Saint Silvester, Abbot
Saint Peter of Alexandria BM
Blessed Albert of Haigerloch, OSB Monk (AC)
Died 1311. From 1261 until his death, Blessed Albert, born into the family of the counts of Haigerloch in Hohenzollern (Germany), was a monk of Oberaltaich in Bavaria, where he held the offices of prior and parish priest (Benedictines).
Amator of Autun B (RM)
3rd century. Nothing certain is known about Bishop Amator of Autun (Benedictines).
Basolus of Verzy, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Basle)
Born in Limoges, c. 555; died c. 620. Basle was a soldier before becoming a monk at Verzy, near Rheims. Then for forty years he lived as a hermit near the tomb of Saint Remy on top of a hill overlooking the city, where Saint Sindulf became one of his disciples. He was celebrated as a miracle worker (Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia).
Bellinus of Padua BM (RM)
(also known as Bellino)
Died 1151; canonized by Pope Eugene IV. Devoted bishop of Padua who was murdered while performing his duties (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Conrad of Constance B (RM)
Died 975; canonized in 1123 (1823 per Attwater 2). Of the famous Guelph family and son of Count Henry of Altdorf, he was educated at the cathedral school of Constance, Switzerland, and was ordained. He was made provost of the cathedral and in 934 was elected bishop of Constance. He gave his share of his inheritance to the Church and to the poor and built and renovated many churches in his see.
Three times he made the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and in an age when most prelates were continually involved in secular politics, he succeeded in attending exclusively to ecclesiastical interests during the 42 years of his episcopacy. Nevertheless, he accompanied Emperor Otto I to Italy in 962 (Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney).
Saint Conrad is pictured as a bishop holding a chalice with a spider above or in it (Roeder). This depiction relates to the story that a spider once dropped into the chalice as he celebrated Mass. Although it was believed then that all spiders were deadly poisonous, Conrad nevertheless swallowed the Blood of Christ, out of respect (Coulson). Sometimes images of Saint Conrad contain (1) a serpent and chalice (not to be confused with Saint John); (2) asperges; or exorcising (Roeder).
Egelwine of Athelney (AC)
7th century. Egelwine, a prince of the house of Wessex, lived at Athelney in Somersetshire (Benedictines).
Faustus, Didius, Ammonius, Phileas,
Hesychius, Pachomius, Theodore & Comp. MM (RM)
Died c. 311. The Alexandrian priest, Faustus, and bishops Didius, Ammonius, Phileas, Hesychius, Pachomius, and Theodore were among the 660 Egyptians martyred under Maximian Galerius (Benedictines).
Blessed James Benfatti, OP B (AC)
(also known as James of Mantua)
Born in Mantua, Italy; died there in 1338; cultus confirmed 1859 by Pope Pius IX. James Benefatti, bishop of Mantua, was a famous man in his time; it is unfortunate that he is so little known in ours.
James entered the Dominican convent in his home town about 1290. He was both a master in theology and a holy priest. These qualities brought him to the attention of his brother Dominican, Nicholas Boccasino, the future Pope Benedict XI. As cardinal, Nicholas chose the young Dominican from Mantua for his companion. He employed him in various offices in Rome and recommended him to other high-ranking prelates. Consequently, James found himself kept busy in diplomatic offices by several popes--Benedict XI and John XXII among them.
For 18 years after being consecrated (1303) bishop of Mantua by Pope John XXII in 1320, James occupied the see and accomplished great good among the people, meriting his title of "Father of the Poor." He rebuilt and refurnished the cathedral and worked many miracles among his flock. At his death in 1338, many remarkable miracles occurred, and he was called "Blessed James" by people who were grateful for his intercession. Nearly 150 years after his death, when repairs were being made in the church where he was buried, an accident opened his tomb, and people were startled to find that his body was completely incorrupt. Again in 1604, the same phenomenon was noted (Attwater 2, Benedictines, Dorcy).
John Berchmans, SJ (RM)
(also known as Jan Berchmans)
Born in Diest, Brabant, Flanders (Belgium), on March 13, 1599; died at Rome August 13, 1621; canonized 1888; feast day formerly on August 13.
Eldest son of a master-shoemaker, John knew early that he wanted to be a priest. His piety attracted attention even in his youth. When he was 11, his parish priest permitted him to study in the little seminary run out of the rectory. At the age of 13, he became a servant in the household of one of the cathedral canons at Malines, John Froymont, in order to pay for his education. In 1615, the Jesuits opened a college at Malines (Mechlin) and the following year John became a Jesuit novice there. After his mother's death, his father and two brothers followed suit and entered religious life.
The year his father was ordained (1618) and died six months later, John was sent to Rome for his novitiate. He was so poor and humble that he walked from Antwerp to Rome. In the seminary he was known for his diligence and piety, impressing all with his holiness and stress on perfection in little things. His kindly and cheerful nature made him popular (contemporary accounts of his attractive nature survive). In these respects he reminds us of the "little way" of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. There was nothing visibly extraordinary about him; he was one of those saints who do the ordinary things of everyday life in an uncommon manner, out of their overflowing love of God.
There are some reports that he found the regimented life of a Jesuit scholar nearly intolerable. Yet he continued in humble and cheerful obedience to his superiors and to God.
Although he longed to work in the mission fields of China, he did not live long enough to permit it. After completing his coursework, he was asked to defend the "entire field of philosophy" in a public disputation in July, just after his exit examinations. The following month he was asked to represent the Roman College in a debate with the Greek College. Although he distinguished himself in this disputation, he had studied so assiduously that he caught a cold in mid-summer, became very ill with dysentary and a fever, and died a week later. He was buried in the church of Saint Ignatius at Rome, but his heart was later translated to the Jesuit church at Louvain.
So many miracles were attributed to him after his death at the age of 22, that his cultus soon spread to his native Belgium, where 24,000 copies of his portrait were published within a few years of his death (Attwater, Attwater 2, Benedictines, Brenan, Coulson, Delaney, Delehaye, Farmer, Schamoni).
Saint John is represented as a young Jesuit kneeling in a ray of light, and pointing to a skull, with a log of wood, crucifix, book and rosary near him. He is the patron of altar boys (Roeder). The convent of Via di Tor dei Specchi (founded by Saint Frances of Rome) has two pictures of the saint, although his death mask has been lost. One was painted directly from the corpse; the other is a sweetened copy of the death portrait. The original has never been published (Schamoni).
Leonard of Port Maurice, OFM (RM)
(also known as Leonard Casanuova)
Born at Porto Maurizio, Liguria, Italy, December 20, 1676; died in Rome, on November 26, 1751; beatified in 1796; canonized in 1867.
Captain Dominic Casanuova had his son baptized Paul Jerome Casanuova. Throughout his life, the future Saint Leonard thanked God for giving him such an excellent father. At the age of 13, Paul Jerome was sent to the Jesuit Roman College. His uncle Augustine, with whom he was living, wanted him to become a physician. Paul studied medicine, but when he refused his uncle's wish that he become a doctor and announced he had other plans, Augustine disowned him.
He joined the Franciscans of the Strict Observance at Ponticelli in 1697, taking the name Leonard, continued his studies at the Observant Saint Bonaventure's on the Palatine in Rome, and was ordained there in 1703. For five years, Leonard had to stop preaching because he was spitting blood. When healing continued to elude him even in the mild climate of Liguria, he vowed that he would devote him entire life to the conversion of sinners, if God would make him well again.
He recovered and, in 1709, he went to the San Francesco del Monte monastery in Florence and from there preached all over Tuscany with tremendous effect for the next 44 years. He became guardian of San Francesco, founded a retreat for religious at nearby Incontro, where the friars retired twice a year to practice the eremitical life.
In 1730, Leonard was appoint guardian of Saint Bonaventure's in Rome. He spent the next six years conducting missions around Rome, preaching to soldiers, sailors, convicts, and galley-slaves in addition to conducting parochial missions. His contemporary, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, said Leonard was the finest missioner of his day. In 1736, he was released from this position to continue his evangelization in Umbria, Genoa, and the Marches of Ancona. His missions now attracted such huge crowds that they were often held in the open air.
Leonard is primarily responsible for the popularity of the Stations of the Cross devotion, of which he was an ardent promoter (reputedly setting up almost six hundred Stations throughout Italy, even in the Colosseum in Rome), and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Conception.
Leonard served for a time as spiritual director of Clementina Sobieska, wife of the "Old Pretender" to the English throne, King James III, whose son Cardinal Henry of York promoted the friar's canonization.
In 1744, Leonard was sent to Corsica by Pope Benedict XIV to preach and to restore peace there but he was unsuccessful, because the Corsicans felt he was more a political tool of the Genoese who ruled the island than a missionary. (Schamoni says that he helped to reconcile the Corsicans to one another, and Attwater notes that his success was ephemeral--as soon as he left the island, the people fell back into discord.) This mission lasted only six months before the Genoese government sent a ship to rescue Leonard.
He returned to Rome from the discouraging missionary tour in 1749 to prepare the Romans for the holy year. For two weeks Leonard preached in the Piazza Navona, which ironically had once been the hippodrome of Emperor Domitian. He had to promise Pope Benedict XIV, who held him in high esteem and himself attended his sermons, that he would die in Rome.
When he was preaching a mission in the holy father's native city of Bologna in 1751, Leonard had a premonition that he would soon die. Completely exhausted from his arduous work and severer mortifications, he returned to Rome and died at Saint Bonaventure the night he arrived.
In addition to his oral evangelization, Leonard was a prolific ascetical writer. His printed works--mostly letters and sermons-- fill thirteen volumes. His most famous work is Resolutions. He is the patron of parish missions and popular missionaries (Attwater, Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Schamoni, White).
Marcellus of Nicomedia M (RM)
Died 349. Marcellus, a priest of Nicomedia in Asia Minor, was seized by Arians during the reign of Emperor Constantius and killed by being hurled from a high rock (Benedictines).
Martin of Arades, OSB (AC)
Died 726. Saint Martin, a monk of Corbie, France, served as chaplain and confessor to Charles Martel (Benedictines).
Nikon Metanoite (RM)
(also known as Nicon)
Born in Pontus (now in Armenia); died in Peloponnesus, Greece, in 998. Nikon received his surname from the Greek 'metanoia' (change of heart) because penance was always the theme of his preaching. In his youth, he secretly ran away from his wealthy family to an Armenian monastery called Khrysopetro (Stone of God), where he engaged in austere penance and humble prayer for 12 years. The purity of his love of God when he spoke about virtue caused his superiors to send him out into the world to preach the Word of God as a missionary, first in Armenia and later on the Saracen-held island of Crete for 20 years, then in Greece.
In imitation of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Nikon began every sermon with a call to conversion and the necessity for sincere repentance and penance. He taught that earnest prayer, mortification, alms, and holy meditation are needed to allow the resolution of conversion to take root in the heart. The sweetness with which Nikon recommended the most severe maxims of the Gospel, made our faith appear amiable to the Islamics themselves. The words he preached were confirmed by many miracles (Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Husenbeth).
Peter Martyr of Alexandria BM (RM)
Born at Alexandria, Egypt; died 311. Peter was a young 'confessor' during the Decian persecution. Later he became known for his extraordinary virtue, skill in the sciences, and learning and knowledge of Scripture. Peter was named head of the catechetical school in Alexandria, and in 300 was elected patriarch of the city to succeed Saint Theonas.
As bishop Saint Peter fought Arianism and extreme Origenism and spent the last nine years of his episcopate encouraging his flock to stand fast against the persecution of Christians launched by Emperor Diocletian. As the fury of the persecutions increased, Peter, according to Eusebius, heightened the rigor of his penances. He perceived the need for some rules that would lovingly, but sternly, welcome back into the Christian fold those who--under persecution and even torture--had lapsed from the faith and then wanted to return. These rules were eventually accepted throughout the Eastern Church; but others criticized Peter of Alexandria for being far too lenient.
One of those who apostatized was Bishop Meletius of Lycopolis in the Thebaid. Meletius was convicted by a council of having sacrificed to idols and other crimes. The sentence was deposition.
About that time Peter was forced into hiding; whereupon Meletius installed himself at the head of a discontent party. He began to usurp Peter's authority as metropolitan and, in order to justify his disobedience, he accused Peter in writing of treating the lapsi too leniently. Peter excommunicated Meletius, but still hoped to reconcile him. His letter of excommunication reads: "Now take heed to this and hold no communion with Meletius until I meet him, in company with some wise and discreet men, to find out what he has been plotting." Nevertheless, this led to a schism in the Egyptian church that lasted for several generations.
Peter continued administering his see from hiding and returned to Alexandria when the persecutions were temporarily suspended. In 311, Emperor Maximinus Daia unexpectedly renewed the persecution. Peter was arrested and then executed--the last Christian martyr put to death in Alexandria by the authorities. Martyred with him were three of his priests: Dio, Ammonius, and Faustus, who appears to have been the companion of Saint Dionysius during his exile 60 years earlier. The Coptic Church calls him 'the seal and complement of the martyrs,' because he was the last Christian to die for the faith before Constantine granted religious toleration throughout the empire.
Eusebius calls him 'an inspired Christian teacher . . . a worthy example of a bishop, both for the goodness of his life and his knowledge of the Scriptures.' Among Peter's fragmentary writings are some regulations of great interest, drawn up in 306; they deal with the treatment of those Christians who in varying degrees had failed under persecution. Portions of a book he wrote on the Divinity are preserved in the councils of Ephesus (Act. 1 and 7) and Chalcedon (Act. 1). Several related items of interest are available on the Internet: The Genuine Acts of Peter, The Canonical Epistle, and a document entitled Peter, Archbishop of Alexandria (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, Delaney, Husenbeth).
Saint Peter is depicted as a bishop enthroned between angels in Sienese paintings. Sometimes he is shown (1) holding the city of Siena while wearing a tiara rather than a mitre; (2) with Christ appearing to him as a child in rags; or (3) embracing his executioner. He is the patron of Siena, Italy (Roeder).
Blessed Pontius of Faucigny, OSB, Abbot (AC)
Born in Savoy, France; died 1178; cultus confirmed in 1806. At the age of 20, Pontius joined the canons regular at Abondance in Chablis. He founded and was abbot of the monastery of Saint Sixtus, whence he was promoted to the abbacy of Abondance. He was held in high veneration by Saint Francis de Sales (Attwater 2, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Silvester Gozzolini, OSB Abbot (RM)
Born at Osimo, Italy, 1177; died at Monte Fano, 1267; equivalently canonized in 1598 by Pope Clement VIII.
Born of a noble family, Saint Silvester studied law at Bologna and Padua, but, against his father's wishes, switched to the study of theology and Scripture. He was ordained and became a canon in the cathedral of his home town of Osima until he was 50. Then he respectfully, but firmly, rebuked his bishop for the dissolute life he was leading. Silvester resigned his benefice in 1227, and became a hermit 30 miles from Osimo. Here he lived in poverty and discomfort until the landowner gave him a better hermitage. This one proved to be too damp, so he moved to Grotta Fucile, where he lived an extremely penitential life until 1231.
Directed by a vision of Saint Benedict, he organized the disciples he had attracted into a monastery at Monte Fano near Fabriano in the Marches of Ancona, thus founding the Silvestrine Benedictines, known as the Blue Benedictines from the color of their habit. He taught a very strict interpretation of the Benedictine rule. The congregation was approved by Pope Innocent IV in 1247, and Silvester ruled it with "unbounded wisdom and gentleness" for 36 years until his death, by which time 11 monasteries were under his rule. The Silvestrines still exist as a small, independent Benedictine congregation (Attwater, Attwater 2, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Walsh).
Siricius, Pope (RM)
Born in Rome, Italy; died there, November 26, 399; added to the Roman Martyrology by Pope Benedict XIV. Son of Tiburtius, Siricius became a deacon, known for his learning and piety. He was elected pope in December 384, succeeding Pope Saint Damasus. Siricius's pontificate was marked by his denunciation of the monk Jovinian who denied the perpetual virginity of Mary and for a decretal Siricius sent to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona (Spain) requiring married priests to desist from cohabitation with their wives; this is the earliest insistence on clerical celibacy and also the earliest papal decree that has survived in its entirety. He supported Saint Martin of Tours by excommunicating Felix of Trier for his role in bringing about the execution of Priscillian by the emperor (Attwater, Benedictines, Coulson, Delaney, Encyclopedia)
Stylianus of Adrianopolis, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Alypius)
Born in Adrianopolis, Paphlagonia, Asia Minor; died 390 (?). This date is given by the Benedictines but may or may not be wrong. The first stylite was in the 5th century; however, the record of Stylianus's life has come to us in a highly legendary form. There are some indications that he was born in the 7th century, yet this could be simply due to the accretions of the story. He was a hermit, possibly in the 4th century.
We know very little of Saint Stylianus, so called because he was a stylite, or pillar saint, which was not an easy task though the custom spread quite widely in the East during the 6th through 8th centuries.
His unreliable legend says that his birth in Adrianopolis was announced to his mother by the miraculous vision of a lamb with two flaming candles on its horns, and another vision signified the glorious future of the little child. Bishop Theodore is said to have taken charge of Stylianus at the death of his father, when the saint was three.
As soon as he came of age, his bishop made him a deacon and entrusted him with the care of the parish. But at 30 he felt called to a life of perfection and became a hermit, first in an isolated cell, fasting and mortifying himself out of his love for God. It is said that he was then led by visions to the top of a column, where he stayed for the rest of his life, which lasted almost 100 years. There he was persecuted by demons and accomplished many miracles both before and after his death.
It is said that for 53 years he remained standing, day after day, until at last his legs gave out. For 14 years thereafter, he remained on his side without once leaving his pillar. At age 93 he was delivered from the cold and isolation, from the rain and the insects, from hunger, thirst, and extreme discomfort, and, by the grace of God, ascended into the regions of light and peace.
The tradition of the stylites was begun by Saint Simeon the Ancient (died 459), a rigorous ascetic in the tradition of the Syrian monks, who was plagued by crowds of devoted or curious people. They pressed around him so closely that in order to escape them without running away, he climbed up on top of a column. In addition to solving his immediate problem, he found two other advantages: it was conducive to the stability that was so dear to the hearts of monks in retreat; and it added to his ascetic sufferings. In order to enjoy these advantages, and also to follow the example of Saint Simeon, who was greatly venerated, many other anchorites also became stylites, and thus lived solitary lives without really being solitary.
While stylites rejected the "world" in the New Testament sense of the word, unlike the desert monks, the stylites performed a prophetic ministry and were visited by many people. They preached, gave counsel, reconciled enemies, reproved sinners and led them to repentance, cast out devils, and often manifested a gift of prophecy.
The faithful came unceasingly to the foot of the column. When Simeon saw among them a native of distant Gaul, he entrusted him with an affectionate message for his sister, Saint Geneviève (died 500), the patroness of Paris.
The Pré Spirituel records the strange duel between two stylites--one a Catholic, the other a Monophysite. After long arguments the Catholic stylite, who lived about 30 miles from Aegea, Cilicia, asked the heretic to send him a sample of his eucharist. He then placed the sample in a pot of boiling water, and also added a sample of his own Eucharist. The results of the test were conclusive: Only the Catholic Eucharist was unaffected by the water and heat (It's only a legend, guys!). Another Monophysite stylite, who lived in the region of Hierapolis, admitted his defeat after a debate with Saint Ephraim.
In most cases there was a ladder reaching up to the stylites perch so that people could talk to them confidentially. If there was no ladder, then the visitor called up to the stylite, who told him to come to the foot of the column, and from there they talked to each other without being overheard.
Sometimes the stylite's followers were reluctant to leave his immediate vicinity, and in the case of Saint Stylianus two communities, one of men and the other of women, grew up nearby. Some of them, including his sister Mary, lived at the very foot of the column and his mother set up a tent nearby and did all that she could to relieve the sufferings of the ascetic so far as his piety and resolution would allow her. Services were held seven times daily, and everyone, including Saint Stylianus and his visitors took part.
It is possible that the ancient symbolism of the column as uniting heaven and earth helped to stimulate the practice of stylites, even if they themselves were not aware of the symbolism. It is equally probable that the unusual nature of this way of life played a part in its popularity. But it would be wrong to suppose that the stylites were following a pagan rite or that stylites intended to draw attention to themselves (though this was a side-effect).
Modern Christians should be able to understand the need for the stylites to escape the pressing crowds while still remaining to preach God's love; however, the true value of this kind of asceticism may by harder to understand. Yet, they followed the tendencies of Syrian asceticism in general.
The Syrian monks mortified their bodies by going without rest and sleep, without simple hygiene, and by taking only enough food to avoid suicide. Is this insanity? Not if it is understood. The purpose of such ascetic practices is to use all their powers to prevent the demands of the body from interfering with their spiritual aspirations. Clearly the idea that the body is essentially evil underlay such terrible asceticism; nor is this surprising in view of the influence Manicheeism had on the attitudes and faith of the Syrian Christians.
The rule is this: The more the body suffers, the more the spirit flowers. We can set aside the picturesque and the eccentric aspect. The prophets, too, had strange ways for the ways of the Lord are not our ways. We can also set aside the psycho- physiological aspects--the manifold extensions of the strength of the spirit and the extreme longevity of the stylites--and concentrate on essentials. The theory of the stylites, which they practiced with magnificent heroism, is faithful to the mystical theology of the Eastern Church, in accordance with which supernatural peace is to be obtained by blessed tranquility (hesychia) preceded by perfect temperance (encrateia) and impassiveness (apatheia), or in other words indifference to the needs and claims of the body. Discipline and asceticism were the means to attain these. The stylites held, very logically, that the more severe the discipline, the harsher the asceticism, the greater the hope of winning the palm that Saint Paul promised to the winner of the race (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Stylianus is the patron saint of sterile wives.
Blessed Walter of Aulne, OSB Cist. (AC)
Died c. 1180. Walter, a priest of Liège, followed Saint Bernard to Clairvaux. Later he became the first prior of the abbey of Aulne in Brabant (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.