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Saints O'the Day

May 7

Blessed Agostino Roscelli (AC)

Born at Casarza Ligure, Italy, July 27, 1818; died May 7, 1902; beatified May 7, 1995.

Agostino Roscelli was not blessed with worldly wealth or rank. Instead God gave him virtuous parents, intelligence, and supportive friends. Surrounded by the silence of the mountains as he watched his family's sheep, Agostino's soul was opened to prayer and his heart drew close to God. But it was not until a parish mission in May 1835 (age 16) that he recognized he was being called to the priesthood. Most peasants would have found it impossible to answer that call without divine and human intervention; however, Agostino's vocation was supported by his own prayer life and the financial aid of generous people.

Following his studies at Genoa, Roscelli was ordained in 1846. His first appointment was in the parish of Saint Martin d'Albaro. Eight years later he was given the care of the parish Church of Consolation, where he spent endless hours hearing confessions.

In Genoa he established a residential school to train young women without families, who were in danger of starvation or falling into prostitution because they had no support. In 1876, he founded the Institute of Sisters of the Immaculata to run this and other residential centers he had established.

In addition to this work of charity, in 1874, Father Agostino was appointed chaplain of the provincial orphanage. While continuing this work for 22 years, he also served as prison chaplain, wherein he cared particularly for those condemned to death (L'Osservatore Romano).

Blessed Albert of Bergamo, OP Tert. (AC)

(also known as Albert d'Ogna or Albert the Farmer)

Born in Valle d'Ogna (near Bergamo), Italy, in 1214; died in Cremona, Italy, May 7, 1279; cultus approved 1748; feast day formerly May 11.

Albert "the Farmer" was a peasant farmer who followed his pious and industrious father's example. His father taught him many practices of penance and piety that later fructified in a saintly life. At seven, Albert was fasting three days a week, giving the foregone food to the poor. Working at the heavy labor of the fields, Albert learned to see God in all things, and to listen for His voice in all nature. The beauty of the earth was to him a voice that spoke only of heaven. He grew up pure of heart, discreet, and humble--to the edification of the entire village.

Albert married while still quite young. At first his wife made no objection to the generosity and self-denial for which he was known. When his father died, however, she made haste to criticize his every act and word, and made his home almost unbearable with her shrewish scolding. "You give too much time to prayer and to the poor!" she charged; Albert only replied that God will return all gifts made to the poor.

In testimony to this, God miraculously restored the meal Albert had given away over his wife's objections. Finally, softened by Albert's prayers, she ceased her nagging and became his rival in piety and charity. She died soon after her conversion, and Albert, being childless, he left his father's farm to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Rome.

Stopping at Cremona, Italy, at harvest time, Albert went to work in the fields. He soon earned the name of "the diligent worker." His guardian angel worked beside him in the fields, and, therefore, twice the work was accomplished that might be expected of one man. Weighing in his grain at the end of the day, Albert always received twice as much in wages as the other workers did. Though he gave this to the poor and kept nothing for himself, jealous companions determined to annoy him. Planting pieces of iron in the field where Albert would be working the next day, they watched to see him break or dull his scythe. Miraculously, the scythe cut through iron as it did through the grain, never suffering any harm. In Cremona Albert's poverty was also a witness to a group of heretics there who boasted of their own poverty.

In all, Albert visited Rome nine times, Santiago de Compostela eight times, and Jerusalem once. He worked his way, giving to the poor every penny he could spare. His pilgrimages were almost unbroken prayer; he walked along singing hymns and chanting Psalms, or conversing on things of God with the people he met along the way.

Appalled at the suffering of pilgrims who fell ill far from home and the penniless, Albert determined to build a hospital for their use. This he actually accomplished by his prayers and diligent work.

In 1256, he met the Dominicans. Attracted by the life of Saint Dominic, Albert joined the Brothers of Penance, which later became the Order of Penance of Saint Dominic, and continued his works of charity in his new state. As a lay brother he was closely associated with the religious but lived in the world so that he was able to continue his pilgrimages. At home, he assisted the Dominican fathers in Cremona, working happily in their garden, cultivating the medicinal herbs so necessary at the time, and doing cheerfully all the work he could find that was both heavy and humble.

Falling very ill, Albert sent a neighbor for the priest, but there was a long delay, and a dove came bringing him Holy Viaticum. When he died, the bells of Cremona rang of themselves, and people of all classes hurried to view the precious remains. It was planned to bury him in the common cemetery, outside the cloister, as he was a secular tertiary, but no spade could be found to break the ground. An unused tomb was discovered in the church of Saint Matthias, where he had so often prayed, and he was buried there. Many miracles were attributed to him after his death, and the farmer- saint became legendary for his generosity to the poor (Benedictines, Bentley, Dominicans, Dorcy, Gill).

In art, Saint Albert is a farm laborer cutting through a stone with a scythe. He may shown be shown (1) when a dove brings him the viaticum, or (2) with a dove, Host, and censer near him (Roeder). Albert is the patron of bakers and day-laborers, and is venerated in Cremona, Bergamo, and Ogna (Roeder).

Domitian of Huy B (AC)

Died c. 560. Bishop Domitian of Maestricht (or Tongres), was the apostle of the Meuse Valley. At the synod of Orléans in 549, he distinguished himself by his refutation of heresies. His relics are venerated at Huy (Benedictines, Coulson).

Flavia Domitilla, Euphrosyna, & Theodora VV MM (RM)

2nd century. There are two saints named Flavia Domitilla: one is celebrated on May 12; this one is her niece. The two are sometimes confused. Today's saint was a great-niece of emperors Domitian and Titus, and also of Saint Flavius Clemens. She became a Christian and on refusing to marry a pagan was banished from Rome. She was eventually martyred at Terracina with her foster sisters Euprosyna and Theodora (Benedictines).

In art, Flavia Domitilla is portrayed as a noblewoman with her two sisters, Euphrosyna and Theodora (Roeder).

Flavius, Augustus & Augustine MM (RM)

Died c. 300. Bishop Flavius of Nicomedia was martyred with his two brothers in his own see under Diocletian (Benedictines).

Blessed Frederick of Hirschau, OSB Abbot (AC)

Born in Swabia, Germany; died at Ebersberg, c. 1070. Frederick, a monk of Einsiedeln, Switzerland, was sent with twelve of his comrades to restore discipline at Hirschau in 1066. Of course, their intervention was not appreciated by many. Frederick was calumniated leading to his deposition in 1069 by the count of Calw, who owned Hirschau (Benedictines).

John of Beverley, OSB B (RM)

Born in Harpham (Humberside), Yorkshire, England; died at Beverley, England, May 7, 721; canonized in 1037; feast of translation, October 25. Saint John trained for the priesthood and monastic life in Kent under the direction of SS. Adrian and Theodore, but returned to Yorkshire upon completing his studies to become a monk at Whitby Abbey, which was then under the rule of Saint Hilda.

John founded a monastery in Humberside, England, on the site of a small church dedicated to Saint John the Evangelist, where he asked to be buried. In 687, after the death of Saint Eata, John he was consecrated bishop of Hexham. He is said to have shown special care for the poor and the handicapped. Whatever time he could spare from his episcopal duties he spent in contemplation. At regular seasons, especially during Lent, he retired to pray in a cell by the church of Saint Michael beyond the Tyne, near Hexham. He would take with him some poor person, whom he would serve during his retirement.

He was transferred York as archbishop upon the death of Saint Bosa in 705, and Saint Wilfrid succeeded him at Hexham as part of the final settlement of the latter's long dispute with the Northumbrian kings. He continued his practice of periodic retirement for spiritual refreshment. His chosen retreat was an abbey that he had built at Beverley, then a forest. Not until old age had worn him out did he resign his office to Saint Wilfrid the Younger in order to spend the last four years of his life in the peace of his beloved abbey at Beverley.

According to the Venerable Bede in Ecclesiastical History, who was ordained both deacon and priest by John when he was bishop of Hexham, John of Beverley possessed the gift of healing. He cured a youth of dumbness, even though the boy had never utter a single word. (The boy was apparently bald from a terrible scalp disease also.) On the second Sunday of Lent, John made the sign of the cross upon the youth's tongue, and loosed it. Bede tells of how the saint patiently taught the boy the alphabet. He taught him to say "gea," which signifies in Saxon "Yea"; then the letters of the alphabet, and afterwards syllables. Thus the youth miraculously obtained his speech. Moreover, by the saint's blessing and the remedies prescribed by a physician whom he employed, his head was entirely healed, and became covered with hair.

Bede also records that John cured a noblewoman of a pain so grievous that she had been unable to move for three weeks. Several people who seemed in immediate danger of death were saved by his prayers. In addition to his own eye-witness accounts, Bede tells us of cures witnessed by Abbot Bercthun of Beverley and Abbot Herebald of Tinmouth.

After the saint's death, such miracles continued around his shrine, which became a famous pilgrimage site. The Bollandist Henschenius devoted four books to the miracles wrought at the holy bishop's shrine. So many were drawn there that the magnificent Beverley Minster was built, which rivals some of England's great cathedral churches. Alcuin also records miracles worked at John's intercession. For example, King Athelstan invoked John's intercession for victory against the Scots. In 1307, his relics were translated--the occasion of a vita written by Folcard. Some of the sweet-smelling relics were discovered in September 1664, when a grave was being dug, in a lead box within a vault of freestone. These relics had been hidden in the beginning of the reign of king Edward VI.

It was not just miracles that led to John's canonization. He led a life of remarkable holiness. Other devotees include Blessed Julian of Norwich, King Henry V (who attributed the victory of Agincourt to his intercession), and Saint John Fisher, who was born at Beverley (Benedictines, Bentley, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth, Walsh).

Juvenal of Beneventum M (RM)

Died c. 132. Juvenal is a saint of Narni, whose reputed shrine is at Benevento (Benedictines).

Liudhard of Canterbury B (AC)

(also known as Letard)

Died at Canterbury, England, c. 600. Frankish Saint Liudhard was chaplain to Queen Bertha of Kent, daughter of King Charibert of Paris, who agreed to marry the pagan King Ethelbert on the condition that she be free to practice her religion and bring her bishop with her. Liudhard was that bishop. He is said to have played an important part in the conversion of the king to Christianity; however, there are no letters extant from the prolific writer Pope Saint Gregory to him. There is one (dated to 601) to Queen Bertha, which reproaches her for her failure to achieve her husband's conversion. Liudhard restored an ancient Romano-British church for her at Canterbury. He was buried in the abbey of SS. Peter and Paul (now Saint Augustine's) in Canterbury. In the 11th century, Goselin wrote a short vita of Liudhard, but seems to have confused him with Saint Liephard, whose feast is kept at Cambrai and who is called "archbishop of Canterbury and martyr." Liudhard was neither (Benedictines, Coulson, Farmer).

Michael Ulumbijski (AC)

6th century. One of the 12 companions of Saint John Zedazneli in Georgia (Benedictines).

Peter of Pavia B (RM)

Died c. 735. Bishop Peter briefly governed the see of Pavia during the reign of his kinsman, King Luitprand of the Lombards (Benedictines).

Placid of Autun, OSB Abbot (AC)

(also known as Placidus, Plait)

Died c. 675. Saint Placid was the abbot of the basilica monastery of Saint Symphorian in Autun (Benedictines).

Quadratus of Herbipolis M (RM)

Died c. 257. Prior to his martyrdom at Herbipolis under Valerian, Saint Quadratus suffered in prison for years at Nicomedia, Nicaea, and Apamea (Benedictines).

Blessed Rosa Venerini V (AC)

Born at Viterbo, Italy, 1656; died at Rome, 1728; beatified 1952. Rosa Venerini, daughter of a physician, devoted her life to educating school mistresses. She was joined in this work by Saint Lucy Filippini at the request of Cardinal Barbarigo. She organized schools in many parts of Italy, and recruited and trained teachers who, after Rose's death, were formed into a religious congregation (Attwater2).

Serenicus and Serenus, OSB (AC)

Born in Spoleto, Italy; died c. 669. Serenicus and Serenus were brothers born into a patrician family. They received the Benedictine habit in Rome at the tomb of the apostles, which was then in Benedictine custody. Later they settled in France as hermits near the Sarthe River, where Serenus spent the rest of his life. Serenicus, however, became abbot of a community of over 140 disciples upon whom he imposed the Benedictine Rule and other Roman practices (Benedictines, Coulson).

Villanus of Gubbio, OSB B (AC)

Born in Gubbio, Italy; died 1237. Saint Villanus became a monk at Fontavellana and, in 1206, was consecrated bishop of Gubbio (Benedictines).


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Copyright © 1999 | Katherine I. Rabenstein | Created August 1999