St. Patrick Catholic Church
Saint of the Day

Dedication of Peter & Paul
(Optional Memorial)
November 20

Agapius of Caesarea M (RM)
Died c. 306; second feast on August 19. Saint Agapius suffered martyrdom at Caesarea in Palestine under Diocletian. Three times he was imprisoned for the faith. Eusebius relates how Agapius was again arrested, chained to a murderer and taken to the amphitheater to be thrown to the wild beasts. According to tradition, his companion was pardoned, and he was also his offered liberty if he would renounce Christ. When Agapius refused, a bear was allowed to attack him and almost mauled him to death. He was taken back to prison and the following day, weighted with heavy stones, he was cast into the sea. Eusebius says that after he battled wild animals, he was beheaded (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Blessed Ambrose Traversari, OSB Cam. Abbot (PC)
Born in Portico near Florence, Italy, in 1376; died in Florence, 1439. Ambrose became a typical well-rounded Renaissance scholar under the tutelage of the Greek humanist Chrysoloras in Venice. In 1400, he joined the Camaldolese at Santa Maria degli Angeli in Florence. Here he continued his studies, wrote prolifically, chiefly in Greek, and collected a large library. He was the soul of the Council of Florence, which attempted a reunification of the Eastern and Western Churches; thereafter (1431) he was elected abbot-general of the order. He was both a great churchman and a great scholar (Benedictines).

Ampelius and Caius MM (RM)
Died c. 302. They are presumed to have been Sicilians, martyred at Messina under Diocletian, but nothing is known with certainty about them (Benedictines).

Autbodus of Laon (AC)
Died 690. Autbodus, an Irish missionary, preached in Artois, Hainault, and Picardy, before dying as a hermit near Laon (Benedictines, D'Arcy, Encyclopedia).

Bassius, Dionysius, Agapitus, & Comp. MM (RM)
Date unknown. A band of 43 Christians put to death at Heraclea in Thrace (Benedictines).

Benignus of Milan B (RM)
Died c. 477. During the episcopacy of Archbishop Benignus of Milan, the Heruli, under Odoacer, occupied the city (Benedictines).

Bernward of Hildesheim, OSB B (RM)
(also known as Berward)

Born c. 960; died at Hildesheim, 1022; canonized 1193 by Pope Celestine III. The Saxon Saint Bernward was ordained a priest by Saint Willigis in Mainz, and after serving as tutor and chaplain to Emperor Otto III was made bishop of Hildesheim in 993. His episcopate was disturbed by political and ecclesiastical troubles, including a seven-year dispute with Saint Willigis about the convent at Gandersheim.

Bernward is one of the most attractive figures of medieval Germany- -a German Saint Dunstan. He is primarily remembered as a patron of the arts. He himself excelled as an architect, sculptor, decorator, painter and metal-worker, and Hildesheim became famous for its 'school' of sacred art: the Bernward bronze doors, cross, column, and candlesticks are still there to testify to its achievements.

He was also responsible for building Saint Michael's abbey church at Hildesheim, which has been said to 'represent religious architecture in the absolute.'

He died "after having assumed the habit of Saint Benedict" (Butler- Thurston). In the crypt of this church Saint Bernward lies buried (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).

In art Saint Bernward is a bishop making a chalice using a goldsmith's hammer. Sometimes he also holds a short cross in his hand (Roeder). He is the patron of architects, goldsmiths, painters, and sculptors (Roeder).

Colman (AC)
Born at Dalriada, Argyllshire, Wales; date unknown. Although churches at Llangolman and Capel Colman in Dyfed are attributed to Saint Colman of Dromore, who was bishop of Dromore and trained Saint Finnian of Moville, it is likely that today's saint is another individual. The feast of Colman of Dromore has consistently been celebrated on June 7 in Ireland and Scotland, but this saint is remembered on November 20 in Wales (Farmer).

Dasius of Dorostorum M (RM)
Died c. 303. Saint Dasius, a Roman soldier, was martyred in Dorostorum in Mysia, Asia Minor, under Diocletian for refusing to participate in the heathen orgies connected with the Saturnalia. The details of his martyrdom have been questioned (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Edmund the Martyr, King (RM)
Born 841; died at Hoxne, Suffolk, England, in 869 or 870. Feast day formerly November 2.

On Christmas Day 855, 14-year-old Edmund was acclaimed king of Norfolk by the ruling men and clergy of that county. The following year the leaders of Suffolk also made him their king.

For 15 years Edmund ruled over the East Angles with what all acknowledged as Christian dignity and justice. He himself seems to have modelled his piety on that of King David in the Old Testament, becoming especially proficient in reciting the Psalms in public worship.

From the year 866 his kingdom was increasingly threatened by Danish invasions. For four years the East Angles managed to keep a shaky, often broken peace with them. Then the invaders burned Thetford. King Edmund's army attacked the Danes but could not defeat the marauders. Edmund was taken prisoner and became the target for Danish bowmen.

In a later account in the The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, reputedly derived second-hand from an eyewitness, Abbo compared Saint Edmund to Saint Sebastien, and so he also became a saint invoked against the plague. The story goes that Edmund was captured at Hoxne. He refused to share his Christian kingdom with the heathen invaders, whereupon he was tied to a tree and shot with arrows, till his body was 'like a thistle covered with prickles'; then his head was struck off. He died with the name of Jesus on his lips.

The record continues that the Danes "killed the king and overcame all the land . . . they destroyed all the churches that they came to, and at the same time reaching Peterborough, killed the abbot and monks and burned and broke everything they found there."

Saint Edmund thus remains the only English sovereign until the time of King Charles I to die for religious beliefs as well as the defense of his throne. Edmund was quickly revered as a martyr and his cultus spread widely during the middle ages (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Hervey, Roeder).

King Saint Edmund is generally depicted as a bearded king holding his emblem--an arrow. Sometimes he is shown suspended from a tree and shot, or his head between the paws of a wolf. He is sometimes confused with Saint Sebastien, who is never portrayed as a king (Roeder).

He is venerated at Bury Saint Edmunds (Saint Edmund's borough), where his body is enshrined and a great abbey arose in 1020. Richard II invoked him as patron as to those threatened by the plague (Roeder).

Eudo of Corméry, OSB Abbot (AC)
(also known as Eudon, Eudes, Odo)

Died c. 760. Saint Eudo founded the abbey at Corméry-en- Velay (Charmillac, afterwards Saint-Chaffre). He demonstrated his humility by seeking instruction at Lérins in monastic observance prior to undertaking his role as abbot (Benedictines).

Eustace, Thespesius & Anatolius MM (RM)
Died 235. Martyrs of Nicaea in Asia Minor under Emperor Maximius the Thracian (Benedictines).

Eval of Cornwall B (AC)
6th century. A British bishop in Cornwall, from whom a village in that county is named (Benedictines).

Felix of Valois, Founder (RM)
Born in Amiens, France, 1127; died 1212; cultus approved by Pope Alexander VII in 1666.

Felix of Valois is one of those difficult saints. His name is linked with that of John of Matha, founder of the Trinitarians. Some say that there is no evidence that he ever existed--that he is a purely imaginary character; members of the order insist that he and Saint John were canonized in 1262 by Pope Urban IV.

Did he really exist?

It is a difficult question for historians, and even more difficult for Christians, since the infallibility of the Church is somehow involved in the canonization of saints. If a saint who has been venerated by the universal Church, and who has been the object of a complete service and Mass turns out to be a myth and an invention, what will be the effect on faith?

Before answering these questions, let me tell you his story as it has come down to us, and as written by Father Calixte, a Trinitarian Cerfroid, in his book published in 1878.

At the beginning of the 12th century, what is now the Somme and Aisne districts of France was ruled by Count Raoul de Vermandois et de Valois, a prince of the houses of Capet and Charlemagne. His wife Alienor de Champagne was also of the house of Charlemagne. On April 19, 1127, she gave birth to a son who was baptized Hugh, like his grandfather, the son of Henry I, King of France.

Young Hugh was presented to Saint Bernard and later sent to the abbey of Clairaux to be educated. He was also presented to Pope Innocent II.

At 20 he set off on a crusade, but went incognito to avoid being treated with deference. Three years later he returned, travelled through Italy, and went to live as a hermit either in northern Italy or near Clermont d'Oise. To avoid recognition and indicate a change of life, he took the name of Felix and became a priest.

In 1193-94, when he was living in extreme solitude near Montigny, he received a visit from Saint John de Matha, who had just graduated from the schools at Aix and Paris. They soon became friends and John stayed with Felix. They were joined by other disciples and formed a small community.

Then one day in 1197, a white deer, which often came to drink at the fountain where the hermits got their water, appeared with a red and blue cross between its antlers. John was reminded of the vision he had during his first Mass, when he had seen an angel dressed in white with a red and blue cross on his chest. Both he and Felix knew that the deer with a cross was a sign from God, and that they should go ahead with a plan they had been discussing. This plan was to found a religious order dedicated to ransoming Christian slaves who were captured during the Crusades.

Together they presented their plan in Rome to Pope Innocent III, who not only gave his approval but also gave the founders a habit for their order: white, with a red and blue cross. John and Felix then returned to France, where their hermitage was renamed Cerfroid, in memory of the deer which had appeared there.

February 3, 1198, the pope sent a letter to "brother John, minister of the house of the Holy Trinity at Cerfroid, and to all his brothers both present and future." The letter placed the young "Order of the Holy Trinity for the Ransom of Captives" under the protection of the pope. The letter also mentioned the property that had already been given to the order by Roger de Catillon, Marguerite de Bourgogne, and a noble lady of Paris.

May 16, 1198, the pope sent another letter about the property. On December 17, 1198, a letter arrived approving the text of the order's rule. In the meantime, the king of France had also given his approval to the new order.

John left Cerfroid to begin the real work of redeeming captives by establishing a monastery in Rome. Felix remained as superior (or minister) at Cerfroid, but later went to Paris to establish the order in the hospital of Saint-Mathurin, which had been given to them. As a result, members of the order were popularly called "the Mathurins," or else they were called "friars on donkeys" because of their mode of transportation.

On the night of September 8, 1212, though the sacristan of Cerfroid had forgotten to ring the matins bell (generally about 3:00 a.m.), Felix went down to the church as usual and found the Blessed Virgin and angels, all of them wearing the order's habit. There were many other miracles, but that is the only one that will be recounted here.

A few days later John de Matha returned to Cerfroid to see his old friend. He stayed only a short while, and on November 4, 1212, Felix died at the age of 85. He was buried at Cerfroid. The great reputation for sanctity which both surrounded his tomb and his memory led Urban IV to canonize him on May 1, 1262.

It was a good life, long and eventful, but at the same time extremely simple. Unfortunately there are doubts and questions marks at every turn. For example, the authority for his royal birth was the Trinitarian breviary of 1482, which has been lost. Authorities quoted for other details are either ambiguous, lost, or of uncertain authorship. For a long, detailed explanation of the reasons for doubting his existence as related by Fr. Calixte, read the Encyclopedia cited below. It will give you some idea of how hagiographers work.

It may be that instead of being heir to an important family, he was simply a resident of Valois, which became confused later.

In 1631 the Trinitarians attempted to gain permission to celebrate the feasts of SS. John and Felix liturgically in France and Spain, as their brothers in England had been doing since 1308, but since the Council of Trent had established restrictive controls on such celebrations, they did not immediately gain permission. The Urban IV's papal bull canonizing Felix had been lost. So the Trinitarians started gathering data.

They found that the canons of Meaux had been invoking Saint Felix since 1219; in 1291 the chapter-general had fixed his feast day; and in 1308 the provincial of England received Mass and offices from John XXII. That was enough to convince Pope Alexander VII, who confirmed the cultus on October 21, 1666. But five years later the Sacred College of Rites had still not added Felix and John to the Roman Martyrology, and it was only after the intervention of Louis XIV and Philip V of Spain who, on the strength of the "de Valois," claimed descent from Felix, that Innocent XII extended the feasts of SS John de Matha and Felix de Valois to the Catholic Church in 1694.

The Encyclopedia also notes that the remains of Saint Felix have been lost, which is troublesome if he had been venerated throughout the ages. In 1705 searches were carried out for the bones at Cerfroid and no relics of any type were found.

If by chance the Church has canonized someone who didn't exist, does that mean that there is a crisis of faith? Certainly not. First of all the equivalent canonization which took place in the 17th century was not carried out with the full canonical procedure. It was a special procedure, based on prescription and good faith. Its meaning was: "the person here presented is certainly an everlasting beatitude if he really lived as is claimed."

The historical problem is not really Rome's concern and may more or less be set aside. To be sure, matters would be conducted very differently today--precisely in order to avoid the inaccuracies that are found with Saint Felix. But whether Saint Felix existed or not, humility, charity, and all the virtues that he had or were ascribed to him, are the ones which will bring us to a greater love of God. And isn't that the real reason we venerate the saints? (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia)

Saint Felix is depicted in art as an old man in Trinitarian habit with a coronet at his feet and chains or captives nearby. On occasion he is shown (1) near a fountain from which a stag drinks perhaps with a cross in his antlers; (2) often with Saint John of Matha (because together they organized the Trinitarians in France for the release of captives from the Moors); or (3) with the Holy Trinity appearing in the picture. He is venerated at Meaux and Valois (Roeder).

Blessed Francis Xavier Can M (AC)
Born at Sou-Mieng in West Tonkin (Vietnam); died 1837; beatified in 1900. Francis Xavier Can, who was attached to the fathers of the Foreign Missions of Paris, was strangled in prison (Benedictines).

Gregory Decapolites (RM)
Born in Decapolis, Asia Minor; 9th century. Saint Gregory opposed the Iconoclasts zealously and suffered much at their hands (Benedictines).

Humbert of the East Angles BM
Died 855 (?) (more likely 870). Saint Humbert crowned Saint Edmund king on Christmas Day in 855. Like his secular lord, Saint Humbert was martyred at the hands of the invading Danes (Husenbeth).

Leo of Nonantula, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1000. The monk Saint Leo became abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Nonantula, near Modena, Italy (Benedictines).

Maxentia of Beauvais VM (AC)
Dates unknown; feast day in Ireland and England is October 24, and at other sites in England, on April 16. Saint Maxentia, an Irish or Scottish maiden of royal descent, escaped from home in order to honor her vow of virginity made to God. She settled as a recluse on the River Oise near Senlis in France. There she was found by her pursuers and put to death at the place now called Pont-Sainte- Maxence, where her relics are enshrined. She is venerated in Scotland and Beauvais on this day (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

Nerses of Sahgerd B & Companions MM (RM)
(also known as Narses)

Died 343. The authentic acta of this group of more than a dozen Persian Christians were recorded in Chaldaic. The most illustrious of the group were Nerses, bishop of Sahgerd (Schiahareadat, capital of Beth-Germa), and his disciple Joseph, were taken prisoner in the fourth year of the great persecution under King Shapur II. When they were brought before the visiting king, Shapur exhorted them: "Your venerable gray hairs, and the comeliness and bloom of your pupil's youth, strongly incline me in your favor. Seek your own advantage: receive the sacred rites of the sun, and I will confer on you most ample rewards and honors; for I am exceedingly taken with your persons." Nerses: Your flattery is very disagreeable to us, because it ensnares and tends to draw us over to a treacherous world. Even you who enjoy whatever the world can give, and who promise it to others, will find it fleeting from you like a dream, and falling away like the morning dew. As for my part, I am now above four score years old, and have served God from my infancy. I pray him again and again, that I may be preserved from so grievous an evil, and may never betray the fidelity which I owe him by adoring the sun, the work of his hands.

Shapur: If you don't obey immediately, you shall this instant be led to execution.

Nerses: If you had power, O king, to put us to death seven times over, we should never yield to your desire.

The king pronounced the sentence and handed the martyrs over to the executioners. When the martyrs were led out of the tents, they were followed by a large crowd. At the place of execution Nerses looked at the multitude congregated to witness their execution.

Joseph: See how the people gaze at you. They are waiting for you to dismiss them and go to your own home.

Nerses: You are most happy, my blessed Joseph who have broken the snares of the world, and have entered with joy, the narrow path of the kingdom of heaven.

Joseph was the first to be beheaded. The same acta present the martyrdom of several other saints:

Bishop John of Beth-Seleucia was put to death in the castle of Beth-Hascita, by order of Ardascirus prince of Persia, probably a son of Sapor.

The priest Isaac of Hulsar was stoned to death outside the walls of Beth-Seleucia by order of the president of Adargusnasaphus.

The priest Papa of Herminum was killed in the castle of Gabal by prince Ardascirus, then the viceroy of Hadiabus.

Uhanam, a young clergyman, was stoned to death by some apostate gentlewomen of Beth-Seleucia by order of the same prince.

Guhsciatezades, a eunuch in the palace of Prince Ardascirus, refused to sacrifice to the sun; thereupon the prince commanded Vartranes, an apostate priest, to kill him as a sign of his renunciation of Christ. At first Vartranes hesitated. But Ghusciatezades dared him: "Do you who are a priest come to kill me? I certainly mistake when I call you a priest. Accomplish your design, but remember the apostasy and end of Judas." Thereupon Vartranes stabbed the holy eunuch to death.

The laymen Sasannes, Mares, Timaeus, and Zaron were martyred about the same time in the province of the Huzites.

Bahutha, a noble lady of Beth-Seleucia, was put to death for the same by order of the president.

Tecla and Danacla, virgins of Beth- Seleucia, were martyred soon after Bahutha under the same judge.

Tatona, Mama Mazachia, and Anne, also virgins of Beth-Seleucia, were killed outside the walls of the city of Burcatha.

Abiatha, Hathes, and Mamlacha, virgins of the province of Beth-Germa, were massacred by order of King Sapor during his travels through that territory (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

Octavius, Solutor & Adventor MM (RM)
Died c. 284. Octavius, Solutor, and Adventor are patron saints of Turin, Italy, where they suffered martyrdom. At a later date their story became connected with the legend of the Theban Legion (Benedictines).

Silvester of Châlons-sur-Saône B (RM)
Died c. 525. Bishop of Châlons-sur-Saône from c. 484 to c. 525. Saint Gregory of Tours describes him as "the glory of confessors" (Benedictines).

Simplicius of Verona B (RM)
Died c. 535. Bishop of Verona (Benedictines).

About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on 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.