(also known as Abonde)
Died c. 564. Saint Abundius was sacristan (mansionarius) of the Church of Saint Peter in Rome. His humble, but divinely favored life, is described by Saint Gregory the Great. His feast is kept as a major feast at Saint Peter's (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).
|Died at Vilna, Lithuania, 1342. This trio was comprised of young Lithuanian noblemen who were chamberlains at the court of the grand Duke Olgierd, the father of Jagello. John and Antony were brothers, heathen worshippers of fire, whom a travelling missionary priest, named Nestorius, converted to the Christian faith. They refused to eat meat on an day of abstinence. Since their new ways conflicted with the customs of the court, they were hung from an oak tree in Vilna. John, the eldest, was martyred on April 24 and his brother Antony on June 14. Upon witnessing their heroic fortitude, Eustace converted and martyred for the faith on December 13. These patrons of Vilna were buried in Holy Trinity Russian- Greek Church, which is now united with the Roman Catholic Church and served by Basilian monks. Their heads were translated to the cathedral of Vilna. The tree on which they were executed had long been used for that purpose; however, the Christians obtained a grant of it from the prince and built a church on the spot. Their feast on April 14 was established by Patriarch Alexius of Kiow (Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).|
Died c. 300. While the mountebank Saint Ardalion was parodying Christian feasts on the stage, he discovered that it was not a comedy, but the truth. And he shouted this revelation to his audience in the middle of his performance. The audience immediately demanded his death. He was roasted alive in the public square (under Maximian). It appears likely that this is a legend based on a true story, but found with several names (Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Gill).
(also known as Bénezet, Benet, Benoît)
Born at Hermillon, Savoy (or in the Ardenne), France, c. 1163; died
1184. The children's song "Sur le pont d'Avignon" concerns the
bridge built by Bénezet, a local shepherd boy, a bridge
rebuilt in the 14th and 17th centuries. The legend still dances on
the arches that collapsed so suddenly. From the broken fragment of
the original bridge over the raging waters, people still throw a
shower of flowers into the river during the Rhône festivals.
For Avignon retains a tender love for its broken bridge and
Bénezet. Bénezet, shepherd over the waves, as
Fréderic Mistral says, built this magnificent bridge by the
order of God in a vision; after 700 years, his memory still stands
guard over the arches which live on, albeit half-dead.|
According to a legend, the bridge was built without difficulties, at least not of a financial character. In fact, while still a child, Bénezet once saw a poor Jewish woman who was being tormented by a flea which the hump on her back prevented her from reaching and some street urchins who were laughing at her contortions. Bénezet ran to her assistance. After scattering the boys, he found and crushed the offending flea.
In her gratitude the rheumy-eyed, hunch-backed old woman blessed Bénezet and predicted that he would do great things later in life. In order to help him realize them, she told him where the cache containing the treasure of the Jews lay. Time passed. Bénezet, the little shepherd, hardly thought about the treasure, nor did he indulge in any ambitious dreams. He was simply a 15-year-old shepherd concerned about his flock.
One day, the sun suddenly went into hiding: a solar eclipse always frightens the flocks and their guardians. A voice as sweet as honey spoke to him amid the darkness: "In the name of Christ, Bénezet, go as far as the Rhône to Avignon and build a bridge there," the voice bade him. Now, it may sound strange that God would ask for a bridge to be built or that it would be a reason for canonization. In the Middle Ages, however, the construction and repair of bridges was regarded as a work of mercy. Perhaps the child simply had pity for the many who drowned in the rushing waters. I think it is more likely that he was indeed called by God.
Responding to the voice, the child objected that he could not leave his flocks unattended.
"I will watch over them," said the voice, "I'll send you an angel for a guide."
Leaving his sheep, Bénezet set out for the spot that had been designated to him--just as other shepherds, one night, had trustingly set out for Bethlehem. Soon he met the angel whom only he could see, and also arrived at the river Rhône. He had to cross it. The Jewish ferryman picked Bénezet's pocket clean. The lad only had three pennies to his name, but after cursing him, the ferryman finally took him on board and the boat left. But where to? Bénezet asked himself, while remaining utterly calm.
Finally, he arrived at the bishop's palace, where he sought the prelate's blessing and help. Build a bridge? The bishop swelled with indignation and sent little Bénezet to the magistrate promising him that he would be flayed and his hands and feet chopped off as was done to impostors in those days. But the angel, inside the young man's heart, said: "Go!"
The magistrate took a dim view of the matter: "You, the lowliest of the low, you who don't own an acre in the sun, you want to build a bridge there where Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Charlemagne himself have been helpers? So be it! Do you see this stone embedded in the palace courtyard? Well pull it out and carry it there and I'll believe you! Call the people to watch this spectacle. But if you fail. . . ."
The invisible angel in Bénezet's heart smiled. As calm and self-assured as ever, about 1177, the little shepherd boy extracted this block of stone that weighed a hundred quintals and upon laying it in the bed of the river, he said, "This will be the first stone of the foundations!"
Delirium seized the crowd of onlookers. There were shouts of "Miracle! Miracle!" Immediately, in keeping with the rule, the blind again saw the light of day, the deaf again heard hosannahs, the crippled suddenly walked straight and the hunch-backed heard their vertebrae crack, stretch, and straighten out! Eighteen miracles took place, according to the legend.
The magistrate, sobbing in remorse, gave 300 sous for the building of the bridge, the crowd volunteered 5,000 more. The treasure of the Jews must have done the rest, because the bridge soon rose, proudly, between the waters and the sky.
Alas! Bénezet did not live to see the bridge finished. He died in 1184--because his mission had been accomplished. The last stone was laid two years after his death. The bridge was adorned with a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron of mariners, in which Saint Benedict's relics were enshrined until 1669 when a flood washed away part of the bridge. His coffin was recovered and his body found to be incorrupt--500 years after his death--even the bowels were perfectly sound, and the color of the eyes lively and sprightly, though, through the dampness of the situation, the iron bars about it were much damaged with rust. It was translated to Avignon cathedral and moved again to the Celestine church of Saint Didier.
Even now when coming down the major water-way of the Rhône you will see the man at the prow and the crew in the boats passing by the broken bridge where Saint Bénezet wrought his miracle, salute the shepherd boy who became a saint and Nicholas, the saint of long-standing. After all, two saints are not too much for the taming of these waters among the treacherous, and even for taming the sky overhead, where the mistral blows, churning up powerful, angry waves.
Contemporary sources record the principal episodes of Saint Benedict's life, and an episcopal inquiry was conducted shortly after his death (1230) (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth, Walsh).
In art, Saint Benedict is portrayed as a boy carrying a large stone on his shoulder (Roeder). He is venerated as the patron of Avignon (Coulson, Roeder).
(also known as Bernard of Abbeville)
Born near Abbeville, France, in 1046; died in Thiron, 1117; cultus
confirmed in 1861. Saint Bernard professed the Benedictine Rule at
Saint Cyprian's, Poitiers, and later was appointed prior of Saint
Sabinus. After some 20 years in this office, Bernard became a
hermit at Craon. He was recalled to a more public life as abbot of
Saint Cyprian's. Shortly thereafter he resigned following a
quarrel with Cluny. This time he retired to the forest of Thiron
in Picardy, where he built a Benedictine monastery and founded a
Congregation (Benedictine Tironian) which featured hard manual
labor. The Congregation spread rapidly throughout France, England,
and Scotland (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson).|
Saint Bernard is depicted in art as an abbot with a turner's lathe and tools. Sometimes a wolf is shown bringing him a stray calf (Roeder). He is the patron of captives and turners (Roeder).
(also known as Caradog)
Born at Brycheiniog, Wales; died 1124; feast day formerly April
Caradoc, the son of moderately wealthy parents, had been employed as a musician (chiefly playing the harp) at the court of Prince Rhys ap Tewdr (Tudor) of southern Wales. He also looked after the prince's greyhounds. One day these escaped, through no fault of Caradoc's. The ill-tempered prince was so angry that he threatened to mutilate Caradoc. The saint replied, "If you so lightly regard my long and laborious service, I shall from now on serve a prince who rewards a small service bountifully and who does not prefer greyhounds to men." He broke of the head of his lance and used the shaft as a walking stick to travel to the bishop of Llandaff, who received him as a monk.
After some time in a monastery at Saint Teilo, Caradoc built himself a little hut close to the abandoned church of Saint Kyned (Llangenydd) in Gower on Barry Island. There he could spend more time in solitude and prayer. His reputation for holiness caused him to be called to holy orders by the archbishop of Menevia, and he was ordained to the priesthood before retiring to the island of Ary, off the Pembrokeshire coast with some companions.
He still loved animals, and could quieten the wildest beasts. But he also suffered much from his fellow human beings: during the English invasion under Henry I and once being carried off by Norwegian pirates. They, fearing the wrath of God, set them back on land the following day. The archbishop of Menevia moved him again, this time to the cell of Saint Ismael (St. Isell's in Haroldston), Pembrokeshire. At another time a ruthless marauder named Richard Thanehard stole his cattle. Thereafter Thanehard became dangerously ill, sought Caradoc's healing touch, and was restored to health. Through all these dangers and trials, Caradoc never despaired, and died peacefully.
He was buried with honor in the cathedral of Saint David's, where part of his shrine survives. His body was claimed to be incorrupt. William of Malmesbury tried unsuccessfully to take a finger as a relic. Gerald of Wales attempted to have Caradoc canonized; Innocent III opened an inquiry into his life and miracle. Although Caradog was never formally canonized, he has been venerated since the early 13th century. The church of Lawrenny is dedicated to him (Benedictines, Bentley, Encyclopedia, Farmer, Gill, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Caradoc is portrayed dressed in chain mail with a church in one hand and a lance in the other. He may sometimes be shown with a harp (Roeder). Today he is venerated at Llandaff (Roeder).
Born c. 1190; died c. 1235. Conrad was one of the earliest disciples of Saint Francis, by whom he was sent to establish the order in northern Germany. He did so at Hildesheim, where his cultus survived until the Reformation (Benedictines).
Date unknown. Domnina and another unnamed maiden were martyred at Terni, Umbria, Italy, at the same time as bishop Saint Valentine (Benedictines).
(also known as Frontom)
2nd century. A desert father of Nitria, Egypt (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Fronto is a pilgrim with a large hat, birch, and crucifix (Roeder).
(also known as Havoie)
Died 1200. Hedweg was a Premonstratensian nun who succeeded her mother as abbess (Encyclopedia).
(also known as Landebert)
Born in northern France; died in Lyons, 688. Saint Lambert was raised at the court of Clotaire III before becoming a monk at Fontenelle under Saint Wandregisilis (Wandrille), whom he succeeded as abbot in 666. Then, in 678, he became successor of Saint Genesius as archbishop of Lyons (Attwater2, Benedictines, Coulson, Encyclopedia).
(also known as Lanvinus)
Died 1120; cultus confirmed in 1893. Lanuinus, a disciple of Saint Bruno, accompanied his master to Calabria, Italy, where he succeeded him as prior of the charterhouse that he founded at Torre in Squillace. He was also appointed visitor apostolic of all the monastic houses in Calabria (Attwater2, Benedictines).
(also known as Lydwina, Lydwid, Lidwyna)
Born in Schiedam, the Netherlands, in 1380; died 1433; cultus
approved in 1890. Lidwina, one of nine children of a laborer,
developed a devotion to the Blessed Virgin in her childhood. When
her mother would send her on any errand, Lidwina would visit the
church to greet her Lady with a Hail Mary. At the age of 12, she
pledged her virginity to Christ.|
She was injured in 1396 while ice skating and became a life-long invalid. She was cruelly wed to agonizing bodily pains, ulcers, the Black Plague and other maladies, without counting the familial and spiritual complications. Lidwina bore the pain patiently as reparation for the sins of others.
For 30 years she received no explanation of her incredible sufferings except through Jesus Christ who confided in her and promised the consolation of a heavenly life. Upon the advice of her confessor, Jan Pot, Lidwina meditated night and day on our Lord's passion, which she divided into seven parts, to correspond to the seven canonical hours of prayer. Through this practice Lidwina soon found all her bitterness and affliction converted into sweetness and consolation, and her soul so much changed, that she prayed to God to increase her pains and patience. Beginning in 1407, Lidwina began to experience supernatural gifts--ecstasies and visions in which she participated in the Passion of Christ, saw purgatory and heaven and visited with saints.
Though her family was poor, Lidwina gave away the major portion of the alms given to her by others. Upon the death of her parents, she bequeathed to the poor all the goods that they left to her.
The last 19 years of her life she partook of no food except the Holy Eucharist, slept little if at all during the last seven years of her life, and became almost completely blind and was unable to move any part of her body except her head and left arm. Her extraordinary sufferings attracted widespread attention. When a new parish priest accused her of hypocrisy, the people of the town threatened to drive him away. An ecclesiastical commission appointed to investigate declared her experiences to be valid.
She died on Easter Tuesday in 1433. Thomas a Kempis, author of Imitation of Christ and an eyewitness of some of her miracles, wrote her biography. The chapel in which her body lay in a marble tomb was renamed for her the following year, and her father's house was converted into a monastery of Gray Sisters of the third order of St. Francis. The Calvinists demolished the chapel and changed the monastery into a hospital for orphans. Her relics were translated to Brussels, and enshrined in the collegiate church of St. Gudula. Isabella obtained a portion of her relics and enshrined them in the church of the Carmelite convent which she founded.
Lidwina was never formally beatified; however, a Mass was sung in her chapel at Schiedham on her festival, with a panegyric on the holy virgin. Her vita was compiled by John Gerlac, her cousin, and John Walter, her confessor: and by John Brugman, provincial of the Franciscans, who were all personally acquainted with her (Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Husenbeth).
Lidwina is portrayed in art as a cripple holding a crucifix and receiving a branch of roses from an angel. Sometimes she may be shown (1) receiving a lily from the angel; (2) with a cross and rosary; (3) as a girl falling on ice while skating; or (4) working on embroidery (Roeder). She is the patron of skaters.
(also known as Elmo-Erasmus, Telmo)
Born at Astorga, Leon, Spain, c. 1190; died April 14, 1246;
beatified by Pope Innocent IV in 1254; cultus approved by Benedict
XIV in 1741 for the veneration of the whole Order of Preachers.
The patron saint of sailors, especially in Portugal and Spain, is
popularly invoked as Saint Elmo or Telmo.|
The parents of Peter Gonzales were wealthy and apparently expected their son to become a priest so that he might in time obtain some rank. It was a period in history when this sort of thing was a trial to the Church, and Peter's worldly youth was only one of many examples. He was educated by his uncle, the bishop of Astorga, who invested him with a canonry at Palencia and deanery when he was still quite young.
Full of pride, for a special Bull had been procured so that he might obtain the deanery while he was under age, he resolved to be installed with great pomp, and for his state entry into Astorga chose Christmas Day when the streets were likely to be crowded. He wanted to impress his flock with his fine clothes and vivid personality.
He paraded through the town on horseback, magnificently equipped, but in the noise and excitement the animal reared and threw him upon a dungheap. The Spanish people, who have a fine sense of comedy, responded with loud gusts of laughter. Picking himself up in shame, he cried: "If the world mocks me, henceforth, I will mock the world." Covered with filth and confusion, Peter withdrew to clean up and ponder his sins.
Surprisingly enough, when his wounded feelings had healed, Peter reformed his pointless life and immediately entered the Dominican monastery at Palencia. He was never to forget to weep for his sins, and his life was spent in prayer and penance to offset the wasted years of his youth.
Peter's friends did not allow this to happen without protest. They had been amused by his accident, but not converted by it as he was, and they did their best to talk him into leaving religious life and returning to the luxurious world he had left behind. It was probably a serious temptation to the young man, for it is not easy to reform overnight. But he did not turn back. Instead, he said to his friends, "If you love me, follow me! If you cannot follow me, forget me!" He became, by close application to the rule, one of the shining exemplars of this difficult way of life.
After his studies were completed, Peter entered into his apostolate. It was to take him into places where his worldly background would be a help rather than a hindrance, for he could well understand the temptations and troubles of worldly people. He was first of all a military chaplain with the royal army. He also began to preach in the region. He did not talk about trivia, his sermons drew large crowds. The recitation of the Psalms was his most constant prayer.
The fame of his piety and zeal spread throughout Spain and reached the ears of King Saint Ferdinand of Castile, who sent for him and attached him to his court as chaplain and as his confessor. Appalled by its licentiousness, Gonzales immediately set about reforming it, which so displeased the younger courtiers that they tried to corrupt him; but he was proof against all temptations and won the confidence of the saintly king.
Peter did much to foster the crusade against the Moors. When Ferdinand finally acted, Peter accompanied him on his expedition against the Moors. Upon the capture of Cordova and Seville, Peter used his influence and authority on the side of the vanquished and was instrumental in reducing rape and bloodshed. He also took over the Moorish mosques and converted them into Christian churches.
He was showered with favors by the king, who had the utmost confidence in him. Fearing honors, however, Peter quit the king's service upon his return to Spain. Instead, moved by compassion, he lived among the poor peasants and sought to evangelize them. Although he was met everywhere with ignorance and brutality, his work proved efficacious. He penetrated the wildest and most inaccessible areas, seeking out the peasants in villages and the shepherds in the mountains of the Asturias. His preaching brought about reconciliation between neighbors and between men and God. He gave reassurance to the dismayed and the perplexed.
Most of the anecdotes of his life come from this period, and they have to do with miracles that he worked for these people. At his prayer, storms ceased, droughts were ended, bottles were refilled with wine, bread was found in the wilderness. The bridge that he built across the swift river Minho made his name famous throughout Spain, and it existed up until recent times. During the time he was directing work on this bridge, he used to call the fish to come and be caught; it was a way of helping to feed the workers.
He visited also the seaports of Galicia--boarding ships and preaching on their open decks. He had a great liking for sailors, and is often portrayed in the habit of his Order, holding a blue candle which symbolized Saint Elmo's fire, the blue electrical discharge which sometimes appears in thunder storms at the mast- heads of ships, and which was supposed to be a sign that the vessel was under the saint's protection. (The name of Saint Elmo is of earlier origin. Peter Gonzales, in the popular devotion of the sailors of the Mediterranean, has replaced the name and memory of the older saints associated with the sea, particularly the 4th century Saint Erasmus.)
He retired finally to Tuy in a state of extreme exhaustion. During Lent he preached each day in the cathedral, on Palm Sunday he foretold his death, and on the Sunday after Easter, he died at Santiago de Compostella. Bishop Luke of Tuy, his great admirer and friend, attended him to his last breath and buried him honorably in his cathedral. In his last will, the bishop gave directions for his own body to be laid near Peter's remains, which were placed in a silver shrine and honored with many miracles (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Gill, Husenbeth).
In art, Saint Peter is a Dominican lying on his cloak on hot coals. He may also be portrayed holding fire in his hand or catching fish with his bare hands (Roeder).
Died 319. Bishop Proculus of Terni, Italy, suffered martyrdom under Maxentius (Benedictines).
Died 1241. Ralph was a monk of Thoronet Abbey, who became abbot in 1209 and, in 1216, bishop of Sisteron, France (Benedictines).
(also known as Asicus)
Died c. 495. Tassach was a disciple of Saint Patrick, who appointed him as the first bishop of Raholp, County Down, Ireland. He was a skilled artisan who made croziers, patens, chalices, credences, shrines, and crosses for the many churches Patrick founded. He gave the last rites to the dying Patrick. He is often confused with Saint Asicus of Elphin, who had the same skills and is said to have died the same year (Attwater2, Benedictines, D'Arcy, Delaney, Healy, Montague, O'Hanlon).
Died 476. The wife of an Alexandrian fisherman, Saint Thomais was tempted to an act of impurity by her father-in-law, who murdered her when she refused to comply (Benedictines, Gill).
Died c. 190 (?). There is a Saint Tiburtius buried in the cemetery
of Praetextatus on the Via Appia, together with Saint Valerian and
Saint Maximus. Nothing else is known about them, but all three
were given parts in the legend of Saint
Cecilia and honored at Rome from an early date.|
According to the legend, Valerian was a young pagan when Cecilia was betrothed to him, not by her own wish, but by the decision of her parents. Cecilia had determined not to marry, so as to devote herself entirely to God. On their wedding day, she told Valerian of this vow. So persuasively did Cecilia speak of her faith that she converted her new husband to Christianity. He went to the home of his parents and succeeded in converting his brother, Tiburtius.
The two brothers now set about displaying the virtues of Christian charity. One of these was especially dangerous: gathering the broken bodies of Christian martyrs and giving them burial. Tiburtius and Valerian were caught at this work. The prefect Almachius demanded that they sacrifice to pagan gods. Both refused, so they were taken outside Rome to Pagus Triopius, where they were beaten, and then beheaded.
Maximus was a Roman official, who was so impressed by their witness to Christ that he became a Christian and was martyred with them. Cecilia buried the three and in turn was arrested and killed. The Roman Martyrology says that Tiburtius and the others suffered under Emperor Alexander, who ruled 222-235 (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer).
Copyright © 1999 | Katherine I. Rabenstein | Created April 1999