calzada, in Old Castile (Spain), who after his profession in the Dominican Order, was sent to Manila, where he was ordained priest and, in 1828, appointed to the mission of East Tonkin. He succeeded Blessed Ignatius Delgado as vicar-apostolic and was consecrated bishop in April 1841. Like the early office of pontiff, this position was practically synonymous with martyrdom; several of those appointed as bishop of Tonkin did not even live to be consecrated.
Bishop Hermosilla made it his first task to gather the relics of his two immediate predecessors. Bishop Delgado had been thrown into the sea, but some of the relics were recovered by a fisherman. These and the remains of other martyrs were carefully preserved by Hermosilla, who also committed to paper their passios according to the accounts of eye witnesses. This took real courage--to carefully record the terrible tortures that he well knew were awaiting him.
The twenty years of Bishop Hermosilla's life in Tonkin were comprised of constant heroism, flight, and unswerving faith. He had to hold his flock together, while some of his finest assistants fell at his side. His work had to be accomplished entirely in secret. There was always the possibility that a recent convert or his pagan family might betray the hiding place of the priest, perhaps under torture. It was a weak Christian who finally betrayed Hermosilla and Valentine.
The two bishops had been hidden on board a ship en route to a place where they were needed to give the sacraments. The betrayer identified them to the ship's captain, who summoned the soldiers. A group of Christians almost succeeded in rescuing them, but they were betrayed a second time and placed in chains. Three hundred men were sent to escort them to the capital.
When the arrived, they saw that they would be required to step upon a crucifix laid in the road. Heavily manacled and weak from torture, the two bishops fought so vigorously against committing this sacrilege that the soldiers finally relented and removed the cross. Shortly thereafter the bishops, two other Spanish Dominicans, and a number of native Christians were led in triumphant procession to the place of their execution, where they were put in cages. Christian witnesses reported that the martyrs were so rapt in prayer that they seemed unaware of the screaming crowds, trumpeting elephants, and other noisy animals surrounding them. In turn, each of the martyrs was bound, tied to stakes in the ground, and beheaded. Their remains were guarded for several days to prevent other Christians from claiming their relics.
Peter Almató, OP, was born at Sassera, diocese of Vich, Spain. He became a Dominican and was sent to the Philippines then to Ximabara under Bishop Hermosilla with whom he was beheaded.
Also beheaded with the above beatae was Blessed Valentine, who was born in 1827 at Ellorio, diocese of Vitoria, Spain. After his profession as a Dominican also went to the Philippines then to Tonkin as a bishop titular and vicar-apostolic. Due to a number of miracles attributed to Bishop Valentine Berrio-Ochoa, his cause has been separated from the group. He was beatified in 1909, rather than 1906, and since 1952 canonization has been sought for him (Benedictines, Dorcy).
John and James MM (RM)
Died c. 344. Persian martyrs who suffered under King Shapur II. John is described as a bishop (Benedictines).
Marcellus of Paris B (RM)
(also known as Marceau)
Born in Paris; died November 1, c. 430. Bishop Marcellus of Paris was born of common, but obviously virtuous, parents. From his youth he exhibited the virtues of purity, modesty, meekness, and charity. He attempted to live in the world without being a part of it, keeping his eyes focussed on the heavenly Jerusalem. His progress in this regard led to his appointment as reader in the cathedral of Paris. From that time, he was known as a miracle worker and soon ordained to the priesthood. Upon the death of Bishop Prudentius, Marcellus was chosen to succeed him. As bishop he was careful and indefatigable. An unreliable report by a foreigner tell us that Marcellus freed the country from a great serpent that lived in the sepulcher of an adulteress. Saint Marcellus was buried in the old Christian cemetery outside the walls of the city, where now is the suburb of Saint-Marceau that was named in his honor. His relics are venerated in the cathedral (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Mary the Slave VM (RM)
Died c. 300. Saint Mary was a slave girl in the household of a Roman patrician, Senator Tertullus. Mary, a cradle Catholic, prayed constantly and fasted frequently, especially during pagan festivals, which displeased her superstitious mistress. Her master, however, highly valued her fidelity to duty. When Diocletian issued his edicts against Christians, Tertullus repeatedly tried to convince Mary to renounce her faith, including whipping her unmercifully then locking her in a dark cellar for 30 days with nothing but bread and water. Nothing could shake her constancy. In the meantime, judgement had been rendered against Tertullus for having hidden a Christian and she had to be surrendered. The mob hearing her modest confession before the judge demanded that Mary be burned to death. She responded: "God, whom I serve, is with me; and I do not fear your torments, which can only take away a life which I desire to lay down for Jesus Christ." She was then tortured until the crowd begged for her release. The judge gave her into the custody of a soldier from whom she escaped into the mountains, where she died a happy death. She is venerated as a martyr because of her suffering during the persecution of Diocletian (Benedictines).
Maturinus of Sens (RM)
(also known as Mathurin)
Born near Montargis, France; died 388. As soon as Saint Maturinus heard the Good News, his heart was entirely converted to Christ. He sold everything he owned to possess the pearl of great price. Whole-heartedly devoting himself to God, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Polycarp of Sens. In his turn he converted his own parents and evangelized his native district with signal success. He is honored as the apostle and patron of the province of Gatinois. Upon his death, his remains were deposited at Sens. Later the majority of them were translated to Larchant near Nemours, which began a site of pilgrimage until it was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1568. Saint Maturinus is the titular patron of two churches in Paris, one of which was given to the Trinitarians, who were thereafter called Mathurins in France. The other possesses considerable relics of the saint (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Pabiali of Wales (AC)
(also known as Partypallai)
5th or 6th century. Pabiali, another son of the British prince Brychan by his Spanish wife Proistri, is said to have gone to Spain. He is patron of a chapel called Partypallai in Wales (Benedictines).
Blessed Paul Navarro, SJ, & Companions MM (AC)
Born at Laino (diocese of Cassano), Italy, in 1560; died at Ximabara, Japan, in 1622. Blessed Paul became a Jesuit in 1587 and while still a scholastic was sent to India where he was ordained. He then went on to Japan. He worked with great success as superior of Amanguchi. He was burnt alive with three Japanese laymen (Benedictines).
Salaun of Brittany (AC)
(also known as Salomon)
Born in Lesneven, Brittany; died 1358. Salaun was a poor man, who was content to be despised and considered "a fool for Christ's sake." He reached a high degree of contemplation. Salaun is venerated at Notre Dame de Folgoet in Brittany (Benedictines).
Severinus of Tivoli, OSB Hermit (RM)
Died c. 699. The relics of Saint Severinus, a Benedictine hermit at Tivoli, are in the church of Saint Laurence in that city (Benedictines).
Vigor of Bayeux B (RM)
Born at Artois; died c. 537. Vigor was a disciple of Saint Vedastus under whom he was educated at Arras. He started to serve God as a preaching hermit at Ravière near Bayeux but his zeal carried him further. In 513, Vigor was consecrated bishop of Bayeux and distinguished himself by his fervor in suppressing idolatry. He destroyed a large idol and built a church on the site. He is the titular patron of the town of Saint-Vigeur-le-Grand near his episcopal seat, where he founded a monastery. Saint Vigor is mentioned in the vita of Saint Paternus. Under the influence of the Normans, two churches in England bear dedications to Saint Vigor, whose feast is often moved in deference to the Solemnity of All Saints (Benedictines, Farmer).
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.