Beatus of Beatenberg (RM)
(also known as Beatus of Thun)
Date unknown, possibly 112. Saint Beatus was an early hermit, who found his solitude at a place now called Beatenberg, above Lake Thun, Switzerland. Local legend claims that he was the son of a Scottish king. He may be (but more likely is not) the same Beatus who received a charter in 810 from Blessed Charlemagne to confirm that Honau Abbey, which he ruled as abbot, would always be administered by Irish monks (Benedictines, Coulson, D'Arcy, Fitzpatrick, Green, Montague, Tommasini). In art, Saint Beatus is depicted as an old man reading in a mountain cave. He is venerated at Beatenberg and Thun (Roeder).
Brynoth of Scara B (AC)
Died February 6, 1317; canonized in 1498. Brynoth, son of Algoth Folcung, governed the diocese of Scara, West Gothland, Sweden, as its 23rd bishop for 38 years with zeal and sanctity. A bit of his life is written in verse under his picture in the stone palace built by his later successor Bishop Brynoth III in the 15th century (Benedictines, Husenbeth).
Gerontius of Cervia BM (RM)
Died 501. Bishop Gerontius of Cervia (or Ficocle near Ravenna, Italy) was murdered at Cagli (near Ancona) on the Flaminian Way on his return from a synod in Rome. The circumstances surrounding his death led to his being honored as a martyr (Benedictines, Coulson).
Gofor of Llanover (AC)
Date unknown. The Welsh patron of Llanover, Monmouthshire (Benedictines).
Gregory of Ostia, OSB B (AC)
Died at Logroño, Spain, c. 1044. Gregory, a Benedictine cardinal-bishop of Ostia, exercised the powers of a papal legate in the old kingdoms of the Spanish Navarre and Old Castile. Gregory is still venerated throughout Navarre and Rioja but his story, as it has come down to us, is unreliable (Benedictines).
Hermas of Rome B (RM)
1st century. Hermas is mentioned by Saint Paul (Romans 16:14) and, according to some, is the probable author of The Shepherd, one of the earliest Christian works. Personally, I find this unlikely, since the author was the reputed brother of Pope Pius who reigned 140 to 155 AD, and The Shepherd is normally dated to that period. Some conclude from the contents that The Shepherd was written prior to the beginning of persecutions by Domitian, i.e., before AD 95; most believe that it was written in reaction to the false prophets of the Montanists, placing its composition about 142. Regardless of when it was written, it was one of the most influential works of the post-Apostolic period. The title comes from the appearance of the angel who's utterances the author professes to record. He assigns to each of us a guardian angel and a tempting devil. He recommends prayers, almsdeeds, and other good works on fast days; mentions a state of continence with approbation; and says that penance, which is followed by frequent relapses, is generally fruitless. A Greek tradition says that Saint Hermas was bishop of Philippi and a martyr (Benedictines, Gill, Husenbeth).
John of Châlon B (AC)
Died c. 475. Saint John was consecrated the third bishop of Châlon-sur-Saône by Saint Patiens of Lyons (Benedictines).
Blessed Nicholas Albergati, O. Cart. B (RM)
Born in Bologna, Italy, in 1375; died 1443; cultus confirmed in 1744. Blessed Nicholas joined the Carthusians in 1394 and, in 1418, much against his will, he was made archbishop of Bologna. He was named a cardinal in 1426 and was called to mediate between the emperor and the pope. Later he served the same function in reconciling the French king with the Holy Father. Nicholas was prominent in the councils of Basel and Ferrara-Florence. He was a generous patron of learned men (Benedictines). In art, Nicholas wears a cardinal's hat and cape over his Carthusian habit. He is the patron of learning (Roeder).
Pachomius of Tabenna, Abbot (RM)
(also known as Pachome)
Born in the Upper Thebaîd near Esneh, Egypt, c. 290-292; died at Tabennisi, Egypt, on May 15, c. 346-348; feast day in the East is May 15.
"It is very much better for you to be one among a crowd of a thousand people and to possess a very little humility, than to be a man living in the cave of a hyena in pride." --Pachomius
Pachomius, son of pagan parents, was unwillingly drafted into the Theban army at the age of 20, probably to help Maximinus wage war against Licinius and Constantine. When his unit reached Thebes the officers in charge, knowing the feelings of their reluctant recruits, locked them up. They were taken down the Nile as virtual prisoners under terrible conditions. The soldier-prisoners were fed, given money, and treated with great kindness by the Christians of Latopolis (Esneh) while they were being shipped down the Nile, and Pachomius was struck by this.
When the army disbanded after the overthrow of Maximinus, he returned to Khenoboskion (Kasr as-Sayd). The kindness of the Christians to strangers caused Pachomius to enquire about their faith and to enroll himself as a catechumen at the local Christian church. After his baptism in 314 he searched for the best way to respond to the grace he had received in the sacrament. He prayed continually:
"O God, Creator of heaven and earth, cast on me an eye of pity: deliver me from my miseries: teach me the true way of pleasing You, and it shall be the whole employment, and most earnest study of my life to serve You, and to do Your will."
Like many neophytes, Pachomius was in danger of the temptation to do too much. Zeal is often an artifice of the devil to make a novice undertake too much too fast, and run indiscreetly beyond his strength. If the sails gather too much wind, the vessel is driven ahead, falls on some rock, and splits. Eagerness may be a symptom of secret passion, not of true virtue if it is willful and impatient at advice. Thus, Pachomius wanted to find a skillful conductor.
Hearing about a holy man was serving God in perfection, Pachomius finally sought out the elderly desert hermit named Saint Palaemon and asked to be his follower. They lived very austerely, doing manual labor to earn money for the relief of the poor and their own subsistence, and often praying all night. Palaemon would not use wine or oil in his food, even on Easter day, so as not to lose sight of the meaning of Christ's suffering. He set Pachomius to collecting briars barefoot; and the saint would often bear the pain as a reminder of the nails that entered Christ's feet.
One day in 318 while walking in the Tabennisi Desert on the banks of the Nile north of Thebes, Pachomius is said to have heard a voice that told him to begin a monastery there. He also experienced a vision in which an angel set out directions for the religious life. The two hermits constructed a cell there together about 320, and Palaemon lived with him for a while before returning to solitude. Pachomius's first follower was his own brother, John, and within a short time, there were 100 monks.
Pachomius wrote the first communal rule for monks (which some say survives in a Latin translation by Saint Jerome and others say is lost), an innovation on the common type of eremitical monachism. The life style was severe but less rigorous than that of typical hermits. Their habit was a sleeveless tunic of rough white linen with a cowl that prevented them from seeing one another at group meals taken in silence. (Silence was strictly observed at all times.) They wore on their shoulders a white goatskin, called Melotes. The monks learned the Bible by heart and came together daily for prayer. By his rule, the fasts and tasks of work of each were proportioned to his strength. They received the holy communion on the first and last days of every week. Novices were tried with great severity before they were admitted to the habit and profession of vows. His rule influenced SS. Basil and Benedict; 32 passages of Benedict's rule are based on Pachomius's guidelines.
Pachomius himself went fifteen years without ever lying down, taking his short rest sitting on a stone. He begrudged the necessity for sleep because he wished he could have been able to employ all his moments in the actual exercises of divine love. From the time of his conversion he never ate a full meal. The saint, with the greatest care, comforted and served the sick himself. He received into his community the sickly and weak, rejecting none just because he lacked physical strength. The holy monk desired to lead all souls to heaven that had the fervor to walk in the paths of perfection.
He opened six other monasteries and a convent for his sister on the opposite side of the Nile (but would never visit her) in the Thebaîd, and from 336 on lived primarily at Pabau near Thebes, which outgrew the Tabennisi community in fame. He was an excellent administrator, and acted as superior general.
The communities were broken down into houses according to the crafts the inhabitants practiced, such as tailoring, baking, and agriculture. Goods made in the monasteries were sold in Alexandria. Because of his military background, Pachomius styled himself as a general who could transfer monks from one house to another for the good of the whole. There were local superiors and deans in charge of the houses. All those in authority met each year at Easter and in August to review annual accounts. Pachomius also built a church for poor shepherds and acted as its lector, but he refused to seek ordination for the priesthood or to present any of his monks for ordination, although he permitted priests to join and serve the communities.
Pachomius also had an enormous sense of justice. Although the money garnered by their labors was destined for the poor, when one of the procurators had sold the mats at market at a higher price than the saint had bid him, he ordered him to carry back the money to the buyers, and chastised him for his avarice.
The author of his vita tells us that the saint had the gift of tongues. Although he never learned Latin or Greek, he could speak them fluently when the necessity arose. Pachomius is credited with many miraculous cures with blessed oil of the sick and those possessed by devils. But he often said that their sickness or affliction was for the good of their souls and only prayed for their temporal comfort, with this clause or condition, if it should not prove hurtful to their souls. His dearest disciple, Saint Theodorus who after his death succeeded him as superior general, was afflicted with a perpetual headache. Pachomius, when asked by some of the brethren to pray for his health, answered: "Though abstinence and prayer be of great merit, yet sickness, suffered with patience, is of much greater."
One of the saints chief occupations was praying for the spiritual health of his disciples and others. He took every opportunity to curb and heal their passions, especially that of pride. One day a certain monk having doubled his diligence at work, and made two mats instead of one and set them where Pachomius might see them. The saint perceiving the snare, said "This brother has taken a great deal of pains from morning till night, to give his work to the devil." In order to cure the monk's vanity, Pachomius ruled that the proud monk do penance by remaining in his cell for five months.
Another time a young actor named Silvanus entered the monastery to do penance, but continued to live an undisciplined life by trying to entertain his fellows. Pachomius had a difficult time curbing his youthful playfulness until he explained the dreadful punishments awaiting those who mock God. From that moment divine grace touched Saint Silvanus, he led an exemplary life and was moved by the gift of tears.
Pachomius was an opponent of Arianism and for this reason was denounced to a council of bishops at Latopolis, but was completely exonerated. Though he was never ordained, he was highly respected and even visited by Saint Athanasius in 333.
By the time of his death, there were 3,000 (7,000 according to one source) monks in nine monasteries and two convents for women. He died in an epidemic. Pachomiusis one of the best-known figures in the history of monasticism (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Farmer, Husenbeth, Walsh, White).
The vita of Saint Pachomius was translated into Latin from the Greek in the 6th century by the abbot Dionysus Exiguus, so called not because of his height but because of his great humility. Dionysus includes this story:
"At another time the cohorts of the devils plotted to tempt the man of God by a certain phantasy. For a crowd of them assembling together, were seen by him tying up the leaf of a tree with great ropes and tugging it along with immense exertion, ranking in order on the right and left: and the one side would exhort the other, and strain and tug, as if they were moving a stone of enormous weight. And this the wicked spirits were doing so as to move him, if they could, to loud laughter, and so they might cast it in his teeth. But Pachome, seeing their impudence, groaned and fled to the Lord with his accustomed prayers: and straightway by the virtue of Christ all their triangular array was brought to naught. . . .
"After this, so much trust had the blessed Pachome learned to place in God . . . that many a time he trod on snakes and scorpions, and passed unhurt through all: and the crocodiles, if ever he had necessity to cross the river, would carry him with the utmost subservience, and set him down at whatever spot he indicated" (Dionysus).
In art, Saint Pachomius is a hermit holding the tablets of his rule. He might also be shown (1) as an angel brings him the monastic rule; (2) being tempted by a she-devil; (3) in a hairshirt; (4) with Saint Palaemon (Roeder), or (5) walking among serpents (White).
Sanctan of Kill-da-Les B (AC)
6th century. Saint Sanctan was bishop of Kill-da-Les and Kill-na- Sanctan (now Dublin), ancient sees in Ireland. He is likely to have been born in Britain (Benedictines).
Blessed Thomas Pickering, OSB M (AC)
Born in Westmoreland, England; died at Tyburn, England, 1679; beatified in 1929. Thomas made his vows as a Benedictine lay- brother at Saint Gregory's Abbey in Douai, France, in 1660. Thereafter, he was sent to England to serve with a small community of Benedictines who served the royal chapel. In such a prominent spot, he became an easy victim to the "Popish Plot," was falsely accused, and hanged (Benedictines).
Tudy of Landevennec, Abbot (AC)
(also known as Tudec, Tudinus, Tegwin, Thetgo)
5th or 6th century. Saint Tudy was a hermit who founded monasteries and evangelized in Brittany, where place-names and dedications memorialize his activity or that of his disciples in areas such as Île-Tudy on the mouth of the Odet (Finistère), near Quimper. He appears to have been a disciple of Saint Mawes and fellow- worker with Saint Corentinus. There is also a parish in Cornwall named after him, which may indicate his presence there, too. He may also have been a companion of Saint Brioc (Benedictines, Farmer).
Vincent of Montes, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died c. 950. Abbot of Saint Peter de Montes, and disciple and successor of Saint Gennadius as bishop of Astorga, Spain (Benedictines).
About Saints of the Day
These summaries were prepared in 1998 by St. Patrick's parishioner Katherine I. Rabenstein and are reproduced on www.saintpatrickdc.org with permission of the author. Source references are available. HTML formatting © 2007 by St. Patrick's Catholic Church, Washington, D.C.