Monday, April 30, 2012

Pope Saint Pius V

Pope Saint Pius V (17 January 1504 – 1 May 1572), born Antonio Ghislieri (from 1518 called Michele Ghislieri, O.P.), was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church. Pius V declared saint Thomas Aquinas a Doctor of the Church and patronized prominent sacred music composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

As Cardinal, Ghislieri gained a reputation for putting orthodoxy before personalities, prosecuting eight French Bishops for heresy. He also stood firm against nepotism, rebuking his predecessor Pope Pius IV to his face when he wanted to make a 13-year old member of his family a cardinal and subsidise a nephew from the Papal treasury.

In affairs of state, Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I of England for schism and persecutions of English Catholics during her reign. He also arranged the formation of the Holy League, an alliance of Catholic states. Although outnumbered, the Holy League famously defeated the Ottomans, who had threatened to overrun Europe, at the Battle of Lepanto. This victory Pius V attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and instituted the feast, Our Lady of Victory.

Before Michele Ghislieri could return to his episcopate, Pope Pius IV died. On 7 January 1566, Ghislieri was elected to the Papal chair as Pope Pius V. He was crowned ten days later, on his 62nd birthday.

Aware of the necessity of restoring discipline and morality at Rome to ensure success without, he at once proceeded to reduce the cost of the papal court after the manner of the Dominican Order to which he belonged, compel residence among the clergy, regulate inns, expel prostitutes, and assert the importance of the ceremonial in general and the liturgy of the Mass in particular. In his wider policy, which was characterised throughout by an effective stringency, the maintenance and increase of the efficacy of the Inquisition and the enforcement of the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent had precedence over other considerations.

Accordingly, in order to implement a decision of that council, he standardised the Holy Mass by promulgating the 1570 edition of the Roman Missal. Pope Pius V made this Missal mandatory throughout the Latin rite of the Catholic Church, except where a Mass liturgy dating from before 1370 AD was in use. This form of the Mass remained essentially unchanged for 400 years until Pope Paul VI's revision of the Roman Missal in 1969–70, after which it has become widely known as the Tridentine Mass; use of the last pre-1969 edition of the Missal, that by Pope John XXIII in 1962, is permitted without limitation for private celebration of the Mass and, since July 2007, is allowed also, under certain conditions, for public use, as laid down in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI. Some continue to use even earlier editions, but without authorisation.

St Pius V recognized attacks on papal supremacy in the Catholic Church and was desirous of limiting their advancement. In France, where his influence was stronger, he took several measures to oppose the Protestant Huguenots. He directed the dismissal of Cardinal Odet de Coligny and seven bishops, nullified the royal edict tolerating the extramural services of the Reformers, introduced the Roman catechism, restored papal discipline, and strenuously opposed all compromise with the Huguenot nobility.

In the list of more important bulls issued by him the famous bull "In Coena Domini" (1568) takes a leading place; but amongst others throwing light on Pope Pius V's character and policy there may be mentioned his prohibition of quaestuary (February 1567 and January 1570); the condemnation of Michael Baius, the heretical Professor of Leuven (1567); the reform of the breviary (July 1568); the denunciation of the "dirum nefas" (August 1568); the banishment of the Jews from the ecclesiastical dominions except Rome and Ancona (1569); the injunction of the use of the reformed missal (July 1570); the confirmation of the privileges of the Society of Crusaders for the protection of the Inquisition (October 1570); the dogmatic certainty of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary (November 1570); the suppression of the Fratres Humiliati for profligacy (February 1571); the approbation of the new office of the Blessed Virgin (March 1571); the enforcement of the daily recitation of the Canonical Hours (September 1571); and the purchase of assistance against the Turks by offers of plenary pardon (March 1572).

Katherine Rinne says in the book Waters of Rome Pius V also ordered public constructions to improve water supply and sewer of Rome.

His response to the Queen Elizabeth I of England assuming governance of the Church of England included support of the imprisoned Mary, Queen of Scots, and her supporters in their attempts to take over England "ex turpissima muliebris libidinis servitute". A brief English Catholic uprising, the Rising of the North, had just failed. Pius then issued a bull, Regnans in Excelsis, dated April 27, 1570, that declared Elizabeth I a heretic and released her subjects from their allegiance to her. In response, Elizabeth, who had thus far tolerated Catholic worship in private, now actively started persecuting them.

Saint Pius V arranged the forming of the Holy League against the Islamic Turks, as the result of which the Battle of Lepanto (7 October 1571) was won by the combined fleet under Don John of Austria. It is attested in his canonisation that he miraculously knew when the battle was over, himself being in Rome at the time. Three national synods were held during his pontificate at Naples under Alfonso Cardinal Caraffa (whose family had, after inquiry, been reinstated by Pius V), at Milan under Saint Charles Borromeo, and at Machim.

Pius V is also often credited with the origin of the Pope's white garments, which supposedly originated because after this election Pius refused to replace his white Dominican habit with the red commonly worn by Popes and Cardinals at the time.

April 30 Feast Days:

* St. Adjutor
* St. Joseph Cottolengo
* St. Ajuture
* St. Aimo
* St. Aphrodisius
* St. Cynwl
* St. Desideratus
* St. Donatus of Evorea
* St. Eutropius
* St. Forannan
* Bl. Francis Dickenson
* St. Gerard Miles
* St. Lawrence of Novara
* St. Louis von Bruck
* St. Marianus
* St. Maximus of Rome
* Bl. Miles Gerard
* St. Pius V, Pope
* St. Pomponius of Naples

Sunday, April 29, 2012

St. Catherine of Siena - Doctor of the Church

Feastday: April 29
Patron Fire prevention
1347 - 1380

The 25th child of a wool dyer in northern Italy, St. Catherine started having mystical experiences when she was only 6, seeing guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. She became a Dominican tertiary when she was 16, and continued to have visions of Christ, Mary, and the saints. St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. She persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon, in 1377, and when she died she was endeavoring to heal the Great Western Schism. In 1375 Our Lord give her the Stigmata, which was visible only after her death. Her spiritual director was Blessed Raymond of Capua. St, Catherine's letters, and a treatise called "a dialogue" are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church. She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430.


April 29 Feast Days:
* St. Catherine of Siena
* St. Peter of Verona
* St. Ava
* St. Agapius
* St. Wilfrid the Younger
* St. Torpes of Pisa
* St. Tychicus
* St. Senan
* St. Daniel
* St. Dichu
* St. Endellion
* St. Fiachan
* St. Hugh the Great
* St. Robert of Molesmes
* Bl. Robert Bruges
* Martyrs of Corfu
* St. Paulinus of Brescia
* St. Wilfrid the Younger

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saint Louis de Montfort

St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (31 January 1673 – 28 April 1716) was canonized in 1947. He was a French priest and known in his time as a preacher and author, whose books, still widely read, have influenced a number of popes.

He is considered as one of the early proponents of the field of Mariology as it is known today, and a candidate to become a Doctor of the Church. His "founders statue" by Giacomo Parisini is now placed at the Upper Niche of the South Nave within Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

He was born in Montfort-sur-Meu, the eldest surviving child of the large family of Jean-Baptiste Grignion, a notary, and his wife Jeanne Robert who was known for being deeply Catholic. He passed most of his infancy and early childhood in Iffendic, a few kilometers from Montfort, where his father had bought a farm. At the age of 12, he entered the Jesuit College of St Thomas Becket in Rennes.

At some time during his college days, he became aware of a call to the priesthood, and at the end of his ordinary schooling, began his studies of philosophy and theology, still at St Thomas in Rennes. Listening to the stories of a local priest, the Abbé Julien Bellier, about his life as an itinerant missionary, he was inspired to preach missions among the very poor. And, under the guidance of some other priests he began to develop his strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

He was then given the opportunity, through a benefactor, to go to Paris to study at the renowned Seminary of Saint-Sulpice towards the end of 1693. When he arrived in Paris, it was to find that his benefactor had not provided enough money for him, so he lodged in a succession of boarding houses, living among the very poor, in the meantime attending the Sorbonne University for lectures in theology. After less than two years, he became very ill and had to be hospitalized. Somehow he survived his hospitalization and the blood letting that was part of his treatment at the time.

Upon his release from the hospital, to his surprise he found himself with a place reserved at the Little Saint-Sulpice, which he entered in July 1695. Saint-Sulpice had been founded by Jean-Jacques Olier, one of the leading exponents of what came to be known as the French school of spirituality. Given that he was appointed the librarian, his time at Saint-Sulpice, gave him the opportunity to study most of the available works on spirituality and, in particular, on the Virgin Mary's place in the Christian life. This later lead to his focus on the Holy Rosary and his acclaimed book the Secret of the Rosary.

In June 1700, when a young Louis de Montfort was ordained a priest, he was but another young and idealistic man who wanted to be the champion of the poor, having been inspired as a teenager to preach to the poor. But he also had a very strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and was prepared to risk his life for it. Centuries later, he influenced four popes (Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius X, Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II), and is now being considered as a Doctor of the Church.

Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius X both relied on de Montfort in their writings and promulgated his Marian vision. It has been said, that the Marian encyclical of Pius X, Ad Diem Illum was not only influenced but penetrated by the Mariology of Montfort. and, that both Leo XIII and Pius X applied the Marian analysis of Montfort to their analysis of the Church as a whole.

Pope Leo XIII

Pope Leo XIII was concerned about secular attempts to destroy the faith in Christ, and, if possible, to ban him from the face of the earth. In his analysis, the destruction of the ethical order would lead to disaster and war, so Leo XIII dedicated the human race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. But in his analysis (based on Montfort's writings) any re-Christianisation was not possible without the Blessed Virgin Mary, so in ten encyclicals on the rosary he promulgated Marian devotion. In his encyclical on the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, he stressed her role in the redemption of humanity, mentioning Mary as Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix, in the spirit and words of Louis de Montfort.

Pope Leo XIII then beatified him in 1888, and, as a special honour selected for Montfort's beatification the very day of his own Golden Jubilee as a priest.

Pope Pius X

The key Marian encyclical Ad Diem Illum was issued in 1904 in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. It gave Pius X the opportunity to urge his intensified Marian devotion in his second encyclical, and relied heavily on the views expressed in Montfort's book True Devotion to Mary.

In fact the language of both writings is strikingly similar, which is not surprising, since Saint Pius highly esteemed True Devotion and granted an Apostolic Blessing to all who read it. Echoing Montfort, Pius X wrote: "There is no surer or easier way than Mary in uniting all men with Christ."

Pope Pius XII

Pope Pius XII was often called the most Marian pope. He was impressed by Montfort's work God Alone and when he canonized Montfort on July 27, 1947, he said:

God Alone was everything to him. Remain faithful to the precious heritage, which this great saint left you. It is a glorious inheritance, worthy, that you continue to sacrifice your strength and your life, as you have done until today

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II once recalled how as a young seminarian he "read and reread many times and with great spiritual profit" a work of de Montfort and that:

"Then I understood that I could not exclude the Lord's Mother from my life without neglecting the will of God-Trinity"

According to his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, the pontif's personal motto "Totus Tuus" was inspired by St. Louis' doctrine on the excellence of Marian devotion and total consecration, which he quoted:

“Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ.

Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ."

The thoughts, writings, and example of St. Louis de Montfort, an example of the French school of spirituality, were also singled out by Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater as a distinctive witness of Marian spirituality in the Catholic tradition. In an address to the Montfortian Fathers, the pontiff also said that his reading the saint's work True Devotion to Mary was a "decisive turning point" in his life.

Priest and poet

While the saint is best known for his spiritual writings, he was also a poet and during his missions managed to compose more than 20,000 verses of hymns.

Saint Louis's life coincided with some of the great highlights of French literature and Molière, Pierre Corneille and Jean Racine dominated the literature of his day. Yet Montfort believed that his battle-cry, "God Alone!" did not allow him to encourage his people to prefer classical works over sacred hymns. Montfort’s hymns and canticles were, for the most part, meant to be sung in village churches and in the homes of the poor. They were aimed at the masses and had a missionary motive above all. Some authors argue that a reading of Saint Louis’s hymns is essential for an understanding of him as a man and for appreciating his approach to spirituality.

Montfort was a missionary at heart and many of his hymns were addressed to the people whom he was evangelizing. He went from one parish to another with his ever-growing collection of hymns to be sung during the parish mission. But he also wrote hymns to express his own personal feelings, e.g. his numerous hymns in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Based on the analysis of Bishop Hendrik Frehen of the Company of Mary, Montfortian hymns fall into two major categories: "inspired" and "didactic." The inspired canticles flow spontaneously, on the occasion of a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine, or on the occasion of a joyful celebration. The didactic hymns took more effort and time to compose, and focus on instructional and informative qualities: they teach the audience through the use of a moral and a theme.

After the Saint Louis's death, the Company of Mary (which continued his work of preaching parish renewals) made great use of his hymns and used them as instruments of evangelization.

April 28 Feast Days:

* St. Theodora
* St. Peter Chanel
* St. Louis Mary Grignion
* St. Vitalis
* St. Luchesio
* St. Valerie
* St. Aphrodisius
* St. Artemius
* St. Valeria of Milan
* St. Theodora & Didymus
* St. Cronan of Roscrea
* St. John Baptist Thanh
* St. Louis de Montfort
* St. Mark of Galilee
* St. Pamphilus
* St. Patrick of Prusa
* St. Peter Hieu
* St. Pollio
* St. Cronan of Roscrea
* St. Gianna Beretta Molla

Friday, April 27, 2012

Saint Zita

Saint Zita (c. 1212 – 27 April 1272) was an Italian saint, the patron saint of maids and domestic servants. She is also appealed to in order to help find lost keys. Saint Zita was born in Tuscany in the village of Monsagrati, not far from Lucca where, at the age of 12, she became a servant in the Fatinelli household. For a long time, she was unjustly despised, overburdened, reviled, and often beaten by her employers and fellow servants for her hard work and obvious goodness. The incessant ill-usage, however, was powerless to deprive her of her inward peace, her love of those who wronged her, and her respect for her employers. By this meek and humble self-restraint, Zita at last succeeded in overcoming the malice of her fellow-servants and her employers, so much so that she was placed in charge of all the affairs of the house. Her faith had enabled her to persevere against their abuse, and her constant piety gradually moved the family to a religious awakening.

Zita often said to others that devotion is false if slothful. She considered her work as an employment assigned her by God, and as part of her penance, and obeyed her master and mistress in all things as being placed over her by God. She always rose several hours before the rest of the family and employed in prayer a considerable part of the time which others gave to sleep. She took care to hear mass every morning with great devotion before she was called upon by the duties of her station, in which she employed the whole day with such diligence and fidelity that she seemed to be carried to them on wings, and studied when possible to anticipate them.

One anecdote relates a story of Zita giving her own food or that of her master to the poor. On one morning, Zita left her chore of baking bread to tend to someone in need. Some of the other servants ensured the Fatinelli family was aware of what happened; when they went to investigate, they claimed to have found angels in the Fatinelli kitchen, baking the bread for her.

St. Betina Zita died peacefully in the Fatinelli house on April 27, 1272. It is said that a star appeared above the attic where she slept at the moment of her death. She was 60 years old, and had served and edified the family for 48 years. By her death, she was practically venerated by the family. After one hundred and fifty miracles wrought in the behalf of such as had recourse to her intercession were juridically proven, she was canonized in 1696.

Her body was exhumed in 1580, discovered to be incorrupt, but has since become mummified. St. Zita's body is currently on display for public veneration in the Basilica di San Frediano in Lucca.

Her feast day in the Roman Catholic Church is April 27. To this day, families bake a loaf of bread in celebration of St. Zita's feast day.

April 27 Feast Days
* Bl. Peter Armengol
* St. Zita
* St. Adelelmus
* St. Asicus
* St. Winewald
* St. Zita
* St. Tertullian
* St. Theodore of Tabenna
* St. Theophilus
* St. Castor & Stephen
* St. Enoder
* St. Floribert of Liege
* St. John of Constantinople
* St. Lawrence Huong
* St. Liberalis of Treviso
* St. Maughold
* Bl. Osanna of Cattaro
* Bl. Nicolas Roland

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Our Lady of Good Counsel (Latin: Mater boni consilii) is a title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary, after a painting said to be miraculous, now found in the thirteenth century Augustinian church at Genazzano, near Rome, Italy. Measuring 40 by 45 centimeters the image is a fresco executed on a thin layer of porcelain no thicker than an egg shell. Over the centuries, devotions to Our Lady of the Good Counsel grew among saints and Popes, to the extent that a reference to it was added to the Litany of Loreto and the devotion spread throughout the world, as far as Brazil. Her feast day is April 26.

In the 5th century, during the reign of Pope Sixtus III, the town of Genazzano, about 30 miles (48 km) south of Rome, had contributed a large portion of its revenue for the Roman basilica now known as Santa Maria Maggiore. In appreciation, a church was built in Genazzano and was later entrusted to the Augustinian Order in 1356.

According to tradition, in the year 1467, in the midst of the festivities for the Feast of Saint Mark, the townfolk suddenly heard "exquisite music." A mysterious cloud was then said to have descended and obliterated an unfinished wall of the parish church. In front of the populace, the cloud dissipated and a beautiful fresco, no thicker than a carte-de-visite and no more than eighteen inches square, of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Christ Child was revealed. Many miracles are said to have occurred in the portrait's presence, and it was widely believed that it had been miraculously transported from a church in Albania.

Such was the holy image's reputation that Pope Urban VIII made a "glittering" pilgrimage there in 1630, invoking the protection of the Queen of Heaven, as did Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1864. On November 17, 1682, Blessed Pope Innocent XI had the picture solemnly crowned. Among her noted clients have been St Aloysius Gonzaga, St Alphonsus Liguori, St John Bosco, and Blessed Stephen Bellesini.

In 1753, Pope Benedict XIV established the Pious Union of Our Lady of Good Counsel. More than any other pope, Leo XIII, who was himself a member of the pious union, was deeply attached to this devotion. The small Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel (the White Scapular) was presented by the Hermits of St. Augustine to Pope Leo XIII, who, in December 1893, approved it and endowed it with indulgences. On April 22, 1903, that same Pope included the invocation "Mater boni consilii" in the Litany of Loreto. In 1939, Venerable Pope Pius XII placed his pontificate under the maternal care of Our Lady of Good Counsel and composed a prayer to her.

The Augustinian Order contributed to the spread of this devotion internationally. Through the years, various institutions have been named in honor of Mary under the title of Our Lady of Good Counsel. These institutions include a college, high schools, and churches.

April 26 Feast Days:
* St. Aldo
* St. Cletus
* St. Anacletus II
* St. Basileus
* St. Trudpert
* St. Exuperantia
* St. Franca Visalta
* St. Lucidius of Verona
* St. Riquier
* St. Paschasius Radbertus
* St. Peter of Rates

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Saint Mark

Feastday: April 25
Patron of notaries

The second Gospel was written by St. Mark, who, in the New Testament, is sometimes called John Mark. Both he and his mother, Mary, were highly esteemed in the early Church, and his mother's house in Jerusalem served as a meeting place for Christians there.

St. Mark was associated with St. Paul and St. Barnabas (who was Mark's cousin) on their missionary journey through the island of Cyprus. Later he accompanied St. Barnabas alone. We know also that he was in Rome with St. Peter and St. Paul. Tradition ascribes to him the founding of the Church in Alexandria.

St. Mark wrote the second Gospel, probably in Rome sometime before the year 60 A.D.; he wrote it in Greek for the Gentile converts to Christianity. Tradition tells us that St. Mark was requested by the Romans to set down the teachings of St. Peter. This seems to be confirmed by the position which St. Peter has in this Gospel. In this way the second Gospel is a record of the life of Jesus as seen throuhh the eyes of the Prince of the Apostles. His feast day is April 25. He is the patron saint of notaries.

April 25 Feast Days:
* St. Mark
* St. Anianus
* Bl. William Marsden
* St. Erminus
* St. Evodius
* St. Macaille
* St. Macedonius
* Bl. Robert Anderton
* St. Robert of Syracuse
* St. Mella
* St. Phaebadius
* St. Philo and Agathopodes

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saint Mellitus

Mellitus (died 24 April 624) was the first Bishop of London in the Saxon period, the third Archbishop of Canterbury, and a member of the Gregorian mission sent to England to convert the Anglo-Saxons from their native paganism to Christianity. He arrived in 601 AD with a group of clergymen sent to augment the mission, and was consecrated as Bishop of London in 604. Mellitus was the recipient of a famous letter from Pope Gregory I known as the Epistola ad Mellitum, preserved in a later work by the medieval chronicler Bede, which suggested the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons be undertaken gradually, integrating pagan rituals and customs. In 610, Mellitus returned to Italy to attend a council of bishops, and returned to England bearing papal letters to some of the missionaries.

Mellitus was exiled from London by the pagan successors to his patron, King Sæberht of Essex, following the latter's death around 616. King Æthelberht of Kent, Mellitus' other patron, died at about the same time, forcing him to take refuge in Gaul. Mellitus returned to England the following year, after Æthelberht's successor had been converted to Christianity, but he was unable to return to London, whose inhabitants remained pagan. Mellitus was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury in 619. During his tenure, he was alleged to have miraculously saved the cathedral, and much of the town of Canterbury, from a fire. After his death in 624, Mellitus was revered as a saint.

April 24 Feast Days
* St. Egbert
* St. William Firmatus
* St. Sabas Stratelates
* St. Deodatus
* St. Diarmaid
* St. Dyfnan
* St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen
* St. Honorius of Brescia
* St. Mary Clopas
* St. Mellitus of Canterbury
* St. Benedetto Menni

Monday, April 23, 2012

Saint George

Feastday: April 23
Patron of England & Catalonia

Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to rescue a beautiful lady. The dragon stands for wickedness. The lady stands for God's holy truth. St. George was a brave martyr who was victorious over the devil.

He was a soldier in the army of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and he was one of the Emperor's favorite soldiers. Now Diocletian was a pagan and a bitter enemy to the Christians. He put to death every Christian he could find. George was a brave Christian, a real soldier of Christ. Without fear, he went to the Emperor and sternly scolded him for being so cruel. Then he gave up his position in the Roman army. For this he was tortured in many terrible ways and finally beheaded.

So boldly daring and so cheerful was St. George in declaring his Faith and in dying for it that Christians felt courage when they heard about it. Many songs and poems were written about this martyr. Soldiers, especially, have always been devoted to him.

We all have some "dragon" we have to conquer. It might be pride, or anger, or laziness, or greediness, or something else. Let us make sure we fight against these "dragons", with God's help. Then we can call ourselves real soldiers of Christ. .


April 23 Feast Days
* St. Giles of Assisi
* St. George
* St. Adalbert of Prague
* Sts. Felix, Fortunatus, & Achilleus
* St. Adalbert of Prague
* St. Fortunatus
* St. Felix
* St. Ibar of Beggerin

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Abāmūn of Tarnūt

Abāmūn of Tarnūt is a saint and was a martyr of the fourth-century Coptic Church. He is known only from his name being mentioned in the Synaxarion of Mikhail of Atrib (c.1240). His feast day is 27 Abīb (April).

While residing in Upper Egypt, Abāmūn was a witness to the persecution of Christians at that time. He presented himself to Arianus, the governor of Antinoopolis, as a Christian. The governor tortured Abāmūn through a variety of methods, including blows, nails in the body, iron combs, and stringing him up. Thereafter, Arianus sent Abāmūn to Alexandria. There, Abāmūn's example inspired a number of other Christians to accept martyrdom.

One of the others who was inspired by Abāmūn's example was a girl named Theophila. She criticized the governor and his allies, specifically including criticism of their idolatry. For this, she was cast into the fire. The fire did not harm her, however, so she was subsequently beheaded.

Abāmūn himself had his limbs cut off and was beheaded.

The church of Saint Abamūn, while bearing his name, may not necessarily be devoted to Abāmūn of Tarnūt. There was another matyr of similar description who bore the same first name, and because the church only mentions a Christian name, it cannot be sure whether the church was dedicated to Abāmūn of Tarnūt or Abāmūn of Tukh, who was also mentioned in the Synaxarion of Mikhail of Atrib. There is yet another Abamun, included in Les Martyrs d'Égypte by Hippolyte Delehaye, who seems to be this individual, as he was stated to have been martyred in Alexandria.

Saint Acepsimas of Hnaita

Acepsimas of Hnaita (died October 10, 376) was a bishop, martyr and saint.

He was the bishop of Hnaita, residing at Paka in western Persia. He and several companions, including the priest Joseph of Bet-Katoba, who was then 70 years old, and the deacon Aitillaha of Bet-Nuhadra, who was then 60 six years, when they were arrested by Shapur II for refusing to worship the sun. They were taken to Arbela, where they were all tortured and whipped.

Acepsimas endured three years of prison before he was racked and whipped to death on October 10, 376. Joseph was taken to Hdajab where he was tortured until he was stoned to death by apostate Christians at Tabaha on the Friday after Pentecost, 377. Aithalla was stoned to death at Destegerd on November 3, 377. They were the last martyrs of the Christian persecution of Shapur II. The book of their acts, which has survived, is genuine.

They are considered saints. The Roman Catholic Church keeps their feast on April 22. The Greek Orthodox Church keeps their feast with the full office of the day on November 3. The Syriac Orthodox Church keeps their feast on September 2. Aithalla has a feast in the Greek Orthodox Church held in his specific honor on September 1.

Other individuals who are recognized with this group include the bishop Abdjesus and a deacon named Abdjesu.

April 22 Feast Days:

* St. Abdiesus
* St. Acepsimas
* St. Alexander
* St. Apelles
* St. Arwald
* St. Authaire
* St. Bicor
* St. Tarbula
* St. Theodore of Sykeon
* St. Senorina
* St. Epiphanius and Alexander
* St. Joseph of Persia
* St. Leo of Sens
* St. Leonides of Alexandria
* St. Mareas
* St. Opportuna
* St. Milles
* St. Parmenius, Chrysoteins, and Helimenas
* Bl. Maria Gabriella Sagheddu

Saturday, April 21, 2012

St. Anselm

Feastday: April 21
1033 - 1109

St. Anselm Archbishop of Canterbury and Confessor APRIL 21,A.D. 1109 IF the Norman conquerors stripped the English nation of its liberty, and many temporal advantages, it must be owned that by their valor they raised the reputation of its arms, and deprived their own country of its greatest men, both in church and state, with whom they adorned this kingdom: of which this great doctor, and his master, Lanfranc, are instances. St. Anselm was born of noble parents, at Aoust, in Piedmont, about the year 1033. His pious mother took care to give him an early tincture of piety, and the impressions her instructions made upon him were as lasting as his life. At the age of fifteen, desirous of serving God in the monastic state, he petitioned an abbot to admit him into his house: but was refused out of apprehension of his father's displeasure. Neglecting, during the course of his studies, to cultivate the divine seed in his heart, he lost this inclination, and, his mother being dead, he fell into tepidity; and, without being sensible of the fatal tendency of vanity and pleasure, began to walk in the broad way of the world: so dangerous a thing is it to neglect the inspirations of grace! The saint, in his genuine meditations, expresses the deepest sentiments of compunction for these disorders, which his perfect spirit of penance exceedingly exaggerated to him, and which, like another David, he never ceased most bitterly to bewail to the end of his days. The ill usage he met with from his father, induced him, after his mother's death, to leave his own country, where he had made a successful beginning in his studies; and, after a diligent application to them for three years in Burgundy, (then a distinct government,) and in France, invited by the great fame of Lanfranc, prior of Bec, in Normandy, under the abbot Herluin, he went thither and became his scholar.* On his father's death, Anselm advised with him about the state of life he was to embrace; as whether he should live upon his estate to employ its produce in alms, or should renounce it at once and embrace a monastic and eremitical life. Lanfranc, feeling an overbearing affection for the promising a disciple, dared not advise him in his vocation, fearing the bias of his own inclination; but he sent him to Maurillus, the holy archbishop of Rouen. By him Anselm, after he had laid open to him his interior, was determined to enter the monastic state at Bec, and accordingly became a member of that house, at the age of twenty-seven, in 1060, under the abbot Herluin. Three years after, Lanfranc was made abbot of St. Stephen's, at Caen, and Anselm prior of Bec. At this promotion several of the monks murmured on account of his youth; but, by patience and sweetness, he won the affections of them all, and by little condescension at first so worked upon an irregular young monk, called Osbern, as to perfect his conversion, and make him one of the most fervent. He had indeed so great a knowledge of the hearts and passions of men, that he seemed to read their interior in their actions; by which he discovered the sources of virtues and vices, and knew how to adapt to each proper advice and instructions; which were rendered most powerful by the mildness and charity with which he applied them. And in regard to the management and tutoring of youth, he looked upon excessive severity as highly pernicious. Eadmer has recorded a conversation he had on this subject with a neighboring abbot, who, by a conformity to our saint's practice and advice in this regard, experienced that success in his labors which he had till then aspired to in vain, by harshness and severity. St. Anselm applied himself diligently to the study of every part of theology, by the clear light of scripture and tradition. While he was prior at Bec, he wrote his Monologium, so called, because in this work he speaks alone, explaining the metaphysical proofs of the existence and nature of God. Also his Proslogium, or contemplation of God's attributes, in which he addresses his discourse to God, or himself. The Meditations, commonly called the Manual of St. Austin, are chiefly extracted out of this book. It was censured by a neighboring monk, which occasioned the saint's Apology. These and other the like works, show the author to have excelled in metaphysics over all the doctors of the church since St. Austin. He likewise wrote, while prior, On Truth, On Freewill, and On the Fall of the Devil. or, On the Origin of Evil: also his Grammarian, which is, in reality, a treatise on Dialectics, or the art of reasoning. Anselm's reputation drew to Bec great numbers from all the neighboring kingdoms. Herluin dying in 1078, he was chosen abbot of Bec being forty five years old, of which he had been prior fifteen. The abbey of Bec being possessed at that time of some lands in England, this obliged the abbot to make his appearance there in person, at certain times. This occasioned our saint's first journeys thither, which his tender regard for his old friend Lanfranc, at that time archbishop of Canterbury, made the more agreeable. He was received with great honor and esteem by all ranks of people, both in church and state; and there was no one who did not think it a real misfortune, if he had not been able to serve him in something or other. King William himself, whose title of Conqueror rendered him haughty and inaccessible to his subjects, was so affable to the good abbot of Bec, that he seemed to be another man in his presence. The saint, on his side, was all to all, by courtesy and charity, that he might find occasions of giving every one some suitable instructions to promote their salvation; which were so much the more effectual, as he communicated them, not as some do with the dictatorial air of a master, but in a simple familiar manner, or by indirect, though sensible examples. In the year 1092, Hugh, the great earl of Chester, by three pressing messages, entreated Anselm to come again into England, to assist him, then dangerously sick and to give his advice about the foundation of a monastery which that nobleman had undertaken at St. Wereburge's church at Chester. A report that he would be made archbishop of Canterbury, in the room of Lanfranc, deceased, made him stand off for some time; but he could not forsake his old friend in his distress, and at last came over. He found him recovered, but the affairs of his own abbey, and of that which the earl was erecting, detained him five months in England. The metropolitan see of Canterbury had been vacant ever since the death of Lanfranc, in 1089. ! . The sacrilegious and tyrannical king, William Rufus, who succeeded his father in 1087, by an injustice unknown till his time, usurped the revenues of vacant benefices, and deferred his permission, or Conge d'elire, in order to the filling the episcopal sees, that he might the longer enjoy their income. Having thus seized into his hands the revenues of the archbishopric, he reduced the monks of Canterbury to a scanty allowance: oppressing them moreover by his officers with continual insults, threats, and vexations. He had been much solicited, by the most virtuous among the nobility, to supply the see of Canterbury, in particular, with a person proper for that station; but continued deaf to all their remonstrances, and answered them at Christmas, 1093, that neither Anselm nor any other should have the bishopric while he lived; and this he swore to by the holy face of Lucca meaning a great crucifix in the cathedral of that city, held in singular veneration, his usual oath. He was seized soon after with a violent fit of sickness, which in a few days brought him to extremity. He was then at Gloucaster, and seeing himself in this condition, signed a proclamation, which was published, to release all those that had been taken prisoners in the field, to discharge all debts owing to the crown, and to grant a general pardon promising likewise to govern according to law, and to punish the instruments of injustice with exemplary severity. He moreover nominated Anselm to the see of Canterbury, at which all were extremely satisfied but the good abbot himself, who made all the decent opposition imaginable; alleging his age, his want of health and vigor enough for so weighty a charge, his unfitness for the management of public and secular affairs, which he had always declined to the best of his power. The king was extremely concerned at his opposition, and asked him why he endeavored to ruin him in the other world, being convinced that he should lose his soul in case he died before the archbishopric was filled. The king was seconded by the bishops and others present, who not only told him they were scandalized at his refusal, but added, that, if he persisted in it, all the grievances of the church and nation would be placed to his account. Thereupon they forced a pastoral staff into his hands, in the king's presence, carried him into the church, and sung Te Deum on the occasion. This was on the 6th of March, 1093 He still declined the charge, till the king had promised him the restitution of all the lands that were in the possession of that see in Lanfranc's time. Anselm also insisted that he should acknowledge Urban II for lawful pope. Things being thus adjusted, Anselm was consecrated with great solemnity on the 4th of December, 1093. Anselm had not been long in possession of the see of Canterbury, when the king, intending to wrest the duchy of Normandy out of the hands of his brother Robert, made large demands on his subjects for supplies. On this occasion, not content with the five hundred pounds (a very large sum in those days) offered him by the archbishop, the king insisted, at the instigation of some of his courtiers, on a thousand, for his nomination to the archbishopric, which Anselm constantly refused to pay: pressing him also to fill vacant abbeys, and to consent that the bishops should hold councils as formerly, and be allowed by canons to repress crimes and abuses, which were multiplied, and passed into custom, for want of such a remedy, especially incestuous marriages and other abominable debaucheries. The king was extremely provoked, and declared no one should extort from him his abbeys any more than his crown. * And from that day he sought to deprive Anselm of his see. William, bishop of Durham, and the other prelates, acquiesced readily in the king's orders, by which he forbade them to obey him as their primate, or treat him as archbishop, alleging for reason that he obeyed pope Urban, during the schism, whom the English nation had not acknowledged. The king, having brought over most of the bishops to his measures, applied to the temporal nobility, and bid them disclaim the archbishop: but they resolutely answered, that since he was their archbishop, and had a right to superintend the affairs of religion, it was not in their power to disengage themselves from his authority, especially as there was no crime or misdemeanor proved against him. King William then, by his ambassador, acknowledged Urban for true pope, and promised him a yearly pension from England, if he would depose Anselm; but the legate, whom his holiness sent, told the king that it was what could not be done. St. Anselm wrote to the pope to thank him for the pall he had sent him by that legate, complaining of the affliction in which he lived under a burden too heavy for him to bear, and regretting the tranquillity of his solitude which he had lost.. Finding the king always seeking occasions to oppress his church, unless he fed him with its treasures, which he regarded as the patrimony of the poor, (though he readily furnished his contingent in money and troops to his expeditions and to all public burdens,) the holy prelate earnestly desired to leave England, that he might apply, in person, to the pope for his counsel and assistance. The king refused him twice: and, on his applying to him a third time, he assured the saint that, if he left that kingdom, he would seize upon the whole revenue of the see of Canterbury, and that he should never more be acknowledged metropolitan. But the saint, being persuaded he could not in conscience abide any longer in the realm, to be a witness of the oppression of the church, and not have it in his power to remedy it, set out from Canterbury, in October, 1097, in the habit of a pilgrim; took shipping at Dover, and landed at Witsan having with him two monks, Eadmer, who wrote his life, and Baldwin. He made some stay at Cluni with St. Hugh, the abbot, and at Lyons with the good archbishop Hugh. It not being safe traveling any further towards Rome at that time, on account of the antipope's party lying in the way; and Anselm falling sick soon after, this made it necessary for him to stay longer at Lyons than he had designed. However, he left that city the March following, in 1098, on the pope's invitation, and was honorably received by him. His holiness, having heard his cause, assured him of his protection, and wrote to the king of England for his reestablishment in his rights and possessions. Anselm also wrote to the king at the same time; and, after ten days stay in the pope's palace, retired to the monastery of St. Savior in Calabria, the air of Rome not agreeing with his health. Here he finished his work entitled, Why God was made Man; in two books, showing, against infidels, the wisdom, justice, and expediency of the mystery of the incarnation for man's redemption. He had begun this work in England, where he also wrote his book On the Faith of the Trinity and Incarnation, dedicated to pope Urban II., in which he refuted Roscelin, the master, Peter Abailard, who maintained an erroneous opinion in regard to the Trinity. Anselm, charmed with the sweets of his retirement, and despairing of doing any good at Canterbury, hearing by new instances that the king was still governed by his passions, in open defiance to justice and religion, earnestly entreated the pope, whom he met at Aversa, to discharge him of his bishopric; believing he might be more serviceable to the world in a private station. The pope would by no means consent, but charged him upon his obedience not to quit his station: adding, that it was not the part of a man of piety and courage to be frightened from his post purely by the dint of browbeating and threats, that being all the harm he had hitherto received. Anselm replied, that he was not afraid of suffering, or even losing his life in the cause of God; but that he saw there was nothing to be done in a country where justice was so overruled as it was in England. However, Anselm submitted, and in the meantime returned to his retirement, which was a cell called Slavia, situated on a mountain, depending on the monastery of St. Savior. That he might live in the merit of obedience, he prevailed with the pope to appoint the monk Eadmer, his inseparable companion, to be his superior, nor did he do the least thing without his leave. The pope having called a council, which was to meet at Bari, in October, 1098, in order to effect a reconciliation of the Greeks with the Catholic church, ordered the saint to be present at it. It consisted of one hundred and twenty-three bishops. The Greeks having proposed the question about the procession of the Holy Ghost, whether this was from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son; the disputation being protracted, the pope called aloud for Anselm, saying, "Anselm, our father and our master, where are you?" And causing him to sit next to him, told him that the present occasion required his learning and elocution to defend the church against her enemies, and that he thought God had brought him thither for that purpose. Anselm spoke to the point with so much learning, judgment, and penetration, that he silenced the Greeks, and gave such a general satisfaction, that all present joined in pronouncing anathema against those that should afterwards deny the procession of the Holy Ghost from both the Father and the Son. This affair being at an end, the proceedings of the king of England fell next under debate. And on this occasion his simony, his oppressions of the church, his persecution of Anselm, and his incorrigibleness, after frequent admonitions, were so strongly represented, that the pope, at the instance of the council, was just going to pronounce him excommunicated. Anselm had hitherto sat silent, but at this he rose up, and casting himself on his knees before the pope, entreated him to stop the censure. And now the council, who had admired our saint for his parts and learning, were further charmed with him on account of his humane and Christian disposition, in behalf of one that had used him so roughly. The saint's petition in behalf of his sovereign was granted; and, on the council breaking up, the pope and Anselm returned to Rome. The pope, however, sent to the king a threat of excommunication, to be issued in a council to be shortly after held at Rome, unless he made satisfaction: but the king, by his ambassador, obtained a long delay. Anselm stayed some time at Rome with the pope, who always placed him next in rank to himself. All persons, even the schismatics, loved and honored him, and he assisted with distinction at the council of Rome, held after Easter, in 1099. Immediately after the Roman council he returned to Lyons, where he was entertained by the archbishop Hugh with all the cordiality and regard imaginable; but saw no hopes of recovering his see so long as king William lived. Here he wrote his book, On the Conception of the Virgin, and On Original Sin, resolving many questions relating to that sin. The archbishop of Lyons gave him in all functions the precedence, and all thought themselves happy who could receive any sacrament from his hands. Upon the death of Urban II., he wrote an account of his case to his successor, Pascal II. King William Rufus being snatched away by sudden death, without the sacraments, on the 2nd of August, 1100, St. Anselm, who was then in the abbey of Chaize-Dieu, in Auvergne, lamented bitterly his unhappy end, and made haste to England, whither he was invited by king Henry I He landed at Dover on the 23rd of September, and was received with great joy and extraordinary respect. And having in a few days recovered the fatigue of his journey, he went to wait on the king, who received him very graciously. But this harmony was of no long continuance. The new king required of Anselm to be reinvested by him, and do the customary homage of his predecessors for his see; but the saint absolutely refused to comply, and made a report of the proceedings of the late synod at Rome, in which the laity that gave investitures for abbeys or cathedrals were excommunicated; and those that received such investitures were put under the same censure. But this not satisfying the king, it was agreed between them to consult the pope upon the subject. The court in the mean time was very much alarmed at the preparations making by the king's elder brother, Robert, duke of Normandy; who, being returned from the holy war in Palestine, claimed the crown of England, and threatened to invade the land. The nobles, though they had sworn allegiance to Henry, were ready enough to join him; and, on his landing with a formidable army at Portsmouth, several declared for the duke. The king being in great danger of losing his crown, was very liberal in promises to Anselm on this occasion, assuring him that he would henceforward leave the business of religion wholly to him, and be always governed by the advice and orders of the apostolic see. Anselm omitted nothing on his side to prevent a revolt from the king. Not content with sending his quota of armed men, be strongly represented to the disaffected nobles the heinousness of their crime of perjury, and that they ought rather lose their lives than break through their oaths, and fail in their sworn allegiance to their prince. He also an excommunication against Robert, as an invader, who thereupon came to an accommodation with Henry, and left England. And thus, as Eadmer relates, the archbishop, strengthening the king's party, kept the crown upon his head. Amidst his troubles and public distractions, he retired often in the day to his devotions, and watched long in them in the night. At his meals, and at all times, he conversed interiorly in heaven. One day as he was riding to his manor of Herse, a hare, pursued by the dogs, ran under his horse for refuge: at which the saint stopped, and the hounds stood at bay. The hunters laughed, but the saint said, weeping, "This hare puts me in mind of a poor sinner just upon the point of departing this life, surrounded with devils, waiting to carry away their prey." The hare going off, he forbade her to be pursued, and was obeyed, not a hound stirring after her. In like manner, every object served to raise his mind to God, with whom he always conversed in his heart, and, in the midst of noise and tumult, he enjoyed the tranquillity of holy contemplation; so strongly was his soul sequestered from, and raised above the world.

April 21 Feast Days:
* St. Anselm
* St. Beuno
* St. Anastasius XI
* St. Anastasius the Sinaite
* St. Apollo and Companions
* St. Arator
* St. Conrad of Parzham
* St. Froduiphus
* St. Maximian of Constantinople
* Bl. John Saziari

Friday, April 20, 2012

St. Marian

Feastday: April 20

When St. Mamertinus was Abbot of the monastery which St. Germanus had founded at Auxerre, there came to him a young man called Marcian (also known as Marian), a fugitive from Bourges then occupied by the Visigoths. St. Mamertinus gave him the habit, and the novice edified all his piety and obedience. The Abbot, wishing to test him, gave him the lowest possible post - that of cowman and shepherd in the Abbey farm at Merille. Marcian accepted the work cheerfully, and it was noticed that the beast under his charge throve and multified astonishingly. He seemed to have a strange power over all animals. The birds flocked to eat out of his hands: bears and wolves departed at his command; and when a hunted wild boar fled to him for protection, he defended it from its assailants and set it free. After his death, the Abbey took the name of the humble monk. His feast day is April 20th.

Other Saints whose Feast Day is April 20
* St. Marian
* St. Agnes of Montepulciano
* St. Theodore Trichinas
* St. Theotimus
* St. Francis Page
* St. Hugh of Anzy le Duc
* Bl. John Finch
* St. Marcian of Auxerre
* Bl. Robert Watkinson

Thursday, April 19, 2012

St. Expeditus

Feastday: April 19
Patron of Republic of Molossia, emergencies, expeditious solutions, against procrastination, merchants, navigators, programmers, and hackers revolutionaries
Died: 303

At one time there was much talk of a Saint Expeditus, and some good people were led to believe that, when there was need of haste, petitioning Saint Expeditus was likely to meet with prompt settlement. However, there is no adequate reason to think that any such saint was ever invoked in the early Christian centuries; in fact it is more than doubtful whether the saint ever existed. In the "Hieronymianum" the name Expeditus occurs among a group of martyrs both on the 18th and 19th of April, being assigned in the one case to Rome, and in the other to Melitene in Armenia; but there is no vestige of any tradition which would corroborate either mention, whereas there is much to suggest that in both lists the introduction of the name is merely a copyist's blunder. Hundreds of similar blunders have been quite definitely proved to exist in the same document.

There is also a story which pretends to explain the origin of this "devotion" by an incident of modern date. A packing case, we are told, containing a body of a saint from the catacombs, was sent to a community of nuns in Paris. The date of its dispatch was indicated by the use of the word "spedito", but the recipients mistook this for the name of the martyr and set to work with great energy to propagate his cult. From these simple beginnings, it is asserted, a devotion to St. Expeditus spread rapidly through many Catholic countries. It should be pointed out that though the recognition of St. Expeditus as the patron of dispatch depends beyond doubt upon a play upon words - still the particular story about the Paris nuns falls to pieces, because as far back as 1781 this supposed martyr, St. Expeditus, was chosen patron of the town of Acireale in Sicily, and because pictures of him were in existence in Germany in the eighteenth century which plainly depicted him as a saint to be invoked against procrastination.

Other Saints whose Feast Day is April 19:
* St. Expeditus
* St. Alphege
* St. Ursmar
* St. Vincent of Collioure
* St. Timon
* St. Crescentius
* St. Gerold
* St. Hermogenes
* Bl. James Duckett
* St. Paphnutius
* St. Anthony Pavoni
* St. Alphege of Canterbury

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

St. Apollonius the Apologist

Feastday: April 18
Died: 185

Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian Prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis, arrested him, also putting the slave to death as an informer. Perennis demanded that Apollonius denounce the faith, and when he refused, the case was remanded to the Roman senate. There a debate took place between Perennis and Apollonius that clearly outlines the beauty and the value of Christianity. Despite his eloquent defense, Apollonius was condemned and beheaded.

Other Saints whose Feast Day is April 18
* St. Agia
* St. Apollonius the Apologist
* St. Athanasia of Aegina
* St. Wicterp
* St. Calocerus
* St. Cogitosus
* St. Corebus
* St. Eleutherius & Anthia
* St. Galdinus
* St. Gebuinus
* St. Laserian
* St. Perfectus
* St. Peter of Saint Joseph Betancur
* Bl. Marie-Anne Blondin
* St. Pedro de San Jose Betancur

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Saint Donan

Feastday: April 17
Patron of Eigg
Died: 617

ST. Donan a remarkable fact about the widespread work of the Celtic missionary saints from the fifth century onwards is that scarcely any cases of violent opposition or martyrdom are recorded until the Viking and Danish raids began at the end of the ninth century. The pagan Celts accepted the missionaries even when they did not accept their religion and pagan and Christian symbols are found side by side on the great pictish stones.

Donan (or Donnan) deserves a note in these pages not only because of the extent of his journeyings but because he and his fellow monks on the island of Eigg provide the most dreadful case of martyrdom in the history of the Celtic Church. He and fifty-two of his followers were butchered within the refectory of the monastery. The only other martyrdoms recorded seem to be those of Constantine of Kintyre and of Kessog, and the latter is doubtful.

Unfortunately the mediaeval Life of Donan is lost, and what little we know of him is limited to the brief comments in such ancient martyrologies as Tallaght, Donegal and Oengus. The date of his birth is not known but he was contemporary with, or a little younger, than Columba. We presume that he was Irish and early in adult life crossed to Galloway. Thereafter we only know him through a chain of Kildonans up the west coast of Scotland, beginning with a Kildonan at Kirkmaiden and a Chapel Donan at Kirkcolm, and terminating at Kildonan on the island of Little Bernera in the Outer Hebrides.

The story of Donan's martyrdom was by no means unknown in mediaeval Scotland and some commemorations might be due to later interest and veneration. But the plotting of the place-names suggests a logical route of missionary progression northwards. The only St Don- nan's east of the Great Glen is at Auchterless in Aberdeenshire, and it has been suggested that Donan had a special connection with this parish-there are several place-names and we know his 'bachail' or staff was kept there till the Reformation. Perhaps for this very reason the saint's personal connection with Auchterless is more open to doubt, as the possession of the bachail in mediaeval days might well lead to the name instead of vice versa.

Only one incident is recorded as happening during these missionary years. He crossed to lona to meet Columba, and according to the story, asked that saint to act as his 'anamchara' or 'soul- friend', which took the place of the Roman Church's 'confessor'. Strangely enough, Columba refused to act as anamchara, saying, 'I shall not be a soul-friend to a company of red-martyrdom.' Obviously some explanation must be sought for this abrupt refusal. Dr A. B. Scott, who disliked Columba, saw in it the Goidheal's refusal to have any friendly intercourse with a Pict, but there could be quite different reasons, such as Columba's unwilling-ness to accept the additional responsibility which the duty entailed.

Donan eventually formed his community on the small island of Eigg, with the monastic buildings on the side facing Arisaig. It had become a large community by the date of the massacre-fifty-two is the number of monks given in the record, although for some unknown reason only fifty names are listed. It has been suggested that the monks are fictional but Dr Scott was sure he had traced local place-names deriving from them. Did Donan cross from lreland with the nucleus of such a group ready formed? Did he start with one or two and build to over fifty? Any answer to such questions would be as vague as the reason for the sudden unprecedented attack. On this subject scholars have made much of an obscure statement in the martyrologies that the monks' keeping sheep on the island hadangered a local woman of importance. Scott draws the unwarranted conclusion that when the local folk refused to take action she deliberately bribed a group of pirates to make the attack. It cannot, of course, be proved that she did not do so, so the reason for the brutality must remain conjectural. Pirates were by no means unknown but it is doubtful that they would take time to raid an obscure, penniless and inoffensive group of monks. It is more likely to have been a very early group of 'Black Gentiles' from Jutland or Denmark.

Details of the raid differ. Donan, it is said, was celebrating the Sacrament when the intruders broke in. When he begged for respite till mass was completed, they agreed and he led the monks across to the refectory 'that the place where God had been worshipped in spiritual joy might not be polluted with their blood'. The Martyrology of Donegal then states that 'he was beheaded and 52 of the monks with him' while that of Oengus suggests that the building was set on fire and they all perished in the flames. The traditional year of the massacre was 618.

Other Saints whose Feast Day is April 17:

* St. Donan
* St. Anicetus
* St. Villicus
* Bl. Wando
* St. Elias
* St. Fortunatus & Marcian
* St. Landericus
* St. Mappalicus
* St. Robert of Chaise Dieu
* St. Peter and Hermogenes
* St. Stephen Harding

Monday, April 16, 2012

St. Bernadette

Feastday: April 16
Died: 1879

On April 16, 1879, Bernadette -- or Sister Marie-Bernard, as she was known within her order -- died in the Sainte Croix (Holy Cross) Infirmary of the Convent of Saint-Gildard. She was thirty-five.

Born into a humble family which little by little fell into extreme poverty, Bernadette had always been a frail child. Quite young, she had already suffered from digestive trouble, then after having just escaped being a victim of the cholera epidemic of 1855, she experienced painful attacks of asthma, and her ill health almost caused her to be cut off for ever from the religious life. When asked by Monsignor Forcade to take Bernadette, Louise Ferrand, the Mother Superior of the Sisters of Nevers, replied: "Monsignor, she will be a pillar of the infirmary".

At least three times during her short life-time, she received the last Sacraments. She was gradually struck by other illnesses as well as asthma: among them, tuberculosis of the lung and a tubercular tumor on her right knee. On Wednesday, April 16, 1879, her pain got much worse. Shortly after eleven she seemed to be almost suffocating and was carried to an armchair, where she sat with her feet on a footstool in front of a blazing fire. She died at about 3.15 in the afternoon.

The civil authorities permitted her body to remain on view to be venerated by the public until Saturday, April 19. Then it was "placed in a double coffin of lead and oak which was sealed in the presence of witnesses who signed a record of the events". Among the witnesses were "inspector of the peace, Devraine, and constables Saget and Moyen".

The nuns of Saint-Gildard, with the support of the bishop of Nevers, applied to the civil authorities for permission to bury Bernadette's body in a small chapel dedicated to Saint Joseph which was within the confines of the convent. The permission was granted on April 25, 1879, and on April 30, the local Prefect pronounced his approval of the choice of the site for burial. Immediately they set to work on preparing the vault. On May 30, 1879, Bernadette's coffin was finally transferred to the crypt of the chapel of Saint Joseph. A very simple ceremony was held to commemorate the event.

Additional Info:

St. Bernadette was born at Lourdes, France. Her parents were very poor and she herself was in poor health. One Thursday, February 11, 1858, when she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, a very beautiful Lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The lovely Lady was dressed in blue and white. She smiled at Bernadette and then made the sign of the cross with a rosary of ivory and gold. Bernadette fell on her knees, took out her own rosary and began to pray the rosary. The beautiful Lady was God's Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to Bernadette seventeen other times and spoke with her. She told Bernadette that she should pray sinners, do penance and have a chapel built there in her honor. Many people did not believe Bernadette when she spoke of her vision. She had to suffer much. But one day Our Lady told Bernadette to dig in the mud. As she did, a spring of water began to flow. The next day it continued to grow larger and larger. Many miracles happened when people began to use this water. When Bernadette was older, she became a nun. She was always very humble. More than anything else, she desired not to be praised. Once a nun asked her if she had temptations of pride because she was favored by the Blessed Mother. "How can I?" she answered quickly. "The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant." What humility! Her feast day is April 16th.

Other Saints whose Feast Day is April 16:
* St. Bernadette
* St. Benedict Joseph Labré
* St. Bernadette Soubirous
* St. Turibius of Astorga
* St. Turibius the Monk
* St. Callistus & Charisius
* St. Contardo
* St. Drogo
* St. Encratia
* St. Fructuosus of Braga
* St. Herve
* St. Lambert of Saragossa
* St. Paternus
* Bl. Anne Maugrain
* Bl. Francoise Micheneau Gillot
* Bl. Francoise Suhard Menard
* Bl. Pierre Delepine

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sterling Silver Rosary Beads

Catholic Sterling Silver Rosary Beads 24" Necklace with Crucifix


Catholic Sterling Silver Rosary Beads 24" Necklace with Crucifix

This rosary is crafted of sterling silver with a crucifix and madonna. A spring ring clasp makes it easier to wear your rosary beads. Crafted of sterling silver and marked .925.

St. Paternus

Feastday: April 15
482 - 565

St. Paternus.The first 5th century saint. He followed his father's path by becoming a hermit in Wales. He founded the monastery at the great church of Paternus, and became a bishop of that region. He was known for his preaching, charity and mortifications. Scholars believe his story is an amalgam. His feast day is April 16.

Other Saints who share the feast Day of April 15:
* St. Paternus
* St. Eutychius
* St. Hunna
* St. Ruadan
* St. Maro
* St. Maximus & Olympiades
* St. Mundus
* St. Bebnuda (Paphnutius)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

St. Lydwine

Feastday: April 14
Patron of sickness; chronically ill, ice skaters, town of Schiedam
1380 - 1433

St. Lydwine is the patroness of sickness Lydwine of Schiedam was born at Schiedam, Holland, one of nine children of a working man. After an injury in her youth, she became bedridden and suffered the rest of her life from various illnesses and diseases. She experienced mystical gifts, including supernatural visions of heaven, hell, purgatory, apparitions of Christ, and the stigmata. Thomas a Kempis wrote a biography of her. She was canonized Pope Leo XIII in 1890. Lydwine suffered a fall while ice skating in 1396, when a friend collided with her and caused her to break a rib on the right side. From this injury, she never recovered. An abscess formed inside her body which later burst and caused Lydwine extreme suffering. Eventually, she was to suffer a series of mysterious illnesses which in retrospect seemed to be from the hands of God. Lydwine heroically accepted her plight as the will of God and offered up her sufferings for the sins of humanity. Some of the illnesses which affected Lydwine were headaches, vomiting, fever, thirst, bedsores, toothaches, spasms of the muscles, blindness, neuritis and the stigmata. Her feast day is April 14.

Other Saints who share the Feast Day of April 14:
* St. Lydwine
* Bl. Peter Gonzales
* St. Abundius
* St. Ardalion
* St. Tassach
* St. Thomais
* St. Tiburtius
* St. Domnina of Terni
* St. Lambert of Lyon
* St. Peter Gonzalez

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pope Saint Martin I

Feastday: April 13
Died: 655

Martin I lay too sick to fight on a couch in front of the altar when the soldiers burst into the Lateran basilica. He had come to the church when he heard the soldiers had landed. But the thought of kidnapping a sick pope from the house of God didn't stop the soldiers from grabbing him and hustling him down to their ship.

Elected pope in 649, Martin I had gotten in trouble for refusing to condone silence in the face of wrong. At that time there existed a popular heresy that held that Christ didn't have a human will, only a divine will. The emperor had issued an edict that didn't support Monothelism (as it was known) directly, but simply commanded that no one could discuss Jesus' will at all.

Monothelism was condemned at a council convened by Martin I. The council affirmed, once again, that since Jesus had two natures, human and divine, he had two wills, human and divine. The council then went further and condemned Constans edict to avoid discussion stating, "The Lord commanded us to shun evil and do good, but not to reject the good with the evil."

In his anger at this slap in the face, the emperor sent his soldiers to Rome to bring the pope to him. When Martin I arrived in Constantinople after a long voyage he was immediately put into prison. There he spent three months in a filthy, freezing cell while he suffered from dysentery. He was not allowed to wash and given the most disgusting food. After he was condemned for treason without being allowed to speak in his defense he was imprisoned for another three months.

From there he was exiled to the Crimea where he suffered from the famine of the land as well as the roughness of the land and its people. But hardest to take was the fact that the pope found himself friendless. His letters tell how his own church had deserted him and his friends had forgotten him. They wouldn't even send him oil or corn to live off of.

He died two years later in exile in the year 656, a martyr who stood up for the right of the Church to establish doctrine even in the face of imperial power.

Other Saints who share the Feast Day of April 13:
* Pope Saint Martin I
* St. Caradoc
* St. Carpus
* Bl. Edward Catheriek
* St. Gunioc
* St. Hermengild
* Bl. John Lockwood
* St. Martius
* St. Maximus

Thursday, April 12, 2012

St. Julius

Feastday: April 12

Julius whose feast day is April 12th. Julius was the son of a Roman named Rusticus. He was elected Pope to succeed Pope St. Mark on February 6, 337. Julius was soon involved in the Arian controversy when Eusebius of Nicomedia opposed the return of Athanasius to the See of Alexandria in 338. Eusebius and his followers elected George, whereupon the Arians elected Pistus. Julius convened a synod in Rome in 340 or 341 that neither group attended, and in a letter to the Eusebian bishops, Julius declared that Athanasius was the rightful bishop of Alexandria and reinstated him. The matter was not finally settled until the Council of Sardica (Sofia), summoned by emperors Constans and Constantius in 342 or 343, declared Julius' action correct and that any deposed bishop had the right of appeal to the Pope in Rome. Julius built several basilicas and churches in Rome and died there on April 12.

Other Saints who share April 12 as a Feast Day:
* St. Julius
* St. Allerius
* St. Vissia
* St. Victor
* St. Zeno of Verona
* St. Wigbert
* St. Tetricus
* St. Sabas the Goth
* St. Damian
* St. Erkemboden
* Bl. Angelo of Chivasso

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

St. Marguerite d'Youville

Feastday: April 11
Died: 1771
Canonized By: Pope John Paul II

Foundress of the Sisters of Charity, the Grey Nuns of Canada. St. Marguerite D'Youville was born at Varennes, Quebec, on October 15, Marie Marguerite Dufrost de La Jemmerais. She studied under the Ursulines, married Francois D'Youville in 1722, and became a widow in 1730. She worked to support herself and her three children, devoted much of her time to the Confraternity of the Holy Family in charitable activities.

In 1737, with three companions, she founded the Grey Nuns when they took their initial vows; a formal declaration took place in 1745. Two years later she was appointed Directress of the General Hospital in Montreal, which was taken over by the Grey Nuns, and had the rule of the Grey Nuns, with Marguerite as Superior, confirmed by Bishop of Pontbriand of Quebec in 1755.

She died in Montreal on December 23, and since her death, the Grey Nuns have established schools, hospitals, and orphanages throughout Canada, the United States, Africa, and South America, and are especially known for their work among the Eskimos. She was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1959 and canonized in 1990 by Pope John Paul II.

Other Saints who Share April 11 as a Feast Day:

* St. Marguerite d'Youville
* St. Stanislaus
* St. Gemma Galgani
* St. Antipas
* St. Barsanuphius
* St. Domnio
* St. Godebertha
* St. Machai
* St. Maedhog
* St. Philip of Gortyna

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Beautiful Gold Filled Rosary Necklace with Cross

14K Gold Filled Rosary Necklace w/Cross Pendant 24"


See this Beautiful Rosary Necklace at Amazon

Beautiful rosary with cross pendant and necklace is made of gold filled metal. Cross measures 1.2 inch L x 0.7 inch W. Chain length is 24 inch. Spring ring clasp. Chain cannot be removed from pendant.

St. Michael de Sanctis

Feastday: April 10
Patron of cancer patients
1591 - 1625

Michael de Sanctis was born in Catalonia, Spain around 1591. At the age of six he informed his parents that he was going to be a monk. Moreover, he imitated St. Francis of Assisi to such a great extent that he had to be restrained. After the death of his parents, Michael served as an apprentice to a merchant. However, he continued to lead a life of exemplary fervor and devotion, and in 1603, he joined the Trinitarian Friars at Barcelona, taking his vows at St. Lambert's monastery in Saragosa in 1607. Shortly thereafter, Michael expressed a desire to join the reformed group of Trinitarians and was given permission to do so. He went to the Novitiate at Madrid and, after studies at Seville and Salamanca, he was ordained a priest and twice served as Superior of the house in Valladolid. His confreres considered him to be a saint, especially because of his devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament and his ecstacies during Mass. After his death at the age of thirty-five on April 10, 1625 many miracles were attributed to him. He was canonized in 1862 by Pope Pius IX. St. Michael de Sanctis is noted in the Roman Martyrology as being "remarkable for innocence of life, wonderful penitence, and love for God." He seemed from his earliest years to have been selected for a life of great holiness, and he never wavered in his great love of God or his vocation. As our young people look for direction in a world that seems not to care, St. Michael stands out as worthy of imitation as well as of the prayers of both young and old alike. His feast day is April 10.

Other Saints who share the April 10 Feast Day
* St. Michael de Sanctis
* Bl. Anthony Neyrot
* St. Apollonius
* St. Apollonius
* St. Beocca
* St. Terence
* St. Fulbert of Chartres
* St. Macarius the Ghent
* St. Malchus
* St. Michael of the Saints
* St. Palladius
* St. Paternus

Monday, April 9, 2012

Saint Materiana

Saint Materiana is a Welsh saint and princess of the 5th century who is patron of two churches in Cornwall and one in Wales. Alternative spellings are Madrun, Madryn, Merthiana, and Mertheriana: the name was corrupted to Marcelliana in medieval times. She was the eldest of three daughters of King Vortimer the Blessed and after her father's death ruled over Gwent with her husband Prince Ynyr.

The mother church of Boscastle is Minster, dedicated to St Materiana, and nestling among the trees of Minster Wood in the valley of the River Valency half-a-mile east of Boscastle at grid reference SX 110 904. The original Forrabury / Minster boundary crossed the river so the harbour end of the village was in Forrabury and the upriver area in Minster. The churches were established some time earlier than the settlement at Boscastle (in Norman times when a castle was built there). The Celtic name of Minster was Talkarn but it was renamed Minster in Anglo-Saxon times because of a monastery on the site. Until the Reformation St Materiana's tomb was preserved in the church. (Another spelling of her name sometimes used is 'Mertheriana' but the usual Latin form is Materiana.) Traditions of the saint were recorded by William Worcestre in 1478: he states that her tomb was venerated at Minster and her feast day was April 9. However the parish feast traditionally celebrated at Tintagel was October 19, the feast day of St Denys, patron of the chapel at Trevena (the proper date is October 9 but the feast has moved forward due to the calendar reform of 1752).

The first church at Tintagel was probably in the 6th century, founded as a daughter church of Minster: these are the only churches dedicated to the saint though she is usually identified with Madryn, Princess of Gwent, who has a church dedicated to her at Trawsfynydd in Gwynedd. At Tintagel Parish Church there are two memorials which portray St Materiana: a statue in the chancel and a stained glass window in the nave.

* Extract from a Hymn to St Materiana in use at Tintagel

"Materiana, holy Mother, / Over thy people still preside, / Over thy household clothed in scarlet, / Vesture of love and holy pride; / Thy children rise and call thee blessed, / Gathered around thee at thy side."


Other Saints who share the April 9 Feast Day
* St. Acacius
* St. Waldetrudis
* Bl. Thomas of Tolentino
* St. Casilda of Toledo
* St. Demetrius
* St. Dotto
* St. Eupsychius
* St. Gaucherius
* St. Hedda
* St. Hugh of Rouen
* St. Materiana
* Martyrs of Croyland
* Martyrs of Pannonia

Sunday, April 8, 2012

St. Julie Billiart

Feastday: April 8

St. Julie (Julia) Billiart was born in 1751 and died in 1816. As a child, playing "school" was Julie's favorite game. When she was sixteen, to help support her family, she began to teach "for real". She sat on a haystack during the noon recess and told the biblical parables to the workers. Julie carried on this mission of teaching throughout her life, and the Congregation she founded continues her work.

Julie was the fifth of seven children. She attended a little one room school in Cuvilly. She enjoyed all of her studies, but she was particularly attracted to the religion lessons taught by the parish priest. Recognizing something "special" in Julie, the priest secretly allowed her to make her First Communion at the age of nine, when the normal age at that time, was thirteen. She learned to make short mental prayers and to develop a great love for Jesus in the Eucharist.

A murder attempt on her father shocked her nervous system badly. A period of extremely poor heath for Julie began, and was to last for thirty years. For twenty-two of these years she was completely paralyzed. All of her sufferings and pain she offered up to God.

When the French Revolution broke out, Julie offered her home as a hiding place for loyal priests. Because of this, Julie became a hunted prey. Five times in three years she was forced to flee in secret to avoid compromising her friends who were hiding her.

At this time she was privileged to receive a vision. She saw her crucified Lord surrounded by a large group of religious women dressed in a habit she had never seen before. An inner voice told her that these would be her daughters and that she would begin an institute for the Christian education of young girls. She and a rich young woman founded the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

At Amiens, the two women and a few companions began living a religious life in 1803. In 1804, Julie was miraculously cured of her illness and walked for the first time in twenty-two years. In 1805, Julie and three companions made their profession and took their final vows. She was elected as Mother General of the young Congregation.

In 1815, Mother taxed her ever poor health by nursing the wounded and feeding the starving left from the battle of Waterloo. For the last three months of her life, she again suffered much. She died peacefully on April 8, 1816 at 64 years of age. Julie was beatified on May 13, 1906, and was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1969. Her feast day is April 8th.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

St. John Baptist de la Salle

Feastday: April 7
Patron of Teachers

John Baptist de la Salle was born at Rheims, France on April 30th. He was the eldest of ten children in a noble family. He studied in Paris and was ordained in 1678. He was known for his work with the poor. He died at St. Yon, Rouen, on April 7th. He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1900. John was very involved in education. He founded the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (approved in 1725) and established teacher colleges (Rheims in 1687, Paris in 1699, and Saint-Denis in 1709). He was one of the first to emphasize classroom teaching over individual instruction. He also began teaching in the vernacular instead of in Latin. His schools were formed all over Italy. In 1705, he established a reform school for boys at Dijon. John was named patron of teachers by Pope Pius XII in 1950. His feast day is April 7th.

Friday, April 6, 2012

St. Celestine I

Feastday: April 6

Celestine I The founder of the papal diplomatic service, Pope/St. Celestine I was born in the Campania and served as a deacon under Innocent I. Elected pope in 422, Celestine confiscated the property of Novationite churches and restored a basilica in St. Mary Travestere after it had been damaged in Alaric's sack of Rome. Although Celestine confirmed the appointment of Nestorius to the see of Constantinople, the pope opposed Nestorius' teachings and supported Cyril of Alexandria in the conflict between the two patriarchs. Celestine also combatted Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism in southern Gaul and in England. He is supposed to have sent Palladius to evangelize Ireland in 431. Celestine died in the following year and was buried in the cemetery of Priscilla.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

St. Catherine of Siena Sterling Silver Rosary w/Patron Saint Medal

St. Catherine of Siena Patron Saint St. Sterling Silver Rosary w/Patron Saint Medal Center Catholic Religious Necklace Prayer w/Swarovski Austrian Tin Cut Crystal & Gemstone Beads Crucifix


St. Catherine of Siena Patron Saint St. See the Sterling Silver Rosary w/Patron Saint Medal at Amazon

All Sterling Silver Rosary w/Patron Saint Medal Center Catholic Religious Necklace Prayer with Light Rose , 6mm Swarovski, Austrian Tin Cut Aurora Borealis Beads. Hand-Made in the U.S.A., the Rosary w/Patron Saint Medal Center Catholic Religious Necklace Prayer features a St. Catherine of Siena Center. St. Catherine of Siena is the Patron Saint of Fire Prevention.

April 5 Feast Days

* St. Vincent Ferrer
* St. Albert of Montecorvino
* St. Becan
* St. Zeno
* St. Theodore and Pausilippus
* St. Derferl-Gadarn
* St. Ethelburga
* Martyrs of Lesbos
* Martyrs of London
* St. Gerald of Sauve-Majeure
* St. Maria Crescentia Hoss

St. Vincent Ferrer

Feastday: April 5
Patron of Builders

St. Vincent Ferrer is the patron saint of builders because of his fame for "building up" and strengthening the Church: through his preaching, missionary work, in his teachings, as confessor and adviser. At Valencia in Spain, this illustrious son of St. Dominic came into the world on January 23, 1357. In the year 1374, he entered the Order of St. Dominic in a monastery near his native city. Soon after his profession he was commissioned to deliver lectures on philosophy. On being sent to Barcelona, he continued his scholastic duties and at the same time devoted himself to preaching. At Lerida, the famous university city of Catalonia, he received his doctorate. After this he labored six years in Valencia, during which time he perfected himself in the Christian life. In 1390, he was obliged to accompany Cardinal Pedro de Luna to France, but he soon returned home. When, in 1394, de Luna himself had become Pope at Avignon he summoned St. Vincent and made him Master of the sacred palace. In this capacity St. Vincent made unsuccessful efforts to put an end to the great schism. He refused all ecclesiastical dignities, even the cardinal's hat, and only craved to be appointed apostolical missionary. Now began those labors that made him the famous missionary of the fourteenth century. He evangelized nearly every province of Spain, and preached in France, Italy, Germany, Flanders, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Numerous conversions followed his preaching, which God Himself assisted by the gift of miracles. Though the Church was then divided by the great schism, the saint was honorably received in the districts subject to the two claimants to the Papacy. He was even invited to Mohammedan Granada, where he preached the gospel with much success. He lived to behold the end of the great schism and the election of Pope Martin V. Finally, crowned with labors, he died April 5, 1419. His feast day is April 5.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

St. Isidore of Seville Doctor of the Church

Feastday: April 4
Died: 636

Isidore was literally born into a family of saints in sixth century Spain. Two of his brothers, Leander and Fulgentius, and one of his sisters, Florentina, are revered as saints in Spain. It was also a family of leaders and strong minds with Leander and Fulgentius serving as bishops and Florentina as abbess.

This didn't make life easier for Isidore. To the contrary, Leander may have been holy in many ways, but his treatment of his little brother shocked many even at the time. Leander, who was much older than Isidore, took over Isidore's education and his pedagogical theory involved force and punishment. We know from Isidore's later accomplishments that he was intelligent and hard-working so it is hard to understand why Leander thought abuse would work instead of patience.

One day, the young boy couldn't take any more. Frustrated by his inability to learn as fast as his brother wanted and hurt by his brother's treatment, Isidore ran away. But though he could escape his brother's hand and words, he couldn't escape his own feeling of failure and rejection. When he finally let the outside world catch his attention, he noticed water dripping on the rock near where he sat. The drops of water that fell repeatedly carried no force and seemed to have no effect on the solid stone. And yet he saw that over time, the water drops had worn holes in the rock.

Isidore realized that if he kept working at his studies, his seemingly small efforts would eventually pay off in great learning. He also may have hoped that his efforts would also wear down the rock of his brother's heart.

When he returned home, however, his brother in exasperation confined him to a cell (probably in a monastery) to complete his studies, not believing that he wouldn't run away again.

Either there must have been a loving side to this relationship or Isidore was remarkably forgiving even for a saint, because later he would work side by side with his brother and after Leander's death, Isidore would complete many of the projects he began including a missal and breviary.

In a time where it's fashionable to blame the past for our present and future problems, Isidore was able to separate the abusive way he was taught from the joy of learning. He didn't run from learning after he left his brother but embraced education and made it his life's work. Isidore rose above his past to become known as the greatest teacher in Spain.

His love of learning made him promote the establishment of a seminary in every diocese of Spain. He didn't limit his own studies and didn't want others to as well. In a unique move, he made sure that all branches of knowledge including the arts and medicine were taught in the seminaries.

His encyclopedia of knowledge, the Etymologies, was a popular textbook for nine centuries. He also wrote books on grammar, astronomy, geography, history, and biography as well as theology. When the Arabs brought study of Aristotle back to Europe, this was nothing new to Spain because Isidore's open mind had already reintroduced the philosopher to students there.

As bishop of Seville for 37 years, succeeding Leander, he set a model for representative government in Europe. Under his direction, and perhaps remembering the tyrannies of his brother, he rejected autocratic decision- making and organized synods to discuss government of the Spanish Church.

Still trying to wear away rock with water, he helped convert the barbarian Visigoths from Arianism to Christianity.

He lived until almost 80. As he was dying his house was filled with crowds of poor he was giving aid and alms to. One of his last acts was to give all his possessions to the poor.

When he died in 636, this Doctor of the Church had done more than his brother had ever hoped; the light of his learning caught fire in Spanish minds and held back the Dark Ages of barbarism from Spain. But even greater than his outstanding mind must have been the genius of his heart that allowed him to see beyond rejection and discouragement to joy and possibility.

April 4 Feast Days

* St. Isidore of Seville
* St. Tigernach
* St. Benedict the Black
* St. Benedict the Moor
* St. Agathopus
* St. Ageranus
* St. Zosimas of Palestine
* St. Theonas of Egypt
* St. Guier
* St. Gwerir
* St. Hildebert
* Bl. Peter of Poitiers
* St. Plato
* St. Gaetano Catanoso

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

St. Irene

Feastday: April 3
Died: 304

Martyred virgin. She was the sister of Sts. Agape and Chionia.

Saints Agape, Chionia, and Irene (Greek: Αγάπη, Χιονία, Ειρήνη meaning Love, Snowy, and Peace, born in Thessalonica) were three virgin sisters who were martyred for their faith in 304. Their feast day is April 3.

They were brought before Dulcitius, governor of Macedonia, on the charge of refusing to eat food which had been earlier offered in sacrifice to the gods. He asked Agape and Chionia where they had developed this objection to such food, and Chionia responded that she had learned it from her Lord Jesus Christ. She and Agape again refused to eat the sacrificed food, and were burned alive.

Meanwhile Dulcitius found that Irene had been continuing to keep Christian books, in violation of existing law. He examined her again, and she declared that when the decrees against Christians had been published, she and several others fled to the mountains. She would not name the others who had fled with her, and stated that only they knew where the books were being kept. Upon returning home from the mountains, they hid the books they had kept. Dulcitius then ordered Irene to be stripped and exposed in a brothel. This was done, and no one mistreated Irene at the brothel. The governor then gave Irene a second chance to abide by the laws, which she refused. Dulcitius then sentenced her to death. The books that had been found with her were burned as well.

Three other individuals were tried with the sisters. Of these, one woman was remanded as she was pregnant. The fates of the other two are unknown.

April 3 Feast Days

* St. Irene
* St. Richard of Wyche
* St. Fara
* St. Agape
* St. Attala
* St. Vulpian
* St. Evagrius & Benignus
* St. Richard of Chichester
* St. Nicetas

Monday, April 2, 2012

St. Mary of Egypt

Feastday: April 2
Patron of Chastity (warfare against the flesh; deliverance from carnal passions); Demons (deliverance from); Fever; Skin diseases; Temptations of the flesh
344 - 421

In Cyril of Scythopolis' life of St. Cyryacus, he tells of a woman named Mary found by Cyryacus and his companions living as a hermitess in the Jordanian desert. She told him she had been a famous singer and actress who had sinned and was doing penance in the desert. When they returned, she was dead. Around the story was built an elaborate legend that had tremendous popularity during the Middle Ages according to which she was an Egyptian who went to Alexandria when she was twelve and lived as an actress and courtesan for seventeen years. She was brought to the realization of her evil life before an icon of the Blessed Virgin, and at Mary's direction, went to the desert east of Palestine, where she lived as a hermitess for forty-seven years, not seeing a single human being and beset by all kinds of temptations, which were mitigated by her prayers to the Blessed Virgin. She was discovered about 430 by a holy man named Zosimus, who was impressed by her spiritual knowledge and wisdom. He saw her the following Lent, but when he returned, he found her dead and buried her. When he returned to his monastery near the Jordan, he told the brethren what had happened and the story spread. Her feast day is April 2.