St. Robert of Newminster (1159).
He was an English priest from Yorkshire, England, who became
a Cistercian monk. St. Robert was the first abbot of the famous
Newminster Abbey, founded in 1137. He was a great friend of St.
Bernard of Clairvaux and of St. Norbert. He made many prophecies
and worked many miracles.
St. Willibald was a bishop and missionary. A native of Wessex, England,
he was the brother of Sts. Winebald and Walburga and was related
through his mother to the great St. Boniface. After studying in
a monastery in Waitham, in Hampshire, he went on a pilgrimage to
Rome (c. 722) with his father, who died on the way at Lucca, Italy.
Willibald continued on to Rome and then to Jerusalem. Captured by
Saracens who thought him a spy, he was eventually released and continued
on to all of the holy places and then to Constantinople (modern
Istanbul, Turkey), where he visited numerous lauras, monasteries,
and hermitages. Upon his return to Italy, he went to Monte Cassino
where he stayed for ten years, serving as sacrist, dean, and porter.
While on a visit to Rome, he met Pope St. Gregory III (r. 731-741),
who sent him to Germany to assist his cousin St. Boniface in his
important missionary endeavors. Boniface ordained him in 741 and
soon appointed him bishop of Eichstatt, in Franconia. the Site of
Willibald's most successful efforts as a missionary. With his brother
Winebald, he founded a double monastery at Heidenheim, naming Winebald
abbot and his sister Walburga abbess. Willibald served as bishop
for some four decades. His Vita is included in the Hodoeporicon
(the earliest known English travel book). An account of his journeys
in the Holy Land was written by a relative of Willibald and a nun
Sts. Medard and Gildard (558).
These two French saints were twin brothers, as we are told in the
Roman Martyrology. They were not only born on the same day, but
also were consecrated bishops and died on the same day. Medard was
Bishop of Noyon; Gildard was Bishop of Rouen. Their memories are
loving ones in northern France. St. Medard began the custom of crowning
the most virtuous and holy young Catholic girl of his diocese as
the each year as the Rose Queen. If it rains on his feast day, the
loving Catholic peasants of northern France take it as a sign that
it will rain for 40 days more. This same custom prevails in England
with regard to St. Swithin, whose feast day is July 2.
St. Ephrem (373).
St. Ephrem the Syrian is both a Father and a Doctor of the Church.
He was born in Mesopotamia, not far from the place where Adam and
Eve lived in the Garden of Eden. He became a monk when he was only
a young boy. Through humility, he refused to become a priest, and
stayed a deacon all his life. He was one of the great defenders
of the Divinity of Jesus Christ at the Council of Nicea, in 325.
He lived in solitude in his later years, and died when he was 67.
His death occurred in the same year as that of St. Athanasius, another
glorious Doctor of the Church. St. Ephrem wrote the life of St.
Abraham the Hermit. His own life was written by St. Gregory of Nyssa.
Saint Ephrem was a great hymn maker, and is called, “the harp
of the Holy Ghost.” He wrote countless hymns and prayers in
love and praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Mother
of God. St. Ephrem greeted her: “Hail, Reconciler of the whole
St. Columbkille (597).
St. Columbkille, also known as Columba, was born in Donegal, Ireland,
on the feast of St. Ambrose, on December 7. Columbkille founded
many monasteries and churches not only in Ireland, but in Scotland
as well. He landed in Scotland, on the Island of Jona, on the eve
of Pentecost, 563, with 12 companions. He erected on this island
the greatest and most famous of his monasteries. Many of the people
of northern England were converted to the Catholic Faith by St.
Columbkille. He was called “loving to all,” and was
said to have the face of an angel. He died an abbot, kneeling before
the altar, and is buried in the same tomb as St. Patrick and St.
Blessed Diana (1236).
She was a Dominican nun, a native of Bologna, Italy. Despite opposition
from her noble born family, Diana gave up the world to follow Jesus
and became a nun.
St. Getulius was martyred
with Amantius, Caerealis, and Primitivus. He was the husband of
St. Symphorosa. An officer in the Roman army, he resigned when he
became a Christian and returned to his estates near Tivoli, Italy.
There he converted Caerealis, an imperial legate sent to arrest
him. With his brother Amantius and with Caerealis and Primitivus,
Getulius was tortured and martyred at Tivoli.
St. Barnabas was the cousin of St. Mark the Evangelist. He
is given the honorary title of apostle, even though he was not one
of the Twelve. He was the disciple and companion of St. Paul, and
labored with him in various cities and places. St. Barnabas was
stoned to death by the Jews on the Island of Cyprus, the island
of his birth and where he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ with
great power. When his tomb was opened several hundred years after
his death, he was found holding the Gospel of St. Matthew in his
hand. Barnabas is beautifully associated with St. Matthew,
whose Gospel he loved; with St. Mark, whose cousin he was; and with
St. Paul, of whom he was a disciple. St. Barnabas’ name was
originally Joseph. He was called Barnabas, which means son of consolation.
St. Charles Borromeo calls him the apostle of Milan. The name of
St. Barnabas is mentioned in the Roman Canon of the Mass, and always
in the Litany of the Saints.
St. John of St. Facundo (1479).
He was born in northern Spain, in the town of St. Facundo. He was
a brilliant and attractive young boy, educated in the household
of a bishop, and became one of the Hermits of St. Augustine. His
devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was so great that he spent every
night, from the hour of Matins at midnight, to the hour of Mass
in the morning, in adoration of Our Lord in the Blessed Eucharist.
He was often privileged in the saying of Mass to see Our Lord visibly
in the Blessed Eucharist. St. John, who died at the age of 60, is
the patron saint of Salamanca, Spain.
St. Leo III
St. Leo III is remembered as Charlemagne's pope. The cardinal priest
of Santa Susanna, Leo was unanimously elected to the papal see in
795. Four years later, a mob led by relatives of his predecessor,
Pope Adrian I, tried to blind Leo and cut out his tongue; such mutilations
would have rendered him unfit to rule. Having escaped physical danger,
he was imprisoned in a monastery during an attempt to depose him.
He escaped to Charlemagne's retreat at Paderborn, where Alcuin defended
him against charges of adultery and purjury on the grounds that
no earthly power can judge the successor to St. Peter. Leo returned
to Rome in 800, and on Christmas day, he crowned Charlemagne Holy
Roman Emperor. Leo fought adoptionism in Spain and was circumspect
in his judgement of the filioque, the use of which he allowed but
which he considered omittable. When Charlemagne died in 814, Leo
began to assert his power more directly and personally prosecuted
conspirators against him. Still despised by the upper class because
of his plebian origin, Leo died in 816.
of Padua (1231).
There is no more loved and admired saint of the Catholic Church
than Anthony of Padua. Though his work was in Italy, he was born
in Portugal. He first joined the Augustiian Order and then left
it in 1221 to join the Franciscan Order, at the age of 26. The reason
he became a Franciscan was because of the death of the five Franciscan
protomartyrs—Sts. Berard, Peter, Otho, Accursius and Adjutus.
These saints shed their blood for the Catholic Faith in the year
1220, in Morocco. The headless and mutilated bodies of these holy
martyrs had been brought to Anthony’s monastery on their way
back for burial. St. Anthony became a Franciscan in the hope of
shedding his own blood and becoming a martyr. He lived only 10 years
after joining the Franciscan Order. So simple and resounding was
his teaching of the Catholic Faith, even the most unlettered and
innocent might understand it. His simple and profound teaching led
him to be named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XII in 1946.
St. Anthony was only 36 when he died and is often referred to as
“the Hammer of Heretics.” His great protection against
their lies and deceits in the matter of Christian doctrine was to
utter, simply and innocently, the Holy Name of Mary. When Anthony
of Padua found he was preaching the true gospel of the Catholic
Church to heretics who would not listen to him, he then went out
and preached it to the fishes. This was not, as the liberals and
naturalists are trying to say, for the instruction of the fishes,
but rather for the glory of God, the delight of the angels and the
easing of his own heart. St. Anthony wanted to profess the Catholic
Faith with his mind, mouth and heart, at every moment of his life.
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