The Four Crowned Martyrs
Clarus of Marmoûtier, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Cler)
Born at Tours, France; died 397. Cler joined the community of Marmoûtier as disciple of Saint Martin of Tours. He was ordained a priest and thereafter lived near Marmoûtier as a hermit (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Columbus of Toulouse, OP (PC)
Died 1229. Columbus was the Dominican prior of Toulouse and Montpellier, France. He died while preaching at Fréjus, where his relics are now housed in the cathedral (Benedictines).
Cybi of Caenarvon, Abbot B (AC)
(also known as Cuby)
6th century. Cuby is one of the few saints of Cornwall who seems to have been born there. He may have been the son of Saint Selevan (Levan) and cousin of Saint David of Wales. Consecrated a bishop, he settled with ten disciples near Tregony.
Place names suggest he was an energetic missionary monk, who visited southeast Wales and made his way by sea up the west coast to Anglesey. Here the prince Maelgwn Gwynedd is said to have given him a ruined Roman fort for his headquarters, where the town of Holyhead now stands; it is still known in Welsh as Caer Gybi, Cybi's fort. He is the patron saint of Llangibbi (Monmouth) and of Llangybi (Carnarvon).
The existing Life of the saint dates only from the 13th century, and takes him on a fabulous pilgrimage to Jerusalem as well as narrating a long stay with Saint Enda on Aranmore; but there is no reason to suppose that Cuby was ever in Ireland either.
We are told that he was accompanied on Aran by an aged kinsman name Cungar, an elusive saint whose name is found in Wales, Brittany, and Somerset (Congresbury). Matthew Arnold in his poem East and West narrates--but misunderstands--an Anglesey legend about Saint Cybi (Attwater, Benedictines).
Deusdedit I, Pope (RM)
(also known as Adeodatus)
Born in Rome; died in Rome November 8, 618. Son of a subdeacon, Stephen, Deusdedit was consecrated pope on October 19, 615. He encouraged the secular clergy and devoted much of his time to aiding the needy, especially during the disastrous earthquake that devastated Rome in August 618. He also worked untiringly for the plague-stricken when the pestilence followed in Rome.
His pontificate was filled with troubles, civil commotions, and natural disasters. Rebels flouted the imperial authority both at Ravenna and Naples. Up north at Ravenna the exarch John, along with other imperial officials, had been murdered. Down south at Naples a certain John of Compsa had risen in revolt, taken over the town, and proclaimed his independence of the Emperor Heraclius.
Heraclius, who had succeeded the weak Phocas in 610, was not the man to allow his empire to fall to pieces. He sent his able chamberlain, the Patrician Eleutherius to correct the problems in his Italian dominions. Eleutherius acted with vigor. First he restored order in Ravenna. Then he marched south along the Flaminian Way. After pausing in Rome to receive a warm welcome from the loyal Pope, he marched on Naples, stormed the city, and put the rebel John to death. Instead of letting well enough alone, however, Eleutherius turned on the Lombards and rekindled a war which soon he was forced to end by once more buying off those tough barbarians.
Pope Deusdedit was especially fond of his secular clergy and seems to have leaned on them rather than on monks for support. His love for his secular clergy was manifested even after death, for in his will he left a sum of money to be distributed among them.
According to tradition, he was the first pope to use lead seals (bullae) on papal documents, which in time came to be called bulls. There still exists such a leaden bulla dating from this pope's reign. In all ancient Benedictine menologies he is called a Benedictine monk, but there is no certain evidence for it (Benedictines, Brusher, Delaney).
Four Crowned Martyrs (RM)
Died c. 305. On the Caelian Hill in Rome stands the church of Santi Quattro Incoronati. In it is a chapel specially dedicated to the guild of marble-workers. A church has stood in this place since the 6th century and probably before that, too.
Much has been written about who the four crowned martyrs might be, but the stories break down into two irreconcilable groups with different names and different places. Oddly enough, the Church commemorates not four but five Christian martyrs in both versions. Since in both cases their names were at first unknown, they are generally referred to by the collective title.
The most convincing explanation is that they were five men who were martyred in either in Pannonia (modern Hungary) or at Albano, Italy, one of whom, Simplicius, was unaccountably omitted. Some time after the relics of Severus, Severianus, Carpophorus, and Victorinus had been brought to Rome and interred on the Via Labicana, a legend was fabricated in which four Roman soldiers were represented as having been martyred under Diocletian for refusing to sacrifice to an image of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, in the Baths of Trajan. They were later named by Pope Miltiades.
The more popular Pannonian account relates that they came from Sirmium (Mitrovica) in Pannonia, were average Christians, and were brilliant stone-carvers, who worked together. Their names were Simpronian, Claudius, Nicostratus, Castorius, and Simplicius.
Their work exhibited a perfect understanding of stone and space. Emperor Diocletian himself had commissioned a number of works from them and he was pleased with their work. Other less talented sculptors were doubtless envious and persuaded Diocletian to order them to carve a statue of Aesculapius. The commission would have brought additional renown as well as pay. But the five stone- carvers were Christians and politely refused to cooperate in the worship of idols.
The masons were then ordered to make a sacrifice to the Sun god. This was even less acceptable than the notion of carving a statue of Aesculapius. The emperor accepted their beliefs, but when they refused to do their civic duty--sacrifice to the gods--they were imprisoned. When Diocletian's officer Lampadius, who was trying to convince them to sacrifice to the gods, suddenly died, his relatives accused them of his death. To placate the relatives, Diocletian had them bound, fastened in leaden boxes and drowned in the river.
The late 4th century account of them is of special interest for what it tells about the imperial quarries and workshops in the mountains near Sirmium; and also because it gives a more human picture of Diocletian than that of the bloodthirsty tyrant commonly represented in the passions of martyrs.
Whatever the true story, the bodies were buried on the Lavican way about three miles from Rome. Pope Gregory the Great mentions an old church of the four crowned martyrs in Rome. Pope Leo IV, in 841, repaired the church and translated the relics from the cemetery on the Lavican Way. When this church was destroyed by fire, Paschal II rebuilt it. During the course of the reconstruction two rich urns--one of porphyry, the other of serpentine marble--were discovered under the altar. The urns were deposited in a stone vault under the new altar where they were again found by Paul V.
Working masons of the Middle Ages held the Four Crowned Martyrs in special honor, and this has been perpetuated in English Freemasonry; there is a Quatuor Coronati lodge in London that has published its annual report for 75 years under the title of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum. There was already a chapel of the Four Crowned Martyrs in Canterbury in the year 619 (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
In art the are, of course, represented by four men with sculptor's tools. At times the picture will include a chisel, column and sculptor's tools; or Claudius planing a plank, Simplician (Simpronian) with a pickaxe, and Castor as an old man.
They are the patrons of sculptors, stone-cutters, and marble- workers, as well as protectors of cattle. Invoked against fever (Roeder).
Gervadius of Elgin (AC)
(also known as Garnard, Gerardin, Gernard, Gernardius, Garnet, Garnat)
Died c. 934. The Irish Gervadius crossed over to Moray and afterwards became a recluse at Holyman Head near Elgin. His cave, which is mentioned in Elgin charters, survived until the 19th century. The legend of Saint Gervadius includes some exchange with the English soldiers sent be King Athelstan in 934, besides the providential arrival of wood for his church by a flooding river (Benedictines, Farmer).
Godfrey of Amiens, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Geoffrey, Gottfried)
Born near Soissons, France, c. 1066; died near Soissons, 1115.
When he was 5 years old, Godfrey was placed in the care of the abbot of Mont-Saint-Quentin. He became a monk and was eventually ordained a priest.
In 1096 he became the abbot of the decayed Nogent-sous-Coucy in Champagne, where the brethren had dwindled to six and the buildings and discipline were similarly dilapidated. Under his rule the monastery prospered, and as a result, he came to the notice of the archbishop of Rheims who asked him to take over the famous Abbey of Saint-Remi at Rheims. Godfrey refused. He made a disturbance and vehemently added during an assembly, "God forbid I should ever desert a poor bride by preferring a rich one!"
Despite his strong feelings, he was appointed bishop of Amiens in 1104, but he insisted upon continuing to live very simply. When he thought the cook was treating him too well, he took the best food from the kitchen and gave it away to the poor and the sick.
He was a zealous reformer, unrelentingly fought simony enforcing celibacy, and supported the organization of communes. But, because he was an excessively stern ruler, his life was threatened more than once, including by a disgruntled woman.
His scrupulousness caused great resentment among the laxer clergy. He became disheartened by their behavior and withdrew to the Carthusian monastery at Grande-Chartreuse. A council ordered him to return to his diocese--his people refused to allow him to retire. But on his way to visit his metropolitan, he died the following year at Saint Crispin's abbey in Soissons, where he was buried. His name was not found in calendars before the 16th century (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Walsh, White).
In art Saint Gottfried is a bishop with a dead hound at his feet. Sometimes he is shown serving the sick or embracing a leper (Roeder).
Gregory of Einsiedeln, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 996. An Anglo-Saxon by birth, who on a pilgrimage to Rome received the Benedictine habit on the Caelian Hill in Rome. On his way home he stayed at the Swiss abbey of Einsiedeln, and joined the community in 949. He was elected abbot. His rule coincided with the period of the greatest monastic splendor of the abbey (Benedictines).
Blessed Joseph Nghi, Martin Tinh & Martin Tho MM (AC)
Born in Tonkin; died 1840; beatified in 1900. Joseph Nghi was a native priest of Tonkin, attached to the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris. He was beheaded. Martin Tinh was also a priestly native of Tonkin, who was martyred at the age of 80 with his companion (or servant) Martin Tho, also a native of Tonkin (Benedictines).
Maurus of Verdun B (RM)
Died 383. The relics of Saint Maurus, second bishop of Verdun (353-383), were enshrined in the 9th century, when many miracles are said to have taken place at his tomb (Benedictines).
Moroc of Scotland B (AC)
9th century. Abbot Moroc of Dunkeld, later became the bishop of Dunblane. He appears to have left his name to several churches, and was venerated with a solemn office in the old Scottish rite (Benedictines).
Tysilio of Wales, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Suliau, Tyssel, Tyssilo)
Died c. 640. Tysilio, a Welsh prince, became abbot of Meifod in Montgomeryshire, where his cultus is centered. Nearby is a town named for him, Llandysilio. He founded several churches in the other parts of Wales, including Clwyd, southwest Cardiganshire, Menai Straits, and near Dyfed. Finally, around 617, he may have migrated to Brittany and died at Saint-Suliac, although this may be a different saint for whom a Welsh origin is claimed (Benedictines, Bowen, Doble, Farmer).
Willehad of Bremen, OSB B (RM)
Died November 8, c. 790. Willehad, like Saint Willibrord a generation before him, was born in Northumbria. He was probably educated in York, became a friend of Blessed Alcuin, and was ordained.
In 766, he went to Friesland, preached at Dokkum and Overyssel, barely escaped with his life from Humsterland, where pagans wanted to put him to death. He then returned to the area around Utrecht, where his life again was spared when he and his comrades were attacked by a group of pagans whose temples they had destroyed. In 780, Charlemagne sent him as a missionary to the Saxons between the lower Weser and the Elbe Rivers. Two years later when the Saxons rose against their Frankish conquerors, he fled to Friesland.
After reporting on his missionary work to Pope Adrian I, he lived for two years at Willibrord's monastery at Echternach, Luxembourg, where he reassembled his force of missionaries. Thereafter, he returned to the Weser-Elbe area, where Charlemagne had just finished ruthlessly suppressing the Saxons' revolt.
In 787 Willehad was ordained bishop of the Saxons with his see at newly created Bremen. He founded numerous churches in his see, built a cathedral at Bremen, where he died (Attwater, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
In art, Willehad is portrayed overturning idols. He is still venerated at Echternach, Luxembourg (Roeder).
Wiomad of Trèves, OSB B (AC)
(also known as Weomadus, Wiomagus)
Died c. 790. Monk of Saint Maximinus at Trèves (Trier, Germany), Wiomad became abbot of Mettlach and finally bishop of Trèves (c. 750-790) (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.