Saints O'the Day

Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Martyr

(Memorial)

October 17



Anstrudis of Laon, OSB V (AC)

(also known as Anstrude, Austru)

Died 688. Saint Anstrudis was the daughter of Saints Blandinus and Salaberga, the founders of Saint John the Baptist Convent at Laon. With the consent of her husband, Saint Salaberga retired to the abbey and was chosen abbess. Anstrudis followed in her mother's noble footsteps, though only reluctantly did she accept the abbacy at Salaberga's death. Anstrudis was a model religious: scrupulous in her observance of the rule, affectionate in caring for her sisters, charitable to the poor, and attentive to the voice of God. Often she kept vigil throughout the night. Except on Sunday and Christmas, feast days, she ate only once a day.

She was perfected by her sufferings at the hands of Ebroin, the mayor of the palace and oppressor of all the saints of that period. After her brother, Saint Baldwin, was assassinated, Anstrudis was threatened by Ebroin. He eventually relented, won over by her virtue and innocence. Anstrudis is remembered in the Gallican and Benedictines calendars (Benedictines, Husenbeth).

Blessed Balthassar of Chiavari, OFM (AC)

Died 1492; cultus confirmed in 1930. The Franciscan Blessed Balthassar was a fellow preacher with Blessed Bernardino of Feltre. He is venerated in the diocese of Pavia, Italy (Benedictines).

Berarius I of Le Mans B (AC)

Died c. 680. Bishop Berarius of Le Mans translated the relics of Saint Scholastica from Monte Cassino to Le Mans (Benedictines).

Colman of Kilroot B (AC)

6th century. Bishop Colman of Kilroot, near Carrickfergus, was a disciple of Saint Ailbe of Emly. He retained his abbacy while also in the episcopal chair (Benedictines).

Ethelbert (Ædilberct, Ethelbricht) and Ethelred of Kent MM (AC)

Died c. 640-670; this is the feast of the translation of their relics. These are the sons of Ermenred and great-grandsons of King Saint Ethelbert of Kent, who were cruelly murdered by King Egbert of Kent's counsellor, Thunor, at Eastry (near Sandwich). Egbert was held accountable for the assassinations and founded Minster Abbey as a penance. Here their sister, Saint Ermenburga was founding abbess of the convent. Saint Bede does not mention them, and the source that does, leaves them unnamed. Apparently, there was competition for their relics, which were translated to Wakering in Essex. Finally, in the 10th century, Saint Oswald enshrined their relics at Ramsey abbey in Huntingdonshire, where they are venerated. Their legend only fully developed in the 11th century (Attwater, Benedictines, Farmer). In art, this pair is portrayed as royal brothers, sometimes with swords (Roeder). They are also venerated at Canterbury (Farmer).

Florentius of Orange B (RM)

Died c. 526. The 8th bishop of Orange in southern France (Benedictines).

Blessed Francis Isidore Gagelin M (AC)

Born Montperreux (diocese of Besançon), France, 1799; died in Cochin-China, 1833; beatified in 1900. Blessed Francis was sent by the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris to Cochin-China in 1822. Upon his arrival he was ordained a priest. He worked zealously until the persecution broke out, when he gave himself up to the mandarin of Bongson and was strangled (Benedictines).

Blessed Gilbert the Theologian, OSB Cist. Abbot (AC)

(also known as Blessed Gilbert the Great)

Born in England; died 1167. Gilbert, often surnamed by Cistercian writers as "the Great" or "the Theologian," became abbot of Ourscamp monastery in 1147. In 1163, he was promoted abbot of Cîteaux (Benedictines).

Heron of Antioch BM (RM)

Died c. 136. Bishop Saint Heron of Antioch was a disciple of Saint Ignatius and his successor. He governed the see for 27 years before dying a as martyr (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Ignatius of Antioch BM (RM)

Died c. 107; feast formerly on February 1. Saint Ignatius gives us the earliest documentary evidence of primacy of the bishop of Rome. Information about his letters can be found in any history of the early Church. This is simply a synopsis.

However, little is known of his life, although his passio was recorded for his flock. He was probably of Syrian origin, and legend identified him with the child whom Christ set down among his disciples (Matthew 18:1-6). Some sources say that Ignatius may have been a persecutor of Christians, who then became a convert and disciple of Saint John the Evangelist or Saints Peter and Paul.

He called himself both a disciple and the "bearer of God" (theophoros), so sure was he of the presence of God in himself.

In any case he became the second or third bishop of the great Christian center of Antioch in Syria. Legend holds that he was appointed and consecrated by Saint Peter after Peter left the deathbed of Saint Evodius, the previous bishop. Ignatius governed for 40 years.

During Trajan's persecutions, Ignatius was seized by a guard of ten soldiers, bound, and taken to Rome by them. The soldiers boarded a ship that traveled along the southern and western shores of Asia Minor instead of going straight to Italy. Ignatius was greeted by crowds of Christians wherever the ship touched port, but he was ill-treated by his captors. In one of his letters he says:

"From Syria to Rome I seem to be fighting with wild beasts, night and day, on land and sea, bound to ten leopards. I mean a bunch of soldiers whose treatment of me grows harsher the kinder I am to them."
The many stopovers enabled Ignatius to reaffirm religious fervor in various ports along the way. They stopped for a time at Smyrna, where Ignatius was met by Saint Polycarp, then a young man. Here the first four letters were written: to the Ephesians, to the churches of Magnesia and Tralles-- whose bishops had come to visit him--and to the Christians in Rome. The guards were anxious to leave Smyrna in order to reach Rome before the games were over; distinguished victims drew great crowds.

They sailed on to Troas, where they learned that peace had been restored to the church at Antioch. Then at Lystra, before crossing into Europe, he wrote three more, to the Christians at Philadelphia and Smyrna, and a farewell letter of advice to Bishop Saint Polycarp. (The letters can also be found in short and long versions on the New Advent site at http://www.knight.org/advent/fathers.)

As the ship approached Rome, Christians are said to have gathered to greet Ignatius, and although they wished to work for his release, he begged them not to interfere with his martyrdom. He wrote, "I pray that they will be prompt with me. I shall entice them to eat me speedily."

Legend has it that he arrived in Rome on December 20, the last day of the public games, was rushed to the amphitheater (probably the Colosseum), and was killed by lions in the arena. As he was offered to the animals, he described himself as "wheat of Christ."

The saint insisted that in spite of his sufferings, he remained a sinner, saved only because of the love of his Lord, who had been crucified for him.

His relics are kept at Saint Peter's in Rome. A detailed description of the trip to Rome is provided by Agathopus and a deacon named Philo, who were with him, and who also wrote down his dictation of the seven letters of instruction on the Church, marriage, the Trinity, the Incarnation, Redemption, and the Eucharist.

These letters of Ignatius (English translation, 1934 et alia) are among the most valuable documents of the ancient Church because of the light they throw on Christian belief and practice less than a century after Christ's Ascension. Ignatius continually urges his readers to maintain unity amongst themselves, meeting together in the Eucharist under the presidency of their bishop.

Through his letters we have access also to the mind and personality of a man who loved vivid images to express his beliefs. The Eucharist he described as 'the medicine of immortality, the antidote against death.' To him, Jesus on the Cross lured the devil, like a fish, with the bait of his own body.

The best-known letter is the one sent in advance to the Roman Christians. In it he implores them not to try to get him reprieved. It reveals a patient, gentle man, so passionately devoted to Christ that he could not ear to miss the chance of dying a violent death for his sake: 'Let me follow the example of the suffering of my God' (Attwater, Bentley, Delaney, White).

He is portrayed in art looking at a crucifix, with a lion at his side; or standing between two lions; or in chains; or holding a heart with IHS upon it; or with a heart with the IHS torn out by the lions according to White.

Depicted as a bishop holding a heart with IHS on it. Sometimes he is shown with the image of Christ on his breast because the image of Jesus was found on his heart after his martyrdom; holding a fiery globe; or in an arena with lions. One Greek icon of Saint Ignatius can be found at the Saint Isaac of Syria Skete site. Saint Ignatius is highly venerated in the Eastern Church (Roeder).

John the Dwarf, Hermit (RM)

(also known as John Colobus)

Born in Basta, Lower Egypt; 5th century. While still a young man, Saint John retired with an elder brother to the desert of Skete and became a disciple of Saint Poemen. John lived a life of obedience, humility, and austerity the rest of his days. When he first arrived at Skete he is reputed to have watered a stick stuck in the ground unquestioningly when his spiritual director order him to do so; in the third year of his ministrations, it bore fruit. He left Skete to escape marauding Berbers and settled on Mount Quolzum, where he died (Delaney).

Louthiern of Cornwall B (AC)

6th century. The Irish Saint Louthiern, patron of Saint Ludgran in Cornwall, may be identical to Saint Luchtighern, abbot of Ennistymon, who is associated with Saint Ita (Benedictines).

Mamelta of Persia M (RM)

Died c. 344. Saint Mamelta, reputed to have been a pagan priestess at Bethfarme, Persia, converted to Christianity. Thereafter she was stoned, and then drowned in lake (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Nothelm of Canterbury B (AC)

Died c. 740. A priest in London, he was named archbishop of Canterbury in 734. In his preface to his Ecclesiastical History, the historian the Venerable Bede acknowledges that the chief authority for his work was Abbot Albinus, who passed along to him the recollections of Nothelm, including the research Nothelm has done in Roman archives on the history of Kent and adjacent areas. Nothelm was also a correspondent of Saint Boniface (Benedictines, Delaney).

Richard Gwyn M (RM)

Born at Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire, Wales, in 1537; died at Wrexham, Wales, on October 15, 1584; canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970 as one of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales.

Richard Gwyn was raised a Protestant, studied briefly at Saint John's College, Cambridge. He returned to Wales in 1562, opened a school at Overton, Flintshire, married, and had six children. He left Overton after becoming a Catholic, when his absence from Anglican services was noticed, but was arrested in 1579 at Wrexham, Wales.

He escaped but was again arrested in 1580 and imprisoned at Ruthin. He was brought up before eight assizes, tortured, and fined in between, and four years later, in 1584, he was convicted of treason on charges by perjuring witnesses and sentenced to death.

During his time in prison, he wrote numerous religious poems in Welsh. He was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Wrexham--the first Welsh martyr of Queen Elizabeth I's reign. He is the protomartyr of Wales (Benedictines, Delaney).

Rudolph of Gubbio, OSB B (AC)

Died c. 1066. A monk of Fontavellana under Saint Peter Damian. In 1061, while still very young, he was appointed bishop of Gubbio. He is described as 'a miracle of unselfishness' (Benedictines).

Seraphino OFM Cap. (RM)

(also known as Seraphinus, Serafino)

Born at Montegranaro, Italy, in 1540; died 1604; canonized 1767; feast day formerly October 12. Seraphino took the Capuchin habit as a lay-brother in 1556 and spent the whole of his uneventful life at the friary of Ascoli-Piceno. He is said to have been the spiritual advisor of high ecclesiastical and civil dignitaries. He was famous for his charity to the poor and his power to heal sickness (Attwater, Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Solina of Gascony VM (AC)

Died c. 290. A Gascon maiden who escaped to Chartres to avoid marriage to a pagan. She was beheaded at Chartres. Venerated in Poitiers, Angoulême, and Chartres (Benedictines, Encyclopedia).

Blessed Ursuline Nuns MM (AC)

Died 1794; beatified in 1920. A group of 11 Ursuline nuns guillotined at Valenciennes for having reopened their school in spite of the prohibition of the French revolutionary authorities. Each has a special entry in the calendar (Benedictines).

Victor of Capua B (RM)

Died 554. A bishop of Capua in southern Italy and an ecclesiastical writer (Benedictines).


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