Vigil of Christmas
Adam and Eve (SS)
It is appropriate that the first parents of the human race should be honored the day before the birth of Our Lord to dramatically highlight the cause of our fall and our reason to rejoice. According to Sacred Scripture, Adam died at the age of 936. Other dates are given in some martyrologies, but this one is the most common (Benedictines).
In art, Adam and Eve are often shown at the Fall or during the expulsion from Paradise. But there are other images, such as Lucas Cranach the Elder's Ad am and William Blake's The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve.
Adela of Pfalzel, OSB Abbess, Widow (PC)
Born c. 710; died c. 730. Abbess Adela, founder of Pfalzel (Palatiolum) Convent near Trèves (Trier, Germany), was a daughter of Saint Dagobert II, king of the Franks, and a sister of Saint Irmina. She became a nun after the death of her husband. She may be the widow "Adula," who is said to have been living at Nivelles with her young son--the future father of Saint Gregory of Utrecht. Adela was also a disciple of Saint Boniface (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Blessed Alberic of Gladbach, OSB (AC)
10th century. He was a monk of Gladbach. Some call him Albert, while others title him a saint (Benedictines).
Bruno of Ottobeuren, OSB (AC)
Died c. 1050. Bruno was a Benedictine lay-brother at Ottobeuren Abbey in Bavaria (Germany) (Benedictines).
Caran (Caranus) of Scotland B (AC)
Died 669. Caran was a missionary bishop of eastern Scotland who is commemorated in the Aberdeen Breviary (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Charbel Makhlouf the Maronite, Hermit (RM)
(also known as Sharbel)
Born at Béqaa-Kafra, Lebanon, in 1828; died at Annaya, 1898; beatified during Vatican Council II in 1965; canonized 1977.
Charbel left the following prayer:
Father of truth, behold your son who makes atoning sacrifice to you. Accept the offering: he died for me that I might have life.
Joseph Zaroun Makhlouf was the son of a Catholic Lebanese mule driver, who died when Joseph was in early childhood. He was raised by his uncle, who was displeased by the boy's early devotion to prayer and solitude. At the age of 23, Joseph went secretly to the monastery of Our Lady of Mayfug, a house of the Maronite Baladite order. When he was admitted to the order in 1851 he took the religious name Charbel--a 2nd century Antiochean martyr. In due course, Charbel made his solemn vows in 1853 and, in 1859, he was ordained to the priesthood, thus becoming what is known as a 'hieromonk.' This practice is more common in Roman rather than Eastern traditions.
Father Charbel traversed the divide between East and West in other ways as well. For example, one of his favorite books was the Imitation of Christ.
He lived the life of a model monk in the monastery of St. Maro at Annaya (Gibail) for 15 years--singing office in choir and working in the monastic vineyards and olive orchards with strict obedience and personal self-denial. He wished, however, to more closely imitate the Desert Fathers. To do this, in 1875, he took a hermitage near St. Peter and St. Paul.
For the next 23 years he lived an ascetic life. His home consisted of four tiny rooms and a chapel, which were shared with three others. For all these years Charbel spoke to another monk only when it was absolutely necessary. He ate but one meal of vegetables daily. He tasted no meat. He drank no wine, save a drop at the Eucharist. He ate no fruit. He also undertook four annually periods of fasting. He refused to touch money.
Instead of a bed Charbel Makhlouf had used a duvet filled with dead leaves, on top of which he used a goatskin for cover. His pillow was a piece of wood. When anyone came to inhabit the three other rooms, Charbel placed himself under obedience to them. He recited his office at midnight. During these 23 years, more and more people came to ask his counsel, prayers, and blessing.
Thus in the 19th century Father Charbel Makhlouf--along with a few other saintly men--had tried to live again the austere life of the desert fathers of the early church. He belonged to the Christian body known as Maronites, a group which traces its name back to Saint Maro, a friend of Saint John Chrysostom. This group of Christians, most of whom still live in Lebanon, have been united to the Western Church since the 12th century, thus bringing into Western Christendom traditions of great value that might readily have been forgotten. These traditions are ones of enormous self- discipline, and few have exemplified them better than Charbel Makhlouf.
After 23 years of this ascetic life, Charbel had a paralyzing stroke just before the consecration while celebrating the Eucharist in his chapel, and died eight days later on Christmas Eve. After his death many favors and miracles were claimed through his intercession in heaven. Today his tomb is visited by large numbers of people, not only Lebanese Maronites and not only Christians
It was also necessary for the Roman authorities to investigate the phenomenon of a kind of "bloody sweat" that flowed from his body during the period up to 1927 and again in 1950. Some months after his burial, the body was fresh and incorrupt and was placed in a new coffin, where a reddish perspiration flowed and caused the monks to change his clothes twice weekly. In 1927, the patriarch initiated an enquiry and the body was reburied. In 1950, after liquid was observed on the wall of the tomb, the body was found fresh and incorrupt again. Instantaneous cures and miraculous healings were claimed, some of whose beneficiaries are non- Christian. The body was reburied under concrete. This extraordinary phenomenon provides a modern, verifiable account of the types of events frequently claimed for Medieval saints (such as Enero) and frequently disregarded as superstitious (Attwater, Bentley, Farmer).
Delphinus of Bordeaux B (RM)
Died 404. Delphinus, bishop of Bordeaux, was to Aquitaine what Saint Martin of Tours was to Gaul in the opinion of Saint Paulinus of Nola, whom he baptized. He was an unremitting opponent of the Priscillianists (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
Emiliana of Rome V (RM)
Died January 5, c. 550; feast day formerly on January 5. Another of the holy family of Saint Gregory the Great. Emiliana was his aunt, who with her sister Tharsilla, lived a life of prayer and great austerity in Rome at the home of their brother, Gregory's father. She is also said to have been an abbess in Egypt. Gregory reports on her saintly life, visions, and death (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia).
Euthymius of Nicomedia M (RM)
Died 303. Euthymius encourage other Christians to remain steadfast in the faith during the persecution of Diocletian, until he himself was executed (Benedictines).
Forty Maidens Martyred at Antioch (RM)
Died 250. Put to death under Decius (Benedictines).
Gregory of Spoleto M (RM)
Died c. 304. Gregory's unreliable acta report that he was martyred under Maximinian Herculeus. His very existence is now in doubt (Benedictines).
Irmina of Oehren, OSB, Abbess V (RM)
Died at Weissenburg Abbey in 708. Perhaps Irmina was another daughter of Saint Dagobert. At the age of 15 she was married to Count Herman, who died on their wedding day. Grief-stricken, she persuaded her father to build the Benedictine convent of Oehren (Horreum) for her near Trèves (Trier, Germany). Irmina, a generous benefactor of both Celtic and Saxon missionary monks, signed five charters while she was abbess of Oehren, including the monastery at Echternach for Saint Willibrord. These charters were found in the archives at Echternach (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art St. Irmina is a crowned abbess giving alms with the Christ Child above her. She is venerated in Trier (Roeder).
Lucian and Companions MM (RM)
Date unknown. Lucian, Metrobius, Paul, Zenobius, Theotimus and Drusus were martyred in Tripoli (Benedictines).
Mochua of Timahoe (AC)
Died c. 657. Mochua's home was in the Achonry district of Connaught. His father was Lonan. Mochua became a successful soldier who was converted to monasticism in his early manhood. He founded a monastery in Derenish, County Laois, Ireland, where he died, and another in County Cavan, which is now called after him Timahoe or Teach Mochua--the House of Mochua. Some monasteries in Scotland also claim Mochua as their founder (Farmer, Montague).
Tarsilla (Tharsilla) of Rome V (RM)
Died c. 581. She was the aunt of Saint Gregory the Great and a saint like three-fourths of the family (Pope Felix, Emiliana, Silvia, etc.). Like her sister, she led a life of seclusion and mortification in her paternal home (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia). St. Tarsilla is portrayed as a Roman lady called to heaven by Christ. Sometimes she is found in the company of her nephew, St. Gregory the Great (Roeder).
Venerandus of Clermont B (AC)
Died 423. Saint Venerandus was born into a senatorial family of Clermont in Auvergne. He governed the city as bishop from 385 to his death (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.