The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Lives of the Saints, Volume II (of 16):
February, by Sabine Baring-Gould

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Title: The Lives of the Saints, Volume II (of 16): February

Author: Sabine Baring-Gould

Release Date: May 7, 2014 [EBook #45604]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Greg Bergquist, Chris Pinfield and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
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Transcriber's Note:

Apparent typographical errors have been corrected. The use of hyphens is not always consistent.

Illustrations on separate plates have been incorporated in the text. Their locations, in the List of Illustrations, have been modified accordingly.

Lives of the Saints




By the robbery of the nest in the tree, the painter ingeniously points to the Massacre of the Innocents as to the cause of the Flight into Egypt.


Lives of the Saints


New Edition in 16 Volumes

Revised with Introduction and Additional Lives of
English Martyrs, Cornish and Welsh Saints,
and a full Index to the Entire Work




Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co
At the Ballantyne Press


S.Abraham 298
Adalbald 41
Adelheid 140
Adeloga 42
Ămilian 212
Agatha 136
Aldetrudis 413
Alexander 433
Alnoth 448
Amandus 182
SS.Ananias and comp. 412
S.Andrew Corsini 105
Angilbert 337
Ansbert 246
Anskar 56
Apollonia 231
Aristion 366
Athracta 236
Augulus 190
Auxentius 299
Auxibius 339
Aventine of Chateaudun 86
Aventine of Troyes 84
Avitus 138
S.Baldomer 447
Baradatus 368
Barbatus 342
Belina 344
Benedict of Aniane 284
Berach 307
Berlinda 50
Bertulf 139
Besas 442
Blaise 47
Boniface, Lausanne 343
Bridget 14
Bruno 304
S.CŠsarius 412
Castor 289
Catharine de Ricci 295
Ceadmon 272
Celerina 46
SS.Celerinus and comp. 46
Charalampius and comp. 248
S.Chronion 442
Chrysolius 189
Clara of Rimini 256
SS.Claudius and comp. 329
Constantia and comp. 330
S.Cornelius of Rome. 314
Cornelius the Cent. 38
Cuthman 220
S.Damian 376
Darlugdach 22
SS.Dionysius and others 212
S.Dionysius (Augsburg) 432
Dorothy 176
Dositheus 378
S.Earcongotha 382
Eleutherius 350
Elfleda 214
SS.Elias and others 314
S.Ephraem, Syrian 7
Ermenilda 292
Ethelbert 406
Ethelwold 283
Eubulus 449
Eucher 355
Eulalia 276
Euphrosyne 264
Eusebius 306
SS.Faustinus and Jovita 305
S.Finan 325
Fintan 324
Flavian 331
Fortchern 321
Fortunatus 47
Fulcran 294
SS.Fusca and Maura 286
S.Gabinius 340
Gelasius, Boy 83
Gelasius, Actor at Heliopolis 443
George of Amastris 363
Georgia 306
SS.German and Randoald 361
S.Gilbert 99
Gregory II. (Pope) 293
S.Hadelin 49
Honestus 313
Honorina 444
Hrabanus Maurus 91
S.Ignatius, Antioch 1
Ignatius, Africa 46
Ina 186
Indract and comp. 140
Isaias 314
Isidore 84
S.Jeremias 314
Joan of Valois 109
John de Britto 112
John of the Grate 26
John of Matha 226
John William 255
Jonas the Gardener 263
Joseph of Leonissa 111
Jovita 305
Julian of CŠsarea 320
Julian in Africa 395
Julian, Alexandria 442
Juliana 316
Juventius 211
S.Laurence, Cant. 39
Laurence, the Illuminator 49
Laurentinus 46
Lazarus, B. Milan 264
Lazarus, Constantinople 386
Leander 445
Licinius 292
LimnŠus 367
SS.Loman and Fortchern 321
S.Lucius 395
SS.Mael and others 178
S.Mansuetus 341
Margaret of Cortona 371
Mariamne 318
Martha 373
Martian 289
Martyrs at Alexandria 449
"in Arabia 367
"of Japan 141
"of Ebbecksdorf 45
S.Matthias, Ap. 393
Maura 286
SS.Maurice and comp. 358
S.Maximian 369
Maximus 329
Mary, B. V., Purification of 34
Melchu 178
Meldan 193
Meletius 278
Mengold 220
Milburgh 382
Mildred 354
Modan 91
Modomnoc 291
SS.Montanus and comp. 395
Moses and others 192
S.Moses of Syria 376
Mun 178
S.Nestor 430
Nicephorus 233
Nicolas 92
Nithard 56
SS.Nymphas and Eubulus 449
S.Odran 341
Olcan 349
Onesimus 312
Oswald, York 455
S.Papias 366
Parthenius 191
Paula 348
Paul of Verdun 213
Pepin 360
Peter Cambian 45
Peter Damiani 387
Peter's Chair at Antioch 365
SS.Phileas and others 80
S.Photinus 358
SS.Pionius and comp. 5
S.Polychronius, B. M. 319
Polychronius, H. 376
Polyeuctus 287
Porphyrius 434
PrŠtextatus 402
Priamianus 376
Proterius 451
Purification of B. V. Mary 34
S.Randoald 361
Raymond of Fitero 29
Rembert 98
Richard 194
Rioch 178
Robert of Arbrissel 426
Romanus 452
Romuald 194
S.Sabine 241
Saturninus 259
Scholastica 250
Sebastian 212
Serenus 374
Sergius 402
Severus (Avranches) 23
Severus (Ravenna) 12
Severus (Valeria) 306
Sigebert 24
Sigfried 310
Simeon 328
Soteris 248
Stephen of Grandmont 224
Sura 252
Susanna 246
Symphorian 451
S.Tanco 317
Taraghta 236
Tarasius 416
Teilo 238
SS.Thalassius and LimnŠus 367
S.ThalelŠus 444
Theodora, Empress 275
Theodore of Apamea 358
Theodore of Heraclea 190
SS.Theodulus and Julian 320
S.Theophilus, Penitent 88
Tresan 192
SS.Tyrannio and comp. 346
S.Valentine 296
Vedast 179
Verdiana 31
Veronica 73
Victor 410
SS.Victor and Susanna 246
Victorinus and comp. in Egypt 410
S.Vitalina 359
S.Walburga 414
Walfrid 309
Werburga 52
William of Maleval 253
Wulfric 356
S.Zabdas 341
Zacharias (Jerusalem) 359
SS.Zebinus and others 376
S.Zeno 249


The Repose in Egypt, with Dancing Angels Frontispiece
After Luca Cranach.
Martyrdom of S. Ignatius 3
From the "Menologium GrŠcorum."
S. Ephraem 9
After Cahier.
S. Bridget 17
After Cahier.
Tomb of Joshua 33
The Greek Menology.
Purification of S. Mary the Virgin 35
From the Great Vienna Missal.
The Flight into Egypt 37
After Fra Angelico.
S. Blaise 49
From Cahier.
S. Werburga 53
From Cahier.
S. Gilbert, Prior of Sempringham 105
From a Drawing by A. Welby Pugin.
S. Veronica (see p. 73) 135
SS. Agnes, Cecilia, and Dorothy 176
After Angelica de Fiesole.
S. Amandus (see p. 184) 188
S. Richard the Saxon and his Sons 194
From Cahier.
Family of S. Richard the Saxon 194
From a Drawing by A. Welby Pugin.
A Learned Doctor and Church Historian 210
An Enthusiastic Collector of Saintly Legends 230
S. Euphrosyne, finding herself at Death's Door,
makes herself known to her Father
From the "Menologium GrŠcorum" of Cardinal Albani.
The Papermaker 285
An Early Reliquary 318
S. Agatha (see p. 136) 338
The Printer 357
S. Margaret Cortona 370
From Cahier.
The Bookbinder 372
S. Milburgh 385
After Cahier.
Beheading of S. Matthias 395
From Cahier.
Enamelled Chest which contained the
Remains of King Ethelbert
Window in the Cathedral at Tours
(Virgin with Angels)
S. Walburga 415
From Cahier.


February 1.

(A.D. 107.)

[S. Ignatius is commemorated variously, on June 10th, Oct. 8th, Nov. 24th, Dec. 14th or 19th; but by the Roman Martyrology his festival is fixed for Feb. 1st. In the Bruges and Treves Martyrologies, his commemoration was placed on Jan. 31st, so as not to interfere with that of S. Bridget on this day. The authorities for his life and passion are his own genuine Epistles, the Acts of his martyrdom, Eusebius, and S. Chrysostom's Homily on S. Ignatius.]

SAINT IGNATIUS was a convert and disciple of S. John the Evangelist. He was appointed by S. Peter to succeed Evodius in the see of Antioch, and he continued in his bishopric full forty years. He received the name of Theophorus, or one who carries God with him. In his Acts, Trajan is said to have asked {2} him why he had the surname of God-bearing, and he answered, because he bore Christ in his heart.[1]

Socrates, in his "Ecclesiastical History," says, "We must make some allusion to the origin of the custom in the Church of singing hymns antiphonally. Ignatius, third bishop of Antioch in Syria from the apostle Peter, who also had conversed familiarly with the apostles themselves, saw a vision of angels, hymning in alternate chants the Holy Trinity; after which he introduced this mode of singing into the Antiochian Church, whence it was transmitted by tradition to all the other churches."[2]

It seems probable that Evodius vacated the see of Antioch about the year 70. There are traditions that represent Evodius to have been martyred; and Josephus speaks of a disturbance in Antioch about that period, which was the cause of many Jews being put to death.[3] There is a difficulty in supposing S. Peter to have appointed Ignatius bishop of Antioch, if he did not succeed Evodius till the year 70. But it is probable, that later writers have confounded the appointment of Ignatius to the see of Antioch, with his consecration to the episcopal office; and it is highly probable that he received this from the hands of the Prince of the Apostles.

The date of the martyrdom of Ignatius can be fixed with tolerable certainty as occurring in the year 107. The Acts expressly state that Trajan was then at Antioch, and that Sura and Senecio were consuls: two events, which will be found to meet only in the year 107.

Trajan made his entry into Antioch in January; his first concern was to examine into the state of religion there, and {3} the Christians were denounced to him as bringers-in of strange gods. Ignatius was brought before him, and boldly confessed Christ to be God. "Dost thou mean Him who was crucified?" asked the emperor, scornfully. Ignatius answered, "The very same, Who by His death overcame sin, and enabled those who bear Him in their hearts to trample under foot all the power of the devils."


From the "Menologium GrŠcorum."

Feb. 1.

Then Trajan ordered him to be taken to Rome, and exposed to wild beasts in the amphitheatre. It was generally a distinction reserved for Roman citizens, that if they had committed an offence in the provinces, they were sent for punishment to the capital. This, however, does not appear to have been the reason in the case of Ignatius. The punishment to which he was condemned was generally reserved for culprits of the lowest condition; and the Christians were perhaps viewed in this light by the heathen. Ecclesiastical history has scarcely preserved a more interesting and affecting narrative, than that of the journey of Ignatius from Antioch to Rome. In tracing the procession of the martyr to his final triumph, we forget that we are reading of a prisoner who was dragged to his death in chains. He was committed to a guard of ten soldiers, who appear to have treated him with severity; and, after taking ship at Seleucia, they landed for a time at Smyrna. He had here the gratification of meeting with Polycarp, who was bishop of that see, and who, like himself, had enjoyed a personal acquaintance with S. John. His arrival also excited a sensation through the whole of Asia Minor. Onesimus, bishop of Ephesus; Polybius, bishop of Tralles; and Demas, bishop of Magnesia, came from their respective cities, with a deputation of their clergy, to visit the venerable martyr. Ignatius took the opportunity of writing from Smyrna to the Churches over which these bishops presided; and his epistles to the Ephesians, Trallians, and Magnesians, are still extant. {4} Hearing also of some Ephesians, who were going to Rome, and who were likely to arrive there more expeditiously than himself, he addressed a letter to the Church in that city. His principal object in writing was to prevent any attempt which the Roman Christians might have made to procure a reprieve from the death which was awaiting him. He expresses himself not only willing, but anxious, to meet the wild beasts in the amphitheatre; and there never, perhaps, was a more perfect pattern of resignation than that which we find in this letter.

From Smyrna he proceeded to Troas, where he was met by some of the neighbouring bishops, and the bishop of Philadelphia became the bearer of a letter which he wrote to the Christians in that city. He also wrote from the same place to the Church of Smyrna; and the personal regard which he had for Polycarp, the bishop of that see, will explain why he also wrote to him, and made it his dying request that he would attend to the Church of Antioch. These seven epistles, which were written by Ignatius from Smyrna and Troas, are still extant.

It appears that Ignatius had intended to write letters to some other Churches, from Troas; but his guards were impatient to proceed, and once more setting sail, they followed the course which S. Paul had taken upon his first journey into Greece, and landed at Neapolis. Hurrying through Macedonia, he embarked once more on the western coast of Epirus, and crossing the Adriatic, arrived at Rome. There was now an exhibition of games, which lasted some days; and it seems to have been intended that the death of Ignatius should form part of the spectacle. The voyage had been hurried on this account; and on the last day of the games, which was the 19th December, the holy martyr was led into the amphitheatre, and his death seems to have been the work of a moment. In his letter to the Roman Church, he had {5} prayed that the wild beasts might despatch him speedily, and not refuse to touch him, as had sometimes been the case. His prayer was heard; and the Christians of Rome, who had thought themselves blessed to have even seen the apostolic bishop of Antioch among them, had now to pick up a few of the larger and harder bones, which was all that the wild beasts had spared. These were carried to Antioch, and it is evidence of the great reverence at that early age shown to the relics of the saints, that the same honours were paid to the sacred relics as had been paid to the holy martyr himself, when he touched at the different cities. The friends of Ignatius speak of his remains as "an invaluable treasure;" and as such they were deposited near one of the gates in the suburbs of Antioch.

The relics of S. Ignatius were retranslated to Rome, and are dispersed among several of the churches of the city. The head, however, is in the possession of the Jesuits of Prague.

(A.D. 251.)

[Roman and many ancient Martyrologies on this day. The Greeks on March 11th; the Martyrology attributed to S. Jerome, on March 12th. Authorities:—The genuine Acts of these martyrs, and the brief account in Eusebius, lib. iv. c. 15.]

In the persecution of Decius, S. Pionius, a priest of Smyrna, was apprehended; together with Sabina, Macedonia, Asclepiades, and Linus a priest, whilst they were celebrating the festival of S. Polycarp, on February 23. Pionius having fasted on the vigil, was forewarned of his coming passion in a vision. On the morning, which was the Sabbath, or Saturday, they took holy bread (the Eulogies) and water, and {6} were then surprised and taken by Polemon, the chief priest of the idol temple in Smyrna, and his satellites. Polemon in vain urged them to conform to the imperial edicts, and sacrifice to the gods; but they set their faces as flint against his solicitations, and were led into the forum, where Pionius took the opportunity of haranguing the crowds who hurried up to be present at their trial.

The Smyrnian Church was then suffering the shame of having seen its bishop, EudŠmon, apostatize, and his example had been followed by many timorous Christians.

The interrogatory was conducted by Polemon, and is dryly recorded by the notary who wrote the acts:—The Idol priest said, "Pionius! sacrifice." But he answered, "I am a Christian." "Whom," said Polemon, "dost thou worship?" "The Almighty God," answered Pionius, "who made heaven and earth, and all things in heaven and earth, and us men; who giveth to all men liberally, as they need; whom we know through His Word, Christ." Polemon said, "Sacrifice then, only to the Emperor." Pionius said, "I cannot sacrifice to any man. I am a Christian."

Then—the notary writing all down—Polemon asked, "What is thy name?" He answered, "Pionius." Polemon said, "Thou art a Christian?" He answered, "Certainly I am." "To what Church dost thou belong?" asked Polemon. "I belong to the Catholic Church," answered Pionius. "There is none other with Christ."

Then he went to Sabina, and put to her the same questions, which she answered almost in the same words. Next he turned to Asclepiades, and asked, "What is thy name?" "Asclepiades." "Art thou a Christian?" "I am." Then said Polemon, "Whom dost thou worship?" Asclepiades answered, "I worship Jesus Christ." "What!" asked Polemon, "Is that another God?" "No," answered Asclepiades, "He is the same God of whom the others spake."

{7} After this the martyrs were taken to prison, followed by a crowd jeering and insulting them. On the morrow they were led forth again to trial, and the idol priest endeavoured to force them to enter the temple, and by violence to compel them to sacrifice. Pionius tore from his head the sacrificial garlands that the priest had placed upon him. Polemon, unable to bend the holy martyrs to submission, delivered them over to Quintilian, the pro-consul, on his arrival at Smyrna, and he sentenced Pionius to be hung on a rack, and his body to be torn with hooks of iron, and afterwards to be nailed to a post, and burnt alive. Metrodorus, a Marcionite priest, underwent the same punishment with him.

(A.D. 378.)

[Roman and all Latin Martyrologies, except that of Bede, which gives July 9th. Commemorated by the Greeks on Jan. 28th. His death took place in summer or autumn. Authorities:—His own narration to his monks of his conversion, his confession and testament; also the oration upon him by S. Gregory Nyssen; an account of him in the Life of S. Basil, attributed to S. Amphilochius, Sozomen, etc.]

Saint Ephraem was the son of poor parents of Nisibis, who had confessed Christ before the persecutors, under Diocletian or his successors. In his narrative of his conversion, S. Ephraem laments some of the faults of his youth. "When I was a boy," says he, "I was rather wild. One day my parents sent me out of the town, and I found a cow that was in calf feeding in the road leading to the wood. This cow belonged to very poor people. I took up stones, and began pelting the cow, and driving it before me into the wood, and I drove the beast on till in the evening, it fell down {8} dead, and during the night wild beasts ate it. On my way back I met the poor man who owned it, and he asked me, 'My son, have you been driving away my cow?' Then I not only denied, but heaped abuse and insult upon him." Some few days after he was sent out of the town by his parents again, and he wandered in the wood, idling with some shepherds, till night fell. Then, as it was too late to return, he remained the night with the shepherds. That night the fold was broken into, and some of the sheep were carried off. Then the shepherds, thinking the boy had been in league with the robbers, dragged him before the magistrate, and he was cast into prison, where he found two men in chains, charged, one with homicide, the other with adultery, though they protested their innocence. In a dream an angel appeared to Ephraem, and asked him why he was there. The boy began at once to declare himself guiltless. "Yes," said the angel, "guiltless thou art of the crime imputed to you, but hast thou forgotten the poor man's cow? Listen to the conversation of the men who are with thee, and thou wilt learn that none suffer without cause."

In the morning, the two men began to speak, and one said, "The other day, as I was going over a bridge, I saw two fellows quarrelling, and one flung the other over into the water; and I did not put forth my hand to save him, as I might have done, and so he was drowned."

Presently the other man said, "I am not guilty of this adultery of which I am charged, but nevertheless I have done a very wicked thing. Two brothers and a sister were left an inheritance by their father, and the two young men wished to deprive their sister of what was her due, and they bribed me to give false evidence whereby the will was upset, and the property divided between them, to the exclusion of the poor girl."

After an imprisonment of forty days, Ephraem was {9} brought before the magistrate along with his fellow prisoners. He says, that when he saw the two men stripped, and stretched on the rack, "An awful terror came over me, and I trembled, thinking I was sure to be subjected to the same treatment as they. Therefore I cried, and shivered, and my heart altogether failed me. Then the people and the apparitors began to laugh at my tears and fright, and asked me what I was crying for? 'You ought to have considered this before, boy! but now tears are of no avail. You shall soon have a taste of the rack too, never doubt it.' Then, at these words, my soul melted clean away."

S. EPHRAEM SYRUS. After Cahier.

Feb. 1.

However, he was spared this time, and the innocence of his companions having been proved, they were set free. Ephraem was taken back to prison, where he spent forty more days; and whilst he was there, the two men who had defrauded their sister of her inheritance, and the man who had flung his adversary into the river, were caught and chained in the dungeon with him. These men and Ephraem were brought forth to trial together, and the men were sentenced, after they had been racked, and had confessed their crime, to lose their right hands. Ephraem, in another paroxysm of fear, made a vow that he would become a monk, if God would spare him the suffering of the rack. To his extreme terror the magistrate ordered him to be stripped, and the question to be applied. Then Ephraem stood naked and trembling beside the rack, when fortunately the servant came up to the magistrate to tell him that dinner was ready. "Very well," said the magistrate, "then I will examine this boy another day." And he ordered him back to prison. On his next appearance, the magistrate, thinking Ephraem had been punished enough, dismissed him, and he ran off instantly to the mountains, to an old hermit, and asked him to make of him a monk.[4]

{10} He was eighteen years old when he was baptized, and immediately after he had received the Sacrament of Regeneration, he began to discipline his body and soul with great severity. He lay on the bare ground, often fasted whole days, and spent a considerable part of the night in prayer. He exercised the handicraft of a sail-maker. He was naturally a very passionate man, but he learned so completely to subdue his temper, that the opposite virtue of meekness became conspicuous, so that he received the title of the "Peaceable man of God." Sozomen relates that once, after Ephraem had fasted several days, the brother, who was bringing him a mess of pottage, let the dish fall and broke it, and strewed the food upon the floor. The saint seeing his confusion, said cheerfully, "Never mind, if the supper won't come to me, I will go to the supper." Then, sitting down on the ground by the broken dish, he picked up the pottage as well as he could.

"He devoted his life to monastic philosophy," says Sozomen; "and although he had received no education, he became, contrary to all expectation, so proficient in the learning and language of the Syrians, that he comprehended with ease the most abstruse problems of philosophy. His style of writing was so full of glowing oratory and sublimity of thought, that he surpassed all the writers of Greece. The productions of Ephraem were translated into Greek during his life, and translations are even now being made, and yet they preserve much of their original force, so that his works are not less admired in Greek than in Syriac. Basil, who was subsequently bishop of the metropolis of Cappadocia, was a great admirer of Ephraem, and was astonished at his condition. The opinion of Basil, who was the most learned and eloquent man of his age, is a stronger testimony I {11} think, to the merit of Ephraem, than anything that could be indicted in his praise."[5]

S. Gregory Nyssen gives the following testimony to the eloquence of S. Ephraem: "Who that is proud would not become the humblest of men, reading his discourse on Humility? Who would not be inflamed with a divine fire, reading his treatise on Charity? Who would not wish to be chaste in heart and soul, by reading the praises he has lavished on Virginity? Who would not be frightened by hearing his discourse on the Last Judgment, wherein he has depicted it so vividly, that nothing can be added thereto? God gave him so profound a wisdom, that, though he had a wonderful facility of speech, yet he could not find expression for the multitude of thoughts which poured from his mind." At Edessa, S. Ephraem was ordained deacon; it has been asserted that he afterwards received the priesthood from the hands of S. Basil, but this is contradicted by most ancient writers, who affirm that he died a deacon. He was elected bishop of one town, but hearing it, he comported himself so strangely, that the people and clergy, supposing him to have lost his mind, chose another in his place; and he maintained the same appearance of derangement till the other candidate was consecrated. The city of Edessa having been severely visited by famine, he quitted the solitary cell in which he dwelt, and entering the city, rebuked the rich for permitting the poor to die around them, instead of imparting to them of their superfluities; and he represented to them that the wealth which they were treasuring up so carefully would turn to their own condemnation, and to the ruin of their souls, which were of more value than all the wealth of earth. The rich men replied, "We are not intent on hoarding our wealth, but we know of no one whom we may trust to {12} distribute our goods with equity." "Then," said Ephraem, "entrust me with that office."

As soon as he had received their money, he fitted up three hundred beds in the public galleries, and there tended those who were suffering from the effects of the famine. On the cessation of the scarcity, he returned to his cell; and after the lapse of a few days expired.

S. Ephraem was a valiant champion of the orthodox faith. Finding that the Syrians were fond of singing the heretical hymns of Bardasanes, he composed a great number of orthodox poems which he set to the same tunes, and by introducing these, gradually displaced those which were obnoxious. One instance of his zeal against heresy is curious, though hardly to be commended. The heretic Apollinarius had composed two reference books of quotations from Scripture, and arguments he intended to use in favour of his doctrines, at a public conference with a Catholic, and these books he lent to a lady. Ephraem borrowed the books, and glued the pages together, and then returned them. Apollinarius, nothing doubting, took his volumes to the discussion, but when he tried to use them, found the pages fast, and retired from the conference in confusion.

(ABOUT A.D. 390.)

[S. Severus, B. M., of Ravenna, is commemorated on Jan. 1; S. Severus, B. C., of Ravenna, on Feb. 1st. Authorities:—Three ancient lives, with which agree the accounts in the Martyrologies.]

S. Severus was a poor weaver in Ravenna. Upon the see becoming vacant, the cathedral was filled with electors to choose a new bishop. Severus said to his wife Vincentia, "I will visit the minster and see what is going on." "You {13} had much better remain at home, and not show yourself in your working clothes among the nobles and well-dressed citizens," said she. "Wife! what harm is there in my going?" "You have work to do here, for your daughter and me, instead of gadding about, sight seeing." And when Severus persisted in desiring to go, "Very well," said Vincentia, "go, and may you come back with a good box on your ear." And when she saw that he was bent on going, she said, mocking, "Go then, and get elected bishop."

So he went, and entering the cathedral, stood behind the doors, as he was ashamed of his common dress covered with flocks of wool. Then when the Holy Spirit had been invoked to direct the choice of the people, suddenly there appeared in the cathedral a beautiful white dove, fluttering at the ear of the poor spinner. And he beat it off, but the bird returned, and rested on his head. Then the people regarded this as a heavenly sign, and he was unanimously chosen to be their bishop. Now Vincentia was at home, and one came running, and told her that her husband was elected bishop of Ravenna. Then she laughed, and would not believe it, but when the news was repeated, she said, "This is likely enough, that a man who tosses a shuttle should make a suitable prelate!" But when she was convinced, by the story being confirmed by other witnesses, her amazement rendered her speechless.

After his consecration, Severus lived with her as with a sister, till she died, and was followed shortly after by her daughter, Innocentia. Then he laid them both in a tomb, in the church, which had been prepared for himself. And after many years he knew that he was to die. So he sang High Mass before all the people, and when the service was over, he bade all the congregation depart, save only one server. And when they were gone, he bade the boy close the doors of the cathedral. Then the bishop went, vested {14} in his pontifical robes, to the sepulchre of his wife and daughter, and he and the boy raised the stone, and Severus stood, and looking towards the bodies of his wife and daughter, he said, "My dear ones, with whom I lived in love so long, make room for me, for this is my grave, and in death we shall not be divided." Having said this, he descended into the grave, and laid himself down between his wife and daughter, and crossed his hands on his breast, and looked up to heaven and prayed, and then closing his eyes, gave one sigh, and fell asleep. The relics were translated to Mayence, in 836, and Oct. 22nd is observed as the feast of this translation. In art, Severus is represented as a bishop with a shuttle at his side.

(A.D. 525.)

[S. Bridget, or Bride as she is called in England, is the Patroness of Ireland, and was famous throughout northern Europe. Leslie says, "She is held in so great honour by Picts, Britons, Angles, and Irish, that more churches are dedicated to God in her memory, than to any other of the saints;" and Hector Boece says, that she was regarded by Scots, Picts, and Irish as only second to the B. Virgin Mary. Unfortunately, little authentic is known of her. The lives extant are for the most part of late composition, and are collected from oral traditions of various value. One life is attributed, however, to Bishop Ultan Mac Concubar, d. circ. 662; another, a metrical one, is by the monk Chilian, circ. 740; another by one Cogitosus, is of uncertain date; another is by Laurence, prior of Durham, d. 1154; and there is another, considered ancient, by an anonymous author.]

Ireland was, of old, called the Isle of Saints, because of the great number of holy ones of both sexes who flourished there in former ages; or, who, coming thence, propagated the faith amongst other nations. Of this great number of saints the three most eminent, and who have therefore been {15} honoured as the special patrons of the island, were S. Patrick their apostle, S. Columba, who converted the Picts, and S. Bridget, the virgin of Kildare, whose festival is marked in all the Martyrologies on the 1st day of February.

This holy virgin was born about the middle of the fifth century, in the village of Fochard, in the diocese of Armagh. Her father was a nobleman, called Dubtach, descended from Eschaid, the brother of King Constantine of the Hundred Battles, as he is surnamed by the Irish historians. The legend of her origin is as follows, but it is not to be relied upon, as it is not given by Ultan, Cogitosus, or Chilian of Inis-Keltra.[6] Dubtach had a young and beautiful slave-girl, whom he dearly loved, and she became pregnant by him, whereat his wife, in great jealousy and rage, gave him no peace till he had sold her to a bard, but Dubtach, though he sold the slave-girl, stipulated with the purchaser that the child should not go with the mother, but should be returned to him when he claimed it.

Now one day, the king and queen visited the bard to ask an augury as to the child they expected shortly, and to be advised as to the place where the queen should be confined. Then the bard said, "Happy is the child that is born neither in the house nor out of the house!" Now it fell out that Brotseach, the slave-girl, was shortly after returning to the house with a pitcher of fresh warm milk from the cow, when she was seized with labour, and sank down on the threshold, and was delivered neither in the house nor out of the house, and the pitcher of warm sweet milk, falling, was poured over the little child.

When Bridget grew up, her father reclaimed her, and treated her with the same tenderness that he showed to his legitimate children. She had a most compassionate heart, {16} and gave to every beggar what he asked, whether it were hers or not. This rather annoyed her father, who took her one day with him to the king's court, and leaving her outside, in the chariot, went within to the king, and asked his majesty to buy his daughter, as she was too expensive for him to keep, owing to her excessive charity. The king asked to see the girl, and they went together to the door. In the meantime, a beggar had approached Bridget, and unable to resist his importunities, she had given him the only thing she could find, her father's sword, which was a present that had been made him by the king. When Dubtach discovered this, he burst forth into angry abuse, and the king asked, "Why didst thou give away the royal sword, child?" "If beggars assailed me," answered Bridget calmly, "and asked for my king and my father, I would give them both away also." "Ah!" said the king, "I cannot buy a girl who holds us so cheap."

Her great beauty caused her to be sought in marriage by a young noble of the neighbourhood, but as she had already consecrated herself by vow to Jesus, the Spouse of virgins, she would not hear of this match. To rid herself of the importunity of her suitor, she prayed to God, that He would render her so deformed that no one might regard her. Her prayer was heard, and a distemper fell on one of her eyes, by which she lost that eye, and became so disagreeable to the sight, that no one thought of giving her any further molestation.[7] Thus she easily gained her father's consent that she should consecrate her virginity to God, and become a nun. She took with her three other virgins of that country, and bidding farewell to her friends, went in 469 to the holy bishop Maccail, then at Usny hill, Westmeath; who gave the sacred veil to her and her companions, and received {17} their profession of perpetual virginity. S. Bridget was then only fourteen years old, as some authors assert. The Almighty was pleased on this occasion to declare how acceptable this sacrifice was, by restoring to Bridget the use of her eye, and her former beauty, and, what is still more remarkable, and is particularly celebrated, as well in the Roman, as in other ancient Martyrologies, was, that when the holy virgin, bowing her head, kissed the dry wood of the feet of the altar, it immediately grew green, in token of her purity and sanctity. The story is told of her, that when she was a little child, playing at holy things, she got a smooth slab of stone which she tried to set up as a little altar; then a beautiful angel joined in her play, and made wooden legs to the altar, and bored four holes in the stone, into which the legs might be driven, so as to make it stand.

S. BRIDGET. After Cahier.

Feb. 1.

S. Bridget having consecrated herself to God, built a cell for her abode, under a goodly oak, thence called Kil-dare or the Cell of the Oak; and this foundation grew into a large community, for a great number of virgins resorted to her, attracted by her sanctity, and put themselves under her direction. And so great was the reputation of her virtues, and the place of her abode was so renowned and frequented on her account, that the many buildings erected in the neighbourhood during her lifetime formed a large town, which was soon made the seat of a bishop, and in process of time, the metropolitan see of the whole province.

What the rule embraced by S. Bridget was, is not known, but it appears from her history, that the habit which she received at her profession from S. Maccail was white. Afterwards, she herself gave a rule to her nuns; so that she is justly numbered among the founders of religious Orders. This rule was followed for a long time by the greatest part of the monasteries of sacred virgins in Ireland; all acknowledging our Saint as their mother and mistress, and {18} the monastery of Kildare as the headquarters of their Order. Moreover, Cogitosus informs us, in his prologue to her life, that not only did she rule nuns, but also a large community of men, who lived in a separate monastery. This obliged the Saint to call to her aid out of his solitude, the holy bishop S. Conlaeth, to be the director and father to her monks; and at the same time to be the bishop of the city. The church of Kildare, to suit the requirements of the double monastery and the laity, was divided by partitions into three parts, Cogitosus says, one for the monks, one for the nuns, and the third for the lay people.

As S. Bridget was obliged to go long journeys, the bishop ordained her coachman priest, and the story is told that one day as she and a favourite nun sat in the chariot, the coachman preached to them the Word of God, turning his head over his shoulder. Then said the abbess, "Turn round, that we may hear better, and throw down the reins." So he cast the reins over the front of the chariot, and addressed his discourse to them with his back to the horses. Then one of the horses slipped its neck from the yoke, and ran free; and so engrossed were Bridget and her companion in the sermon of the priestly charioteer, that they did not observe that the horse was loose, and the carriage running all on one side. On another occasion she was being driven over a common near the Liffey, when they came to a long hedge, for a man had enclosed a portion of the common. Then the man shouted to them to go round, and Bridget bade her charioteer so do. But he, thinking that they had a right of way across the newly made field, drove straight at the hedge; then the proprietor of the field ran forward, and the horses started, and the jolt of the chariot threw S. Bridget and the coachman out of the vehicle, and severely bruised them both. Then the abbess, picking herself up said, "Better to have gone round; short cuts bring broken bones."

{19} Once a family came to Kildare, leaving their house and cattle unguarded, that they might attend a festival in the church, and receive advice from S. Bridget. Whilst they were absent, some thieves stole their cows, and drove them away.

They had to pass the Liffey, which was much swollen, consequently the thieves stripped, and tied their clothes to the horns of the cattle, intending to drive the cows into the river, and swim after them. But the cows ran away, carrying off with them the clothes of the robbers attached to their horns, and they did not stop till they reached the gates of the convent of S. Bridget, the nude thieves racing after them. The holy abbess restored to them their garments, and severely reprimanded them for their attempted robbery.

Other strange miracles are attributed to her, of which it is impossible to relate a tithe. She is said, after a shower of rain, to have come hastily into a chamber, and cast her wet cloak over a sunbeam, mistaking it, in her hurry, for a beam of wood. And the cloak remained there, and the ray of sun did not move, till late at night one of her maidens ran to her, to tell her that the sunbeam waited its release, so she hasted, and removed her cloak, and the ray retired after the long departed sun.

Once a rustic, seeing a wolf run about in proximity to the palace, killed it; not knowing that it was the tame creature of the king; and he brought the dead beast to the king, expecting a reward. Then the prince in anger ordered the man to be cast into prison and executed. Now when Bridget heard this, her spirit was stirred within her, and mounting her chariot, she drove to the court, to intercede for the life of the poor countryman. And on the way, there came a wolf over the bog racing towards her, and it leaped into the chariot, and allowed her to caress it. {20} Then, when she reached the palace, she went before the king, with the wolf at her side, and said, "Sire! I have brought thee a better wolf than that thou hast lost, spare therefore the life of the poor man who unwittingly slew thy beast." Then the king accepted her present with great joy, and ordered the prisoner to be released.

One evening she sat with sister Dara, a holy nun, who was blind, as the sun went down; and they talked of the love of Jesus Christ, and the joys of Paradise. Now their hearts were so full, that the night fled away whilst they spoke together, and neither knew that so many hours had sped. Then the sun came up from behind Wicklow mountains, and the pure white light made the face of earth bright and gay. Then Bridget sighed, when she saw how lovely were earth and sky, and knew that Dara's eyes were closed to all this beauty. So she bowed her head and prayed, and extended her hand and signed the dark orbs of the gentle sister. Then the darkness passed away from them, and Dara saw the golden ball in the east, and all the trees and flowers glittering with dew in the morning light. She looked a little while, and then, turning to the abbess, said, "Close my eyes again, dear mother, for when the world is so visible to the eyes, God is seen less clearly to the soul." So Bridget prayed once more, and Dara's eyes grew dark again.

A madman, who troubled all the neighbourhood, came one day across the path of the holy abbess. Bridget arrested him, and said, "Preach to me the Word of God, and go thy way." Then he stood still and said, "O Bridget, I obey thee. Love God, and all will love thee. Honour God, and all will honour thee. Fear God, and all will fear thee." Then with a howl he ran away. Was there ever a better sermon preached in fewer words.

A very remarkable prophesy of the heresies and false {21} doctrines of later years must not be omitted. One day Bridget fell asleep whilst a sermon was being preached by S. Patrick, and when the sermon was over, she awoke. Then the preacher asked her, "O Bridget, why didst thou sleep, when the Word of Christ was spoken?" She fell on her knees and asked pardon, saying, "Spare me, spare me, my father, for I have had a dream." Then said Patrick, "Relate thy vision to me." And Bridget said, "Thy hand-maiden saw, and behold the land was ploughed far and wide, and sowers went forth in white raiment, and sowed good seed. And it sprang up a white and goodly harvest. Then came other ploughers in black, and sowers in black, and they hacked, and tore up, and destroyed that beauteous harvest, and strewed tares far and wide. And after that, I looked, and behold, the island was full of sheep and swine, and dogs and wolves, striving with one another and rending one another." Then said S. Patrick, "Alas, my daughter! in the latter days will come false teachers having false doctrine; who shall lead away many, and the good harvest which has sprung up from the Gospel seed we have sown will be trodden under foot; and there shall be controversies in the faith between the faithful and the bringers-in of strange doctrine."

Now when the time of her departure drew nigh, Bridget called to her a dear pupil, named Darlugdach and foretold the day on which she should die. Then Darlugdach wept bitterly, and besought her mother to suffer her to die with her. But the blessed Bridget said, "Nay, my daughter, thou shalt live a whole year after my departure; and then shalt thou follow me." And so it came to pass. Having received the sacred viaticum from the hands of S. Nennidh, the bishop, the holy abbess exchanged her mortal life for a happy immortality, on February 1st, 525.[8] Her body was {22} interred in the church of Kildare; where her nuns for some ages, to honour her memory, kept a fire always burning; from which that convent was called the House of Fire, till Henry of London, Archbishop of Dublin, to take away all occasion of superstition, in 1220, ordered it to be extinguished.

The body of the Saint was afterwards translated to Down-Patrick, where it was found in a triple vault, together with the bodies of S. Patrick and S. Columba, in the year 1185. These bodies were, with great solemnity, translated the following year by the Pope's legate, accompanied by fifteen bishops, in presence of an immense number of the clergy, nobility, and people, to a more honourable place of the cathedral of Down; where they were kept, with due honour, till the time of Henry VIII., when the monument was destroyed by Leonard, Lord Grey, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. S. Bridget's head was saved by some of the clergy, who carried it to Neustadt, in Austria; and from thence, in 1587, it was taken to the church of the Jesuits at Lisbon, to whom the Emperor Rudolf II. gave it.

In art, S. Bridget is usually represented with her perpetual flame as a symbol; sometimes with a column of fire, said to have been seen above her head when she took the veil.

(A.D. 526.)

[Authorities:—The lives of S. Bridget.]

Amongst the nuns of S. Bridget's monastery of Kildare, there was one named Darlugdach. When young, she followed S. Bridget, and being very dear to her, slept with the abbess.

Darlugdach, not guarding her eyes with sufficient strictness, {23} saw, and fell in love with a man, who also became enamoured of her, and their ardent glances revealed their mutual passion. A plan was formed that she should elope with him, on a certain night; and she laid herself in the bosom of the sleeping abbess with beating heart, troubled by a conflict between duty and passion. At last she rose, and in an agony of uncertainty, cast herself on her knees, and besought God to give her strength to master her love, and then, in the vehemence of her resolve, she thrust her naked feet into the red coals that glowed on the hearth, and held them there till the pain had conquered the passion. After that, she softly stole into bed again, and crept into the bosom of her holy mother. When morning broke, Bridget rose, and looked at the blistered and scorched soles, and touching them, said gently, "I slept not, dear child, but was awake, and saw thy struggle, and now, because thou hast fought valiantly, and hast conquered, the flame of lust shall no more hurt thee." And she healed her feet.

Darlugdach, as has been related in the life of S. Bridget, besought her spiritual mother to let her die with her, but S. Bridget promised that she should follow on the anniversary of her departure, after the expiration of a year. And so it was.


[French Martyrologies. Authority:—A life by an anonymous author of uncertain date, but apparently trustworthy.]

S. Severus was the child of very poor Christian parents, who hired him to a nobleman named Corbecan, a heathen, who employed him in tending his herd of mares. The boy loved to pasture the horses in the neighbourhood of a little {24} church dedicated to S. Martin, on the excuse that the herbage there was richer than elsewhere, but really out of love for the House of God. Unable to bear the sight of the misery of the poor, during a cold winter, the boy gave them the clothes off his back, and returned one day through the snow to his master's castle, stripped of everything save his breeches. Corbecan, in a rage, drove him out of the house, and forbade him to shelter in it that night. The lad went to the horses, and crouched among them, taking warmth from their breath. His gentleness and piety, in the end, produced such an impression on Corbecan, that he placed himself under instruction in the faith, and was baptized, he and his whole house. Severus afterwards retired into a solitary place, and lived as an hermit, till a number of disciples gathering round him, he was ordained priest. Against his will he was dragged from his beloved retreat to be consecrated bishop of Avranches. He ruled that see for several years with great zeal and discretion, till the burden became intolerable, and he besought the people to elect a successor. Then he laid down his staff, and retired once more to his forest cell, where he became the master of the blessed Giles. The day of his death is uncertain. His body was translated to the cathedral of Rouen.

In art he is represented with the mares of his master.

(A.D. 656.)

[French Martyrology. Authorities:—His life by Sigebert of Gemblours, d. 1112, and mention by Gregory of Tours, and Flodoard.]

This royal saint was the son of Dagobert I., King of France. The father for a long time refused to have his son baptized, but at length by the advice of S. Ouen and {25} S. Eligius, then laymen in his court, he recalled S. Amand, bishop of Maestricht, whom he had banished for reproving his vices, and bade him baptize his son Sigebert. The young prince's education was entrusted to Pepin, mayor of the palace, who carried his charge into Aquitain, to his estates. But at the age of three, Sigebert was invested by his father with the kingdom of Austrasia, or Eastern France, including Provence, Switzerland, Bavaria, Swabia, Thuringia, Franconia, the Rhenish Palatinate, Alsace, TrŔves, Lorraine, Champagne, Upper Picardy, and Auvergne.

Dagobert died in 638, and was succeeded by Clovis II., in the kingdom of Western France. Pepin of Landen, was mayor of the palace to Sigebert, and strove to train the young king in godliness and Christian virtues. By his justice and temperance, S. Sigebert rendered himself in his youth greatly beloved and respected by his subjects.

Pepin dying in 640, the king appointed Grimoald, mayor of the palace, in his father's room. The Thuringians revolting, Sigebert reduced them to their duty; and this is the only war in which he was engaged. His munificence in founding churches and monasteries, his justice in ruling, and the private virtues of his spotless life, made him to be regarded as a model of a saintly king. After a reign of eighteen years from the date of his father's death, he died at the age of twenty-five, and was buried in the abbey of S. Martin, near Metz, which he had built. His body was found incorrupt in 1063, and in 1170 it was enshrined in a silver case. When Charles V. laid siege to Metz, Francis of Lorraine, Duke of Guise, demolished all the monasteries and other buildings in the suburbs which could give harbour to the enemy, amongst others that of S. Martin. The relics of the saintly king were then removed to the collegiate church of Our Lady, at Nancy, where they repose in a magnificent shrine.


(A.D. 1163.)

[His festival is observed as a double by the Church of S. Malo, in Brittany. His name is inserted in Saussaye's supplement to the Gallican Martyrology. Authorities:—The letters of S. Bernard and Nicolas of Clairvaux.]

The illustrious prelate S. John, commonly called "Of the Grate," because of an iron grating which surrounded his sepulchre, was a Breton, the son of parents in a middle class of life. He was born about the year 1098; and from an early age gave indications of piety. In the schools to which he was sent, in a short time he made rapid progress. Peter, abbot of Celle, speaking of him, calls him "the holy bishop, faithful servant of God, a man of courage, loving poverty, a brilliant light, dissipating the densest darkness." His life, as a bishop, was spent in a series of lawsuits with the monks of Marmoutiers. His episcopal seat was at Aleth on the main land, but he desired to transfer it to the island of Aaron, now called S. Malo, on account of the peril to which Aleth was exposed through pirates, and the intestine wars which devastated Brittany. He claimed the island as belonging to the episcopal property of Aleth, but was opposed by the monks of Marmoutiers, who claimed the Church of S. Malo. The case was referred to the Pope, who ordered a commission of French bishops to try the case, and they decided against John. He considered that his cause had been prejudged by them, and visited Rome to carry his appeal in person to the Pope. But Lucius II. would not listen to him, and he was condemned to lose his see. He then retired under the protection of S. Bernard, to Clairvaux, till, on the decease of Lucius II., a monk of Clairvaux was elevated to the papal throne, under the title of Eugenius III. John {27} at once appealed again, and was heard; a fresh commission was appointed, and he was restored to all his rights, and the monks of Marmoutiers were obliged to cede the Church of S. Malo to the bishop. John obtained decisions conformable to that of Eugenius III., from his successors, Anastasius IV. and Adrian IV. That the claim of John was reasonable appears certain. Only three years before he made it, the inhabitants of Aleth had been obliged to take refuge in the island of Aaron to escape the ravages of the Normans, who had already twice pillaged and burnt the city; and it is certain that several of the predecessors of John of the Grate had borne the title of bishop of S. Malo, as well as of Aleth.

During his reign a strange heresy broke out. Eon de l'Etoile, a fanatic, took to himself the title of "Judge of the quick and dead," and armed with a forked stick, shared with God the empire of the universe. When he turned upwards the two prongs of his stick, he gave to the Almighty the government of two-thirds of the world, and when he turned the prongs downwards, he assumed them as his own. This poor visionary was followed by a number of peasants who pillaged churches, and committed all sorts of disorders. They were condemned, in 1148, by the Council of Rheims, and were reduced to submission by the temporal power. John exerted himself, by persuasion and instruction, to disabuse of their heresy such of the fanatics as over-ran his diocese, and succeeded in converting many of his wandering sheep.

He died in the odour of sanctity on Feb. 1st, 1163, and was buried on the Gospel side of the altar in the Church of S. Malo. His reputation for virtue was so well established, that almost immediately he received popular reverence as a Saint. Numerous miracles augmented the devotion of the people. In 1517, one of his successors, Denis Brigonnet, {28} ambassador of the king to Rome, obtained from Pope Leo X. permission for him to be commemorated in a solemn office, as a confessor bishop. This was the year in which began the schism of Luther.

On the 15th October, 1784, Mgr. Antoine-Joseph des Laurents, last bishop of S. Malo but one, examined the relics of the blessed one. He found the bones of S. John enveloped in his pontifical vestments, his pastoral staff at his side, and ring on his finger. During the Revolution the relics of the Saint were ordered to be cast into the sea, but the order was countermanded, and the sexton was required to bury them on the common fosse in the cemetery. The grave-digger, whose name was Jean Coquelin, being a good Catholic, disobeyed the order so far as to lay the bones apart in a portion of the new cemetery as yet occupied by no other bodies. In November, 1799, he announced the secret to M. Manet, a priest who had remained through the Reign of Terror, in S. Malo; and this venerable ecclesiastic assisted by another priest and some religious, verified the relics. A sealed box received the precious deposit, and it was restored to its ancient shrine on 7th March, 1823. Unfortunately the loss of a document which supplied one necessary link in the chain of evidence authenticating the relics was missing, consequently they could not be exposed to the veneration of the faithful. By a strange accident this document was recovered later; whereupon the bishop wrote to Rome to state the proofs which were now complete. The necessary sanction having been received, the sacred relics were enshrined on the 16th November, 1839, with great ceremony; and are now preserved in the Church of S. Malo.

In French, S. John is called S. Jean de la Grille; in Latin, S. Joannes de Craticula.


(A.D. 1163.)

[Cistercian Breviary. Authority:—Radez, Chronic de las ordines y Cavall. de Santiago, Calatrava, y Alcantara.]

In the year a.d. 714, the Moors, having conquered King Roderick, took possession of Andalusia, and fortified the city of Oreto, to which they gave the name of Calatrava; of which they remained masters for nearly four hundred years, till Alfonso the Warlike took possession of it, in the year 1147, and gave it to the Templars, to guard against the irruption of the infidels. But they held it for only eight years. The forces which the Moors assembled to recover Calatrava so discouraged them, that they gave up the city into the hands of Don Sancho, who had succeeded to the kingdom of Castille, on the death of Alfonso, and withdrew from it. This prince announced to his court that if any nobleman would undertake the defence of the place, he should have and hold it, in perpetuity, as his own property. But no one offered; the host of the Moors which had so alarmed the Templars, caused equal dismay in the minds of the nobles at court. A monk of the order of Citeaux alone had courage to undertake the defence of the town. This was Don Didacus Velasquez, monk of the abbey of Our Lady of Fitero, in the kingdom of Navarre. He had borne arms before he assumed the white habit of Citeaux, and was well known to King Sancho, and this perhaps was the reason why his abbot, Don Raymond, had taken him with him on a visit to the king, about some matter concerning his monastery, at this very time. He entreated the abbot to allow him to ask permission of Sancho to undertake the defence of Calatrava. Raymond, at first, rejected the proposal, but at length, gained by the {30} zeal and confidence of Didacus, he boldly asked the city of the prince. He was regarded as mad, but Sancho was prevailed upon by the evident assurance of the two monks to give the town of Calatrava to the Cistercian Order, and especially to the abbey of Fitero, on condition that the monks held it against the infidels. This was in 1158.

The abbot Raymond and his companion Velasquez then proposed to the king to found a military Order of Calatrava, and after having obtained his consent, they communicated their design to the bishop of Toledo, who not only approved it, but gave them a large sum of money for the fortification of the town, and accorded indulgences to all such as should take arms in its defence, or contribute arms or money for the purpose. Several persons joined the two monks, and in a short while an army was raised, at the head of which they entered Calatrava, and took possession of it. The walls were repaired and completed with such expedition and strength, that the Moors abandoned their purpose of attacking it, and withdrew.

The abbot Raymond, having nothing further to fear from the infidels, applied himself to organise the new military Order, which took its name from this town. The general chapter of Citeaux prescribed the manner of life and habit of these warrior monks, but historians are not agreed as to the colour or shape of the original habit.

As the territory of Calatrava was almost devoid of inhabitants, the abbot Raymond returned to Fitero, where he left only the aged and infirm monks, bringing all who were active and young to Calatrava, together with a great number of cattle, and twenty thousand peasants, that he might settle them in the newly acquired territory. He governed the order six years, and died at Cirvelos, in the year 1163. After his death, the knights of Calatrava, although they were novices of Citeaux into whose hands he had put arms, {31} refused to be governed by an abbot, and to have monks among them. They elected as their Grand Master one of their number, Don Garcias; and the monks, who had chosen their new abbot, Don Rudolf, retired with him to Cirvelos, where they began an action against the knights, to eject them, that they might recover possession of Calatrava, which the king had given to their order, and especially to their house of Fitero. But a reconciliation was effected, probably through fear of the Moors, and the knights ceded to them a house at S. Petro de Gurniel, in the diocese of Osma, with all its dependencies, and there they built a monastery, leaving Calatrava in the hands of the knights.

In the year 1540, the knights were allowed to marry, and took only the vows of poverty, obedience, and conjugal fidelity; since the year 1652, they have added a fourth; to defend and maintain the Immaculate Conception of the blessed Virgin.

(A.D. 1242.)

[Roman and Benedictine Martyrology, those of Menardus, Ferrarius, &c. Authority:—An old contemporary life, falsely attributed to Atto, B. of Pistoria.]

Verdiana was the child of poor, though well-born parents; and her knowledge of the sufferings of the poor from her own experience in early years made her ever full of pity for those in need. At twelve years old she was noted for her beautiful and modest countenance, and humble deportment. A wealthy relation, a count, took her into his house, and made her wait upon his wife. Her strict probity and scrupulous discharge of her duties so gained the confidence of her master and mistress, that they entrusted to her the entire management of their house. {32} One day that there was a famine raging in the diocese of Florence, and the poor were in extreme distress, the girl saw some miserable wretches dying from exhaustion at the door. Her master had a vessel of beans, and she hastily emptied the box, and fed the starving wretches with them. This would have been an act of questionable morality, were it not for the extremity of the case, when, to save life, an act is justified which would have been unjust were there no such an imperious necessity. Her master had, in the meantime, sold the beans, and he shortly after returned with the money. He went to the vessel, to send it to the purchaser, but found it empty. "Then," says the contemporary writer, "he began to shout and storm against the servants, and make such a to-do as to cause great scandal in the house and among the neighbours. Now when all the house was turned topsy-turvy about these beans, and was in an uproar, the lord's hand-maiden, with great confidence, betook herself to prayer, and spent the night in supplication. And on the morrow, the vessel was found full of beans as before. Then the master was called, and she bade him abstain for the future from such violence, for Christ who had received the beans had returned them."

By the kindness of the Count, her relative, she was enabled to make a pilgrimage to S. James, of Compostella, in company with a pious lady. On her return, she resolved to adopt the life of a recluse, and after long preparation, and a visit to Rome, where she spent three years, she obtained the desire of her heart, and received the veil from the hands of a canon of the Church of Castel Fiorentino, her native place, and bearing the Cross, preceded and followed by all the clergy and people, she was conducted to her cell, and, having been admitted into it, the door was walled up. In this cell she spent many years, conversing with those who visited her, and receiving her food through a window, {33} through which, also, the priest communicated her. Two large snakes crept in at this window, one day, and thenceforth took up their abode with her. She received these fellow-comrades with great repugnance, but overcame it, and fed them from her own store of provisions. They would glide forth when no one was near, but never failed to return for the night, and when she took her meals. On one occasion they were injured by some peasants who pursued them with sticks and stones. Verdiana healed them, nevertheless the rustics attacked them again, killed one, and drove the other away, so that it never returned to the cell of the recluse.

When the holy woman felt that the hour of her release approached, she made her last confession and received the Blessed Sacrament through her window, and then closing it opened her psalter, and began to recite the penitential psalms. Next morning the people finding the window closed, and receiving no answer to their taps, broke into the cell, and found her dead, kneeling with eyes and hands upraised to heaven, and the psalter before her open at the psalm Miserere mihi, "Have mercy upon me, O God! after Thy great goodness; and according to the multitude of Thy mercies, do away mine offences."

[1]   Vincent of Beauvais, and other late writers, say that the name of God was found after his death written in gold letters on his heart; but this is only one instance of the way in which legends have been coined to explain titles, the spiritual significance of which was not considered sufficiently wondrous for the vulgar.

[2]   Lib. vi. c. 8.

[3]   De Bel. Jud. vii. 3.

[4]   As S. Ephraem related the incident several times to his monks, and they wrote it down from what he had related, there exist several versions of the story slightly differing from one another.

[5]   Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 16.

[6]   Moreover it contradicts the positive statements of more reliable authors, that Bridget was the legitimate daughter of Brotseach, the wife of Dubtach.

[7]   But this legend is given very differently in another Life, and Cogitosus and the first and fourth Lives do not say anything about it.

[8]   As near as can be ascertained; see Lanigan, Eccl. Hist. of Ireland, vol. 1, p. 455.

Tomb of Joshua. From the Greek Menology.


February 2.

The Purification of S. Mary.


THE PURIFICATION is a double feast, partly in memory of the B. Virgin's purification, this being the fortieth day after the birth of her Son, which she observed according to the Law (Leviticus xii. 4), though there was no need for such a ceremony, she having contracted no defilement through her childbearing. Partly also in memory of Our Lord's presentation in the temple, which the Gospel for the day commemorates.

The Old Law commanded, that a woman having conceived by a man, if she brought forth a male child, should remain forty days retired in her house, as unclean; at the end of which she should go to the temple to be purified, and offer a lamb and a turtle dove; but, if she were poor, a pair of turtle doves or pigeons, desiring the priest to pray to God for her. This law the Blessed Virgin accomplished (Luke ii. 12) with the exercise of admirable virtues; especially did she exhibit her obedience, although she knew {35} that she was not obliged to keep the law, yet, inasmuch as her Son had consented to be circumcised, though He needed it not, so did she stoop to fulfil the law, lest she should offend others. She also exhibited her humility, in being willing to be treated as one unclean, and as one that stood in need of being purified, as if she had not been immaculate. Among the Greeks, the festival goes by the name of Hypapante, which denotes the meeting of our Lord by Symeon and Anna, in the temple; in commemoration of which occurrence it was first made a festival in the Church by the emperor Justinian I., a.d. 542. The emperor is said to have instituted it on occasion of an earthquake, which destroyed half the city of Pompeiopolis, and of other calamities. It was considered in the Greek Church as one of the feasts belonging to her Lord (Despotikaý Heortaý). The name of the Purification was given to it in the 9th century by the Roman pontiffs. In the Greek Church the prelude of this festival, which retains its first name, Hypapante, is "My soul doth magnify the Lord, for He hath regarded the lowliness of his hand-maiden;" and a festival of Symeon and Anna is observed on the following day.


From the Great Missal.

Feb. 2.

In the Western Church it has usually been called "Candlemas Day," from the custom of lighting up churches with tapers and lamps in remembrance of our Saviour having been this day declared by Symeon to be "a light to lighten the Gentiles." Processions were used with a similar object, of which S. Bernard gives the following description:—"We go in procession, two by two, carrying candles in our hands, which are lighted not at a common fire, but a fire first blessed in the church by a bishop. They that go out first return last; and in the way we sing, 'Great is the glory of the Lord.' We go two by two in commendation of charity and a social life; for so our Saviour sent out his disciples. We carry light in our hands: first, to signify {36} that our light should shine before men; secondly, this we do on this day, especially, in memory of the Wise Virgins (of whom this blessed Virgin is the chief) that went to meet their Lord with their lamps lit and burning. And from this usage and the many lights set up in the church this day, it is called Candelaria, or Candlemas. Because our works should be all done in the holy fire of charity, therefore the candles are lit with holy fire. They that go out first return last, to teach humility, 'in humility preferring one another.' Because God loveth a cheerful giver, therefore we sing in the way. The procession itself is to teach us that we should not stand idle in the way of life, but proceed from virtue to virtue, not looking back to that which is behind, but reaching forward to that which is before."

The Purification is a common subject of representation in Christian art, both Eastern and Western. From the evident unsuitableness of the mystery of the Circumcision to actual representation, it is not usually depicted in works of art, and the Presentation in the Temple has been generally selected, with better taste, for this purpose. The prophecy of Symeon, "Yea, a sword shall pierce through Thine own soul also," made to the blessed Virgin, is the first of her seven sorrows.

The Christian rite of "The Churching of Women" is a perpetuation of the ancient ceremony required by the Mosaic Law. How long a particular office has been used in the Christian Church, for the thanksgiving and benediction of woman after child-birth, it would be difficult to say; but it is probably most ancient, since we find that all the Western rituals, and those of the patriarchate of Constantinople, contain such an office. The Greeks appoint three prayers for the mother on the first day of the child's birth. On the eighth day, the nurse brings the child to church, and prayer is made for him before the entrance to the nave. On the {37} fortieth day, the mother and the future sponsor at the child's baptism bring the child. After an introductory service of the usual kind, the mother, holding the child, bows her head; the priest crosses the child, and touching his head, says, "Let us pray unto the Lord; O Lord God Almighty, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who didst create by Thy word all creatures, rational and irrational, who didst bring into being all things out of nothing; we beseech and entreat Thee, purify from all sin and pollution this Thy handmaid, whom by Thy will, Thou hast preserved and permitted to enter into Thy holy Church; that she may be deemed worthy to partake, without condemnation, of Thy holy mysteries." (If the child has not survived, the prayer ends here; if it be alive, the priest continues), "And bless the child born of her. Increase, sanctify, direct, teach, guide him; for Thou hast brought him to the birth and hast shown him the light of this world; that so he may be deemed worthy of the mental light at the time that Thou hast ordained, and be numbered among Thy holy flock: through Thy only begotten Son, with whom Thou art blessed, together with Thy all-holy, good, life-giving Spirit, now, always, and for ever and ever."

Other prayers referring to the mother of the child follow. Allusion is made to the presentation of Christ, in the Temple. The child is taken in the priest's arms to various parts of the church as an introduction to the sanctuary. A boy is taken to the altar; a girl only to the central door of the screen. There is a separate form in case of miscarriage.

THE FLIGHT INTO EGYPT. After Fra Angelico.

Feb. 2.



[Roman and other Western Martyrologies. Commemorated by the Greeks on Sept. 13th. Authorities:—The Acts of the Holy Apostles, c. 10, the notices in the Martyrologies, and allusions in the Epistles of S. Jerome. The Acts given by Metaphrastes are not deserving of much attention.]

Cornelius, the centurion, was officer of the Italian band at CŠsarea. He was a devout proselyte, who feared God, with all his household, and gave much alms to the poor and prayed often and earnestly to God. He saw in a vision an angel, who told him that his prayers and alms had come up for a memorial before God, and that he was now to hear the words of Salvation, and to be instructed in the fulness of divine truth. He was to send to Joppa, to the house of one Simon, a tanner, for S. Peter, the prince of the Apostles, who would instruct and baptize him.

This he accordingly did, and S. Peter, hastening to CŠsarea, baptized him and all his house. And the Holy Ghost fell upon them.

Cornelius was afterwards, by S. Peter, ordained bishop of CŠsarea, where he strove mightily to advance the kingdom of Christ, and witnessed a good confession before the chief magistrate. He died at a ripe old age, and was buried secretly in a tomb belonging to a friend, a Christian of wealth. And, it is said, that a bramble grew over the spot and laced the entrance over with its thorny arms, so that none could enter in till S. Silvanus, bishop of Philippopolis, in Thrace, in the beginning of the 5th century, hacked away the bramble, and discovered, and translated the sacred relics.


(A.D. 619.)

[Roman and other Western Martyrologies. Authorities:—Bede, Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 4, 6, 7. Malmesbury lib. de Gest. Pontif. Angl.]

Laurence was one of the first missionaries to the Saxons, who came over with S. Augustine; and he succeeded the Apostle of England in the see of Canterbury, in 608, in which he sat eleven years. Bede says, "Laurence succeeded Augustine in the bishopric, having been ordained thereto by the latter, in his lifetime, lest, upon his death, the state of the Church, as yet unsettled, might begin to falter, if it were destitute of a pastor, though but for one hour. Wherein he followed the example of the first pastor of the Church, Peter, who, having founded the Church of Christ at Rome, is said to have consecrated Clement his assistant in preaching the Gospel, and at the same time, his successor. Laurence, being advanced to the degree of archbishop, laboured indefatigably, both by frequent exhortations and examples of piety, to raise to perfection the foundation of the Church, which had been so nobly laid. In short, he not only took care of the new Church formed among the English, but endeavoured also to employ his pastoral solicitude among the ancient inhabitants of Britain, as also among the Scots, who inhabited the island of Ireland. For when he understood that the course of life and profession of the Scots, as well as that of the Britons, was not truly ecclesiastical, especially that they did not celebrate Easter at the correct time, he wrote jointly with his fellow-bishops, an exhortatory epistle, entreating and conjuring them to observe unity of peace, and conformity with the Church of Christ spread throughout the world."

{40} But soon troubles arose which obliged Archbishop Laurence to withdraw his attention from the British bishops to the condition of his own Kentish diocese. The pious King Ethelbert died, and his son Eadbald, instead of following his father's example, opposed Christianity, and caused great scandal by taking to him his step-mother to wife, his own mother, the saintly Bertha, having died some years before. The condition of Christianity became so hopeless in Kent, that Laurence resolved to desert his see, and he was confirmed in his determination by Mellitus, bishop of London, and Justus, bishop of Rochester, who fled from the violence of the sons and successors of the Christian Sebert, king of the East Saxons. Bede says, "Laurence, being about to follow Mellitus and Justus, and to quit Britain, ordered his bed to be laid, the night before, in the church of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul; wherein, having laid himself to take some rest, after he had poured out many prayers and tears to God for the state of the Church, he fell asleep. In the dead of the night, the blessed prince of the apostles appeared to him, and scourging him a long time with apostolic severity, asked of him, 'Why he would forsake the flock which he had committed to him? or to what shepherds he would commit Christ's sheep that were in the midst of wolves? Have you,' said he, 'forgotten my example, who, for the sake of those little ones, whom Christ recommended to me in token of His affection, underwent at the hands of the infidels and enemies of Christ, bonds, stripes, imprisonment, afflictions, and lastly, the death of the cross, that I might be crowned with Him?' Laurence being excited by these words and stripes, the very next morning repaired to the king, and taking off his garment, showed the scars of the stripes he had received. The king astonished, asked, 'Who had presumed to give such blows to so great a man?' and was much frightened when he {41} heard that the bishop had suffered so much at the hands of the apostle of Christ for his salvation. Then, abjuring the worship of idols, and renouncing his unlawful marriage, he embraced the faith of Christ, and being baptized, promoted the affairs of the Church to the utmost of his power."

In the reign of this same king, Archbishop Laurence died, and was buried in the Church of S. Peter, close beside his predecessor Augustine, and was succeeded by Mellitus.

(ABOUT A.D. 652.)

[Belgian Martyrologies, and in Saussaye's supplement to the Gallican Martyrology. Authorities:—Mention of him in the life of his wife S. Richtrudis, by Hucbald the monk, a.d. 907; and in the life of his daughter, S. Eusebia. In some Martyrologies he is styled Martyr, but generally Duke.]

Duke Adalbald was a grandson of S. Gertrude of Hamage. His mother's name was Gerberta. From his earliest youth he was a model of virtue, even in the court of the king. He married S. Richtrudis, by whom he had S. Maurontus, his eldest son, who became afterwards abbot; and three virgin saintly daughters, Clotsendis, Eusebia, and Andalsendis. S. Amandus baptized Clotsendis, and Queen Nanthild, wife of King Dagobert, was sponsor to Eusebia. On his way to Gascony for some purpose, he was waylaid and murdered, by certain persons who were displeased at his marriage with Richtrudis. It seems probable, therefore, that the crime was committed on account of some property, but nothing for certain is known of the motive actuating the murderers. Relics at S. Amand, in Flanders.



[Benedictine Martyrology and those of Menardus, Ferrarius, &c. Authority:—An ancient, apparently authentic, life by an anonymous writer, published by Bollandus.]

The blessed Adeloga was a daughter of Charles Martel, son of Pepin l'Heristal, by Kunehilda, whether his wife or concubine is uncertain. Adeloga was of singular beauty, so that she was greatly sought in marriage, but she constantly refused all offers, having given her heart wholly to her heavenly Spouse. Her father, greatly exasperated against her, on this account, treated her with studied brutality, subjecting her to public insult; and observing that the bruised spirit of his child sought refuge and comfort in the advice of her director, his private chaplain, he was filled with bitterness, and said, "Hearken, my daughter, you have refused kings, dukes, and peers to anger me, that you might wanton with a curate." Then calling to him one of his knights, who stood by, as he thus insulted his daughter, he bade him "Go and tell the chaplain to be off, he and his woman here, or they shall both be driven forth with contumely, to-morrow morning."

Hearing this, the priest groaned in spirit, and said, "O God of heaven and earth, who searchest the secrets of all hearts, and every thought of man, Thou knowest my innocence in this matter. But, although my lord has exercised his anger upon me, I will not desert my lady and mistress, but for Christ's sake will wait upon her with all reverence."

Then Adeloga went forth, and the priest with her, and they journeyed till they came to a wild and desert place, and there they built a convent. The name of the place was Kitzingen.

{43} To her came many virgins, and the priest gave her the veil, and made her abbess, enjoining her to adopt the rule of SS. Benedict and Scholastica. He, himself, attended to the temporal affairs of the convent, till he was summoned to his rest.

The story is told that after his death, a young nun, having fallen in love with a youth, resolved to fly the convent. She waited till night, and then, when all were asleep, stole to the gates, but there she saw the form of the white-haired chaplain beckoning her back, and with a gentle voice addressing her, "Go back, dear virgin! A heavenly Spouse calleth thee, and no earthly lover! Return to him, my child. I watch without over this sacred house, and the abbess keeps ward within." And not many days after, the girl sickened and died.

There was another nun who was also smitten with passion for a young noble, and harboured in her mind the thought of escaping from her monastery, and flying to his arms. But in the night, as she slept, she saw the holy abbess, Adeloga, pass before her with a lamp in her hand, who turned and looked on her and said, "Lo, Christ cometh, prepare to meet Him. Awake, the Bridegroom cometh, go forth and trim thy light." Then she started from sleep, and was moved with compunction, and never after yielded to sensual thoughts.

Now it fell out that in after years Charles Martel was reconciled to his daughter, and endowed her monastery with lands, and visited her. Then, in the night, there stood before him, in vision, the old chaplain, who said to him, "The Eternal King hath sent me unto thee, to declare to thee my innocence in that thing whereof thou didst once accuse me. And if thou believest me not now, then will I cite thee to appear, and hear me plead my cause, before the just judgment seat of God." And when Charles awoke, he {44} called to him his daughter, and said, "Pray for me, my dearest child, that the Lord lay not this sin to my charge, that once in wrath I spoke falsely against thee and my chaplain, thy director."

It is related that among the retainers of the abbey was a noble youth very fond of dogs, and above all, he loved one hound, which was with him in the field and forest by day, and slept at the foot of his bed at night. One day that he was in the wood, a couple of ruffians fell upon him, and murdered him for the sake of his clothes and purse, and left the body naked under the trees. For three days the faithful hound kept guard, and then it sought the abbey, and whined at the door of the lady Adeloga, and when she came forth, plucked at her dress, as though to lead her into the forest. Suspecting something was amiss, she called to her some servants, and they followed the dog to where his master lay slain. The abbess was determined to discover who were the murderers. She therefore summoned before her all the retainers and serfs on the land, and questioned them closely, but could obtain no confession. Then she solemnly warned the culprits to beware how they left the matter to the judgment of God, and she bade them, for the last time, confess. When all were silent, the hound of the murdered man was introduced, and it flew at the throats of the culprits and tore them so fearfully that one died.

The historian of the life of S. Adeloga, concludes with the following prayer. "We pray thee, most holy and gentle mother, that, as thou hast encouraged us in this life with thy good example and virtuous acts, so mayest thou deign to assist us with God in life eternal; that as we rejoice in thy commemoration on earth, so may we merit to be strengthened by thy intercession in heaven; for the sake of Christ Jesus, our Lord, who of all Saints is the reward, the glory, joy, and crown, through ages of ages, Amen."


(A.D. 880.)

[Authority:—The contemporary Fulda Annals of the Franks. See also the Legend in Langebek, Script. Rer. Danicarum II., pp. 57-71.]

These martyrs were Duke Bruno of Saxony, Theodoric, bishop of Minden, Marquard, bishop of Hildesheim, Erlulf of Fulda, Gosbert, bishop of OsnabrŘck, and many others; massacred by the Northmen.

(A.D. 1365.)

[Roman Martyrology.]

This Saint was sent by the Sovereign pontiff, into the vallies inhabited by the Waldensian heretics, as Inquisitor-general in Piedmont, in 1351, and was murdered by the heretics in the Franciscan convent of Susa. The person who did the deed stabbed him in the cloister, on the feast of the Purification of Our Lady, in 1365. His tomb was opened in 1854, and the relics were elevated to the altars of several churches to which they were given. Pius IX. confirmed the devotion of the Catholics towards this martyr.


February 3.


[Roman and other Latin Martyrologies. Authorities:—The letters of S. Cyprian of Carthage, and S. Cornelius of Rome. A letter of S. Celerinus to the Confessor Lucian is inserted in some editions of the works of S. Cyprian.]

OF CELERINA, Ignatius, and Laurence nothing, except their names, is known, and even these would not have come down to us, but for their being mentioned as glorious martyrs by S. Cyprian, in a letter to their nephew, S. Celerinus. This Celerinus was first Reader, and then Deacon, in the Church of Carthage, and received orders from S. Cyprian. He was in Rome in the year 250, and confessed Christ there in the Decian persecution, spending nineteen days in chains; but {47} to his great sorrow, his sister yielded to her fears, and was numbered among the lapsed. Afterwards Celerinus was unfortunately drawn away by Novatian into schism, but when he perceived that the schismatic sought his own advancement rather than the glory of God, he acknowledged his error, and returned to the communion of the Catholic Church.


S. Fortunatus is mentioned, together with many other martyrs, in the Roman and other Martyrologies on Feb. 2nd, as having suffered at Rome; but their Acts have not been preserved. The body of S. Fortunatus was found in 1606, in the cemetery of S. Callixtus, and was given by Pope Paul V. to the Rev. Jacobus Tirinus, S.J., for the new and beautiful Jesuit church he had built in Antwerp, in the year 1622. On account of Feb. 2nd being the Feast of the Purification, the commemoration of S. Fortunatus has been postponed in that church till Feb. 3rd.


[Roman and Western Martyrologies. Commemorated by the Greeks on Feb. 11th, in some ancient Martyrologies, on Feb. 15th. The Greek Acts, of which there are four versions, are modern, and deserve little regard.]

Blasius, Blase, Blayse, Blays, or Blaise, was bishop of Sebaste, a city of Cappadocia, in the Lesser Asia. He spent a great part of his time in retirement on a hill not far from the city, whither he withdrew, after the duties of his office were finished, to be alone with God. During the persecution of the Christians in the reign of Diocletian, he {48} lay concealed for some time in this retreat; but was at last taken and brought before Agricolaus, the governor of the province, and confessing himself a Christian, was thrown into prison. After enduring many tortures, he received the crown of martyrdom in the beginning of the fourth century. Some historians refer this event to the year 316, under the reign of Licinius. Seven holy women and two young children suffered at the same time. The Acts of his martyrdom are so untrustworthy that it is not possible to state any further particulars which are authentic. The Council of Oxford, a.d. 1222, prohibited servile labour on this day. Its observance in England was marked by several curious ceremonies. Among others a taper used to be offered at High Mass; and it was lately the custom in many parts of England to light bonfires on the hills on S. Blaise's night. Some have affirmed that these usages arose from an absurd pun on the Saint's name (sc. "blaze"); but this seems clearly erroneous, as they are not peculiar to England. In some parts of Germany, S. Blaise's Day is called "Little Candlemas Day," because of the bonfires that it was usual (for an uncertain reason) to kindle on that night. At Bradford, Yorkshire, a festival is holden every five years in memory of S. Blaise.

In the Greek paintings, S. Blaise is depicted as an old man with a pointed beard. In Western art he appears in the vestments of a bishop; his peculiar emblem is an iron comb, such as is used by wool-combers, which is said to have been an instrument of his torture. Owing, probably, to this reason, he has been esteemed the patron of manufacturers of wool, and that trade in the city of Norwich still observes his day, or did so until lately. S. Blaise is also frequently represented as surrounded by wild beasts, or birds are bringing him food; the text, Job v. 23, which occasionally accompanies these emblems, {49} indicates that, in his case as in that of other saints, by long continuance in a solitary course of life, the denizens of the wood had become accustomed to the Saint's presence. Sometimes again, S. Blaise has a swine's head at his feet, typical of his victory over the sensual desires of the flesh. Finally, he occasionally holds in one hand, or has borne before him by a chorister, a lighted taper, typical of his being "a burning and a shining light."

S. BLAISE. From Cahier.

Feb. 3.

(ABOUT A.D. 576.)

[The learned Bollandus, S.J., pithily remarks: "Magnas Umbria circa veterum suorum Sanctorum res gestas ortum Štatem, contraxit umbras, si non tenebras." Little is known of this Saint.]

S. Laurence the Illuminator, is said to have come from Syria with many other illustrious bishops and confessors, to Italy, in the reign of Diocletian. He was elected by the clergy bishop of Spoleto; and illumined his diocese with his teaching and miracles.

(ABOUT A.D. 690.)

[Martyrologies of Ado, of Wyon, Menardus, those of LiÚge, Cologne, &c. Authorities:—Two ancient lives, one by Notker, B. of LiÚge (971-1007).]

S. Hadelin was one of the disciples of S. Remacle, and when that Saint resigned his bishopric of Tongres, that he might retire from the world into the peaceful monastery of Staveloo, lately founded by S. Sigebert, King of Austrasia, he took with him the pious and humble Hadelin. On their {50} way they rested on a bare plain, under a glaring sun, for their afternoon repose. S. Remacle remained awake, whilst his companion slept, and saw an angel bending over Hadelin, shading him with his wings from the burning heat. Remacle sent Hadelin into the neighbourhood of Dinant, on the Meuse, in 669, and finding a quiet retreat at Celles, on the Lesse, he dwelt there in a cave, and built a little chapel, on the site of which rose in after years a collegiate church. S. Hadelin is the patron of five churches in the diocese of LiÚge and Namur. His hermitage still exists, and from his time has never been without a pious successor. The body of the Saint was buried there, but was translated to Vise in the diocese of LiÚge, in 1338. His translation is commemorated on October 11th.

(ABOUT A.D. 698.)

[Molanus in his addition to Usuardus, Wyon, Menardus, and Ferrarius. Authority:—An ancient life by an anonymous writer, published by Bollandus.]

Berlinda was the daughter of a nobleman named Odelard, who resided at Meerbeeke, near Ninove, in Brabant, in the reign of King Dagobert, and of Nona, his wife, the sister of S. Amandus. To a rare beauty, Berlinda joined all the gifts of intellect, but she had the misfortune to incur the anger of her father. After the death of his wife and only son, Odelard was attacked by leprosy, and lived a miserable languishing life, ministered to by his daughter.

One day that he asked her for something to drink, she filled a bowl with water, and took it to him, and then, being herself thirsty, she rinsed out the vessel, and filled it again. The father, highly offended at her doing this, drove off at {51} once to Nivelles and offered all his lands to S. Gertrude, by the symbolic gift of a white glove and a reaping-hook and a branch of foliage. Before accomplishing his donation, he supplicated the Saint to accept his offering with her own hands. Then the reliquary, in which the holy abbess reposed, opened, and the lifeless hands of S. Gertrude were extended to receive the glove, the branch, and the sickle. Then it closed upon them.

Berlinda, being disinherited, retired to the monastery of Moorsel, near Alost, where she lived in penitence and prayer. One night she heard a choir of angels singing, as they sailed across the dark starlit sky, bearing the soul of her father to Paradise. She at once besought of the superior permission to return to Meerbeeke for a while. Her request was complied with, and she flew to her father's castle. He was dead, so Berlinda buried him in the little church he had erected there to the honour of S. Peter.

Retained by force in her paternal dwelling by the servants and tenants, Berlinda remained at Meerbeeke, where she continued her life of austerities and prayer, and died about 690, on the 3rd of February.

As no stone sarcophagus could be found in which she might be laid, a large oak was cut down and scooped out to serve as a coffin, and her body was placed in it. Numerous miracles were wrought at her tomb, so that at the end of seven years the coffin was opened, and the wood was found to have become petrified. On this occasion a church was built in her honour and that of the Blessed Virgin, and thirty years later, her relics were solemnly enshrined on May 2nd, 728. S. Berlinda has remained in great honour at Meerbeeke. She is invoked against cattle diseases; and in accordance with an ancient custom, pilgrims pray before a wooden image of the saint represented beside a cow, and touch the udder of the cow, which has become black {52} through the innumerable touchings to which it has become subjected. According to a popular saying S. Berlinda protects trees transplanted on her festival.


[English Martyrology. Authorities:—Life of Goscelin, the monk (fl. 1100), and mention in Bede, John of Brompton, Florence of Worcester, Hyden, Langherne, Simeon of Durham.]

Werburga, patroness of Chester, was born at Stone, in Staffordshire, and was the daughter of Wulfhere, King of Mercia, or the Midland English. From the lips of her sainted mother, Ermingilde, she received those first lessons of Christian truth which afterwards produced such beautiful fruit in her life.

Being one of four children, all trained under the same godly discipline, she is said to have excelled them all in virtue and discretion. Her mind was open to receive good impressions, and she listened with earnest attention to every word of instruction and advice. Thus, she "daily grew in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ:" her mind continually expanding under the influence of holy thoughts and pure desires. At an age when most persons of her exalted position would have been found joining in the giddy whirl of pleasure, she found truest joy in contemplation of heavenly things, and holiest bliss, arising from a pure conscience chastened by fasting and sanctified by prayer. She daily assisted her mother in the performance of the whole Church Offices, and spent much time on her knees in the exercise of private devotions.

Having early resolved to devote herself to a life of virginal purity, she sought every opportunity to prepare her mind {53} for that holy state. But she was not to overcome the world without a struggle. Temptations began to gather around her. The beauty of her person attracted a crowd of admirers, who eagerly sought her hand in marriage. Foremost among these was a prince of the West Saxons, who offered her rich gifts and made flattering proposals. She refused to accept his gifts; and to his proposals answered that she had resolved to become the bride of Christ, and wished no earthly spouse.

S. WERBURGA. From Cahier.

Feb. 3.

Another, and more violent temptation soon presented itself. Werbode, a powerful knight of her father's court, backed by the influence of her father, entreated Werburga to become his wife; but to his entreaties she turned a deaf ear. Imagining that to this refusal she was influenced by her two brothers, who were then under the instruction of S. Chad, and resolving by fair or foul means to compass his designs, Werbode sought an opportunity to murder the two brothers, and thus remove them from his path. In the accomplishment of this diabolical design, he was, to a certain extent, assisted by the father, whom he had incensed against his sons. Werbode soon after died a miserable death. The king, stung by remorse, saw reflected, as in a mirror, all the deeds of his past life, and remembered how he had promised to extirpate idolatry from his dominions, but had failed to perform his vow. With earnestness he began to atone for his faults; destroyed the idols and converted their temples into churches, built the great abbey of Peterborough, founded the priory of Stone, and in every way endeavoured to propagate the true faith among his people.

Seeing this happy change in his disposition, Werburga revealed to her father the earnest desire of her heart, and earnestly entreated his permission to consecrate herself wholly to God. At first he appeared to be very grieved, {54} but yielding at length to her passionate entreaties, Wulfhere, attended by his whole court, conducted her with great state to the convent of Ely. Here they were met at the gates by a long procession of nuns, singing hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God. Werburga, falling on her knees, begged of the royal abbess, S. Etheldreda, that she might be received as a postulant. Having obtained her request, the voice of praise again ascended to heaven, the virgins chanting the Te Deum, as they returned to the convent. Now followed the usual trials; Werburga was first stripped of her costly apparel, her rich coronet was exchanged for a poor veil, purple and silks and gold were replaced by a rough coarse habit, and she resigned herself into the hands of her superior, henceforward to live only to Christ.

The virgin, with great fervour, now devoted herself to God. Her affections being weaned from earthly things, were fixed more firmly upon those things which are above. By prayer and fasting, by self-sacrifice and mortification, by obedience and penance, she sought to sanctify her soul and body, that she might present them, a holy and acceptable sacrifice, unto God.

After many years she was chosen, at the request of her uncle King Ethelred, to superintend all the religious houses for women in his kingdom. When she entered upon this larger sphere of duty, she laboured with earnest diligence to make all the houses under her care models of exact monastic discipline. Through the liberality of her uncle, she was enabled to found new convents at Trentham, in Gloucestershire; Hanbury, in Staffordshire; and Weedon, in Northamptonshire. These remained for several centuries as evidences of her godly zeal. The king also, at her request, founded the collegiate church of S. John the Baptist, in the suburbs of West Chester, and gave to S. Egwin the ground for the great abbey of Evesham.

{55} S. Werburga, both by precept and example, sought to develope the religious life in those committed to her charge, and many through her influence were won from a life of dissipation and vice to a life of holiness and love.

God, in answer to continual prayers, had crowned her with many spiritual and celestial blessings. The old chroniclers say that she became the most perfect pattern of meekness, humility, patience, and purity. Her fastings and mortifications were almost incredible. She never took more than one meal during the day, and that of the coarsest food: seeking in this to emulate the lives of those fathers of the desert who shed such radiance over the Eastern and African Church. Beside the usual monastic offices, she was in the habit of reciting, upon her knees, the whole of the Psalter daily. She often remained in the church all night, bathed in tears and prostrate in prayer.

In the exercise of these holy devotions she lived to a ripe old age. Receiving at last some premonitions of her approaching departure, she made a farewell visit to all the houses under her care, and exhorted the inmates to prepare for the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom. Then retiring to the convent at Trentham, she quietly waited her departure. The messenger soon came, and found the bride ready, and so with quiet faith and perfect trust she went to the home of her Spouse, on the 3rd of February, 699.

Her corpse, in accordance with her own directions, was conveyed to the monastery at Hanbury. It was interred with great honour, and there remained until the year 708. Then it was disinterred in presence of King Ceolred and many bishops, and transferred to a costly shrine. The old chroniclers say that it was found incorrupt, and remained so until a.d. 875, when, for fear of the Danes, who were invading the country, the shrine was carried to Chester. The body, however, fell to dust soon after its translation. In {56} course of time a stately church was erected over the relics; this became the cathedral, and as such exists to this day.

During the reign of Henry VIII., the shrine was desecrated, and the holy relics of S. Werburga scattered abroad. What remained of the costly shrine was afterwards converted into an episcopal throne, and may still be seen, carved with the curious images of kings of Mercia, ancestors of S. Werburga, who flourished eleven centuries ago. To this day it is used as the throne of the bishops of Chester.

(A.D. 840.)

[From the Life of S. Anskar, c. 6; Adam of Bremen, Hist. Eccl. lib. i.]

Nithard, nephew of Bishop Gauzbert, accompanied him in his mission to the Swedes; at first he was heard with patience, but the wild pagans, enraged at his denunciation of their worship of Thorr and Odin, burst into the house where he was, and killed him.

(A.D. 865.)

[German, Scandinavian, and Belgian martyrologies. Authorities:—His life by his successor, S. Rembert, who was personally acquainted with him, and had shared in his mission. The following outline of the life of this illustrious saint is from the pen of the Rev. G. F. Maclear, B.D., and is extracted from his "Apostles of MediŠval Europe," somewhat curtailed, and with some modifications.]

Charlemagne was once, we are told,[9] at Narbonne, when, in the midst of the banquet, some swift barks were seen putting into the harbour. The company started up, {57} while some pronounced the crew to be Jewish, others African, others British traders, the keen eye of the great emperor discerned that they were bound on no peaceful errand. "It is not with merchandise," said he, "that yonder barks are laden; they are manned by most terrible enemies." And then he advanced to the window, and stood there a long while in tears. No one dared to ask him the cause of his grief, but at length he explained it himself. "It is not for myself," said he, "that I am weeping, or for any harm that yon barks can do to me. But truly I am pained to think that even while I am yet alive they have dared to approach this shore; and still greater is my grief when I reflect on the evils they will bring on my successors."

His words were only too truly fulfilled. The sight of those piratical banners told its own tale. The fleets he had built, the strong forts and towns he had erected at the mouths of the various rivers throughout his empire, were neglected by his successors, and what he foresaw came to pass. Year after year, during the ninth century, the children of the North burst forth from their pine forests, their creeks, their fiords, and icebound lakes, and prowled along the defenceless shores of Germany, France, and England. They laughed at the fiercest storms, landed on the most inaccessible coasts, and pushed up the shallowest rivers, while Charlemagne's degenerate successors tamely beheld the fairest towns in their dominions sacked and burnt by the terrible crews of those terrible barks.

"Take a map," writes Sir Francis Palgrave, "and colour with vermilion the provinces, districts, and shores which the Northmen visited, as the record of each invasion. The colouring will have to be repeated more than ninety times successively before you arrive at the conclusion of the Carlovingian dynasty. Furthermore, mark by the usual {58} symbol of war, two crossed swords, the localities where battles were fought by or against the pirates; where they were defeated or triumphant, or where they pillaged, burned, destroyed; and the valleys and banks of the Elbe, Rhine, and Moselle, Scheldt, Meuse, Somme, and Seine, Loire, Garonne, and Adour, the inland Allier, and all the coasts and coastlands between estuary and estuary, and the countries between the river-streams, will appear bristling as with cheveux-de-frise. The strongly-fenced Roman cities, the venerated abbeys, and their dependent bourgades, often more flourishing and extensive than the ancient seats of government, the opulent sea-ports and trading-towns, were all equally exposed to the Danish attacks, stunned by the Northmen's approach, subjugated by their fury."[10]

But while the mind faintly strives to conceive the misery and desolation thus inflicted, on well-nigh every town and village of Germany and France, it finds satisfaction in the thought that even now missionary zeal did not falter; that while every estuary and river darkened under the sails of the Northmen's barks, there were not lacking those who had the Christian bravery to penetrate into the dreary regions whence they issued forth, to seek them out amidst their pine forests and icebound lakes, and to plant amongst them the first germs of Christian civilization.

The first mission in Denmark was organized in the year a.d. 826, when Harold, king of Jutland, his queen, and a large retinue of Danes, were baptized with great pomp in the vast Dom of Mayence. On this occasion, Harold solemnly did homage to Louis the Pious, and agreed to hold the Danish kingdom as a feudatory of the Carlovingian crown. On this occasion also, Ebbo, the primate of France, determined to seek out a monk who would be willing to accompany the newly-baptized king on his return {59} to Denmark, and remain at his court as a priest and teacher. But the well-known ferocity of the Northmen long deterred any one from offering himself for such a duty. At length the abbot of Corbey, near Amiens, announced that one of his monks was not unwilling to undertake the arduous task.

The intrepid volunteer was Anskar, a native of a village not far from Corbey. Born in the year a.d. 801, and early devoted by his parents to the monastic life, he had always evinced the deepest religious enthusiasm, and his ardent imagination taught him to believe that he often saw visions and heard voices from another world. When he was only five years of age, he lost his mother: and a dream, in which he saw her surrounded by a majestic choir of virgins, the fairest of whom bade him, if he would join his mother in bliss, flee the pomps and vanities of the world, exerted a profound impression upon him, and induced him to devote himself more than ever to prayer and meditation.

But when he was thirteen years of age, a.d. 814, an event occurred which exercised a still deeper influence over his susceptible mind. News reached the monastery that Charlemagne was dead. The greatest of great emperors had passed away, and now, in the sepulchre which he had made for himself, "he was sitting on his curule chair, clad in his silken robes, ponderous with broidery, pearls, and orfray, the imperial diadem on his head, his closed eyelids covered, his face swathed in the dead-clothes, girt with his baldric, the ivory horn slung in his scarf, his good sword 'Joyeuse' by his side, the Gospel-book open on his lap, musk and amber and sweet spices poured around."[11]

Anskar at this time had relaxed somewhat of his usual austerities, and now the thought that even that mighty prince, whom he himself had seen in all the plenitude of {60} his power could not escape the hand of death, filled him with awe, and he gave himself up more unreservedly than ever to the severest discipline. Meanwhile his talents had brought him into general notice, and when his abbot founded another monastic outpost in Westphalia, in a beautiful valley on the west bank of the Weser, and called it New Corbey, Anskar was removed to the new foundation, and at the age of twenty-five was elected, with the common consent of all, to superintend its conventual school, and to preach to the neighbouring population.

He was on a visit to Old Corbey, when the news arrived that a monk was much needed to accompany the Danish Harold to his native land, and that the abbot Wala had nominated him to the emperor as a fit person to be entrusted with the arduous mission. Summoned to the court, Anskar calmly but resolutely announced his willingness to go. In dreams and visions, he said, he had heard the voice of Christ himself bidding him preach the word to the heathen tribes: and nothing could induce him to shrink from the plain path of duty. In vain, therefore, on his return to the monastery, the brethren learning that he was about to resign all his hopes and prospects to preach amongst heathens and barbarians, warned, protested, and even mocked at him for his madness. Immoveable in his resolution to brave all risks, he began to prepare himself for his great enterprise by prayer and study of the Scriptures; and so deep was the impression made by his evident sincerity and self-devotion, that Autbert, steward of the monastery, and a man of noble birth, when every one else hung back, declared that he could not find it in his heart to desert his friend, and was resolved to become his companion.

A foretaste of the difficulties that awaited them was experienced at the very outset. No one could possibly be {61} prevailed on to accompany them as an attendant. The abbot himself shrank from interposing his authority, and they were fain to set out alone. Before starting, they had an interview with Louis, and received from him everything they were likely to need for their undertaking, in the shape of church vessels, tents, and books. From Harold, however, they met with but little encouragement, and neither he nor his nobles cared much for their company.

On their arrival at Cologne, whence they were to sail up the Rhine to Holland, and so to Denmark, Bishop Hadebold bestowed upon them a ship with two cabins. The better accommodation promised in such a vessel induced Harold to share it with Anskar; and the engaging manners of the missionary gradually won his respect, and inspired him with an interest in his undertaking.

On landing, Anskar fixed his head-quarters at Schleswig, and commenced the foundation of a school, purchasing, or receiving, from Harold, Danish boys, whom he tried to train, so as to form the nucleus of a native ministry. Two years thus passed away, and some impression seemed to have been made upon the people, when Autbert sickened, and was obliged to return to Corbey, where he died. Meanwhile the baptism of Harold, and still more his destruction of the native temples, was bitterly resented by his subjects. Before long a rebellion broke out, and the king was obliged to fly for refuge to a spot within the ancient Frisian territory, while Anskar finding it necessary to leave Schleswig, was consoled by an unexpected opportunity of commencing a similar work in Sweden.

In the year a.d. 829, ambassadors from Sweden presented themselves at the court of Louis, and after arranging the political object of their mission, announced that many of their countrymen were favourably disposed towards Christianity. The commerce carried on at this period {62} between Sweden and the port of Doerstadt, combined with the teaching of some Christian captives, whom the Swedes had carried off in their piratical excursions, had predisposed not a few towards lending a favourable ear to Christian teachers. The emperor gladly embraced the opportunity thus afforded, and summoned Anskar to the palace, who, after an interview, declared his entire willingness to undertake the enterprise.

A monk named Gislema was therefore left with Harold, and Anaskar having found a new companion in Witmar, a brother monk of Corbey, set out in the year a.d. 831 with presents from Louis to the King of Sweden.

But the voyage was most disastrous. The missionaries had not proceeded far when they were attacked by pirates. A fierce battle ensued, and their crew, though first victorious, were overpowered in a second engagement, and barely escaped to land. The pirates plundered them of everything, the presents for the king, their sacred books, and all their ecclesiastical vestments. In this forlorn and destitute condition they reached Birka, a haven and village on the Mńlar lake, not far from the ancient capital Sigtuna, the residence of rich merchants, and the centre of the northern trade. Here they were hospitably welcomed by the king, Biorn "of the Hill," and received full permission to preach and baptize. The nucleus of a church was found already existing in the persons of many Christian captives, who had long been deprived of the consolation of Christian ordinances. The work, therefore, of the missionaries commenced under fair auspices, and before long Herigar, the king's counsellor, announced himself a convert, and erected a church on his estate.

A year and a half was thus employed, and then Anskar returned to the court of Louis with a letter from the King of Sweden, and an account of all that had befallen him. {63} Thereupon Louis resolved, without delay, to give effect to the ecclesiastical plans of his father, and to make Hamburg an archiepiscopal see, and the centre of operations for the northern missions. Accordingly, Anskar was elevated to the archiepiscopal dignity, and was consecrated at Ingleheim by Drogo, Archbishop of Mayence, and other prelates. At the same time, because of the poverty of the diocese, and the dangers to which the mission would be inevitably exposed, the monastery of Thourout in Flanders, between Bruges and Ypres, was assigned to him as a place of refuge, and a source of revenue. Then he was directed to repair to Rome, where he received the pall from Gregory IV., and was regularly authorized to preach the Gospel to the nations of the North.

These arrangements made, Anskar returned from Rome. Ebbo, who had been associated with him in the commission to evangelize the northern tribes, deputed his missionary duties to his nephew Gauzbert, who was raised to the episcopal dignity, and entrusted with the special care of the Swedish mission. Thither, accordingly, Gauzbert set out, received a hearty welcome from Biorn and his people, and laid the foundation of a church at Sigtuna. Meanwhile Anskar had proceeded to Hamburg, and, in pursuance of his former plan, bought or redeemed from slavery a number of Danish youths, whom he either instructed himself, or sent for that purpose to the monastery of Thourout.

But the times were hardly ripe for successful operations. Three years had barely elapsed, when an enormous army of Northmen, led by Eric, king of Jutland, attacked Hamburg, and before relief could arrive, sacked and burnt it, together with the church and monastery which Anskar had erected with great trouble. He himself had barely time to save the sacred vessels, and, before the sun went down, every external memorial of his mission was reduced to ashes. {64} "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord," was the exclamation of the archbishop, as he surveyed the scene. Driven from Hamburg, he now wandered for a long time over his devastated diocese, followed by a few of his clergy and scholars, and at length sought refuge at Bremen. But the envious Bishop Leutbert refusing to receive him, he was fain to avail himself of the hospitality of a noble lady in the district of Holstein. And, as if this was not enough, he now received intelligence that, owing to similar risings of Northmen, the hopes of the Swedish missions were utterly crushed.

The pagan party had conspired against Bishop Gauzbert, expelled him from the country, and murdered his nephew Nithard. But divine vengeance did not fail to pursue the conspirators. One of them had carried home some of the property of the missionaries. Before long he died, together with his mother and sister, and his father found his own property wasting from day to day. Alarmed at this sudden reverse of fortune, he began to consider what God he could have offended, to bring all these troubles on his house. Unable to solve the difficulty himself, he had recourse to a soothsayer. The lots were cast, and it was found that none of the native deities bore him any ill will. At length the soothsayer explained the cause. "It is the God of the Christians," said he, "who is the author of thy ruin. There is something dedicated to Him concealed in thy house, and therefore all these evils have come upon thee, nor canst thou hope to prosper till the sacred thing is restored."

After vainly trying, for some time, to comprehend what this could mean, he suddenly recollected the day when his son had brought home one of the sacred books from the spoil of the missionaries' dwellings. Stricken with alarm, he immediately called together the inhabitants of the place, {65} told them all that had occurred, and prayed their advice in the emergency. Every one declined to receive the terrible relic, and at last, fearful of further vengeance if he retained it any longer in his house, the man covered it carefully, and then fastened it to a stake on the public road, with a notice that any one who wished might take it down, and that for the crime he had unwittingly been guilty of against the Christians' God he was ready to offer any satisfaction that might be required. One of the native Christians took it down, and the man's terrors were appeased.

Anskar meanwhile was still wandering over his desolated diocese. Even the monastery of Thourout, which Louis had bestowed upon him for the very purpose of being a covert from such storms as these, was closed against him, having been bestowed upon a layman by Charles the Bald. Under such accumulated misfortunes most men would have sunk, but Anskar waited patiently in the hope of some change, and comforted himself with the words addressed to him by Archbishop Ebbo before his death: "Be assured, my dear brother, that what we have striven to accomplish for the glory of Christ will yet, by God's help, bring forth fruit. For it is my firm and settled belief, nay, I know of a surety, that though the work we have undertaken among these nations is for a time subject to obstacles and difficulties on account of our sins, yet it will not be lost or perish altogether, but will, by God's grace, thrive and prosper, until the Name of the Lord is made known to the uttermost ends of the earth."

Before long, events occurred which seemed to promise that the clouds would roll away, and a brighter era be initiated. Mindful of the converted chief, Anskar sent to Sigtuna an anchoret named Ardgar, with directions to see how he fared, and to strengthen him against falling back into heathenism. Thither Ardgar set out, and was {66} rejoiced to find Herigar still remaining faithful to the faith he had embraced. The recollection of the Divine vengeance which had attended the previous outbreak, protected the missionary from injury, and the new king who had succeeded Biorn was persuaded by Herigar to permit Ardgar to preach the Gospel without fear of molestation.

That chief was no half-hearted believer, and openly confronted the malice of the pagan party. On one occasion, as they were boasting of the power of their gods, and of the many blessings they had received by remaining faithful to their worship, he bade them put the matter to an open and decisive proof. "If there be so much doubt," said he, "concerning the superior might of our respective gods, let us see whose power is greatest: whether that of the many whom ye call gods, or that of my one omnipotent Lord, Jesus Christ. Lo! the season of rain is at hand. Do ye call upon the names of your gods, that the rain may be restrained from falling upon you, and I will call upon the name of my Lord, Jesus Christ, that no drop may fall on me; and the god that answereth our prayers, let him be God."

The heathen party agreed, and repairing to a neighbouring field, took their seats in great numbers on one side, while Herigar, attended only by a little child, sat on the other. In a few moments the rain descended in torrents, drenched the heathens to the skin, and swept away their tents; while on Herigar and the little child no drop fell, and even the ground around them remained dry. "Ye see," he cried, "which is the true God; bid me not, then, desert the faith I have adopted, but rather lay aside your errors, and come to a knowledge of the truth."

On another occasion the town of Birka was attacked by a piratical expedition of Danes and Swedes, under the {67} command of a king of Sweden, who had been expelled from his realm. The place was closely invested, and there seemed to be no prospect of a successful defence. In their alarm, the townspeople offered numerous sacrifices to their gods, and when all other means failed, collected such treasures as they possessed, together with a hundred pounds of silver, and succeeded in coming to terms with the hostile chiefs. But their followers, not satisfied with the amount, prepared to storm the town. Again the gods were consulted, the altars raised, the victims offered, but with results equally unpromising. Herigar now interposed, rebuked the people for their obstinate adherence to the worship of gods that could not give aid in trouble, and when they bade him suggest some device, and promised to follow his council, he urged them to make a solemn vow of obedience to the Lord of the Christians, assuring them that, if they turned to Him, He at any rate, would not fail them in the hour of danger. The people took his advice, went forth to an open plain, and there solemnly vowed to keep a fast in honour of the God of the Christians, if He would rescue them from their enemies.

Help came in an unexpected fashion. The Swedish king, while the army was clamouring for the signal to attack, suggested that the gods should be consulted by lot, whether it was their will that Birka should be destroyed. "There are many great and powerful deities there," said he; "there also formerly a church was built, and even now the worship of the Great Christ is observed by many, and He is more powerful than any other god. We ought, then, to inquire first whether it is the divine will that we attack the place." Accordingly the lots were cast, and it was discovered that the auspices were not favourable for the assault; and thus Birka was spared. The arrival, therefore, of Ardgar was well timed, and he {68} was not only welcomed by Herigar, but the Christians were strengthened in their adherence to the faith by his coming.

Nor was it in Sweden only that the prospects of the missionaries brightened. In a.d. 847, Leutbert, bishop of Bremen, died. Anskar's own see of Hamburg was now reduced, by the desolating inroads of the Northmen, to four baptismal churches. It was therefore proposed that the see of Bremen should be annexed to the archbishopric of Hamburg, and, after the plan was matured, Anskar no longer found himself hampered by want of means from devoting all his energies to the wider planting of the faith. At the same time he was enabled to appoint a priest over the church at Sleswik, and from Horik, king of Jutland, he no longer experienced opposition in preaching the word amongst the people. This encouraged many who had been baptized at Hamburg and Doerstadt, but who had subsequently conformed to idolatrous practices, to publicly profess their adhesion to the Christian faith, and they rejoiced in the opportunity of joining in Christian fellowship. The trade also of Doerstadt prospered by the change; Christian merchants flocked thither in greater numbers, and with greater confidence, and thus helped forward the work of Anskar and his colleagues.

At this juncture the hermit Ardgar returned from Sweden. Anskar, more than ever unwilling that the mission there should be allowed to drop, tried to prevail on Gauzbert to revisit the scene of his former labours. But the latter, discouraged by his previous failure, declined, and Anskar finding no one else willing to undertake the work once more girded up his loins, and encouraged by Horik, who gave him letters to Olaf king of Sweden, set out for Birka. The time of his landing was unfortunate. The heathen party had been roused by the native priests, and a crusade was proclaimed against the strange doctrines. {69} Suborning a man who pretended to have received a message from the native deities, the priest announced it to be the will of heaven that, if the people wished for new gods, they should admit into their company the late king Eric, and allow divine honours to be paid to him. This wrought up the feelings of the populace to such a pitch, that the retinue of the archbishop pronounced it absolute madness to persevere in his undertaking.

But Anskar was not thus to be thwarted. He invited Olaf to a feast, set before him the presents sent by the king of Jutland, and announced the object of his visit. Olaf, on his part, was not indisposed to make the concessions he desired, but as former missionaries had been expelled from the country, he suggested that it would be well to submit the affair, once for all, to the solemn decision of the sacred lots, and consult in an open council the feelings of the people. Anskar agreed, and a day was fixed for deciding the question.

First, the council of the chiefs was formally asked, and their opinion requested. They craved the casting of the sacred lots. The lots were accordingly cast, and the result was declared to be favourable to the admission of the archbishop and his retinue. Then the general assembly of the people of Birka was convened, and at the command of the king a herald proclaimed aloud the purport of the archbishop's visit. This was the signal for a great tumult, in the midst of which an aged chief arose, and thus addressed the assembly:

"Hear me, O king and people. The God whom we are invited to worship is not unknown to us, nor the aid He can render to those that put their trust in Him. Many of us have already proved this by experience, and have felt His assistance in many perils, and especially in the sea. Why, then, reject what we know to be useful {70} and necessary for us? Not long ago some of us went to Doerstadt, and believing that this new religion could profit us much, willingly professed ourselves its disciples. Now the voyage thither is beset with dangers, and pirates abound on every shore. Why, then, reject a religion thus brought to our very doors? Why not permit the servants of God, whose protecting aid we have already experienced, to abide amongst us? Listen to my counsel, then, O king and people, and reject not what is plainly for our advantage. We see our own deities failing us, and unable to aid us in time of danger. Surely it is a good thing to obtain the favour of a God who always can and will aid those that call upon Him."

His words found favour with the people, and it was unanimously resolved that the archbishop should be permitted to take up his abode in the country, and should not be hindered in disseminating the Christian faith. This resolution was announced to Anskar in person by the king, who further conceded a grant of land for building a church, and welcomed Erimbert, a colleague of the archbishop, whom he presented as the new director of the Swedish mission.

Meanwhile matters had not been so prosperous in Denmark. Eric "the Red," though not professedly a Christian, had, as we have seen, aided the archbishop materially in the introduction of Christianity. His apostasy provoked the inveterate hostility of the Northmen, and the sea-kings determined to avenge the insult offered to the national gods.

Rallying from all quarters under the banner of Guthrun, nephew of Eric, they attacked the apostate king near Flensburg, in Jutland. The battle raged for three days, and at its close Eric and Guthrun, and a host of kings and jarls lay dead upon the field; and so tremendous had {71} been the slaughter, that the entire Viking nobility seemed to have been utterly exterminated.

The new king, Eric II., easily persuaded that the recent reverses were entirely due to the apostasy of his predecessor, ordered one of Anskar's churches to be closed, and forbade all further missionary operations. After a while, however, he was induced to change his policy, and Anskar, on his return from Sweden, was reinstated in the royal favour, and received a grant of land for the erection of a second church at Ripe, in Jutland, over which he placed Rembert, his favourite disciple, charging him to win the hearts of his barbarous flock by the sincerity and devotion of his life.

Anskar now returned to Hamburg, and devoted himself to the administration of his diocese. One of the latest acts of his life was a noble effort to check the infamous practice of kidnapping and trading in slaves. A number of native Christians had been carried off by the northern pirates, and reduced to slavery. Effecting their escape, they sought refuge in the territory of Northalbingia. Instead of sheltering the fugitives, some of the chiefs retained a portion of them as their own slaves, and sold others to heathen, and even professedly Christian tribes around. News of this reached Anskar, and at the risk of his life he sternly rebuked the chiefs and succeeded in inducing them to set the captives free, and to ransom as many as possible from the bondage into which they had sold them.

This noble act formed an appropriate conclusion to his life. He was now more than sixty-four years of age, and during more than half that period had laboured unremittingly in the mission field. His friend and biographer expatiates eloquently on his character, as exhibiting the perfect model of ascetic perfection. Even when elevated {72} to the episcopal dignity, he never exempted himself from the rigid discipline of the cloister. He wore a haircloth shirt by night as well as by day. He measured out his food and drink by an exact rule. He chanted a fixed number of Psalms, alike when he arose in the morning and when he retired to rest at night. His charity knew no bounds. Not only did he erect a hospital at Bremen for the sick and needy, distribute a tenth of his income among the poor, and divide amongst them any presents he might receive, but every five years he tithed his income afresh, that he might be quite sure the poor had their proper share. Whenever he went on a tour of visitation through his diocese, he would never sit down to dinner, without first ordering some of the poor to be brought in, and he himself would sometimes wash their feet, and distribute amongst them bread and meat.

Such a practical exhibition of Christian love could not fail to exercise a gradual influence even over the rough pirates of the North, which was increased by the many miracles he wrought. But he was not one to seek distinction of this kind. "One miracle," he once said to a friend, "I would if worthy, ask the Lord to grant me; and that is, that by His grace, He would make me a good man."

He employed his last days in arranging the affairs of his diocese, and calmly expired on the 3rd of February, a.d. 865.

Relics. At Corbie is preserved an arm of the Saint.

[9]   Pertz, "Mon. Germ." vol. ii. p. 757.

[10]   Palgrave's "Normandy and England," vol. i. p. 419.

[11]   Palgrave's "Normandy and England," vol. i. p. 158.


February 4.


[Ferrarius in his Catalogue of the Saints. Some give March 25th as the anniversary of the Crucifixion, and as therefore the most appropriate day for the commemoration of the act, which has made Veronica famous. The festival of S. Veronica with special office, found its way into the Ambrosian Missal printed in 1555 and 1560, but it was expunged by the judicious S. Charles Borromeo.]

ON the 8th December, 1854, when the Eternal City was crowded with bishops, assembled to promulgate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Pius IX., at the expressed and urgent desire of the prelates, allowed the sacred relics of the passion of Christ to be exhibited in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament at S. Peter's. In the midst, over the {74} altar, between burning tapers, loomed the veil of S. Veronica, impressed with the sacred lineaments of the Saviour. None but bishops were permitted to enter the chapel, all others looked through a grating, and to them, from the depth of the chapel, the portrait was wholly undistinguishable. One inferior ecclesiastic alone, by especial favour, was suffered to enter, accompanying a prelate. This was M. Barbier de Montault, canon of the basilica of Anagni; and he took advantage of the opportunity to scrutinize closely the miraculous portrait. He has fortunately communicated to the world the result of his examination. His words are full of interest:—"The Holy Face is enclosed in a frame of silver, partially gilt, and square, of a severe character and little adorned. The simplicity of the bordering gives prominence to the interior of the picture, which is protected by a thin plate of crystal. Unfortunately, a sheet of metal covers the field, and only leaves apparent the figure by indicating its outline. By this outline one is led to conjecture flowing hair reaching to the shoulders, and a short beard, bifurcated, and small. The other features are so vaguely indicated, or so completely effaced, that it requires the liveliest imagination in the world to perceive traces of eyes or nose. In short, one does not see the material of the substance, because of the useless intervention of a metal plate, and the place of the impression exhibits only a blackish surface, not giving any evidence of human features."[12]

The legend of the origin of this portrait is as follows: A holy woman, named Bernice, or, as it has been Latinized, Veronica, lived on the way to Calvary. As Christ was on the road bearing the cross, He fell near her door, and she, moved with compassion, went to Him, and {75} gently wiped the sweat from His face with her veil or napkin. Then the impression of the sacred countenance remained on the veil. Marianus Scotus, the historian (d. 1086), tells the rest of the story thus: "The emperor Tiberius was afflicted with leprosy. Hearing of the miracles of Our Lord, he sent to Jerusalem for Him. But Christ was already crucified, and had risen and was ascended into heaven. The messengers of Tiberius, however, ascertained that a certain Veronica possessed a portrait of Christ, impressed by the Saviour Himself on a linen handkerchief, and preserved by her with reverence. Veronica was persuaded by them to come to Rome, and the sight of the sacred image restored the emperor to health. Pilate was then sentenced by him to death, for having unjustly crucified our Lord." It is hardly necessary to say that there is no foundation of truth for this addition to the original story. How far the first part of the story is true it is impossible to decide. It is by no means improbable that a pious woman may have wiped the face of Christ.

Mabillon, the learned Benedictine, propounded the theory that each early portrait of Christ was called, in barbarous jargon, a mixture of Latin and Greek, vera icon, true image; and that later, a fable was invented to account for the introduction of these representations into Europe, and the name given to the image was transferred to the person who was supposed to have brought it to the West. This explanation has been generally adopted. "By the name of Veronica," says Baillet, "nothing more was signified than the true image—vera icon of the Saviour painted on a handkerchief or piece of linen called the Holy Sudarium, because, ordinarily, only the head of the Saviour from before was represented on it, that is, the face and hair. Nothing further was meant at Rome, {76} where was to be seen, dating from the 12th century, in the Church of S. Peter, one of these Veronicas, before which lamps were kept burning day and night."[13]

But the legend itself seems to be an importation, not a fabrication, as Mabillon suggested. For Constantine Porphyrogeneta (d. 959), in whose reign the sacred Abgarus portrait of Christ was brought to Constantinople, relates the following story of that portrait:—"As Christ was on His way to Calvary, bearing His cross, the blood and sweat streaming from His brow obscured His eyes. Then taking from one of His disciples a piece of linen, He wiped His face, and left thereon His sacred portrait. S. Thomas preserved the towel till after the Ascension, when he gave the miraculous picture to ThaddŠus, who bore it to Edessa. There he lodged with a Jew named Tobias. He began to work miracles in the name of Christ. Abgarus, king of Edessa, hearing of his works, sent for him. As ThaddŠus entered the chamber of the sick king, he elevated above his head the sacred picture, and at the same time, such a blaze of light shot from his face, that Abgarus could not endure the splendour, and, forgetful of his sickness, leaped out of bed. Then he took the linen, covered his head and limbs with it, and was forthwith made whole."

How it was that this venerable picture passed into the hands of the Emperor of Constantinople we learn from the Arabic historian, El Matzin.[14] He says that in the year 331 of Hegira, that is a.d. 953—which is a mistake for 944—the Greeks besieged the city of Edessa, then in the hands of the Saracens, and demanded the surrender of the holy picture and the accompanying letters of Abgarus and the Saviour, in exchange for the captives they had {77} made. The treasured relics were handed over to the Christians, and were brought to Byzantium, where they were placed in a befitting shrine in the church of the Eternal Wisdom. What became of the picture when Constantinople fell into the hands of the Mussulmans is uncertain. The Venetians claimed to have brought it to Rome, and to have presented it to the Church of S. Sylvester. The Genoese, on the other hand, lay claim to the possession of the sacred portrait, and say that it was brought by Leonard de Montalto, in 1384, to their city, and by him presented to the Armenian Church of S. Bartholomew, where it is still preserved and exhibited once a year.

We shall briefly notice such other portraits of Christ as claim to be authentic, whether in colour or in writing. Of the former, that said to have been painted by S. Luke is the most interesting. The Greek monk Michael, in his life of his master, Theodore of the Studium, relates that S. Luke painted a beautiful likeness of our Saviour. This assertion was readily adopted by later writers. Among others, Simeon Metaphrastes (fl. 936) repeats it, and S. Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274) refers to the picture as existing in the Chapel of the Santa Scala, in the Lateran, at Rome.

Another sacred painting of Christ by S. Luke is in the possession of the Benedictines of Vallombrosa. This portrait is certainly of very great antiquity, and is in tempora on a panel of cypress wood. The features are strongly emphasized, the face long, the eyes large and bright, with eyelids drooping, and arched brows.

Another sacred picture is that given by S. Peter to the Senator Pudens, which is exhibited on Easter Day, in the monastery of S. Praxedes. The story goes that it was sketched by S. Peter for the daughters of Pudens, one evening at supper, on the napkin of Praxedes.

{78} It will be remembered that when Christ was laid in the tomb, His body was wrapped in fine linen, and a linen napkin was on his face. These relics are said to be preserved at Besanšon and Turin. The Turin linen shows the bloodstained outline of the Saviour's body; that at Besanšon is marked with the ointments. The features are impressed on the napkin, and are of the Byzantine type.

A crucifix, by Nicodemus, is exhibited in the cathedral of Lucca. Another portrait is the NazarŠum, which is certainly of considerable antiquity, and is probably the earliest extant copy of the famous Edessa picture. It is in the Latin convent at Nazareth. This picture is engraved in Abraham Norow's travels in Palestine. (S. Petersburg, 1844).

Let us now turn to the literary sketches of the portrait of our Lord which have descended to us.

S. Jerome, (d. 420), says that in the face and eyes of Christ there was something heavenly, so that from their glory and majesty the hidden Godhead flashed forth. S. John of Damascus, (d. about 760), in his letter to the Emperor Theophilus, says, "Christ was tall and stately, had brows uniting over the nose, beautiful eyes, a large nose, curled hair, and a black beard. His hair was a gold-brown, like wheat, resembling that of his mother, and his head was bowed somewhat forward."

The next, and more precise account is that of the apocryphal letter of Lentulus, (who is supposed to have lived at the time of Christ, and to have been about the person of Pilate, to the Roman senate,) which is said to have been extracted from the Roman annals by a certain Eutropius. This first appears in the writings of S. Anselm, (d. 1107). "He is a man of tall stature, comely, having a venerable countenance, which those beholding must love or {79} fear. His hair is waving and curled, rolling to his shoulders, having a parting in the middle of the head, after the manner of the Nazarenes, a brow smooth and serene, a face without wrinkle or blemish of any kind, rendered beautiful by a moderate colour. There is no fault to be found with the nose and mouth; he has a full and red beard, the colour of his locks, not long, but forked, and eyes bright and changeable." Another version of this letter adds that the hair was the colour of the hazel-nut, the eyes greyish-blue, and full of light. "His hands and arms are beautiful. He is terrible in reprehension, but mild and full of love in instruction; cheerful, but with steadfast earnestness. No one ever saw Him laugh, but often has He been seen to weep. Precise and modest in his speech, he is in all perfect, and the fairest of the sons of men."

But the most precise and complete account is that of Nicephorus Callistus, (fl. 1330). His description is as follows:—"He was beautiful in body, his height seven complete spans, his hair was yellowish, not bushy, and at the ends somewhat curled. His eyebrows were black, only a little arched, and without break; his eyes were hazel, of that description called bright-eyed, not dim, in no way misformed, not wandering. His nose was prominent, his beard reddish, not profuse, but the hair of his head was abundant, for never had razor or hand of man shorn it. His neck was somewhat bent, so that he did not walk perfectly upright; the colour of his face was a yellow-brown, like ripe wheat; his face was not round, nor pointed, but, like his mother's, a little drooping, and slightly blushing. His very countenance indicated a man of intelligence, with manners grave, calm, and removed from anger. In all things, he was like his most pure mother."

And this is the account of S. Mary given by Nicephorus:—"Mary was in everything modest and earnest; {80} she spake little, and then only about necessaries; she was very courteous, and rendered to all honour and respect. She was of middle stature, though some assert her to have been somewhat taller. She spake to all with an engaging frankness, without laughing, without embarrassment, and especially without rancour. She had a pale tint, light hair, piercing eyes, with yellowish olive-coloured pupils. Her brows were arched and black, her nose moderately long, her lips fresh, and full of amiability when speaking; her face not round or pointed, but longish; hands and fingers fairly long. Finally, she was without pride, simple, and without guile; she had no insipidity about her, but was unassuming. In her dress she was fond of the natural colour; in short, there was in all her ways divine grace."[15]


[Roman Martyrology. Authorities:—Authentic Acts by Gregory, a contemporary. Mention by S. Jerome in his Treatise on Ecclesiastical Writers, c. 78; Ruffinus Hist. Eccl. lib. viii. c. 9; Eusebius, lib. viii. c. 9, 10.]

Phileas was a wealthy nobleman of Thmuis, in Egypt, who was elected bishop of that city, but in the persecution of Dioclesian was carried to Alexandria, before the governor Culcian. In his dungeon he wrote a letter to his flock to encourage them, narrating the sufferings endured by the martyrs for the true faith. This letter has been preserved by Gregory, and in part, by Eusebius. Culcian, who had been prefect of Thebais, was then governor of all Egypt, under the tyrant Maximius, but he afterwards lost his head, {81} in 313, by order of Licinius. The Acts of S. Phileas are scrupulously particular in detailing every question and answer in the examination of the saint. They are too long to be given in their entirety, but extracts from them deserve insertion.

Culcian, the governor, said to him, "Now, then, art thou sober?" Phileas answered, "I am always sober." Culcian said, "Sacrifice to the gods." Phileas answered, "I will not." "Why not?" enquired Culcian. "Because it is forbidden by Scripture to offer sacrifice, save to one God." "Then offer a sacrifice to Him." "God loveth not such sacrifices as you make," answered Phileas. "What sort of sacrifices then does thy God approve of?" asked the judge. Phileas replied, "I offer him a pure heart and clean senses, and true words." Culcian said, "But Paul sacrificed." "No, he did not," answered Phileas. "Well, then Moses did." "Yes," said Phileas, "the command was to the Jews only to sacrifice to God in Jerusalem; now the Jews sin in celebrating their solemn rites elsewhere." "Enough of these empty words; sacrifice," said the magistrate. "I will not do so, and stain my soul." "Why," said the governor, "Paul denied God." "He did not," answered Phileas. "Wilt thou swear that he did not?" asked Culcian. "I will not swear," answered the bishop, "for oaths are forbidden us. It is a matter of conscience." Culcian said, "Is it not a matter of conscience for thee to take care of thy wife and sons?" Phileas said, "Yes, but I have a higher duty to God." Culcian exclaimed, "Hold thy tongue, and sacrifice." "I will not sacrifice," said the bishop. Culcian asked, "Is Christ God?" And Phileas replied, "He is." Culcian said, "How could God be crucified?" "For our salvation," answered Phileas; "He suffered for our sakes."

The governor said, "I might have tortured thee in the city, but I spared thee, wishing to shew thee respect." "I {82} thank thee," said the bishop, "Go on with thy work." "Dost thou desire to die without cause?" asked Culcian. "Not without cause; I wish to die for God and the truth." The governor said, "If thou hadst been a poor man I should soon have despatched thee, but seeing thou art rich enough to feed all the province, I have shewn patience, and endeavoured to move thee by persuasion."

Some lawyers standing by said, "Phileas sacrificed in the monastery," for they had heard something of the Eucharistic mystery, but understood it not. Phileas said, "You are right, I did sacrifice, but I did not immolate victims." Culcian said, "Thy poor wife is looking at thee." Phileas replied, "Jesus Christ calls me to glory, and He can also, if He pleases, call my wife."

The lawyers said to the judge, "Phileas asks delay." Culcian said, "I will grant it willingly, that he may think over the consequences of his persistency in this course." But Phileas cried out, "I have thought well over this, and it is my unchangeable resolution to die for Jesus Christ." Then the lawyers, the emperor's lieutenant, the other officers of justice, and his relations fell at his feet, embracing his knees, and conjuring him to have compassion on his disconsolate family, and not to abandon his children in their tender years. Philoromus, a Christian present, tribune of the soldiers, moved with indignation, cried out, "Why strive ye to make this brave man renounce his God, do ye not see that contemplating the glory of Heaven, he makes no account of earthly things?" Then with a shout, all cried that he must be condemned to die along with Phileas, and to this Culcian assented.

As they were led to execution, the brother of Phileas, who was a lawyer, exclaimed, "Phileas appeals." Culcian called Phileas back, and asked if it were so. The bishop denied that he had so done. Then the procession resumed {83} its way to the place of execution. And when they had reached the spot, Phileas extended his arms to the east, and cried, "O my best beloved sons, whosoever worship God, watch over your hearts, for your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. We have not yet suffered, dearest ones, but we are about to suffer. Now are we becoming disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Attend to the precepts of Christ. We invoke the immaculate, incomprehensible One, who sitteth above the Cherubim, the maker of all things, who is the beginning and the ending, to whom be glory through ages of ages. Amen." And when he had thus spoken, the executioner struck off his head, and that of his companion, Philoromus.


[Commemorated as a semi-double in the Church of Piacenza. Authority:—The Offices of the Breviary of Piacenza for this day.]

S. Gelasius was a little boy, child of pious and wealthy parents in Placentia, the modern Piacenza, in Northern Italy. His brother, older than himself, was S. Olympius, who is commemorated on October 12th. The children slept in the same room. One evening Gelasius heard his brother praying, and angels singing, "Suffer little children to come unto Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." The child died early, in the white innocence of his baptismal robe, and was laid by S. Maurus, bishop of Placentia, in the Church of S. Savin, outside the walls. It was afterwards translated to the new Church of S. Savin within the city, in 1481, by the Bishop Fabricius, together with the bodies of SS. Peregrine and Victor.


(ABOUT A.D. 449.)

[Roman Martyrology. Same day in the Greek Church.]

S. Isidore of Pelusium, in Egypt, was a monk from his youth. Suidas asserts that he was promoted to the dignity of the priesthood. In the time when the turbulent Theophilus was patriarch of Alexandria, Isidore espoused the cause of S. Chrysostom, praised his writings and doctrine, and consequently became an object of hostility to the proud patriarch. On the death of Theophilus, S. Cyril, his nephew, succeeded him, and, as has already been related in the life of that saint, inherited his uncle's prejudices against the great Chrysostom, and after his death opposed the insertion of his name in the diptychs, or list of persons who were commemorated at the Holy Eucharist. But by the influence of S. Isidore, who earnestly strove to bring councils of peace before Cyril, the patriarch of Alexandria was induced to withdraw his objections. The letters of S. Isidore are extant.

(ABOUT A.D. 538.)

[Roman Martyrology, and that of Usuardus, on Feb. 4th; but in the diocese of Troyes, on Feb. 6th, as a semi-double. Authorities:—A very ancient life, written in crude style; mention by S. Gregory of Tours, and in two extant lives of S. Fidolus.]

S. Aventine was much beloved and respected for his singular virtues by S. Camelian, Bishop of Troyes, who made him steward of the possessions of the church. He afterwards became the abbot of a monastery at Troyes, and spent all the money he could collect in redeeming captives. {85} During the reign of Thierry, son of Clovis, he purchased of a band of soldiers, who were leading captives past his door, the boy Fidolus, whom for his gentleness and piety he learned greatly to love; and treating him as a son rather than as a servant, he made of him a monk, and finally, when he himself was old, and Fidolus had grown to man's estate, with the consent of the monks, he delivered over into his hands the government of the monastery, and he himself retired into a lone hermitage in the forest, and spent many years in a cave. When he opened his window, and thrust forth his hand full of crumbs, multitudes of little birds came fluttering up, and perched on his fingers, and ate the crumbs. He was ministered to by a monk, who, in bringing water from the river, sometimes caught in the pitcher very little fish. The gentle Aventine invariably returned the small fish to the river, for he would not hurt or destroy any animal, unless it were necessary. One day he trod on a snake and crushed it, so that it lay numb, and as though lifeless. Then he bent over it, and cherished it, till life returned, and it glided away. Once a stag, pursued by hunters, took refuge in his cave, and he closed the door on it, and hid it, till the hunters had passed further. One stormy night, a bear came roaring to the door of the cell, and strove to beat it in. The hermit, in terror, sang the song, "Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thy holy one to see corruption!" and armed himself with prayer. Now when the sky grew white with dawn, Aventine opened his cell, and there lay the bear crouched on the threshold, and it stretched out its paw to him, and licked his feet. Then the hermit perceived that there was a splinter of wood in the paw, and he said, "Poor beast, thou wast in pain, and didst seek relief, and I thought that thou wast raging for my life." And he took the paw on his lap, drew {86} forth the piece of wood, bathed and bandaged the wound, gave the bear his blessing, and let it depart.

Relics in the parish churches of Creney and S. Aventin and in the cathedral at Troyes. In Art he is represented drawing the splinter from the bear's paw.


[Gallican Martyrologies. Authorities:—Mention in the life of his brother, S. Solemnis, and an ancient metrical French life.]

In the reign of Clovis there lived a Count John, at Chateaudun, who was married to Agnes, daughter of the Count of Blois. By her he had three sons, Solemnis, Aventine, and John, and a daughter Agnes, who died young.

Flavius, uncle of Agnes of Blois, was bishop of Chartres, and called thither Solemnis and Aventine for the purpose of attending to their education. As both showed signs of sanctity, he ordained both, whilst young; Solemnis was raised to the priesthood, and Aventine was appointed archdeacon.

On the death of Flavius, the clergy and people, with the king's consent, proceeded to elect Solemnis to fill the vacant see; but he, knowing their intention, fled, and hid himself in a cave outside the city. When he could not be found, the electors with one consent shouted, "Aventine is worthy!" that being the customary formulary of election. Thereupon, Aventine, much against his will, was drawn into the cathedral, and ordained priest, and consecrated bishop. Now Solemnis, from his place of retreat, heard the shout in the city, and knew that a bishop {87} had been chosen. Yet he waited till he saw peasants returning along the road that ran by his retreat, and he overheard them speaking of the consecration of his brother Aventine. So he, deeming all further concealment unnecessary, came forth, and entered the city. Then, at once, a crowd surrounded him, and the roar of a thousand voices proclaimed, "Solemnis is worthy! Solemnis shall be bishop!" And he was drawn to the cathedral, vested in white, a mitre placed on his head, the pastoral staff put into his hands, and the bishops of the province there present, proclaimed him. And when this was done, men asked, "What shall be done with Aventine?" and he was sent to be bishop of Chateaudun, his native town. Then he went his way. And as he drew near to the city, there met him a leper, who ran towards him, and stopped, and cried out, "I am John, thy brother." He would have rejoiced to meet his brother, had he not seen that he was afflicted with leprosy; for which reason John had retired from the city, and fled from the society of men. Then the bishop ran to him, and fell on his neck, and his tears flowed over him, and he kissed him; and the flesh of John came again as the flesh of a little child, and he was made perfectly whole.

Of the works of the holy Aventine in his diocese little is known, save that he laboured in season and out of season in the ministry of God, and that he lived in a little cell outside the city gates, in the face of a rock. After the death of Solemnis, about 509, Aventine governed the whole Chartrain Church, and subscribed the council of Orleans, 511, as bishop of Chartres. Relics translated in 1853 to the parish church of S. Madeleine in Chateaudun.


(ABOUT A.D. 528.)

[Commemorated by the Greeks on this day. Not by the Westerns, though the story is quoted by a great number of Latin writers. Authority:—The Greek account by Eutychianus, who pretends to have been a disciple of Theophilus, and declares that he relates what he had seen with his own eyes, and heard from the mouth of Theophilus himself. Metaphrastes embodied the narrative of Eutychianus in his great collection of the Lives of the Saints. For a full account of this strange story, see my "Myths of the Middle Ages."]

The following story must be received with caution. It has not received the sanction of the Western Church, and is probably a mere religious romance. It was very popular in the middle ages, and was frequently represented in sculpture and stained glass.

A few years before the Persian invasion, in 538, there lived, in the town of Adana in Cilicia, a priest named Theophilus, treasurer and archdeacon. He lived in strict observance of all his religious duties, was famous for his liberality to the poor, his sympathy with the afflicted, his eloquence in the pulpit, his private devotion, and severe asceticism. On the decease of the bishop, by popular acclamation he was summoned to the episcopal oversight of the diocese, but his deep humility urged him to refuse the office, even when it was pressed upon him by the metropolitan. A stranger was raised to the vacant seat, and the treasurer resumed the course of life he had pursued for so many years with credit to himself and advantage to the diocese, content in his own mind with having refused the office, which might have aroused his pride, and which certainly would have diminished his opportunities of self-sacrifice. Virtue invariably arouses the spirit of detraction, and Theophilus, by his refusal of the bishopric, was thrust into public notice, and attracted {89} public attention. The consequence was, that the evil-minded originated slanders, which circulated widely, produced a revulsion of feeling towards Theophilus, and, what was generally reported, was accepted as substantially true. These stories reached the ears of the new bishop, he sent for the archdeacon, and, without properly investigating the charges, concluded he was guilty, and deprived him of his offices.

One would have supposed that the humility which had required the holy man to refuse a mitre, would have rendered him callous to the voice of slander, and have sustained him under deprivation. But the trial was too great for his virtue. He brooded over the accusations raised against him, and the wrongs inflicted upon him, till the whole object of his desire became the clearing of his character. He sought every available means of unmasking the calumnies of his malingers, and exposing the falsity of the charges raised against him. But he found himself unable to effect his object; one man is powerless against a multitude, and slander is a hydra which, when maimed in one head, produces others in the place of that struck off. Baffled, despairing, and without a friend to sustain his cause, the poor clerk sought redress in a manner which, a month before, would have filled him with horror. He visited a necromancer, who led him at midnight to a place where four cross-roads met, and there conjured up Satan, who promised to reinstate Theophilus in all his offices, and, what he valued more, to completely clear his character. The priest, to obtain these boons, signed away his soul with a pen dipped in his own blood, and abjured for ever Jesus Christ and His spotless Mother.

On the morrow, the bishop, discovering his error, how we know not, sent for Theophilus, and acknowledged {90} publicly that he had been misled by false reports, the utter valuelessness of which he was ready frankly to acknowledge; and he asked pardon of the priest, for having unjustly deprived him of his office. The populace enthusiastically reversed their late opinion of the treasurer, and greeted him as a Saint and confessor.

For some days all went well, and in the excitement of a return to his former occupations, the compact he had made was forgotten. But after a while, as reason and quietness resumed their sway, the conscience of Theophilus gave him no rest. His face lost its colour, his brow was seamed with wrinkles, an unutterable horror gleamed out of his deep-set eyes. Hour by hour he prayed, but found no relief. At length he resolved on a solemn fast of forty days. This he accomplished, praying nightly in the Church of the Blessed Virgin, till the grey of morning stole in at the little window of the dome, and obscured the lamps. On the fortieth night, the Blessed Virgin appeared to him, and rebuked him for his sin. He implored her pardon and all-prevailing intercession, and this she promised him. The following night she re-appeared, and assured him that Christ had forgiven him at her prayer. With a cry of joy he awoke; and on his breast lay the deed which had made over his soul to Satan, obtained from the evil one by the mercy of the holy Mother of God.

The next day was Sunday. He rose, spent some time in acts of thanksgiving, and then went to church, where the divine liturgy was being celebrated. After the reading of the Gospel, he flung himself at the bishop's feet, and requested permission to make his confession in public. Then he related the circumstances of his fall, and showed the contract signed with his blood to the assembled multitude. Having finished his confession, he prostrated himself before the bishop, and asked for absolution. The deed was {91} torn and burned before the people. He was reconciled, and received the blessed Sacrament; after which he returned to his house in a fever, and died at the expiration of three days. The story is probably a mere religious romance.


[Aberdeen Breviary:—from which almost all that is known of his life is gathered.]

S. Modan was first monk, and then abbot of Mailros, in Scotland, and preached the faith in Stirling and at Falkirk. When old he retired among the mountains of Dumbarton, and there died. His body was kept till the change of religion, with honour, in the church of Rosneath.

(A.D. 856.)

[From his life by Rodolph the priest, monk of Fulda, d. 865; and various writers of a later period.]

Rabanus, or Hrabanus Maurus, was one of the most illustrious writers of the 9th century. He was born at Mainz, in the year 788. When very young he was sent to the monastery of Fulda, where he was brought up. From thence he was sent to Tours, where he studied for some time under the famous Alcuin. He returned afterwards to Germany, into his monastery, where he was entrusted with the government of the novices, was afterwards ordained priest in the year 814, and at last chosen abbot of Fulda, in 822. After he had managed this charge twenty years, he voluntarily quitted it, to satisfy {92} the monks, who complained that his studies so engrossed his time that the affairs of the monastery were neglected. He retired to Mount S. Peter, and was shortly after chosen archbishop of Mainz or Mayence, in the year 847. He held a council in the same year for the reformation of discipline; and died in 856.

As a mystical interpreter to Holy Scripture, his commentaries will ever be read. He was a voluminous writer on various subjects, sacred and profane, and was certainly one of the most learned men of his day.

(A.D. 868.)

[Greek MenŠa for this day. Authorities:—Life by a contemporary monk in his monastery.]

This glorious confessor was born in Crete, and was the son of pious parents, who educated him from earliest infancy in the fear of God. At the age of ten he was sent to Constantinople, to see his kinsman Theophanes. He found him a monk of the order of the Sleepless Ones,[16] in the monastery called the Studium. He entered the same order, and fulfilled his monastic duties with regularity and devotion. Having set a brilliant example, he was deemed worthy to be invested with the priesthood. Then broke out the furious persecution of the Iconoclasts, about which a few words must be said in this place.[17]

When God was made Man, He was put at once into the most intimate relation with men; and just as it is lawful for any son to have a portrait of his father or mother, {93} so did it become lawful and reasonable that he should have a picture of that God-Man, who is dearer to him than father or mother. The picture served as a constant reminder, an evidence for the Incarnation. It is a sermon declaring God to be made Man. But the Arians, who denied the divinity of our Lord, were most hostile to sacred representations of Christ, and with reason, for these pictures were a testimony against them. At first the Arian attack on the foundation doctrine of the Incarnation was open. But, when the theological statement of that mystery was made so plain that there was no opposing it by counter statement, Arianism adopted other tactics, and appeared as Iconoclasm, or war against sacred pictures. He who disbelieved, or only coldly acquiesced in the Incarnation of God, saw that this chief corner-stone of Christianity could only be uprooted by chilling the ardour of Christian affection. And no better method of chilling that affection could be devised, than the obliteration of representations of Christ, His acts, His passion, and of His mother, and His Saints; then there was some prospect of religious acceptance of this dogma sinking into cold intellectual apprehension, and thence it could be dislodged without difficulty. After the reconciliation of large congregations of Gnostics and Arians with the Catholic Church, they maintained that icy worship which had preceded their separation, they adored God as a Spirit, but actually, though they had ceased to do so formally, overlooked His manhood. These reconciled bodies afforded a fund of passive prejudice and aversion of small account so long as Catholic princes were on the throne, but which, in the fortune of a soldier, might produce serious results to the Church.

Of such adventurers, the most fortunate was the Emperor Leo III., who, from the mountains of Isauria, ascended to the throne of the East. He was ignorant of sacred and {94} profane letters; but his education, his reason, perhaps his intercourse with Jews and Arabs, had inspired the martial peasant with a hatred of images; and he held it to be the duty of a prince to impose on his subjects the dictates of his own conscience. In the reformation of religion, his first steps were moderate and cautious; he assembled a great council of senators and bishops, and enacted, with their consent, that all the images should be removed from the sanctuary and altar to a proper height in the churches, where they might be visible to the eyes, and inaccessible to the devotion of the people. But it was impossible on either side to check the rapid though adverse impulses of veneration and abhorrence: in their lofty position, the sacred images still edified their votaries, and exasperated their enemies. He was himself provoked by resistance and invective; and his own party accused him of an imperfect discharge of his duty, and urged for his imitation the example of the Jewish king, who had broken without scruple the brazen serpent of the temple. By a second edict, he proscribed the existence, as well as the use of sacred pictures; images of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and the Saints, were demolished, or a smooth surface of plaster was spread over the walls of the edifice. The sect of the Iconoclasts was supported by the zeal and despotism of six emperors, and this topic involved the East and West in an angry conflict of one hundred and twenty years. It was the design of Leo the Isaurian to pronounce the condemnation of images as an article of faith, and by the authority of a General Council; but the convocation of such an assembly was reserved for his son Constantine Copronymus. This council was attended by three hundred and thirty-eight bishops of Europe and Anatolia, but not by those of the Western Church, African Church, or that of Palestine. It was, in fact, an assembly of those prelates who were weak {95} enough to assist, fearing condemnation and exile if they did not submit, ambitious enough to follow the caprice of the reigning emperor, in hopes of emolument, and also of those who heartily concurred with his semi-Arianism. After a serious deliberation of six months, the prelates subscribed such a decree as the emperor desired, condemning all visible symbols of Christ,[18] except the Eucharist, as blasphemous and heretical; and denouncing veneration for images as the idolatry of Paganism. "As if," says a Catholic writer of the time, "there were not this great difference between the Christian image and the heathen idol, that the latter is the thing worshipped, whereas the former is the representation of the person adored."

The first hostilities of Leo had been directed against a lofty Christ on the vestibule, and above the gate, of the palace, placed there to exhibit to all men that the emperors had bowed before the King of kings. A ladder had been placed for the assault, but it was shaken by a crowd of women and zealots, and for their opposing the execution of the mandate, severe and savage reprisals were taken. The execution of the imperial mandates were resisted by frequent tumults in Constantinople and the provinces, which were quelled by the military, and much blood flowed.

In the cruel persecution that ensued, the monks, ever the champions of the Incarnate God, suffered most severely. Nicolas of the Studium, together with S. Theodore, the abbot, or archimandite, of the monastery were called to suffer. Nicolas was scourged with leather thongs on the back and limbs, and his arms extended, so that they became for a time paralysed. His back, which was lashed and bleeding, was tenderly bathed with warm water and healing lotions by S. Theodore, his superior, till it was {96} healed. Both were driven into exile, and kept for three years in nakedness, and without sufficient food and drink, in a wretched prison. They were beaten again at Smyrna, and further imprisoned for twenty-two months, with their feet in the stocks. On the death of Leo, the confessors were released, and visited S. Nicephorus at Chalcedon. This took place during the absence of Constantine Copronymus, who had undertaken an expedition against the Saracens. During this absence, his kinsman, Artavasdus, assumed the purple, and everywhere the sacred images were triumphantly restored. Constantine flew for refuge to his paternal mountains; but he descended at the head of the bold Isaurians, and his final victory placed the unfortunate Catholics once more at the mercy of a brutal tyrant. This monster of crime derived his name Copronymus from having defiled his baptismal font. This incident of his infancy was accepted as an augury of his maturity, and he did not belie it. His reign was one long butchery of whatever was most noble, or holy, or innocent, in his empire. In person the emperor assisted at the execution of his victims, surveyed their agonies, listened to their groans, and indulged, without satiating, his appetite for blood: a plate of noses was accepted as a grateful offering, and his domestics were often scourged or mutilated by his royal hand. His long reign was distracted with clamour, sedition, conspiracy, mutual hatred, and sanguinary revenge. The hatred borne by this ruffian against monks and images was implacable. Images were torn down and defaced with wanton malice throughout the empire by an officer called the Dragon, sent round for that purpose; all religious communities were dissolved, their buildings were converted into magazines or barracks; the lands, moveables, and cattle, were confiscated, and the monks were mutilated in eyes and ears and limbs, with refined cruelty.

{97} Under this emperor, Theophilus (829), Nicolas and Theodore again suffered persecution. Theodore, and the abbot Theophanes, kinsman of Nicolas, were mutilated by certain verses being cut upon their brows. During the persecution, S. Nicolas remained concealed; on the accession of the indifferent emperor, Michael III., (842), he emerged from his hiding place, and was elected archimandite of the Studium, the abbot Theodore being dead. After exercising the government for three years, he resigned it to Sophronius, and retired to Firmopolis, that he might pass the remainder of his days in peace; but it was not so to be; after four years he was recalled to the abbacy of the Studium, on the death of Sophronius, and was at once involved in conflict. For the patriarch Ignatius, having rebuked the CŠsar Bardas for incest, and then excommunicated him, the emperor Michael III., his nephew, was persuaded to exile Ignatius, and to intrude Photius into the Patriarchal see. The abbot Nicolas refused to communicate with the intruder, and was consequently driven from his monastery, and a monk, Achillas, was appointed in his room. Nicolas was pursued from one retreat to another by the hostility of the intruded patriarch, and after many wanderings, rested in the Crimea. Upon the death of Bardas and Michael, Bardas having been murdered by his nephew Michael, and Michael by his successor, Basil I., (867), the patriarch Ignatius was recalled, and the patriarch persuaded Nicolas to return to his government of the Studium, where he died the following year.


(A.D. 888.)

[Roman Martyrology; this being the day of his consecration to the Archbishopric of Bremen and Hamburg. But in some German Martyrologies, on June 11th, the day of his death. Authority:—his life written by a coeval author or authors].

This saint was born at Thourout, in Flanders, where was a monastic cell, that had been given by King Louis the Pious to S. Anskar. As Anskar was at Thourout one day, he noticed some boys going to church, and amongst them was one who, by his gravity, pleased him; and when the boy entered the church, he crossed himself, and behaved with so great reverence, that the archbishop went to him, and asked his name. He told him that he was called Rembert. Then S. Anskar took him and placed him in the little monastery, and bade that he should be well instructed. In after years, the apostle of Sweden called Rembert to assist him in his mission; and he loved his young friend greatly, and prayed to God for three days incessantly that He would grant to Rembert to accomplish the work that he, Anskar, had begun, and to make them companions together in the Heavenly Zion. After Anskar died, in 865, S. Rembert was unanimously chosen Archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen, and he superintended all the churches of Sweden, Denmark, and Lower Germany. He also began a mission to the Wends and Sclavonic race of Mecklenburg and Brandenburg, which was attended with considerable success. He sold the sacred ornaments of the Church to redeem captives from the Northmen. On one occasion he saw a party of these marauders pass, dragging after them a poor girl, who raised her shackled hands towards the bishop, and began to chant one of David's psalms. Then S. Rembert leaped off his horse, and ran to the chief, and {99} offered him the horse if he would release the captive Christian maiden. And this he did, well pleased to obtain so valuable a horse. S. Rembert died on June 11th, in the year 888.

(A.D. 1189.)

[Roman, Anglican, Belgian, Benedictine, and Cistercian Martyrologies. Authority:—his life, by a contemporary, published by Bollandus.]

This S. Gilbert, of whom Henricus Chrysostomus, a Cistercian chronicler, speaks as "a disciple of Bernard the mellifluous, a man of apostolical zeal, of most severe and rigid life, in purity conspicuous, illustrious for his gift of prophecy, and the mirific performer of stupendous miracles," was born about the year a.d. 1083, near the close of the reign of William the Conqueror. From an apparently contemporary pedigree he seems to have been related on the mother's side to that monarch, who may have rewarded the services of his father, "a bold and skilful warrior," with the hand of one of his relations, in addition to the manor of Sempringham, where Gilbert first saw the light. His mother is said to have received, shortly before his birth, a miraculous presage of the future greatness of her child, a greatness, however, of which few external tokens would seem to have manifested themselves during his childhood; since one of his biographers relates that as a child he was so dull and spiritless as to provoke the contempt and ill-usage of even the servants of his father's household. Driven by this maltreatment from his home and country, or more probably sent from home by the care of his parents, who discerned in him a greater aptitude for the cloister than for the camp, he passed some years in Gaul in the peaceful study of letters {100} and philosophy. His childish education completed, he returned to England, and took up his abode with one of his father's dependents. Here he fell in love with the daughter of his host, and gave the first proof of his vocation to the counsels of perfection; for finding his passion increase daily in strength, and fearing lest he should be overcome by it, he fortified his soul by prayer and fasting; and then seeking the company of his beloved, he so wrought upon her by his exhortations and entreaties, that he prevailed upon her to join him in a vow of perpetual chastity, and she was one of the first who afterwards became nuns under his rule.

He now took to keeping a school, and gathered together a number of children of both sexes, to be instructed in the rudiments of religion, and especially taught them to live an orderly and pious life in the world, without as yet leading them forward to the higher life of the cloister; and these afterwards became the nucleus (primitiŠ plantŠ) of his order.

During this time he seems to have lived in the family of the then Bishop of Lincoln, and to have been admitted by him to the minor orders of the ministry; for the next thing related of him is that being presented by his father to the united benefices of Sempringham and Torrington he most willingly accepted the charge, and devoted the whole revenue of his livings to charitable purposes. Such was the fervour of his devotion at this time, that it is related that having one day invited one of his companions to join him in his prayers, the youth was so fatigued by the length of the office, and the punctilious care with which Gilbert genuflected whenever the holy names of God and of Christ occurred, that he swore he would never pray with him again.

After a while he was ordained priest by Alexander, Bishop of Lincoln, who held him in such high esteem that he made {101} him his confessor, and would have appointed him Archdeacon; but this Gilbert resolutely declined saying, "that he knew not of a shorter road to perdition."

Persevering in his resolve to give his all to the poor, he now for the first time formally constituted his religious order, by assembling a number of poor girls, amongst them the object of his youthful attachment, whom he made cloistered nuns at Sempringham, and maintained them at his own cost. He next founded a monastery for male religious, to whom he entrusted all the more responsible affairs of the order, providing both nuns and monks with a habit "expressive of humility."

To this time of his life we must probably refer his miraculous escape from death by fire. The story is that a great fire having broken out either in his own house, or in the buildings immediately contiguous, Gilbert remained sitting abstractedly in his window seat, praying and singing psalms; the fire devoured all before it until it reached the spot in which he sat; there its progress was arrested, and the flames died away on every side, leaving the saint and his seat unharmed.

His order continued to expand, many religious flocked to him, and gifts of manors and farms pouring in from all quarters, many monasteries arose under his rule.

The charge of his Order now became so onerous that he is said to have attended the general chapter of the order at Citeaux, in the year 1140, for the purpose of formally resigning his authority. To this, however, his brother abbots refused their consent, and Gilbert returned to his labours, which he was to relinquish only with his life.

A peculiar interest attaches to this chapter, from the circumstance related by the same writer,[19] who tells us of Gilbert's presence there, that the Pope Eugenius[20] was {102} present and took part in the proceedings, "not, however, presiding as with apostolical authority, but in brotherly love taking his seat among the assembled abbots, as one of themselves."

Returned to Sempringham, Gilbert resumed his life of prayer and mortification, observing the fasts of the Church with such rigidity that from Septuagesima to Easter, and throughout Advent, he not only abstained from flesh-meat, but even a morsel of fish never passed his lips. He practised also great austerity with regard to sleep, hardly allowing himself to lie down for months together.

His unwearied devotion and severe asceticism so forwarded his growth in grace that his influence over the religious under his authority became almost unbounded; with such prudence and persuasiveness was he endued, that he allayed without difficulty a serious disturbance which arose in the order from a spirit of insubordination that had crept in among the lay brethren. Overcome by his skilful reasonings and loving exhortations, the greater number returned to their obedience, "whereas," the chronicler adds, "those who held out and refused to do so, all perished miserably." His holiness and his acceptance with God were also attested by many miracles and wonders. Being at one time afflicted with a very severe fever, a friend came to condole with him; the saint enquired whether he had ever experienced the sensations of a fever; finding that he had not, Gilbert asked him whether he would be willing to take the fever from which he himself was suffering, if he might be thereby cured. The friend assented, and returning home, was the next morning seized with the fever, whereas the saint arose entirely free from it. Another time, a man suffering from gout was cured by simply wearing Gilbert's list slippers; and another man, sick of a fever, was healed by drinking out of his cup.

{103} Overcome at length by the infirmities of advancing age, he resigned the charge of Sempringham to one of his disciples, Roger by name; but he seems still to have retained his authority, as it is mentioned that some time after this, he gave shelter to S. Thomas Ó Becket in one of his houses when that prelate, worsted in his contest with Henry II., was wandering about the kingdom in search of means to escape to the continent. He also supplied the archbishop with money during his exile, thereby drawing upon himself the displeasure of Henry, who, however,—such was Gilbert's popularity in the kingdom,—found it expedient to refrain from any proceedings against him.

At last, in the year 1189, and the 106th of Gilbert's age, his death drew near, and the man of God, full of years, and not less full of grace, prepared to render up his account with joy. He announced to his disciples his approaching departure, and on the evening of Christmas Day he was fortified with the last sacraments of the Church. The remaining time which God vouchsafed him on earth he devoted to the edification of others, and during this time many prelates, and men of various degrees, resorted to him in order to be consoled by his blessing, and instructed by his discourse. The night before the day on which he died "an immense globe of fire, and an appearance as of many candles" were seen to hover in the air over the church of Sempringham, in which his tomb was prepared. Three times the appearance descended from above, rising again twice towards heaven; the third time it penetrated the roof of the church, and descended to the floor. Then the brethren and the nuns knew that the time was at hand when their abbot must indeed leave them.

And so, on the next day, the 3rd of February, he departed this life, amid the sighs and lamentations of all, leaving behind him of religious men about 700, and of sisters in {104} religion 1500; all serving God night and day without ceasing.

He was interred within the church at Sempringham, his tomb being placed between the two choirs, the monks on the one side, and the nuns at the other, so that the religious might offer their prayers at his sepulchre, and continually bearing in mind his holy life and happy death, might both be incited to diligence in prayer and good works, and also might profit by his intercessions for them.

Not long after his death, a certain canon of that order saw in a vision a brother not long since deceased, who, among other things, told him of S. Gilbert: "he is not amongst us, a different place possesses him; for from that place to which he departed (from the world) he has been translated to the choir of the virgins."

The veneration in which he was held may be seen in the eulogium of William of Newbury:—

"Nor must we in silence pass over the venerable Gilbert, a man altogether admirable, and of singular skill in the guardianship of women; from whom also the order of Sempringham took its beginning, and its rapid advancement. He, as it is said, from his very youth, by no means contented with being in the way of salvation himself, but kindled with a zeal for gaining souls for Christ, began eagerly to rival the weaker sex in the imitating of God, deriving his pious boldness from the consciousness of his own chastity, and his confidence in heavenly grace.

"Yet, fearing lest he should fail in his enterprise, he first sought the advice of the holy Bernard, and being instructed and encouraged by him, he commenced his work, and proceeding with great prudence and caution, he was mightily carried forward, both in the abundant multitude of persons gathered together for the service of Almighty God, and in the acquisition of temporal things; 'seeking first,' as it {105} is written, 'the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, all necessary things were added to him.'


Prior of Sempringham. From a Drawing by A. Welby Pugin.

Feb. 4.

"At last he organized a not ignoble monastery of two servants and eight handmaids of God, which also he replenished with numerous societies, and, according to the wisdom given him, furnished it with regular rules. And truly the gift of instructing the servants of God, divinely imparted to him, abounded especially in the care of women; indeed, in my judgment, he bears the palm in this respect amongst all whom we know to have devoted themselves to the instruction of female religious; moreover, having some years before been loaded with spiritual gains, the worn-out bridesman of the heavenly Bridegroom now departed to the Lord. Further, the multitude of his sons and daughters in religion still remains, and his seed is mighty upon earth, and his generation shall be blessed for ever."

The Order was peculiarly constituted, the men being Augustinian Canons, and the women following the rule of S. Benedict.

(A.D. 1373.)

[S. Andrew died Jan. 6th; he was formally canonized by Urban VIII., in 1629, and his festival was transferred to Feb. 4th. Authorities:—Two lives, one by a disciple, the other by Friar Peter Andrew Castagna, written a hundred years after his death.]

Nicolas, a member of the illustrious Florentine house of Corsini, lived with his pious wife, Peregrina, for some time without children, which was to them a great grief, and they besought God to give them that blessing which He had hitherto withheld. Their prayer was heard, and on November 30th, 1302, a son was born to them, who received at the font the name of Andrew, because he was {106} born on the festival of that apostle. His parents, who regarded him as the child of prayer, had already, before his birth, dedicated him to the Lord, and sought, in his childhood, to inspire him with devotion and morality. But Andrew was possessed of a vehement, independent spirit, which brooked no restraint, and he grew up to cause them bitter sorrow by his disorderly life. Nevertheless father and mother prayed on, hoping against hope. The wild youth passed for being one among the most dissolute young men of the city, and was acknowledged as the worst of a bad set, utterly godless and abandoned. But his parents prayed on. The mother cast herself before a figure of the Queen of Heaven, and, in the bitterness of her anguish of soul, cried, "Oh, Mother of my Saviour! Thou knowest how the soul of my child, for whom thy Son bled, is sinking to destruction. Thou knowest, Holy One! how, in his earliest youth, I dedicated my child to thee, and trusted him to thy protection, how I have done all that earthly mother can do to keep him clean and unspotted from the world! And now, pity me, weeping over my guilty son, thou, whose tears flowed for thy innocent Son! Thou, who art so mighty, entreat thy divine Son, that mine may be moved to true and broken-hearted repentance."

Thus praying, and with streaming eyes, Andrew lit upon her one day, as he was going forth to the commission of some new work of evil. He stood still and looked at her, and a feeling of compunction stirred his heart. Then, turning her reddened eyes towards him, she said, "I cannot doubt it; thou art the wolf whom I saw in a dream."

"What mean you, mother?" asked the young man.

She answered: "Before thou wast born, my child, I dreamt that I brought forth a wolf which rushed into a church, and was there transformed into a lamb. Thy father and I, on account of this dream, placed thee under the {107} protection of the Mother of God. My son, thou art not ours, thou belongest not to the world, but only to the service of God. Oh, would to heaven, that as the first part of my dream has been fulfilled, the second part might find its accomplishment also!"

Andrew covered his face, and fell at his mother's feet, and sobbed forth: "Oh, good, pious mother! the wolf shall indeed become a lamb. Thou didst dedicate me to God, and to Him will I, also, devote myself. Pray, pray for me, mother, that I may obtain pardon for all my grievous offences."

Next day Andrew sought the Church of the Carmelites, and kneeling before an image of the Holy Virgin, wept bitterly over his past life, which now appeared to him in all its bare deformity. And he felt so powerfully called by the grace of God, that he resolved at once to take refuge from his evil companions and associations, in the cloister. He, therefore, sought the convent door that same hour, and asked to be admitted as a novice. He was received, and spent his novitiate in constant battle with his passions, and in trampling out the memory of the past, by not suffering his mind for a moment to repose on the thoughts of the evil he had done, save only for the purpose of stirring up compunction, and abasing himself in profound humility. After having been received into the Order, he became a model of self-restraint and earnestness, so that in the year 1328, at the age of twenty-six, he was ordained priest. He was shortly after appointed to preach in Florence; and his fervour and love for sinners produced very astonishing fruit, in moving many who had lived in sin to turn in sorrow to the cross, and renounce their evil ways. Andrew was next sent to Paris, there to prosecute his studies, and was there invested with the degree of doctor; and after he had completed his studies with Cardinal Corsini, his uncle, at {108} Avignon, he returned to Florence, where he was elected prior of his cloister. His renown as a preacher of righteousness prevailed again, and his sermons produced such an effect, that he was regarded as the apostle of the land.

After the death of the bishop of Fiesole, the chapter elected Andrew Corsini to be his successor. But when the news of his election reached him, he fled away, and hid himself in a Carthusian monastery. He was sought for long in every direction, without result, and the chapter, despairing of finding him, were proceeding with the election of another, in his room, when a child cried out "He who is to be our bishop is praying in the Carthusian monastery." He was there sought, and Andrew recognising in this the will of God, yielded, and, in 1360, was consecrated bishop of Fiesole.

As prelate, he maintained the same discipline over himself, and never abandoned the penance he had imposed on himself for his youthful sins, of reciting daily the Seven Penitential Psalms, of sleeping on a faggot of vine twigs, and of never speaking without necessity. But however severe he was in his dealing with himself, nothing could exceed the tenderness and love with which he sought out and dealt with the greatest sinners in his diocese. And this love which overflowed from his heart rendered him peculiarly successful in reconciling enemies. Knowing this, Urban V. sent him to Bologna to appease a disturbance which had broken out between the nobles and the people, and he achieved this mission with signal success. In his 71st year, as he was singing midnight mass on Christmas Eve he felt great exhaustion, which was followed by a fever, from which he died on Jan. 6th, 1373.

Relics, in the Carmelite Church at Florence.

In Art he appears between a wolf and a lamb.


(A.D. 1505.)

[French Martyrology. The process of her canonization began under Clement XII., and was completed by Pius VI. in 1775; but she was venerated at Bourges from the time of her death.]

Before Louis the son of Charles VII, ascended the throne of France, his wife, Charlotte of Savoy, bore him a daughter, called Anne of France. When he succeeded his father, with the title of Louis XI., he desired greatly to become the father of a son, and when his wife became pregnant in the third year after his coronation, his hopes were at the highest. When, however, she gave birth to a daughter, his disgust manifested itself in bitter antipathy towards the child, who was baptized Jeanne, or Joan. When she was eight days old, she was betrothed, May 19th, 1464, according to the custom of the time, to Louis, son of the Duke of Orleans and Mary of Cleaves, and sent to the house of her father and mother-in-law. At the expiration of four years, she was ordered to appear before her father at Plessis-le-Tours, where she was received by her mother with love, but when she was brought before her father, Louis turned from her with contempt, saying, "Bah! I did not think she was so ugly;" and he thrust her away. She was in fact somewhat deformed, and plain in face. It will be remembered that Sir Walter Scott has introduced her into his novel of Quentin Durward, taking, however, considerable liberties with her history. To such an extent did the spite of the king manifest itself, that when he saw how devout his daughter was, and that in her loneliness, she found comfort in the House of God, he forbade her frequenting churches and even the castle chapel.

When Joan was six years old, a son was born to Louis XI., and this was to her a day of good fortune, {110} for her brother became her friend and protector; and because she was now once more permitted to frequent the churches. Louis XI. then visited Paris, to thank God for the birth of his son. Joan was in the splendid retinue which on this occasion entered the cathedral church of Notre Dame. She cast herself before an image of Our Lady, and taking her gold crown from her head, besought the holy Virgin to be her protector. Then a voice made itself heard in her soul, "My daughter, thou shalt found an Order in mine honour!"

The dislike of Louis XI. for Joan increased every day: the Countess of LiniŔres was allowed to treat her with gross contempt; and the king, once so far forgot himself as to rush into her room sword in hand, and threaten to kill her. The Count of LiniŔres threw himself between the king and his daughter, and saved her life, but could not prevent her receiving a wound, the scar of which never disappeared. The king retired in shame, and for a while gave her greater liberty.

In her twelfth year Joan was married, against her will, to Duke Louis of Orleans; however she fulfilled her duties, as wife, to the best of her ability. But her husband, who had married her for political reasons, made no scruple of treating her with coldness and contempt; deserting her almost entirely, that he might spend his time amidst the pleasures of the court, scornfully remarking that there was no risk to his honour in leaving his young bride unprotected, as her diminutive stature and plain face would be her defence.

Louis XI. died in August, 1483, and his son succeeded him, as Charles VIII., under the regency of his elder sister Anne, who was married to Peter of Bourbon. The husband of Joan, thinking that the regency ought to have been entrusted to him, endeavoured to stir up an {111} insurrection; but was unsuccessful; and knowing that his life was threatened, fled to Duke Francis II. of Brittany, the bitter foe of France, and entered into league with him against Charles VIII. War broke out, and Joan stood as an angel of peace and reconciliation between the contending parties. Twice she obtained pardon for her captured and imprisoned husband, and as often he returned to his perfidy,—once against his sovereign, and once against his wife.

After the death of Charles VIII., on April 7th, 1498, the Duke of Orleans ascended the throne, as Louis XII. He at once obtained a divorce from Pope Alexander VI., by taking an oath that his marriage with Joan was not complete. Joan offered no opposition, rejoicing to see herself at liberty; and her husband at once concluded another marriage with Anne of Brittany, the widow of the young king. As some recompence to his divorced wife, Louis XII. gave her the Duchy of Berry, besides Pontoise, and other townships. She resided at Bourges, where she spent her time in the exercise of charity, to which she devoted her large revenues.

In 1500, she founded the order of the Annunciation, for women. S. Joan took the habit herself in 1504, but died on the 4th of February, 1505; and was buried at Bourges. Her body was torn from its resting place, in 1562, and burned by the Calvinists.

(A.D. 1612.)

[Roman Martyrology Authority:—The Acts of his Beatification, which took place in 1737, and those of his canonization in 1746.]

This Saint was born at Leonissa, in the States of the Church, in 1556. He entered the Capuchin Order, and {112} laboured at the redemption of Christian slaves. He died of cancer, at the age of fifty-eight. As the doctors desired to perform a painful operation on him, to remove the cancer, they ordered him to be bound, but he placed his crucifix before him saying, "this is the firmest of all bonds; it will hold me immoveable. Cut deep, I shall not flinch."

(A.D. 1693.)

[Roman Martyrology. Beatified on August 21st, 1853. The following account is epitomised from his life in "Pictures of Christian Heroism."]

John de Britto was born at Lisbon, March 1st, 1647; he was the son of Don Salvador de Britto Peregra and Beatrix his wife, both of whom were of noble birth. His father dying when he was only four years old, he was committed by his mother to the care of the Jesuits; and under them grew up full of the grace of God.

At the age of nine he was sent to court in the capacity of page to Don Pedro, the youngest son of the king, and probable heir to the throne of Portugal. During the six years he spent at court, he persevered in the pious habits he had formed under his mother's roof, and in the Jesuit school, frequently retiring for private prayer, and attending mass daily.

By this exemplary course of life he incurred the hatred of his fellow pages; for his rigid rule of life was a check upon their profligacy. They ridiculed his piety, and heaped upon him persecution, not only by words, but also by blows. He bore their ill-treatment with great patience; but it produced an illness which brought him into hourly danger of death. At the very moment of his agony his patron, {113} S. Francis Xavier, at the earnest prayer of his mother, restored his health. She had from his birth dedicated her son to the apostle of India, and she now vowed that if her child were to recover, he should wear the Jesuit habit for the whole year in honour of his deliverer. When, therefore, he appeared at court again after his recovery, it was in a little black robe, with a chaplet of the Blessed Virgin hanging by his side; and in this garb he served the Prince, and attended the Jesuit college of S. Antony of Padua. The people stopped in the streets to see him pass; not on account of the strangeness of such a dress on a child, but to mark his holy and edifying demeanour. When the term of his vow had expired, he put off the dress, but with the intention to assume it one day for ever. Notwithstanding his infirm health, he had long resolved to leave the world, and lead an apostolic life as a Jesuit, and at the age of fifteen he carried this resolution into effect. He applied for admission into the society to the father-provincial, Michael Tinsco, by whom he was placed in the novitiate at Lisbon. The Prince, Don Pedro, opposed his resolution, but the mother rejoiced that her son should possess a vocation for the Company of Jesus.

It was on the 17th of December, 1662, that John de Britto entered the novitiate at Lisbon. A novena had just commenced in preparation for Christmas. At its close each postulant had to present the Infant Jesus with a petition, according to his wants. De Britto wrote his petition with the others. It was that he might be sent as a missionary to Japan, there to live and labour, and at length obtain the crown of martyrdom. After two years he took the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, having passed through the novitiate a very model of holiness.

On leaving the novitiate at Lisbon, he went to Evora for two years, and thence to Coimbra, to study literature and {114} philosophy. He then removed to Lisbon to teach grammar; and while thus employed, his thirst to go out as a missionary received an additional impulse from the visit of Father Balthazar da Costa, who had just returned from Madura to find recruits. To him he stated the wish of his heart, and he promised to plead his cause at Rome; the consequence of which was that a few months afterwards orders were received by the father-provincial to despatch John de Britto, along with several other young missionaries, in the first ship which should sail for Madura.

John returned hearty thanks to God for the favour, but his mother was distracted at the thought of losing her child. She appealed to the provincial, to her son himself, to the papal nuncio, and to the king, but without effect; and at length, fearing to offend God by persisting in her opposition, she offered him up as the dearest sacrifice she could render. His departure was fixed for the 25th of March, 1674. The night before, he paid a visit to his mother; but to save her the pang of parting, he forebore to tell her that it was the last. He carefully avoided any thing which might interfere with his object; and therefore, instead of joining the other missionaries, when, with a great crowd of people, they attended church on the banks of the Tagus, he embarked secretly, and only appeared when all danger of being delayed was over. He was ordained priest just before leaving.

During the voyage he won the favour of the captain, and took advantage of it to exercise his ministry with the utmost freedom. He had to preach every Sunday, taught the catechism to the ignorant and the children on board, and continually engaged the passengers and sailors in exercises of devotion.

Scarcely had the father set foot on shore, than he ran to embrace the brethren of the college. Having then paid {115} a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, he prostrated himself at the tomb of S. Francis Xavier, thus gathering fresh ardour for his apostolic course. At Goa he commenced the austere life of the Madura missionaries,—which consists in neither eating flesh-meat nor fish, in sleeping on the ground, and walking bare-foot,—that he might be ready for his apostolate when his summons should arrive. In April, 1674, orders arrived from the father-provincial that he should set sail for Malabar, with Father Emmanuel Rodriguez and some other companions.

The mission of Madura, to which Father de Britto was called, comprised a tract of country two hundred leagues long by eighty broad. It presented the most arduous field of labour for the missionary, on account of its extent, the denseness of the population, the climate and nature of the country, and the wild beasts with which it is infested.

The inhabitants generally are very intelligent; they have made great progress in many sciences, and their Brahmins are perfectly able to sustain an argument in defence of their religion. To holiness, devotion, energy, and courage, the essential qualities of an apostle, the Indian missionary must add the advantages of a logical mind and a ready wit. But perhaps the opposition of the Brahmins is less to be feared by the missionary than the popular veneration for caste.

The first missionaries in India, not possessing caste, found it impossible to obtain a hearing. With all their holiness, earnestness, and zeal, no one would listen to a pariah. It was reserved for Father Robert de' Nobili to surmount, or at least show how to surmount, this obstacle. He was a Roman Jesuit, nephew of Cardinal Bellarmine, and grand-nephew of Pope Marcellus II. After carefully studying the peculiarities of the Brahmins, their laws, traditions, customs, and tenets, he saw the rock on which his predecessors {116} had split. He determined to lay aside whatever should denote his European extraction, and adopt the dress and mode of life of some class of the natives possessing caste. First he appeared as a rajah, then as a secular Brahmin, with a long flowing robe and a silk shoulder-knot; but without success. He then discovered that, over and above caste, a mortified exterior is required to influence the Indians. He appeared, therefore, partly in the dress of the Samasks, or Brahmins of Penance; and in this he was completely successful. This class is in the highest repute among the natives; they are regarded as the masters of the law, and their word is final. They are distinguished by their ascetic life, and their renunciation of the pleasures of the world. They live on a little boiled rice, which they receive only once a day, at sunset. In this character Father de' Nobili converted a vast number of Brahmins.

Father de Britto approved the principle of his great predecessor, but somewhat varied his practice. He adopted the dress of the Pandarists, a sect in very great estimation on account of their ascetism; they are not held in equal honour with the Samasks, but they mix more with the various sects, and their garb therefore affords greater opportunities of intercourse with the natives. The reader then must imagine our blessed martyr for the future not in his own black habit, but in the long yellow wrapping of the Pandarist.

The Pandarists wear no other garment than a piece of yellow cloth enveloping the whole figure. This dress guards them from the dangerous rays of the tropical sun, to which they are exposed the whole day. They sometimes wear a cap, an addition absolutely necessary to the European who would avoid a stroke of the sun; but they walk barefoot, except on occasions of ceremony, and in crossing the burning sands of the country, when they adopt a sandal {117} of a peculiar construction. It is not fastened by a strap, but attached to the foot by means of a wooden peg between two toes. This clog is of little value for purposes of travelling, as it produces violent swellings of the legs and feet; but it is useful in crossing the deserts. The Pandarists allow the beard to grow, which is a mark of distinction in India, and carry a staff as a symbol of authority. Their diet is of the plainest kind, and entirely vegetable; animal life being held too sacred among them for the purposes of food, and therefore of course interdicted to all who would adopt their mode of life.

This rigorous rule might have discouraged souls less ardent than John de Britto; but to him no sacrifice, no painfulness, seemed too great in his Master's service; and he cheerfully entered upon it, in spite of his feeble health and European constitution for the love he bore to Jesus Christ, and his yearning for the salvation of the idolators.

Father de Britto set sail from Goa for the coast of Malabar, and landed at Ignapatam; then through Tanjore, where he was detained nearly a year by illness, he passed on to Ambalgata. In the college at this station Father de Britto, after a retreat of a month, took his monastic vows, and received his appointment to the Madura mission.

He set out immediately with one other missionary and a few neophytes for Colli. They suffered excessive hardships on the route: they had to climb steep and rugged mountains, to pass through forests dense with briers and brushwood, and swarming with reptiles, to cross swollen rivers and pathless deserts; but at length they reached Colli, on the festival of S. Ignatius.

There he found the plague raging, and he made it the means of converting very many to the faith by his intrepidity in relieving the sufferers. After the pestilence had ceased, the conversions increased so rapidly, that it became {118} necessary to divide the northern and southern district of the mission, and the latter was committed to Father de Britto.

His plan was to send on before him two or more catechists to get the work ready; so that when he arrived himself, he might proceed without loss of time. On arriving, he assembled the Christians and catechumens, and preached a sermon; then he visited the sick and dying, and baptized the infants of Christian parents; after which he entered the tribunal of penance, in which he sat often for twelve consecutive hours, for the whole neighbourhood flocked, and made their confessions to him. He preached on all Sundays and holidays, catechized the children, and passed from house to house to warn bad Christians, or to resolve the doubts of inquiring idolators. In the evenings he assembled the whole congregation to recite the rosary of the Blessed Virgin, and in this way he made a vast number of converts; and when he had stayed long enough in one place for the requirements of the people, he passed on to some other station.

In his dress of a Pandarist, De Britto always obtained a ready hearing, and hence perhaps the great success of his preaching. But in all these labours he was obliged, by the universal prejudice against the pariahs, to direct his endeavours mainly towards the conversion of the upper classes. To his great sorrow, he found that even as a Pandarist he could not openly make proselytes among that caste without exposing his religion to universal contempt. He therefore was compelled to recognise their distinctions in society for the present, in order to establish Christianity on the broader basis ultimately. But, notwithstanding, he took care to advance the cause of the pariahs, or lowest and most despised caste, by showing to the converts the universality of the Gospel of Christ; and secretly he effected many {119} conversions among the pariahs themselves. But the caste-prejudices of the natives were so strong, that he found it impossible to overcome them; and he did not consider them incompatible with the most sincere acceptance of Christianity. As the Apostles had for a time consented to circumcision, the more effectually to recommend the new faith,—so the Indian missionaries judged it right to waive for awhile, in the infant state of Christianity in India, their objection to the social distinctions between man and man.

In addition to the natural obstacle from caste, and the ability of the Brahmins, which the Indian missionary has to encounter, the saint had to labour at a time when the whole country was convulsed with civil war. Hordes of savage Indians from the interior traversed the country; fire and the sword destroyed whole villages; and the inhabitants, being unable to take vengeance on the real aggressors, the tide of popular fury set in against the Christians. Thus it was that in many cases prosperous missions had to be given up, and the trembling Christians fled to celebrate the rites of religion in secret places. Solitary chapels rose up in the depths of the forest, or by the lone riverside, and thither the faithful repaired with their beloved pastor. But here they were exposed to a danger from which they had been free in the cities. The fury of the inundations rendered their retreats exceedingly perilous. An instance of this occurred near the river Corolam, where the Christians, who had been driven from Ginghi, erected a chapel. De Britto was praying in the chapel with sixteen of his flock, when the cry was raised that the building was surrounded with water. They tried to dam the water out, but unsuccessfully; and were compelled to construct a raft out of the beams of the roof, and upon that they floated to a wood at a little distance, situated on an {120} eminence. There they intended to remain till the flood subsided; but they had no food; and even their place of security threatened to fail them, for the waters ran with terrible rapidity, and almost covered the hill; so one of the Christians, at the risk of his life, swam back to the chapel, and succeeded in obtaining a little rice; this, along with some bitter herbs, which they procured with difficulty, was all their sustenance during the three days they were encompassed by the floods. But this was not all; they were attacked by a number of serpents, which, driven out of their holes by the water, sought the same place of safety. But throughout his missionary career, the blessed De Britto enjoyed that power over venomous beasts which our Saviour promised to His followers, and the band of Christians were unhurt. Power over serpents gives its possessor an unbounded influence with the Indians; and this terrible situation of the little band of Christians, being perfectly well understood by the idolaters, procured for De Britto a wonderful reputation. When the waters subsided, the Christians returned to their chapel, and found it almost swept away; but the foundations remained, and they set to work with such vigour, that in a short time the walls were raised again, and the chapel was ready for the Christmas solemnity. Father de Britto, with streaming eyes, thanked God for their escape, and besought him to look down with pity upon the struggling society, and prosper the cause of Christ in his hands.

In consequence of the wonderful success of De Britto, his superiors would have made him rector of Ambalucata. This preferment he evaded; but he accepted the post of superior of both districts of the mission. His journeys now became longer and more arduous. He travelled on foot, and was detained neither by the heat of the sun nor by the floods in the rainy seasons. Rocky mountains, sandy {121} plains, dense forests, broad and rapid rivers were traversed. At Madura, as he was preparing 200 catechumens for baptism, a band of armed men rushed upon him and took him prisoner. They struck him with their fists and with sticks, and kicked him, and threw him into a dungeon with his hands tied behind his back. But God suffered them not to hurt him; and after trying to terrify him with threats of death, they at length let him go.

Journeying northward, he made a stay at Marava of three months, in the year 1686, during which he baptized more than 2000 idolaters; but not withstanding his success he was anxious to get on, in consequence of the accounts which reached him of the ripeness of the natives for Christianity still farther north. This anxiety was the cause of a long and painful imprisonment.

At Mangalam the idolaters laid wait for the missionary, and seized him as he was entering the gates of the city. They bound him hand and foot with iron chains, and conducted him immediately to the presence of General Conmara, the first minister of state of the King of Marava. This man had an implacable hatred of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The father was first accused of being a magician; but he meekly answered that he was under no guidance of the spirit of darkness, but that he preached the law of the true God, the Maker of heaven and earth. The judge then addressed the two catechists and other churchmen who were taken with him:

"And you," he said, "what do you say?"

"We say the same," they replied.

For which answer they were all condemned to be scourged. And so cruelly were they scourged, that some of them died from the effects. The tyrant then ordered the others to be confined in dungeons, and loaded with irons. Afterwards he tried to shake the constancy of {122} De Britto, believing that if he could gain over the leader the rest would follow. After heaping upon him insults and reproaches, he desired him to sprinkle his forehead with ashes consecrated to the idols, as that would have been tantamount to an acknowledgement of their divinity; the saint of course refused, and the judge in a fury exclaimed that he would have him torn limb from limb.

He was then beaten again, and taken back to his dungeon, laden with irons, and tied to a pillar.

On the fourth day, the persecutors tried a new kind of torture, common enough in that country. The sufferer is taken to the bank of a river, and a cord is fastened to his feet; his hands are tied behind his back, and he is then allowed to fall into the water; then an executioner jumps upon his back, and with his whole weight presses the poor victim to the bottom, where he is kept till he is almost dead; next he is dragged out gasping for breath, and before he has recovered is cast in again; and so on, at the pleasure of his executioners, always being dragged out before life is extinct. It is a torture enough to overcome the staunchest courage. Up to this moment all the companions of the blessed father had remained stedfast; but now one of them, unhappily, entreated the executioners to let him loose. The wretched man saved his life at the expense of his faith.

After enduring farther hardships for some days, the father and his fellow-sufferers were brought into the judgment-hall, where all sorts of instruments had been laid out to terrify their minds,—axes, scourges, torches, pincers, knives, and all the horrible apparatus of torture. The sight of these things, however, inspired them with fresh courage, and a more vehement desire for martyrdom; and as the spectacle had only been produced to impress their minds, they were led back again, the better rather {123} than the worse for what they had seen. But the next day an order came for the execution; and they were taken to Paganari to be tortured and put to death. The executioners began with Valentine, a catechist; whom they led full of wounds and with one of his eyes forced out, to De Britto, and taunted the father with being the cause of the poor man's sufferings.

"He is a happy man," said Father de Britto; "when will you do the like for me?"

Amazed at fortitude such as this, the executioners perceived that while the father lived they could effect nothing by tormenting the disciples; and leaving Valentine alone, they cast themselves upon Father de Britto. Valentine's sufferings had been very great, but they had reserved a special torture for the blessed father. Hard by was a flag of pumice-stone, which the sun had heated up to blister-heat; after beating the missionary violently, they stripped off his clothes and laid him down upon this burning stone; eight of the executioners then jumped upon his body, so as to press the sharp and heated points into his back, already raw with the scourges; and then they took him by the feet and shoulders, and rubbed him up and down till his back was entirely excoriated. In this miserable plight he was left to scorch in the sun; but a charitable idolater dragged him into the shade; and a storm coming on, his murder was deferred till the following day, and he was thrown back into his dungeon, more dead than alive. Valentine's eye was miraculously cured by the blessed father.

The most ignominious death which a criminal can die in that country is by impalement; and the idolaters determined to stamp Christianity in India with infamy by subjecting its ministers to this punishment. The next morning Father de Britto and his companions were {124} marshalled for the execution; in front marched a detachment of armed men; then followed the man of God in irons, with his eyes raised to heaven and his face beaming with joy; last came the executioners and an immense crowd of people. But Almighty God had yet work for him to do, and suspended the blow as it was about to fall. A messenger arrived from court, bearing an order to General Conmara to come immediately to the capital with all his forces, as an insurrection had broken out against the government. At this news the crowd dispersed, the soldiers made ready to march, and the officers of justice retraced their steps with their prisoner. But they revenged themselves upon him for their disappointment by ill-usage of every kind. At last, after three weeks, he was ordered up to Ramanadabouram, the capital, to see the prince.

On his arrival, he was to his astonishment received with favour by Prince Ranganadeven. He made the missionary sit by his side, and explain the principal doctrines, and practices of the Christian religion. The prince having listened, said, "I grant you your liberty, and your companions may go also: worship your God and preach His law; but do not preach it in my country. It is an excellent law; but it forbids stealing and polygamy, so it will not suit my subjects. If you dare to disobey me, depend upon it I will cut off your head." Thus De Britto obtained his liberty; and as he thought it best to obey the prince's injunctions, he left Marava.

When Father Rodriguez, Provincial of Malabar, heard of the liberation of De Britto, he summoned him to the pearl-fishery coast, to regain his strength after their labours. He obeyed, though he would rather have continued in the mission while any strength remained to him. But his journey to the coast had been ordered by God. Father {125} Francis Paolo, who was returning to Europe in his capacity of procurator of Malabar, had been shipwrecked; and Father de Britto was sent home in his place. He left the fishery in 1687; and after a voyage of ten months he reached Lisbon in September, 1688, having been absent fourteen years and a half.

On the news of his arrival, the whole city rose to greet him, for the fame of his sanctity and heroism had reached Portugal long before. The king, whose page he had been, the infanta Isabella Louisa, the ministers of state and the grandees, the people and the religious orders, all showed him a thousand marks of respect and honour.

He maintained in Portugal the same mortified habits which he had formed in India, wore the same dress, used the same food, and slept on the bare ground. He set about the work upon which he had been sent home with great diligence; and in the college of the Jesuits which he visited, he awoke an extraordinary enthusiasm among the young men; even old priests were seized with the same fervour. Of the volunteers, Father de Britto selected six, and to that number he added several who had been missionaries, but were now occupying chairs in different universities, and whom he wanted to argue with the Brahmins.

Having once selected his band, he commenced instructing them in the details of their work; and when all things were ready, and he had obtained larger funds for the support of this increase to his mission, from the king, they set sail for India in 1690; but not without great opposition; for the King of Portugal would have retained him at home, first to superintend the education of his son, and then to promote him to a bishopric—both of which persecutions, however, as he called them, he happily surmounted. They started with a favourable wind, and the {126} voyage was at first prosperous; but presently they were detained by a calm, when their provisions became tainted, and a fever broke out. The holy father fell ill, and two of his missionaries died. De Britto, writing home, gave a horrible account of that voyage, and the miseries they endured from the sickness of the crew, the stench of the vessel, the heat and cold, the contrary winds, the incessant fatigues which they all had to suffer. In his great humility he attributed them all to his own sins.

On their arrival at Goa, his return was celebrated by the whole college of Santa FÚ and the Christians there with rejoicings. After a short stay, he passed on to see the Provincial at the pearl fishery, with whom he held a council on the plan of his future campaign. In consequence of the maturity of judgment, which the father displayed on this occasion, he was nominated Visitor of the mission, and immediately after Easter he set out for Madura on his new charge. Then he visited in succession all the stations, encouraged the missionaries, confirmed the faithful, and converted a great number of idolaters to the faith of Christ. But his chief longings were in the direction of Marava, where he hoped to find that palm and crown of martyrdom which five years before had fallen from his grasp. Thither accordingly he bent his steps.

The kings of Marava and Madura were still at war; and all the sufferings which he had formerly experienced under the same circumstances awaited him now upon his second arrival. Soldiers were ravaging the country, and he and his flock were compelled to skulk about in the woods. It is difficult to realize the sufferings which the holy father endured for several months with so much joy and resignation. It was his zeal for the salvation of sinners, and the numerous conversions with which God accredited his mission, that supported him under all. We {127} should scarcely be able to credit the fact, if it had not been asserted on oath by one of the catechists in the process of Beatification; that, in the short space of ten days the blessed father administered Baptism with his own hand to twelve thousand idolaters; and more than once his right hand fell powerless through fatigue.

He established his head quarters in the principality of Mouni, on the borders of Marava. In order to obtain for the Maravians a proper place for celebrating the holy mysteries, he chose a thick forest not far from Mouni, and there constructed three chapels, to which catechists were attached for the instruction of converts in Christian doctrine; and at night the holy father came to administer the Sacraments. In a short time he gained to the faith a vast number of heathen. And Almighty God deigned to confirm the faith of these converts by the most extraordinary miracles. By the mere touch of the father, devils were cast out and the sick cured. The same power was possessed even by the catechists and neophytes. They read the Gospel over the sick, and made the sign of the Cross, and God restored them to health.

The report of these wonderful cures reached the ears of Prince Teriadeven, the real heir to the throne of Marava, now in the possession of Prince Ranganadeven the usurper, a young man who had before shown some signs of favour towards Christianity. Being taken ill, he sent to the blessed father to come and heal him. The father did not go at once himself, but sent one of his catechists, to instruct the prince in the elements of Christian doctrine, and exhort him to put his whole trust in Jesus Christ, as at once the Saviour of soul and body. The catechist went and read the Gospel to him, made him repeat the Apostles' Creed, and that instant the sickness left him.

Awed by the sudden miracle of which he had been {128} the subject, the prince no longer delayed his resolution, but expressed his readiness at once to be baptized. He sent to the father and desired to be made a Christian, and was the more confirmed in his desire when he had witnessed on the feast of Epiphany a large assembly of the faithful, and the holy sacrament of Baptism conferred upon two hundred catechumens. But the missionary, who knew him to be possessed of five wives, replied that he could not conscientiously grant him so great a favour until he had put away all save one, with the firm resolution of adhering to her alone for the remainder of his life. The noble Indian upon the spot sent for his wives, selected the first of the five, who herself wished to be a Christian, and informed the others of the resolution he had taken in consequence of his miraculous cure by the holy missionary. Stupefied at this announcement, they assailed the prince, now with tears and caresses, then with threats and reproaches; but nothing could change his resolution; and they went away transported with fury against Father de Britto, whom they looked upon as the author of their calamity.

Teriadeven received baptism solemnly with two hundred of his court. This was in the beginning of 1693. Immediately after the ceremony he returned to Mouni, where a great multitude awaited baptism. The joy of the Church was raised to its highest pitch by these glorious conversions, and by the prospect of greater still, when suddenly there burst out the most terrible persecution that had yet fallen upon them. It confounded in its fury the whole of that infant society, and tore from them their sole support, the holy father, to whom they owed their birth unto Jesus Christ, and whose hour of martyrdom had at length arrived.

In every one of the four wives put away by Prince {129} Teriadeven, Father de Britto had raised up an enemy, who would be satisfied with no sacrifice short of his life. But among them all the youngest, who happened to be the usurper's niece, was the most furious. In a transport of rage she ran to her uncle and told him of the outrage she had suffered from the European. Then she appealed to the Brahmins, who hated him too bitterly to remain deaf to her cries. They had long nourished their thirst for revenge, and now they saw an opportunity of slaking it. A consultation was held as to the best course to be pursued, and it was decided that they should go in a body to the king, and make a formal complaint against Father de Britto. They selected Pomparanam to be their spokesman, an old man, and very spiteful, who pronounced a set speech on the occasion.

The king saw perfectly well through the motives of the Brahmins in thus taking up the woman's cause; but as the honour of his own family was concerned in the person of his niece, he acceded to their request. He ordered the Christians to be fined, and their houses to be burnt. The father had foreseen the storm that was gathering, and had warned his flock of the danger, but they all refused to fly. They determined to stand by their dear master, upon whom they knew the great fury of the persecution would fall, and if God required it, die with him. The king despatched four companies of soldiers to seize the missionary. Three of them advanced to the chapels which he had built in the woods, where they arrested the catechists who were in charge of them. The fourth hastened to Mouni, and there they found the holy father. It was the morning of the 8th of January, and he was offering, as was his wont, the Holy Sacrifice, when God revealed to him what was coming; and after Mass he addressed the people, and said that those who had not courage to give up their lives {130} in testimony to the faith of Jesus Christ, had better depart at once and hide themselves. He pronounced these words in so decided and significant a manner, that they all perceived he had received some definite intelligence, and, seized with a sudden panic, they all dispersed except one Brahmin, a convert, and two children, who preferred remaining with him. In the evening, warning came of the approach of a troop of mounted soldiery. He knew their errand, and raising his eyes towards heaven, he offered up his life as a sacrifice to God, and went forth to meet them. They seized him violently, and led him off with his three companions.

In a neighbouring village, there was being celebrated at that time a grand festival to one of their gods. Thither on their arrival they drew the Christian victims, and harnessed them to the triumphal car of the idol, and exposed them to the jeers of the multitude. Next day they were taken to the royal city of Ramanadabouram, and there the saint was incarcerated in a filthy hovel, and with him the three catechists who had been arrested in the forest chapels. The holy father embraced them, and exhorted them to continue firm to the end. The heroism of the two children is especially recorded. They animated each other to suffer for Jesus Christ.

The imprisonment lasted for several days. Teriadeven only heard of their captivity when it was too late to avert it; but he gave orders that they should be treated with kindness till the king's wishes should be known. Those orders, however, were not attended to, and the brutal jailors amused themselves with the sufferings of the martyrs, and fed them with food which the soldiers rejected.

At last the prisoners were brought before the chief minister of state. A small crucifix had been found upon De Britto, and the judge asked him what that image {131} represented. "It is the image of my God," said the father, "who being immortal and impassible in his own nature, was made man, and died upon a cross to rescue us from the slavery of the devil." At these words the impious wretch threw it down upon the ground in contempt, and stamped upon it with his feet. The holy man, although chained and bound, fell upon his knees, and crawling with difficulty to the crucifix, pressed it to his breast, and watered it with tears, in reparation of the insult. There was a great crowd of spectators present, who regarded this action as a contempt of court, and loudly demanded sentence. But the judge, not knowing what to say, ordered the confessors back to prison, and there they remained for a month.

Prince Teriadeven boldly pleaded their cause before the king, in face of the personal danger he incurred by his advocacy of the Christians. Ranganadeven, in a rage, ordered him at once to adore the gods. The prince refused, and said he would rather die than again offer the worship to idols which was due only to Jesus Christ. The tyrant answered that he would soon show which religion was the most powerful, and forthwith gave orders to the magicians to prepare a certain incantation considered infallible in its operation, to cause the death of the missionary. The incantation failed, to the shame of the king, and the discomfiture of his priests; and Father de Britto was sent for, and asked whether the failure of the sorcerers was owing to the enchanted book, meaning the Breviary, which he was still allowed to retain in his possession. The missionary replied that that book was devoted to the praise of God, and to nothing so hateful as sorcery. The tyrant ordered the book to be hung round his neck, and the executioners to shoot at him in the market-place: "And we shall see," said he "whether your God can deliver you." {132} He was led away, and the soldiers were taking aim, when Teriadeven broke through their ranks, and ordered them to desist. They obeyed, knowing him to be the true owner of the crown; and as he was very popular, the tyrant feared a revolt if he should persist in the execution. De Britto's death was accordingly again deferred; and the tyrant ordered him to be sent to Oureiadeven, his brother, who lived at Orejour, a distance of two days' journey from the court, with instructions that he should be put to death on his arrival.

The father rejoiced when he heard whither he was going, for he knew that it was to die; but he wept at leaving his dear companions; they separated, never more to meet again in this world. He had to travel barefoot, tightly bound, and surrounded by guards, who hurried him over rocks and briers, through sand and brushwood. The blood gushed from the wounds he had received in prison, and from his torn and blistered feet; but instead of receiving pity from these wretches, they heaped abuse upon him. On his journey, the Christians assembled to see him pass, and receive his blessing.

He arrived at Orejour on the last day of January, and was immediately taken before Oureiadeven, the king's brother. This prince laboured under an incurable leprosy. Having heard of the missionary's gift of miracles, he doubted not that he would gladly purchase his life by exerting it for his cure. The father replied, that it appertained to God alone to cure disease; all that he could do was to apply the remedies, and entreat Almighty God to bless them; and he added, that if the prince desired to be made whole of his bodily disease, he must first heal the sickness of his soul, by accepting the true faith. When the prince saw that nothing would move the holy man, he turned to one of his suite named Margharittei, and bade him cut off {133} his head upon the spot. Margharittei answered, that he was a Christian himself, and nothing would induce him to imbrue his hands in innocent blood. Then the prince's own wife rushed in, and threatened her husband with the judgments of heaven if he dared to execute the sentence of the king. Moved by these remonstrances, he ordered the servant of God to be carried back to his dungeon.

As soon as this got abroad, the Brahmins, fearing that their prey might escape their hands, went to the governor of the town, who was a bitter enemy of the Christians, and represented the case to him. Mourougapapoullei, for that was his name, instantly demanded an audience of the prince, and in the strongest terms reproached him for not obeying the commands of the king. The cowardly prince yielded through fear of the king's displeasure, and granted the governor leave to execute the sentence of death. It was on the morning of the 4th of February, being Ash-Wednesday, that the servant of God was apprised of his final sentence. At the joyful news, his countenance lighted up; he fell on his knees, and returned thanks to God. Then rising up, he said to the executioners, "I am ready." He walked to the place of execution without restraint, and with his Breviary hanging from his neck, his eyes fixed on heaven, and his steps so rapid that his guards were compelled to restrain him. Along the road a multitude of the faithful were waiting to see him pass.

The spot which had been selected for the martyrdom was a little hill by the bank of the river, not far from the city. On arriving there he was allowed by the guards to retire for a short time to pray. The executioner who at that moment came up, seeing the servant of God absorbed in prayer, was afraid to disturb him. More than a quarter of an hour had elapsed, when the son of {134} the prince ran up and reprimanded the executioner for his delay in executing the sentence. Then the holy man approached the side of the river, and, after embracing the executioner, knelt down, and holding out his head, said, "I am ready; do as you are commanded." The executioner drew his scymitar, and raising his arm, was about to give the fatal blow, when he perceived the martyr's reliquary hanging by a cord from his neck. Taking it for granted that it was some charm which would ward off the stroke, he had first to remove it; but he durst not take it away with his hand, lest he should be bewitched. He therefore severed the string with the scymitar, and made a frightful gash on the breast and shoulder. The holy martyr offered to God the first fruits of his sacrifice; and then the executioner, no longer fearing any amulet to turn the edge of his weapon, raised the scymitar and hewed off his head.

This glorious triumph of the faith of Jesus Christ took place at Marava, on the 4th of February, 1693.

After Father de Britto's death the executioner drove a stake into the ground, on which he impaled the body; and having cut off the hands and feet, he hung them, along with the head, from the waist. The faithful tried hard to obtain possession of the relics, but in vain; they were too well guarded by the soldiers. His crucifix the martyr had given to a faithful convert, who transmitted it to Father Laine, and from his hands it reached his house of profession in Paris. And all that could be collected of the clothing, writing, objects of devotion, and instruments of penance were forwarded to the same father, by whom they were laid up in the Jesuit Church at Pondicherry, and thence they found their way to Goa. But it was some time before any fragments of the body fell into the hands of the Christians. The soldiers kept {135} guard over the body while it remained impaled on the stake; but at last a violent storm came on, and the cord which supported the head and hands broke; the head rolled into the river, and was saved; but wild beasts preyed upon the body. When the soldiers had retired, the catechists came and gathered up all they could find of the body. In the river they discovered the head; they bought the stake, on which his limbs had been impaled, of the soldiers, and the scymitar of the executioner; this scymitar Father John de Corte brought with him to Europe a few years afterwards, and presented it to the king of Portugal, Pedro II. And these are all the relics that remain of the blessed Father John de Britto.

[12]   'Annales Archeologiques,' Tom. xxiii. p. 232.

[13]   "Vie des Saints" Tom. ix. p. 22.

[14]   Elmasini 'Hist. Sarac.' Lugd. Batav. 1625, p. 267.

[15]   This article is condensed from an article by the Author in the Quarterly Review for October, 1867, on "Portraits of Christ."

[16]   For information on this Order, see Jan. 15, S. Alexander.

[17]   See for more information on the Iconoclastic heresy the life of S. Tarasius, Feb. 25th.

[18]   This very term "Symbol of Christ," as applied to the Holy Eucharist, is indication of heretical views on the Presence.

[19]   Gofredus in Vita S. Bernardi.

[20]   Eugenius III.

S. Veronica. See page 73.


February 5.

(A.D. 251.)

[Roman Martyrology and all others. Famous also among the Greeks. There are various editions of the Acts of her Martyrdom in Latin and in Greek. The latter are not as trustworthy as the former, which are very ancient, and though apparently tampered with by copyists, are on the whole to be relied upon. The Latin Acts were written by eye-witnesses, as appears from a passage in them, "From this we supposed he was her angel." There is an older version of the Greek Acts than that given by Metaphrastes (fl. 867), and there is a sermon on S. Agatha by S. Methodius. The name of S. Agatha occurs in the Canon of the Roman Mass; among the first five Virgin Saints enumerated in Nobis quoque peccatoribus.]

THE honour of being the birth-place of S. Agatha is claimed by Catania and Palermo, in Sicily. The probabilities in favour of either are nearly equally divided, though there seems to be a slight superiority in the claims of Catania. It certainly was the scene of her martyrdom, which took place during the persecution of Decius in a.d. 251, as all her acts testify. If these are not in all particulars to be relied on, their main facts seem to be pretty well established. {137} According to these, S. Agatha was the daughter of an illustrious and wealthy house in Sicily, and was famed for her beauty and her gentle and amiable manners. But her love was consecrated to God from her very earliest youth. Quintianus the Consular of Sicily, as the Governor was then called, admired her exceedingly, and the holy virgin retired to Palermo to avoid his importunities. As often happened in those days of heathen cruelty, his love was turned into hatred when he discovered that she was a Christian. She was seized and brought to Catania; and all the way thither she could only weep and pray to the Lord to strengthen her for the conflict which awaited her. Every means was tried during the space of a month to prevail on her to forget her vow; but she was supported by continual prayer, and at last came off victorious from this lingering martyrdom. She was privately examined before Quintianus as to her faith, and confessed Christ with undaunted firmness, declaring the service of the Lord Jesus to be the highest nobility and the truest freedom: she was then sent to prison, to which she went joyfully, recommending herself to God, and entreating His aid. The day after she was tortured on the rack, and suffered with calmness and constancy. And, when she was put to the cruel torment of having her breasts cut off, she mildly reproached the inhuman Quintianus with the remembrance of his own infancy, and with the tenderness of his mother. She was then led again to prison, and all sustenance and medical aid were denied her. Four days afterwards she was put to still further tortures, and then, being taken back to prison, sweetly fell asleep in the Lord, and was buried by the people with great honour.

Relics in Catania, and some in the Church of S. MÚry, at Paris.

{138} Patroness of Catania, La Mirandola, and the Order of Malta.

In Art S. Agatha is represented as a majestic virgin wearing a long veil, and over this, in early figures, a crown, the symbol of her victory over death; she usually holds a clasped book in her left hand, and a palm branch in the right; occasionally the place of this latter emblem is supplied by a pair of pincers, having a nipple between the teeth, in allusion to the fearful torture to which she was subjected. Sometimes she carries both her breasts cut off in a dish, or a sword is passed through them.

(ABOUT 524.)

[Not to be confounded with S. Avitus, P. of Orleans, commemorated on June 27th. Roman Martyrology, Usuardus, Gallican, German, and others. Commemorated at Vienne on August 20th. Authorities:—S. Gregory of Tours, Hist. lib. i. c. 2; and his successor Ennodius.]

S. Avitus was the son of S. Hesychius, archbishop of Vienne after S. Mammertus, who baptized him. He succeeded his father in the archiepiscopal throne in 490. Ennodius, his successor, says that he was a treasure of learning and piety; and adds that the Burgundians having crossed the Alps, and carried off a large number of captives, this holy prelate spent all his revenue in redeeming as many as he could. Clovis, king of France, though still a pagan, and Gundebald, king of Burgundy, though an Arian, held him in high veneration. The latter, for fear of offending his subjects, durst not embrace the Catholic faith, he nevertheless did all in his power to advance the cause of Catholicism, and in a public conference at Lyons, in his presence, S. Avitus boldly proclaimed the divinity of Christ and reduced the Arian {139} bishops to silence. Gundebald died in 516. His successor Sigismond was brought over by S. Avitus to the true faith. When this king had executed his son Sigeric on a false charge, brought against him by his stepmother, S. Avitus wrought by his exhortations so great a change in the passionate prince, that he retired to Agaunum, now S. Maurice, in the Valais, where he lived the life of a recluse in a cell on the face of the precipice above the monastery he had built at its foot.

Most of the works of S. Avitus have been lost, but a poem by him in praise of virginity, some epistles, and fragments of homilies remain. It is a blot on the memory of the saint, that with fulsome flattery he excused the murder of his brothers by Gundebald. See June 3, p. 26.


[Additions to Usuardus and some editions of the Martyrology of Bede. No authentic account of S. Bertulf exists. All known of him is from a life written in 1703, from old materials, but of what authority it is impossible to decide.]

S. Bertulf is said to have been an abbot at Renescure, where the church is dedicated to him. He is regarded also as the patron of Harlebeke, near Courtrai. Renescure is a village on the canal between Aire and S. Omer. His body was taken to Ghent, where it was enshrined in an iron coffin, and for many centuries it was believed that on the approach of danger to the city, the dead abbot knocked against the side of his iron shrine. His bones were scattered by the Calvinists in 1578. S. Bertulf is represented in art in monastic habit distributing alms, with an eagle over his head with wings expanded, a legend relating that he was thus protected from rain in a heavy shower.



[Ancient English Martyrologies. Authority:—William of Malmesbury, and Capgrave.]

Of old, on the 5th of February, were commemorated in the famous monastery of Glastonbury, S. Indract, S. Dominica, and nine companions, martyrs. He was of royal extraction, son of one of the kings of Ireland; but quitted all this world could give for the love of God. He left his country, with his sister Dominica or Drusa, and seven, or according to another account nine, companions, and settled at Skipwith near Glastonbury, in Somersetshire, where they lived a retired and eremitical life. At length, some wicked men, thinking to meet with great booty, murdered them at night; and to conceal their villainy, cast the bodies into a deep pit. But a column of light standing over the place warned the neighbours that some sacred bodies lay there, and the relics were removed to Glastonbury, in the reign of king Ina.

(ABOUT A.D. 1015.)

[Cologne Kalendar, and additions to Usuardus. Commemorated with special office at Villich on the Rhine, opposite Bonn. She is variously called Adelheid, Alkeid, Adelaide, Alheidis, and Aleidis. Her local name at Villich is S. Alen. Her life was written by a contemporary, one Bertha, a nun in her convent.]

This holy virgin was the daughter of a Count Megingand of Gueldres, and became abbess of the convent of Villich, founded by her father and mother. Her piety, charity, {141} and gravity are celebrated by Bertha, the nun who wrote her life. She died in 1015. The church and nunnery were burnt in the war between Truchsess Gerhard, the apostate archbishop of Cologne, and the archduke Ernest of Bavaria, and again by the Swedes in the Thirty years' war. It is not known what has become of her relics.

(A.D. 1597.)

[Roman Martyrology. Pope Urban VIII beatified 26 of these martyrs in 1627. On June 8, 1862, the twenty-six were canonized as Saints. These were Peter Baptist, Martin d'Aguera, Francis Blanco, Philip de Las Casas, Gonzalez Garcia, Francis de S. Miguel, all of the Order of S. Francis; Cosmo Tachegia, Michael Cozaki, Paul Ibarki, Leo Carasumo, Louis, a child, Antony, a child, Thomas Cozaki, also a child; Matthias, Ventura, Joachim Saccakibara, Francis Miaco, Thomas Dauki, John Kimoi, Gabriel Duisco, Paul Suzuki, Francis and Paul Sukegiro, all these Japanese; also Paul Miki, John de Gota, and James Quigai, Japanese Jesuits. Authorities: Numerous contemporary accounts. The following account is epitomised from the history of the Japanese missions by Miss Cecilia M. Caddell. In the brief space accorded us it is impossible to give anything like a full account of this wonderful history. We refer our readers to Miss Caddell's most interesting account.]

The history of the brief existence of Christianity in Japan and of the terrible persecution by which it was utterly extirpated in that island, is at once a melancholy and a glorious episode in the annals of the Church. In the Japanese we behold the most highly-gifted of the Asiatic races of modern times receiving the Gospel with a joy and a fervour which remind us of primitive ages, when thousands in one single day would run at the divine call to fill the apostolic net, and when the multitude of the faithful, serving God with one heart and one soul, resembled rather the chosen few who in later days have left the crowd to follow the higher path of evangelical {142} perfection, than the mass of ordinary believers. But if the Japanese excite our admiration in their willing reception of gospel-truth, and their fervour in obeying its precepts and counsels, no less, or rather still more exalted are the feelings with which we must regard the spirit in which they met the fiery trial which came upon them. Never in the times of the old pagan persecutions was a more glorious spectacle exhibited of men, women, and children, rushing to claim the martyr's palm, and seeking sufferings and torments as others seek honours and pleasures.

Wonderful are the ways of the Almighty, and inscrutable as wonderful! The conversion of China, for which S. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies, had long and ardently sighed, was denied to his prayers; while that of Japan, of which apparently he had never even dreamed, was given to him unasked. China was the object of all his wishes and aspirations,—the promised land of his spiritual ambition. It was in his dreams by night and his thoughts by day,—the subject alike of his penance and of his prayers; when a young Japanese, tormented by remorse of conscience for a crime committed years ago, and forgotten probably by everybody but himself, arrived at Malacca, where the Saint then was, and throwing himself at his feet, besought of him that peace and pardon which his native bonzes had been unable to bestow. The great heart of Francis exulted at the prospect of winning another empire to the banner of his Divine Lord; while his vivid faith saw in the sinner who had thus sought him from afar a direct ambassador from Heaven, which had doubtless pursued this youth with the fear of retribution, not for his sake alone, but also to effect the conversion of the idolatrous nation represented in his person. Two years afterwards, on the Feast of the Assumption (1549), he and his chosen companion, {143} Father Cosmas de Torres, landed at Kagoxima, the birthplace of the youth who had come to Francis, and who, under his new name of Paul, accompanied the fathers as their guide and interpreter to the nations of Japan.

So the little seed of the Word of God was sown in Japan, and from the time of this visit, Jesuits freely entered Japan, and were established by Papal brief as the chief missionaries for that country. Their eminent success is said to have been based upon their invariably laying down a solid educational foundation, and securing the careful training of the scholars who flocked to them. To each mission were attached a public school, in which Christian doctrine, literature, and ecclesiastical and secular music were taught, and wherever unusual capacity was evinced, the missionaries gathered those boys together in their own houses, and there instructed them how to make mental prayer, to practise virtue, to avoid and overcome sin, and excite the spirit of penance. Every Friday the boys went in procession to the churches, singing psalms and motetts. In this way, the fervour generally induced by corporal austerities, and the generous, uncalculating devotedness flowing from the continual thought of Christ's Passion, sprang up in full vigour from the very beginning of the missions, and ripened to its legitimate harvest, while to die for Christ became the habitual aspiration of the child-neophytes of Japan.

Meanwhile, no foreboding of coming reverses, or dread of trials which might prove fatal, hindered the generous missionaries from their work. Like the Apostles and their early successors, they went about from day to day, literally fulfilling our Lord's commands to carry neither purse nor scrip, nor to provide two coats, nor to abide in any one place, except for the good of the souls around them. When persecutions sprang up in one town or territory, they {144} took their crucifixes and their breviaries in their hands, and went on to another, doing whatever good was nearest at hand, and leaving all the consequences of it to God to make fruitful or not. As in the early ages of the Church, noble women were continually raised up to do great things for Christ, and to show forth that perfection of love in weakness and childlike faith by which good women so peculiarly glorify God. One of them, Maria Kiogscou, gained two sons, a daughter, and a daughter-in-law to the faith, and her house became the centre of good works and alms-deeds, and a place of meeting for all the upper classes in Osaka, most of whom either actually declared themselves Christians, or shielded and helped those who did. Another noble lady named Julia, being accustomed to frequent the houses of the nobility at Meaco, baptized great numbers of other ladies with her own hands, and instructed a crowd of young people in Christian doctrine. One fact, strikingly like those of the first centuries of the faith, is told of a Japanese physician, who happening to read a book lent by one of the missionaries to a friend of his, became convinced that there was only one true God, but as the book was not one of doctrine, he learnt no more than this for four years. Every morning and evening he knelt down and prayed to the "one true God," and as soon as he knew what to do, he applied for instruction at Osaka, and was baptized.

The persecution, sometime brooding, broke out first in Fingo, and the governor, with assumed gentleness, issued certain papers for all his subjects to sign. Those who firmly refused were seized, carried away from their homes, and banished. They must have taken refuge on some other governor's territory, or on a wild border-land, for the band of exiles built themselves miserable straw-wattled huts, and there lived as they could, without food or {145} necessaries, and deprived of all countenance and sympathy whatever, as any one speaking to them was threatened with severe punishment. In this condition, their courage and constancy was unbroken, and as soon as it was possible, a Japanese Priest, Father Luis, visited them in the disguise of a peasant, and comforted them very much. The bishop then sent them books and other things, with beautiful letters, exhorting them to persevere, looking to the reward they would surely earn. Some of the letters written in return are very touching and beautiful, expressing the strongest desire for martyrdom, and humbly wondering that any among themselves should be reckoned worthy of so great a grace as to be "the first fruits of Japan."

They were at length allowed to depart to the town of Nangasaki, where they were received with tenderness by the bishop and clergy. Scarcely had the exiles reached this asylum, ere another edict was published in Fingo, commanding all the remaining Christians to apostatize. Death was to be the penalty of a refusal; and two noblemen, named John and Simon, were chosen as examples of severity to the rest. Both were friends of the governor to whom the order had been intrusted, and he did what he could to save them. "If they would but feign compliance with the king's decree," or "have the ceremony privately performed at their own houses," or "bribe the bonze to allow it to be supposed that he had received their recantation,"—each of these alternatives was as eagerly urged as it was indignantly rejected.

The execution of John took place in the presence of the governor; and from the chamber, still reeking with the blood of one friend, he went to the house of the other on a similar mission, and with equal reluctance.

Simon was quietly conversing with his mother when the governor entered; and the latter could not refrain from {146} beseeching that lady to have pity upon them both, and by advising compliance with the king's commands, to spare herself the anguish of losing a son, and himself that of imbruing his hands in the blood of a friend. The appeal was made in vain; and the governor left the house, indignantly declaring that by her obstinacy she was guilty of the death of her son. Another nobleman entered soon afterwards, charged with the execution of the sentence. Jotivava was a friend of Simon's, and he proceeded with what heart he might to his sad and revolting duty. Knowing his errand well, Simon received him with an affectionate smile, and then prostrated himself in prayer before an image of our Saviour crowned with thorns, while his wife and mother called for warm water that he might wash,—a ceremony the Japanese always observe upon joyful occasions. His wife Agnes, falling upon her knees, besought her husband to cut off her hair, as a sign that she never would marry again. After a little hesitation, he complied with this request; prophesying, however, that she and his mother would soon follow him to heaven; and then, accompanied by the three Giffiaques, or officers of the Confraternity of Mercy, whom he had summoned to be present at the execution, they all entered the hall where it was intended to take place. Michael, one of the Giffiaques, carried a crucifix; the other two bore lighted torches; and Simon walked between his wife and mother, while his disconsolate servants brought up the rear.

Simon and his friends recited the litany; and then, bowing before a picture of our Saviour, until his forehead touched the ground, the nobleman, who acted as executioner, took off his head at a single blow. Foreseeing that her own death would speedily follow upon his, Agnes and her mother continued in prayer, the three Giffiaques remaining in attendance, in order to be able to assist at {147} their execution; and, in fact, twenty-four hours had not elapsed before it was told them they were to die on the cross; the officer who came to acquaint them with their sentence bringing with him Magdalen, the wife of John, and Luis, a little child whom the latter had adopted as his own, both of whom were condemned to a similar fate.

With eager joy the prisoners embraced each other, praising, and thanking God, not only that they were to suffer for Jesus, but also that they were to suffer on a cross like Jesus; and then, robed in their best attire, they set off for the place of execution in palanquins which the guards had provided for the purpose. The Giffiaques walked at their side. Jane, the mother of Simon, besought the executioner to bind her limbs as tightly as possible, that she might thus share the anguish which the nails inflicted upon those of Jesus; and she spoke from her cross with so much force and eloquence, that the presiding officer, fearing the effects of her words upon the people, had her stabbed, without waiting for the rest of the victims. Luis and Magdalen were tied up next. They bound the child so violently that he could not refrain from shrieking; but when they asked him if he was afraid to die, he said he was not; and so they took and set him up directly opposite his mother. For a brief interval the martyr and her adopted child gazed silently on each other; then, summoning all her strength, she said, "Son, we are going to heaven: take courage, and cry, 'Jesus, Mary!' with your latest breath." And again the child replied, as he had done before when, on leaving their own home, she had made him a similar exhortation, "Mother, you shall be obeyed!" The executioner struck at him first, but missed his aim; and more than ever fearing for his constancy, Magdalen exhorted him from her cross, while Michael, standing at its foot, spoke words of comfort to him. But the child needed {148} not their urging; he did not shriek again, nor did he shrink, but waited patiently until a second blow had pierced him through and through; and the lance, yet reeking with his blood, was directly afterwards plunged into the heart of his mother, whose sharpest pang had probably already passed on the instant when the son of her love expired before her. And now the fair and youthful Agnes alone remained, kneeling, as when she first had reached the place of execution; for no one yet had the courage to approach her. Like the headsman of her namesake, the loveliest child of Christian story, her executioners could only weep that they were bid to mar the beauty of any thing so fair; their hands were powerless to do their office; and finding at last that no one sought to bind her, she went herself and laid her gently and modestly down upon her cross. There she lay, waiting for her hour, calm and serene as if pillowed on an angel's bosom, until at length some of the spectators, induced partly by a bribe offered by the executioner, but chiefly by a bigoted hatred of her religion, bound her, and lifted up her cross, and then struck her blow after blow, until beneath their rude and unaccustomed hands she painfully expired. For a year and a day the bodies were left to hang upon their crosses, as a terror to all others of the same religion; but Christians were not wanting to watch the blackening corpses, and, with a love like that of Rizpah, the mother of the sons of Saul, to drive from thence the fowls of the air by day, and the beasts of the field by night; and finally, when the period of prohibition was expired, reverently to gather the hallowed bones to their last resting-place in the church of Nangasaki.

The Giffiaques were the next who felt the tyrant's rage. The governor himself urged on their punishment, for the loss of his friends had made him furious; and, attributing it entirely to the fact of their religion, he resolved to wreak {149} his vengeance upon all others who professed it. "What shall I do with these men?" he cried, in a kind of savage perplexity, upon being told that the Giffiaques had rather courted than evaded their imprisonment: "Death they rejoice in, as in the acquisition of an empire, and they go to exile as a slave to freedom. The cross is a royal throne, which they mount with pleasure and occupy with pride. I will therefore contrive for them a fate which shall make death, under any form whatever, a boon to be desired, but not to be attained." Within the city walls there was a prison which the king had constructed for the reception of his debtors. Open on every side, its inmates were exposed both to the curious gaze of the passing crowds, and to the suffering of alternate heat and cold, as summer or winter revolved over their heads. There, huddled together in this enclosure, the prisoners lay, not upon mats, nor yet upon the damp cold earth, which in comparison would have been a mercy, but upon heaps of horrible filth, the accumulation of many years; for by a hideous cruelty of invention, the monster would never permit the cleansing out of these loathsome places, hoping by the disgusting condition of their dungeon to extort a speedier payment from his victims. Into this den of suffering the governor cast the three Christians whom he had selected for his prey, never doubting that they would be soon subdued by the anguish of a life more terrible than the most lingering and painful death; and so for years the Giffiaques lingered on, breathing this infected air—pillowed, sleeping and waking, on the loathsome dung which matted all the pavement, feeding upon such dry crusts and filthy water as their jailors chose to give them; until at length one among them died, and then the tyrant, weary of such willing victims, commanded the other two to be cut in pieces.

{150} According to the usual custom of Japan, their children were condemned to suffer with them; and however hateful such a practice must appear to the natural heart of man, yet was it ever to the martyrs a most welcome boon; for theirs was a Christian as well as a parental love, teaching them to set the spiritual above the temporal welfare of their children, and therefore rather to rejoice in, than simply to meet with calm submission, that double condemnation which, by uniting the fate of their little ones with their own, snatched them from any future chance of perversion, and put them at once in possession of their heavenly kingdom.

One of these little victims was sleeping when they came to fetch him: he was only six years old, and so tiny, that he had to run as fast as he could in order to keep up with the soldier who conducted him to execution; yet, so far from being frightened at his fate, he even gazed without dismay on the disfigured corpses of his father, uncle, and cousin, who had all suffered ere he reached the spot; and then, kneeling down and joining his hands together, looked up smiling in the face of him who was to lay him at their side. That look disarmed his executioner. The man suddenly sheathed his sword, declaring that he had not the heart to perform his office; and when two others sought to do it for him, they also burst into tears, as that innocent smiling face met their downward gaze; nor was the deed accomplished until a common slave, compelled by force to the odious duty, literally hacked and hewed the poor infant to pieces.

While these scenes, and scenes like these, were constantly recurring at Fingo, the kingdom of Firando was likewise giving its quota of martyr-triumphs to the Church; Damian, a blind man of Amangucchi, being almost the first to lay down his life for the faith. From the time when the Jesuit fathers were forcibly driven out of that city, the {151} entire management of the infant mission had devolved upon this poor old man, whose life was henceforth passed in preaching, catechizing and baptizing, visiting the sick, and burying the dead, and doing as much of the work of a zealous missionary as could be accomplished by any one lacking holy orders. This was sufficient for the tyrant, and Damian received his choice between Christianity and death on the one hand, and on the other apostasy and life, with all that could make life most desirable to the heart of man.

The brave old Christian was not long in making his choice; and he died for a testimony to the faith, as he had lived for its propagation, his body being cut to pieces, in order to prevent the other Christians from collecting his relics for more honourable interment.

His death was the signal for innumerable other massacres in this and other kingdoms of Japan; but nowhere was the heathen enmity more unrelentingly displayed than in the once flourishing and Christian kingdom of Arima. The king of that country, Michael, was mean, heartless, and ambitious, and exerted his authority and power every day in committing fresh acts of cruelty against the Christians of Arima. Under the guidance of his chief minister Safiori, he had already pulled down the churches, overthrown the crosses, sent hundreds of the principal Christians into exile, and banished the Jesuit fathers, to whose influence he attributed their constancy in the struggle; and having thus, as he hoped, destroyed every landmark to which they could confidently look for guidance, he published an edict commanding them all to embrace idolatry or die. At the first mutterings of the coming storm, the Christians, by general consent, had enrolled themselves in a confraternity, styled especially "of martyrs," because, beside the usual practices of prayer, fasting, {152} and penance, common to all similar associations, the members pledged themselves to suffer loss of property, banishment, or martyrdom itself, faithfully and joyfully, for the name of Jesus. This confraternity afterwards extended itself over other parts of Japan; and it was even adopted by the little children, who were destined to play nearly as prominent a part in the coming persecutions as their parents themselves, and to whom it was therefore given by the Jesuit fathers, with rules and practices adapted to their tender years. Thus prepared and strengthened for the struggle, the Christians waited in patient courage its commencement; and they had not long to wait.

Michael sent first for a nobleman of the name of Thomas, renowned for his prowess both by sea and by land, and with every art of persuasion in his power, sought to induce him to yield obedience to his orders. The blunt soldier listened impatiently to the miserable sophisms of his chieftain, and then flatly told him, that as a soldier would be deserving of death for deserting his colours, so he should consider himself the most despicable of human beings, if for fear or favour of earthly monarch he could desert that King of kings to whom on the day of his baptism he had sworn allegiance; ending (so great was his indignation that he could not contain himself) with a rough speech, to the effect that he hated traitors as he hated treason, and would prefer death itself to the baseness of committing the one, or of being associated with the other. Such a speech to such a man the Christian well knew could only be uttered at the hazard of his head; no sooner, therefore, had he left the royal presence, than he sent for one of the Jesuit fathers, then lying hid in the city, and prepared himself for death. When urged by his friends, for his own sake, and for the sake of his family, who would otherwise be involved in his ruin, to {153} seek safety by flight, he answered with characteristic spirit, "that so far from fleeing martyrdom, he would go to the end of the earth to seek it; and that he loved his children all too well to think of depriving them of a blessing which he coveted for himself above the empire of the world."

The next day the governor of the city invited him to dinner (so strangely do they manage these affairs in Japan); and Thomas, well aware of his approaching fate, took an affectionate farewell of his wife and children before accepting the ominous invitation. While he sat at table, his host presented him with a sword, asking his opinion as to its capabilities for the decapitation of a human head. Thomas, looking at it carelessly, pronounced it well made, and fitted for such a work; whereupon the governor receiving it out of his hands, stabbed him dead on the spot. A few hours afterwards his brother, quite as uncompromising a Christian as himself, suffered a similar fate; his mother Martha and his two young sons were also condemned; while his wife and daughter were, by a caprice of mercy, or perhaps of cruelty, exempted from the sentence. Very different from the ordinary effects of such opposite judgments were the feelings elicited by them on the present occasion: those who were to die blessed God, in an ecstasy of pious joy, that He had called them to suffer for the faith; while she who was to live—a widow, and now all but childless—gave way to an agony of grief at the double loss she was destined to endure. While she wept over her cruel lot, Martha called her grandchildren, and embracing them tenderly, told them, that as their father had died for Jesus Christ, so she and they were now to do the same, and then to go and live with him in heaven. The children quietly answered, "that there was nothing which they wished {154} for better;" asking, at the same time, "when it was to be." "Just now," she said; "so go and take leave of your mother, and prepare yourselves for death." With smiling countenances, the children hastened to obey; and having distributed their toys among their playfellows, and made some parting presents to their nurses, they clothed themselves in the white robes which Martha had taken care to provide for the occasion, and knelt before their mother, saying "Adieu, dear mother; we are going to be martyred." She was weeping at the instant as if her very heart would break; but fearing to discourage her children, or cast the shadow of her own maternal grief over their coming hour of trial, she embraced them, saying, "Go, dear children; and remembering Him who died for you, tread courageously in the footsteps of your father and your uncle. Behold them stretching out their arms to help you; behold the saints and angels with crowns prepared to set upon your heads; behold Jesus Christ Himself inviting you to His most sweet embraces; and when you reach the place of execution, show yourselves to be indeed His followers by your contempt of death. Fall on your knees, loosen your collars, join your hands, bow down your heads, and cry out Jesus! Mary! with your latest breath. Oh, how wretched am I that I cannot be with you in that hour!" Then, hiding her face in the arms of her little ones, the poor mother burst into an uncontrollable fit of weeping, moving the very soldiers to such compassion, that, fearful of yielding to their feelings, they tore the children from her embraces, and almost threw them into the palanquin which was to convey them and their grandmother to the place of execution. During the short transit thither, that venerable Christian took care to occupy the little victims in prayer and pious ejaculations; nor did she cease her guardian-care {155} when they reached the fatal spot; for she stood and saw them one by one butchered before her eyes, and then, advancing with a grave and stately pace, she in her turn submitted to the sword.

After this execution, eight of the principal citizens of Arima were summoned to the presence of their king, and there commanded to abjure the faith; while he, persecuting tyrant as he was, had the face to tell them that he only required an external submission, since he too was in heart a Christian like themselves, though compelled for the present by the emperor's orders to conceal his faith. Five out of the eight agreed to this infamous proposal; but four of them afterwards sincerely repented. The others were not to be cajoled out of their convictions, and were consequently condemned with their families to the penalty of fire. As soon as their sentence was made known at Nangasaki, one of the Fathers came privately to Arima to give spiritual succour to the captives, and thousands of Christians also flocked from every part of the country to witness their execution.

Never before perhaps had the Church presented such a spectacle to the world; and possibly never will she offer such another again. For three whole days that vast multitude remained camped in the open fields, patiently waiting for the execution of their brethren; but their presence struck terror into the heart of the craven king; and dreading lest they should either rescue the prisoners or seize upon the town, he faltered in his purpose. It never occurred to him that they of whom he feared such things would as soon have thought of robbing him of his material crown as of depriving the martyrs of their palm; they had, in fact, been careful to come without even their ordinary weapons of defence, in order to avoid {156} the possibility of a doubt as to their peaceable intentions; and no sooner did they suspect the cause of the delay, than some of the gravest of their number waited on the governor to explain that they were merely there to witness the ceremony, and to promise that there should be neither tumult nor resistance if they were permitted to remain. Thus encouraged and reassured, preparations for the martyrdom went on apace. A wide plain just beneath the castle of the town was chosen for the purpose; the prisoners were confessed and communicated by a Jesuit father; and on the day appointed they came forth, dressed in their robes of ceremony, and with their hands tied behind their backs, accompanied by upwards of 40,000 Christians, bearing lights in their hands and garlands on their heads, and singing the Litanies of our blessed Lady as they went along. Among the victims was a boy not more than eleven years old, and a young girl called Magdalen, who having already made a vow of virginity, had always led a life holy and pure as that of the martyr-virgins of old.

These children, as well as their elder companions, all affectionately embraced the stakes to which they were afterwards tied; then Gaspar, the chief of the Confraternity of Martyrs, unrolling a banner upon which was displayed a figure of the Son of God, bound like themselves to a pillar, made them a brief exhortation to perseverance; and even as he was speaking, fire was set to the piles of combustible materials, which had been laid at a considerable distance from the martyrs, for the cruel purpose of prolonging their tortures. As the first gleam of this fearful element of death shot upwards to the skies, the entire multitude fell with one accord upon their knees; and still, as the fire drew near its victims, the plain re-echoed with the oft-repeated "Jesus! Mary!"—"Jesus! {157} Mary!" of the spectators, who sadly struck their breasts in penance for their own sins, and to obtain the grace of perseverance for their brethren. Nearer and nearer yet it hurried; but even above the roar of the rapidly-approaching flames, and the sighs and lamentations of those who watched them, the voice of the martyrs might be heard praising God, and animating each other to constancy and courage. At length the fiery sea had reached them, and their cords were burst; and then every eye was riveted on the child, to see whether he would stand of his own free will in that burning scorching furnace. A moment's pause—he leaves his stake; but it is only to run through the dense flames, until he has reached and flung his arms around his mother; while the young Magdalen avails herself of her freedom to stoop to the burning embers, and picking up the living coals, set them as a garland of roses on her head. She died almost in the very effort; but the mother of the child James, with a heroism of even perhaps a higher order, found strength in the midst of her own tortures to speak words of courage to her little one, until death released them from their sufferings. The flames had scorched the bodies, but had not consumed them; and they were carried off, together with the blackened and half-burnt stakes, as precious relics, by the assembled Christians. The bodies were laid to rest in the church of Nangasaki; where over their honoured graves was afterwards erected a monument, telling alike of their heroic end, and calling upon all who read to follow in their footsteps.

Enraged at finding himself foiled by the constancy of the Christians, the emperor resolved to banish them by hundreds out of Japan; and in this sentence the Jesuit and Franciscan fathers were formally included. Fortunately most of the former, in anticipation of some {158} such event, had been dispersed throughout the country in various disguises: but it was impossible for those living openly in the college to evade it; and a sad day it was, both for them and for their flock, when they found themselves forced to depart from a Church, which in sunshine and in storm they had now governed for upwards of fifty years. They had dwelt in peace at Miako, even when persecution was rife in other kingdoms of the country; and their college had become the resort alike of Christians and of heathens.

Such was the respect and reverence in which they were held, even by their most determined enemies in the court of Japan, that they were permitted to say a farewell Mass publicly in their church, and afterwards to receive the adieus of their sorrowful flock. Vast multitudes attended on this occasion; and when High Mass was over, the Jesuits proceeded to the mournful ceremony of stripping the altars, the people weeping piteously all the while, and the fathers nearly as broken-hearted as themselves. All was at length removed that could tempt to sacrilege; the sacred vessels and robes of ceremony were confided to the care of such of the Christians as could best be relied on, the church-doors flung open for all who might choose to enter; and the next morning the fathers, under a guard of soldiers, were far on their way to Nangasaki, whence they were to embark. At that town they were joined by numbers of prisoners, both clerical and lay, collected from all parts of the country, and finally sixty-three Jesuits, with a crowd of converts of every age, sex, and condition were embarked for Macao; while twenty-three others, besides a proportionate number of Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians (for each of these orders had now missions in Japan), were dispatched to the Manillas.

{159} In the same year (1614) in which this wholesale banishment took place, the Christians had to mourn for the death of Luis Cerquiera, bishop of Japan. He is said to have literally died of a broken heart for the ruin that had fallen on the infant Church committed to his love and care. It is true, indeed, that from the first he had undertaken the task in times of great difficulty and danger; but at the period of his arrival, though there was much to discourage, there had also been much to strengthen and to cheer his heart. From Nangasaki, where he had fixed his residence, he had succeeded in making innumerable journeys to the most distant parts of the kingdom; and withersoever he went, thousands had flocked around him for instruction and confirmation. No kingdom or city was too distant, no road too untrodden, no mountains too high or too rugged to be accessible to his zeal; and when he returned from these weary wanderings, he could sit down at Nangasaki, and feel that there at least Almighty God had the entire homage of all hearts; for not only was it wholly inhabited by Christians, but the five parishes into which it was divided were governed by native pastors, the truest test of the conversion of a people, and one which only the Catholic Church has ever succeeded in presenting to the world in the history of the propagation of the Christian faith.

Sadly had this fair scene changed within the last few years, and rapidly had all that was brightest and best disappeared from the picture. At the moment of the bishop's death the emperor had fulminated his final edict against the Christians. Fingo, Amangucchi, and Firando were already deluged in their blood; Nangasaki was the head-quarters of Safiori, their implacable foe, and an army of ten thousand men had been let loose upon Arima, to exterminate religion by fire and sword. Whenever {160} any of these troops were sent into a district, a judgment-seat, surrounded by a palisade, was set up in the most public place of the city; the best known among the Christians were then dragged by the hair and cast into the enclosure, thrown upon the ground, trampled underfoot, beaten until they were half-dead, and their legs, by a cruel contrivance, broken between two pieces of wood; the most intrepid were then put to death, and their bodies, after having been cut into pieces, were cast to the birds of prey. At Cochinotzu sixty Christians were taken, five by five at a time, with their hands tied behind them, lifted high up into the air, and then dashed upon the ground with such violence, that blood gushed from their ears, eyes, and mouths. Many of them were dreadfully lacerated, others had all their bones broken; and as if this were not already sufficient torture, they were afterwards pricked and pierced all over their bodies with sharp instruments. The governor all the while was exhorting them with affected compassion to spare themselves further torments by renouncing their religion; but when he found that they were deaf to his entreaties, he proceeded to inflict a new punishment, so horrible that it is difficult to conceive the cruelty of the mind by which it was invented. The victim was made to lie flat on the ground, and a stone, which four men could scarcely lift, was placed on his back; and then, by means of a pulley, with cords attached to the legs and arms, he was raised from the earth in such a manner that the body was bent completely backwards, the limbs cruelly crushed and broken, and in many instances the eyes forced out of their sockets; the fingers and toes of the victims were then cut off, their teeth knocked out, and if the eyesight yet remained, it was next destroyed. Many were not beheaded until death had indeed become a mercy; while {161} others, less fortunate, after undergoing a yet further mutilation of their persons, were compelled in the midst of their agony to climb up and down a flight of stairs, for the amusement of their tormentors; after which they were consigned to the care of their friends, until one by one, as the strength of their constitutions more or less prolonged the struggle of death, they passed from their painful martyrdom to the crowns prepared for them in heaven.

The bloody scenes of Cochinotzu were only a sample of those which likewise desolated Aria, Obama, Simabara, Swota, and every other city of note in the kingdom of Arima; but more especially the capital, where Safiori presided in person over the cruelties which he had invented for his victims.

To prevent any further addition from without to the number of the missionaries already in the kingdom, all the ports of Japan were irrevocably closed against the vessels of Europe, with the exception indeed of Nangasaki and Firando, which were always under the rigid surveillance of the officers of the emperor. It was also made death to be convicted as a priest, or to be discovered in the exercise of priestly functions; death to introduce a priest into the kingdom, and death to give him shelter; death not only to the person so exercising hospitality, but likewise to his ten next neighbours, with their innocent wives and children,—a reward being generally offered for the discovery of those who, in any of these ways, should have incurred the penalties of the law. From that hour the life of each individual priest was at the mercy of every one to whom he had been previously known; while the lives of those who sheltered him were equally liable to be forfeited to the curiosity or cupidity of such of their neighbours as might chance to discover the fact of their {162} delinquency. To Father John Baptist Machades, a Jesuit, and Father Peter, a Franciscan, the honour was accorded of taking the first place on this long list of priestly victims. The former was going to Omura by order of his superior, when he and his catechist were made prisoners at Goto, and sent by sea to the capital. Contrary winds, however, detaining them at Canomi, the magistrates of that place received Father Machades on his landing with every mark of courtesy and kindness. An unrestricted communication was permitted with the Christians, who flocked to him in crowds; and after the due administration of the Sacraments he made them a most spirit-stirring address, in the course of which he told them that, at seven years of age he had been moved by some secret impulse to a strong desire of preaching the Gospel to the Japanese.

These duties having been fulfilled, the father returned, of his own accord, to his prison on board the ship. But so great was the veneration inspired by his virtues, that the sailors refused to bind him as he wished; and thus unshackled, and almost unwatched, he remained until he arrived at the prison of Omura. There he found a Franciscan father lying under the same sentence of death as himself. Having confessed and communicated each other, they set out to the place of execution,—each carrying his crucifix and exhorting the crowd as they went along, until the final moment came, when each affectionately embraced the other, and then in peace and joyfulness submitted to his sentence.

About the same time six other religious commenced a still longer captivity in the prisons of Omura. Three were Dominicans, one a Franciscan, and the two others Jesuits, Father Charles Spinola, and Ambrose Fernandez, a Brother of the Society. When first they were taken prisoners they had been thrown for greater security into {163} a sort of subterranean cave where they lay huddled together and deprived of light.

It was not until the close of the year 1622, that an order arrived for the removal of these religious and other Christian prisoners to Nangasaki, and for their subsequent execution. They were thirty in number as they marched out of Omura; and partly by sea and partly by land, each with a rope round his neck, and an executioner at his side, they went on their way to the old city of the Christians. It was not considered prudent that they should enter Nangasaki, so the inhabitants went forth in multitudes to meet them, and flinging themselves at their feet, begged with many tears their blessings and their prayers; and thus escorted, the martyrs stood at length upon a high hill between the city and the sea. A moment of suspense followed. Some victim or spectator was yet wanting to the solemnity; and every eye was directed towards the town, from whence a troop of persons might be descried approaching,—men, women, and children; thirty of the former, with, of course a larger proportion of the latter. Every doubt as to the ultimate destination of this company soon vanished when it was seen that they were dressed in their robes of ceremony, and with looks of gladness and of holy joy were ascending to the calvary of the Christians. One of the new-comers had been guilty of giving shelter to a missionary; the others were his ten next neighbours, with their families, besides the wives and children of some previous martyrs; and of this almost incredible number of victims, amounting to upwards of a hundred, some were to be beheaded, while others were to perish by the slower martyrdom of fire. A throne had been erected overlooking this scene of slaughter, and when the governor had taken his seat upon it, those who were to undergo the {164} sentence of fire were fastened to their stakes, but loosely, in order that they might escape if only they chose to apostatize, and then the executioners prepared to decapitate the others. Among these last was Isabella, the widow of the man in whose house Father Spinola had been taken captive, and her son Ignatius, a child now about four years old, but at that time a new-born infant, whom he had baptized on the very evening before his arrest. From the stake to which he was already bound, the father had been exhorting both natives and Portuguese to perseverance, telling them, almost in a spirit of prophecy, that they need not look for any cessation in the persecution, which would go on increasing in fury from day to day; when chancing to see Isabella standing in the crowd, and anxious for the fate of her child, he suddenly cried out, "Where then is my little Ignatius?" The mother held him up, exclaiming, "Here he is, my father, ready and glad to die for Jesus;" and then addressing the infant, she bade him ask the blessing of the good father, who in the waters of baptism had conferred upon him a spiritual life infinitely more precious than that which he was now about to forfeit for his God. Instantly the little creature fell upon his knees, joining his tiny hands together, as if he would supplicate the blessing of the father. So touching in its simplicity was this little scene, that the crowd, already interested by the movement of the mother, now broke into such open murmurs of compassion, that the officers were obliged to proceed at once with the execution, in order to prevent the possibility of an attempt at a rescue. Two or three heads had already fallen close by the child's side, and now his mother's followed; yet it was observed that he neither shrank nor changed colour, but his turn being next, he fell upon his knees, loosened (for there was no one to do the office {165} for him) with his infant but untrembling fingers the collar that would have impeded the aim of the executioner, and without a cry or murmur submitted to the sword.

The remaining victims were speedily despatched; and their heads having been placed opposite to such of their companions as were to die at the stakes, fire was set to the piles of wood by which the latter were surrounded. With the usual diabolical ingenuity of the Japanese pagans, the faggots had been placed full five-and-twenty feet from the stakes; and whenever the fire was seen to gain too fast upon its victims, water was cast upon it, that inch by inch they might taste the full agony of the sentence to which they had been condemned. Many of them died from the mere effects of the heated atmosphere;—among others, Father Rimura, a Japanese priest, after having lived for full three hours in the midst of the flames; and Father Spinola also, whose body was afterwards found unburnt, and wrapped in his cassock, which was literally glued to the flesh by the combined action of the heat and of the water which had been cast upon his person.

Terrible beyond expression as their sufferings must have been, two only of this heroic company showed the slightest symptoms of being even conscious of its anguish. Both were Japanese, and very young; and both simultaneously, and as if from an absolute physical inability to endure such frightful torture any longer, rushed out of the flames, and threw themselves at the feet of the governor, imploring his mercy. They did not, however, ask for life; they asked only for an easier and quicker death. But, poor as the boon was, it was denied them, save upon the condition of apostasy, which they would not accept; and again they were flung back into the flames.

This martyrdom, which was distinguished among the {166} Japanese as the "Great Martyrdom," on account both of the rank and number of its victims, had been preceded by another at Miako, which took place under circumstances of peculiar barbarity. One of the victims was in daily expectation of giving birth to a child; nevertheless she was included in the sentence which sent her husband, a nobleman of the highest rank, and their six young children, with upwards of forty other Christians, to the stake.

The tragical situation in which she was placed had however, no terrors for this heroic woman. She employed her prison-hours in preparing robes for herself and her children to wear at their execution; and when she was brought to the destined place, calmly, and without assistance, she stepped from the cart, and throwing a rich mantle over her shoulders, prepared to suffer with a modesty and composure that won her the admiration of all beholders. It was dark night before fire was set to their several piles; but as soon as the smoke had cleared away, the martyrs were seen by the light of the bright flames amid which they stood, with eyes fixed on heaven and their forms motionless and erect, as though they had been figures chiselled out of stone.

In very horror the spectators were silent, and the stillness and hush of death was upon the midnight air, when suddenly from out of that fiery furnace a flood of melody was poured,—men and women and children singing the praises of the living God as sweetly, and with notes as true as though the red and thirsty flames had been but the dews of heaven upon their brows. The sighs and prayers of the assistants, which could no longer be repressed, the shouts and execrations of the soldiers and executioners, soon mingled with this death-song; and these and the dark night, and the fierce fire that illuminated {167} its gloom, now flashing intolerable light upon the victims, now glancing lividly on the pale faces and shrinking forms of the densely-packed spectators, altogether formed an union of sights and sounds that alternately swayed the feelings to terror and compassion. But the music of that marvellous choir died gradually away; the sudden failing of each gladsome voice, the silent sinking of each upright form, telling that another, and yet another had yielded to their doom, was marked by the watchers with redoubled lamentations; though their tenderest sympathies were still reserved for the mother dying in the midst of her little ones.

From the cross to which they had bound her, Thecla (for such was her name) still kept her eyes fixed upon her children, animating them by gentle smiles and words of comfort to suffer well; while the youngest, an infant only three years old, she held with superhuman courage in her arms during the whole of the terrible scene that followed. Her own anguish had no power to extort a single sigh from her lips; but those who watched her wept to see the useless efforts which she made to diminish the sufferings of her babe. She caressed it, soothed it, hushed its cries, wiped away its tears, sought with her own hands to shelter its tender face from the terrible contact of the fire, and died at last with the little victim so closely folded to her bosom, that it was afterwards found almost impossible to separate the bodies of the mother and the child.

These martyrdoms are only specimens of those which during this period continually took place in Japan. Some Christians were crucified, others burnt, others beheaded; numbers again branded upon the cheeks and forehead with the sign of the cross, their fingers and toes cut off, and their eyes forced out; and thus maimed and helpless, they were sent back to their families, who (to their honour {168} be it written) never failed to receive them with all the more pride and affection, the more deeply and hideously they had been disfigured for the sake of Jesus.

The great majority of the martyrdoms hitherto recorded had been accomplished by fire; but now a different mode of torture was to be pressed into the service. Water was called into requisition; and Father James Caravail, with several lay Christians, was the leader of many heroic confessors who perished from cold. They were left in the first instance, for three hours in freezing water, during which time one of them died; the rest on being carried back to prison and threatened with the martyrdom of fire in case of perseverance, cried out with one voice; "Oh, happy we, to pass through fire and water to the place of our repose!" Instead of the stake, however, the next day they were again placed up to their necks in water; while, the better to attempt them to apostasy, tents, warm baths, and comfortable clothing, were made ready on the banks of the pool, and as near as possible to the spot where their sentence was to be carried into execution. As the day advanced, the water froze more and more; and heavy drifts of snow beating continually upon them, added greatly to their agony. Scarcely able to endure it any longer, one among them sobbed heavily for breath; but Father Paul hearing it, cried out, "Have patience, son, for yet a little while; and these torments will be changed into everlasting repose." At the sound of the father's voice, and his cheering words, the poor victim regained his courage, and soon afterwards happily expired, at the very moment when another reduced to a similar extremity, exclaimed, "Father, my course is nearly finished." "Depart then," replied the latter; "depart in peace to God, and die in his holy grace." Thus one by one they perished in this icy grave; and at length the father, who {169} through the live-long day had cheered his fellow-martyrs to the combat, was left to suffer and to die alone. Night had already closed in heavy and chill around him; and with the exception of his guards and some few faithful Christians, none were there to watch him, for the spectators had all retired to their comfortable homes, and it was not until just midnight, that after fifteen hours of stern endurance, he bowed himself down to the frozen wave, and placidly expired. This martyrdom took place in the year 1624, and shortly afterwards four more religious were burnt at Faco; in June of the same year the provincial of the Jesuits, with eight of the Society, perished in a similar manner; and in the following month Lewis Xanch, a Dominican, was put to death at Omura.

We have mentioned these executions of priests without alluding to the almost weekly massacres which took place among the lay converts, merely to show the virulence and success with which the missionaries were now every where pursued; and when it is remembered that at the commencement of the persecution there were, besides the Jesuits, but a few secular priests and about thirty religious of other orders, in Japan, and that no reinforcement had succeeded in reaching them from without, words will not be needed to point out the deadly nature of the blow which the Xoguno was at last inflicting on the church. Having said thus much, however, upon the fate of the religious, it would be a crying injustice to the rest of the Christians to pass over their sufferings altogether in silence.

The Xoguno having once explicitly declared himself opposed to their religion, the inferior monarchs, as a matter of course, vied with each other in their efforts to uproot it. It was only on an express condition to that effect that Bugendono, the new governor of Nangasaki, had been installed in that office; and taunted continually by his {170} rivals for courtly favour with his little success, he employed himself day and night in the invention of more ingenious barbarities to effect his purpose. The object being rather to produce apostasy than death, every species of torture was made as slow as possible in its execution, and was generally eked out with intervals of rest and refreshment—a thousand times more dangerous to the perseverance of the victim than the sharpest continued agony. Some were placed in deep pits, and there nearly buried alive; while executioners appointed for the purpose, slowly, and with blunt weapons, sawed off sometimes the arms and sometimes the head, salt being thrown on the bleeding wound to sharpen its anguish; physicians were also at hand, whose business it was to prolong the life of the sufferer for as many days as possible, by carefully ascertaining the amount of his physical strength, and administering cordials when it was beginning to fail. Others were hung with their head downwards in a pit, where, with the necessary precaution of occasional bleeding, they were made to exist for a considerable time in all the sufferings of an apoplexy; while others again, by means of a funnel forced far down into their throats, were compelled to swallow enormous quantities of water, which was afterwards forced out of the body by violent pressure. Even the Dutch, themselves more than half the authors of these evils, speak with horror of the deeds which they witnessed at Firando. The nails of the victims were violently wrenched off, holes bored into their legs and arms, great morsels of flesh torn out of their persons by the insertion of hollow reeds which were turned round like a screw, burning brimstone and sulphur forced by long tubes up their noses; and they were, besides, frequently compelled to walk about with executioners holding lighted torches close to their persons. Nor were these cruelties inflicted singly, or upon solitary and more noted {171} delinquents. By tens, by fifties, by hundreds at a time, they were assembled for their trial; one torture rapidly succeeding another, and each new one being so cunningly contrived, that the slightest word of complaint, the most trivial movement of resistance when pain had become almost intolerable, was to be considered as a signal of apostasy, and was greeted by cries of "He is fallen! he is fallen!"—the favourite and most significant words by which the heathen expressed at once the fact of a Christian's recantation, and their own opinion of the weakness through which he had succumbed.

Under circumstances such as these, it is not so wonderful that many failed, as that hundreds and thousands persevered to the end, winning their crown by a long-suffering and patience which, even in the primitive Church, were never surpassed. Men offered themselves willingly to every torture which Eastern ingenuity could devise, or reckless disregard of human life put into execution. Women looked calmly on while their infants perished, and then followed with gladness and joy in the same path to glory. At a city near Omura, a brave Christian plunged his hand into the burning coals, and never withdrew it until commanded to do so by the tyrant who had taunted and dared him to the deed; while at Firando fifty young Christians were made to kneel naked upon living embers, on the express understanding that the most involuntary expression of pain should be considered as apostasy; and having by their unflinching firmness baffled the closest scrutiny of those who watched them, were sent back to die, half roasted as they were, to their several homes. In one place eighteen infants were put to death in the presence of their parents; at another, a child only seven years old, suspected with the rest of his family of the concealment of a priest, lived for as many days in the {172} midst of the torture they inflicted on him, without once flinching or failing in his heroic resolution. To each fresh invention of their cruelty he only answered, probably to avoid being betrayed into imprudent disclosures, "Jesus, Mary! Jesus, Mary! How I long to be in heaven with my God!" Nor could other words be extorted from his lips, even when, in their despair of succeeding, they cut open the little creature's shoulders, and poured boiling lead into the wound; and finally, he and his family were burnt alive, without a single one among them having been induced by weakness to give evidence against the priest.

Opposed to constancy such as this, every ordinary mode of torture must have seemed only useless and unmeaning; but at length another was hit upon, and one so barbarous in its nature, that no tyrant, however cruel or ferocious, who had hitherto ruled in Japan, had ever thought of inflicting it on the most guilty of his subjects.

Between Nangasaki and Sima-bara lies a mountain, bald, bleak, and treeless, whitening beneath the masses of cinders with which it is every where covered, and with a thick and stifling smoke, which can be seen at a distance of several leagues, for ever rising from its summit. The soil that covers its steep ascent is every where soft and spongy, often burning and trembling beneath the footsteps; while so strong is the smell of sulphur which it continually exhales, that it is said no bird can live, or will even attempt to fly within breathing distance of its tainted atmosphere. Deep and unfathomable pools of boiling water lie hidden amid the clefts and fissures which split this gloomy mountain into peaks and precipices of various sizes; but one, deeper and more unfathomable than all the rest, instead of water, is filled with a mixture of sulphur and other volcanic matter, which seethe and bubble and boil within its dark abyss, emitting all the while so horrible a stench {173} as to have gained it the title of the "Mouth of Hell." One drop alone of this fearful fluid is sufficient to produce an ulcer on the human flesh; and when Bugendono thought on the terrible nature of the chastisement he could thus inflict, and upon the fear and superstition with which the Japanese always regarded the sulphurous waters of Unsen, and the mysterious cavern in which they were produced, he felt that he could not have hit upon a more efficient or infallible means for the intimidation of the Christians, and the extirpation of their creed. At the very time when he came to this resolution, there chanced to be dispersed throughout Arima a band of faithful confessors, upon whom all his previously-invented tortures had been tried in vain; and for this reason the governor considered they would prove the fittest objects for his new experiment. Paul Uciborg was the chief, both for courage and virtue, of this troop of victims; and he had already witnessed the massacre of every member of his family, down even to the youngest of his children, who, in company with fifteen other Christians, had been thrown into the sea, after having first suffered every possible cruelty that could barbarously be inflicted upon them.

"Which shall I begin with?" asked the executioner, as he approached the two youngest of Paul's children for the purpose of chopping off their fingers.

"That is your affair, not mine," the old Christian answered bluntly, probably to conceal a softer feeling. "Cut off which, and as many, as you please."

"And oh!" sighed little Ignatius, as, in the very spirit of the brave man his father, he watched his brother's fingers falling joint by joint beneath the knife of the executioner; "how beautiful your hand looks, my brother, thus mutilated for the sake of Jesus Christ, and how I long for my own turn to come!"

{174} The child who made this exclamation was but five years old; yet without shedding a tear, he afterwards endured a similarly protracted amputation, and then silently and unresistingly suffered himself to be cast into the ocean. The father and about twenty of the remaining Christians, who were reserved for a different fate, were, after the massacre of their companions, brought back to shore; although so frightfully crippled, from the mutilations they had already undergone, that one at least of their number was compelled to be carried to his house in a kind of coffin on men's shoulders. The governor had hoped that their ghastly appearance would terrify others from following their example; but he soon found that Jesus was more easily and more eloquently preached by such wounds and such deeds as theirs, than by any words that could be uttered; and in his vexation at the numbers who flocked to them for edification and encouragement, he condemned them, as we have seen, to the boiling sulphurs of Unsen.

As the little company of martyrs approached this terrible chasm, one among them, at the bidding of the executioner, and in the spirit of an Apollonia, rushed forward at once, and flung himself into its depths; but Paul, with a more measured courage, commanded the others to restrain their zeal; while to the heathens who taunted him with cowardice, he contented himself by saying, "that they were not masters of their own lives, which God having given, God alone had a right to take away; and that, in reality, there was more real courage in calmly waiting the approach of death, than in rushing into its arms in such a way as to put an end to all its terrors in a moment." Silenced by this answer, so calm and noble in its genuine Christian courage, the executioners proceeded to their duties; and having tied each of the martyrs by ropes, in order to {175} prevent their falling entirely into the chasm, they lowered them one by one into its seething contents. Some were destroyed at a single plunge; others, by being quickly withdrawn, were reserved for the torment of a second immersion; but old Paul, who suffered last, and who had excited the hatred of the heathens by the courage with which it was believed he had inspired his companions, they managed, with dexterous cruelty, to let down three several times into the abyss before life was altogether extinguished; and each time as he rose to the surface he was heard to exclaim: "Eternal praise be to the ever adorable Sacrament of the Altar!"

After this first trial of its power, the scalding sulphurous waters of Unsen became a favourite mode of torture for the Christians. Men, women, children, and infants were sent hither in crowds. Some expired after a single plunge; others after two or three successive immersions; others, again, and the greater number, were with a more elaborate cruelty sprinkled with the boiling liquor day after day, often for a period of thirty days together, until their bodies were one mass of sores and vermin, and they died from the effects of this universal ulceration.


February 6.

(ABOUT A.D. 303.)

[This Saint, so famous in Western Martyrologies, is unknown to the Greeks. Her Acts are not to be relied upon.]

THIS holy martyr was a native of CŠsarea in Cappadocia, and in the persecution of Dioclesian she was brought before the governor Sapricius. After the usual interogatories she was stretched on the catasta, an iron bed over a slow fire. Then as laid thereon, the servant of God exclaimed, "Do thy worst, I fear not pain, if only I may see Him, for whose love I am ready to die." Sapricius said, "Who is he whom thou lovest?" Dorothy answered, "Christ, the Son of God." Sapricius asked, "And where is this Christ?" Dorothy replied, "In His omnipotence He is everywhere; in His humanity he is in Heaven, the Paradise to which He invites us: where the woods are ever adorned with fruit, and lilies ever bloom white, and roses ever flower; where the fields are green, the mountains wave with fresh grass, and the springs bubble up eternally."


After Angelica de Fiesole.

Feb. 6.

{177} Then said a lawyer present, named Theophilus, "Thou spouse of Christ, send me from Paradise some of these apples and roses." And Dorothy answered him, "I will."

Now the governor pronounced sentence against her, that she should lose her head. And as she knelt, and the executioner prepared to smite, she asked him to delay the stroke for a moment. Then she prayed, and suddenly there stood by her a beauteous youth, in dazzling raiment, who held in his hands three apples, and three red roses, the like of which earthly garden had never produced. Then Dorothy said, "I pray thee take these to Theophilus, and tell him that they are what I promised him." And at that instant the sword of the executioner fell, and she entered into the joy of her Lord.

Now Theophilus, the advocate, was at home with his companions; and to them he told with great laughter how he had asked the virgin to send him the flowers and fruit of the Paradise to which she hoped to enter. And, all at once, as he spake, the angel stood before him, with grave face, and held out to him the wondrous apples and roses, and said, "Dorothy sends these to thee, as she promised." Then Theophilus believed, and going before the governor, he confessed Christ, and was sentenced to death; and so died, receiving the baptism of blood.

Relics at Arles; where March 28th is observed as the feast of their translation; also at Cologne, in the churches of S. Gereon, S. Severinus, S. Andrew, S. Paul, SS. John and Cordula, &c.; the head at Prague.

In Art, S. Dorothea is easily recognized by the sword she holds, and the apples and roses at her side, or in her hand.



[Inserted in the Sarum Martyrology by Richard Wytford from the Irish Kalendar, in these words: "In Ireland the feast of S. Mel, S. Melkus, S. Munys, Bishops, and Riockus, Abbot: these four were brothers, nephews of S. Patrick, by his sister S. Darerca, all famous for their singular holiness and great miracles." They are also given by Colgan. Authorities:—Joselyn's Life of S. Patrick; The Life of S. Bridget, &c.]

These four brothers are said to have been the sons of Darerca, the saintly sister of S. Patrick, and his coadjutors in his apostolic labours in Ireland.[21] S. Mael, or Mel, who was ordained Bishop of Ardagh, in Longford, lived there in a poor cell with his mother's aged sister, Lupita. She watched and prayed till midnight, and then woke her nephew, who continued the watch and prayer till day broke, and she retired to bed. S. Mel died about the year 488, and was buried at Ardagh. S. Melchu was the companion of his brother Mael, in his missionary labours and preaching, and lived with him in the monastery founded by Mael at Ardagh, and was ordained Bishop by his uncle Patrick. S. Mun, or Munis, after having for a long time accompanied S. Patrick, was raised to the episcopate, and founded the Church of Forgney in Longford, in the year 486. S. Rioch, after many labours in the Gospel, with the leave of S. Patrick, retired to the island of Inisbofinde in Lough-ree; and thus devoted the remainder of his days to a contemplative life, in a monastery, which he founded in the island.


(ABOUT A.D. 540.)

[Roman, Gallican, Belgian, and other Martyrologies. Double feast with octave at Arras. In the Salisbury Martyrology, he is inserted on this day under the name of S. Zawster. In many Kalendars, SS. Vedast and Amandus are commemorated together. Authorities:—A very ancient life, published from an imperfect copy by Bollandus. Another life revised or rewritten by Alcuin, (d. 804). Another erroneously attributed to the Venerable Bede.]

Clovis, King of the Franks, began his reign in 482, on the decease of his father, Childeric. He extended his dominions in every quarter by force of arms, and in the space of thirty years conquered part of Germany, and nearly the whole of Modern France. In the early part of his career, the King of the Franks signalized himself by repelling with success the attacks of Syagius, the Roman general, who had been ordered to advance and check his progress. This impediment in the path of victory removed, the five ensuing years were actively employed by Clovis in the reduction of Soissons and of Rheims; in a successful expedition against the Thuringians and other neighbouring nations, in the course of which he extended his territories from the Seine to the Loire; and lastly in the conquest of the Alemanni, at that time the possessors of Switzerland. The Alemanni attacked the Franks with the fury of men actuated by despair, and were irrevocably defeated on the field of Tolbiac.

The great soul of Clovis had long been agitated by religious doubts—should he cling to the gods of his family, from whom he claimed to be lineally descended, or should he submit to the faith of Christ which his gentle wife, Clothildis, made so attractive to his better nature? His ancestral gods alarmed him. To their anger he attributed {180} the death of his first-born; he hesitated to abandon them for that "new, unarmed God," said he, "who is not of the race of Thor and Odin." He dreaded also his people, of whose consent he wished to be assured. The peril of the field of Tolbiac constrained him to decide. When the scale of success seemed turned against him, he vowed, if he conquered, to adopt the faith of Christ. The victory remained in his hands, and he hastened to fulfil his vow. On his return from the subjugation of the Alemanni, he passed through Toul, and asked for some priest who might instruct him in the Christian religion. S. Vedast was presented to him for this purpose. Whilst he accompanied the king at the passage of the river Aisne, a blind man begging on the bridge besought the servant of God to restore to him his sight. The saint, divinely inspired, prayed, and made the sign of the cross on his eyes, and he immediately recovered it. The miracle confirmed the king in the faith, and moved several of his courtiers to embrace it.

But Clovis was not a man to yield at once. Nicetius of TrŔves, writing to the grand-daughter of Clovis says, "You have learnt from your grandmother of happy memory, Clothildis, how she attracted to the faith her lord and husband, and how he, who was a most shrewd man, would not yield, till he had been thoroughly convinced of the truth." Clovis was baptized at Rheims, whither in after times the kings of France went to be crowned. S. Vedast assisted S. Remigius in converting the Franks, and was consecrated by that prelate bishop of Arras, in the year 500. His diocese, together with that of Cambrai, which was also entrusted to his care, had once been the seat of a flourishing Christian community, but the ravages of the Vandals and Alani had eradicated every trace of Christianity, save that here and there was to be seen a ruined church, overgrown {181} with briars, and nettles waving where the altar had stood. Vedast wept over these sad relics, and made earnest supplication to God to enable him faithfully to accomplish his mission, and once more to plant the seed of life in this devastated field.

His own Cathedral Church of Arras he found had become the den of a huge bear, which came shambling towards him, as he knelt weeping over the broken altar stair. The saint started up and drove the wild beast forth, and bade it never again enter to pollute by its presence that holy ground; a type, surely, of that brutality which had invaded and desolated the Church of God in that land, which he had come to exorcise.

He ruled the diocese for forty years, and died on Feb. 6th, in, or near, the year 540. All Martyrologists are agreed as to the day of his death, but historians differ as to the year.

The name of S. Vedast has gone through strange transformation. He is called Vaast, Vaat, WÔst, WÔt; and in French, Gaston; in English, Foster, a corruption marked by Foster Lane, (properly S. Vedast's Lane) in the City of London.

Relics at Arras, of which he is patron, and at S. Waast. In Art he appears with a child at his feet, or with a wolf, from whose mouth he saves a goose, a popular tradition being to the effect that he saved the goose belonging to some poor people from the wolf that was running away with it; or, with a bear.


(ABOUT A.D. 684.)

[Roman Martyrology, also an ancient addition to the so-called Martyrology of S. Jerome, which addition is earlier than 741. Bede (so-called), Notker, Rabanus, German and Belgian Martyrologies, &c. In the Church of Maestricht, the 6th Feb. is celebrated as the Feast of S. Amandus and the other Bishops of Maestricht, with a double. His ordination and translation are celebrated variously on 26th October, or on 20th, 25th, 27th, and even on the 19th Sept. Various other days commemorate translations of his relics. Authorities:—An ancient anonymous life. Another by Bandemand, monk of Elno, about 680; another by Milo, monk of Elno, d. 871; another by Philip Harveng, d. after 1180; another by Justus, the Archpriest, about 1128.]

This great apostle of Flanders was a native of Herbauges, near Nantes. His father, Serenus and his mother, Amantia, were of noble family, and were wealthy. But Amandus, renouncing all these advantages, left his paternal house, in his youth, and retired into the isle of Oye, near La Rochelle, where he embraced the religious life in a monastery which was there. His father, who looked to his worldly advantage, followed him, and threatened to disinherit him, if he did not quit the habit he had assumed. He replied, "My father, I care not for thy property; all I ask of thee is to suffer me to follow Jesus Christ, who is my true heritage."

This reply did not satisfy his father, and Amandus, to escape his solicitations, fled the island, and visited the tomb of S. Martin at Tours. Kneeling by this shrine, with many tears, he besought God to grant that he might never more return to his native place. Shortly after he received the clerical tonsure. He soon distinguished himself among the clergy of Tours; but the fame of S. Austragisle drew him to Bourges, when this holy bishop, together with S. Sulpicius, then his archdeacon, and afterwards his successor, received him with great joy. They built him a little cell, {183} near the cathedral, in which he lived as a recluse, to die and be buried to the world. There, lying on ashes, clothed in sack-cloth, and eating only barley-bread, and drinking water alone, he spent fifteen years. It was the preparation for his future apostleship.

At the end of these years, Amandus felt an inspiration to visit Rome. It was at the tomb of the great Apostles, that he was to receive his call and mission. One night, as he prayed with fervour before the door of the basilica of S. Peter, because it was locked for the night, the prince of the apostles appeared to him, and ordered him to return instantly to Gaul, and to preach the glad tidings of salvation to the heathen there. Amandus obeyed promptly, and on his return, he preached with such success, that King Clothaire II. ordered him to be consecrated bishop, that he might preach with more authority, but without any particular see, over which he was to exercise jurisdiction.

The new apostle maintained his dignity by his virtues. He knew how to make the poor love him, and the rich respect him. He found means of ransoming young slaves, whom he baptized, instructed in letters, and ordained; sending them through the country to minister the Word of God. S. Amandus chose for his mission Belgic Gaul, especially the territory of Ghent, where idolatry still held its sway. The people there had rejected former missionaries; their savage manners, and inflexible obstinacy seemed insurmountable barriers to the stream of Grace. Amandus visited S. Acharius, bishop of Noyon and Tournai in whose diocese Ghent then was; and besought him to obtained for him letters from King Dagobert, to oblige his idolatrous subjects to listen to Christian instruction. The zeal of the prince seconded that of the missionary, who, in spite of this powerful support, had much to endure; {184} but his patience and sweetness triumphed over every obstacle, and his virtues were more efficacious in persuading the people, than all the orders of the king.

Whilst S. Amandus was at Tournai, he learnt that a Frankish Count, named Dotto, had condemned a robber to death. He hastened to implore pardon for the unhappy man, but was unsuccessful, and the robber was executed. But Amandus ran to the gallows and cut down the man, and bore the body home, laid it on his bed, and passed the night in prayer. Next morning, he summoned his clerks, and bade them bring him water. They supposed this was for the purpose of washing the corpse, before burying it; but, what was their surprise on entering the chamber, to find the man, who had been hung, alive and conversing with their bishop. He still bore the marks of the rope, but they disappeared when Amandus had washed them. Bandemand, who relates this incident, says that he heard it from the mouth of an eye-witness. The fame of this miracle spread through the country, and many of the heathen were so convinced thereby, that they cast away their idols, and submitted their necks to the yoke of Christ's commandments.

After having reaped an abundant harvest in Flanders, Amandus resolved to preach the faith to the heathen races in Germany; and he made a second journey to Rome, to obtain approval of his design. Accordingly, armed with the blessing of the successor of S. Peter, he went to the Sclavonic races, hoping to convert them to the Gospel, or to receive the palm of martyrdom. But finding that the people were neither sufficiently docile to receive the Word, nor ferocious to shed the blood of him who declared it, he quitted these ungrateful people, and returned to Gaul, where he found the opportunity of suffering for the truths he announced, which had been denied him among the {185} barbarians. Dagobert, the king, was guilty of gross licentiousness; he had, at once, three wives, not to mention Gomatrudis whom he had repudiated at Reuilli, nor Ragntrudis, the mother of Sigebert III.; and beside these wives he had numerous concubines. S. Amandus boldly rebuked him for the scandal he caused, and for his audacity in so doing was ordered into exile. He retired to the territory of Charibert, who reigned on the further side of the Loire; but was soon recalled. A son was born to Dagobert, in 630, and the king desired to have the child baptized by some holy bishop, who might draw down on it the benediction of heaven. He remembered the fearless Amandus, who alone had had the courage to reprimand him for his iniquities; showing, thereby, that if princes do not always love those who tell them disagreeable truths, they can sometimes respect them. Amandus obeyed, and came to salute the king at Clichy, near Paris. As soon as Dagobert saw him, he cast himself at his feet, to ask him pardon for what was passed. After which he said: "The Lord has given me a son, though I merited it not. I pray thee, baptize him, and regard him as thy spiritual child." Amandus, at first, refused the honour, but at the entreaty of Ouen and Eligius, two pious laymen of his court, he yielded and baptized the child at Orleans, in the year 630; Charibert, his protector in exile, standing as sponsor at the font. The child was called Sigebert, and is reckoned among the Saints.[22]

In the year 647, Sigebert, who loved him as a father, and was now king of Austrasia, obliged him to accept the bishopric of Maestricht, and thenceforth he exchanged his missionary work over scattered districts for the supervision of a single diocese. But he soon found that this was not his vocation, and that it was easier for him to convert the {186} heathen than to discipline the clergy. He therefore visited Rome, after holding his diocese three years, and obtained the sanction of the Pope to his resignation of it into the hands of S. Remacle, then abbot of Stavelot. Amandus, relieved of the burden of his diocese, visited Gascony, to preach to the Basques who were still heathen, but met with little or no success. He therefore returned to Flanders, where he supervised the many monasteries he had founded. The date of his death is very uncertain; some place it in 661, others in 676, and others in 684.

S. INA, K. C.
(ABOUT A.D. 728.)

[Anglican Martyrology of Wyon, Ferrarius, Menardus, &c. Authorities: Malmsbury and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.]

Ina, king of Wessex, which consisted of Wiltshire, Hampshire, Gloucestershire, Dorsetshire, and Oxfordshire, was the son of Cerdic, and his wife was Ethelburga. He reigned as much as thirty-eight years; from 688 to 726. He put together the laws of the West Saxons, so as to form a code, and this is the oldest code of West Saxon laws that we have, though there are Kentish laws which are older still. He also divided the kingdom into two bishoprics. Hitherto all Wessex had been under the bishops of Winchester; but now that the kingdom was so much larger, Ina founded another bishopric at Sherborne in Dorsetshire. He also in 704, founded S. Andrew's Church in Wells, which is now a Cathedral. And at Glastonbury Ina did great things. He built the monastery and richly adorned it, he also translated to it the bodies of SS. Indract and his companions.

Ina fought with the Welsh under their King Gerent, and {187} also with the other English kings. He fought against the men of Kent, and made them pay him much gold for his kinsman Mul, whom they had slain. He had also wars in Sussex and East Anglia, and in 714 he fought a great battle with Ceolred, king of the Mercians, in which neither gained the victory, at Wanborough in Wiltshire. Towards the end of his reign, Ina seems to have been troubled by some rebellions among his own people, and also to have been less successful than before in his wars with the Welsh. In 726 he gave up his kingdom and went to Rome and died there. William of Malmesbury relates a curious story about the occasion of this which is deserving of record.[23]

Ina once made a feast to his lords and great men in one of his royal houses; the house was hung with goodly curtains, and the table was spread with vessels of gold and silver, and Ina and his lords ate and drank and were merry. Now on the next day, Ina set forth from that house to go to another that he had, and Ethelburga, his queen, went with him. So men took down the curtains and carried off the goodly vessels and left the house bare and empty. Moreover, Ethelburga, the queen spake to the steward who had care of that house, saying "When the king is gone, fill the house with rubbish, and with the dung of cattle, and lay in the bed where the king slept a sow with her litter of pigs." So the steward did as the queen commanded. And when Ina and the queen had gone forth, about a mile from the house, the queen said to Ina, "Turn back, my lord, to the house whence we have come, for it will be greatly for thy good so to do." So Ina hearkened to the voice of his wife, and turned back to the house. There he found all the curtains and the goodly vessels gone, and the house full {188} of rubbish and defiled with the dung of cattle, and a sow and her pigs lying in the bed where Ina and Ethelburga his queen had slept. So Ethelburga spake to her husband, saying, "Seest thou, O king, how the pomp of this world passeth away? Where are all thy goodly things? How foul is now the house which but yesterday was thy royal abode! Are not all the things of this life as a breath, yea as smoke, and as a wind that passeth away?"

Then the old king entered into himself, and he resolved to lay aside his dignity and rule, and to devote the rest of his days to the custody of his soul. So he and his wife went to Rome to pray at the tomb of the Apostles, and Pope Gregory II. received them gladly; and he died there.

[21]   The story is without any foundation in fact. The brothers were probably no relations to S. Patrick. According to the fabulous history of the relatives of S. Patrick, his pretended sister Tigridia had seventeen sons all bishops, priests, or monks, and five daughters all nuns. Some of Darerca's sons are attributed to Tigridia, and some to Liemania. Lupita, another pretended sister is said by some to have remained a consecrated virgin, by others to have been the mother of bishops.

[22]   See Feb 1.

[23]   It is only found in Malmesbury's English Chronicle, lib. i., c. 2; and is not found in all copies of Malmesbury.

S. Amandus. See page 184.


February 7.

(A.D. 302.)

[Molanus in his additions to Usuardus. Ferrarius in his General Catalogue of Saints. Authorities:—The Lections in use in the Church of Comines.]

ON this day at Comines, in Flanders, is celebrated the Feast of S. Chrysolius, the patron of the church, who is said to have founded the first sanctuary of the B. Virgin in Flanders. This saint, a native of Armenia, accompanied S. Piatus and S. Quentin in their apostolic mission to France and Belgium. From Tournai he started on a preaching expedition through Flanders, but the pagans cut off his scalp, in derision of his tonsure, at Vrelenghem, and he died at Comines, two leagues distant, on the river Lys. His body was taken up by S. Eligius, and is, to this day, honoured in the collegiate church there, originally erected under the invocation of Our Lady.



[Martyrology of S. Jerome, falsely so-called, and others.]

Little or nothing is known of this Saint, but all Martyrologies place him in Britain, and at Augusta, which is probably London. It is questionable if he was a martyr.

(A.D. 319.)

[Roman Martyrology on this day. By the modern Greeks on Feb. 8th, but anciently on the 7th. The Acts purport to be written by one Augarius, a notary; he says, "I, the Scribe Augarius, was present, and saw these cruel punishments, and hearing also the pain of his stifled sighs, casting aside my parchments, I threw myself weeping at his feet." He says also that he wrote this account at the request of the dying martyr. If this be not a forgery, the original Acts have been sadly tampered with. To the account of the martyrdom is prefixed—very probably by a later hand—a story of the fight of S. Theodore with a dragon, which belongs to the Western version of the story of S. George. These Acts certainly existed in their present condition in 550, for they were then translated into Latin.]

S. Theodore of Heraclea, who is not to be confounded with S. Theodore of Amasea, surnamed Tyro, also a warrior martyr, is numbered among the Great Martyrs by the Greek Church.

Theodore of Heraclea was a general of the forces of Licinius, and governor of the country of the Mariandyni, whose capital was Heraclea of Pontus. Here he was sentenced to death by order of the emperor. After having been scourged, and his flesh torn by hooks, and burnt with fire, he was for a short while attached to a cross, and then beheaded.

Relics at S. Saviour's, Venice. S. Theodore is regarded as one of the chief patrons of the Venetian republic. The {191} body of this glorious martyr was brought from Constantinople to Venice by Mark Dandolo, in 1260.

In Art, S. Theodore appears as a warrior in armour, very generally trampling on the dragon. He is to be distinguished from S. George by being represented on foot, whereas S. George usually appears mounted.


[Greek Anthology and MenŠa. Authority:—A life written by one Christinus, a contemporary, and native of Lampsacus, and probably a disciple.]

S. Parthenius, a native of Melitopolis, as a boy, occupied his leisure in fishing. He sold the fish he caught, and gave the proceeds to the poor. He was afterwards ordained Bishop of Lampsacus, and having obtained from Constantine authority to overthrow the heathen temples and idols, he destroyed those in his city. The story is told of him that having ordered an evil spirit to leave a man who for many years had been possessed, the evil spirit asked first to be given an habitation. "I know thee," cried the demon, "thou wilt cast me out, and bid me enter into a swine." "Nay, verily," answered the saint, "I will offer thee a man to dwell in." Then the devil came out of the man, and the Bishop said, "Come now, thou foul spirit, I am the man. Enter into me if thou canst." Then the devil cried out that he could not abide in a tabernacle kept holy to God, and so fled away.



[Salisbury Martyrology of Wytford, and all other Western Martyrologies. This S. Moses is not to be confounded with the S. Moses, B. among the Arabs, nor with S. Moses the Ethiopian. Authorities:—The Lives of the Fathers of the Desert and Rufinus.]

This holy abbot ruled a community of monks at Scete, in Egypt. He was once sent for to judge a brother who had been overtaken in a fault; but he would not go. Then he was sent for again, and told that all the brethren awaited him. So he arose and filled a basket with sand, laid it on his back, and went to them. Then they asked, "Oh, Father! what art thou doing?" He answered, "My sons, all my sins are behind my back, following me, and I see them not; and shall I judge, this day, the sins of another man?"

A party of Arabs fell upon him in his cell and killed him, together with six of his monks.


[Gallican Martyrology. Authorities:—Mention by Flodoard in his Hist. Eccl. Remensis, lib. iv. c. 9; and a life from the Lections of the Avenay Breviary; a life given in Colgan; all late.]

Tresan, with his six brothers and three sisters, left Ireland, their native place, and settled at Mareuil on the river Marne, in France, where Tresan hired himself as swineherd to a nobleman. He was wont to drive the pigs to the door of a little church dedicated to St. Martin, and to stand at the door and listen to the recitation of Matins, and assist at the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. By this means he became gradually so thoroughly acquainted {193} with the divine office, that S. Remigius, hearing of him, and having evidence of his sanctity, ordained him priest. The legend is told of him that one day having celebrated Mass in this little Church of S. Martin, where he had learnt the holy offices, he returned to Mareuil, but being weary, he thrust his staff into the ground, and laid himself down and slept. And when he woke up, behold the staff had taken root and budded. Then he left it there, and it grew to become a great tree.

When he was dying, the Holy Eucharist was brought to him. He rose from his bed, and casting himself down on the ground, exclaimed, "Hail, most blessed hope, and most holy redemption! Hail, true flesh of Christ, to me precious above gold and topaz and all most goodly stones! Hail, most blessed blood of Christ, poured forth to ransom me, a sinner, and wash away my stains! Hail, Jesus Christ, defend me against the ancient enemy, that the prince of darkness secure me not! I pray thee, number me with thine elect." Then he received the holy Viaticum, and sighed, and his soul had fled.

Relics at Pont-aux-Dames, in Brie. In Art he is represented with a budding staff.


Of this Irish saint and bishop, who left his native land and died at Peronne, nothing is known. His acts have been lost. Yet, at one time he must have been famous, for many churches are dedicated to him. He is sometimes called Medan. In the revelations of S. Fursey, reference is made to S. Meldan.


(A.D. 719.)

[Roman Martyrology. German Mart., and that of Sarum by Wytford. His life is to be gathered from the Acts of his sons SS. Willibald and Wunibald; the life of S. Willibald was written by his cousin, a nun of Heidenheim.]

This saint was, according to the belief of the people of Lucca, a prince in Wessex; but there is not only no evidence that he was of royal rank, but there is strong contemporary evidence that he was merely a petty noble.

Taking with him his two sons, Willibald and Wunibald, he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome; and sailing from Hamblewich, i.e. Southampton, landed in France. He made a brief stay at Rouen, and paid his devotions at all the principal shrines on his way through France. On his arrival at Lucca, in Italy, he was taken ill and died. He was buried in the Church of S. Fridian, there, where his relics are still preserved; and his festival is kept with singular devotion. See further the life of S. Willibald (July 7).


Feb. 7.


S. WARLBURGA, Virg. Abbess.

S. WUNIBALD, Abbot.    S. WILLIBALD, Bishop.

From a Drawing by A. Welby Pugin.

Feb. 7.

(A.D. 1027.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—a life by S. Peter Damian written fifteen years after his death.]

S. Romuald, who was destined to be the restorer of the religious life in Italy, came into the world, according to the most credible account, about the year a.d. 907, at a time when the universal lawlessness and corruption of life and manners which had overflowed Europe, had penetrated to the recesses of the cloister, and had filled the monasteries of his native land with unworthy monks, who made the religious profession a mere cloak for vice, or at best as a pretext for an idle self-indulgent life.

{195} He belonged to the noble family of the Onesti, the Ducal race of the state of Ravenna; he is said in his youth to have been much given to sins of the flesh, but nevertheless to have been strongly drawn inwardly towards God. It is said that when in hunting he got separated from his companions in the woods, he would allow his horse to come to a standstill, and overcome by the peaceful beauty of nature, would give way to reflections on the happiness of those to whom it was given to live retired from the world far from the clash of arms, the whirl of pleasure, and the struggles of civil life.

The immediate cause of his forsaking the world was as follows. His father Sergius Onesti, a man of a proud and passionate disposition, and wholly given to worldly things, had a violent quarrel with a relative about the possession of a certain meadow; so resolutely determined was he to press his quarrel to the end, that perceiving Romuald to be but half-hearted in it, and more fearful of blood-guiltiness, than desirous for the victory of his house, he threatened to disinherit him unless he displayed more zeal in the cause. The relation being equally resolved, the dependents on both sides were armed, and a fight ensued; at which Romuald, in spite of his scruples, was obliged to be present. The relation fell by the hand of Sergius himself; and Romuald, horror-stricken at the crime, of which his enforced presence at its perpetration seemed to make him a partaker, fled to the Monastery of S. Apollinaris in Classe, intending there to expiate his guilt by a penance of forty days.

During the performance of this penance he was by some means attracted to the society of a lay-brother in the monastery, and in the intervals of his penitential exercises had many conversations with him. This lay-brother, a truly spiritual man, perceiving in Romuald signs of a vocation {196} to the religious life, strongly urged him to forsake the world altogether and at once. For this, however, Romuald was not yet prepared, and, without absolutely rejecting the advice of his friend, yet resisted, and put him off from day to day. At last one day in the course of a talk upon the visions of the Saints, the lay-brother asked him what he would give for a sight of the blessed martyr Apollinaris, the patron of the monastery. Romuald replied that for such a favour he would consent to forsake the world. That same night watching in prayer in the monastery church, they beheld a supernatural brightness issue from the high altar and fill the whole church. This was the precursor of the appearance of the blessed martyr, who came forth from the midst of the high altar habited in priestly vestments, and with a golden censer in his hand; with this he went round the church and censed each altar in its turn; and having done this, retired as he had come, leaving the church once more in darkness. His friend immediately claimed the fulfilment of the promise. But even a second vision of the martyr failed to overcome his reluctance, and he still held off. But one day praying in the church before this very altar, a sudden access of the love of God came over his soul. In a moment all his fears, all his lingering affection for worldly things vanished; he hastened to the brethren, and humbly besought them to receive him as a novice. This, however, in dread of his father's resentment, they refused to do; Romuald, once resolved, would yield to no difficulties, and betook himself at once to the Archbishop of Ravenna, laid his case before him, and asked for his help. The Archbishop, moved by the earnestness and fervour of the youth, took up his cause, and on his assurances of protection against the violence of Sergius, the brethren consented to receive him; and Romuald entered upon the course from which throughout a long life he was never to swerve, in {197} which his ardour was to know no cooling, and which was to end in peopling many of the solitary places of Italy with refugees from the wickedness and perils of, perhaps, the most troublous time which Europe has ever known.

He passed three years in this monastery in the strictest observance of S. Benedict's rule, in the daily practise of mortification, and incessant prayer. The greater part of the monks, however, were of a different mind. They bitterly resented both Romuald's literal interpretation of the monastic vow, and the rebukes of their laxity and unfaithfulness, which he did not hesitate to address to them; and at length, in their rage, conspired to murder him, by throwing him out of the dormitory window, near which it was his custom to pray in the early morning, while they were yet in their beds, and the door of the oratory was not yet open. Romuald, however, aware of their design, prayed that morning just as usual, and by the mere power of prayer, without other effort of his own, he escaped the threatened danger, and saved the brethren from the guilt which they meditated.

Soon after, hearing by report of one Marinus, who was leading a hermit life in a desert in the Venetian territory, he resolved to retire from the fruitless struggle with the unfaithful monks, and to place himself under his guidance. He made known his desire to the abbot and the brethren, and craved permission from them to retire from the community, and this was granted with great alacrity. He immediately made his way to the neighbourhood in which Marinus dwelt, found him out, and was accepted by him as his disciple.

Marinus, who was a man of singular simplicity of character, and most rigid in his asceticism, took in hand the training of his neophyte in good earnest. His first task was to teach Romuald to read; for up to the time of his forsaking {198} the world his literary education had been altogether neglected. Master and pupil would go forth together to roam about the wild, and recite the Psalter, sheltering now under one tree, now under another, and sitting always face to face at their work. Romuald, wearied by incessant poring over his book, would sometimes yield to the overwhelming lassitude which came over him, and seek a moment's repose; on which Marinus would strike him smartly on the left side of his head with a roll which he held in his right hand. At last, quite unable to bear the pain, Romuald one day said to him humbly, "Master, if you please, strike me next time on the right side of my head, for I am becoming quite deaf in my left ear," "On which," says the biographer, "Marinus, marvelling at his patience, relaxed the indiscreet severity of his discipline."

Before long they were joined in their solitude by Peter, Duke of Dalmatia, and a comrade of his, who had been moved to embrace the religious life. Romuald who, in time, had mastered the difficulties of the Psalter, kept so far in advance of his companions in devotion, and in the acquisition of every virtue, that they unanimously deferred to him in everything, and even Marinus, his whilom master, now became his scholar, and submitted to his direction in everything. The whole party maintained themselves by bodily labour, cultivating a piece of ground, all the time fasting most rigidly, but, as it would appear, living together in one common dwelling. However, reading one day in the Lives of the Fathers, that certain of the brethren in old time had lived a solitary life, fasting the whole week through, but on Saturdays and Sundays met together and relaxed the rigour of their fast, they at once resolved to adopt this way of life; viz., to live each in his own hut, apart from the rest, in silence and mortification, for five days of the week, and {199} to allow themselves the solace of community life only on the Saturday and Sunday; and thus they lived for the space of fifteen years.

Once, during this time, it is related that Duke Peter came to Romuald with a piteous complaint that he could not subsist on the half-cake,[24] which formed the daily allowance of the brethren, and urging that his huge and corpulent frame really required more sustenance. Whereupon Romuald, condescending to the weakness of a brother, and willing to hold out a helping hand to save him from falling, increased his allowance to three-quarters.

Another occurrence tended greatly to increase the reputation of the hermit Saint. A peasant farmer in the neighbourhood, who had often ministered of his subsistence to Romuald and the brethren, was robbed of his only cow by the dependents of a certain Count, a proud and arrogant man. The poor man came to Romuald bewailing his loss with many lamentations. Romuald at once sent a messenger to the Count, beseeching him in all humility to restore his beast to the poor man. The Count turned a deaf ear to the message, sent back a haughty and insolent reply, adding moreover that he expected highly to enjoy the cow's sirloin at dinner that very day. But he had better have yielded to Romuald; for at dinner-time the meal was set before him, he inhaled its rich savour with a greedy joy, and at the first mouthful was choked and died miserably.

Romuald's sojourn in the Venetian territory was brought to an end, by the death of several of his companions. On this he returned to the neighbourhood which he had left years before, and erected a cell for himself, in the marsh of Classe, in the place called "Pons Petri," removing it subsequently to the locality in which afterwards arose the {200} church of the Blessed Martin "in sylva." Here he experienced many and violent temptations of the devil, who plied him sometimes with terrifying visions, sometimes with distressing doubts about the reality of his vocation, and his hope of final salvation. But as a good soldier of Jesus Christ he combated the evil one with the spiritual weapons of prayer and fasting, and meeting him boldly at every turn, repelled all his assaults.

After a while, he removed again to another place, where he built a monastery in honour of Michael the Archangel, which he peopled with monks, he himself still living solitary in his cell. While he was living here, a friend one day sent him a sum of money, about ú21 sterling, intending it as a relief to his bodily necessities. He immediately sent off a portion of the money to the brethren of a monastery which had been just burnt down, to help towards the rebuilding, and put the remainder away for some similar purpose. This coming to the ears of the monks at S. Michael's they were so enraged that they came down to his cell in a body, gave him a good beating, and drove him from the neighbourhood with insults and reproaches. Highly delighted with their exploit, they returned to the monastery, and made preparations to celebrate the occasion by a great feast. But their triumph was short; for the ringleader in the attack on Romuald, on his way to obtain some honey to make mead for the carouse, had to cross a bridge which overhung a furious torrent; in the midst of the bridge something tripped him up, he stumbled, and falling headlong into the stream, perished by the just judgment of God; and that very night the rest of the monks were all but buried in the ruins of their dwelling, which fell upon them as they were sleeping heavily after their banquet, and bruises and broken bones convinced them that they had made a bad bargain in revolting against Romuald's severe rule.

{201} After this, the martyr Apollinaris appeared to Romuald in a vision, and commanded him to return to Classis, and assume the government of the monastery there. He at once removed to the vicinity, probably taking up his quarters in his old cell. At this same time the brethren at the monastery being without an abbot were desired by the Emperor Otho III. to choose one for themselves. Their choice fell unanimously upon Romuald. The emperor himself went to announce his election to him, and to obtain his consent. He did not arrive at the cell until nightfall, and was glad to accept Romuald's invitation to spend the night there. The next morning the emperor broached the subject of the Abbacy. Romuald at first refused to listen to the proposal; but Otho threatening him with "excommunication and anathema from all the bishops and archbishops and the whole Synod of Council," he at last yielded, at the same time telling the emperor that the matter was by no means new to him, for that he had had a divine intimation of it some time before, and accompanied him to the monastery, where he was duly installed. Before long however, the brethren took offence at the severity of his rule, and began to repent of their choice. Perceiving this, Romuald, as eager to lay down his office as he had been backward to accept it, hastened to seek an interview with the emperor; and in his presence and that of the Archbishop of Ravenna, broke his rod of office, and formally dissolved the monastery, probably judging the traditions of laxity which had grown up in the place too strong to be disturbed except by the extirpation of the community.

About this time, hearing of one Venerius, a holy man, who was leading a solitary life in great austerity, but not under obedience to anyone, Romuald sought him out and persuaded him to return to the monastery which he {202} had forsaken in consequence of the persecutions of unworthy brethren, and seek permission of his abbot to live apart from the community. "If thou bearest the Cross of Christ," said he, "it yet remains that thou forsake not the obedience of Christ." Venerius took Romuald's advice, obtained leave from his abbot, and returned in great peace of mind to the beloved solitude. Romuald remained with him for some time, and gave him much needful instruction in spiritual things.

It is a good illustration of the reality and thoroughness of the religious sentiment at that time, that men of the highest rank were found to submit themselves readily to the discipline of the Church. It is related that the famous Crescentius, Senator of Rome, had incurred Otho's displeasure, and apprehensive of the consequences, had taken sanctuary. Thammus, one of Otho's courtiers, had induced Crescentius by an oath of safe conduct to leave the sanctuary, and so to place himself in the emperor's power. The oath was violated, and Crescentius perished by the hand of the executioner. Before long the pangs of conscience drove both the emperor and his satellite to unburden their souls in confession to Romuald. He ordered Thammus to embrace the solitary life and

"His every future year,
In ceaseless pain and penance dree;"

a command which was unhesitatingly obeyed; while Otho himself accepted a severe penance for his share in the crime, which was avenged on him later by his victim's widow.

We now come upon a story which shows how Romuald's rule succeeded in training such as had the true vocation to be real heroes of the kingdom of heaven, and how the supernatural sanctity of his character impressed itself on his faithful followers.

Boleslas, king of Poland, had besought Otho to send {203} him a missionary to convert his subjects, a people then, as ever, noted for a wild and lawless ferocity. Otho at once appealed to Romuald, who communicated the matter to his disciples, explaining to them the perils attending the mission, and saying that he would lay no command upon any of them, but that if any were willing to go and meet danger and death for Christ's sake, he would gladly send him. At once two of his monks, by name John and Benedict, came forward and offered to go. Before they had been long in the country, they were set upon at midnight in their hut, and murdered for the sake of treasures which they were supposed to possess. In order to conceal their crime, the murderers set fire to the hut, hoping to consume the bodies of their victims with the dwelling. To their horror the flames refused to approach the bodies of the holy men, and even the hut, built as it was of light and inflammable materials, could not be made to burn. Trembling and terror-struck, they then attempted to fly from the place; but an invisible power compelled them to wander round and round the scene of their crime, and held them enchained to the spot until daylight. The matter came to the ears of the king, who went with his guards and apprehended them. The soldiers would have put them to death at once, but the king prevented them, saying that the criminals should be reserved for the judgment of the martyrs. With their hands tied together they were dragged into the hut, and forced up to the couch on which the bodies yet lay, when in a moment their bonds fell off; and the king, saying that the martyrs had forgiven and acquitted them, ordered them to be set at liberty.

Meantime Romuald after vainly endeavouring to persuade Otho to lay down the sceptre, and retire from the world, and predicting his approaching death, which accordingly {204} took place, had betaken himself into Istria, and built a monastery in the neighbourhood of Parenzo. Near this he lived, built into a cell, for two years, during which time he made great advance in piety and in knowledge of the Scriptures. At this time he experienced a great dryness of spirit, which caused him to long and pray earnestly for the gift of holy contrition. One day while in this state, singing the Psalter in his cell, the words "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way wherein thou shalt go, and I will guide thee with Mine eye," came upon him with a strange light and force; his dryness of spirit vanished in a moment, he dissolved into tears, and from that day forward he never again experienced lack of contrition.

His mission in Istria being accomplished, he prepared to return into Italy. But the bishop of Parenzo left no stone unturned to keep him in his diocese; when persuasion and entreaty failed, he resorted to force, and forbade anyone to let Romuald have a boat in which to make the voyage across the bay. Romuald, no way discomposed, sat down on the shore to wait, saying that other boats from Italy were on their way, and would soon come purposely to take him off. Before long the vessels made their appearance, with an invitation to Romuald to return; and in one of them the journey was safely accomplished.

Immediately on his arrival, he founded a new monastery, and filled it with monks; labouring meanwhile with great zeal and success for the conversion of the people in the vicinity. One day there, as Romuald and the brethren were sitting in chapter, the brethren who had been left in charge of the door came running in to give the alarm that a thief was breaking into one of the cells. The monks ran to the place, and caught the robber in the very act. They brought him to Romuald to know what {205} was to be done with him. "Well but, brethren," said the holy man, looking pleasantly at them, "I really do not know what can be done with such a rascal. If we put his eyes out, he won't be able to see; if we cut off his hands, he won't be able to work; or his feet—there will be no more walking for him. Bring him in, and give him something to eat, while we consider what is to be done with him." And so says the story, "having ministered to his bodily wants, and given him a sweet and gentle reproof, he dismissed the robber in peace."

About this time intelligence of the martyrdom of the blessed martyr Boniface reached Romuald, and inspired by the desire to win for himself the martyr's crown, he at once formed a plan to take a missionary journey into Hungary. But, before setting out, he proceeded to consolidate his order by the foundation of three new monasteries, one the parent house in the Val di Castro, and two others. Having appointed an abbot and priors over these houses, he obtained a commission from the Apostolic See for the conversion of the Huns, and set forth on his expedition, accompanied by a party of twenty-four monks; and such was the ardour and zeal that burned in the breasts of all his disciples to encounter death for Christ, that he had great difficulty to reconcile to their lot those whom he had decided to leave behind.

Hardly, however, had they entered the confines of Hungary, when Romuald was seized with a mysterious malady, which arrested their progress; for as often as he attempted to renew his journey and push forward to his destination, his sickness so increased in severity, as to compel him to desist; whereas, whenever he only thought of giving up the enterprise and returning homewards, the symptoms abated and his strength returned. Judging this to be a divine warning, he resolved to retrace his steps. {206} Two of the brethren returned with him; the remainder pursued their journey with Romuald's consent, though he warned them that the crown of martyrdom would be granted to none of them. Accordingly they met with all manner of persecution and ill-treatment from the barbarious Huns, but to none of them was it given to lay down his life for Christ.

On his return, hearing that some one had obtained the abbacy of the monastery "in Classe," which would seem to have been reconstituted, by perjury and simony, he made all haste hither to rebuke the intruder, and exhort him to lay down his ill-gotten authority. The bad abbot in a rage attempted to murder Romuald, who was only saved by the special interposition of Providence. He returned to the monastery in the Val di Castro, and occupied his cell in the neighbourhood. But before long he experienced one of the many afflictions which befel him in the course of his life through false brethren; for the abbot of his own appointment, an unworthy monk, annoyed at the daily rebuke of his own laxity, conveyed by Romuald's silent example of ascetic holiness, managed to procure his expulsion from the territory. He did not move far, however, but settled for a time at a place in the Apennines called Agua Bella, where the disciples gathered round him, and began to erect huts or cells for the hermit life. One day in the midst of this work a secular priest who was helping the brethren in their work was attacked by an intolerable toothache, and after bearing up against the pain for some time, was reluctantly obliged to excuse himself to the brethren, and to desist from his work. Moaning piteously he was making his way home, when he encountered Romuald, who, from age and infirmity, was unable to take any active part in the manual labour of the brotherhood, and in answer to an enquiry from him explained {207} why he was leaving them. Romuald bade him open his mouth, and placing his finger on the offending tooth desired him to apply to it a rough-and-ready remedy much in vogue among the country folk. The priest proceeded on his way, but scarce had he traversed a rood of ground when the pain left him of a sudden, and he felt that he was cured. Forthwith he returned to his work, loudly declaring the praises of God, who had sent among them so bright a light, so eminent a worker of miracles, as Romuald; and with great difficulty could the disciples succeed in silencing him; for if such expressions reached Romuald's ears, great was his displeasure.

In connection with this story, the biographer mentions an occurrence which took place at Camaldoli; his cell there was overshadowed by a large beech tree, which, for some reason or other, he desired might be felled. The workmen began to cut it down, and were in the midst of their work, when it became evident that the tree must fall right across the hut and crush both the dwelling and its occupant. They all, with one voice, besought him to come out; but, making the sign of the cross towards the tree, he desired them to proceed; they obeyed, and to the amazement of all, the tree swerved and fell wide of the cell.

"They all, therefore, thunderstruck at so great a miracle, raised their voices to heaven in praise, and gave grateful thanks to God."

After setting everything in order in his monasteries in the Apennines, Romuald revisited Istria, where he is said to have lived, built up[25] in his cell, and in unbroken silence, for seven years.

"But though his lips were silent, his life preached," and innumerable conversions were the fruit of his sojourning there. As the infirmities of age began to creep over him, {208} he became more and more austere in his acts of self-mortification, pressing forward incessantly to new victories over the flesh, and yielding less and less indulgence to even the most innocent infirmities of his lower nature. But there was no sourness in his asceticism; in the midst of his bitterest mortifications his countenance bore at all times the impress of an unruffled serenity and cheerfulness of spirit.

But the wanderings of Romuald's long life were not yet at an end. He made a further excursion to the north, and settled for a while in Styria. And these many wanderings, says his biographer, arose not from fickleness of spirit, as if he were unable to rest long in one place, but solely from the wonderful attraction which his presence exercised where-ever he went. No sooner did he erect his cell anywhere, than men flocked to him from every quarter to be guided by his teaching, and to be edified by his life; so that the most complete solitudes speedily become populous. And as soon as he had duly instructed those who came to him in the discipline of a holy life, he would form them into a community, appoint one of their number to be prior over them, and then betake himself to some other solitude, soon to people that also, and to be driven from it in the same way.

In Styria it is related that those who gathered around him, all lived so devoutly, that the rage for mortification reached even to the herdsmen and shepherds of the neighbourhood, who vied with the monks and hermits in all the exercises of the religious life, fasting, keeping silence, and administering the discipline to each other with great zeal and earnestness. On which Peter Damian ejaculates, "Oh! holy time of Romuald! in which, though the torments of persecution were unknown, yet there was no lack of spontaneous martyrdom!"

The whole career of Romuald from the time of his {209} profession, is one continuous illustration of the two-fold force of reality in religion—a force of attraction on the one hand, of repulsion on the other. We see in him one, who in the depth and fervour of his penitence, stedfastly adhered through a long life to his first renunciation, not only of the pomps and vanities of this world, but of the most necessary and innocent refinements of life, and by the mere force of reality drew after him crowds of disciples of every class, and peopled the waste places of his native land with monks and hermits. We see, on the one hand, those in whom the grace of a true vocation responded to the example and teaching of their master, led on by degrees to vie with him in the fervour of his self-devotion; and those, on the other hand, who sought in monasticism only a coward's refuge from the temptations and trials of secular life, repelled almost at once by the stern thoroughness of his religion, and by their own unreality forced into rebellion against his rule.

At the age of 102 he visited the Apennines, seeking a new retreat, and one day falling asleep beside a fountain in a pleasant plain among the mountains, he dreamed that he saw a ladder set up between heaven and earth, up which his monks ascended in white habits. On awaking, he resolved to change the colour of the dress of his monks, and to found a monastery on the spot. It was the property of a gentleman named Maldoli, who at once gave it him, and the monastery was called Campo Maldoli, whence the order assumed its name of Camaldoli.

Romuald died on June 19th, 1027. He is said to have attained the age of 120, but this has been disputed with every show of reason by Bollandus and Baronius. He died in his monastery of the Val di Castro, in the Marches of Ancona, and was there buried. The elevation of the relics took place in 1467, and they were translated to the Church {210} of S. Blase, in the town of Fabri, where they remain to this day. The Roman Breviary celebrates his festival on the day of the translation, which took place in the year 1481.

In Art he appears with his finger on his lips, and the ladder, he saw in vision, at his side.

[24]   Paximatium. A cake baked under the ashes on the hearth.

[25]   Inclusus.

A learned Doctor and Church Historian.


February 8.


[Roman Mart., and that of Usuardus. Juventius is sometimes called Eventius, but it seems that Eventius, B. of Pavia, was a later prelate, and ought not to be confounded with Juventius. The Acts are late, written by Paulus Diaconus, or at all events re-written by him in what was regarded as a more polished style. These Acts belong to S. Syrus, see December 9th; but contain much concerning S. Juventius.]

HERMAGORAS, the disciple of S. Peter the Apostle, and S. Mark the Evangelist, who was also Bishop of Aquileia, sent Syrus and Juventius to preach the Gospel in Ticinum, or Pavia. When it was known that SS. Celsus and Nazarius had shed their blood for the faith at Milan, and that SS. Gervase and Protasius were in bonds, Syrus sent Juventius to Milan, to comfort the church there, and to animate the Confessors. On his return he was ordained by S. Syrus, who had received episcopal consecration from S. Hermagoras. He succeeded Syrus, his master, in the see of Pavia. But few {212} traditions of his episcopate have been wafted down to us. Perhaps the most interesting is this. A collector of taxes in crossing the river was nearly drowned, and lost the money for which he was held responsible. In great tribulation, the man hastened to the bishop, who, commiserating his trouble, advanced with him to the banks of the Ticino, and cried, "I say unto thee, O water, on which Christ the Lord walked, in His name restore the money for which this man is distressed!" Immediately the bag of coins was washed to their feet.

Porphyrius, prŠfect of Rome, having made the circuit of the country, came to Pavia, holding inquisition upon the Christians and other reputed disturbers of the Commonwealth. Juventius was brought before him, and Porphyrius was so won by his gentleness and innocence that he let him go, with an admonition to abstain from preaching the doctrine of Christ to the people; and the bishop, to prevent a persecution, abandoned public orations and discussions, and confined himself to private expositions of the truth.


[Roman Mart., and those of S. Jerome, Bede, Notker, Ado, Usuardus, &c.]

Of these saints, who suffered in Lesser Armenia, though noticed in nearly all Martyrologies, nothing whatever is known; and Bollandus supplies the place of their lost Acts with the Acts of certain other saints,—Ămilian, Hermippus, and Dionysius, commemorated on Jan. 28th, with the caustic heading: "Acta horum sanctorum martyrum, vel potius quatuor aliorum."


(ABOUT A.D. 649.)

[Roman Martyrology, Usuardus, &c. Authority:—A very ancient anonymous life, of which Restarius, Canon of S. Vito, who flourished in 887, made use in his "Hist. brevis episcoporum Virdunensium."]

This saint, a native of Autun, and not, as some have maintained, of Flanders, was of noble birth. He received an excellent education in his youth, whereby his parents, unintentionally, prepared him for the service of the church, their desire being that he should distinguish himself in the world. But he, despising the pomps and pleasures of a secular life, retired into the Vosges mountains, and lived as a hermit on that mountain which has since borne his name, the Paulsberg, within sight of TrŔves. On one occasion, having visited the monastery of Tholey, near S. Wendelin, he was so moved by the piety of the monks, and their earnest desire to number him amongst them, that he entered the monastery, where he soon endeared himself to all the brethren by his gentleness and holy example. Amongst the pupils at Tholey was Grimo, a kinsman of king Dagobert, on whose property the monastery was situated. On the death of Ermenfried, bishop of Verdun, on the recommendation of Grimo, Paul was nominated to the vacant see. He found that on account of the disorder of the times, his church was in the most profound debasement. The cathedral was without clergy to celebrate mass and recite the psalter, and it was served occasionally by a priest who visited it at wide intervals, and was unendowed. The bishop at once sent for his friend and patron, Grimo, and exposed to him the spiritual and temporal distress; and by the intercession of Grimo with Dagobert, the king, Paul was provided with land, by means of which he could support a staff of clergy. By his {214} diligence and zeal he was enabled, before he died, to organise the diocese, and to provide for its spiritual supervision.

In Art, he is represented, for some unknown reason, with a taper in his hand, also with an oven, for he is said to have been baker at Tholey for the community, and to have, on one occasion, gone into the oven to place the loaves, when the shovel was lost.

(A.D. 716.)

[Inserted in Anglican Martyrology by J. Wilson, and in the Benedictine by Hugh Menard; and Ferrarius in his Gen. Catalogue. Authorities:—Bede and Malmesbury.]

Throughout his life, Penda, the fierce heathen king of Mercia, or the midland counties of England, waged war with the kingdom of Northumbria, which included Yorkshire, Durham, and Northumberland. But this bloodthirsty and stubborn hatred led him to his destruction. Oswy, son of Ethelfrid, the ravager, and grandson of Ida, the Man of Fire, was king of Northumbria, which had been so wasted and exhausted by the former ravages of Penda, that it could ill withstand another attack. It was only at the last extremity, that king Oswy resolved to engage in a final conflict with the terrible enemy who had conquered and slain his two predecessors, Edwin and the saintly Oswald. He had married his son and his daughter to children of Penda; and he gave him another of his sons as a hostage. But Penda would not consent to any durable peace. During the thirteen years that had elapsed since the overthrow of Oswald, and the accession of Oswy, he had periodically subjected Northumberland to frightful {215} devastations. In vain Oswy, driven to desperation, offered him all his jewels, ornaments, and treasures, of which he could dispose, as a ransom for his desolated and hopeless provinces. The arrogant and fierce octogenarian refused everything, being resolute, as he said, to exterminate the whole Northumbrian race, from first to last. "Well, then," said Oswy, "since this heathen despises our gifts, let us offer them to one who will accept them—to the Lord our God." He then made a vow to devote to God a daughter who had just been born to him, and at the same time to give twelve estates for the foundation of as many monasteries. After this he marched at the head of a small army against Penda, whose troops were, according to a Northumbrian tradition, thirty times more numerous, and a battle was fought near the site of the present town of Leeds, in which Penda was defeated and slain. Thus perished, at the age of eighty, after a reign of thirty years, the conqueror and murderer of five Anglo-Saxon kings, and the last and indefatigable champion of paganism among the Anglo-Saxons.

Oswy faithfully kept his word. He set apart twelve estates to be thenceforward monastic property—six in the north, and six in the south of his double kingdom. He then took his daughter Elfleda, who was but yet a year old, and consecrated her to God by the vow of perpetual virginity. Her mother, the daughter of Edwin, first Christian king of Northumbria, had been also dedicated to God from her birth, but only by baptism, and as a token of the gratitude of a still pagan father for the protection of the Christian's God. The daughter of Oswy was to be the price of a yet higher gift of heaven—the conclusive victory of his race, and of the Christian faith in his country; the sacrifice reminds us of that of Jepthah's daughter; but she, far from desiring to escape her vow, showed herself, during {216} a long life, always worthy of her heavenly Bridegroom. The king took her from the caresses of her mother, to intrust her to the abbess Hilda of Hartlepool, who nearly ten years before had been initiated into the monastic life by S. Aidan.

In 658, when Elfleda was three years old, S. Hilda founded her monastery of Streaneshalch, now called Whitby, and moved thither with her little spiritual daughter.

Elfleda was scarcely twenty-five years of age, when S. Hilda died, and she was called to succeed her as abbess of Whitby. She is described by Bede as a most pious mistress of spiritual life. But like all the Anglo-Saxon princesses whom we meet within the cloister at this epoch, she did not cease to take a passionate interest in the affairs of her race and her country, and to exercise that extraordinary and salutary influence which was so willingly yielded by the Anglo-Saxon kings and people to those princesses of their sovereign races who became the brides of Christ.

She maintained that reverent and affectionate relation with S. Cuthbert which had been maintained by S. Hilda.

Before he became bishop, while he lived on a desert rock near Lindisfarne, she prevailed on him to grant her an interview in an island on the Northumbrian coast, called then, as now, Coquet Island. She was anxious and alarmed for her brother Egfrid, and she desired to consult the holy Cuthbert on the affairs of the state and her family. The hermit and the abbess went each to their meeting by sea; and when he had answered all her questions, she threw herself at his feet, and entreated him to tell her, by virtue of those prophetic powers, with which he was known to be gifted, whether her brother, Egfrid, would have a long life and reign. "I am surprised," he answered, "that a woman well versed, like you, in the Holy Scriptures should speak to me of length with regard to human life, which lasts no {217} longer than a spider's web, as the Psalmist has said. How short then must life be for a man who has but a year to live, and has death at his door!" At these words, she wept long; then, drying her tears, she continued, with feminine boldness, and inquired who should be the king's successor, since he had neither sons nor brothers. "Do not say," he replied, "that he is without heirs; he shall have a successor whom you will love, as you love Egfrid, as a sister." "Then tell me, I entreat you, where this successor is." "You see," returned Cuthbert, directing the eyes of his companion towards the archipelago of islets which dots the Northumbrian coast around Lindisfarne, "how many isles are in the vast ocean; it is easy for God to bring from them some one to reign over the English." Elfleda then perceived that he spoke of a young man, Aldfrid, supposed to be the son of her father Oswy, by an Irish mother, and who, since his infancy, had lived as an exile at Iona, where he gave himself up to study.

The troubles concerning S. Wilfrid which had vexed the Northumbrian Church still prevailed. Wilfrid was still in banishment for his persistence in introducing the Roman customs into the Keltic Church of the north of England. The new king, Aldfrid, had brought with him from Iona attachment to the ritual of SS. Columba and Aidan. Elfleda inherited the prejudices of her spiritual mother, Hilda, against the stern and inflexible innovator; but there was on their side a desire for reconcilation with the Church of the province of Canterbury, which was of Roman foundation, and they hoped that now Wilfrid was an aged man, some of his harshness might have been softened.[26]

To the new king, as well as to his sister, the Abbess Elfleda, Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury wrote, to exhort {218} them both to lay aside their enmity against Wilfrid, and to receive him with unreserved kindness. They yielded, and recalled Wilfrid, but were mistaken in supposing that age had altered his determination. He returned in 687 to excite storms throughout his diocese, and was again exiled, in 691.

Aldfrid died in 705, and the Northumbrian crown descended to a prince named Eadwulf. Wilfrid had taken advantage of the death of Aldfrid to return to Ripon, but was ordered to leave the country in six days. But Eadwulf was dethroned, and a son of Aldfrid, Osred, aged eight, was given the realm of Bernicia, the counties of Northumberland and Durham. By means of some mysterious influence, the nature of which is unknown, the aged exile Wilfrid, who had been expelled from the country for fourteen years, and was to all appearance forgotten, became, all at once, the master of the situation, and the arbiter of events. He soon acquired a more powerful protector than the young sovereign in the person of Earl Bertfrid, who was considered the most powerful noble in the kingdom, and who was at the head of Osred's party. King Eadwulf marched against the insurgents, and obliged them to retreat to the fortress of Bamborough, where the earl, shut up in the narrow enclosure of this fortified rock, and reduced to the last extremity, vowed that, if God would deliver him and his charge, the young prince and his people should bow to the Roman subjection. An opportune desertion of Eadwulf's followers gave victory to Bertfrid, and Eadwulf was exiled after a short reign of two months. As soon as the royal child was placed on the throne, the Archbishop of Canterbury made his appearance, perceiving that the time was come for reinstating Wilfrid, and settling his affairs in a general assembly. This was held in the open air on the banks of the Nid. Wilfrid was present, and met there Bertfrid and the Abbess Elfleda, who had come over to his {219} side, and to Roman obedience. All the Northumbrians regarded her as the consoler and best counsellor of the kingdom. The bishops and abbots present opposed the claims of Wilfrid, and refused to accept him, though he came armed with the authority of the Holy See. At this point, the Abbess Elfleda interposed: in a voice which all listened to as an utterance from heaven, she described the last illness and agony of the king her brother, and how he had vowed to God and S. Peter to accomplish the papal decrees which he had so vigorously rejected. "This," she said, "is the last will of Aldfrid the king; I attest the truth of it before Christ." Bertfrid afterwards spoke and announced his vow. Nevertheless the three bishops would not yield, they retired from the assembly to confer among themselves, and with Archbishop Britwald, but above all with the sagacious Elfleda. Thanks to her, all ended in a general reconciliation.

Shortly before his death, and during his last pastoral visitation, S. Cuthbert went to see Elfleda in the neighbourhood of the great monastery of Whitby, to consecrate a church which she had built there, and to converse with her for the last time. They dined together, and during the meal, seeing his knife drop from his trembling hand in the abstraction of supernatural thoughts, she had a last opportunity of admiring his prophetic intuition, and his constant care for the salvation of souls. The fatigue of the holy bishop, who said laughingly, "I cannot eat all day long; you must give me a little rest"; the eagerness and pious curiosity of the young abbess, anxious to know and do everything, who rushed up breathlessly during the ceremony of the dedication to ask the bishop a memento for a monk, whose death she had just heard of,—all these details, says a modern writer,[27] form a picture complete {220} in its simplicity, upon which the charmed mind can repose amid the savage habits and wild vicissitudes of the struggle, then more violent than ever, between the Northumbrians and Picts, the Saxons and the Celts.

S. Elfleda died at the age of sixty. No account of her last illness has been transmitted to us.

(ABOUT A.D. 892.)

S. Mengold, second patron of the town of Huy on the Meuse, where a church is erected under his invocation, was count of Huy, and was murdered by some knights of his court, whose vices he attempted to restrain.

His relics, along with those of several other saints of Huy, are preserved in the noble church of Our Lady in that town.


[In Ancient Anglo-Saxon Kalendar belonging to the Abbey of FÚcamp, and French Martyrology. Authority:—Two lives of uncertain date, by anonymous writers.]

The blessed Cuthman was by birth a native of Devonshire or Cornwall, and his youth was spent in pasturing his father's sheep on the granite moors. One day, when dinner time came, he was hungry, and not having a companion to whom he could entrust his flock during his absence, he drew a circle in the heather and gorse with his staff, and then planted it in the soil, and said, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I command you sheep not to transgress the bounds I have drawn, till I return from my {221} dinner." And, wonderful to relate, the sheep obeyed his command. Now there was a grey moorstone on which he was wont to sit; and this moorstone has been ever since regarded with singular veneration, says the ancient writer of his life.

After some years his father died, and the widow was reduced to great poverty. Cuthman ministered to her with the tenderest care and filial devotion, and worked for their joint subsistence. When the poor woman fell sick, he was unable to leave her, at the same time he was so destitute that, unless he went forth to work or beg, they must starve. He, therefore, contrived a wooden truck or barrow on two wheels, and laid his mother on it, and went behind, thrusting her on with his hands, and supporting her by a rope slung round his neck, and begged from door to door, as her condition incapacitated him from working. One day, as he was thus thrusting his little cart through a field where the hay-makers were mowing the grass, the rope broke, and the holy youth stood a while hesitating what to do. Then he tore from an elder tree a bough, and twisted it, and attached it to his mother's cart, and supported it therewith. But the mowers laughed at him as a fool for endeavouring to supply the place of a rope with hollow elder wood. Their mockery was, however, soon arrested by a pelting rain, which drove them from their work, and by seeing the bough hold as firmly as a rope.

And when Cuthman saw that God assisted and avenged him, he vowed to build a church to his holy Name. But how to do so he knew not. So he continued his wanderings, ever journeying East way, and thrusting his mother before him, till he came to Steyning, in Sussex, where the rope suddenly broke, and his mother was much shaken, but, mercifully, was not injured. Then he thought that this was to be the place of his rest, and he said, "O Lord, on me has fallen to undertake the work of building Thee {222} a house; for to do this thou didst inspire me with the will. Whither shall I fly from Thy Spirit? This is the place where I shall finish my wanderings, this shall be my habitation, in which I shall offer and pay Thee my vows, day by day. Almighty Father, who hast brought my journey to an end, bless my work of building to thee a temple. Thou knowest how poor I am, and a labourer from my youth, and of myself I can do nothing, unless thou dost succour me."

The place was still and solitary, trees surrounded it, and hard by flowed the tidal river Adur. The land was little populated; here and there only a farm, buried in a nook of the great chalk downs. He chose a spot at the foot of these downs, and there he built a hut and laid his poor mother in it, and at once began to measure out the ground for his proposed church. He found favour with the people round about, and they contributed to his sustenance and the support of his mother, as they watched him single-handed dig the foundations, cut the timber, and rear the walls of the church he had vowed to God. He was given two oxen to help him in his work of carrying stones. Now, one day, these oxen strayed into the field of a woman who had two grown up sons. The young men at once seized on the oxen, and took them into their house. Cuthman went after the oxen, and when he could not find them, asked the young men for them, but they refused to surrender them. Then he said angrily, "I need them not to do my own work, but to labour for God. See I have laded my cart with those logs, and must move them to the house of God. Come then you and draw them." And he grasped the youths, and yoked them to the wain, and made them drag the stones to their destination.

Now as the church approached completion, Cuthman was grieved one day to find that a wooden pillar he had set {223} up, was bent with the weight imposed upon it, and he feared to remove it, lest he should bring down a part of the building. Then there came a traveller to the door, of very grave and beautiful aspect, and asked Cuthman why he was troubled. And Cuthman pointed to the bent post. Then said the stranger, "O man of little faith! to those who fear God, nothing is impossible. Stretch forth thine hand and let me help thee, and we will straighten it." And he did so, and the pillar became upright. Then Cuthman fell at the stranger's feet, and said, "My lord, tell me thy name!" And he answered, "I am Jesus, to whom thou buildest this house;" and so vanished.

Now Cuthman not only built and laboured for his old bed-ridden mother, but he also preached to the people, and stirred up the love of God, and zeal for His commandments in their hearts. And as his church approached completion, he was glad, and he worked without, and then rested for a while in prayer within. And chipping at the logs without, he wore thick gloves, and when he went within he took off his gloves, and hung them on a little ray of light that pierced through one of the small windows he had made in the walls. And there, where he worked, he died, but what was the nature of his illness, and his disposition at death is not recorded. He was buried at Steyning, and the Adur, then navigable as far as this place, long bore the name of S. Cuthman's Port. Steyning was given by Edward the Confessor, and afterwards by the Conqueror, to the abbey of FÚcamp, in Normandy, from which circumstance Bollandus supposed Steyning was in Normandy, and many have been misled thereby. The church of Steyning, dedicated to S. Cuthman, was built by monks of FÚcamp to replace his wooden one.

The Monasticon Anglicanum of Dugdale, (II. p. 992), Leland, Collect. I. p. 96; II. p. 409; III. p. 82; and {224} Camden asserts plainly that S. Cuthman was buried at Steyning in Sussex. "Cella de Stening Nigrorum Monachorum in quÔ sepultus Stus. Cudman;" "S. Cudmannus in Stenig prope Brambre flumen." "Stus. Caudmannus in loco qui dicitus ad Staning requiescit prope amnem Brembre;" this Brembre is Bramber; the name is no longer given to the river, but to the castle hard by, upon it.

(A.D. 1124.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority: a life by Gerald Itherius, prior of Grandmont.]

S. Stephen was born in the year 1046, in the castle of Thiers, in Auvergne, belonging to his father, the Viscount de Thiers. At an early age of twelve he was taken by his pious father a pilgrimage into Italy. On their return, the lad fell ill at Benevento, and the father was obliged to leave him in the charge of Milo, archbishop of that city, a native of Auvergne. This prelate took the greatest care of the young Stephen and reared him in all holy lore; and as he grew up intent on serving God in a spiritual and ecclesiastical state, he ordained him, first sub-deacon, and afterwards deacon.

After the death of the archbishop, Stephen, being then twenty-four years old, went to Rome and remained there four years. There the vocation to the religious life growing stronger in him, he formed the resolution of imitating certain monks of Calabria, living in great holiness, of whom he had heard Milo speak, and whom he had once visited. He therefore asked permission of Pope Gregory VII. to live apart in some solitude, following the rule of the Calabrian hermits. The pope hesitated for some while, thinking him {225} too delicate of constitution, but at length yielded to his pressing solicitations in 1073. Stephen then returned to France, and resided at Thiers for a short time with his parents; and then, departing, established himself at Aureille or Soviat, a few leagues from Limoges, where he placed himself under the direction of S. Gaucher, who had built a monastery of regular Canons, called S. Jean d'Aureille. But S. Gaucher having erected a nunnery in the neighbourhood, S. Stephen disliking the proximity to women, left Aureille, and retired to Muret, in 1076. This is a mountain near Limoges, where, amongst the rocks and trees, he built a small cabin, and vowed himself to Jesus Christ in a very special manner. Having retained a ring, the only thing belonging to his father and home, that he had not given away or refused, he placed it on his finger saying, "I, Stephen, renounce the devil and all his pomps, and offer myself to God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the One true God in Three Persons." Then having written these words, he placed them on his head, and added, "O God Almighty, who livest eternally, and reignest One in Three Persons, I promise to serve Thee in this hermitage in the Catholic faith; in sign whereof I place this writing on my head, and place this ring on my finger, that at the hour of my death this promise may serve as my defence against my enemies." Then addressing himself to the Holy Virgin he said, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, I commend my body, soul, and senses to thy Son and to thee."

In this wild solitude, amidst rocks and trees, Stephen passed forty-six years in prayer, and the practice of such austerities as almost surpassed the strength of a human body. He lived at first on wild herbs and roots. In the second summer he was discovered by certain shepherds who brought him a little coarse bread; which some country {226} people from that time continued to do as long as he lived. He always wore next his skin a hair-cloth with iron plates and hoops studded with sharp spikes, over which his only garment, made of the coarsest stuff, was the same both in summer and winter. When overcome by sleep, he took a short rest on rough boards, laid in the form of a coffin. By degrees, disciples gathered about him, and placed themselves under his rule. He would not suffer them to call him abbot or master, but only corrector. To them he was ever compassionate, urging them not to discipline their bodies by excessive fasting, but with himself he was never lenient.

Gregory de Papercesis and Pierre de LÚon, two legates of the Holy Father, having visited him in his retreat, asked him what he was, a monk, a hermit, or a canon. "I am a sinner," was his answer.

Eight days after their departure, he knew that his end was nigh. He therefore called his disciples about him, and said to them, "My sons, I leave you only God, to whom all things belong, and for whom you have renounced all things, and your own selves. If you love poverty, and cleave to God constantly, He will give you all things that you shall need." Five days after he was carried into the chapel, where, having heard Mass, and received extreme Unction and the Holy Viaticum, he died on Friday, February 8th, 1124, at the age of nearly eighty.

(A.D. 1213.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—the Bull of his Canonization by Innocent III.]

S. John was born of pious and noble parents, at Faucon, on the borders of Provence, June 24th, 1169, and was {227} baptized John, in honour of S. John the Baptist. His mother dedicated him to God by a vow from his infancy. His father Ephemius sent him to Aix, where he learned grammar, fencing, riding, and other exercises fit for a young nobleman. But his chief desire was to advance in virtue. He gave the poor a considerable part of the money his parents sent him for his own use; he visited the hospital every Friday, assisting the sick poor, dressing and cleansing their sores, and affording them all the comfort in his power.

On his return home he begged his father's leave to continue the pious exercises he had begun, and retired to a little hermitage not far from Faucon, with a view of living at a distance from the world, united to God alone. But finding his solitude interrupted by the frequent visits of his friends, he desired his father's consent to go to Paris to study divinity, and this he easily obtained. He accomplished his studies with extraordinary success, and received the degree of doctor of divinity with uncommon applause. He was soon after ordained priest, and said his first mass in the chapel of the bishop of Paris, at which the bishop himself, Maurice de Sully, the abbots of S. Victor and of S. GeneviŔve, and the rector of the university, assisted; admiring the graces of heaven in him, which appeared in his extraordinary devotion on this occasion, as well as at his ordination.

On the day he said his first mass, by a special inspiration from God, he resolved to devote himself to the ransoming of Christian slaves from captivity. But before he entered upon so important a work, he thought it needful to spend some time in retirement, prayer, and mortification. And having heard of a holy hermit, S. Felix of Valois, living in a great wood near Grandlieu, in the diocese of Meaux, he repaired to him, and begged he would admit him into his {228} solitude. Felix soon discovered him to be no novice, and would not treat him as a disciple, but as a companion.

One day, as they were sitting together on the bank of a spring, John disclosed to Felix the design he had formed on the day on which he said his first Mass, of succouring the Christians under Mahomedan slavery, and spoke so movingly upon the subject, that Felix was convinced the design was from God, and offered to assist him in carrying it into execution. They took some time to recommend it to God by prayer and fasting, and then set out for Rome in the midst of a severe winter, towards the end of the year 1197, to obtain the Pope's benediction. They found Innocent III. promoted to the chair of St. Peter, and he being already informed of their sanctity and charitable design by letters of recommendation from the Bishop of Paris, received them as two angels from heaven; lodged them in his own palace, and gave them many long private audiences. After which he assembled the cardinals and some bishops in the palace of S. John Lateran, and asked their advice. After their deliberations he ordered a fast and special prayers, to ascertain the will of heaven. At length, being convinced that these two holy men were led by the Spirit of God, and that great advantage would accrue to the Church from such an institute, he consented to their erecting a new religious order, and declared S. John the first general minister. The Bishop of Paris, and the abbot of S. Victor, were ordered to draw up the rules, which the Pope approved by a bull, in 1198. He ordered the religious to wear a white habit, with a red and blue cross on the breast, and to take the name of the Order of the Holy Trinity. He confirmed it some time after, adding new privileges by a second bull, in 1209.

The two founders having obtained the Pope's blessing and certain indulgences, returned to France, presented themselves to the king, Philip Augustus, who authorized the {229} establishment of their Order in his kingdom, and favoured it with his liberalities. Gauthier III., lord of ChÔtillon, gave them land whereon to build a convent. Their number increasing, the same lord, seconded by the king, gave them Cerfroid, near Grandlieu, the place in which S. John and S. Felix concerted the first plan of their institute. It is situated in Brie, on the confines of Valois. This house of Cerfroid, or De Cervo frigido, was the chief of the order. The two saints founded many other convents in France, and sent several of their religious to accompany the counts of Flanders and Blois, and other lords, to the Crusade. Pope Innocent III. wrote to recommend these religious to the Emir of Morocco; and S. John sent thither two of his religious in 1201, who, on the first voyage, redeemed one hundred and eighty-six Christian slaves. The year following, S. John went himself to Tunis, where he purchased the liberty of one hundred and ten more. He returned into Provence, and there received great charities, which he carried into Spain, and redeemed many in captivity under the Moors. On his return he collected large alms among the Christians towards this charitable undertaking. His example produced a second order of Mercy, instituted by S. Peter Nolasco, in 1235.

S. John made a second voyage to Tunis, in 1210, in which he suffered much from the infidels, enraged at his zeal and success in exhorting the poor slaves to patience and constancy in their faith. As he was returning with one hundred and twenty slaves he had ransomed, the barbarians took away the helm from his vessel, and tore all its sails, that they might perish in the sea. The saint, full of confidence in God, begged Him to be their pilot, and hung up his companions' cloaks for sails, and, with a crucifix in his hands, kneeling on the deck, singing psalms, after a prosperous voyage they all landed safe at Ostia, in Italy. Felix, by {230} this time, had greatly propagated his order in France, and obtained for it a convent in Paris, in a place where stood before a chapel of S. Mathurin, whence these religious in France were called Mathurins.

S. John lived two years more in Rome, which he employed in exhorting all to penance with great energy and fruit. He died on the 21st of December, in 1213, aged sixty-one. He was buried in his church of S. Thomas, where his monument yet remains, though his body has been translated into Spain.

[26]   For an account of the conflict with S. Wilfrid, and the opposition of the Northumbrian Church and princes to his innovations, see his life, Oct. 12.

[27]   Montalembert, Monks of the West, iv. p. 412.

An enthusiastic Collector of Saintly Legends.


February 9.

(A.D. 249.)

[This saint is named in the Roman and all Western Martyrologies. There is, however, another Apollonia, martyr under Julian the Apostate, 114 years her junior, commemorated in some churches on this day, and some apocryphal Acts of this latter saint are extant. There is much doubt whether this Roman Apollonia ever really existed, and whether the Martyrologists have not fallen into an inaccuracy in writing S. Apollonia "of Rome," instead of "of Alexandria," because her relics were brought to Rome. The account of the martyrdom of S. Apollonia of Alexandria is perfectly authentic, it occurs in a letter from S. Dionysius B. of Alexandria, during the persecution, to Fabius, B. of Antioch, giving him an account of the sufferings of his church. This letter is preserved by Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, lib. vi. c. 41.]

THE following is the account of the martyrdom of S. Apollonia, by Dionysius, the bishop of Alexandria, himself a confessor at the time, in the persecution. "The persecution with us did not begin with the imperial edict, but preceded it a whole year. And a certain prophet and poet excited the {232} mass of the heathen against us, stirring them up to their native superstition. Stimulated by him, and taking full liberty to exercise any kind of wickedness, they considered this the only way of showing their piety—to slay us. First, then, seizing a certain aged man, named Metras, they called on him to utter impious expressions, and as he did not obey, they beat his body with clubs, and pricked his face and eyes; after which they led him away to the suburbs, where they stoned him. Next, they led a woman called Quinta, who was a believer, to the temple of an idol, and attempted to force her to worship; but when she turned away in disgust, they tied her by the feet, and dragged her through the whole city, over the rough stones of the paved streets, dashing her against the millstones, and scourging her at the same time, until they brought her to the same place, where they stoned her. Then, with one accord, all rushed upon the houses of the pious, and whomsoever of their neighbours they knew, they drove thither in all haste, and despoiled and plundered them, setting apart the more valuable of the articles for themselves; but the more common and wooden furniture they threw about and burnt in the roads, presenting a sight like a city taken by the enemy. They also seized that admirable virgin Apollonia, then in advanced age, and beating her jaws, they broke out all her teeth, and kindling a fire before the city, threatened to burn her alive, unless she would repeat their impious expressions. She appeared at first to shrink a little, but when suffered to go, she suddenly sprang into the fire, and was consumed."

Relics in the Church of S. Apollonia, at Rome; her head in S. Maria Transtiberina; her arms in S. Laurence, outside the walls; part of her jaw in S. Basil's; other relics at Naples, Volaterra, Bonona, at Antwerp in the Jesuit Church; in S. Augustine's, at Brussels; in the {233} Jesuit Church at Mechlin; in S. Cross at LiÚge; at Cologne, in the Jesuit Church; and in those of S. Gereon, S. Maurice, S. Alban, S. Cunibert, and others; and elsewhere. These relics consist in some cases of a tooth only, or a splinter of bone.

S. Apollonia is invoked, and the application of her relics is sought against toothache, and other pains in the jaw.

In Art, she is always to be recognized by her being represented holding a tooth, sometimes pincers grasping a tooth, in her hand.

(ABOUT A.D. 258.)

[The Roman and Greek Churches commemorate this Saint on the same day. Authorities:—The ancient Acts by an anonymous author, and another life, by John, B. of Sardis.]

There dwelt in Antioch, a priest called Sapricius, and a layman, named Nicephorus, who had been linked together for many years by the strictest friendship. But the enemy of mankind, sowing between them the seeds of discord, their friendship was succeeded by the most implacable hatred, and they no longer accosted each other when they met in the streets. Thus it continued for a considerable time. At length, Nicephorus, entering into himself, and reflecting on the grievousness of the sin of hatred, resolved on seeking a reconciliation. He accordingly deputed some friends to go to Sapricius to beg his pardon, promising him all reasonable satisfaction for the injury done him. But the priest refused his forgiveness. Nicephorus sent other friends to him on the same errand, but though they pressed and entreated him to be reconciled, Sapricius remained inflexible. Nicephorus sent a third time, but to no purpose; Sapricius having shut his ears not to men only, but {234} to Christ Himself, who commands us to forgive, as we ourselves hope to be forgiven. Nicephorus, finding him deaf to the remonstrances of their common friends, went in person to his house, and casting himself at his feet, owned his fault, and begged pardon for Christ's sake; but this also was in vain.

Persecution suddenly began to rage under Valerian and Gallienus, about a.d. 258. Sapricius was apprehended and brought before the governor, who asked him his name. "It is Sapricius," answered he. The governor: "Of what profession are you?" Sapricius: "I am a Christian." The Governor: "Are you of the clergy?" Sapricius: "I have the honour to be a priest. We Christians acknowledge one Lord and Master Jesus Christ, who is God; the only and true God, who created heaven and earth. As for the gods of the heathen they are but devils." The president, exasperated at his answers, gave orders for him to be put into an engine, like a screw press. The excessive pain of this torture did not shake Sapricius's constancy, and he said to the judges, "My body is in your power, but my soul you cannot touch; only my Saviour Jesus Christ is master of that." The governor seeing him so resolute, pronounced this sentence: "Sapricius, priest of the Christians, who is ridiculously persuaded that he shall rise again, shall be delivered over to the executioner of public justice to have his head severed from his body, because he has disregarded the edict of the emperors."

Sapricius seemed to receive the sentence with great cheerfulness, and was in haste to arrive at the place of execution, in hopes of his crown. On his way to martyrdom, Nicephorus ran out to meet him, and, casting himself at his feet, said, "Martyr of Jesus Christ, forgive me my offence." But Sapricius made him no answer. Nicephorus waited for him in another street, through which he was to {235} pass, and, as soon as he saw him coming up, broke through the crowd, and falling again at his feet, conjured him to pardon the fault he had committed against him, through frailty, rather than design. This he begged by the glorious confession he had made of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Sapricius's heart was more and more hardened, and now he would not so much as look on him. The soldiers laughed at Nicephorus, saying, "A greater fool than thee was never seen, in being so solicitous for a man's pardon who is upon the point of execution." On their arrival at the place of execution, Nicephorus redoubled his humble entreaties and supplications, but all in vain; for Sapricius continued as obstinate as ever, in refusing to forgive. The executioners said to Sapricius, "Kneel down that we may cut off your head." And now, for the first time, there was a sign of wavering in the Confessor. He grew pale and trembled, and asked, "Upon what account?" They answered, "Because you will not sacrifice to the gods, or obey the Emperor's orders, for the love of that man that is called Christ." The unfortunate Sapricius cried out, "Stop, my friends; do not put me to death: I will do what you desire: I am ready to sacrifice." Nicephorus, dismayed at his apostasy, cried aloud to him, "Brother, what are you doing? renounce not Jesus Christ, our good Master. Forfeit not a crown you have already gained by tortures and sufferings." But the holy Spirit of Fortitude had been withdrawn from him, who would not show forgiveness to his brother, and he tremblingly renounced his Lord and Master. Then Nicephorus, with tears of bitter anguish for the fall of Sapricius said to the executioners, "I am a Christian, and believe in Jesus Christ, whom this wretch has renounced; behold me here ready to die in his stead." All present were astonished at such an unexpected declaration. The officers of justice, uncertain how to proceed, despatched a messenger to the {236} governor for further orders. The governor, on hearing the account of the confession of Nicephorus, dictated the following sentence: "If this man persist in refusing to sacrifice to the immortal gods, let him die by the sword:" which was accordingly put in execution. Thus Nicephorus received the three immortal crowns of faith, humility, and charity, triumphs of which Sapricius had made himself unworthy.


[There is great uncertainty as to the day on which this Irish Saint is commemorated. Some say Feb. 9th; some Feb. 3rd; and others Aug. 11th. She is mentioned in the Tripartite Life of S. Patrick. Her life, which exists only in a fragmentary condition, given by Colgan from an ancient imperfect MS., is of no authority.]

The same caution must be renewed, which has been given so often in writing the lives of the Irish Saints,—not to trust the records we have, too implicitly. Doubtless, the main outline of their histories is true, but lively fancies, through many centuries, have filled those outlines with wondrous details which it is impossible to accept, and which have made an almost inextricable confusion in their history.

The virgin Athracta, was of noble race. She dedicated herself at an early age to God, and built a lodging where seven roads met, that she might have abundant opportunity of showing hospitality to wayfarers. She is said in her legend to have received the veil from the hands of S. Patrick, when he was founding a church in Druimnea. Lanigan says that this is a mistake, as S. Athracta did not live till some time in the sixth century. He adds, "The statements relative to her are indeed so contradictory that the period in which she flourished cannot be precisely ascertained. {237} According to some accounts she was contemporary with S. Patrick. But we find her spoken of as living in the times of S. Corbmac, brother of S. Erin, and, consequently, in the sixth century. S. Nathy, that is, according to every appearance, Nathy of Achonry, who lived in the same century, is also mentioned as a contemporary of hers. On these grounds it may be fairly concluded that S. Athracta belonged to the same period. She is said to have been the daughter of Talan, of a princely family of Dalaradia, in Ulster, and sister of S. Coeman, of Aird-ne-Coemhain, a consanguinity which it would be difficult to reconcile with her having been a native of Ulster. Whatever were her family connexions, S. Athracta presided over a nunnery called Kill-Athracta (Killaraght), near the lake Techet, now Lough Cara, in the county of Sligo."[28]

The legend of the saint contains the following incidents, the first of which, as will be seen from what has been said above, it is impossible to reconcile with history:—

This virgin was of noble race; she dedicated herself at an early age to God, and built a lodging where seven roads met, that she might have abundant opportunity of showing hospitality to wayfarers. She received the veil from the hands of S. Patrick, at Dromanna, the modern Kill-Athractha, Connaught. The story goes that on a visit to the church, built there by the Holy Apostles, S. Patrick prepared to celebrate Mass, when it was discovered that his attendants had forgotten to bring a paten. He was, therefore, about to lay aside his vestments, when the virgin said, "Proceed, father! with God all things are possible." So he began the confession. Then, as Athracta knelt bowed forward, she felt something lightly fall on her shoulder, and she put up her hand, and lo! there was a paten resting upon it. She rose, and, going to the altar, handed it to S. Patrick. {238} On one occasion the King of Connaught desired to build a strong castle, and for that purpose summoned all his vassals to contribute their assistance. Athracta in vain pleaded to be excused; the King roughly ordered her to take her part in the erection of his fortress. Then she, and her servants, and horses, went into the wood to cut timber and transport it. But her maid exclaimed, "Oh, if the stags drew our logs of wood, instead of these old broken-down horses, it would humble the King's pride." Then Athracta called the stags to her, and because the ropes or chains for dragging the timber were broken, she harnessed the stags to the felled trees by some of her long delicate hairs, and these proved as strong to draw the timber as the stags proved docile for the draught.

These quaint legends are, it must be repeated, on no account to be estimated above what they are worth.

(ABOUT A.D. 560.)

[Patron of Llandaff. His name occurs in the Salisbury Martyrology of Wytford, and in the Anglican Mart. of John Wilson, who placed him on Dec. 26th, and was followed by Ferrarius. The correct day is, however, certainly Feb. 9th. He is recorded in the Welsh triads as one of the three canonized Saints of Britain; the two others are S. David and S. Cadoc. Authorities:—The Life, by Galfredus, of Llandaff (circ. 1120); another anonymous life in Capgrave; the Regestum Landavense; and the Liber Landavensis.]

S. Teilo or Theliav was descended from a noble British stock. His father's name was Enlleu, son of Hydwn Dwn, and the place of his birth was Eccluis Cunnian, near Tenby. From his infancy he bent his neck beneath the gentle yoke of Christ, and, despising worldly vanities, was given to prayer and alms-deeds. He studied {239} first under S. Dubricius, by whose assistance he attained great proficiency in the knowledge of the Scriptures; his next instructor was Paulinus, under whom he pursued the same study, and in whose school he was the associate of S. David. Under the patronage of Dubricius he opened a college, at Llandaff, which was called Bangor Deilo, or the great choir of Teilo; and his settlement at that place may serve to account for his appointment to fill the See of Llandaff upon the retirement of his patron to the Isle of Bardsey. The idea that he was made bishop of Llandaff at the time S. Dubricius was raised to the Archbishopric of Caerleon, is irreconcilable with chronology. The original diocese governed by S. Teilo, as ascertained by the absence of churches founded by S. David, was co-extensive with the ancient lordships of Glamorgan, containing the present rural deaneries of Croneath, Llandaff, and Newport. How long he continued to preside over this limited district is uncertain; but, in the reign of Maelgwn Cwynedd, the Yellow Plague desolated the Principality. Upon this occasion S. Teilo, with several others, retired to Cornwall, and thence into Brittany, where he was honourably received by S. Samson, Bishop of Dol. After he had remained seven years and as many months in Brittany, he returned, with several of his disciples, to his native country, and on his arrival was elected to the Archbishopric of Menevia, vacant by the death of Cynog. Like S. David, he, however, retained a predilection for the seat of his original bishopric, and, appointing Ismael to the situation of Bishop of Menevia, he removed the archbishopric to Llandaff. In order to maintain his title to the primacy undisturbed, he appears to have kept under his immediate government the whole of the diocese held before by S. David, with the exception of the part north of the river Tivy, which was henceforth attached to the diocese of Llanbadarn.

{240} There is a story told of his having made a pilgrimage, before all this, to the Holy Land, in company with S. David and S. Padarn, and of their having received episcopal consecration from the Patriarch of Jerusalem; but it is probable that this was a story, borrowed by Giraldus from one of the lost Triads, and was invented to establish the independence of the Welsh bishops of the See of Rome.

In the Triads, S. Teilo is called one of the Three Blessed Visitors to the Isle of Britain, and he is associated with SS. David and Padarn. "They were so called," says the Triad, "because they went as guests to the houses of the noble, the plebeian, the native, and the stranger, without accepting either fee or reward, or victuals, or drink; but what they did was to teach the faith in Christ to every one without payment or thanks. Besides which, they gave to the poor and needy, gifts of their gold and silver, their raiment and provisions." His companions, or pupils, playing on his name, compared it to Helios, which, in Greek, means the sun; because, by his heavenly doctrine and example, he illumined the Church in South Wales, and warmed the hearts of the faithful. Twelve churches in the diocese of S. David's, and six in that of Llandaff, claim to have been founded by S. Teilo.[29]

A curious, late, and utterly worthless story, save as an example of the manner in which the popular tongue forges marvels, is related of his relics. At his death, three priests of different parishes were present, one from Llandaff, where he had been bishop; one of Llandeilo Fawr, where he died; and one of Penaly, near Tenby, where his ancestors had been buried. Each wished to claim the body for his church. The contention grew sharp between them, and was only terminated by the oldest of the three exhorting his brethren to leave the decision to God. Then they retired {241} to rest, and, next morning, when they entered the room where the dead saint lay, lo! his one body had become three, perfectly identical in every particular, and each priest was able to carry off a S. Teilo to his own church. The origin of this foolish story is self-evident. It is an attempt to account, by a miracle, for the existence, in three places, of bodies of S. Teilo; a portion of his relics being probably preserved in each of these churches, and the popular tongue having magnified each portion into an entire body.

(ABOUT A.D. 566.)

[There is great uncertainty whether there were one or two bishops of Canosi of this name, as it is impossible to fit all that is recorded of the Acts of S. Sabine into the life of one man; as a S. Sabine of Canosi was certainly present, in 493, at the dedication of the Church of S. Michael, on Mount Gargano; and a S. Sabine of Canosi is mentioned as meeting Totila, K. of the Goths, in 549, fifty-six years after. That there were two is, therefore, most probable, the name being that of the great and wide-spread Sabine family, occurs repeatedly among the bishops and saints of Italy, and has led to much confusion. It is impossible to distinguish, from the confused Acts of S. Sabine of Canosi, which events belong to the first, and which to the second, bishop of that name. S. Sabine is the second patron of Canosi, and also of Bari, after S. Nicolas. His life was written by an anonymous writer of the eight century.]

This saint belonged to a noble family at Canosi, in the present arch-diocese of Bari, in Italy. He was elected to the see of his native city, and distinguished himself by his zeal in building and adorning churches, as also by his learning. He was one of the prelates present at the consecration of the Church of S. Michael, on the scene of the apparition of the archangel, on Monte Gargano, journeying thither in company with the blessed Roger of Canosi. And as the sun was hot in the heavens, and they fainted with the burning of its rays, Sabine raised his eyes to heaven, {242} and prayed that a cool breeze might spring up and fan their fevered brows. But his prayer was heard and answered in other sort, for a great eagle came between the travellers and the sun, and floated over their heads with wings expanded, accompanying them, so that they walked on in the shadow. Now, Sabine's ardour in prosecuting his studies raised the suspicion of the multitude, and they denounced him as addicted to the arts of magic; so this report came to the ears of the Pope, and he summoned him to Rome, to clear his character from the aspersion cast upon it. Then Sabine hasted and went to Rome, and arrived in the evening, and was lodged in the palace of the Holy Father, who, prejudiced against him, received him coldly, and harshly bade him not set foot outside the house till his case were heard. And at midnight, a strange, unearthly music resounded through the courts, and men started from sleep to listen. Then they were aware of chanting, as of a multitude, and they rose, and the Pope also, and they followed the sound, and till they came to the door of the hall in which the Bishop of Canosi lay. And beneath the door was a streak of dazzling light. Then they burst in, and beheld the accused prelate standing in a blaze of heavenly radiance, amidst angel forms, chanting the Psalms of David. So the Pope cast himself at his feet, and acknowledged his complete innocence.

Now, on his way home, the holy bishop doubtless visited S. Benedict, at Monte Cassino, for between them there existed a warm friendship; and we find that S. Placidus, the loved disciple of Benedict, often visited and was entertained by the Bishop of Canosi, for the love he bare to the great Patriarch of the Monks of the West.

A pretty incident of his life is as follows,—it is but a trifle, but these trifling anecdotes give the character of the man. He was walking in his garden one day, among the {243} flower-beds, reciting psalms and hymns, when a bright smile broke out over his face. Those accompanying him were surprised, and asked the reason of that smile. "Listen to those sparrows," said he, "there is a wagon upset yonder, which was laden with corn, and they are all eagerly communicating to one another the joyful news of an abundant feast. Oh! the charity to one another of those dear little birds!"[30]

In the year 535, Pope Agapetus sent an embassy to the Emperor Justinian at Constantinople, of which the bishop of Canosi was a member. Agapetus was himself obliged to follow his embassy, the following year, on a deputation to the emperor from Theodatus, the Gothic king. Theodoric, king of the Goths, had been succeeded by Athalaric, son of his daughter Amalasvintha, but he, being a minor, the public affairs were administered by his mother, who did not spare any pains in the education of her child. But the young king fell a victim to intemperance, before he had attained the age of manhood. On the failure of issue in the male line, Amalasvintha, in order to maintain herself on the throne, gave her hand to Theodatus, her cousin, and allowed him to participate in the sovereign power. But Theodatus grasping at supreme sovereignty, suffocated his wife and benefactress in a bath, and then, in abject terror for the consequences, sent off Pope Agapetus to Constantinople, to deprecate the wrath of the Emperor Justinian. Agapetus arrived in Constantinople, when that see was vacant, Epiphanius, the patriarch, being dead. He found the Empress Theodora in power, favouring the Eutychian heretics, and encouraging Anthimus, bishop of Trebizond, a ringleader of the sect. Agapetus at once deposed Anthimus, and ordained one Mennas, {244} a Catholic, in his place; then, feeling his end approach, he exhorted Sabine and his companions to stand by and maintain the new bishop of Trebizond. Agapetus died in 536, and the same year a council was held against Anthimus the heretic, at which Sabine was present, and the anathemas of which he subscribed. In consequence of this decided action, the bishop of Canosi suffered much from the anger of the Empress Theodora. In 537 he returned to Italy, and according to some accounts, died on his way, and was buried at Tripalta on the Sabbato, above Benevento, near Avellino, where his body, entire, still rests enshrined. But at Bari is the body of S. Sabine, bishop of Canosi, and it is believed that there were two saints of this name, and that the first Sabine, bishop of Canosi, is at Bari, and that the events we are about to relate, occurred to the second bishop of this name, who lies at Tripalta. That there were two is most probable, as it is hardly possible that he who was bishop in 493, could have sat till 566, which would give an episcopate of over seventy-three years.

Totila, king of the Goths, the seventh of that race who had governed Italy, swept Campania and Samnium with his barbarian army, occupied Naples, and in the midst of his victorious course, visited S. Benedict on his rock of Cassino. The incident of the meeting between the barbarian king and the ascetic patriarch shall be recorded in the life of S. Benedict. S. Gregory relates in his Dialogues, (lib. iii. c. 5), that Totila, hearing of S. Sabine of Canosi, now blind with age, that he was endued with the spirit of prophecy, visited him and invited him to dinner, and to prove the old bishop, when the page brought wine round, the king took the goblet from the boy's hand, and himself offered it to the prelate. Then Sabine, taking the goblet, and turning his darkened eyes on the royal bearer, said, "May that hand that offers live long!" And the king {245} blushed, joyous at receiving this part blessing, part prophecy. S. Gregory relates another story of this saint. The Archdeacon of Canosi, a man full of ambition and pride, desiring the episcopate, and impatient of the long life of Sabine, bribed his butler to poison him. The deadly cup was offered him, and the aged prelate drank it off, but instantly the Archdeacon was seized with all the symptoms of having been poisoned, and died in agony, whereas the bishop remained unhurt.

It is unfortunate, that owing to the carelessness of the historian, who wrote two hundred years after the death of S. Sabine I., the records of the two bishops of that name should have been so run together as to render it almost impossible to dissever them.

There seems also to have been a third S. Sabine of Canosi, bishop of Lesina, a ruined and deserted city, on the lagoon of the same name in the Capitanta. Lesina, in the 10th century, was the seat of a bishop. No records of this saint exist, but in November, 1597, the cathedral and second church of Lesina being thoroughly ruinous, officials were deputed to remove from the deserted churches such relics as could be found, and works of value that remained. They found the roof of the cathedral fallen in, doors and windows broken and open, and grass growing on the sacred floor. The crypt was in better preservation, and there they found altars standing, containing sacred relics. In one of these they found a marble sarcophagus, on which was inscribed, S. Sabinus Canusinus, "S. Sabine of Canosi." Within was a leaden coffin, on which was engraved, S. Sabinus Canusianus, pontifex Lesinensis. "S. Sabine of Canosi, bishop of Lesina." The skeleton in this was perfect. This body, together with others there discovered, was removed to Naples, where it now reposes in the church of the Annunciata.



[Of local celebrity at Mouzon, on the Meuse, above Sedan. The names occur, however, in some Martyrologies of minor importance. Authority:—A MS. life published by Bollandus.]

SS. Victor and Susanna were peasants at Mouzon, or the neighbourhood, Victor being the brother and protector of Susanna, a modest and beautiful girl. The Lord of Mouzon having cast his lustful eyes on Susanna, endeavoured to deceive her, but her virgin modesty withstood his threats and promises; and finding her inflexible, in a paroxysm of rage, he tore out her eyes. Victor, her brother, denounced the tyrant to his face, and threatened him with the vengeance of the God of the fatherless, and protector of the poor, whereupon the noble, furious at being insulted by a vile peasant, ordered his retainers to despatch him, which they did.

(A.D. 695.)

[Roman and other Martyrologies. Authority:—Life by Ansgrad, the monk, dedicated to Abbot Hilbert, the successor of S. Ansbert. This life has, however, suffered from interpolators.]

This saint was at one time chancellor to Clothaire III., and in the midst of the temptations of a court, preserved his integrity and purity. At length, quitting the court, he assumed the monastic habit at Fontenelle, and on the election of the abbot Lantbert to the see of Lyons, he succeeded him as abbot of that famous monastery. He was confessor to Thierri III., and was, with his consent, {247} chosen archbishop of Rouen, on the death of S. Ouen, in 683. Pepin, mayor of the palace, afterwards banished him, on a false accusation of treason, to the monastery of Hautmont in Hainault, where he died on the 9th February, 695. His body was transported to the abbey of Fontenelle, and afterwards to Boulogne, but in 944, through fear of the Northmen, it was translated to the convent of S. Peter in Ghent; but was dragged from its resting-place by the furious Calvinists, under William of Orange, in 1578; some portions of the sacred relics have, however, we believe, been preserved.

S. Ansbert is often called S. Aubert.

[28]   Dr. Lanigan's Eccles. Hist. of Ireland, Dublin, 1827; Vol. iii., p. 39, & i. p. 243.

[29]   Rees: Essay on the Welsh Saints, pp, 245-6.

[30]   In the original, the simplicity of this story is quite spoiled by what is evidently added by the monkish author, unable to see the beauty of the unadorned incident; for, it is said, this was a proof of miraculous power in the saint, that he was able to see through a stone wall the upsetting of a corn-cart.


February 10.

(A.D. 202.)

[Commemorated in the West on this day; in the East on Sept. 17th. The Acts are not trustworthy.]

SAINT CHARALAMPIUS was priest at Magnesia, in the reign of Severus. He was brought before the governor, Lucianus, and was flayed with iron scrapers; the governor himself, in his rage, assisting the executioners in their barbarous work. With him suffered two soldiers and three women.


[Modern Roman Martyrology, and those of Usuardus and Ado. But the ancient Roman Martyrology, bearing the name of S. Jerome, and those of Notker Bede (so-called), Rabanus, and others, on Feb. 6th. Nor are the Martyrologies agreed as to where she suffered, some saying, "in the East," others "at Rome." Authority:—S. Ambrose, who was of her family, gives an account of her martyrdom in his Exhort. Virginit. lib. iii.]

S. Ambrose boasts of this saint as the greatest honour of his family. She was descended from a long series of {249} consuls and prefects; but her greatest glory was in despising, for Christ's sake, her wealth, birth, and beauty. When the edicts of persecution were issued under Diocletian and Maximian, against the Christians, she was summoned before the judge, and her face was beaten because she would not deny Christ. She, however, counted it all joy to suffer in the like manner of her Master, and, though cruelly beaten, shed not a tear. At length, overcome by her constancy, the judge ordered her head to be struck off.

One of the Roman catacombs on the Appian way, bears the name of S. Soteris. This catacomb was restored by Pope Stephen III., when the roof had fallen in. It has been erroneously supposed, by some, that this catacomb was called after Pope S. Soter; but Anastasius the Librarian, in recording the restoration of the cemetery, calls it "Cemeterium SanctŠ Soteris." Stephen III. (II.) reigned from 752 to 757. The body was removed from this catacomb by Pope Symmachus, (498-514,) to the church of S. Sylvester, in the city of Rome. A portion of the relics were given to the church of Sezanne, in the modern department of Marne, in France. One of her bones is preserved in the Jesuit Church at Luxembourg. A body of S. Soteris is preserved in the Cistercian Church at Madrid; but as the history of the Acts of this S. Soteris cannot be adapted to the saint of Rome, it is probable that she is some local Spanish saint, of whom nothing authentic is known.

(ABOUT A.D. 419.)

[Theodoret in his Philotheus, c. 12, gives an account of this venerable monk, whom he had visited, and knew personally.]

This venerable hermit lived in an old tomb cut out of the rocks in the neighbourhood of Antioch, in Syria. He {250} observed the monastic rule for forty years, living on bread and water, and on Sunday visiting a church, that he might partake of the divine mysteries, and listen to sermons. Theodoret makes a quaint little remark about him: "That he used to borrow one book at a time from his friends, read it through, and return it when read, and then borrow another."

(A.D. 543.)

[Famous wherever the name of S. Benedict, her brother, is known. Authorities for her life, the same as those for his. The following sketch of her life is extracted from Montalembert's Monks of the West.]

In the history of most saints who have exercised a reformatory and lasting influence upon monastic institutions, the name and influence of some holy woman is almost invariably found associated with their work and devotedness. These bold combatants in the war of the Spirit against the flesh seemed to have drawn strength and consolation from a chaste and fervent community of sacrifices, prayers, and virtues, with a mother or a sister, by blood or choice, whose sanctity shed upon one corner of their glorious lives a ray of sweeter and more familiar light. To instance only the greatest: Macrina is seen by the side of S. Basil, and the names of Monica and Augustine are inseparable; as in later ages are those of S. Francis of Assisi and S. Clara, S. Francis of Sales and S. Jeanne Chantal. S. Benedict had also a sister, born on the same day with himself, named Scholastica; they loved each other as twins often love, with fraternal regard, elevated into a passion. But both loved God above all. Still earlier than her brother, Scholastica had consecrated herself to God from her infancy; and, in becoming a nun, she {251} made herself the patroness and model of the innumerable family of virgins who were to acknowledge, adopt, and follow the code of her brother. She rejoined him at Monte Cassino, and established herself in a monastery, in the depths of a valley near the holy mountain. Benedict directed her from afar, as he did many other nuns in the neighbourhood. But they met only once a year, and then it was Scholastica who left her cloister, and sought her brother. He, on his side, went to meet her: they met upon the side of the mountain, not far from the door of the monastery, in a spot which has long been venerated. There, at their last meeting, occurred that struggle of fraternal love, and the austerity of the rule, recorded by S. Gregory,[31] which is the only known episode in the life of Scholastica, and which has insured an imperishable remembrance to her name. They had passed the entire day in pious conversation, mingled with praises of God. Towards the evening they ate together. While they were still at table, and the night approached, Scholastica said to her brother, "I pray thee, do not leave me to-night, but let us speak of the joys of heaven till the morning." "What sayest thou, my sister?" answered Benedict; "on no account can I remain out of the monastery." Upon the refusal of her brother, Scholastica bent her head between her clasped hands on the table, but prayed to God, shedding torrents of tears, to such an extent, that the table was flooded with them. The weather was very serene: there was not a cloud in the air. But scarcely had she raised her head when thunder was heard, and a violent storm began; the rain, lightning, and thunder were such, that neither Benedict, nor any of his brethren, who accompanied him, could take a step beyond the roof that sheltered them. Then he said to Scholastica, "May God pardon thee, my {252} sister, but what hast thou done?" "Ah, yes," she answered him, "I prayed thee, and thou would'st not listen to me; then I prayed God, and he heard me. Go now, if thou canst, and send me away, to return to thy monastery." He resigned himself, against his will, to remain, and they passed the rest of the night in spiritual converse. S. Gregory, who has preserved the tale to us, adds that it is not to be wondered at, that God granted the desire of the sister rather than that of the brother, because, of the two, it was the sister who loved most, and that those who love most have the greatest power with God.

In the morning they parted, to see each other no more in this life. Three days after, Benedict, being at the window of his cell, had a vision, in which he saw his sister entering heaven under the form of a dove. Overpowered with joy, his gratitude burst forth in songs and hymns to the glory of God.

Her body was translated to Le Mans, in France, of which city she is patroness, but her relics were dispersed by the Huguenots, in 1562. However, some portions have been preserved, some in the Jesuit Church at Antwerp, and a bone in the Carthusian Church at Cologne.

S. SURA, V. M.

This Saint, called in Dutch, Zuwardt, is said to have built the first Christian Church at Dordrecht. She was murdered by some ruffians, who hoped to possess themselves of her money, wherewith she paid for the edification of the house of God, but found only three pennies in her purse, whence arose the tradition that she had only that sum the whole time, and that as often as she paid it away, the same sum remained in her purse.


(A.D. 1157.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—His Life, by his friend and disciple, Albert, in whose arms he died. Several modern writers have confused S. William of Maleval with S. William of Mariemont, and even with S. William I., Duke of Aquitaine, and S. William IX., Duke of Guienne, who died 1137.]

Nothing is known of the birth of this saint, or of his early life, on which he preserved an impenetrable secrecy. It is said that he made a pilgrimage to S. Jago of Compostella, but even this is uncertain, as S. William of Guienne, his contemporary, is known to have made this expedition, and it is quite possible that the act of one S. William has been transferred to the other.

In the year 1153, there appeared in Tuscany a man, who sought to hide himself from the eyes of his fellow-men. The islet of Lupocavio, in the district of Pisa, seemed to him to answer his desire; there he constructed a small habitation, and remained there. His edifying example attracted several persons to him, who settled near his cell, and undertook to follow his rule of life. But their fervour soon cooled down, and their undisciplined manners obliged him to withdraw from his solitude, and retire to Monte Prunio, where he hoped to be alone with his God, and where he erected in a dense wood, a hut of boughs, and thatched it with leaves and fern. He was soon joined by idle vagrants, who, under the pretence of a religious life, attempted to impose on the charity of pious persons. S. William soon discovered that these men were actuated by no religious vocation, and their hypocrisy drove him again from his resting-place. He was, indeed, compulsorily ejected by these miscreants, who could ill bear his sanctity subsisting as a reproach upon their irregularities. He then returned to the island of Lupocavio, but not finding {254} his former associates there disposed to receive him, he fixed his habitation in a desert valley, called at that time "The stable of Rhodes," but since known as "the bad valley," Maleval. It was situated in the territory of Sienna, about a league distant from Castigline, Pescara, and Buriano. It was in 1155, that he hid himself in this solitude, having at first only a hole in the earth, in which he could shelter from the inclemency of the weather, till the Lord of Buriano, taking compassion on him, built a little cell for his lodging. For four months he lived only on roots and herbs, having no other companions than the wild beasts; but, in the beginning of the year 1156, he received a disciple, named Albert, who wrote the account of the close of his life. The saint practised surprising austerities; thrice in the week he took only very little bread, and wine much diluted; on the other days he took bread, and herbs and water. He wore sackcloth next his skin, and slept on the bare ground. He was endowed with the gift of prophecy, of which Albert had himself experience, for when the saint was dying, and his disciple was lamenting that he should be left alone, S. William bade him be of good cheer, for God would give him a companion shortly. This seemed so improbable, that Albert could not trust it; but going forth from the cell shortly after, he met a man, named Raynald, a physician, who had come to renounce the world and place himself under the direction of the pious hermit. Albert, fearing that the death of the saint might make him change his purpose, cast himself at his feet, and implored him to come and make his profession before the dying saint at once. Raynald did so, and Albert submitted himself to the direction of his new companion on the death of his first master. S. William died in the arms of Albert, after having received the last sacraments from a priest of Castigline, who had been warned of the illness of the hermit.

{255} Raynald and Albert buried S. William in his little garden. After his death they preserved the spirit of penitence and mortification with which he had inspired them during his life, and they endeavoured to follow his maxims as their rule of life; and thus originated the Order of the Guillemites, which rapidly spread from Italy, through France, the Low Countries, and Germany. At first they followed the institutes of S. William only, and fasted almost perpetually, and walked barefoot. But Pope Gregory IX. moderated their great austerities, allowed them to be shod, and required them to follow the rule of S. Benedict.

(A.D. 1241.)

[Day unfixed for his commemoration, but locally, he is commemorated on the same day as his namesake. He is called Saint in Belgium, but is of local canonization only. Authorities:—Life by an anonymous Cistercian monk, of undecided date, published by Bollandus, and another life in the annals of Jacobus Guisius.]

This venerable hermit of Brabant was the founder of the ancient abbey "of the Olive," whose ruins may still be seen at some little distance from the ancient castle of Mariemont, near Binche in Hainault.

Having lived a life of great irregularity during his youth, John-William retired, in a moment of remorse, to the abbey of ChÚrailles, near Vervins; but he shortly afterwards quitted it, being drawn into the world again by his passions. But God, says the legend, gave him a warning which brought him once more to his senses, and he retired to a lonely place near Morlanwelz, where he built a little hermitage of branches, and lived for some time, unknown, exercising himself in prayer and vigil, and living on roots and wild fruit. If we may believe a popular legend, {256} to punish himself for having yielded to his animal passions so long, he would not stand upright, but walked about like a beast, on all fours. Later on, Dame Bertha, the widow of Eustace de RŠulz, having heard of his piety, offered him the choice of any spot on her lands, where he might cultivate the soil to supply his necessities. He accepted her offer, and began diligently to till the ground. John of BÚthune, Bishop of Cambrai, informed of the perfection of the hermit, conferred upon him priest's orders; after which, John-William undertook the construction of a stone church on the ground given him by the lady Bertha. When this was complete, the hermit asked the abbess of Fontenelle to send some of her nuns to establish themselves there. She complied with his request, but the place not suiting them, they returned to their convent. At his request, seven nuns from Monstres-sur-Sambre were then sent to him, and they placed themselves under his direction; the institution was incorporated in the order of Citeaux, an abbess was elected, and the place which had formerly borne the designation of "The Hermitage," was now called "The Olive." There are many hypotheses to account for the origin of this name. One is, that it was derived from the number of cures wrought by olive oil, from the lamp burnt before the image of the Holy Virgin in the church. The founder died in 1240, on the 10th February, at the age of sixty-six, and was buried in the monastery church.

(A.D. 1346.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—Life by Cardinal Joseph Garampi.]

Clara was born at Rimini, her father's name was Chiarello, and her mother's Gaudiana; they belonged to a {257} noble family, and were very wealthy. Clara was married early, but shortly after lost her husband. Having been exiled on account of a civil war, she returned to Rimini, to see her father and one of her brothers perish on the scaffold.

She was married again, but after a while, with the consent of her husband, devoted her life to the practice of self-mortification. She slept on a hard board, and encircled her neck and wrists with iron rings to punish herself for her extravagance in jewelry when young. Her food was bread and water, and a little oil on Sundays.

Not content with these austerities, and the rigorous fasts she imposed on herself from the feast of S. Martin till Christmas, and from Epiphany till Easter, she spent the greater part of many nights in prayer, and during Lent she retired into an old look-out box on the town walls, where, exposed to the cold and rain, she spent the time in confessing her faults, and reciting the Lord's Prayer, a hundred times a day. Her close communing with God made her heart overflow with charity towards all men. Hearing that her brother had been banished a second time from his native town, and was sick at Urbino, she flew to his bedside, and nursed him with the utmost tenderness, escaping occasionally into an ancient ruined tower, near the cathedral at Urbino, to refresh her spirit with prayer. On the restoration of tranquillity, she returned to Rimini with her brother, where she became shortly the solace of all the afflicted. One day, hearing that the poor Clares were without fuel, she ran into the country, and getting a large log of wood, laid it on her shoulder, and carried it through the streets to their door. A noble kinsman, not liking to see her thus demean herself, as he considered it, sent a servant to relieve her of the load, but she refused to surrender it, saying that her Lord was not ashamed to bear {258} His cross for the sake of sinners, and that, therefore, it was no dishonour for her to carry wood for the use of His servants.

Once, hearing that a man was sentenced to pay a heavy fine, or have his hand chopped off, and that he was unable to ransom his hand, she sold herself as a slave, and with the money would have redeemed the hand from amputation, had not the magistrates, touched by her charity, pardoned the man. Having once given way to intemperate speech towards someone who had annoyed her, she punished herself by nipping her tongue with a pair of pincers, so that she was unable to speak for two or three days after.=She built a convent for those women who had placed themselves under her direction, near the old watch-box on the walls, and gave it the name of "The Annunciation," but the title was changed afterwards to that of "Our Lady of the Angels."

Towards the end of her life she lost her sight. She died on Feb. 10th, 1346, and was buried in the church of her convent, where her relics are still preserved. The cult of her was approved in 1784 by Pope Pius VI., and her commemoration was fixed for the 10th February.

[31]   Dialog. ii., c. 12, 23, 33.


February 11.

(A.D. 303.)

[Roman Martyrology. In the ancient African Church, as we learn from S. Augustine, their commemoration took place on Feb. 12th, and on that day they are given by Usuardus. The Acts are genuine. They were appealed to in the reign of Honorius, in 412, during the Donatist controversy to prove that even in the stress of persecution, Christians had not failed to attend Divine Service on the Lord's Day. S. Augustine also quotes them in his book against Cresconius, lib. iii. c. 17, 26, 27, and 29, written in 406. The Synodical Epistle of the Council of the Catholic Bishops held at Cirta which quotes these Acts, is included among the works of S. Augustine in the Benedictine Edition, numbered Ep. 141. It is dated the 14th June, 412.]

THE persecution of Diocletian having broken out in Africa, the magistrates of Abitina broke, one Sunday, into the house of a citizen, Octavius Felix, during the celebration of the Divine Mysteries, and took the priest Saturninus, his four children, and forty-four other Christians who were assisting at the Holy Sacrifice. The two elder sons of the priest, Saturninus {260} and Felix, were both lectors; Mary, his daughter, had consecrated her virginity to God; Hilarion, the youngest, was still quite a child. Among the other prisoners were Dativus, a noble senator, Ampelius, Rogatianus, Januarius, Cassian, Victorian, in all thirty men, and nineteen women.

Dativus marched at the head of the troop which surrounded Saturninus, standing as children about their father.

When brought before the magistrates, they confessed Christ so resolutely, that their very judges applauded their courage.

The confessors were shackled and sent to Carthage, the residence of the pro-consul. They rejoiced to see themselves in chains for Christ, and sang hymns and canticles during their whole journey to Carthage, praising and thanking God. The pro-consul, Anulinus, addressing himself first to Dativus, asked him of what condition he was, and if he had assisted at the collect or assembly of the Christians. He answered that he was a Christian, and had been present at it. The pro-consul bade him declare who presided, and in whose house those religious assemblies were held: but without waiting for his answer, commanded him to be put on the rack and torn with iron hooks, to force the information from him. The martyrs underwent severally the tortures of the rack, iron hooks, and cudgels. Felix was asked if he had been at the collect or assembly[32] on the Lord's day. Felix answered, "I am a Christian." "I did not ask that," said the magistrate, "but whether you had been at the collect." "Oh, foolish judge!" cried Felix, "Could I be a Christian and not be present? As if the Lord's day gathering should be without the Christian, and the Christian without the Lord's day gathering. Knowest thou not that the one was made for the other, and the one cannot be without the other?" Then he was savagely beaten and sent to prison. {261} The weaker sex fought no less gloriously, particularly the illustrious Victoria; who, having been converted to Christ in her tender years, had signified a desire to lead a single life, but to this her pagan parents would not agree having promised her in marriage to a rich young nobleman. Victoria, on the day appointed for the wedding, full of confidence in the protection of Him whom she had chosen for the only spouse of her soul, leaped out of a window, and took refuge in a Christian church, where she consecrated her virginity to God, with the ceremonies then used on such occasions at Carthage, in Italy, Gaul, and all over the West.[33] To the crown of virginity she earnestly desired to join that of martyrdom. The pro-consul, on account of her quality, and for the sake of her brother, a Pagan, tried all means to prevail with her to renounce her faith. He inquired what was her religion. Her answer was, "I am a Christian." Her brother, Fortunatianus, undertook her defence, and endeavoured to prove her lunatic. The saint, fearing his plea might be the means of her losing the crown of martyrdom, made it appear by her intelligent answers that she was in her perfect senses, and she protested that she had not been brought to Christianity against her will. The pro-consul asked her if she would return with her brother. She replied, "Being a Christian, I acknowledge none as brethren but those who keep the law of God." The pro-consul then laid aside the quality of judge to become her suppliant, and entreated her not to throw away her life. But she rejected his entreaties with disdain, and said to him, "I have already told you my mind. I am a Christian, and I assisted at the holy assembly." Anulinus, provoked at this constancy, {262} ordered her to prison with the rest, to wait the sentence of death which he not long after pronounced upon them all.

However, he made an effort to gain the little boy, Hilarion, not doubting that he would easily prevail with one of his tender age. But the child showed more contempt than fear of the tyrant's threats, and answered his interrogatories, "I am a Christian: I have been at the collect,[34] and it was of my own voluntary choice, without any compulsion." The pro-consul threatened him with those little punishments with which children are accustomed to be chastised, little knowing that God himself fights in his martyrs. The child only laughed at him. The governor then said to him, "I will cut off your nose and ears." Hilarion replied, "You may do it; but I am a Christian still." Then the governor ordered the child to be taken to the prison with the rest, and Hilarion, with his shrill voice cried, "God be thanked!"—and so was led away.

At this point these interesting Acts break off abruptly, but a fragment which has been tampered with by some Donatist hand has, at the end, this passage, which has been lost from the genuine Acts:—"These blessed martyrs, being deprived of all nourishment for their bodies, one by one, and by degrees, sank, overcome with hunger, and migrated to the heavenly kingdom with the victor's palm, our Lord Jesus Christ sustaining them, who, with the Father, reigns through ages of ages. Amen."



[Roman Martyrology, not to be confounded with the S. Jonas, monk, commemorated by the Greeks on Sept 21st. Authority:—Mention in the Life of S. Pachomius.]

In the monastery of Muchon, in Egypt, lived an old monk who acted as gardener. For eighty-five years he cultivated the fruits of the monastery garden, and gathered them, and gave of them to the monks, and to guests, and to travellers, as much as they would, but in all those years he never tasted so much as a grape, a date, or a fig; but lived on raw herbs with a little vinegar. Now, there stood in the midst of the monastery a very fruitful fig-tree, and the boys were in the habit of climbing it to gather and eat the luscious figs. And when S. Pachomius came one day to inspect the monastery, he saw that this fig-tree was a cause of self-indulgence and gluttony to some of the younger aspirants after an ascetic life. So he said to Jonas the gardener, "Cut that tree down!" Then the gardener lifted up his hands in dismay, and when Pachomius saw how greatly it would grieve the good man, he let him spare it. But lo! on the morrow the fig-tree was withered away, and Jonas knew that he had acted wrongly in opposing his will to the command of his superior. Jonas wore a dress made of three sheep-skins sewn together, and over this he cast a linen surplice without sleeves,[35] when he approached the Divine Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ; but as soon as he had communicated, he laid it aside. Jonas, after supper, was wont to retire to his cell, sit on his chair weaving rushes in the dark, reciting passages of Scripture, till the midnight call to the monks to rise for the night office. Then, when that was concluded, he returned {264} to his seat, and slept seated till dawn. And one day he was found dead in his chair with the rushes in his stiff hand. Then the monks buried him as he sat, with the half-plaited mat on his knees.

(ABOUT A.D. 449.)

[Roman Martyrology. He died on March 14th, but as by the Milan use no saint is commemorated in Lent, his festival has been there thrown back to Feb. 11th; and adopted thence into the Roman Martyrology. His life from scattered notices is given by Bollandus.]

Of the acts of this saint, who was bishop of Milan before 440, but in what year consecrated is unknown, we have scarcely any records. He lived in the stormy time of the Gothic invasion of Italy. It is disputed whether he or S. Mamertus, bishop of Vienne, was the first to institute the use of litanies. It is certain that Bishop Lazarus ordered their use for three days in succession in all the principal churches of Milan.

(ABOUT A.D. 470.)

[Roman Martyrology on Jan. 1st, but anciently on Feb. 11th; with great solemnity by the Greeks on September 25th. She is sometimes erroneously called Euphrosia or Euphrasia by martyrologists. The life of S. Euphrosyne is found inserted in the VitŠ Patrum. The authors of some of these lives are known, as S. Ephrem, S. Jerome, Sophronius of Jerusalem, Paulus Diaconus, but it is not known by whom the life of S. Euphrosyne was written. In gravity and purity of style it is not behind any of the others. That after her death a Greek life was written, which was translated into Latin, seems probable, from the extension of her cultus in the ancient Latin Church. Her life exists in an ancient Greek ode, and in a Latin heroic poem; another life is given by Simeon Metaphrastes, in all particulars of importance agreeing with that in the Lives of the Fathers, but without its freshness and ring of antiquity.]

The history of S. Euphrosyne, as given in the "Lives of the Fathers of the Desert," written, apparently, shortly after {265} her death, is told so simply and beautifully by the ancient historian, that it shall be given here, somewhat abbreviated, but otherwise literally translated.

There was a man of Alexandria named Paphnutius, honourable, and observing the commandments of God. He married a wife worthy of his race, and of honest manners, but she was barren. Thereat the man was troubled much and sorrowful, likewise his wife was sore afflicted, seeing the distress of her husband. And after some time he told a certain abbot his desire; and he, compassionating him, besought the Lord to give him a child. Then God heard the prayers of these twain, and gave to Paphnutius a daughter. After that, Paphnutius brought his wife to the monastery, that she should be blessed by the abbot and the brethren. And when the little girl was seven years old, she was baptized, and called Euphrosyne, and her parents rejoiced over her, because they had received her of the Lord, and she was comely of face. Now when she was twelve years old, her mother died, and she lived with her father, who taught her her letters, and to read, and all the rest of the world's knowledge. The good report of her spread through the town, for she was wise in knowledge, and very comely, and composed in face and spirit. Thus many desired to mate her with their sons, and tried to come to terms with the father, but could not gain their point; for he said, "God's will be done." But one man excelled all in wealth and honour, and he sought the father and asked him to give his daughter to his own son in marriage; and he consented; so the usual betrothal gifts were made.

And after some time, when she was aged eighteen, Paphnutius, taking her, went to the monastery with her, and gave monies for the need of the brethren, and said to the abbot, "I have brought to thee the fruit of thy prayers, {266} that thou mayest pray for her, for I am about to deliver her in marriage."

Then the abbot bade that she should be taken to the guest-house, and he spake with her, and said much about purity, humility, and meekness. Now she was there three days, and she gave ear to the psalmody every day, and saw the holy conversation of the monks, and she wondered at their life, and said, "Blessed indeed are these men." So her heart began to be solicitous in the fear of the Lord.

And when three days were accomplished, Paphnutius led her to the abbot and said, "Come, my father, that thy handmaiden may salute thee, and pray for her, for we are going home to town." And the maiden cast herself at the abbot's feet, saying, "I pray thee, my Father, entreat the Lord to give me my heart's desire," so he, extending his hand over her, blessed her, saying, "God, who knewest man before ever he was born, take care of this thy handmaiden, that she may merit a portion and fellowship in thy heavenly kingdom." So they returned to the city. Now, it fell out, one day, that the abbot was about to be ordained, and he sent a monk to Paphnutius, to invite him to the solemnity. Then the brother asked after him, and the servants said, "He has gone out." Then Euphrosyne called to her the monk, and began to question him. "Tell me of your charity, my brother, how many brethren are there in the monastery?" He answered, "There are three hundred and fifty-two." The maiden said, "If anyone desired to go there for conversion, would your abbot receive him?" He answered, "He would receive him with the greatest joy, for the Lord said, 'He that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'" Euphrosyne said, "Do all of you chant in your church, and all fast together alike?" The monk answered, "We all chant together, but every one fasts following his own way, as {267} much and how suits him best; there is no constraint, but ready will." Presently Paphnutius returned from his walk, and the monk, seeing him, told him the message of the abbot. Then Paphnutius was glad, and went with him in a little boat to the monastery. Now, when he was gone, Euphrosyne sent a trusty servant, saying, "Go into the monastery of Theodosius, enter the church, and bring hither any monk you find there." Now, by the goodness of God, there was a monk just coming from the monastery, and when the boy saw him, he bade him come to the house of Euphrosyne. And when the maiden saw him, she rose and saluted him, saying, "Pray for me, my Father!" So, praying, he blessed her, and sat down. Then Euphrosyne said to him, "My lord, I have a Christian father, but my mother is dead. My father wishes to give me to this world, and I shrink from being defiled thereby, but I fear to be disobedient to my father, so I am in a strait and know not what to do. I spent all last night without sleep, asking God to show me His way, and this morning I have sent into the church for a father, who might tell me what I should do. I know that God hath sent thee to me; declare to me, now, His will." Then the old man said, "This is the Word of the Lord. If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke xiv., 26.) This is the saying of the Lord Christ. I have nothing to add thereto." Then said Euphrosyne, "I trust in God and in thy prayers. Cut off my hair." So the old man arose, and shore off the hair of her head, and laid on her the tunic of profession, and praying, he blessed her, saying, "The God, who hath delivered all His saints, protect thee from all evil." And when he had thus spoken, he departed, and went on his way rejoicing.

But Euphrosyne thought in herself, "If I go to a convent {268} of maidens my father will make inquiries and drag me violently away, and give me to the bridegroom. I will go to a monastery of men, where none will suspect me." So saying, she put off her female attire, and clothed herself in the habit of a man, and, leaving her house in the dusk of evening, taking with her 500 pennies, concealed herself all night. Next morning her father came to the city, and went, by the will of God, to church, before going home. Now, Euphrosyne made her way to that monastery where her father was so well known, and announced to the abbot, through the porter, that an eunuch of the palace was without desiring to speak with him. Then, when the abbot came forth, Euphrosyne cast herself on the ground, and when they had prayed they sat down. Then said the old man, "Wherefore hast thou come hither, my son?" And she answered, "I desire to dwell here and follow your holy conversation." Then said the old man, "Thou hast done well, my son! Here is the monastery. If it please thee, dwell with us. But tell me, what is thy name?" She answered, "Smaragdus (Emerald)." He said, "Thou art very young, and not able to dwell alone, but needest a master to teach thee the rule and conversation of the monks." To whom she made answer, "As thou willest, my father." So she put the five hundred pence in his hand, and he called to him an aged brother, named Agapitus, a holy man, and gave to him Smaragdus, saying, "Henceforth he shall be to thee a son and disciple." Then, having knelt, he blessed them, and they responded Amen, and Agapitus led her away to his cell.

Now Paphnutius, her father, went home, and when he found her not he sought through Alexandria. He searched every convent of women. Now, there were ships in the harbour, and his servants by force entered them, and searched them through, and they hunted the country round, {269} the deserts and the caves, not to mention the houses of their friends, and they found her not. Then he bewailed her as one dead, together with the bridegroom and his father; but Paphnutius could not be comforted, he had no rest, not knowing where his daughter was. And at last, unable to bear his anguish longer, he hastened to the abbot of whom we have already spoken, and fell at his feet, and cried, "I pray thee, cease not from supplication that the child of thy prayer may be found, for I know not what has befallen my daughter." Hearing this, the venerable old man was mightily troubled, and he summoned all the brethren, and said, "Show your charity, my brothers, and let us all entreat the Lord, that he may declare to us what has befallen the daughter of our good friend, Paphnutius." So they all fasted and prayed for the space of a week, and nothing was revealed touching Euphrosyne, as was wont, when they at other times besought the Lord. Now when nothing was revealed to any, the abbot began to console the father, saying, "Do not be downcast, my son, at the Lord's discipline, for whom He loveth He chasteneth. Know this, of a surety, that no sparrow falls to the ground, without His knowledge, how then can anything have happened to thy daughter without His consent? If any evil had befallen her—which God forbid!—would not the Lord have showed it to one of the brethren praying for her? I have confidence in God, that thou shalt see thy daughter again in this life." So the father went away comforted. But he often returned to commend himself to the prayers of the brethren, and one day he cast himself down before the abbot and said, "I cannot bear my anguish, O my father! because of my lost daughter, but the wound in my heart bleeds more every day, and my spirit is vexed within me." Now when the old man saw him so broken, he said, "Wouldst thou converse with a spiritual brother here, from {270} the palace of Theodosius?" But he knew not that he spake of the daughter of Paphnutius; and the man said "I am willing." Then the abbot called Agapitus, and said, "Take Paphnutius, and introduce him to the cell of Smaragdus." And he did so, knowing nothing. Now, when she suddenly heard her father's voice, and knew him, her eyes filled with tears. But Paphnutius did not recognize her, for her face was much shrunk with fasting, vigils, and tears; and she drew her hood over her face, that he might not see her distinctly. And when they had prayed, they sat down. Then she began to speak to him of the future kingdom of happiness and eternal glory, and how it was to be won through humility and purity, and a holy life, and tender love. For she saw that her father was much depressed, and she pitied him; yet fearing lest he should recognize her, and it would prove a hindrance in her path, and willing to comfort him, she said, "Believe me, God will not despise thy groaning. If thy child were living in wickedness, God would shew thee the way to her, that thou mightest pluck her away. No! trust God, she has chosen the better course, and is serving God somewhere. He is able to lead thee to her. Be of good courage, He will reveal her to thee some day." Then she said "Go, sir!" And as he retired, she grew deadly pale, and tears flowed from her eyes. But he was full of comfort, and he said to the abbot, "I go comforted as though to-day I had seen my child." And he returned home magnifying the Lord.

Now after Smaragdus had lived thirty-eight years in the cell, she fell sick, and knew that she must die. And when, on a certain day, as was his frequent custom, Paphnutius came to the monastery, and asked to see Smaragdus, the abbot bade that he should be conducted to the cell. But when he found that Smaragdus lay sick, he kissed him, and weeping, said "Woe is me! where are all the promises, {271} and sweet hopes, that thou didst give me, of seeing my daughter again? Not only do I not see her, but thou in whom I have found some consolation, thou goest away, and there is none left to be the comfort of my old age. For thirty and eight years I have lost my daughter, and nothing has been revealed to me concerning her, though I have prayed for her night and day." And when Smaragdus saw the old man's distress and tears, he said, "Be of good courage, is the hand of the Lord shortened, that He cannot perform what is promised? Lay aside thy sorrow. Remember how Joseph was revealed by God to the patriarch Jacob, who bewailed him as one dead. But I pray thee, tarry here three days, and leave me not." So Paphnutius remained beside him three days, for he said, "May be, the Lord will reveal somewhat to him;" and he was all that while full of anxiety. And on the third day he said, "I have waited, my brother!" Then Smaragdus knew that he should not survive that day, and he said to Paphnutius, "Draw near to me." And he drew near. Then said Smaragdus, who is also Euphrosyne, "Because the Almighty Lord hath brought me to the end of my contest, not by might of mine, but by His help, there remaineth to me the crown. And now I would not have thee troubled about thy daughter—I am thy daughter, Euphrosyne, and thou art my father, Paphnutius. And now I pray thee, (for none know that I am a woman), when I am dead, do thou, my father, wash and lay me out for my grave, and pray for me." And when she had said this, she gave up her soul. And it was the first of January.


From the "Menologium GrŠcorum" of Cardinal Albani.

Feb. 11.

Then when Paphnutius heard these words, and saw that she was fallen asleep, all his bowels were moved, and he fell on the ground, and was as one dead. Now Agapitus came running in, and saw Smaragdus dead, and Paphnutius lying senseless on the ground, so he cast water on his face and {272} said, "What aileth thee, Master Paphnutius?" Then said Paphnutius, "Let me go that I may die." And when he was risen up, he cast himself on the face of the dead monk, and cried, "Woe is me! my sweetest daughter, why didst thou not tell me before, that I might have died with thee?" So Agapitus, having guessed the truth, was amazed, and hasted and told the abbot, who came, and cried "Euphrosyne, spouse of Christ, forget not thy fellow-servants, who dwell in this monastery, but pray for us to our Lord Jesus Christ, that he may make us manfully contend to reach the port of safety, and to have our portion with Him, and with all His saints." Then he called all the brethren together, and they buried Euphrosyne reverently. And after that her father came and dwelt in the same cell, and was there for ten years, and after that he migrated to God, and they laid him beside his daughter.

(ABOUT A.D. 680.)

[Anglican Martyrology, published by John Wilson. Authority:—Bede: Hist. Eccl. iv. 24.]

According to an usage very general in the 7th century in England, but principally prevailing in Celtic countries, monasteries and nunneries were placed under the rule of one abbot or abbess. This was the case at Whitby, where the abbess Hilda governed a community of men, as well as one of women; and she inspired the monks subject to her authority with so great a devotion to their rule, so true a love of sacred literature, that this monastery, ruled by a woman, became a true school of missionaries, and even of bishops. But not all the bishops and saints nurtured in her school, occupy in the annals of the human {273} mind a place comparable to that held by an old cowherd who lived on the lands belonging to Hilda's community. It is on the lips of this cowherd that Anglo-Saxon speech first bursts into poetry, and nothing in the whole history of European literature is more original or more religious than this first utterance of the English muse. His name was Ceadmon. He had already reached an advanced age, having spent his life in his humble occupation without ever learning music, or being able to join in the joyous choruses which held such a high place at the feasts and social gatherings of all classes, both poor and rich, among the Anglo-Saxons as among the Celts. When it was his turn to sing at any of these festal meetings, and the harp was handed to him, his custom was to rise from the table and go home. One evening, when he had thus withdrawn himself from his friends, he went back to his humble shed and went to sleep by the side of the cattle. During his slumber he heard a voice, which called him by name, and said to him, "Sing me something"; to which he replied, "I cannot sing, and that is why I have left the supper and am come hither." "Sing, notwithstanding," said the voice. "But what, then, shall I sing?" "Sing the beginning of the world: the Creation." Immediately on receiving this command he began to sing verses, of which before he had no knowledge, but which celebrated the glory and power of the Creator. On awaking he recollected all that he had sung in his dream, and hastened to tell all that had happened to him to the farmer in whose service he was.

The Abbess Hilda, when the story was repeated to her, called for Ceadmon and questioned him in the presence of all the learned men whom she could assemble around her. He was made to relate his vision and recite his songs, and then the different passages of sacred history and various points of doctrine were explained to him that he might put {274} them into verse. The next morning he was again called, and immediately began to repeat all that had been told him, in verses, which were pronounced to be excellent. He was thus discovered all at once to possess the gift of improvisation in his mother tongue. Hilda, and her learned assessors, did not hesitate to recognise in this a special gift of God, worthy of all respect and of the most tender care. She received Ceadmon and his whole family within the monastic community of Whitby, and afterwards admitted him to the number of monks who were under her rule, and made him carefully translate the whole Bible into Anglo-Saxon. As soon, accordingly, as the sacred history and the gospel were narrated to him, he made himself master of the tale, ruminated it, as Bede said, and transformed it into songs, so beautiful that all who listened to him were delighted. He thus put into verse the whole of Genesis and Exodus, with other portions of the Old Testament, and, afterwards the life and passion of Our Lord, and the Acts of the Apostles. His talent and his poetic faculty thus went on, day by day, to fuller development, and he devoted numerous songs to such subjects as were best calculated to induce his companions to forsake evil, and love and practise the good: the terrors of the last judgment, the pains of hell, the joys of paradise—all these great and momentous subjects were in their turn woven into verse. The fragments that remain enable us to estimate the earnest and impassioned inspirations, strongly Christian and profoundly original, which characterised these first efforts of genius, barbarous, but subdued and baptized. But it would be a totally mistaken idea to recognise in the Abbess Hilda's dependant, nothing but a poet or a literary pioneer; he was, above all, a primitive Christian, a true monk, and, in one word, a saint. His mind was simple and humble, mild and pure; he served God with tranquil devotion, grateful for {275} the extraordinary grace that he had received from heaven. But he was full of zeal for monastic regularity. No frivolous or worldly subjects ever inspired his verse; he composed his songs only that they might be useful to the soul, and their solemn beauty did even more for the conversion than for the delight of his countrymen. Many were moved by them to despise this world, and to turn with ardent love to the divine life. He died as poets seldom die. At the very beginning of his illness he desired his bed to be made in that part of the infirmary which was assigned to the dying, and, while smiling and talking cheerfully with his brethren, asked for the viaticum. At the moment when he was about to administer the Communion to himself, from the pyx brought from the Church, according to the usage of the period, and while holding in his hands the Holy Eucharist, he asked all those around him, if any one had any grudge against him, or any complaint to make? All answered, "No." Then said he, "I, too, my children, have a mind at peace with all God's servants." A little while after he had received the venerable Sacrament, as they were about to waken the monks for Matins, he made the sign of the Cross, laid his head on the pillow, and fell asleep in silence, to awake no more.

(A.D. 867.)

[Commemorated by the Greeks; not regarded as a Saint by the Western Church.]

Theodora, wife of Theophilus, the Byzantine Emperor, has the glory of having brought to an end the triumph of the Iconoclasts in the East. After the death of her savage husband she ruled during the minority of her son, Michael III. Her claim to sanctity is certainly very questionable.

[32]   The term used throughout in the Acts is "the Collect."

[33]   These were, by laying her head on the altar to offer it to God, and all her life after wearing her hair long, as did the ancient Nazarenes: Act. p. 417. S. Optatus, c. 6. S. Ambr. and Virg. c. 8. But in Egypt and Syria the ceremony of this consecration consisted in the virgin cutting off her hair in the presence of a priest.

[34]   An instance of a child being, in the fourth century, allowed to assist at Mass.

[35]   Lebito, or Levitonarium, described thus in the life of S. Pachomius, c. 14. Levitonarium est colobium lineum sine manticis, quali Monachi Ăgyptii utuntur.


February 12.

(A.D. 303.)

[There are two saints of this name very celebrated in Spain, whereof one is of Merida, the other, the subject of this notice, of Barcelona. The former is commemorated on the 10th of December; the latter on Feb. 12th. The former is said to have been aged twelve or thirteen, the latter aged fourteen. There is also a striking similarity in their acts and their legends; and it seems that writers have often confounded the one with the other, that is, supposing there were two saints, virgins and martyrs of this name. But it seems not improbable, that the Eulalia of Barcelona and her namesake of Merida are the same. Such a mistake as the making one saint into two might easily arise, if a portion of the relics of Eulalia of Barcelona had been transferred to Merida. Martyrologists as generally name a saint as "of such a place" by the place where his or her relics are, as by the scene of the martyrdom. The Roman Martyrology says, on Feb. 12th, "At Barcelona, in Spain, S. Eulalia, V., who endured the little-horse, hooks, and flames, in the reign of Diocletian, the Emperor, and was finally fastened to a cross,[36] and received the crown of Martyrdom." Usuardus says much the same. The Martyrologies of Bede, Ado, and Notker enter into fuller details. The feast of S. Eulalia is observed with an octave according to ancient custom, sanctioned by a decree of the Congregation of {277} Rites, Dec. 6th, 1608, at Barcelona, even when it falls in Lent. It is difficult to fix the date of the Acts, but it is certain that we have not got them in their original form, though there is no reason for doubting their substantial authority.]

EULALIA, the daughter of Christian parents, lived on a farm outside the gates of Barcelona. Now, when she heard that persecution had broken out, she cried, "Thanks do I render to Thee, Lord Jesu Christ, and glory to Thy holy Name, for now I behold that which I have desired, and I believe that with Thy help all my desire shall find accomplishment." Then the young girl at night escaped from her home, and, entering the city in the morning, presented herself before the magistrate, and defied him and his gods. The magistrate ordered her to be whipped, thinking that the lashes on her tender skin would subdue her constancy. But he was mistaken. She accepted the sufferings with joy, and was then stretched on the little-horse and her sides torn with iron hooks and burnt with torches. And in her agony she looked up to heaven and cried, "Lord Jesu Christ, hear my prayer, and perfect Thy work in me, and bid me be numbered among Thine elect in the rest of life eternal." And when she had so prayed, her soul sped from her, and entered into the Paradise of God, as a dove flies to its nest. Then the executioners cast her off from the rack upon the blood-stained soil; but the magistrate ordered, "Let the body hang to be devoured by the birds of the air." Then a light snow began to fall out of heaven and softly cover the virgin's naked and mangled body with a pure white pall. Then the executioners, astonished, withdrew, and on the third day the Christians were allowed to bear away the sacred relics.

Patroness of Barcelona and of sailors. Her relics are preserved at Barcelona, in the Cathedral. She is represented {278} in art, with her soul, as a dove, issuing from her mouth, or lying covered with snow before a rack. It seems to be an error to regard her as having been crucified. In the Acts the command of the magistrate is, "Let her hang on the cross"; but this refers to the rack on which she was stretched. She is, however, sometimes represented with a cross.

(A.D. 381.)

[Commemorated by Greeks and Romans on the same day. But Maurolycus, by mistake, inserts him along with S. Meletius, B. of Pontus, on Dec. 4th. Authorities:—Sozomen, Socrates, Theodoret, and the oration of S. John Chrysostom in his honour.]

The history of this noble Confessor is a sad one, for it opens up to us a picture of the dissensions which tore the Church in the 4th century. It will be remembered that the Church was at that period suffering from the prevalence of Arianism, which denied the Eternal Godhead of the Son. Favoured by the Court, Arianism had penetrated into the Church on all sides; many of the bishops were Arian, others were semi-Arian, unwilling to pronounce decidedly against the Godhead of Christ, and unwilling also to declare that great doctrine to be the Truth. The election of the bishops being in the hands of the people, if among the laity and clergy low views of Christ's nature prevailed, an Arian was chosen to be their bishop. It was none the better when the emperors interfered to nominate, for they would expel an orthodox prelate and substitute for him one who was an Arian. And it must be remembered that Arians were at that time mixed up with Catholics, as parties in the Church, and did not at first stand to one another in the position of separate and antagonistic communions. {279} By the predominance of the votes of Arians, Meletius was elected and consecrated bishop of Berœa, and was afterwards by the same influence translated to the See of Sebaste.[37] He was present at the council of Seleucia (359), where he sided with the shifty semi-Arian Acacius of CŠsarea. But his eyes seem to have opened to the truth, and that gentle and peace-loving disposition which made him at first willing to soften differences was braced up by the imminence of the danger to true religion, to take a bold step. A council, assembled at Antioch in 361, placed Meletius in the see. This excellent man had a persuasive eloquence and a disposition which endeared him both to Catholics and Arians. A rumour began to spread that he was positively Catholic. After some sermons of a general character, he was desired to take part in a series of expositions of the great controverted text, Prov. viii. 22. After George, bishop of Laodicea, had given a strongly Arian address, and Acacius, bishop of CŠsarea, had read a paper which seemed to aim at a safe ambiguity, Meletius rose, and asserted, in unequivocal language, the essential doctrine of NicŠa. The church rang with cries of applause and wrath, proceeding from Catholics and Arians. The Arian archdeacon stopped the new patriarch's mouth with his hand. Meletius held out three fingers, then one; and when his lips were freed by the archdeacon's seizing his hands, he repeated aloud his former words, and exhorted the people to cling to the Nicene faith. This could not be borne; the council, at another session, deposed Meletius; the Emperor Constantius drove him into exile; Euzoius, an old comrade of Arius, was made bishop of Antioch; and a new creed was published which affirmed that the Son was in nowise {280} like to the Father, and was made out of what once was not. This led to a separation between the Catholics and the Arians. The latter were put in possession of all the churches, by imperial authority. Unfortunately, the Catholics were divided. Many held with the orthodox banished patriarch, Meletius, but some of the more obstinate refused to acknowledge him, and to communicate with those who did, because he had been ordained through Arian influence at Sebaste. On the accession of the Emperor Julian the Apostate, Lucifer, bishop of Cagliari, and Eusebius of Vercelli resolved to do what was possible to allay the miserable schisms which devastated the East and Egypt. Accordingly a council was summoned at Alexandria, to which Eusebius betook himself, but Lucifer, sending a representative to the council, hasted to Antioch, where, with that unfortunate precipitancy which characterised all his actions, he ordained one Paulinus to the Patriarchate, a man belonging to the extreme orthodox side, without waiting the return of Meletius, who had been recalled from banishment. As soon as the council of Alexandria had reinstated S. Athanasius, Eusebius of Vercelli arrived at Antioch, and found that the visit of Lucifer of Cagliari had made matters worse instead of healing divisions. There were now three Patriarchs of Antioch: one, Euzoius, the Arian, in possession of all the churches except one, which, out of personal friendship for Paulinus he had ceded to him; another, Meletius, the banished and now recalled patriarch, against whose orthodoxy no breath of doubt was raised; and Paulinus, acknowledged by the Roman pontiff, at the head of a small party who rejected Meletius, because he had once been mixed up with Arians. Eusebius regretted what had been done, but his respect for Lucifer, says Socrates, induced him to be silent about it, and, on his departure, he engaged that all things should be set right by {281} a council of bishops. Subsequently, he laboured with great earnestness to unite the dissentients, but without effect. Shortly after the departure of Eusebius, Meletius arrived in Antioch, and was obliged to assemble the faithful who clung to him outside the walls of the city. This was in 362. On June 26th, 363, Julian died, and his successor, Jovian, was a Catholic. Instantly the party of Acacius held a conclave, and agreed to become orthodox, conforming to the Catholic creed, showing very plainly, says Socrates, that their great object was to be in agreement with the imperial mind. Acacius had a meeting with Meletius, and joined his party.

The Emperor Jovian was succeeded by Valens in the East, in 364, and Meletius was again driven into exile, for the cruel tyrant was an Arian. As he was being taken out of the city in the chariot of the governor, the mob, exasperated at losing their beloved prelate, would have stoned the chief magistrate, had not Meletius screened him with his mantle. He was banished into Armenia, and during his absence, the Catholics were left without pastors through the severity of the imperial orders. Valens fell before the Goths, in the great battle of Hadrianople, in 378, and was succeeded by Gratian, who recalled the bishops that had been banished, and ordered "that the churches should be given up to those who held communion with Damasus, bishop of Rome."[38] Paulinus promised to communicate on the subject with Damasus. "Meletius, the mildest of men," continues Theodoret, "addressed Paulinus in a kind and affectionate manner: 'As God,' said he, 'committed to me the care of this flock, and as you have received the charge of another, and as our respective sheep hold the same doctrines, let us, O friend, unite our flocks. Let us throw aside all contests for superiority, and tend with equal assiduity the {282} sheep entrusted to us. If the episcopal chair of this city be to us a matter of contention, let us place the holy gospel upon it, and let us seat ourselves on each side of it. If I die first, thou, O friend, wilt become the only ruler of the flock; but if your death occur before mine, I will, as far as I am able, tend the flock alone.' Paulinus, however, refused to comply with the offer so kindly and affectionately made by Meletius. The general sent by Gratian to execute his orders, after reflecting on what had been stated, gave up the churches to the holy Meletius. Paulinus continued to rule those who had from the beginning separated themselves from the rest of the flock."

S. Athanasius, S. Eusebius of Samosata, S. Gregory Nazianzen, S. Gregory Nyssen, S. Basil the Great, S. Cyril of Jerusalem, S. Pelagius of LaodicŠa, S. Amphilochius of Iconium, and nearly the whole of the East were in communion with Meletius, whereas Paulinus alone was acknowledged by Pope Damasus of Rome, the whole of the West, and Egypt. The Pope sent to him a synodal letter denouncing various heresies which prevailed in the East. Meletius at once summoned a council at Antioch, in 378, and accepted the synodal letter, though addressed to his rival.

Two great saints arose from the rival parties: S. Jerome, who was ordained priest by Paulinus, and S. John Chrysostom, who was the disciple of Meletius, from whom he received deacon's orders.

The Emperor Theodosius resolved to assemble a council in order to settle various affairs concerning the welfare of the Church, and to crush the Macedonian heresy. The bishops, 150 in number, met at Constantinople on May 2nd, 381, and Meletius was appointed to preside. "When the whole assembly of bishops had been ushered into the palace," says Theodoret, "the emperor, without noticing the others, ran up directly to the great Meletius, and embraced him {283} kissed his eyes, lips, breast, head, and the right hand which had crowned him, and exhibited all those demonstrations of affection which would be shown by a dutiful son on beholding a beloved father after a long separation."[39] During the council, Meletius was attacked by an illness which proved fatal. He exhorted the bishops to peaceful courses, and died while the council was sitting. "Where now," asked S. Gregory of Nyssa, in the funeral sermon, "is that sweet calm look, that radiant smile, that kind hand which was wont to second the kind voice?" His name, as S. Gregory observed, expressed the sweetness of his character; and S. Chrysostom adds, that so dear had the gentle patriarch become to the people of Antioch that they had engraved his likeness on their rings, their cups, and the walls of their bed-rooms. His funeral was magnificent; lights were borne before the embalmed corpse, and psalms sung—this latter was "a practice quite contrary to the usual Roman customs," curiously says Sozomen.[40] These honours were repeated in all cities through which it passed, until it rested beside the grave of S. Babylas, at Antioch.

(A.D. 740.)

[Anglican Martyrology of Wilson. Authorities:—Simeon of Durham and Malmesbury.]

There is nothing of much importance to relate concerning this saint, who was minister to S. Cuthbert in Farne, afterwards abbot of Mailros, and finally bishop of Lindisfarne.


(A.D. 821.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—His life by Ardo Smaragdus, his disciple.]

This Benedict, the reviver of monastic discipline, was the son of Aigulf, Count of Languedoc, and served King Pepin and his son Charlemagne as cupbearer. But, at the age of twenty, he resolved to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness with all his heart. From that time forward he led a mortified life in the Court for three years, eating sparingly and allowing himself little sleep. In 774, having narrowly escaped drowning, he made a vow to quit the world entirely. Returning to Languedoc, he was confirmed in his resolution by the advice of a hermit, named Widmar, and, under pretext of going to the Court at Aix-la-Chapelle, he went to the abbey of S. Seine, five leagues from Dijon, and became a monk there. His discipline of himself was most severe. He frequently spent the whole night in prayer, standing barefoot on the ground in a keen frost. On the death of the abbot, the brethren desired to elect Benedict, but he, knowing their aversion to a reformation, left them, and retired to a hermitage, in 780, on the brook Aniane, on his own estate in Languedoc. Here he was joined by the hermit Widmar and other solitaries, who placed themselves under his direction. They earned their livelihood by their labour, and lived on bread and water, except on Sundays and great festivals. In a short while Benedict had three hundred monks under his rule, and he built a monastery; and also exercised the office of general inspector to all the monasteries of Provence, Languedoc, and Gascony. King Louis the Pious, who succeeded his father, Charlemagne, in 814, committed to the saint the inspection of all the abbeys in his kingdom. In 817 he {285} presided at an assembly of abbots, to enforce restoration of discipline in their monasteries. He died at Inde, a monastery near Aix-la-Chapelle, on February 11th, 821, at the age of seventy one; but his festival is usually observed on the following day, which is that of his burial.

[36]   This is a mistake, as Bollandus has pointed out; the cross means the little-horse on which she was extended.

[37]   It is uncertain whether he was first at Sebaste or at Berœa. Socrates says he was translated from Berœa to Sebaste, but there are circumstances which make this statement impossible to reconcile with other facts.

[38]   Theodoret, lib. v. c. 2.

[39]   Lib. v., c. 7.

[40]   Lib. vii., c. 10.

The Papermaker.


February 13.


[Roman Martyrology. It is doubtful whether these martyrs suffered under Caracalla, or under Decius. The Roman Martyrology says "under Decius;" the Acts are silent on this point. Baronius says under Decius, in the year 254; but Decius fell in 251. There exist several editions of the Acts, all apparently derived from the original authentic account of their passion, and differing from one another in no important particular.]

THE blessed Fusca was a young girl of Ravenna, aged fifteen, who, with her nurse Maura, had been instructed in the faith of Christ, and had been baptized by S. Hermolaus. Her parents, who were heathens, were exceedingly annoyed, and endeavoured by persuasion and threats to turn their daughter from her confidence in God; and on one occasion her father was so far exasperated as to rush upon her to strike her, but the mother interposed and restrained him. The PrŠfect Quintianus, {287} hearing of the conversion of Fusca, sent for her, together with her nurse, and having scourged her, ordered the executioner to run her through with his spear. The maiden fell into the arms of Maura, and the old woman, clasping her bleeding mistress, implored the man to despatch her also; this request was readily complied with, and the nurse and her young charge died together.

The relics of these holy martyrs are preserved at Torcelli. In Art they are represented holding a spear.

(ABOUT 259.)

[Commemorated by Greeks, Armenians, and Latins. The ancient Roman Martyrology, called that of S. Jerome, on Jan. 7th, as also the Armenians; another on Feb. 13th; another on Feb. 14th; by the Greeks on Jan. 9th. Usuardus, Ado, and the modern Roman Martyrology on Feb. 13th; some ancient ones on Jan. 10th. There are two editions of the Acts of S. Polyeuctus, one in Latin, the other in Greek, based on the original by Nearchus, who took his body to burial after his death. The following account is a literal translation of the later Acts.]

Whilst the Christians, especially those in the East, were suffering persecution under the Emperors Decius and Valerian, there were two men very friendly, Polyeuctus and Nearchus by name. Now Nearchus was a Christian, but Polyeuctus was a heathen. But when Decius and Valerian could not be satiated with the blood of the saints, they issued an edict that those Christians who would sacrifice to the gods, should be favoured by the majesty of the empire, but that those who refused should be cruelly punished. Which things being heard, Nearchus, who desired to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, lamented because his comrade, whom he loved as a second self, would be left in peril of eternal damnation. Going therefore {288} to his friend, Polyeuctus, he announced to him that on the morrow their friendship must come to an end. And when he answered that death alone could terminate this, Nearchus said, "You speak the truth, we are about to be separated by death." And he showed him the imperial edict. Then Polyeuctus narrated to Nearchus how Christ had appeared to him in vision, and had taken off his dirty vestment, together with his military harness, and had thrown over him a gorgeous silk robe, linking it at his shoulder with a golden brooch, and had mounted him on a winged horse. Hearing this, Nearchus was glad, and having expounded the vision, and instructed Polyeuctus more fully in the faith, his friend believed perfectly, and began to thirst for martyrdom.

Now when Polyeuctus declared himself openly to be a Christian, and rebuked idolatry, being tried by the persecutors, he was for a long time tortured. And when he had been a long while scourged with rods, the tormentors were weary, and endeavoured to persuade him with bland speeches and promises, to return to the worship of the gods. But he, remaining immoveable in the confession of the Lord, and deriding them, was more furiously beaten.

Then came his wife and only son, and she filled the place with her cries, and held out to him his son, alleging his marriage ties, with many tears and sighs, and laboured to call the saint from martyrdom, by the thoughts of his son, of his wealth, and of his friends. But he, divinely inspired, could not be separated from Christ by any temptations, but all the more exhorted his wife to desert her idols and believe in Christ.

Now when the governors saw that the constancy of the martyr was not to be shaken, they pronounced capital sentence against him. And when the martyr heard this, he gave thanks, and praising God, was led to the place of {289} execution, confirming the faithful with his holy exhortations, so that not a few of the unbelievers were converted. Then, turning to the Blessed Nearchus, he announced to him that he should follow him according to mutual agreement; and bidding him farewell, died a glorious death.


[Cologne, Belgian, Treves Martyrologies. The accounts we have of him are not of any great antiquity.]

S. Castor was ordained first deacon, and then priest, by S. Maximus, second bishop of TrŔves. He was appointed to preach the Gospel at Carden, on the Moselle, where is a church founded by him. A popular legend represents him as having asked of a boat which was going up the river with a load of salt, a small quantity of that useful condiment, which was however refused him; but when the vessel was shortly after nigh sinking in a storm, Castor saved it by making the sign of the cross over the tossing waves. His body, or part of it, was translated in after years to Coblenz.

(ABOUT 300.)

[Commemorated by the Greeks with special solemnity on this day. Authority:—A Life written by a contemporary. Anciently, S. Martian was venerated at Constantinople in the Church of S. Peter, with great honour, probably because his relics reposed there.]

Martian was a native of CŠsarea in Palestine. At the age of eighteen he retired to a mountain near that city, where he lived for twenty-five years among many holy solitaries in the practice of all virtues. A courtesan of {290} CŠsarea, called Zoe, having heard of his sanctity, moved by an evil spirit, resolved to endeavour to lead him into sin. One stormy night she presented herself at his door, and cried to be admitted. "Have pity on me!" she pleaded, "I fear the wild beasts, I have lost my way!" Then he admitted her, and when she used all her efforts to fascinate him, and he felt his heart rebel against the law of God, by a sudden act of resolution, he thrust his legs into the fire, crying, "O Martian! how feels this fire to thee now? Yet it is not comparable to that which the devil kindles to consume the sinner."

The woman, horror-struck at his proceeding, was filled with shame at her wicked purpose and manner of life. She burst into tears, and entreated the holy man to give her a rule whereby she might conform her life to the will of God. Then he sent her to S. Paula,[41] who governed a convent at Bethlehem, who received her; and Zoe became a model of penitence, eating only once a day, and sometimes spending two days without food; sleeping on the bare ground, and ever bewailing with many tears her former wicked life.

Martian, after his legs were healed, resolved to escape to some place where he could not be tempted so readily. He therefore found a rock at some little distance from the shore, in the sea, and in that was a cave. Martian spent six years in this solitude, deprived of all human consolations, but full of joy in being separated from all creatures who might draw his heart from God. After the lapse of six years, one stormy day a vessel was wrecked near his islet, and a girl, who was one of the passengers, managed to save herself upon the rock of Martian. The hermit was placed in a sore predicament; he had no wish for the society of a young damsel in his place of retreat, and yet he had no power to drive her from her refuge. He therefore said to {291} her, "My daughter, we must not both live here together. In two months a ship will touch on this island to bring me what is needful for my support. Till then there is bread and water in my cave. Take it, and live here; when the ship arrives, tell the captain how you came here, and he will take you on board and convey you to the main land." Then he flung himself into the sea and swam ashore. For two years he wandered without finding a home, but at last died at Athens. The girl left on the island, had, in the meantime, become attached to the solitary life, and when the boat arrived, she besought the ship-master to give her a warm dress, some wool to spin, and bread and water. The captain readily promised to do as she required, and returned shortly after with his wife, bringing her all she needed; and from that day he came to the island every three months, bringing her what she needed, during the six years she lived there.


[Irish Martyrologies. Sometimes called S. Domnoc.]

This saint, who is greatly reverenced in Ossory, was a pupil of S. David in Wales, but a native of Ireland, a member of the princely house of the Nialls, son of Saran, and fourth in descent from Eugene, one of the sons of Neill Neigilliach. After having spent some time in Wales in the little monastery cultivating flowers and vegetables and bees, he returned to his native island. And as he mounted the ship, his bees swarmed, and settled on the boat. So Modomnoc took the swarm with him to the Emerald Isle. After his return home he served God at Tiprat Fachtua, in the west of Ossory, near the Suir, now Tibrach, in Kilkenny.


(ABOUT A.D. 617.)

[Roman Martyrology. Usuardus, Gallican Martyrologies, &c. Authorities:—Two ancient lives, one by an anonymous author, the other by Marbod, archdeacon of Angers, and afterwards Bishop of Rennes.]

This saint was born about the year 540, and at the age of twenty was sent to the court of King Clothaire I., whose cousin he was. He was made Count of Anjou by King Chilperic, and was about to be married in 578, when, on the wedding morning, the bride was struck with leprosy. This incident so affected Licinius, that he renounced the world; and in the year 600, was elected bishop of Angers, where he set an example of great piety and zeal. He is called in French Lessin.

(ABOUT A.D. 700.)

[Wytford, Maurolycus, Carthusian Mart. of Cologne, Ferrarius and Cansius. Authorities:—Bede, John of Brompton, the Historia Eliensis, &c.]

Ermenilda was the daughter of the saintly queen of Kent, Sexburga, who after the death of her husband, and regency till her son was of age, retired to Ely, where she became abbess. Ermenilda was married to Wulfhere, king of Mercia, and became the mother of S. Wereburga. She used all the influence which the love of her husband gave her to extirpate the last vestiges of idolatry in the country which had been the centre and last bulwark of Anglo-Saxon heathenism. The example of her virtues was the most effectual of sermons, and it was, above all, by her incomparable sweetness, her pity for all misfortunes, her unwearied kindness, that she touched the hearts of her subjects most. Like her mother, it was her desire to offer herself {293} entirely to God; to whom she had finally led back her people; as soon as she became a widow, she took the veil like her mother, and under her mother—for it was to Ely that she went to live in humility and chastity, under a doubly maternal rule. The mother and daughter contended which should give the finest examples of humility and charity. At last, and still following in her mother's steps, Ermenilda, on the death of Sexburga, became abbess, and was thus the third princess of the blood of the Uffings who ruled the flourishing community of Ely. The local chronicle affirms that it was not her birth, but her virtues, and even her love of holy poverty, which made her preferred to all others by the unanimous suffrages of her numerous companions. She showed herself worthy of their choice; she was less a superior than a mother. After a life full of holiness and justice, her soul went to receive its eternal reward in heaven, and her body was buried beside those of her mother and aunt, in the church of the great abbey, which had thus the singular privilege of having for its three first abbesses, a queen of Northumbria, a queen of Kent, and a queen of Mercia.

(A.D. 731.)

[Roman and other Western Martyrologies on this day, though he died on Feb. 10th.]

S. Gregory II. was ordained sub-deacon by pope Sergius I., and under the four succeeding popes he acted as treasurer and librarian to the Church in Rome. When elected pope, he signalized himself by his unwearied zeal in defending the pure faith against heresy, and in combating the Iconoclasts who, protected by the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, waged war against sacred pictures and images.

{294} The tyrant sent officers on several occasions to murder the holy pope; but he was so faithfully guarded by the Romans, that he escaped unhurt. He held the pontificate fifteen years, eight months, and twenty-three days, and died on Feb. 10th, 731.

(A.D. 1006.)

[Gallican Martyrology, Authority:—A Life by Bishop Bernard Guido, compiled from ancient notices and lives of this saint, published by Bollandus.]

The blessed Fulcran was a native of Lodeve, in the archdiocese of Narbonne, in France; and from his childhood exhibited marked piety. He was educated by Theodoric, Bishop of Lodeve, who also ordained him. On the death of Theodoric, the city elected Fulcran to be his successor; and he was consecrated at Narbonne by Archbishop Imerick, on the 4th February, 949. His zeal and humility endeared him to his flock, as did also his abundant charity in time of famine. Having been told of a certain neighbouring bishop that had fallen into heresy, Fulcran, in a moment of indignation, without weighing his words, exclaimed, "The man deserves to be burnt!" Shortly after he heard that the people had burnt the bishop alive. He was at once filled with remorse, fearing lest his rash and uncharitable speech should have been reported, and encouraged the people to commit this crime. Unable to find rest of conscience, he went to Rome, and entering the city, tore the clothes off his back, and bade his companions beat him through the streets with thorn branches, till he reached the Church of S. Peter, where he made his confession with many tears. After this, he returned to his diocese, but again feeling agonies of remorse, revisited {295} Rome, and again a third time, subjecting himself to various penances. When his end drew near, he announced it to his friends, and the rumour spreading, multitudes poured to Lodeve to see him for the last time, and receive his parting benediction. Though consumed with fever, he said Mass in the Cathedral before all, and weeping, prayed for his flock; then he blessed the tomb he had ordered to be prepared for himself, and died peacefully shortly after.

(A.D. 1590.)

[Roman Martyrology. Canonised by Pope Benedict XIV, in 1746.]

S. Catharine, born of the noble Ricci family at Florence, from her infancy exhibited a precocious piety. Being placed in a convent when young, she prayed every day before a crucifix, shedding many tears, and meditating continually on the passion. She afterwards entered the Dominican convent of S. Vincent, in the town of Prato. She was asked to come home, but refused to revisit her parents till they had given her a promise that they would not oppose her vocation. At the age of thirteen she embraced the religious profession.

The grace of God descended upon her in abundant measure, and she is said to have received from our Blessed Lord the ring of espousal, and the stigmata. Being at Prato, she is said also to have seen and conversed with S. Philip Neri, who was then in Rome. At length after a life of great self-denial and continual ecstasy, exhausted by grave sickness, and strengthened with the sacraments of the Church, she departed to her rest, in the year 1590, in the sixty-ninth year of her age, on Feb. 2nd.

[41]   See Jan. 26th.


February 14.

(A.D. 269.)

[All Western Martyrologies. Acts contained in those of SS. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Habachuc.]

THIS saint was a priest of the Roman Church, and was put in chains by Claudius II. for having assisted the martyrs during the Emperor's persecution of the Christians. Calpurnius, the prefect of the city, who had charge of him, intrusted him to the care of Asterius, his chief officer. S. Valentine used his opportunity, and preached the faith to his guard, and restored sight to his adopted daughter. Asterius was converted and baptized with his whole family, and confirmed by a bishop named Callistus. Claudius hearing this, condemned Valentine to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards beheaded. He suffered on the Flaminian Way, on February 14th, a.d. 269.

The body of S. Valentine is preserved in the Church of S. Praxedis, in Rome; but the head in that of S. Sebastian. Much difficulty is caused by the great number of relics of saints called Valentine, commemorated on the same day, but of whose acts nothing is known.

{297} There is a S. Valentine, bishop and martyr, whose body is preserved at Baga, in the Asturias, and the head at Toro, on the Douro.

The body of a S. Valentine, together with that of a S. Albinus, and S, Paulianus, Bishop of Rieux, are preserved at Annecy. The body of another S. Valentine, M. at Rome, was extracted from the cemetery of S. Calixtus, and given by Pope Urban VIII. to the monastery of Socuellamos, in Albacete, in Spain. Another body claiming to be that of a S. Valentine, Roman martyr, is venerated in Belgium, at Hamme; this body was extracted from the catacomb of S. Laurence on the Flaminian Way, and given by Pope Gregory XV., in 1623, to Count Louis Egmont; part of these relics were translated to ArmentiŔres on the Lys, upon the French frontier. Again, another body of a S. Valentine, martyr at Rome, was found in the catacomb of S. Cyriac, and was given in 1651 to the Jesuits of Ghent. The name was so common in the later period of the Roman Empire, that it is probable there were many martyrs of the same name. This is proved by the discovery in the catacombs of three, with the palm branch and bottle of blood. Besides, the ancient Martyrology, called that of S. Jerome, mentions on this day, "In Africa, Valentine and twenty-four soldiers, martyrs," of whom nothing further is known. There was also a S. Valentine, first Bishop of Teramo, in Umbria, who having healed the crippled son of one Crato, a citizen of distinction, was seized and beheaded by order of the governor, about the year 273.


(ABOUT A.D. 390.)

[Greek MenŠa. Authority:—The Philotheus of Theodoret, c. 17.]

Abraham was a native of Cyrus in Syria, and a monk, who, moved by desire to spread the kingdom of God, visited the Lebanon in the quality of a merchant buying nuts. And whilst there he collected the Christians into his hut, and together they recited the divine office in a low tone. But when the heathen heard the subdued strains of music, they supposed that they were engaged in incantations, and assembled about the house, then climbed upon the roof, broke it, and poured down dust and sand upon those within, to choke and bury them. However some of the elders of the village interfered, and the half-stifled Christians were drawn out of the house, and bidden to depart. After this the taxgatherers of the Emperor came round, and the people being hardly able to pay, Abraham went to Emesa and begged the money, and then, returning, paid the tax for the whole village, thereby completely conciliating the barbarous people, who at once insisted on his remaining among them, and teaching them the way of God. He accordingly sought priest's orders, and became their pastor for three years, till he was elected Bishop of Charan. In his new position he remained a monk, living on lettuces and water, and never using a bed for rest, nor fire for warmth. Every night he chanted forty hymns, interspersed with prayer, and slept seated in his chair. The Emperor Theodosius visited him, having heard of his fame, and found him a poor old man in a country smock, unable to speak a word of Greek.


(ABOUT A.D. 470.)

[Commemorated on the same day by Greeks and Latins. Authorities:—A life by a contemporary and a disciple; mention also by Sozomen, who wrote his history before Auxentius had retired from the world, and whilst the saint was setting a holy example in the court of Theodosius the Younger.]

S. Auxentius was the son of Abdas, a Persian Christian, who had fled to Syria from the persecution of king Sapor. In the reign of Theodosius the Younger, Auxentius visited Constantinople, to see his uncle, who had a charge in the imperial guard; but finding that he was dead, he attached himself to the court, and was placed in the fourth company of the guards. He was well built, handsome, active, and strong, and to these bodily perfections was added a lively intelligence, and rigid rectitude. Sozomen says that he was especially commendable at this period for his piety towards God, the purity of his morals, his learning in profane and ecclesiastical sciences, and his courtesy and gentleness.

By this conduct he preserved himself from the contagion of the world, and drew upon himself such heavenly benediction, that, before renouncing a secular life, he received of God the gift of miracles. He associated with pious persons, but chiefly with a solitary named John, who lived as a recluse in the Hebdon, a suburb of Constantinople. He visited this man frequently in company with Marcian and Anthimius, both at that time laymen like himself, but afterwards priests.

At length the voice of God spake so clear in the soul of the young officer, that he could not mistake its import, and renouncing his position in the court, about the year 446, he retired to a mountain in the neighbourhood of Chalcedon, {300} in Bithynia, where he hoped to live unknown to men. His dress consisted in a sheep-skin, and he had no shelter from the rain and snow. When he prayed, he ascended a rock, and then, raising his hands and eyes to heaven, his heart swelled with joy at the thought of his disengagement from all creatures. But he had not spent a month in this retreat before he was discovered by some shepherd boys, who sought, crying, some strayed sheep. When they first saw him, they ran away screaming, thinking he must be some mountain goblin, but he called after them, and asked them the cause of their sorrow; and when they plucked up courage and told him their grief, he bade them be of good cheer, their sheep were on the left side of the mountain. The boys, having recovered their sheep, returned to their parents, who hastened to visit the strange man. They found him on his rock in the attitude of prayer, with uplifted hands. After this, many people resorted to him, and he instructed them in their duty to God, and healed many that were sick and possessed.

The heresy of Eutyches, which consisted in denying the duality of natures in Christ, then imperilled the Church. Nestorius had denied that "God and Man made one Christ." Eutyches denied that in Christ the nature of man and the nature of God remained distinct. "Was Christ of two natures after the Incarnation, or of only one?" he was asked at his trial. Eutyches replied, "Of two natures before the union; but after it, I acknowledge but one." Eutyches being the chief abbot in Constantinople, his views had influenced many of the religious there and throughout Asia Minor. A general council met at Chalcedon, in 451, to try Eutychianism, into which so many had fallen in their eagerness to escape Nestorianism. The Emperor Marcian sent messengers to Auxentius to demand of him a confession of his faith, and his presence at the council. He {301} now inhabited a little cell, which had been built for him. The messengers spoke to him through the window; Auxentius refused to be mixed up with the controversy, and shut his window in their faces. They beat at his door, and endeavoured to break in, but in vain. Then he opened to them his window once more, and asked, "My fathers and my brethren, of what error am I accused?" They replied that his presence was required at Chalcedon. Auxentius said that he believed that the Word had truly taken flesh in the womb of the holy Virgin, ever virgin; and that he adored Him as the only Son of God the Father, and that He was without beginning as to His Godhead, but that He assumed flesh in the end of time; and that it was heresy to declare that the Son of God was man only. This reply showed that Auxentius was profoundly ignorant of the subject of dispute; it was a theologic point that had not been raised when he lived in the world, and it had not invaded and troubled his retreat on Mount Oxia. As the messengers still insisted on his accompanying them, he opened his door reluctantly, and came forth, so fearfully emaciated, ragged, and covered with sores, that their hearts were moved with pity and veneration. As he stepped over the threshold one of his nails fell from off his foot, and one of the company reverently stooped to pick it up. Then the hermit recoiled in shame and indignation, exclaiming, "What! am not I a man like you? I pray you, spare me this distress." As he was too feeble to ride, he was mounted on a car, and thus conveyed to Chalcedon, followed by troops of poor, amongst whom he had distributed the charities placed at his disposal by rich visitors, and surrounded by multitudes bearing their sick, so many of whom were healed by the benediction of the saint, that his guards were astonished and irritated, believing him, at heart, to be an Eutychian. Under the same impression, {302} the monks of the monastery of Phileas, with whom he was placed, treated him with roughness, lodging him in an obscure cell without window; but placing a candle and a basket of dates beside him, to prove him; as also a little child, to watch him. At the end of a week they opened the cell, and found the candle still burning, and the fruit untouched. The child said that the holy man had spent the time in prayer and praises, and that angelic forms had surrounded him, and a dove had brought him food. The saint was next taken to the monastery of the abbot Hypacius, where he was received with much cordiality; and thence he was brought before the Emperor at Constantinople, and required to subscribe to the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon. "If the council has decided nothing contrary to that of NicŠa, if it has declared that Jesus Christ our Lord was truly incarnate, and that the holy Virgin is truly the Mother of God, I will gladly communicate with it." The prince, satisfied with this answer, embraced him, and commanded him to be conducted to the great church. He sent also to the patriarch of Constantinople, to show him the decrees of the Council of Chalcedon, concerning the errors of Eutyches. The saint went to the church followed by a crowd. He read the Acts of the council, and declared that he thoroughly and heartily agreed with them. It is probable that he was then ordained priest, but his historian does not state the time of his reception of holy orders. He then returned to the monastery of Hypacius, and asked to be allowed to inhabit Mount Sinope, instead of Mount Oxia. This mountain was nearer to Chalcedon than that on which he had before resided. It was very high, barren, and deficient in springs. Thither he was conducted by the monks of the monastery of Hypacius, singing hymns; a little hut was erected for his accommodation in a cave, with a window, {303} through which he could receive food, and converse with his visitors. Here he spent some years, becoming more and more emaciated and covered with wounds. Those who visited him in the morning, he retained with him till the hour of Tierce, after which he dismissed them; those coming after, he kept till Sext, which he repeated with them, and then sent them away. He composed hymns and spiritual songs, which he taught to those who came to him, and made them sing them along with him. He daily preached to the people, and gave them instruction in the faith, and how to conduct themselves in the most difficult circumstances. His sermons produced a most striking effect, and many who heard him renounced the world, and adopted the religious habit.

As the saint was one night saying Matins, he suddenly opened his window, and exclaimed thrice, "The Lord be praised!" Then he bent his head and said, "Simeon, the great father, is dead." And it was so, for the news reached Bithynia afterwards, that Simeon Stylites,[42] the great anchorite, had died that night.

Many women having renounced the world, and placed themselves under the direction of Auxentius, a convent was built to receive them not far from his cavern, at the foot of the mountain, and the nuns visited his cell once a week, to receive instruction from his lips. At length, when he knew that he had not many days to live, he came forth from his hut, and visited the convent, where he prayed with many tears for the spiritual welfare of his children. Then he returned to his cave followed by a great multitude. Three days after he was stricken with a sickness which proved fatal; and he died on the 14th February.


(A.D. 1008.)

[Roman Martyrology on October 15th, that being, as Baronius conjectures, the commemoration of a translation of the relics, as it is certain that S. Bruno died on Feb. 14th. Authority:—His life by his kinsman Ditmar, bishop of Merseburg, in his Chronicles, lib. 6; and mention by Marianus Scotus, and other chroniclers of Germany.]

The Sclavonic races in Prussia were some of the last to receive Christianity in Germany. S. Adalbert, bishop of Prague, had gone amongst the Lithuanians and Prussians, bearing the gospel, and, in 997, had fallen a victim to his zeal. Probably obeying the call of S. Adalbert, Bruno, a monk of Magdeburg, a man of good education, and kinsman to Ditmar, bishop of Merseburg, went on the mission to these heathen. Boleslas, king of Poland, sent, urging his coming, and, after having visited Merseburg, where he received episcopal ordination, Bruno, with many companions, entered on his apostolic mission. But the Pagans refused to hear the word of salvation, and, falling on the little band, hacked off Bruno's hands and feet, and put to death with him eighteen men who accompanied him.

[42]   See January 5th.


February 15.

(A.D. 120.)

[Roman Martyrology, and those of Bede, Usuardus, and others; but Usuardus, misled by the name, makes Jovita a virgin martyr. Three different versions of their Acts are published by Bollandus. None of these are the original.]

FAUSTINUS and Jovita were brothers, nobly born. Faustinus, the elder, was a priest; Jovita was in deacon's orders. During a time of persecution under Hadrian, the bishop of Brescia lay concealed, and the brothers strengthened and encouraged the fainting flock. The Acts of their Martyrdom are of such doubtful authority that it is unsafe to affirm concerning them more than that their zeal provoked the fury of the heathen against them, and procured them a glorious death for their faith, at Brescia. Their constancy, under the torments of boiling lead and red-hot iron, was the means of converting one Calocerus, who afterwards also suffered for the faith.

These saints are venerated as the chief patrons of Brescia, where their relics are preserved in the church dedicated under their invocation.


(AFTER A.D. 400.)

[Greek MenŠa. Life from the Philotheus of Theodoret, c. 18.]

Was a hermit at Aschia, in Syria. Theodoret visited him, and was admitted into his cell. There is nothing remarkable related concerning him.


[Gallican Martyrology. Authority:—S. Gregory of Tours, De Gloria Confess., c. 34.]

This pious virgin was a native of Clermont, in Auvergne, where she served God like Anna, constantly attending in the temple. Very little is known of her life, which flowed on in calm simplicity, and would hardly have required a more particular notice than the insertion of her name, were it not for one graceful incident narrated by S. Gregory of Tours, to the effect that as her body was being carried to the cathedral for sepulture, a great company of doves or pigeons fluttered above the mourning train, and settled on the roof of the minster, whilst the last rites were being performed; and this the pious and simple people regarded as a token of divine favour.

(ABOUT A.D. 530.)

[Roman Mart. Authority:—S. Gregory the Great, Dialog., lib. i., c. 12.]

S. Severus was priest to a church in the district of Valeria, which is that part between the Tiber and the Velino, occupied by the cities Riete, Terni, and Narni. S. {307} Gregory relates that on one occasion a message was brought him, whilst he was pruning his vines, that a dying man needed his pastoral assistance. Severus promised to go as soon as he had done cutting the vine he was then engaged upon. When he drew near to the sick man's house, the people ran out to meet him, saying, "Oh, sir! why didst thou delay? the man is dead." Then Severus entered, full of self-reproach, praying to God for pardon. And when he saw the dead body, he burst into tears, and beat his head against the ground, reproaching himself for his neglect. Then the dead man's spirit returned, and he opened his eyes, and sat up. So he made his confession and received absolution, and died shortly after.

The relics were translated to the monastery of MŘnster-Maifeld, near Coblenz, about the year 980, by S. Egbert, bishop of TrŔves.

(ABOUT A.D. 615.)

[Irish Kalendar. Two lives of this saint exist, but both are late, collected from oral tradition, and full of fable.]

The lives of the Irish saints were, for the most part, written from popular tradition, many centuries after their decease. They are characterised by a love of the marvellous and the grotesque, diminishing their historical value. The same quaint legends re-appear in almost all, or with slender modifications. It seems that every Irish saint yoked stags to his plough, and made bells come to him over the water. If some of these fanciful stories are here inserted, it is not that we desire a ready credence to be yielded to them, but rather because it is all that there is to be told about these saints, and some of them possess a strange beauty or are characteristically grotesque.

{308} Berach is said to have been the son of Nemnald, descendant of Brian, Prince of Connaught, by his wife, Finmaith, who took him to be baptized by his uncle, S. Froech. And here follows a strange tale. When Berach was taken from the font, the mother wished to resume her charge of him, but "No," said the bishop, "let me have the bringing up of this little one; God will provide for his sustenance." So S. Froech took him, and when the babe cried for the breast of his mother, his uncle gave him the lobe of his ear to suck, and thence flowed a copious supply of honey. Now, when the boy was grown up, guided by an angel, he went to Glendalough, and there he settled, leading a monastic life under S. Coemgen. One day a wolf fell on a calf, belonging to the monks, and devoured it, then the cow ran lowing painfully about, and Berach, pitying her, bade the wolf come and suck her, and be to her in place of the calf he had eaten.

Now there was in the charge of S. Coemgen, a lad, the son of Duke Colman, who was very ill, and consumed with fever. As the boy fretted in his bed, and cried for apples and sorrel to quench his burning thirst, S. Coemgen said to Berach, "Go forth, my son, taking my staff, and bring me what the sick boy needs." So Berach went forth. And it was midwinter. Then he prayed to God, with whom nothing is impossible, for he was stirred with pity for the fevered child, and he went to a willow, and blessed it; then it thrust forth its little silky flowers, and these swelled and ripened into red apples, and beneath the willow the snow dissolved, and green sorrel thrust up its shoots and spread its delicate leaves; so he gathered of the apples a lap-full, and picked a large bunch of sorrel, and came with them to his master.[43]

{309} And after some time, Berach went forth and built a monastery in a remote spot, Clon-cairpthe, in the desert of Kinel-dobhtha; but a certain wealthy man interfered to pull it down, and to disturb him in many ways. So Berach appealed for protection to the king; and when he came to the court his adversary arrived also, and was admitted by the porter, for he was well-dressed; but the door was shut against the abbot in his tattered clothing. Now it was winter, and the ground was white with snow, and rude boys, seeing the poor man, scantily clothed, shivering outside the gate, began to pelt him with snow-balls, but suddenly they were struck as by an icy blast, that they could not stir. And Berach saw that the snow had been scraped from the palace-door into a great heap. So he approached it, and blew upon it, and a flame crackled in the snow heap, and leaped up, and he stood and warmed himself at the flaming snow. Then, when the king heard what had taken place, he was full of wonder, and went forth, and besought the man of God; so he restored the boys to their usual activity, and quenched the blazing snow-heap.

(ABOUT A.D. 765.)

[On this day Benedictine Kalendar; but Wyon, Menardus, and Ferrarius, on April 17th. The life of this saint was written by his friend and companion in monastic life, Andrew, who was third abbot of the monastery. Walfrid was founder and first abbot; he was succeeded by his son, Gimfrid, and then by Andrew.]

Walfrid, a native of Pisa, was married to a virtuous wife, by whom he had five sons. Both he and his wife then resolved to retire from the world. He founded and governed the abbey of Monte Virido, in Tuscany, near Volterra. There is nothing of remarkable interest in his life.


(ABOUT A.D. 1045.)

[Anciently venerated in Sweden; named in the Cologne and other German Kalendars. Authority:—Joannes Magnus, Archb. of Upsal, Hist. Goth. lib. xvii., c. 18, 19, 20.]

The faith of Christ was first preached in Sweden, as has been already related (February 3rd) by S. Ansgar, in the ninth century; but the Swedes soon relapsed into their former heathenism, partly from want of a sufficient supply of teachers, till the reign of Olaf Scobkongr. This prince sent ambassadors to King Edred (others say Ethelred) of England, to renew the ancient alliance between the two crowns, and desired that some persons might be sent to him, knowing the Christian law, to instruct him and his people. Edred received the proposition with joy; and, assembling the prelates and chief clergy of his kingdom, exhorted them to make choice of proper missionaries for this great work. Sigfried, archdeacon of York, perceiving that most of those present shrank from the undertaking, as one hazardous and laborious, sprang to his feet, and offered himself for the mission. His offer was at once accepted. He was consecrated bishop, and then sailed to Sweden, taking with him his three nephews Sunaman, Unaman, Wiaman, and other companions. He landed in South Gothland, where now stands the cathedral of Wexi÷, which, by the admonition of an angel, he caused to be erected; and there he made some stay, the king being at that time absent in West Gothland. The chief Jarl or earl of those parts came to see the strangers, and observed their conduct with interest; he was even present when Sigfried celebrated the Holy Sacrifice; of all which he gave an account to the king, informing him that he had seen the old man, as he called him, whilst he was standing at the table of his religion, raise {311} above his head a most radiant and beautiful infant, who extended his arm towards him with a smile. The king sent for the saint, and, at his coming, went forth to meet him, and received him with joy; and, after he had been sufficiently instructed in the Christian faith and moral law, was baptized with his queen, and many of his nobles, and gave the saint the royal castle of Husaby to be converted into a church. For this it was well adapted, for the palaces of the Scandinavian kings and nobles consisted of huge halls with sleeping-apartments in what might be termed the aisles, and doors at both ends. By removing the partitions and beds, and blocking up one door, the building at once assumed the appearance of a stately church, of nave and side aisles, separated by huge square pillars of pine-wood. At Husaby, Sigfried long resided, till he had converted all West Gothland to the faith of Christ. But this was not effected without opposition, and his three nephews, Sunaman, Unaman, and Wiaman, to whom he had committed the care of the Church of Wexi÷, were murdered, and their bodies cast into a neighbouring pool. The murderers were discovered, and the king would have put them to death, but they were spared at the intercession of S. Sigfried, but the king forced them to pay a blood-fine, which he offered to the bishop as the nearest kinsman of the deceased. Sigfried, however, refused to receive the money. The relics of the three brothers were miraculously discovered by a light hovering above the pool in which they lay. Their names have been recorded among the saints on Feb. 15th, along with their uncle, S. Sigfried. This loss of his coadjutors did not discourage the saint from the work of the Gospel, which he carried on with great success. He was buried in the cathedral of Wexi÷, and canonized by the Pope in 1155.

[43]   See Giraldus Cambrensis, who refers to the legend in his book, De Mirabilibus HiberniŠ, c. 28, but relates it of S. Keiven.


February 16.

(A.D. 95.)

[There is much confusion between the S. Onesimus, disciple of St. Paul, and his namesake, bishop of Ephesus. Indeed, by many it is supposed that there was only one Onesimus, and that the runaway slave spoken of by S. Paul was afterwards bishop of Ephesus. The Greeks commemorate the first on Feb. 15th, and the second on December 1st.]

ONESIMUS was a Phrygian by birth, slave to Philemon, a person of note of the city of ColossŠ, converted to the faith by S. Paul. Having run away from his master, he providentially met with S. Paul, then a prisoner at Rome, who there converted and baptized him, and sent him, with his canonical letter of recommendation, to Philemon, by whom he was pardoned, set at liberty, and sent back to his spiritual father, whom he afterwards faithfully served. The apostle made him, with Tychicus, the bearer of his Epistle to the Colossians,[44] and afterwards, as S. Jerome[45] and other fathers witness, a preacher of the gospel and a bishop. The Greeks say he suffered under Domitian. There was a {313} bishop of Ephesus, after S. Timothy, of the same name, who showed great respect for S. Ignatius, when on his journey to Rome, in 107, and is highly commended by him.[46] He was conducted to Rome two years after, and was stoned to death.

(ABOUT A.D. 270.)

[Commemorated at Pampeluna, as the apostle of that place, and at Amiens with nine lections, and at Toulouse, where his head is preserved. Besides being mentioned in these Breviaries, his name occurs in the Anglican Martyrology of Wytford, and in the additions to Usuardus, by Molanus. All that is known of him is found in the Acts of S. Firmin, B. M. See Sept. 25th.]

Honestus, a native of Nismes, was found by S. Saturninus, as he passed through that city, to be of so pious and zealous a disposition that he called him to follow him, as a disciple, and after he had fully instructed him, he ordained him priest, and sent him into Spain. He preached with great effect at Pampeluna, where he converted one Firmus, a senator, with all his house, and his son, Firmin, became his most devoted pupil. He so completely succeeded in the destruction of superstition in the minds of the people of Pampeluna, that he persuaded them to entirely overthrow a temple of Diana, which adorned their town. In some martyrologies he is called a martyr, but nothing is known of the place or manner of his death.



The relics of this martyr, found in one of the Roman catacombs, were given by Pope Innocent X., in 1649, to the Jesuit church at Ghent, where they are enshrined in a silver reliquary, and are exhibited on Feb. 16th.

(A.D. 309.)

[Commemorated on this day by the Greeks, and in some Western Martyrologies. On this day also the Roman Martyrology. Authority:—Eusebius; Martyrs of Palestine, c. ii.]

In the year 309, the Emperors Galerius and Maximinus continuing the persecution begun by Diocletian, five pious Egyptians went to visit the confessors condemned to the mines in Cilicia, and on their return were stopped by the guards of the gates of CŠsarea, in Palestine, as they were entering the town. They readily declared themselves Christians, together with the motives of their journey; upon which they were apprehended. The day following they were brought before Firmilian, governor of Palestine, together with S. Pamphilus, and others. The judge, before he began his interrogatory, ordered the five Egyptians to be laid on the rack. After they had long suffered all manner of tortures, he addressed himself to him who seemed to be their chief, and asked him his name and his country. They had changed their names, which, before their conversion, were those of some heathen gods, as was customary in Egypt. The martyr answered according to the names they had given themselves, which were those of {315} prophets, as Elias, Jeremy, Isaiah, Samuel, and Daniel.[47] Firmilian then asked their country; he answered, Jerusalem, meaning the heavenly Jerusalem, the true country of all Christians. The judge inquired in what part of the world that was, and ordered him to be tormented with fresh cruelty. All this while the executioners continued to tear his body with scourges, whilst his hands were bound behind him, and his feet squeezed in stocks. The judge, at last, tired of tormenting them, condemned all five to be beheaded, and this command was immediately executed.

Porphyry, a youth, the servant of S. Pamphilus, hearing the sentence pronounced, exclaimed that the honour of burial ought to be accorded to these men. Firmilian, provoked at this boldness, ordered him to be apprehended, and, finding that he confessed himself a Christian, and refused to sacrifice, "commanded," says Eusebius, "that they should scrape and mutilate him, not as though they were dealing with flesh of a human being, but as with stone and wood, to the very bones, and the inmost recesses of the bowels. This being continued for a long time, he at length perceived that he was labouring in vain, as he continued without uttering a sound, or evincing any feeling, and almost totally lifeless, although his body was dreadfully mangled. But, as the judge was of an inflexible cruelty, he condemned him to be committed to a slow fire. One could then see Porphyry covered with dust, but with his countenance bright and cheerful, advancing on his way to death, covered only with his philosophical garb thrown round him like a {316} cloak, and, with a calm and composed mind, beckoning to his acquaintance and friends, and preserving a cheerful countenance at the stake. When the fire was kindled, which was done at some distance from him, he attracted and inhaled the flame, and then, most nobly persevering in silence, until his last breath, he uttered not another word, save that which he uttered when the flame reached him, a call upon Christ, the Son of God, his helper."

Seleucus, an eye-witness of this victory, was heard by the soldiers applauding the heroism of these martyrs, whereupon he was apprehended, and his head was struck off.

S. Pamphilus is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on June 1st; Elias, Jeremias, Isaiah, Samuel, Daniel, Porphyry, and Seleucus, on Feb. 16th.

The relics of S. Daniel are preserved at Bologna, in the churches of S. Cecilia and S. Gabriel.

(ABOUT A.D. 309.)

[Commemorated by the Greeks on December 21st. The ancient Latin Martyrologies on Feb. 16th. The Acts are very ancient. They were certainly written before 600, when her relics were at Puteoli. Usuardus, whose Martyrology dates 800, speaks of her relics as at CumŠ, to which place they had been translated about the year 600. The Acts are not, however, to be trusted. They have apparently been interpolated by those who were not satisfied with their original brevity.]

S. Juliana was a Christian maiden, the daughter of heathen parents, very beautiful, and of good birth. Her father resolved on marrying her to the prefect Eleusius, but she refused, alleging, as her excuse, that she was resolved not to marry a heathen. Her father, much exasperated, beat her severely, and when he could not shake her constancy he gave her over to the prefect, hoping that the {317} terror of appearing in court would quell her courage. But he was deceived. She enthusiastically confessed Christ, and her betrothed, brutally ordered her to be stripped and beaten before him, for his love was turned into rage and hatred. The more cruelly she was treated, the more resolved she seemed to become, and the more exasperated grew Eleusius. At last he ordered molten metal to be poured over her, and then that she should be thrown into prison, with her feet made fast in the stocks. On the following day he ordered her to be let down into a vessel of molten lead, and then he bade the executioner strike off her head.

The head of S. Juliana is preserved at Hal, in the Tyrol, but the chief portion of her relics is in the church of Notre Dame de Sablon, in Brussels.

(ABOUT A.D. 800.)

[Authorities:—Krantzius, Leslie, and Wion, in Mart. Benedict.]

Patto, abbot of Amabaric, in Scotland, having gone to preach the faith to the heathen in Germany, and being appointed bishop of Verden, in the kingdom of Hanover, Tanco, monk of Amabaric, was chosen abbot; but, desiring to follow his former superior, he resigned his charge, and sought Patto at Verden, whom he succeeded after a while, being the third bishop of that see. He is said to have fallen a victim to a barbarous mob who were enraged with him for denouncing their licentious and savage manners.

[44]   Colos. iv.

[45]   Ep. lxii. c. 2.

[46]   Ep. ad Ephes.

[47]   It is, perhaps, inaccurate to say that these were the names of the five brethren, Eusebius does not affirm as much. He says, "The governor asked the chief of them who he was, when, instead of his proper name, he heard him repeat some name of the prophets, which was done by them, if they happened to have had names given to them by their parents from the names of idols, in which case you would hear them calling themselves Elias, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Samuel and Daniel.... When Firmilian had heard some name like this from the martyr, &c."


February 17.


[Commemorated by Greeks only. Authority:—Nicephorus Callistus, Hist. Eccl. lib. ii. c. 89, of no weight, as he wrote in 1341.]

AFTER the Ascension of our Blessed Lord, S. Philip, with Bartholomew, and Mariamne, his sister, came to Hierapolis, where the people held in special veneration a monstrous serpent. The apostles, filled with holy zeal, rushed into the temple and drove the serpent from its sanctum, but the people, enraged, fell on them, and hung S. Philip to a pillar, and would have executed S. Bartholomew and S. Mariamne, had they not been terrified by the shock of an earthquake. They released SS. Bartholomew and Mariamne, who buried Philip, and then went into India.


Feb. 17.


(A.D. 251.)

[Roman, and almost all Martyrologies. The Acts of this martyr, somewhat fragmentary, are extant.]

The following fragment is all that remains of the Acts of S. Polychronius, slightly epitomized at the commencement:

"In those days the storm rose under Decius CŠsar, and many Christians were slain in the city of Rome. Galba being regent in Rome, Decius went against the Persians. Coming to the city Ponticum, he stayed there, but he was warring. Then Decius went up into the Median hill-country, and gained a victory, and took several cities of the Persians, as Babylon, Bactria, Hyrcania, Cordula, where he found many Christians, whom he slew with tortures. At that time he found in the city of Babylon, a bishop named Polychronius, with the priests Parmenias, Elymas, Chrysotelus, and the deacons Luke and Mucius; whom, when he had taken, he ordered to be led forth and to sacrifice to idols. Then Polychronius answered promptly, 'We offer ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and will not bow to devils, or idols made with hands.' Then Decius ordered him and his clergy to prison. And he built there a temple to Saturn, and made a gypsum image, and gilded it....[48] And when it was ready, he ordered Polychronius, his priests, and deacons, to be led before him, and he questioned them, saying, 'Thou art the sacrilegious Polychronius, who will not keep the commandments of the gods of the Emperor.' But Polychronius answered not. Then Decius said to the clergy, 'Your chief is silent.' Parmenias answered, 'Our chief will not defile his mouth; he keeps the command of Our Lord, Cast not your pearls before swine. Dost thou deem it seemly that what has once been purified {320} should be defiled with dung?' Decius said, 'Ha! we are dung, are we?' and he ordered their tongues to be cut out. Now when they had cut out the tongue of Parmenias,[49] Parmenias exclaimed, 'O blessed father Polychronius, pray for me, for I see that the Holy Spirit rules thee, signs thy mouth, and distils honey thereunto.' Decius said, 'Polychronius, sacrifice to the gods;' but he answered not a word. Then Decius ordered his mouth to be beaten in with stones; and he, as they beat him, raised his eyes to heaven, and spread forth his hands, and so expired."

(A.D. 308.)

[Roman Martyrology. The Greeks on Feb. 16th. See account of SS. Elias, Jeremias, Isaiah, and Companions, Feb. 16th. Authority the same.]

"Immediately after Seleucus, (see p. 316) came the aged Theodulus, a grave and pious man," says Eusebius, "who was of the governor's family, and who, on account of his age, had been treated with more regard by Firmilian than any of his domestics, as also, because he was now a father of the third generation, and had always evinced great fidelity and attachment to himself and family. He, however, pursuing the same cause as Seleucus, when arraigned before his master, was condemned to endure the same martyrdom as our Saviour on the cross. After all the rest came Julian. He had just come from abroad, and had not yet entered the city; but learning on the road the death of the martyrs, he hastened at once, just as he was, to the sight. Then, when he saw the earthly tabernacles of the holy men lying on the ground, filled with joy, he embraced {321} every one, and kissed them all. Upon this, he was immediately seized by the ministers of death, and conducted to Firmilian, who consigned him to a slow and lingering fire. Then Julian, exulting with joy, gave thanks to God with a loud voice, who had honoured him with martyrdom. He was a native of Cappadocia; in his manner he was most religious, and eminent for the sincerity and soundness of his faith."


[Colgan is the only authority for their insertion; he says that in Ireland these saints are venerated on Feb. 17th, and Oct. 11th. These saints are mentioned in the Tripartite Life of S. Patrick, and in that by Jocelin.]

S. Loman is said to have been the son of Tigridia, sister of S. Patrick; his brothers Brochan and Mogenoch, were, like him, also bishops; and his cousins, Mel, Rioch and Mun, (Feb. 6th), sons of his aunt Darerca, were saints and prelates. S. Loman accompanied S. Patrick to Ireland, and when they landed at Temora, the great apostle left Loman in charge of the boat, ordering him to bring it up the river Boyne to Trim. And when one Fortchern, son of Fethlemid, chief of Trim, heard the sweet chanting of Loman on his boat, a great longing came over him to hear the doctrine which exhaled such sweetness. Therefore he came to him and received instruction out of the boat, and he sang with him the songs of Zion. Then came the mother of Fortchern, seeking her son, and she was a Scottish princess, and she saluted the priest of God reverently, and rejoiced that the Gospel of Christ was wafted to the shores of Ireland. And Fethlemid came also, and received instruction, and himself believed, and his whole house; and they were baptized; and he gave Antrim to {322} the church as a possession. Then came Patrick and founded there a church, and placed Loman over it, as chief pastor. Jocelin, the writer of the life of S. Patrick, states that he used a life of the great apostle of the Irish, written by S. Loman, his nephew.

Now when Loman was dying, he called to him Fortchern, that he might consecrate him to be his successor in the See of Antrim, but he would not, "Lest," said he, "it should be thought that the government of this diocese was mine by hereditary right, for my father owned it till he gave it to God." Then Loman recognised this reason as fitting, and he was succeeded by one named Cathald.

Such is the legend, and a sad confusion of history and fable does it prove to be. These are Dr. Lanigan's judicious remarks: "The Tripartite Life makes S. Loman or Luman a nephew of S. Patrick, left in charge of the boat, and adds that, in consequence of the order of the saint, he sailed up against the current of the river as far as Trim. This was too good a story to be slightly passed over by Jocelin, who, to make it still more marvellous, subjoins that, the sails being hoisted, he went up, without the assistance of oars, notwithstanding furious blasts of wind in the direction opposite to its course. He might as well have said that it had been carried in the air; for the channel of the Boyne is so unfit for navigation, that it would be impossible for a boat to proceed as far as Trim, even were both the current and the winds favourable."[50]

There can be no doubt that Loman lived much later, and that he is no other than the bishop Loman of Trim, who lived in the 7th century, of whom nothing authentic is known. Dr. Lanigan carefully traces the fable of the donation of Antrim, and shows that it is partly blunder, partly wilful invention. Colgan patched up the Acts of {323} S. Loman from the stories in the Tripartite Life of S. Patrick, and in Jocelin, who quotes from the Martyrologum Tamlachtense the following passage:—"Loman of Trim and his companions, who were (of the list two only are worth noting) Ossan and Fortchern." "If," says Dr. Lanigan, "by sociis suis we should understand disciples of Loman, Loman must be brought to much later times than those of S. Patrick, for Ossan was, in all appearance, the person of that name whose memory was revered at Rath-Ossan, near the west gate of Trim, and whose death is marked at a.d. 686. Some of them are placed by Colgan himself in still later times. It may be objected that Tirechan, who is supposed to have lived in the 7th century, speaks of Loman as being in S. Patrick's days. But if Tirechan lived so early, the account given of Loman is undoubtedly an interpolation thrust into his work. For no author of that country would have written certain nonsense therein contained, such as that prince Fethlemid, a son of king Leogaire, made a grant of all his territory, property, and family, to Saints Patrick and Loman, and thus to the Church of Trim. Such fables, relative to ecclesiastical endowments, did not appear in Ireland until a much later period."[51]

With regard to Fortchern the same difficulty exists. Notwithstanding that he is made the son of Fethlemid, prince of Trim, he is spoken of in the Tripartite Life as blacksmith to S. Patrick; and if he were a disciple of S. Loman, he must be moved from the 5th to the 7th century. Anyhow he is not to be confounded with Bishop Fortchern of Ross, as does the legend; if he was a bishop at all, it was of Trim.



[Roman Martyrology, and those of Bede, Usuardus, Ado, &c. Colgan says there were twenty-four saints of this name in Ireland, which has led to some confusion. Authority:—An ancient life published by Colgan, and also by Bollandus, but, like all the lives of Irish saints, late, and resting on tradition.]

S. Fintan, abbot of Cluain-Ednech, (Clon-Enach), was born in Leinster, in the sixth century. He was brought up in piety and letters by a holy man, who led a religious life in a place called Cluain-mhic-Trein,[52] under whom he made such progress, as to give early evidence that God was with him. When he was grown to man's estate, he took leave of his spiritual father, and went for further improvement to S. Columba of Trydaglas, (December 13th), with whom he remained, till he was ordered to Cluain-Ednech, in East Meath, where he laid the foundations of a famous monastery, to which many resorted from all parts of Ireland, to place themselves under his direction, (about a.d. 548.) The rules he gave his monks were very strict; they abstained from all kind of meat, butter, and milk; living only upon vegetables; they laboured like hermits in the fields, and tilled their ground with their own hands. This rigour appeared excessive to the other holy solitaries in those parts, and assembling together, they resolved to send a deputation to remonstrate with the saint for imposing a rule which it was impossible for flesh and blood to endure. The night before they were to come to him, with S. Cannech at their head, Fintan was admonished from heaven of their coming; and for further instructions how he was to proceed, was ordered to go out in the morning, and follow the {325} directions of one whom God would send to meet him. The first person he met was one born dumb. Fintan blessed him, and bade him declare to him the will of God. Then the dumb man spake, "All these good things that thou thyself hast begun for God carry out unto the end; but beware of scandalizing others; for some vessels are weaker than are others." The saint observed this lesson, and when the deputation reached him, he was in a compliant mood, and ready to remit the rigour of his rule with regard to those under his direction; but with respect to himself, he persevered in his penitential exercises. Amongst the disciples of S. Fintan was the famous S. Comgal, who afterwards founded the monastery of Bangor, where S. Columbanus, and many other saints, received their education. When this holy abbot had served God in great perfection, from his very childhood to a venerable old age; after a long exercise of humility, charity, patience, meekness to others, and severity towards himself, he called his children about him, and recommending to them his successor, gave them his benediction, and arming himself with the Holy Sacrament, fell asleep in the Lord.

(A.D. 661.)

[Anglican Martyrology. Colgan in his Acts of the Irish Saints notes him on the same day. Same day in the Aberdeen Breviary, but Dempster says he was commemorated in Scotland on Feb. 16th. Among the Irish, Jan. 9th was regarded as a day on which S. Finan was honoured. Authority:—Bede, Hist. Eccl. lib. iii. c. 17, 21, 25, &c.]

England was Christianized from two quarters; Kent and all the south received the Gospel from Rome through the mission of S. Augustine; but the whole of the north-east {326} of the island, called Northumbria, including the modern Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, was Christianized from Iona, the great monastery of S. Columba.

The first four successors of Augustine at Canterbury were all chosen from the Italian monks who had accompanied him to England; but they all belonged to that first mission; whereas the See of Lindisfarne, as it became vacant, was filled from Iona. The Scottish monks, thus placed during thirty years at the head of the Church in the North of England, showed themselves worthy of the saintly school whence they issued, and of the glorious mission to which they were consecrated.

The first monk sent from Iona to replace the noble Aidan, (Oct. 22nd), was S. Finan. His episcopate was prosperous; it lasted ten years, and was not interrupted by any melancholy event, such as those which had troubled the life of Aidan, by taking from him his two royal friends. S. Finan always lived on good terms with king Oswy, and before going to join his predecessor in heaven, he had the happiness of introducing to the Church the heads of the two great Saxon kingdoms. Sigebert, king of the East Saxons, and Peada, king of the Midland English, came to seek baptism at the gates of Lindisfarne. This made way to the conversion of their respective provinces, which this holy prelate furnished with proper missioners; and after some time, he ordained the Scot, Diuma, bishop of the Midland English, and S. Cedd (January 7th), bishop of the East Saxons. In the island sanctuary of Lindisfarne, S. Finan caused a cathedral to be built, not of stone, like that which Paulinus and Edwin had commenced at York, but according to the Keltic custom, and like the churches built by Columba and his Irish monks, it was made entirely of wood, and covered with bent, that long rough sea-grass, whose pivot-like roots bind together the sands on the seashore, {327} and which is still found in great abundance on the island, as well as on the sandy beach which has to be crossed before the traveller can reach Lindisfarne.

Vast as was his diocese, which embraced the two great Northumbrian kingdoms, and great as must have been his influence over the other Saxon provinces, S. Finan seems to have preserved and exercised an authority not less complete over the country of his origin, the kingdom of the Dalriadian Scots. The Scotch annalists all speak of a certain king Fergus, who, by his violence and exactions, had raised the indignation of the Scottish clergy, and called down upon himself a sentence of excommunication from the bishops of Lindisfarne, Finan and his successors. Bede, who is prejudiced against this holy prelate, because of his adhesion to the Keltic ritual, and resistance of the introduction of the Roman usages in vogue in the South of England, nevertheless admits his great virtues, his contempt of the world, love of poverty and disinterestedness, and great diligence in preaching the Word of Life.[53]

[48]   Portion lost.

[49]   A mistake of a copyist for Polychronius, apparently.

[50]   Lanigan, i. p. 222.

[51]   Lanigan. ii., p. 345.

[52]   Whence it appears that S. Fintan was a native of Ross, (in Wexford), for Ross is Ros-mhic-Trein; i.e., Ross of the Sons of Trein.

[53]   Montalembert: "Monks of the West."


February 18.

(A.D. 107.)

[Roman, and all ancient Martyrologies, but commemorated by the Greeks on April 27th. Authorities:—Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., lib. iii., c. 10, 32; Hegesippus quoted by Eusebius.]

AFTER the martyrdom of S. James, and the capture of Jerusalem by the Romans, the surviving apostles and disciples of our Lord are reported to have assembled at Jerusalem to consult who should be appointed bishop in the room of S. James. They unanimously declared Simeon, the son of Cleopas, as deserving to succeed to that important office. He is said to have been cousin-german to our Saviour, for Hegesippus asserts that Cleopas was the brother of Joseph. Hegesippus gives the following account of his martyrdom:—"There are those that take the lead of the whole Church as martyrs, even the kindred of our Lord. Profound peace had lasted for the Church till the days of Trajan, when Simeon, the relative of our Lord, being the son of Cleopas, was waylaid by the heretics, and was accused to the Consul Atticus. After he had been tormented many days, he died a martyr, {329} with such firmness that all wondered, even the president himself, that a man of one hundred and twenty years of age should endure such tortures. At last he was ordered to be crucified."

In art, S. Simeon appears with a cross, and as a very aged man. Some of his relics are preserved in the church of S. James the Great, at Bologna; his head in the Jesuit church at Brussels; other portions of the body at Lisborne, near Lipstadt, in Westphalia.

(A.D. 295.)

[Almost all Martyrologies. Authority:—The very ancient, but fabulous Acts of S. Susanna, VM. See Aug. 11th.]

Claudius and Maximus were brothers of Pope S. Caius, and S. Gabinius, priest in Rome. Maximus was count of the privy purse to Diocletian, and Claudius also held a post of distinction about the person of the emperor. Their family was one of the most noble in Rome, and when Galerius Maximianus, the CŠsar, had lost his wife, Valeria, daughter of Diocletian, the emperor resolved on finding for his son-in-law another wife, of good repute and honourable birth. Hearing of the beauty and modesty of Susanna, daughter of Gabinius, he sent Claudius to the father, to ask the hand of Susanna for the young CŠsar. But Susanna had resolved to love and devote herself to none, save Jesus Christ. When she was brought into the room by her father to hear the flattering announcement, her uncle Claudius would have kissed her, but she gently withdrew her face, saying, "Pardon me, my uncle, but no man has ever kissed me." Then she declared that she was resolved to continue in celibacy, loving none save Jesus. Claudius was surprised {330} and alarmed, for the request of an emperor is the same as a command. He had already received some Christian teaching from his brothers, the bishop and the priest, and now was fully convinced of the power of that religion which could make a young girl reject a princely lover and the prospect of a throne, with every prospect of death as an alternative. He consulted with his brother Maximus, and with his wife PrŠpedigna, and they, together with his sons, Alexander and Cutias, forseeing an explosion of imperial rage, which would sweep them all away, hastened to receive the sacrament of regeneration, and then Claudius and Maximus calmly informed the emperor that the maiden preferred a heavenly to an earthly crown. Diocletian was furious, and gave over Maximus, Claudius, and the whole family to be disposed of by one Julian, a heathen favourite, and apparently personally hostile to Maximus and Claudius. He hurried these brothers, with the wife and sons of Claudius, to CumŠ, where they were burnt alive, and their ashes cast into the river. Gabinius and his daughter Susanna were reserved in prison to suffer later.


[In some authors on Jan. 28th; in others, on Feb. 17th; in others, on Feb, 25th; also on Feb. 18th. Authority:—The Acts of S. Agnes, attributed to S. Ambrose, but of questionable authenticity; and the apocryphal Acts of SS. John and Paul.]

S. Constantia, daughter of Constantine the Great, was afflicted with a distressing disease, apparently scrofula. The Roman general, Gallicanus, being much in favour with Contantine, and having lost his wife, was offered Constantia in marriage by the emperor. Gallicanus was called off to oppose an inroad of the barbarians on Thrace, and he {331} vowed, if he obtained the victory, to accept the faith of Christ. He succeeded in repulsing the enemy, and returned to Rome to find that Constantia had been healed of her scrofula at the tomb of S. Agnes, and that she had persuaded his three daughters, Augusta, Attica, and Artemia, to live with her, as consecrated virgins, near the shrine of the virgin martyr, to whose intercession she attributed her cure. It is difficult to decide what shadow of historical foundation there is for this story.

(A.D. 449.)

[Roman Martyrology; but by the Greeks on Feb. 16th. Authorities:—Nicephorus Callistus, Evagrius, and the letters of S. Leo the Great to Flavian.[54]]

It is not easy to understand the position of any great man of the eventful 4th and 5th centuries, without a general knowledge of the struggles of the Church against one heresy after another for the maintenance of the true doctrine, as to the natures and person of Christ Jesus, and this it is almost impossible to compress into a single article on the life of one actor in that eventful period. S. Proclus, author of the famous "Tome," as it was called, or doctrinal statement on the Incarnation, was patriarch of Constantinople. S. Leo, pious, earnest, Roman-spirited, was bishop of Rome. Domnus was patriarch of Antioch. The great S. Cyril of Alexandria was dead, and had left a large bequest to his successor, conjuring him, "by the venerable and awful mysteries," to befriend his kindred. The archdeacon Dioscorus was elected in his place, and forthwith extorted from the family of Cyril considerable sums, and imprisoned {332} and otherwise outraged the nephews of the deceased patriarch. The new patriarch had previously borne a fair character, but his exaltation revealed a spirit at once tyrannous and sensual. His life became openly scandalous. He deposed from their functions those whom Cyril had favoured; he burnt the house, felled the trees, and hacked up the land of one deacon against whom he bore a grudge.

S. Proclus of Constantinople died on October 24th, 447, and Flavian, the treasurer of the church, was elected to succeed him. He immediately became obnoxious to the eunuch Chrysaphius, by refusing him the fee which the creatures of the court attempted to impose on the patriarchs on their appointment. Theodosius, the younger, was then emperor; his sister, Pulcheria, was at the head of the orthodox party in the Church, and the royal chamberlain, Chrysaphius, godson of Eutyches, supported the heretical party out of motives of hostility to the rival power of Pulcheria, and affection for his godfather. Dioscorus of Alexandria took the same side as Chrysaphius, and these men used their influence to expel from their dioceses bishops who did not satisfy them. Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus, the famous ecclesiastical historian, was anathematized by the haughty patriarch, Dioscorus, in his cathedral at Alexandria; and Theodoret wrote to Flavian of Constantinople, complaining of the outrage. Domnus of Antioch took part with Theodoret, and sent envoys to Constantinople in his favour, whom Theodoret charged with letters, in which he protested his orthodoxy, declaring that he believed in one Christ, truly God, and truly man. "I give Him one worship," he wrote, "yet I know that the Godhead and the flesh are distinct, for the union is without confusion." But now began the great Eutychian struggle. Eutyches, abbot of the principal monastery of Constantinople, denied that Christ, at His incarnation, was "perfect God and perfect {333} man—one, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person." On November 8th, 448, a council of bishops assembled in the synod-room of Flavian's palace, at Constantinople. One of these bishops was Eusebius of DorylŠum, who begged the council to summon Eutyches, asserting that he would convict him of heresy. Flavian observed that an accusation against one so respected was simply astonishing. Could not Eusebius visit Eutyches before invoking the judgment of the council? Eusebius, who was greatly excited, declared that Eutyches had once been his friend; he had repeatedly warned him to desist from heterodox language, he could not, after these vain remonstrances, "go and hear him once again blaspheme." It was, therefore, agreed that Eutyches should be summoned; the council adjourned to the 12th, and the patriarch Flavian, having made profession of his faith in Christ as perfect God and perfect man, of one substance with the Father as to his Godhead, and with Mary as to his manhood, called on the other bishops to declare the true faith on this great doctrine. When they had done so, the council was adjourned till Nov. 15th, when the messengers who had been sent to Eutyches reported that he would not leave the monastery; that he regarded Eusebius of DorylŠum as his personal enemy; and that, as to his faith, he denied that Christ's flesh was of one substance with ours, and that, after the incarnation, there was more than one nature in Him. He also sent a brother abbot to inform the council that he was ill. Flavian answered, kindly, "We have no idea of pressing hardly upon him. We are old friends of his; we will wait till he is better, and then let him come and confess that he has erred." He added, after the sitting was broken up, that "fire itself seemed cold to Eusebius," whose vehemence he had endeavoured to calm down. A third summons was followed, on Nov. 27th, by the personal attendance of {334} Eutyches. His great influence and position was shown by the officers, soldiers, and monks who escorted him, and by an imperial order that the patrician Florentius should have a seat in the synod to see that justice was shown to the accused. The patriarch Flavian asked if Eutyches confessed an union out of two natures. He replied that he did. "My lord abbot," asked Eusebius, "do you confess two natures after the incarnation?" Eutyches attempted to fence with the question, but, when brought to the point, he denied the existence of two natures in the one Christ. Then, all the bishops rose, and Flavian, in the name of the synod, passed sentence of deposition and excommunication against Eutyches. After the council was broken up, Eutyches said, in a low voice, to Florentius, "I appeal to Rome, Alexandria, and Jerusalem." He at once wrote to S. Leo of Rome. Flavian also wrote, and sent a record of what had passed. On Feb. 18th, before Flavian's letter, which was unaccountably delayed, had reached Rome, Leo wrote to Flavian, marvelling at his silence, and requesting him to explain the grounds on which Eutyches had been thus severely punished. Dioscorus of Alexandria was forward in espousing the quarrel of Eutyches. He at once admitted him into his communion, and worked, in conjunction with the chamberlain Chrysaphius, in support of his petition for a general council. Flavian now replied to Pope Leo's letter; he entreated Leo to give a written approval of the sentence against Eutyches, and thereby to preserve Christendom from any fresh disturbance. Before S. Leo could receive this letter, the Emperor Theodosius wrote on March 30th to Dioscorus, announcing his will that a general council should meet at Ephesus, on August 1st. S. Leo sent three legates to attend this council: Julius, bishop of Puteoli; Renatus, a priest; and Hilarus, a deacon. On the 13th of June, he wrote several letters, one of them was his famous {335} "Tome," a doctrinal epistle addressed to S. Flavian, a clear, forcible, intelligible text-book on both aspects of the incarnation-mystery. On the 8th of August, 449, the council met in the church of S. Mary at Ephesus. About a hundred and thirty bishops were present. Dioscorus of Alexandria presided. Next to him sat the papal legate, Julius. It was evident from the first that this council was not free. The eunuch Chrysaphius was at hand to support his godfather Eutyches; veteran troops of Asia, a band of archers, were collected to obey the summons of Dioscorus. After the writ of convocation had been read in due form, Hilarus explained the reason of Leo's absence, and announced that Leo had sent a letter. "Let it be received." The letter was handed in, but, by a pre-concerted scheme, it was put aside unread, as Dioscorus dreaded its effects on the assembled fathers, in its place being read a letter of the emperor to Dioscorus. Eutyches was then introduced. The records of his trial were read, and Dioscorus still kept back the letter of Leo of Rome, promising to read it afterwards. During the reading of the trial a scene of tumult took place. One bishop exclaimed, when he heard that Christ was of two natures, "This language turns the Church upside down!" Another cried, "Let him who says that in Christ are two natures be cut in twain." "Will you endure," asked Dioscorus, "to hear of two natures after the incarnation?" His followers, among the bishops, responded, "Anathema." "I want your voices, and your hands too," said Dioscorus, "if anyone cannot shout, let him hold up his hand." In the uproar, one bishop after another yielded, and re-habilitated Eutyches. Hilarus again vainly attempted to procure a hearing of Leo's letter. Dioscorus, not content with having restored Eutyches, determined on having Flavian of Constantinople and Eusebius of DorylŠum deposed and excommunicated. The scene now became {336} really terrific. The bishops who had acquitted Eutyches against their conscience, struggled hard to escape this new degradation. Several started up, and clasped the knees of the president, Dioscorus. Onesiphorus of Iconium cried, imploringly, "By the feet of your piety, I pray you forbear; Flavian has done nothing worthy of condemnation. If he deserves rebuke, rebuke him; but do not condemn a bishop for the sake of a priest." Dioscorus rose from his throne, and, standing upon the footstool, made a signal with his hand, and exclaimed, "Look you, he that will not sign the sentence has to deal with me. If my tongue were to be cut out for it, I would say, 'Depose Flavian.' Are you making a sedition? Where are the counts?" At the signal, which had been pre-concerted, a body of soldiers, with clubs and swords, rushed in; monks followed; the trembling bishops hid themselves behind the altar, or under the benches, and as they were not inspired with a zeal of martyrdom, they successively subscribed a blank paper, which was afterwards filled with the condemnation of the patriarch of Constantinople. Flavian was instantly delivered to the wild beasts of this spiritual amphitheatre, the monks and soldiers, and the bishops even, most hostile to him, fell on him. Dioscorus, the patriarch of Alexandria, buffeted and kicked,—like a wild ass, says Zonaras,—and trampled his brother of Constantinople. Some of the bishops were locked up in the vestry of the church, and not allowed to leave till they signed the sentence. Hilarus escaped without compromising his fidelity. Nothing is known of the conduct of Julius. Renatus was not there; he had died on his way. Flavian was ordered into exile, but was so bruised by the treatment he had received in the church at Ephesus, that he died three days after, August 11th, in a village of Lydia.

So closed the assembly, which has received its name from {337} an indignant letter of S. Leo: "It was no court of justice, but a gang of robbers." This Latrocinium, it is almost needless to say, has been rejected by the Church; its decrees were reversed by the council of Chalcedon; and S. Flavian, "that second Abel," as he was called by S. Leo, was re-vindicated with honour.

(A.D. 814.)

[Some French Martyrologies. Authorities:—A life by Hariulph the Monk, which is, however, much interpolated; and a later life.]

Angilbert, a man of noble birth, was much loved by Pepin the Short, son of Charles Martel, and by his sons, Charles and Carloman. He was destined to rule one of the Archiepiscopal sees. Nevertheless, he married Bertha, daughter of Charlemagne, after he was ordained priest, with the king's consent, and by her had two sons, Nithard and Harnid.[55] Charlemagne now made his son-in-law duke of the northern coast, and his office was to watch against, and resist the attacks of the Norman pirates. In his perigrinations he often stopped at Centulum, where was a monastery, and prayed with fervour at the tomb of S. Richarius (Riquier). Falling into a dangerous illness, he vowed that, should he recover, he would embrace the monastic life. On his restoration to health, he was summoned to resist the Danes, who had run their boats up the Somme, and were devastating the country on both sides. Angilbert at once went to the tomb of S. Richarius, renewed his vow, and then, buckling on his harness, fell like a thunderbolt on the {338} pirates, and utterly defeated and exterminated them. He at once communicated his intention to his wife and to the king; neither raised any objections, and the gentle Bertha herself took the veil at the same time that her husband donned the monastic habit, in the same house of Centulum, though, probably, in a different part of the monastery.

S. Angilbert was sent on several missions to Rome. On one occasion he was charged to conduct thither Felix, bishop of Urgel, who had been condemned by a provincial council at Ratisbon, for having affirmed that Christ was merely the adopted son of God.

He died twenty-two days after Charlemagne.

[54]   To a great extent taken from Canon Bright's Church History.

[55]   This is stated by the author of his life, and Nithard himself (lib. 4) says of his father, "He begot me, Nithard, and my brother, Harnid, of the daughter of this great king, called Bertha"; but, on the other hand, Eginhard does not mention Angilbert, and this has led Bollandus to express a doubt on the matter.

S. Agatha. See page 136.


February 19.

(A.D. 102.)

[Roman Martyrology. Greek MenŠa on Feb. 17th. Authority:—A Greek life of uncertain authority, written by a native of Solias.]

SAINT AUXIBIUS was a Roman, who coming to Cyprus after the martyrdom of S. Barnabas, was baptized and ordained priest by John Mark, the companion of the apostle whose sister's son he was, and sent to Solias, the modern Lerka, in the north of the island, where he succeeded in converting to the faith a priest of Jove. After Mark had visited Alexandria, he went to S. Paul,[56] who, hearing that there was a deficiency of apostles in Crete, sent Epaphras and Tychicus to Heraclias, the bishop of Crete, ordering him to place Epaphras in the See of Paphos, and Tychicus in that of Neapolis, and to seek out Auxibius, at Solias, who had been ordained by Mark, and consecrate him bishop. Amongst the converts made by Auxibius was one, a native of Solopotamus, his namesake, who was afterwards bishop. Auxibius of Solias is said to have foreseen his future elevation {340} in the following way. One day that he and his pupil were out walking, they came to a tree, where there was pleasant shade, and beneath this they sat down to rest; whereupon Auxibius of Solopotamus fell asleep with his head against the trunk. Then a great multitude of ants, which were running over the bark, came down on his head, and the bishop thought it was a token of the future industry which his namesake would exhibit, and a sign that he would be a suitable person to receive the grace of episcopal orders. Auxibius had the happiness of converting and baptizing his brother Themistagoras, and his sister-in-law Tima; and when he was dying, he bade his disciples not open his sepulchre till the death of Themistagoras, when his brother was to be laid beside him. He then appointed his namesake to succeed him, and expired. But when Themistagoras was about to die, he felt himself unworthy to lie beside his brother, and bade that he should be entombed elsewhere, and "thus it follows," says the writer of the Life of S. Auxibius, "that to this day the sepulchre of the saint remains unopened."

(A.D. 296.)

[Roman Martyrology, and those of Usuardus, Bede, Notker, &c.; by some of these however on the 18th.]

S. Gabinius, priest at Rome, and brother of S. Caius, the pope, was father of S. Susanna, (August 11th), and was brother of the martyrs Claudius and Maximus, (February 18th), to the account of whose Acts the reader is referred. It is uncertain by what death Gabinius glorified God.


(A.D. 304.)

[Roman Martyrology. Name mentioned by Eusebius among the Bishops of Jerusalem. He is also called Zambdas and Bazas. He is said to have baptized a portion of the Theban legion, but nothing authentic is known of him.]

(ABOUT A.D. 451.)

[Irish Martyrologies of Tamlach and Donegal; another Odran on October 27th. Authorities:—The Life of S. Patrick, by Jocelyn, the Tripartite Life, and others.]

There was a noble named Faigle, who bore a bitter hatred against S. Patrick and the Christian faith, and who resolved to murder the apostle. Now Odran, the chariot-driver, heard of his threats, and fearing for his master's life, one day, as they passed near the castle of Foilge, he said to S. Patrick, "Master, for long have I driven thee. For this once let me ride in the chariot, and do thou run beside the horse, and urge it on."

Then Patrick consented, and changed places with Odran. Shortly after Faigle rushed out upon them from an ambush, and thrust his spear through Odran, deeming him to be the apostle. Then Patrick raising his eyes, saw angels bearing the soul of his faithful servant to the mansions of eternal bliss.

(AFTER A.D. 680.)

[Roman Martyrology.]

S. Mansuetus is alluded to by many writers, but nothing of interest connected with him has survived; except the {342} fact that he was present at the Roman Synod in 680, under S. Agatho, in which the heresy of the Monothelites was condemned.

His relics are preserved in the Church of S. Stephen at Milan.

(A.D. 682.)

[Roman Martyrology, and some others. Authorities:—Two lives, one of which, very ancient, is found in MS., in Lombardic characters. Both lives seem to be genuine, and may be trusted.]

Of the early life of S. Barbatus nothing authentic is known.[57] He first comes before us as a priest, zealously combating the superstition of the people of Benevento, who, though nominal Christians, retained much of their ancient heathen belief. The great objects of their veneration in the city were a golden image of a viper, and a sacred tree; and Romuald, the Lombard Duke, son of the famous Grimoald, was not more enlightened than his subjects. It is said of the tree to which they offered religious honours that they were wont to hang on it the skin of a wild beast, and shoot over their shoulders at it. S. Barbatus preached for long zealously against these abuses, but with no result; however he did not desist, but joined to his exhortations fervent prayer and rigorous fasting, for the conversion of the unhappy people. At length he roused their attention by foretelling the distress of their city, and the calamities which it was to suffer from the army of the emperor Constans, who landing soon after in Italy, laid siege to Benevento. In their extreme distress, and still more {343} grievous alarm, they listened to the holy preacher, and renounced their idolatrous practices. Thereupon S. Barbatus gave them the comfortable assurance that the siege should be raised, and the emperor worsted: which happened as he had foretold. Upon their repentance, the saint with his own hand cut down the tree, which was the object of their superstition, and afterwards melted down the golden viper which they adored, of which he made a chalice and paten for the use of the altar. Hildebrand, bishop of Benevento, dying during the siege, S. Barbatus was consecrated bishop on the 10th of March, 663. Barbatus, having been invested with the episcopal character, pursued and completed the good work he had so happily begun, and destroyed every trace of superstition in the diocese over which he presided. In the year 680, he assisted in a council held by pope Agatho at Rome, and the year following, in the sixth general council, held at Constantinople against the Monothelites. He did not long survive this great assembly, for he died on the 29th of February, 682, being about seventy years old, nineteen of which he had spent in the episcopal chair. He is honoured at Benevento among the chief patrons of the town; in Art he appears with the golden viper under his foot, and an axe in his hand.

His relics are said to be preserved in the monastery of Monte Vergine.

(A.D. 1265.)

[Molanus, in his additions to Usuardus. Not extensively known. Authority:—A Life by an anonymous monk of the Cistercian Order, date uncertain, but probably very little posterior to the death of S. Boniface.]

Boniface, son of a goldsmith at Cantersteen, was trained in the Cistercian monastery of Cambre, near {344} Brussels; he afterwards studied, and in 1258, became lecturer on theology in the university of Paris. But after a while his pupils fell off, and he went to Cologne, where he taught with success for two years. He was then appointed bishop of Lausanne, where he laboured to enforce celibacy on the clergy, and some, enraged, armed themselves, and entered the church where he was celebrating mass, with intent to kill him. But a Franciscan friar, seeing his peril, ran through the streets of Lausanne calling for help; and the people crowding into the cathedral, rescued him. Boniface, despairing of his power to accomplish the work, with the consent of the Holy Father, resigned his charge, and returned to Cambre, where he died in 1265. He was buried in the choir. A small chapel has been recently erected at Cambre, by a Recollet father, Francis Vancutzen, in his honour. His festival is solemnized in Brabant in virtue of a bull of Pope Clement XI., in the year 1702. On June 25th, 1600, his relics were exhumed, and placed in a wooden coffer, by Robert Van Ostebaere, abbot of Cambron, and Hautmont, acting under authority for the archbishop of Mechlin. This reliquary was translated to the Church of Notre-Dame de la Chapelle, at Brussels, in 1796, whence a portion was transported on May 9th, 1852, to the Church of Ixelles, of which S. Boniface is patron.

(A.D. 1153.)

[Venerated in the diocese of Troyes in France. Canonized in 1203.]

Belina was a little peasantess of Landreville, in the diocese of Troyes, the daughter of pious parents, who were the serfs of John, Lord of Pradines and of D'Arcy, in the popular legend called John Paterne. She was engaged to a {345} young man in her village of the same humble rank; and her parents asked the Lord of Pradines' permission to allow the marriage to take place, for no serf could marry without the consent of his or her lord. The nobleman made some demur, and declared he chose the beautiful little maiden to be his mistress. She indignantly rejected his sinful proposals, and one day as he surprised her when she was keeping her sheep in a little glen, she defended herself against his violence with such vehemence that he lost all control over himself, and drawing his sword struck at her, and the blade falling on her slender neck, dealt her her death-wound. The peasants, enraged at this act of barbarity, rose in a body and burnt the castle, and would have killed the Lord of Pradines, had he not escaped in disguise. Shortly after, pope Anastasius IV. excommunicated him for the crime, and laid the lordship of Landreville under an interdict for a brief space, till the king confiscated the territory, and the parliament of France condemned John de Pradines to perpetual exile.

Most of the relics of the saintly virgin were dispersed and lost at the Revolution, but some particles of bone remain in a bust at Landreville. The day on which she was killed was September 8th, but her festival is observed with great solemnity at Landreville, on Feb. 19th.

[56]   Col. iv. 10; 2 Tim. iv. 11.

[57]   Butler gives an account of his early life, and his ministry at Moncona, but nothing of all this is found in the two ancient lives. It is taken from a life by Ovid, a monk of Monte Vergine, quoted by Vincent Chiarlanti, but this seems to be no authority.


February 20.

(A.D. 304 AND 310.)

[Roman Martyrology. Not mentioned in any Martyrologies earlier than that of Usuardus. Among these martyrs are some commemorated separately on other days. Sylvanus, by the Greeks, on Jan. 29th; by the Latins, on Feb. 6th. Zenobius, on Oct. 29th. Peleus and Nilus, on Sept. 17th or 19th. Tyrannio is not noticed on any other day, nor named by the Greeks, but they celebrate four martyrs at Tyre, on Jan. 21st, without name given, and, possibly, Tyrannio may be one of these. In the old Roman Martyrology, published by Rosweydus, on this day, Feb. 20th, the notice is of martyrs at Tyre, without any name given, save that of the governor who sentenced them. The authorities for these martyrdoms are Eusebius, lib. viii., c. 7, and Ruffinus in his paraphrase thereon.]

EUSEBIUS, an eye-witness of what he relates concerning these martyrs, gives the following account of them:—"Several Christians of Egypt, whereof some had settled in Palestine, others at Tyre, gave astonishing proof of their patience and constancy in the faith. After innumerable stripes and blows, which they cheerfully underwent, they were exposed to wild beasts, such as leopards, wild bears, boars, and bulls. I, myself, was present when these savage creatures, accustomed to human blood, being let loose upon them, instead of devouring {347} or rending them, as it was natural to expect, refused to touch them, but turned upon their keepers, and others that came in their way. They utterly refused to touch the soldiers of Christ, though these martyrs, pursuant to the order given them, tossed about their arms, which was thought a ready way to provoke the beasts, and stir them up against them. Sometimes, indeed, they were perceived to rush towards them with their usual impetuosity, but, withheld by a divine power, they suddenly withdrew; and this many times, to the great admiration of all present. The first having done no execution, others were let out upon them, a second and a third time, but in vain; the martyrs standing all the while unshaken, though many of them were very young. Among them was a youth, not yet twenty, who had his eyes lifted up to heaven, and his arms extended in the form of a cross, not in the least daunted, nor trembling, nor shifting his place, while the bears and leopards, with their jaws wide open, threatening immediate death, seemed just ready to tear him to pieces; but, by a miracle, not being suffered to touch him, they speedily withdrew. Others were exposed to a furious bull, which had already gored and tossed into the air several infidels who had ventured too near, and left them half dead: only the martyrs he could not approach; he stopped, and stood scraping the dust with his feet, and though he seemed endeavouring to rush forward, butting with his horns on every side, and pawing the ground with his feet, and was urged on by red-hot iron goads, yet it was all to no purpose. After repeated trials of this kind with other wild beasts, with as little success as the former, the saints were slain by the sword, and their bodies cast into the sea. Others, who refused to sacrifice, were beaten to death, or burned, or executed divers other ways." This happened in the year 304, under Veturius, a Roman general, in the reign of Diocletian.

{348} The church on this day commemorates the other holy martyrs, whose crown was deferred till 310. The principal of these was S. Tyrannio, bishop of Tyre, who had been present at the glorious triumph of the former, and encouraged them in their conflict. He had not the comfort to follow them till six years after; when, being conducted from Tyre to Antioch, with S. Zenobius, a holy priest and physician of Sidon, after many torments, he was thrown into the river Orontes. Zenobius expired on the rack, whilst his sides were being laid open with iron hooks. S. Sylvanus, bishop of Emesa, in Phœnicia, was, some time after, under Maximin, devoured by wild beasts in the midst of his own city, with two companions, after having governed that church forty years. Peleus and Nilus, two other Egyptian priests, in Palestine, were consumed by fire. S. Sylvanus, bishop of Gaza, was condemned to the copper mines of Phœnon, near Petra, in Arabia, and afterwards beheaded there with thirty-nine others.


[Venerated at Avila, in Spain, where her relics are preserved. No authority for her story except popular tradition.]

This saint was the daughter of poor parents, near Avila. She was very beautiful, and a youth fell in love with her, and pursued her one day to an oratory, whither she was wont to resort, in the forest. Knowing that his intentions were evil, and that there was no human assistance at hand, according to the popular legend, Paula fled to the crucifix, and, embracing it, besought the Saviour to be her deliverer from the young pursuer. At once a beard sprouted on her chin, and moustaches on her lip. The youth coming in, shortly after, {349} did not recognise her, and asked the bearded personage if he had seen a young damsel pass that way. Paula replied that no one had come into the chapel except herself, whereupon the youth withdrew. It is impossible to say what foundation of truth there is in this curious story, which bears some resemblance to that of S. Wilgifortis (July 20th). The festival of S. Paula is observed on Feb. 20th, at Avila. This story would not deserve notice, but that it is sometimes represented in Spanish art.

(ABOUT 500.)

[According to Wytford, S. Olcan or Bolcan is on this day commemorated in Ireland. In the Tamlacht Martyrology he is called Olcan; in the Donegal Martyrology he is Bolcan. Authorities:—The Tripartite Life of S. Patrick, and that by Jocelin.]

A wild legend is connected with this saint. His mother is said to have been an Englishwoman, married in Ireland, whose husband died, leaving her pregnant. She fell into a fit, and was buried, as dead. But a certain nobleman, passing near her tomb, heard, from within, the wailing of a child, and, opening it, found that a new-born babe lay by the dead mother. It is probable that this is an exaggeration of the simple fact that Olcan's mother died in childbirth, and that he was taken up by a noble. He grew up to be admitted to holy orders, and to receive episcopal consecration. A certain chief, named Saran, had incurred the malediction of S. Patrick, for having driven him from his territories and overthrown the churches he had erected. Saran, having made many captives in war, would have massacred or sold them, had not Olcan hastened to him to {350} implore him to show pity upon them. Saran answered that he would spare the captives, if Olcan would promise him eternal life. Olcan hesitated. Then Saran gave orders for a general butchery. The bishop, rather than see so much innocent blood flow, consented to baptize Saran on the spot. When S. Patrick heard of this he was very angry that the holy Sacrament of Regeneration should be administered thus to an unrepentant and uninstructed tyrant. Olcan, hearing of S. Patrick's anger, ran to seek him, and, seeing him in his chariot, he fell on his knees and implored pardon. Patrick sternly averted his head. Then Olcan flung himself prostrate in the road before the horses. The driver stopped. Patrick ordered him to whip the horses on. The charioteer replied that he dare not drive over a bishop. Then Patrick, after having reproached Olcan, forgave him.

He is said to have studied in Gaul.

(A.D. 531.)

[Roman Martyrology. Additions to Usuardus by Molanus; all modern Martyrologies. Authorities:—A very ancient life written before 880, but not until long after the death of the saint; a second, written before 900; a third by Guibert of Tournai, is late, 1257. The authority of these lives is much diminished by the length of time which elapsed between the death of Eleutherius and their composition.]

Tournai was evangelized by S. Piatus, in 287. During its early history it had seen the blood of martyrs shed. The Vandals had taken possession of it in 407; then it had become the principal seat of the Salic Franks. In the reign of Childeric, there lived in this city a rich and noble citizen, named Serenus, with his wife, Blanda. They had been converted from heathenism, and they honoured the religion {351} they had adopted by their virtues, and especially by their abundant charity to the poor and infirm. In 456, they became parents of a son, whom they named Eleutherius. All their care tended towards educating him in every science befitting his condition. The young Eleutherius so thoroughly responded to their hopes, that S. Medard, who frequented along with him the school of S. Quentin, foretold that his friend would one day become a bishop.

About the year 484, whilst Clovis was marching upon Soissons, the governor of Tournai, an inveterate heathen, profited by his absence, to banish from the city all who bore the name of Christians, or to seize on their goods. Serenus and Blanda were included in the number of exiles. They took their son with them, and found a place of refuge at a distance of about six miles from Tournai, where they built a church, in honour of S. Peter. A number of Christians settled on the same spot, and many heathen, converted by Serenus, helped to swell the colony, which was called Blandinium.[59] The number was now so great that they asked for, and obtained, a bishop, Theodore by name, who died immediately after his ordination. The faithful assembled at Blandinium, charmed by the virtues of Eleutherius, elected him to succeed Theodore, and sent him to Rome. The Pope approved of the choice, and the new pastor was consecrated in the year 487, at the age of thirty. Now it fell out that the daughter of the governor of Tournai was passionately in love with the young and handsome Eleutherius, and she resolved to make the attempt to withdraw him from the ministry of God, that he might serve the world, reposing in her love, and the favour of her father. She found him engaged in prayer, but, regardless of what he was about, she arrested his attention, and declared to him her passion. He started to his feet, and she held him {352} by the mantle. Then, like another Joseph, he cast his mantle from him, and fled from her presence. The unfortunate girl, heart-broken, sank upon the ground, breathless and motionless. When she had been buried, Eleutherius returned, and now, touched at her misfortune, as much as he had been irritated at her offence, he summoned the father, and promised to restore to him his daughter, if he would embrace Christianity. The governor readily consented. Then Eleutherius celebrated the holy sacrifice, and followed by all his clergy and the faithful, went to the tomb, and struck it with his pastoral staff. But God revealed to the bishop that the promise of the father was made without purpose of observing it. The earth shook, but the dead rose not. Eleutherius passed the night in prayers, and returned to the grave on the morrow; again, the earth trembled, but the heart of the heathen governor remained unshaken. On the third day the father came with tears, and all tokens of true contrition, to promise sincere repentance; then the bishop went again to the sepulchre. At his command the stone was rolled away. He called thrice to the dead girl to rise. Then she sat up, and the people uttered a shout of joy. Eleutherius took her by the hand, and presented her to her father. After that, he bade her fast for six days, and, on the seventh, he baptized her, his mother, Blanda, standing as god-mother, and giving her her name. The father, however, would not keep his promise, but withdrew his child from the hands of the Christians, and threatened to disinherit her unless she returned to the worship of idols. A plague breaking out shortly after, in Tournai, was attributed to the incantations of Eleutherius, who was seized at night, severely beaten, and thrown into prison, from which, however, he escaped, and returned to his flock. The plague continued its ravages with such fury, that the city of Tournai was deserted of its inhabitants, {353} who fled into the country, in hopes of escaping the epidemic by isolation. Then the governor was humbled, and, coming to Eleutherius, implored him to forgive his past resistance to the truth, and to baptize him in the faith of Christ. Eleutherius, after having instructed him, and made him prepare, by fasting, for the holy sacrament, afterwards baptized him. The submission of the governor led to the recall of Eleutherius, who re-entered the city of Tournai on the 22nd September; a day which has ever since been celebrated as a feast in that place. Eleutherius at once overthrew the temple of Apollo and the altars of the heathen deities in Tournai; and his labours to convince the pagans were followed by such effect that, in one week, probably that of Pentecost, he baptized as many as eleven thousand persons.

As soon as heathenism was overcome, heresy manifested itself, and, as Eleutherius was himself accused, he visited Rome, in 501, to vindicate his orthodoxy before Pope Symmachus. He combated Arian false doctrine with word of mouth, and with his pen, and made a second journey to Rome, to Pope Hormisdas, to obtain confirmation of his writings. On his return some of the heretics fell upon him, as he left the church after mass one morning, and wounded him so cruelly that he died of his injuries five weeks later, in the 66th year of his age. He was laid in the church built by his father at Blandain, but his relics were afterwards removed to Tournai, of which city he is patron.



[Anglican Martyrology, Molanus, and Saussaye. It is uncertain which of her two festivals, Feb. 20th or July 13th, is the day of her death, and which the day of her translation. In the first edition of Wilson's Anglican Martyrology, Feb. 20th is given as the day of her death; in the second edition as that of her translation; and he is probably right, for he follows in this William Thorne's Chronicle.]

Domneva, or Ermenberga, the wife of Merewald, son of Penda, King of Mercia, had by him three daughters and a son, who were all reckoned by our ancestors among the saints. These were Milburgh, Mildred, Mildgitha, and Mervin. King Egbert having built and endowed the nunnery of Minster, in the isle of Thanet, Domneva became its first abbess, and the house was soon occupied by seventy nuns. But she soon gave up the government to her daughter Mildred, whom she had sent to France, to Chelles, to receive a literary and religious education. The Abbess of Chelles, far from encouraging the young princess to embrace monastic life, employed every kind of threat and ill-usage to compel her to marry one of her relations. But Mildred resisted victoriously. She returned to England to govern the abbey founded by her mother, and to give an example of all monastic virtues to her seventy companions. Very few details of her life have been preserved, which makes the extraordinary and prolonged popularity which has attached to her name, her relics, and everything belonging to her, all the more wonderful. Her popularity eclipsed that of S. Augustine, even in the district which he first won to the faith, and to such a point that the rock which had received the mark of his first footsteps, and which lies a little east of Minster, took and retained, up to the last century, the name of S. Mildred's Rock.


(A.D. 743.)

[Roman Martyrology. In those of Bede, Notker, and Rabanus, on Feb. 21st. Authorities;—A Life by a contemporary, published by Bollandus.]

This saint was dedicated to God from his infancy. About the year 714, he retired to the abbey of JumiŔges, on the banks of the Seine, in the arch-diocese of Rouen. After having spent six or seven years there, his uncle Suavaric, bishop of Orleans, died, and Eucher was elected in his room, with the consent of Charles Martel, mayor of the palace, in 721. But he shortly afterwards incurred the anger of Charles Martel, for some political reason not mentioned by the author of the life of the saint, and Charles, on his return from defeating the Saracens near Tours, in 732, took the bishop from his see, and sent him into exile to Cologne, where, however, his piety and gentleness attracted such general admiration, that Charles ordered him to be removed into the less populous county of Hasbain, or Haspengau, in the territory of LiÚge, under the guard of Robert, the governor of that county, who allowed him to retire into the monastery of S. Trond, where he passed the rest of his days in prayer, glad to rest once more in the peaceful round of cloister life. He was buried at S. Trond, and there his relics are preserved.

In Art, S. Eucher is often represented contemplating a man in the flames of hell, on account of a legend which relates that he saw Charles Martel undergoing torment in the place of the damned. Sometimes he is depicted lying in his sepulchre, with a serpent marked with the arms of France, symbolising Charles Martel, writhing beneath it.


(A.D. 1154.)

[S. Wulfric is also called Ulric. Wilson's Anglican Martyrology; also the Benedictine Kalendar. Authorities:—John Fordun, Roger of Wendover, Henry of Huntingdon, and other historians.]

S. Ulric was born at Lenton, eight miles from Bristol. When he had reached man's estate, he entered holy orders, and was made priest, without much thought of the responsibilities of his calling. He allowed himself to follow the sports of hunting, hawking, and other diversions inconsistent with his profession. One day, whilst out hunting, there came to him a man, who by his dress seemed needy, and begged of him a new piece of money, as alms; for at that time there was a new coinage in England, but it was rare, on account of its recency. Wulfric replied that he did not know whether he had any of the new coins or not; upon which the man said, "Look in thy purse and thou wilt find two pieces and a half." Wulfric did as he was bidden, and found the money, which he at once bestowed on the beggar. Then the man said, "May He, for whose love thou hast done this, give thee a fitting reward. Behold, in His name, I tell thee that thou shalt remove hence, and at length find repose; and He will summon thee to join the communion of His saints." Musing on these words, S. Wulfric felt that his life must undergo a change; and he resolved at once to embrace a very austere life. He therefore retired to Haselbury, in Dorsetshire, to a cell given him by a knight of his acquaintance, and there he served God in cold and want and tears. He wore a suit of chain mail next his flesh, even in winter. One Easter Eve he was troubled by impure thoughts. Then, next day, he went to the church and made public confession of what had befallen him, and humbly besought the prayers of the congregation. {357} His shirt of mail hindering him from kneeling, he privately called to him his patron, and asked him to shorten it. The knight said that he would send the coat to London, and have it cut shorter. "Take a pair of shears and cut," said the recluse. The knight obeyed, and found that he was able to cut it as if it had been cloth.

[58]   In Antrim.

[59]   Blandain, on the high road from Tournai to Lisle.

The Printer.


February 21.

(ABOUT A.D. 298.)

[Commemorated by the Greeks on this day, and also on December 27th. Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus, speaks of the festival of S. Maurice being observed in his time, (a.d. 400); the Acts in Metaphrastes are not altogether trustworthy. This S. Maurice is not to be mistaken for the S. Maurice who suffered at Agaunum, commemorated by the Westerns on September 22nd.]

DURING the persecution by the tyrant Maximian, which began in the army, Maurice and seventy soldiers, amongst whom was his son Photinus, boldly confessed Christ, and refused to sacrifice to the gods. They were deprived of their military belts, a humiliation similar to the striking off the spurs of a knight in the Middle Ages, and were consigned to prison. The head of Photinus, who was only a lad, was struck off; the others were tormented with iron hooks and fire; and then, with cruel malice, they were conducted to a {359} low, marshy spot, near Apamea, were smeared with honey, and tied to stakes, that they might be tormented by wasps, hornets, and musquitos. The brave soldiers of Christ lingered without food for many days, but by the tenth day all were dead; their heads were then cut off, and they were buried.

(ABOUT A.D. 390.)

[Commemorated as Patron at Antonne, between Riome and Gannat, in Auvergne. Commemorated also at Metz. Nothing is known concerning her except a strange story of her having spoken to S. Martin out of her tomb, and told him she was still mourning for having washed her head on a Friday,—a story related by Gregory of Tours. De gloria Confessorum, c. v.]

(A.D. 631.)

[Greek MenŠa, Authorities:—The Chronicon Alexandrinum, Theophanes, the Annals of Eutychius, Anastasius Bibliothecarius, Paulus Diaconus, Cedrenus, &c.]

Zacharias was made Patriarch of Jerusalem in the year 609, having been previously warden of the sacred vessels at Constantinople. During his reign, in the year 614, the holy city was taken by the Persians, and as many as 90,000 Christians are said, by Theophanes, to have perished in the massacre which ensued, the Jews taking the opportunity to revenge themselves on the worshippers of the Crucified: Chosroes having swelled his army with twenty-six thousand Jews, who fought with fury, in the hopes of recovering Jerusalem for themselves. The sepulchre of Christ, and the stately churches of Helena and Constantine, were {360} consumed, or at least damaged, by the flames; the devout offerings of three hundred years were rifled in one sacrilegious day; the patriarch Zacharias, and the true Cross, were transported into Persia. The fugitives of Palestine were entertained at Alexandria, by the charity of John, the Patriarch, who is distinguished by the epithet of the Alms-giver, (Jan. 23rd), and Modestus, abbot of S. Theodosius, was appointed vicar of the scattered and bleeding flock in the Holy Land, during the captivity of their pastor. In 628 Chosroes was deposed and assassinated by his son Siroes, who concluded peace with the Emperor Heraclius, restored to him all that had been taken by his father, the wood of the true Cross, and the captives, amongst whom was Zacharias, who returned to Jerusalem, the following year.

The seals of the case in which the venerable relic had been enclosed before it was carried into Persia, were found unbroken, and it was easy for the patriarch, who had been its fellow-captive, to verify it. Zacharias died in the year 631, two years after his restoration.

(A.D. 646.)

[Of local veneration only, at Nivelles; mentioned in some of the later Martyrologies, and called, sometimes Saint, sometimes the Blessed. Authorities:—A Life contained in the Acts of his daughter, S. Gertrude, (March 17th), Fredegar, and other early French historians.]

The Blessed Pepin of Landen[60] died on February 21st, in 640, or 647, at Landen, where he had also been born, in all probability. He was buried at Landen, but afterwards, at what date is unknown, his body was translated to {361} Nivelles, where he reposes beside the altar of his daughter, S. Gertrude, and where one tomb enshrines his body and that of his wife, S. Itta, and that of his nurse. On the day of his translation, a great procession of people bearing candles accompanied his relics from Landen to Nivelles, and during the long course, the wind, though very violent, did not extinguish one of the tapers, says the story. This prince has always been venerated at Nivelles and Landen as a saint, though he has never been canonized, and every year, in the Rogation processions, his reliquary is borne, together with those of S. Itta or Iduberga, his wife, and S. Gertrude, his daughter. To Pepin is attributed the foundation of the Church of S. Mary, which subsists to this day at Landen.


[Commemorated as a double in the diocese of Basle. Not noticed in any other Kalendar. Authority:—A Life by a contemporary, Bobolen, Priest, at the request of the Monks of MŘnsterthal, who asked him to put in record what had taken place under their eyes.]

S. German was a native of TrŔves, son of a man of senatorial rank, named Optardus. His brother Opthomar became a favourite courtier of king Dagobert, and afterwards with the saintly Sigebert, King of Austrasia, (February 1st.) When German was quite young he was given to S. Modoald, bishop of TrŔves,[61] that he might be educated in all the knowledge of the times. At the age of seventeen the boy longed to devote himself wholly to God, in the monastic life, and as his parents were dead, he asked permission of his preceptor, but Modoald answered that he dare not give him the requisite permission, without the {362} consent of the king. The boy then evidenced his sincerity by at once disposing of all his possessions. With three other boys similarly disposed, he went to the blessed Arnulf, a holy bishop living as a hermit at Herenberg, and grew to man's estate, disciplining himself after the example, and by the advice, of his new preceptor. Then he sent two of his companions to TrŔves to bring to him his little brother, Numerian, who was still quite a child;[62] and migrated first to Remiremont, and thence, followed by numerous monks who had placed themselves under his direction, to the famous abbey of Luxeuil, which was then ruled by S. Waldebert, (May 2nd), who had him ordained priest, and sent him to found a house in the valley of MŘnsterthal, or Val Moutier, in the Jura, which was given to him by a nobleman of great piety named Gundoin, the father of S. Salaberga, (September 22nd.) The MŘnsterthal is a grand and romantic defile, traversed by the Birs. The huge cleft through which the stream passes testifies to the mighty convulsion which has forced the horizontal strata to assume their present almost perpendicular position, resembling gigantic walls on either side of the old Roman road which passed through it, and served as the line of communication between Aventiacum (Avenches), the most important town of Helvetia, and Augusta Rauracorum (Rheinfelden.) German found the old road blocked up with fallen rocks, so as to be impassable. He cleared these away, and enlarged the entrance to the gorge, and settled with his monks at the present Moutier. On the death of his protector Gundoin, Duke Boniface Kattemund succeeded to the government of the land, and crushed the poor people with his taxes. He also traversed the country exacting large sums from all who could pay, and wasting the lands of those who refused. On his appearance in the {363} valley, the abbot German and the prior Randoald went to meet him, to implore him to deal less harshly with the people; but Kattemund repulsed them with insolence, and allowed some ruffians of his suite to fall on the helpless monks, strike off the head of the prior, and transfix the abbot with a lance, whilst they were kneeling in prayer in the church of S. Maurice.


[Mentioned in no late Martyrologies; but commemorated by the Greeks on this day. Authority:—A Life written towards the end of the 9th cent.]

S. George was born of parents who had long been childless, at Cromna, near Amastris, in Paphlagonia. When three years old he fell into the fire, and burnt his hands and foot, but though disfigured by the scars, he was not thereby deprived of the use of these members. When a youth, he secretly fled his home, and retired into a mountain, followed only by one servant, and lived among the rocks the life of an anchorite, with an old hermit whom he there discovered. When this hermit was on the point of death, he bade George go to the monastery of Bonyssa, and serve God there. George obeyed, and among the monks he distinguished himself by the perfection of his self-control. On the death of the bishop of Amastris, the citizens elected George, whose fame had reached them, and sent a deputation to announce to him their choice; but George steadfastly refused the proffered dignity; whereupon the deputation forcibly carried him off to Constantinople, where the patriarch, S. Tarasius, who had known him as a boy, gladly agreed to consecrate him. But the Emperor interfered, and nominated some one else. The patriarch, however, {364} would not yield, as George had been canonically elected. He nevertheless, brought forward the two candidates, and bade the clergy and people proceed to a new election, and decide which was to be chosen. As the lot fell again upon George, the patriarch resolutely rejected the imperial nominee, and ordained George. He was received at Amastris with demonstrations of the holiest joy. During his episcopate Asia Minor was overrun by the Saracens. George, foreseeing an incursion, and finding that the farmers and peasants could not be induced by others to take warning, and flee in time, went round the country, cross in hand, and urged all to escape within the walls. The threatened incursion took place, and the Saracens, not being in sufficient force to take the city, retired without having done serious damage.

[60]   See further, S. Sigebert, (February 1st.)

[61]   He was Bishop of TrŔves about 622, and is honoured as a saint on May 22nd.

[62]   He became afterwards Bishop of TrŔves, and is venerated on July 5th.


February 22.

(A.D. 37.)

[Roman Martyrology; the ancient Roman Martyrology, called that of S. Jerome; Bede; Ado; Usuardus, &c.]

UNDER this name is celebrated the foundation of the see of Antioch by S. Peter the Apostle, before he went to Rome, so that this day may be called the birthday of the Church and Patriarchate of Antioch. Through the coincidence of this Christian festival with some ancient pagan solemnities, its observance has become surrounded by spurious usages, at least among the Northern races. These usages were so rooted into the habits of the people, that the Church, unable to eradicate them, sought to give them a Christian significance, and to substitute the feast of the Chair of S. Peter for the cara cognitio celebrated by the pagans of the Teutonic races on this day. This heathen festival was a commemoration of deceased relations by a great banquet, called in Flanders the dadsisas, or death-wake, on the 27th Feb., the day on which, in the North of Europe, the year was supposed to begin.



[Latin Martyrology. S. Aristion is not mentioned in the Greek MenŠa. No Acts exist, but he is mentioned in the Apocryphal Acts of S. Barnabas. The Apocryphal Synopsis of the 72 Disciples, by Dorotheus of Tyre, does not mention S. Aristion, but S. Jerome mentions him in his Ecclesiastical Writers, c. 18; and Papias quoted by Eusebius, lib. iii., c. 39.]

Aristion is mentioned by Eusebius in his account of the writings of Papias. Eusebius quotes the words of Papias, who says, "If I met with any one who had been a follower of the Elders anywhere, I made a point of inquiring what those Elders taught; what had been said by Andrew, Peter, or Philip; and what by Thomas, James, John, Matthew, or any other of the disciples of our Lord; and what was said by Aristion, and by the priest John, disciples of the Lord; for I do not think that I derived so much benefit from books, as from the living voice of those that are still surviving."

Papias inserted in his book, says Eusebius, many accounts given him, concerning our Lord, by Aristion. It is much to be regretted that the book of Papias is lost.


[Roman, and all Latin Martyrologies. Authorities:—Eusebius, lib. iii. c. 39; and S. Jerome, De Scrip. Ecclesiasticis, c. 9; epist. 29, ad. Theodoram.]

Papias lived at the same time as the illustrious Polycarp, and had the privilege of conversing with those who had known and heard the Apostles, as also with Aristion and the priest John, who had been disciples of our blessed Lord. He wrote a work entitled "The interpretation of Our Lord's {367} declaration," in five books, containing various parables of Our Lord not contained in the Gospels, and other portions of His doctrine. Papias was visited at Hierapolis, where he was bishop, by the daughters of S. Philip the Apostle, and from them also he derived much information. Papias does not seem, from Eusebius' account, to have been a man of much mental power. He says, "He was very limited in his comprehension, as is evident from his discourses." Nor had he much acuteness of judgment, for he is accused by the same writer of having inserted in his work much that was fabulous.

(ABOUT A.D. 304.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—Eusebius, lib. viii., c. 12.]

Nothing more is known of these martyrs than that in the persecution of Maximin they were slain with the axe.


[Commemorated by the Greeks. Authority:—The Philotheus of Theodoret, c. 12. Theodoret knew these hermits, and visited them. He wrote whilst the latter was still alive.]

Thalassius was a hermit, living on the side of a hill near the village of Pillima, in the diocese of Cyrus, in Syria, then governed by the famous Theodoret, the ecclesiastical historian. Under his direction was disciplined LimnŠus, who, as a boy, having a too glib tongue, learned to control it by imposing on himself, for many years, complete silence. LimnŠus afterwards became the pupil of the hermit Maro. {368} He lived in a sort of court, made of rough stone walls, open to the sky, with a little door and window. Through the latter he spoke with the people who visited him, but he suffered none, save the bishop, to enter through the door. One day, as he went forth, he trod on a viper, which bit his heel. He put forth his right hand to withdraw the venomous beast, when it turned and fixed its fangs in his hand, and when he endeavoured to grasp it by the left, it bit his left hand also. He was bitten in more than ten places before he could disengage the serpent, yet he would not allow the wounds to be dressed by a physician, but signed them with the cross. He suffered great torture from the bites, but recovered. He loved to assemble the blind around his cell, and teach them to sing hymns to the glory of God. For their accommodation he built two houses adjoining his cell, and he devoted himself especially to their spiritual direction. Theodoret wrote of him when he had spent thirty-eight years in this manner of life.

(ABOUT A.D. 460.)

[Greek MenŠa. Authority:—Theodoret, in his Philotheus, c. 27; who wrote whilst Baradatus was still alive, and from personal knowledge of him and his manner of life.]

S. Baradatus held so high a position among the solitaries of Syria, that the Emperor Leo, wishing to know the opinion of the Eastern Church touching the council of Chalcedon, wrote to him, as well as to S. Simeon Stylites and S. James the Syrian. All we know of him is derived from the account left us by Theodoret, bishop of Cyrus, who calls him the admirable Baradatus, and says that he manifested his ingenuity in discovering new austerities. {369} Baradatus at first dwelt in a hut, but afterwards he ascended a rock and built himself a cabin, so small that he was unable to stand upright in it, and was obliged to move therein bent nearly double. The joints of the stones were, moreover, so open that it resembled a cage, and exposed him to the sun and rain. But Theodosius, patriarch of Antioch, ordered him to leave this den, and the hermit, at his advice, chose one more commodious. He spent most of his time in prayer, with his hands raised to heaven. His clothing was of leather, which covered him so completely that only his nose and mouth were visible. Theodoret says that his knowledge of heavenly things and doctrinal perspicuity were very remarkable. His answer to the Emperor Leo is found appended to the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon.

(A.D. 556.)

[Roman Martyrology; insertion by Baronius on Feb. 21st, by mistake, apparently, for Maximian died on Feb. 22nd. Authority:-An ancient life used by RubŠus in his Hist. RavennŠ.]

The story of the elevation of Maximian to the Archiepiscopal See of Ravenna is by no means edifying. He was a deacon at Pola, and was one day ploughing up his land when he lighted on an immense treasure, which had probably been hidden at some time of invasion, and never recovered. He was at a loss what to do with this wealth, but, after some consideration, he killed his ox, disembowelled it, and filled the belly with money, and also a pair of tall goatskin boots he possessed. Then he presented all the rest to the Emperor Justinian, and it was quite sufficient to highly gratify the monarch, who, however, claiming all treasure-trove as belonging to the crown, asked Maximian whether he would {370} swear that this was all he had found. "It is all but what is in my boots and belly,"[63] he answered; and Justinian, not seeing through the equivocation, allowed him to depart, promising to reward him for what had been given to the crown. Shortly after, in 546, the see of Ravenna became vacant, and Justinian, remembering the deacon, appointed him to the archiepiscopal throne, and he was ordained thereto by Pope Vigilius, on Oct. 12th, 546. But the people of Ravenna had already canonically elected a successor, and refused to acknowledge the archbishop sent them by the emperor. They even refused to admit him into the city, and he was obliged to lodge in the suburbs. Those who took part with Maximian desired to carry a complaint to the emperor against the citizens, but Maximian would not permit it. He preferred waiting patiently, till the hostility of the people and clergy should die away. His course was wise, and it succeeded in the end, for the people of Ravenna, seeing it was impossible to resist the will of a despot, yielded their right, and admitted Maximian into possession of the see. He spent his ten years of rule in building and adorning the churches, using for that purpose the money "in the boots and belly," and exhibited such gentleness, piety, and prudence, that he gained the love of his flock, and was regarded by them as a saint.


(A.D. 1297.)

[Leo X. allowed the festival of this saint to be celebrated in the diocese of Cortona on Feb. 22nd. Urban VIII. extended this faculty to all congregations of the Order of S. Francis, in 1623. She was canonized by Benedict XIII., in 1728. She is mentioned by Ferrarius in his Catalogue of the Saints of Italy, on this day, but, probably on account of the coincidence of the day with the Chair of S. Peter, the festival of S. Margaret is usually observed in the Franciscan Order on the day following, Feb. 23rd. Authority:—A Life written by Friar Juncta, her Confessor; but he trips lightly over her life before her conversion, saying nothing concerning it but giving only vague allusions. For fuller details we must go to some of the writers on the Saints of the Franciscan Order, and to Ferrarius.]

Margaret was a girl of Alviano, in Tuscany. Her good looks attracted the attention of a young nobleman, and, led astray by passion and love of dress, she deserted her father's house, and followed her seducer for nine years. One day he went out, followed by his dog,[64] and did not return. Some days passed, and, at last, the dog appeared at the door, and, plucking at Margaret's dress, drew her forwards, as though it wished her to follow. She obeyed the animal, and it led her into the wood, and began to scratch where dry leaves and sticks were thrown over a sort of pit. She hastily uncovered the spot, and found the body of her lover, who had been assassinated, frightfully decomposed. The shock was great. She went sorrowfully to her father's house, but he refused to admit his fallen daughter, urged thereto by her step-mother. Then she sought the protection and guidance of the Minorite friars at Cortona, and, after two years, she entered the third order of S. Francis. Her director had now to restrain her enthusiastic self-mortification. Knowing that it was her beauty which had turned her head and led her astray, she wanted to cut off her nose and lips, but was {372} peremptorily forbidden by her confessor. Then she desired to make public confession in Cortona of all her iniquities, but was also forbidden this. She, however, went, one Sunday, to her native village, with a halter round her neck, and, casting herself down before all the congregation, expressed her deep sorrow for the scandal she had caused there. Her conversion took place in 1274, when she was aged twenty-five. The rest of her life was spent in penance for her sin. At length, worn out by her austerities, she died on the 22nd February, 1297, in the forty-eighth year of her age.


Feb. 22.

Her body is preserved at Cortona.

In art, she appears contemplating a corpse, or more often a skull at her feet, whilst a dog plucks at her robe.

[63]   Apparently a vulgar expression used at the period to mean, "All but a mere trifle."

[64]   Catella is the word in Ferrarius; in art it is a dog.

The Bookbinder.


February 23.

(A.D. 251.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—The ancient Acts, which are not, however, in their original form; but the substantial authenticity of the facts mentioned by them there is no reason to dispute.]

THIS blessed saint suffered in the reign of Decius, under the proconsul Paternus. He ordered her to be racked, and beaten with knotted sticks, and then taken back to prison. She seems to have been noble by birth, and wealthy, for the proconsul endeavoured to persuade her to relinquish her religion and marry his son. She, however, constantly refused, declaring that she had chosen Jesus Christ as her heavenly bridegroom. She was then ordered to be executed with the sword, and her body to be cast into a foul place. It was withdrawn from this place by a pious matron; and her relics are preserved at the monastery of RivŠ de Sil, and in the church of Tera, in the diocese of Astorga.


(ABOUT A.D. 327.)

[Roman Martyrology; also the ancient one of S. Jerome. In the Anglican Martyrology of Richard Wilson (1608) on Feb. 24th. Authority:—The genuine Acts; of these there are two editions; one, the most ancient, given by Bollandus, terse and short; the other, by Ruinart, longer.]

Serenus was by birth a Greek. He quitted estate, friends, and country to serve God in an ascetic life. Coming with this design to Sirmium, the modern Sirmisch, or Mitrowitz, in Hungary, he there bought a garden, which he cultivated with his own hands, and lived on the fruits and herbs it produced. When persecution broke out, he hid himself for some months, but, on its abatement, he returned to his garden. One day there came thither a woman to walk. Serenus, knowing that she had come there to meet a lover, gravely rebuked her, saying, "A lady of your quality ought not to walk here at unseasonable hours, and this, you know, is an hour you ought to be at home. Let me advise you to withdraw, and be more regular in your hours and conduct for the future, as decency requires, in persons of your sex and condition." It was usual for the Romans to repose themselves at noon, as it is still the custom in Italy. The woman, stung at our saint's remonstrance, retired in confusion, but resolved on revenging the supposed affront. She accordingly wrote to her husband, who belonged to the guards of the Emperor Maximian, to complain of Serenus as having insulted her. Her husband, on receiving her letter, went to the emperor to demand justice, and said, "Whilst we are waiting on your Majesty's person, our wives in distant countries are insulted." Whereupon the emperor gave him a letter to the governor of the province, to enable him to obtain satisfaction. With this {375} letter he set out for Sirmium, and presented it to the governor, conjuring him, in the name of the emperor his master, to revenge the affront offered to him, in the person of his wife, during his absence. "And who is that insolent man," said the magistrate, "who has dared to insult such a gentleman's wife?" "It is," said he, "a vulgar fellow, one Serenus, a gardener." The governor ordered him to be immediately brought before him, and asked him his name. "It is Serenus," said he. The judge said, "Of what profession are you?" He answered, "I am a gardener." The governor said, "How durst you affront the wife of this officer in your garden?" Serenus: "I never insulted any woman, to my knowledge, in my life; but, I remember that, some time ago, a lady came into my garden at an unseasonable hour, with the design, as she pretended, of taking a walk; and I own I took the liberty to tell her it was against decency for one of her sex and quality to be abroad at such an hour." This plea of Serenus having put the officer to the blush for his wife's conduct, he dropped his prosecution against the gardener and withdrew.

But the governor's suspicions were roused, and he determined to convince himself whether this gardener were a Christian or not. He, therefore, said, "What is your religion?" Serenus at once replied, "I am a Christian." Then, said the magistrate, "Where have you been lurking, that you have not sacrificed to the gods?" The gardener replied, "God reserved me till this day. Now he calls me, and I am ready to magnify his name, that I may inherit his kingdom." Then the governor ordered him to be executed with the sword.

Relics at Billome, in Auvergne. The feast of his translation is observed in the diocese of Clermont, on May 10th.

In art, S. Serenus is represented with a sword in his hand.



[Commemorated at Ancona, and nowhere else.]

The story of this saint, of local celebrity, is somewhat curious. In 1370, a marble tomb, on which was inscribed "Here reposes the body of the Blessed Bishop Priamian, a Greek," was discovered under the tabernacle, in the wall. It was opened, and found to contain a human body. This was now enshrined in silver. But, as yet, nothing was known of who S. Priamian was, beyond what was stated on the tomb. One night, however, he appeared in a dream to an old woman, in Ancona, and announced to her that he had been a martyr for the faith more than a thousand years before, with many details, which do not deserve record, as the revelation is very questionable.


[Commemorated by the Greek Church on this day. Authority:—The Philotheus of Theodoret, c. 24. Theodoret knew personally Polychronius, the disciple of Zebinas, and Moses and Damian were admitted to be disciples of Polychronius at the advice of Theodoret. Theodoret wrote whilst these three latter were still alive.]

Zebinas, a hermit in Syria, was said to have exceeded all others of his time in the ardour of his devotion. The bishop of Cyrus says that he was engaged in prayer night and day, without finding his fervour satisfied, but with ever increasing vehemence of desire. And when people came to him for counsel, it was with an effort that he detached his mind from heavenly meditation that he might attend to {377} them, impatiently desiring release that he might soar again to divine communings. And when very old he had a staff on which he leaned to pray. After his death he was followed in the same ascetic way of life by his disciple Polychronius, on whom Zebinas had impressed his spirit, just, says Theodoret, as a signet stamps its device on wax. His mind was ever in heaven, and when he talked with those who came to see him, it was as though his voice spoke from celestial habitations. Theodoret, the bishop, seeing the old man worn with years and feeble, urged him to take two disciples into his cell to tend him. He consented, and admitted Moses and Damian. But they had not been long with him before they ran away; "For," said they, "his manner of life is too austere for our endurance. He stands all night in prayer, and he urges us to lie down and sleep, but how can we, who are young and robust, do so, when that aged and infirm man stands all night without repose?"

Moses, however, returned to him, and served him continually, but Damian went elsewhere, and found an old cottage, where he served God in an ascetic life, and gradually trained himself to bear fatigue and privations like Polychronius, so that he grew greatly to resemble him. "In both," says Theodoret, "there is the same simplicity, and gentleness, and moderation; the same kindliness in speech, and sweetness in conversation; the same watchfulness of spirit, intelligence of God, and condition of life, labours, vigils, and fastings."


(A.D. 530.)

[Not in Roman Martyrology nor in Greek MenŠa, but inserted in the Martyrology of Peter Galesinius on this day, and by Ferrarius, and also in the Acta Sanctorum by the Bollandists, on this day. Authority:—His Life, by a fellow-disciple.]

Dositheus was page to an officer in the army, who was warmly attached to him, and regarded him almost as a son. He grew up among soldiers, without the least knowledge of the truths of religion. One day he heard a conversation turn on Jerusalem, which was called the Holy City, and he was filled with curiosity to see it, and know why it was regarded as sacred. As a friend of his master's was about to visit Jerusalem, he asked permission to accompany him, and his request was readily granted. On his arrival at Jerusalem, Dositheus went to Gethsemane, and saw there a painting which represented the lost in the flames of hell. This picture produced a most powerful impression upon him, and he stood long before it, wondering what it meant. A lady who was present, seeing the astonishment of the boy, explained to him about the judgment and hell, truths he had not heard before. When he asked her how the terrible place could be escaped, she replied, by fasting and prayer. The instruction of the lady made upon the youth so deep an impression that he at once began to abstain from meat, and pray as best he could. His companions, astonished at the change, said, laughing, that he was going to become a monk. But he had not heard of monks before, and when he ascertained what monks were, he resolved to seek the nearest monastery. He accordingly went to that governed by S. Serides, who was at first disposed to reject him, on account of his rich dress, youth, and delicate complexion; but, at last, overcome by the boy's earnestness, he committed {379} him to S. Dorotheus, as a disciple. Dorotheus saw that the youth was not of sufficiently robust temperament to stand austerities, he, therefore, laboured to correct his self-will, and discipline his hitherto ungoverned tongue. "Well, Dositheus," said the master to him, soon after his admission, "How much hast thou eaten to-day?" "A loaf and a half," answered the boy;—this was equivalent to about five pounds. "That is pretty well," said Dorotheus, smiling. "Try, my son, to be a little more moderate tomorrow." And then, when the lad had taken somewhat less, "How farest thou to-day?" asked the master. "Well, my father." "Then learn to eat sufficient to satisfy thy need, but never devour food in excess of what is necessary." He made the youth serve the hospital. Dositheus was so cheerful, that the sick therein loved his presence. Sometimes he lost patience, and when a sick man provoked him he gave way to temper and bad words. Then, filled with compunction, he ran to his cell, and fell, crying, on the floor, and would not be comforted till his master came to assure him that God would on his repentance pardon the little outbreak. One day, Dorotheus heard the lad talking noisily in the infirmary, so he called him, and said, "Go, my son, and bring a bottle of wine." Thereupon the lad obeyed, and presented the flask to his master. "Oh, Dositheus," said his superior, "the bottle is for thee, not for me. It is the way of the rollicking Goths to drink and shout. I heard thy clamouring, and I thought the bottle of wine was all that was wanted to make a complete Goth of thee." Dorotheus was watchful to check every feeling of vanity and self-will in his young pupil, and for this purpose he sometimes assumed a harshness of manner, which ill-accorded with his natural gentleness. "There, father," said Dositheus one day, "See how neatly I have made the infirmary beds." "Humph!" answered Dorotheus; "thou art {380} an excellent bed-maker, no doubt, but not much of a monk." The steward one day gave Dositheus a knife, which he showed with much elation to his master. "Let me see it," said Dorotheus. And when the youth had put it into his hand, the old monk turned it and studied it. "It will serve me admirably for cutting up my cakes," said Dositheus. "Art thou very much delighted with it, my son?" asked the master. "Indeed, I am, father," was the reply. "Then, my son," said Dorotheus, "give the knife to the other brethren; let them use it, and do thou never touch it again." Dositheus obeyed without a murmur. Dorotheus obliged him diligently to study the Holy Scriptures. Sometimes the youth came to a passage he could not understand, and he sought his master to have it explained. One day, to prove his humility, he said, roughly, "I cannot attend to thee, go to the abbot." Now, he had before advised the Abbot Serides what he should do. So the novice came to him with the book, and said, "My father, explain to me this passage." Then the abbot boxed his ears, and sent him away, saying, "I have other matters to attend to than to teach an ignorant fellow like thee." Then Dositheus went patiently back to his cell, and God illumined his understanding in the reading of the Scriptures. Now, after five years, the lay brother began to spit blood, and exhibit marks of consumption. He had heard it reported that raw eggs would cure this complaint, and the idea haunted him. However, he schooled himself till he was quite able to feel that if they were denied him he would cheerfully submit without a contrary wish. Then he said to Dorotheus, "Dear master, I have heard that raw eggs will stop the blood, but, I pray thee, forbid me to try this remedy." "Well, my son," answered Dorotheus, "thou shalt not prove the efficacy of eggs, but of every other remedy." Accordingly, everything was done for the young novice that {381} could be devised, but he became rapidly worse. Now, when he was ill, Dorotheus said to him, "Dositheus, be instant in prayer, lose not hold of that." He replied, "Master, it is well, pray for me." And when he became greatly exhausted, Dorotheus asked him, "Well, Dositheus, how farest thou in prayer?" "Oh, pardon me, master, I cannot continue." "Then," said the monk, "give it up, my son, but keep God in thy mind as though He were present beside thee." And, after some days, he said to the old man, "Send me away, I care no more." Then Dorotheus answered, "Patience a while, my son. The mercy of God is not far off." And again, after some days, he said, "I can bear no more." Then the old man said to him, "Go in peace, and stand before the Holy Trinity, and pray for us."

Now, some of the monks murmured that Dorotheus should have thus promised heaven, and asked the intercession of one who had never done anything in the way of fasting, and had wrought no miracles. Then Dorotheus said, "He fasted not, but he never gave way to his self-will."

And after some days, there was an old monk taken into the hospital, who prayed to God to show him all the holy fathers of that house who had served Him, and had entered into their rest. And he saw in vision a goodly choir of aged saints, and amongst them was a young lay brother, with hair on which the snows of age had not fallen, and a hectic colour in his cheek. Now the old man told his vision to the brethren, and when he described the novice, the monks knew that it was Dositheus, touching whose sanctity they had doubted.



[Benedictine Martyrology. Authority:—Bede, lib. iii., c. 8.]

Earcongotha, great granddaughter of the first Christian king of the Anglo-Saxons, and daughter of Ercombert, King of Kent, was a nun in the French community of Faremoutier, where so many of the English princesses were trained. She was, says Bede, a virgin of great virtue, worthy in everything of her illustrious origin, and was elevated to become Abbess. Being warned of her approaching end, she went from cell to cell in the infirmary of the monastery, asking for the prayers of her sick nuns. She died during the following night, at the first glimpse of dawn. At the same hour the monks, who occupied another part of the double monastery, heard a sound like the noise of a multitude, who, to the sound of heavenly music, invaded the monastery. When they went out to see what it was, they found themselves in a flood of miraculous light, in the midst of which the soul of the foreign princess ascended to heaven.


[Milburgh or Milburga is inscribed in the Roman Martyrology, and in that bearing the name of Bede. Authority:—William of Malmesbury and Capgrave.]

Perhaps no higher commendation can be passed upon Domneva, the saintly wife of Merewald, than this, that she was the mother of three eminent saints, Milburgh, Mildred, and Mildgytha. S. Milburgh was the eldest, if the names are mentioned according to the order of birth, and this being {383} most probably the case, the date of her birth would be about the year of grace, 662. We are told that from her earliest years she dedicated herself to God with all the ardour of her soul. Whatever she did, she did it for the love of Christ alone, endeavouring always to please Him, and to grow up in His holy service. The world, which would have many attractions to a highborn maiden, she thoroughly despised, and even life itself she counted as nothing, unless it were spent in entire devotion to God. That she might live such a life with greater freedom, and in holy companionship with others, moved by the same heavenly desire, she founded a monastery for religious virgins at Wenlock, in Shropshire. Wenlock Magna it was afterwards called, and Much Wenlock at the present day. Her father, and her uncle Wulfhere, king of Mercia, assisted her in this pious undertaking, and the monastery was endowed with ample possessions, many precious relicts of saints, and great privileges. Milburgh was consecrated abbess by Archbishop Theodore, and under her gentle rule the monastery became like a paradise in which Our Lord had planted the fairest flowers, and the sweetest fruits; and among them all S. Milburgh was pre-eminent in every virtue, and more especialty did the grace of humility shine forth in her. But the more she humbled herself, so much the more did God manifest His power in her by many gifts, enabling her to restore sight to the blind, and life to the dead. Her exhortations, full of heavenly unction, and the teaching of her saintly life, had a marvellous effect in bringing many souls from the darkness of error to the light of truth; and from the death of sin to a life of righteousness. Among the many wonderful things related of her, we read, that one day she went on some good errand to a village called Stoke, (Stoke S. Milburgh), when she was seen by the son of some neighbouring king, who wished to carry her {384} off by force, that he might marry her. He got together a few soldiers, and formed a plan for intercepting her; but she, divinely admonished of the wicked scheme, fled at once with a companion she had with her. On her way she crossed a shallow stream called the Corve. As soon as the rash man heard of her flight, he followed in great haste, but when he came to the stream, the water suddenly rose, and rendered further pursuit impossible; so Christ's lamb escaped, while he stood still, confounded and amazed.

One night she had continued longer than usual in prayer and contemplation, and, overcome with fatigue, fell asleep; nor did she awake till the rays of the morning sun fell upon her. Then she started up so suddenly that the sacred veil fell from her head, but a slanting sunbeam caught it ere it touched the ground, and held it suspended in mid-air until she had time to rouse herself. Then she perceived the divine manifestation, and gave thanks to God, praising and magnifying Him.

Upon another occasion, when she was alone in her oratory, a widow came in carrying her dead child, and fell down at the feet of the holy virgin, and with many tears implored her to intercede for her, that her child might be restored to life. Milburgh rebuked her for making such a strange request, and recommended submission to the divine will. "Go," she said, "and bury thy dead, then prepare to follow thy son, for man is born to die." But the widow refused to go. "No, I will not leave thee, unless thou restore my child to life." When the holy virgin saw the woman's faith, she prostrated herself in prayer by the body of the child. Immediately she was surrounded by fire, which came down from heaven, and so entirely enveloped her, that it seemed impossible that she could escape being consumed by it. One of the sisters coming in, cried out to her to fly, but she had no sooner spoken, than {385} all trace of fire was gone, and S. Milburgh, rising from her knees, presented the now living child to his mother.

S. MILBURGH. After Cahier.

Feb. 23.

S. Milburgh is represented as having authority over the birds of the air, and protecting crops from their ravages. In the parable, the fowls that came and devoured the good seed, were, we know, evil spirits.

After many years spent in good works and holy exercises, she was further purified and fitted, by long and painful illnesses, for those eternal mansions for which her soul longed. When the time of her departure drew near, she called together the whole community, and exhorted them all to have ever before them those two heavenly sentences: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." She then recommended them to choose the most pious of the sisters for their future abbess. Taking leave of them, she said, "Most dear sisters, I have loved you as my own bowels, and have been over you, as a mother over her children, with pious care. A higher call now in mercy invites me, I go the way of all flesh, and commend you to God and the Blessed Virgin." Having armed herself for her passage with the holy sacraments, she gave up her pure soul into the hands of her Maker, on Feb. 23rd, 722, and was buried with honour near the altar, in the church of the monastery.

The monastery was afterwards destroyed by the Danes, and, in course of time, all trace of the tomb of the saint was lost. But many ages after, when it was being re-built by some Cluniac monks, two boys who were playing there, fell through the pavement, and sunk down to their knees in the ground. This accident occasioned some surprise, and the monks had the ground opened, and found human bones in the very foundation of the altar. An odoriferous exhalation, as of a most precious balsam, perfumed the whole {386} church when the tomb was opened, and numerous miracles are said to have taken place at the tomb of the saint; so many, that of all the crowds who went to it, none came away without receiving some benefit. On May 26th, 1501, the relics were enclosed in a costly chest, and deposited in a conspicuous and eminent place in the same monastery, where they remained till its destruction in the time of Henry VIII.

Some ruins of the abbey church, built in the year 1080, may still be seen at Wenlock. They consist of south aisle and transept, and part of the cloister, sufficient to shew the magnificence of the ancient building.

(ABOUT A.D. 870.)

[Inserted in the Roman Martyrology by Baronius. Venerated by the Greeks on November 17th, and his translation on October 17th. Authorities:—Cedrenus and Zonaras.]

S. Lazarus was priest, monk, and painter. During the persecution by the emperor Theophilus against sacred images and monks, Lazarus, as a painter of pictures for churches, was imprisoned, and his right hand was fearfully burnt by the application of red-hot iron plates. On the death of the emperor he recovered his liberty, and painted two celebrated pictures, one at Constantinople, of S. John the Baptist, the other at Chalcis, of the Saviour, on a wall, where there had been a similar picture, which had been scraped off by the Iconoclasts. He was sent to Rome by the Emperor Michael the Stammerer, with some magnificent corporals and altar vestments, minutely described by Anastasius the Librarian. On a second expedition to Rome he died.


(A.D. 1072.)

[Roman Martyrology. A double of the Breviary. Pope Leo XII. gave to S. Peter Damiani the title of Doctor of the Church, and extended to the whole of the Catholic Church the right of venerating him, which was formerly reserved to the Camaldolese, and to the dioceses of Ravenna and Falonza. Authority:—Life by his disciple, John of Lodi.]

Peter, surnamed of Damian, was born about the year 988, in Ravenna, of a good family, the Onesti, that was considerably reduced in circumstances. He was the youngest of many children, and when very young, losing his father and mother, he was left in the hands of a married brother, in whose house he was treated more as a slave than a relation; and when grown up, he was sent to keep swine. One day he became possessed of a piece of money, which, instead of spending on himself, he bestowed in alms on a priest, desiring him to offer up prayers for his father's soul. He had another brother called Damian, who was arch-priest of Ravenna, and afterwards a monk; who, taking pity on him, gave him an education. Damian sent Peter to school, first at Faenza, afterwards at Parma. Having good natural parts, it was not long before Peter found himself in a capacity to teach others. To arm himself against the allurements of pleasure, and the artifices of the devil, he began to wear a rough hair-shirt under his clothes, and to inure himself to fasting, watching, and prayer. In the night, if any temptation of concupiscence arose, he got out of bed and plunged into the river. After this, he visited churches, reciting the psalter whilst he performed this devotion, till the church office began. He not only gave much away in alms, but was seldom without some poor person at his table, and took a pleasure in serving them with his own hands. But at length he came to the resolution of deserting the world, and embracing the monastic life, at a {388} distance from his own country. While his mind was full of these thoughts, two religious of the order of S. Benedict, belonging to Font-Avellano, a desert at the foot of the Apennines in Umbria, happened to call at the place of his abode; and being much edified at their disinterestedness, he resolved to embrace their institute; which he did shortly after. This hermitage had been founded by Blessed Ludolf, about twenty years before S. Peter came thither, and was then in the greatest repute. The hermits, in pairs, occupied separate cells. They lived on bread and water four days in the week: on Tuesdays and Thursdays they ate pulse and herbs, which every one dressed in his own cell: on their fast days all their bread was given them by weight. They never used any wine (the common drink of the country) except for mass, or in sickness: they went barefoot, used disciplines, made many genuflections, struck their breasts, stood with their arms stretched out in prayer, each according to his strength and devotion. After the night office they said the whole psalter before day. This severe life brought on S. Peter a nervous attack of wakefulness, which nearly wore him out, and of which he was cured with very great difficulty. But he learned from this to use more discretion. He gave a considerable time to sacred studies, and became as well versed in the Scriptures as he was before in profane literature. His superior ordered him to make frequent exhortations to the religious, and as he had acquired a very great character for virtue and learning, Guy, abbot of Pomposia, begged his superior to send him to instruct his monastery, which consisted of a hundred monks. Peter staid there two years, and was then called back by his abbot, and sent to perform the same function in the large abbey of S. Vincent, near the Pietra Pertusa, or Hollow Rock. On his recall, he was commanded by his abbot, with the unanimous consent of the hermitage, to {389} take upon him the government of the desert after his death, Therefore, on the decease of the abbot, in 1041, Peter assumed the direction of that holy family, which he governed with wisdom and sanctity. He founded five other hermitages; in which he placed priors subject to his jurisdiction. His principal care was to cherish in his disciples the spirit of solitude, charity, and humility. Among them, many became great lights of the Church, as S. Ralph, bishop of Gubbio, whose festival is kept on the 26th of June; S. Dominic, surnamed Loricatus, the 14th of October; S. John of Lodi, his successor in the priory of the Holy Cross, who was also bishop of Gubbio, and wrote S. Peter's life; and many others. He was for twelve years much employed in the service of the Church by many zealous bishops, and by four popes successively, namely, Gregory VI., Clement II., Leo IX., and Victor II. Their successor, Stephen IX., 1057, prevailed on him to quit his desert, and made him cardinal bishop of Ostia.

Stephen IX. dying in 1058, Nicolas II. was chosen pope, a man of deep penetration, of great virtue and learning. Upon complaints of simony in the Church of Milan, Nicolas II. sent Peter thither as his legate. Nicolas II. dying, after having sat two years and six months, Alexander II. was chosen pope, in 1062. S. Peter had with great importunity solicited Nicolas II. to grant him leave to resign his bishopric, and return to his solitude; but could not obtain it. His successor, Alexander II., out of affection for the holy man, was prevailed upon to allow it, in 1062, but not without great difficulty, and the reserve of a power to employ him in Church-matters of importance, as he might have occasion hereafter for his assistance. The saint from that time thought himself discharged, not only from the burden of his flock, but also from the government, as Superior of the several priories, dependent on his monastery.

{390} In this retirement he edified the Church by his penance and compunction, and laboured by his writings to enforce the observance of discipline and morality. He wrote a treatise to the bishop of Besanšon, against the custom which the canons of that Church had, of saying the divine office sitting, a custom which has unfortunately, since his time, become general; but he saw the propriety of all sitting during the lessons. This saint wrote most severely on the obligations of religious, particularly against their rambling over the country, and going from monastery to monastery. He complained of certain evasions, by which many palliated real infractions of their vow of poverty. He justly observed, "We can never restore what is decayed of primitive discipline; and if we, by negligence, suffer any diminution in what remains established, future ages will never be able to repair such breaches. Let us not draw upon ourselves so base a reproach; but let us faithfully transmit to posterity the examples of virtue which we have received from our forefathers." The holy man was obliged to interrupt his solitude in obedience to the pope, who sent him in the capacity of legate, into France, in 1063, commanding the archbishops and others to receive him as himself. S. Peter there reconciled discords, settled the bounds of the jurisdiction of certain dioceses, and condemned and deposed in councils those who were convicted of simony. He notwithstanding, tempered his severity with mildness and indulgence towards penitents, where charity and prudence required such a condescension. Henry IV., king of Germany, in 1067, married Bertha, daughter of Otho, marquis of the Marches of Italy, but afterwards, in 1069, sought a divorce, and persuaded the Archbishop of Mentz to favour his design, by promising full payment of monies due to him if he complied, and threatening to fall on his territories with an armed band if he refused. For {391} the purpose of sanctioning the divorce, the archbishop assembled a council at Mentz. Pope Alexander II. forbade him ever to consent to such an injustice, and chose Peter Damiani for his legate to preside in the synod. The venerable legate met the king and bishops at Frankfort, laid before them the orders and instructions of the pope, and in his name conjured the king to pay a due regard towards the law of God, the canons of the Church, and his own reputation, and seriously reflect on the public scandal of so pernicious an example. The noblemen likewise all rose up, and entreated their sovereign never to stain his honour by so foul an action. The king, unable to resist so cogent an authority, dropped his project of a divorce; but remaining the same man in his heart, continued to hate the queen more than ever.

S. Peter hastened back to his desert of Font-Avellano. Whatever austerities he prescribed to others he was the first to practise himself, remitting nothing of them, even in his old age. He lived shut up in his cell as in a prison, fasted every day, except festivals, and allowed himself no other subsistence than coarse bread, bran, herbs, and water, and this he never drank fresh, but what he had kept from the day before. He tortured his body with iron girdles and frequent disciplines, to render it more obedient to the spirit. He passed the first three days of every Lent and Advent without taking any kind of nourishment whatsoever; and often for forty days together, lived only on raw herbs and fruits, or on pulse steeped in cold water, without touching so much as bread, or anything that had passed the fire. A mat spread on the floor was his bed. He used to make wooden spoons and such like useful cheap things, to exercise himself at certain hours in manual labour. Henry, archbishop of Ravenna, having been excommunicated for grievous enormities, S. Peter was sent by Pope Alexander II. {392} in the character of legate, to adjust the affairs of the Church. When he arrived at Ravenna, in 1072, he found the unfortunate prelate just dead; but brought the accomplices of his crimes to a sense of their guilt, and imposed on them a suitable penance. This was his last undertaking for the Church, God being pleased soon after to call him to eternal rest, and to the crown of his labours. Old age and the fatigues of his journey did not make him lay aside his accustomed mortifications, by which he fulfilled his burnt-offering. In his return towards Rome, he was stopped by a fever in the monastery of Our Lady, outside the gates of Faenza, and died there, on the eighth day of his sickness, whilst the monks were reciting Matins round about him. He passed from that employment, which had been the delight of his heart on earth, to sing the same praises of God in eternal glory, on the 22nd of February, 1072, being fourscore and three years old. He is honoured as patron at Faenza and Font-Avellano, on the 23rd of the same month.


February 24.

(AFTER A.D. 60.)

[Roman Martyrology, but in leap year on Feb. 25th. So all Latin Martyrologies, with the exception of the ancient Roman one bearing the name of S. Jerome, which does not include any mention of S. Matthias, and the Church of Milan venerates S. Matthias on Feb. 7; the Greeks commemorate him on August 9th. The election of this Apostle is said to have taken place on May 12th. Authorities:—The Acts of the Apostles, and various traditional notices concerning him. The Apocryphal Syriac Acts of S. Matthias are extant.]

SAINT MATTHIAS not having been an Apostle of the first election, immediately called and chosen by our Blessed Lord, particular remarks concerning him are not to be expected in the narrative of the Holy Gospels. He was, probably, one of the Seventy disciples who had attended on Christ the whole time of his public ministry. A vacancy having been made in the college of the Apostles by the suicide of the traitor Judas, the first thing which they did after their return from Mount Olivet—where Our Lord took leave of them on His Ascension—to S. John's house on Mount Sion, was to fill up their number with a fit person; for this purpose, S. Peter informed them that Judas, according to the prophetic prediction, {394} having fallen from his ministry, it was necessary that another should be substituted in his room, one that had been a constant companion and disciple of the Holy Jesus, and, consequently, capable of bearing witness to His life, death, and resurrection. Two were proposed as candidates—Joseph, called Barsabas and Justus (whom some make the same with Joses, one of the brethren of Our Lord), and Matthias—both duly qualified for the place. The way of election was by lots, a way frequently used both among Jews and Gentiles for the determination of doubtful and difficult cases, and especially in the choosing judges and magistrates: and this course the Apostles rather took because the Holy Ghost was not yet given, by whose immediate dictates and inspiration they were chiefly guided afterwards. The lots were put into the urn, and the name of Matthias was drawn out, and thereby the Apostolate devolved upon him. Not long after, the promised powers of the Holy Ghost were conferred upon the Apostles, to fit them for that great and difficult employment upon which they were sent; and, among the rest, S. Matthias betook himself to his charge and province. The first period of his ministry he spent in JudŠa; whence, having reaped a considerable harvest, he betook himself to other provinces. The Greeks, with some probability, report him to have travelled eastwards into Cappadocia (which they erroneously call Ăthiopia). Here, meeting with a people of a fierce and intractable temper, he was treated by them with great rudeness and inhumanity; and from them, after all his labour and sufferings, and a numerous conversion of men to Christianity, he obtained at last the crown of martyrdom, about the year of Christ, 64. Little certain information can be ascertained concerning the manner of his death; but the Greek MenŠa, which are corroborated by several ancient breviaries, relate that he was crucified, and that as Judas was {395} hanged upon a tree, so Matthias suffered upon a cross. His body is said to have been kept a long time at Jerusalem, thence thought to have been translated to Rome by S. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, where some supposed portions of it are shown with great veneration at this day; though others contend that his relics were brought to and are still preserved at TrŔves. Among many apocryphal writings attributed to the Apostles, there was a Gospel published under his name, mentioned by the ancient ecclesiastical historians, and condemned with the rest by Gelasius, Bishop of Rome, as it had been rejected by others before him.


Feb. 24.

S. Matthias is seldom represented in works of art; when his figure does occur, he generally carries an axe or halbert, sometimes a spear or lance, occasionally a book and a stone. The Greeks represent S. Matthias as an old man with a rounded beard.

(A.D. 259.)

[Roman and other Western Martyrologies. Authority:—The very interesting letter written by these Martyrs, when in prison, to their brethren, with the conclusion, relating their passion, by an eye-witness.]

The persecution raised by Valerian had raged two years, during which, many had received the crown of martyrdom, and amongst others, S. Cyprian, in September, 258. The proconsul, Galerius Maximus, who had pronounced sentence on that saint, dying soon after, the procurator, Solon, continued the persecution, waiting for the arrival of a new proconsul from Rome. After some days, a sedition was raised in Carthage against him, in which many were killed. Solon, instead of making search after the perpetrators of {396} the riot, vented his fury upon the Christians, knowing that this would be agreeable to the idolaters. Accordingly, he caused eight Christians, all disciples of S. Cyprian, and most of them of the clergy, to be apprehended. "As soon as we were taken," say the martyrs, "we were given in custody to the officers of the quarter. The governor's soldiers told us that we were to be condemned to the flames; then we prayed to God, with great fervour, to be delivered from that punishment, and he, in whose hands are the hearts of men, was pleased to grant our request. The governor altered his first intent, and ordered us into a very dark and incommodious prison, where we found the priest Victor, and some others; but we were not dismayed at the filth and darkness of the place, our faith and joy in the Holy Ghost reconciled us to our sufferings in that place, though they were such as it is not easy for words to describe; but the greater our trials, the greater is He who overcomes them in us. Our brother Rhenus in the meantime had a vision, in which he saw several of the prisoners going out of the jail with a lighted lamp preceding each of them, whilst others, who had no such lamp, stayed behind. He discerned us in this vision, and assured us that we were of the number of those who went forth with lamps. This gave us great joy, for we understood that the lamp represented Christ, the true Light, and that we were to follow Him by martyrdom.

"The next day we were sent for by the governor, to be examined. It was a triumph to us to be conducted, as a spectacle, through the market place and the streets, with our chains rattling. The soldiers, who knew not where the governor would hear us, dragged us from place to place till, at length, he ordered us to be brought into his closet. He put several questions to us; our answers were modest, but firm: at length we were remanded to prison; here we prepared ourselves for new conflicts. The sharpest trial was {397} that which we underwent through hunger and thirst, the governor having commanded that we should be kept without meat and drink for several days, insomuch that water was refused us after our work; yet Flavian the deacon added great voluntary austerities to these hardships, often bestowing on others that little refreshment which was most sparingly allowed us at the public charge.

"God was pleased himself to comfort us in this our extreme misery, by a vision which he vouchsafed to the priest Victor, who suffered martyrdom a few days after. 'I saw last night,' said he to us, 'a child, whose countenance was of a wonderful brightness, enter the prison. He took us to all parts to make us go out, but there was no outlet; then he said to me,—Thou art still concerned at being retained here, but be not discouraged, I am with thee: carry these tidings to thy companions, and let them know that they shall have a more glorious crown. I asked him where heaven was; the child replied, Beyond the world.' Victor then desired to be shown the place of the blessed, but the child in the vision reprimanded him gently, saying, 'Where then would be thy faith?' Victor said, 'I cannot retain what thou dost command me: tell me a sign that I may give to my companions.' He answered, 'Give them the sign of Jacob, that is, his mystical ladder, reaching to the heavens.'" Soon after this vision Victor was put to death. "This vision," continues the letter of the martyrs, "filled us with joy."

"God gave us, the night following, another assurance of his mercy, by a vision to our sister Quartillosia, a fellow-prisoner, whose husband and son had suffered death for Christ three days before, and who followed them by martyrdom a few days after. 'I saw,' says she, 'my son, who suffered; he was in the prison sitting on a vessel of water, and he said to me,—God has seen thy sufferings. Then {398} entered a young man, of a wonderful stature, and he said,—Be of good courage, God hath remembered thee.'" The martyrs had received no nourishment the preceding day, nor had they any on the day that followed this vision; but, at length, Lucian, then priest, and afterward bishop of Carthage, surmounting all obstacles, got food to be carried to them in abundance by the subdeacon Herennian, and by Januarius, a catechumen. The Acts say, they brought the never-failing Food,[65] that is, the blessed Eucharist. They continue: "We have all one and the same spirit, which unites and cements us together in prayer, in mutual conversation, and in all our actions. These are the lovely bands which put the devil to flight, are most agreeable to God, and obtain of Him, by joint prayer, whatever they ask. These are the ties which link hearts together, and which make men the children of God. To be heirs of His kingdom we must be His children, and to be His children we must love one another. It is impossible for us to attain to the inheritance of heavenly glory, unless we keep that union and peace with all our brethren which our heavenly Father has established amongst us. Nevertheless, this union suffered some prejudice in our troop, but the breach was soon repaired. It happened that Montanus had some words with Julian about a person who was not of our communion, and who was got among us (probably admitted by Julian). Montanus on this account rebuked Julian, and they, for some time afterward, behaved towards each other with coldness, which was, as it were, a seed of discord. Heaven had pity on them both, and, to reunite them, admonished Montanus by a dream, which he related to us, as follows:—'It appeared to me that the centurions were come to us, and that they conducted us through a long path into a spacious field, where we were met by Cyprian and Lucius. After this, we came {399} into a very luminous place, where our garments became white, and our flesh whiter than our garments, and so wonderfully transparent, that there was nothing in our hearts but what was clearly exposed to view; but, in looking into myself, I could discover some filth in my own bosom: and, meeting Lucian, I told him what I had seen, adding, that what I had observed in my breast denoted my coldness towards Julian. Wherefore, brethren, let us love, cherish, and promote, with all our might, peace and concord. Let us be here unanimous, in imitation of what we shall be hereafter. As we hope to share in the rewards promised to the just, and to avoid the punishments wherewith the wicked are threatened, as we desire to be, and to reign with Christ, let us do those things which will lead us to Him and to His heavenly kingdom.'"

Thus far, the martyrs wrote in prison what happened to them; the rest was written by those persons who were present, according to the recommendation of Flavian, one of the martyrs.

After suffering extreme hunger and thirst, with other hardships, during an imprisonment of many months, the confessors were brought before the president, and made a glorious confession. The edict of Valerian condemned only bishops, priests, and deacons to death. The false friends of Flavian maintained before the judge that he was not a deacon, and, consequently, was not comprehended in the emperor's decree; whereupon, though he protested that he was one, he was not then condemned; but the rest were sentenced to death. They walked cheerfully to the place of execution, and each of them gave exhortations to the people. Lucius, who was naturally mild and modest, was a little dejected on account of a sickness he had contracted in prison; he, therefore, went before the rest, accompanied by only a few persons, lest he should be oppressed by the crowd, and so {400} not have the honour of spilling his blood. Some cried out to him, "Remember us." "Do you also," said he, "remember me." Julian and Victoricus exhorted the brethren to peace, and recommended to their care the whole body of the clergy, especially those who had undergone the hardships of imprisonment. Montanus, who was endued with great strength, both of body and mind, cried out, "He that sacrificeth to any God but the true one shall be utterly destroyed." This he often repeated. He also checked the pride and wicked obstinacy of the heretics, telling them that they might discern the true Church by the multitude of its martyrs. Like a true disciple of S. Cyprian, and a zealous lover of discipline, he exhorted those that had fallen not to be over hasty, but fully to accomplish their penance. He exhorted the virgins to preserve their purity, and to honour the bishops, and all the bishops to abide in concord. When the executioner was ready to give the stroke, he prayed aloud to God that Flavian, who had been reprieved at the people's request, might follow them on the third day. And, to express his assurance that his prayer was heard, he rent in pieces the handkerchief with which his eyes were to be covered, and ordered one-half of it to be reserved for Flavian, and desired that a place might be kept for him where he was to be buried, that they might not be separated even in the grave. Flavian, seeing his crown delayed, made it the object of his ardent desires and prayers. And as his mother kept close by his side, with the constancy of the mother of the holy Maccabees, and with longing desire to see him glorify God by death, he said to her, "Thou knowest, mother, how much I have longed to enjoy the happiness of dying by martyrdom." In one of the two nights during which he survived, he was favoured with a vision, in which one said to him, "Why dost thou grieve? Twice hast thou been a confessor, and thou shalt suffer {401} martyrdom by the sword." On the third day he was ordered to be brought before the governor. Here it appeared how much he was beloved by the people, for they endeavoured by all means to save his life. They cried out to the judge that he was no deacon; but he affirmed that he was. A centurion presented a billet, which set forth that he was not. The judge accused him of lying, to procure his own death. He answered, "Is that probable? are not they rather guilty of an untruth who say the contrary?" The people demanded that he might be tortured, in hopes he would recall his confession on the rack; but the judge condemned him to be beheaded. The sentence filled him with joy, and he was conducted to the place of execution, accompanied by a great multitude, and by many priests. A shower dispersed the infidels, and the martyr was led into a house till the storm was passed, and there he had an opportunity of taking his last leave of the faithful, without the presence of any heathen spectators. He told them that in a vision he had asked Cyprian whether the stroke of death is painful, and that the martyr answered, "The body feels no pain when the soul gives itself entirely to God." At the place of execution, he prayed for the peace of the Church and the union of the brethren. Having done speaking, he bound his eyes with that half of the handkerchief which Montanus had ordered to be kept for him, and, kneeling in prayer, received the last stroke. Although he suffered two days after the others, the whole glorious company receives commemoration together on one day.


(A.D. 304.)

[Roman and German Martyrologies, and those of Bede, Usuardus, Ado, &c. Authority:—The Acts, apparently not in their original form, but trustworthy.]

S. Sergius lived a retired, hermit life, near CŠsarea, in Cappadocia. When he heard of the breaking out of persecution, under the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian, his zeal led him to come into the city, and appear before Sapricius, the governor, and proclaim his abhorrence of the gods of Rome. The governor at once ordered him to execution.

His relics were translated to Ubeda, in the diocese of Taragona, in Spain.

(A.D. 586.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—S. Gregory of Tours, Hist. Franc. lib. ix. c. 39, 42, and the zealous champion of PrŠtextatus in the Council of Paris.]

On the death of Clothair, sole king of the Franks, (a.d. 561), his dominions were divided amongst his four sons, Charibert, who became king of Paris and the adjacent country; Guntram, of Orleans; Chilperic, of Soissons; and Sigebert, of Austrasia. The reign of Charibert was unattended by any important event; he died at the expiration of eleven years from the date of his accession, leaving an only daughter, Bertha, who married Ethelbert, king of Kent, and converted him to Christianity. The brothers Sigebert and Chilperic were engaged in bloody wars with each other. Sigebert had espoused Brunhild, daughter {403} of Athanagild, king of the Visigoths. Chilperic was married at three several periods to as many wives: first, to Audovera, by whom he had three sons; Theodebert, Meroveus, and Clovis; secondly, to Gailesuinth, sister of Brunhild, by whom he had a daughter. During the lifetime of his second queen, Chilperic became enamoured of Fredegund, and his passion led him to put Gailesuinth to death, and elevate her rival to the throne. This barbarous action induced Sigebert to take up arms against his brother, urged thereto by the vehement Brunhild, desirous of revenging the murder of her sister; and a destructive war ensued, in the course of which Chilperic and his guilty consort were driven from their country, and became exiles in a foreign land.

At no very distant interval of time, in 575, Sigebert was assassinated by the directions of his unnatural brother. Brunhild, his widow, sued for protection to Meroveus, son of Chilperic by his first wife, who was at Rouen, where Chilperic had imprisoned her. Meroveus, dreading the power of Fredegund, who wished to secure the succession to the crown for her son, took up arms against his father, and making common cause with Brunhild, his aunt, married her.

At that time, PrŠtextatus was bishop of Rouen. His position was difficult. The insurgent son had made Rouen his head-quarters, and expected, or exacted contributions from the Church, which PrŠtextatus was unwilling to grant, but which the prince was strong enough to obtain. To make the case more difficult, Meroveus was the spiritual son of this bishop, that is, PrŠtextatus had baptized him, and this spiritual relationship was then regarded as a sacred and dear tie. Chilperic heard exaggerated accounts of what the bishop had done, and hastily concluding that PrŠtextatus was privy to the revolt of Meroveus, ordered {404} a council of prelates to meet in Paris, to try and sentence PrŠtextatus either to have his episcopal habit rent in twain, and to have Psalm cviii. (A. V. 109), said over him, in token that his bishopric was taken from him, or that he should be excommunicated. PrŠtextatus was first charged by the king with having broken the canons by marrying Meroveus to his aunt, and with having fomented rebellion by giving large contributions to the prince. The bishop denied both charges. The king in person pressed the charge. S. Gregory, bishop of Tours, who gives us a full account of the affair, and Aetius, archdeacon of Paris, were the only two who had courage to take the part of the bishop, on whose destruction the king was resolved. Gregory steadfastly refused to condemn PrŠtextatus on charges which could not be substantiated. Then the king sent for him privately, and endeavoured by flattery to break his resolution, but in vain. Then bursting out in a passion, he exclaimed, "Hah! bishop, you who have to dispense justice, will not show justice to me. True, by my faith! is the proverb, Hawks will not peck out hawks' een. Here is a collation I had prepared for you," pointing to a table on which were roast fowl and other delicacies. Gregory refused to eat, till the king had sworn that he would not violate the laws of the realm and the canons of the Church, by forcing the council to condemn an innocent man. After that he took, so he tells us, some bread, and even a little wine; and so departed. That night queen Fredegund sent to his lodgings a large sum of money, in hopes of bribing him to consent to the sentence on PrŠtextatus, but Gregory refused the bribe.

The king next raked up another charge against the bishop of Rouen, of having stolen some handsome birds he valued at three thousand sous, but this charge broke down also. Then some false friend urged PrŠtextatus to {405} deliver the bishops who tried him from their perilous predicament, by confessing himself guilty, assuring him that this would satisfy the king, who would not press further punishment on him. PrŠtextatus was weak enough to yield to this treacherous advice,[66] and thus to remove it out of the power of his two defenders to maintain their opposition to the majority. The bishop of Rouen was at once condemned and banished to a little island off Coutances, probably Jersey.

The ferocious Fredegund now cleared the way for her own son to the throne of her husband, by causing Meroveus, Theodobert, and Clovis, the sons of Chilperic by his first wife, Audovera, to be put to death. The only remaining obstacle to the accession of her child, was Chilperic, her husband; but that impediment was speedily removed by his assassination, (584), after which his son ascended the vacant throne. On the death of Chilperic, PrŠtextatus returned to Rouen, with the sanction of Guntram, second son of Clothair, king of Soissons, much against the wishes of Fredegund. A council was assembled at Macon, and the Bishop of Rouen was reinstated, against the protest of Fredegund, who asserted that it was indecent to overthrow the sentence of deprivation pronounced against him by forty-five bishops. In 586 the queen was at Rouen, where words passed between her and PrŠtextatus. Seeing him on her arrival, she greeted him with, "The time is coming when thou shalt revisit the place of thine exile." "I was a bishop always, whether in exile or out of exile," answered PrŠtextatus; "and a bishop I shall remain; but {406} as for thee, thou shalt not for ever enjoy thy crown;" and then he earnestly besought her to abandon her wicked life, and seek reconciliation with God. This was shortly before Easter. On Easter morning he went after midnight to the church to sing Matins; he precented the antiphons, and then during the psalms rested in his seat; an assassin, sent by the queen, approached at this time, and stabbed him under the armpit. He rose with a cry, and staggered to the altar, on which he placed his hands, dabbled with blood, and received the Holy Sacrament. He was then carried to his bed, where he died. His death took place on April 14th, 586; but Feb. 24th is observed in his honour, as being probably the day of his translation.

(A.D. 616.)

[Roman, Ancient Anglican and German Martyrologies, that of Usuardus, &c. Authority:—Bede, lib. i. c. 11-15, 25, 26; lib. ii. c. 5.]

S. Ethelbert was son and successor of Irmenric, king of Kent, and great grandson of Hengist, the first of the Saxon conquerors of Britain. He reigned for thirty-six years over the oldest kingdom of the Heptarchy—that of Kent—and gained over all the other Saxon kings and princes, even to the confines of Northumbria, that kind of military supremacy which was attached to the title of Bretwalda, or temporary chief of the Saxon Confederation. His wife was Bertha, daughter of Charibert, son of Clovis, king of France; a Christian princess, who brought over with her as chaplain, one Lethard or Liudhard, of Senlis, a bishop, who exercised his ministry in a church formerly built, in Roman times, near the walls of Canterbury, and dedicated to S. Martin. Tradition records the gentle and {407} lovable virtues of queen Bertha, but little is known of her life; she has left but a brief and uncertain illumination on those distant and dark horizons, over which she sits like a star, the herald of the sun. Her example and the virtues of Liudhard probably did much to break up the ground in the heart of Ethelbert; but his conversion was reserved for the coming and preaching of S. Augustine and his companions, the missioners sent from Rome by Gregory the Great. These landed first in the Isle of Thanet, which joins close to the east part of Kent, and thence they sent a message to king Ethelbert, saying why they had come into his land. The king sent word back to them to stay in the isle till he fully made up his mind how to treat them; and he gave orders that they should be well taken care of in the meanwhile. After some days he came himself into the isle, and bade them come and tell him what they had to say. He sat under an oak, and received them in the open air, for he would not meet them in a house, as he thought they might be wizards, and they might use some charm or spell, which, according to the superstition of the time, was held to be powerless out of doors. So they came, carrying a silver cross, and a picture of Our Lord painted on a wooden panel, chanting in procession the litanies in use at Rome, in the solemn and touching strains which they had learnt from Gregory, their spiritual father, and the father of religious music. At their head marched Augustine, whose lofty stature and patrician presence attracted every eye, for, like Saul, "he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders and upwards."[67] The king, surrounded by a great number of his followers, received them graciously, and made them sit down before him. After having listened to the address which they delivered to him and to the assembly, he gave them a loyal, sincere, and, as we should {408} say in these days, truly liberal answer. "You make fair speeches and promises," he said, "but all this is to me new and uncertain. I cannot all at once put faith in what you tell me, and abandon all that I, with my whole nation, have for so long a time held sacred. But since you have come from so far away to impart to us what you yourselves, by what I see, believe to be the truth and the supreme good, we shall do you no hurt, but, on the contrary, shall show you all hospitality, and shall take care to furnish you with the means of living. We shall not hinder you from preaching your religion, and you may convert whom you can." So he gave them a house to dwell in, in the royal city of Canterbury, and he let them preach openly to the people, of whom they quickly brought some over to the faith, moved by the innocence of their lives, and the sweetness of their heavenly doctrine, which was confirmed by miracles. They were given, as Bede tells us, the Church of S. Martin in which "to sing, to pray, to say mass, to preach, and to baptize." But it was not long before the king also submitted to the truth, and was baptized; and before the year was out, there was added to the Church more than ten thousand souls. It was on Whitsun-Day, in the year of grace, 497, that the English king entered into the unity of the Holy Church of Christ Since the conversion of Constantine, excepting that of Clovis, there had not been any event of greater moment in the annals of Christendom. Then the king told Augustine and his companions that they might build new churches, and repair the old ones which Christians had used before the Saxons invaded England, and drove the ancient Church into Cornwall and Wales. Ethelbert, faithful to the last to that noble respect for the individual conscience, of which he had given proof even before he was a Christian, was unwilling to constrain anyone to change his religion. He allowed himself to show {409} no preference, save a deeper love for those who, baptized like himself, became his fellow-citizens in the heavenly kingdom. The Saxon king had learnt from the Italian monks that no constraint is compatible with the service of Christ.[68] It was not to unite England to the Roman Church, but it was in order to tear her from it, a thousand years after this, that another king, and another queen, Henry VIII., and his cruel daughter Elizabeth, had to employ torture and the gallows.

From the time of his conversion, Ethelbert behaved for the twenty remaining years of his life, as became a good king and a good Christian. He gave his royal palace in Canterbury for the use of the archbishop, founded Christ Church in Canterbury, S. Andrew's in Rochester, S. Paul's in London, and built and endowed the abbey and church of SS. Peter and Paul without the walls of Canterbury, commonly called S. Augustine's; and was instrumental in bringing over to the faith of Christ, Sebert, king of the East Saxons, with his people, and Redwald, king of the East Angles. The former remained true to Christ till his death; but Redwald returned, at least in part, to the worship of Thor and Wodin. Ethelbert died in the year 616, and was buried in the Church of SS. Peter and Paul, near the body of his devout queen Bertha, and the holy prelate Liuthard. A light was always kept burning before his tomb by our pious ancestors.

Liuthard of Senlis, the chaplain of queen Bertha, is also commemorated on this day.

[65]   Alimentum indeficiens.

[66]   Alban Butler, in his life of S. PrŠtextatus, says that the bishop married Meroveus to his aunt, deeming the case one deserving a dispensation, and that he confessed this at the council; but S. Gregory of Tours, who is the authority for all that passed, says that the bishop denied having married them, and when he was persuaded to confess, he did not confess that he had done this, but that by giving money to Meroveus, he had encouraged him in his revolt.

[67]   Gotselinus: Vita S. Aug. c. 45.

[68]   "Didicerat enim a doctoribus auctoribusque suŠ salutis, servitium Christ voluntarium, non coactum esse debere." Bede i. 26.

ENAMELLED CHEST, which contained the remains of King Ethelbert.

in the Cathedral at Tours.

Feb. 24.


February 25.

(A.D. 284.)

[Roman Martyrology, and those of Bede, Ado, &c. But the ancient Roman Martyrology, bearing the name of S. Jerome, on Feb. 24th. By the Greeks commemorated on Jan, 31st and April 5th. A mere epitome of their Acts was all that was known to Bollandus, as contained in the MenŠa and Martyrologies; but Assemani has since recovered the genuine Acts in Chaldaic.]

VICTORINUS, Victor, Nicephorus, Claudian, Dioscorus,[69] Serapion, and Papias, were citizens of Corinth, and had witnessed a good confession before Tertius, the proconsul, in 249. They then passed into Egypt, for what reason is not stated, and were again called upon to confess Christ, in the reign of Numerian, in Diospolis, capital of the Thebaid, in 284, under Sabinus, the governor. After the governor had tried the constancy of the martyrs with the rack and scourge, he caused Victorinus to be thrown into a great marble mortar. The executioners began by pounding his extremities, saying to him, at every stroke, "Spare thy life, Victorinus, by {411} abjuring thy new God." But, as he continued to maintain his steadfastness, by order of Sabinus they crushed his head and chest. Victor was threatened with the same death. He pointed to the mortar, stained with the blood and brains of his companions, and said, calmly, "My salvation and my true joy await me there!" He was immediately cast into it, and pounded to death. Nicephorus was impatient of delay, and leaped of his own accord into the mortar. He met with the same fate. Sabinus caused Claudian, the fourth, to be chopped to pieces, and his bleeding joints to be thrown at the feet of the survivors. He expired, after his feet, hands, arms, legs, and thighs had been cut off. The governor then, pointing to the mangled limbs and bleeding trunk, said to the three who remained, "It concerns you to escape this punishment; I do not compel you to suffer." The martyrs replied, with one accord, "We desire of thee to bid us suffer by the most excruciating pains thou canst devise, for never will we break our fidelity to God, and deny Jesus Christ, our Saviour, for He is our God, from whom we have our being, and to whom alone we aspire."

The tyrant then condemned Dioscorus to be roasted to death; Serapion was suspended by his heels and decapitated; and Papias was cast into the sea with a stone attached to his neck, and drowned.

This happened on Feb. 25th, on which day these martyrs are commemorated in the Western Martyrologies; but the Greek MenŠa and the Menology of the Emperor Basil Porphyrogenitus honour them on January 31st, the day of their confession at Corinth.


(ABOUT A.D. 298.)

[Greek MenŠa, on Feb. 26th; Martyrology of Ado on Feb. 25th. Inserted in many of the later Western Martyrologies, but in none of the earlier ones except that of Ado. Authority:—The notices in the Martyrologies, and an ancient MS. Acts of these saints found in the Monastery of Gladbach, which is, however, of very doubtful value.]

S. Ananias was a priest in Phœnicia, who was put to a terrible death by the governor for his testimony to the truth. After having been scourged till his back was a mass of wounds, salt and vinegar were rubbed into the exposed and bleeding flesh, and he was wrapped in a horse-hair garment so as still further to inflame and irritate the wounds. In prison he converted the gaoler, Peter. He was brought forth again, and slowly scorched on a grate over live coals; then salt was again applied to his sores, and the charred flesh was then cut off with a fish-slice. Peter was also exposed to a slow fire, and was then, with the priest, and seven believing soldiers, cast into the sea and drowned.

(ABOUT A.D. 369.)

[Roman Martyrology. Greek MenŠa on March 9th. Authority:—His life, written by his brother, S. Gregory Nazianzen.]

S. CŠsarius was given by his parents an excellent education, and, being a man of great natural parts, he soon distinguished himself for his accomplishments in all the known sciences. He became one of the first physicians of his day, and was urged by the Emperor Constantius to reside in the imperial city, but declined to do so. Julian the Apostate nominated him his first physician, and loaded {413} him with marks of favour, without, however, being able to shake his Christian constancy. Jovian, who succeeded Julian, also honoured him, and finding that, moved by the remonstrances of his father and brother, CŠsarius had thrown up his appointment at the court of the Apostate, he recalled him. Valens created him keeper of the privy purse, and treasurer of Bithynia. A narrow escape in an earthquake at NicŠa, in 368, when almost all the chief men of that city were killed, moved him to renounce the world. He died shortly after, and was buried with great solemnity, his parents assisting at the funeral with lighted tapers in their hands, and his brother, S. Gregory, Bishop of Nazianzus, preaching his funeral oration.


[Molanus, Wyon, MirŠus, Menardus, Bollandus, &c., on this day; some other hagiographers on March 15th. Authority:—An ancient life, part of which formed the lections of the Breviary for the Collegiate Church of Mons, founded by S. Waldetrudis.]

The Abbey of Maubeuge, in France, on the Sambre, near the confines of Belgium, was founded by S. Aldegund (Jan. 30th), sister of S. Waldetrudis (April 9th), wife of S. Vincent, a count, (July 14th), and aunt of the two holy daughters of this pious couple, S. Aldetrudis and S. Madelbertha (Sept. 7th), who succeeded Aldegund as abbesses of Maubeuge. Aldetrudis was brought up by her saintly parents to tread the path of light and life from her earliest infancy. She chose the religious life, and entered the house founded and governed by her aunt, whom she succeeded. One little incident of her life has retained its hold on the popular memory, and is sometimes represented in art. {414} Determined not to waste the precious wax from the altar and other candles, Aldetrudis melted up all the scrapings, drippings, and ends of the tapers in a large pot on the fire, but, when it was melted, the wax caught fire. Aldetrudis, thinking there was danger from the blaze, and not wishing to lose the wax, boldly caught the pot from the fire with both her hands, and placed it on the stone floor. The legend adds that though some of the melted wax ran over her hands she was not burnt.

Another story is to this effect. One evening she stood at the convent gate, looking out at an advancing thunderstorm. Presently there came a flash and a roar, which so frightened her that she cried out, "Lord Jesus, into Thy hands I commend my spirit!" Then there passed her the Lord Himself, shining out of the darkness, fairer than the sons of men, and comforted her with the words, "Be not afraid, I am with thee."

(A.D. 779.)

[On this day the Martyrology bearing the name of Bede; also those of the metropolitan Churches of Prague, of Treves, and Utrecht; the Benedictine Kalendar; and as usually commemorated in Germany. But some give April 27th. No mention of S. Walburga in the French Martyrologies. Some give Feb. 25th as the day of her Translation, others October 12th, others September 21st; but May 1st is the most solemn day of her Translation. Authority:—Her Life by a priest of Eichstadt in the following century; another life by Adelbold, B. of Maestrecht, d. 1027; another by Eynwick, provost of S. Florian; another by an anonymous writer, and others later. Walburga is variously called Waldburga, Wilburga, Vaubone, Valpurgis, Vaubourg.]

The blessed Walburga was a daughter of S. Richard, West Saxon Thane, (Feb. 7th), and sister of S. Willibald, (July 7th), and S. Wunnibald, (December 18th). {415} These holy brothers accompanied their uncle, the great S. Boniface, (June 5th), apostle of Germany, on his mission, and are regarded and honoured as his fellow apostles. S. Walburga was educated from early childhood in the monastic calm of Wimbourne, in Dorsetshire, where she took the veil, and spent an untroubled youth till called by S. Boniface to Germany. Boniface had asked his kinswoman, the abbess Tatta, to send him a colony of nuns to found a religious house in the newly acquired provinces of the kingdom of Christ. She sent S. Lioba, with several under her, amongst whom was S. Walburga, and they settled at first at Bischofsheim, in the diocese of Mainz. Two years after she was appointed abbess of Heidenheim, a religious house founded by her brothers, Willibald, bishop of Eichstadt, and Wunnibald, who ruled an abbey of men. So great was her prudence and virtue, that on the death of Wunnibald, in 760, following the Anglo-Saxon precedent, Walburga was appointed to superintend the abbey of monks, as well as her own convent of nuns, and this double charge she executed till her death. S. Willibald translated the body of his brother to Eichstadt, in 776; and S. Walburga was present at the ceremony. She died in 779 or 780, but on what day is not mentioned by her biographer.

S. WALBURGA. From Cahier.

Feb. 25.

In art she is represented with a flask of oil, on account of the miraculous and fragrant oil which distilled from her relics in the church of S. Cross, at Eichstadt; or with three ears of corn, with which she is said to have cured and satisfied a girl afflicted with a ravenous appetite.

Her relics were translated in 870, to Eichstadt, on Sept. 21st. A considerable part still remains there; another portion was carried by Baldwin the Bearded, Count of Flanders, in 1109, to the abbey of Furnes, near Ostend, where they are still preserved, and the festival of the translation is kept on May 1st. From Furnes, small {416} portions have been distributed to churches in Antwerp, Brussels, Thiel, Arnheim, Zutphen, and Gr÷ningen. Other relics of this saint are said to be preserved at Prague, Cologne, Augsburg, and Hanover, and many were anciently distributed over Lorraine, Alsace, and Burgundy.

There can be no doubt that S. Walburga has inherited the symbols and much of the cultus anciently devoted to Walborg, or Walburg, the Earth Mother.

(A.D. 806.)

[By Greeks and Latins on the same day. Authority:—His life by Ignatius, deacon and keeper of the sacred vessels at Constantinople, afterwards bishop of NicŠa, a disciple of Tarasius; also the Church historians of the period.]

The Incarnation of God was the descent of the Most High to the level of human necessity. Man had found a difficulty in believing in and loving the Infinite; human language failed to express the nature of God save by a multitude of abstractions and negations. He was not limited, had no localized habitation, was not comprehensible by man; so the philosophers taught, and so they strove to make men believe; men made the effort, believed, and in the effort, their devotion expired. The philosophers had lifted God into the region of an idea, and in so doing, had divested him of personality; and when His personality was lost, all interest in Him died away. God was to them an object of speculation, not an object of worship. God the Father, knowing man's natural incapacity for realizing the Godhead, sent His Son into the world clothed in flesh. Man had now a God-Man, whose nature and personality {417} had been brought vividly before him to believe in and to love. God was "manifest in the flesh," the visible and the invisible, the spiritual and the material, the finite and the infinite, the local and the omnipresent were united in One. Thenceforth the law of God's dealings with man was to be in accordance with his natural capacities, the visible was to become the medium of the invisible, the material the vehicle of the spiritual, the omnipresent adorable through a local presence, the infinite discernible through the finite. In Jesus Christ men saw God and lived; and when He was withdrawn from the eyes of men, He did not leave them orphans, but perpetuated his presence in the Holy Eucharist, even unto the end of the world.

In the old heathen world men had been idolaters or philosophers. The idolater saw in the material image his God; the philosopher declared that God was everywhere present, and he despised the idol. Christianity combined in one the truth taught by the philosopher, and the craving felt by the idolater. Through the sacraments as outward and visible means, grace was conveyed to man, chiefly through the Holy Eucharist; and through sacred images and the holy cross, worship was addressed to God. Through the seen to the unseen, to God; from the unseen through the seen to man, is the law of the Incarnation.

At first, on account of the idolatry which surrounded them, the early Christians did not deem it prudent to introduce images into their churches. Idolatry was so prevalent, that the first lesson they had to insist upon to the heathen, was the omnipresence of God; but when heathenism was conquered, the danger of idolatry ceased, and the peril was in the other direction; men began to insist on the infinity of the essence of the Godhead, and to deny the possibility of His becoming local by incarnation. They were ready to admit that Christ was inspired with a {418} divine afflatus, but not that He was very and eternal God. Then, at once, it became necessary for the Church to use her every effort to impress on men's minds and hearts the truth that God had become very man, of the substance of His mother. Then pictures and images were introduced into churches. We must remember that the Church, to defend the truth, had to assume successively opposite positions, for the truth was double,—if we are to understand how she first opposed images, and then defended them. She did not contradict herself, her attitude was forced upon her, to maintain a two-fold truth.

The use of images was commonly received in the east, when the Emperor Leo the Isaurian, resolved to abolish the practice. The contest began about the year 725. He was opposed by Pope Gregory II., Germanus, patriarch of Constantinople, and S. John Damascene. The first wrote vehemently to him on this subject. He maintained that the Word by having rendered Himself visible in taking a human body, subjected Himself to all conditions of a man, and that as it was lawful to represent any man, emperor or prince, so it was lawful to make representations of Christ. But, said he, Christians do not worship the cloth on which the picture is painted, nor the stone out of which the statue is hewn, but they use these visible representations as means of renewing the memory of the saints, and of raising up the mind to God. He denied that images received divine honours, but if "Lord Jesus, save us," be said before an image of Christ, "Holy Mother of God, intercede with Thy Son for us," before one of the Virgin, and "Intercede for us," before one of a Martyr; these prayers are not addressed to the image, but to Christ, or the Holy Virgin, or the Saint whom the figure is designed to portray.

Constantine Copronymus, the son of Leo, followed in his {419} father's steps, and for the better establishing his purpose, he called together a council (a.d. 754) at Constantinople, composed of 338 bishops. It began its sittings in February and ended in August. The Western Church, and the patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, were not represented at this council, which was thus composed of prelates under the immediate control of the emperor, gathered together in his imperial city, surrounded by guards, and, unfortunately, the majority of these bishops partook of that time-serving and obsequious disposition which characterised and disgraced the episcopal order in the Eastern Empire for many centuries. This council decreed the destruction of images in churches, and the erasure of paintings on the walls.[70]

By the authority of the emperor, a great part of the Eastern Church received and executed this decree; but Irene, who had married Leo the Fourth, son of Constantine Copronymus, though a cruel, ambitious woman, espoused, perhaps out of caprice, the opposite side, and on the death of her husband, during the minority of her son Constantine, who was but ten years old, assumed the regency, and stopped the savage persecution of the monks, and the ruthless destruction of images which had proceeded without intermission through the three preceding reigns. Paul III., patriarch of Constantinople, had been raised to that dignity by the late emperor. Being a timid man, desirous of remaining in favour with court, he had bowed to the will of the emperor in the matter of images. But he was a good and charitable man, greatly beloved by the {420} poor. Finding that the Iconoclasts were now out of favour, and fearing for himself, he suddenly resigned his patriarchal see, and took refuge in a monastery.

The empress and her son visited him, and endeavoured to dissuade him from his intention, but found him resolved. Tarasius, an officer of the court, noted for his piety, was then appointed patriarch, in spite of his urgent remonstrance. He declared that he would not accept the office till a council had been called, which exhibited those marks of being œcumenical which the former council had lacked, and which might compose the differences which had agitated the Eastern Church. This being agreed to, he was solemnly declared patriarch, and was consecrated soon after, on Christmas Day.

His first act was to write synodal letters to the patriarchs of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, convening a general council. Pope Adrian sent two priests to act as his legates, and the Eastern bishops did the same. The council assembled on the 1st August, 786, in the Church of the Apostles at Constantinople, but a tumult having broken out, and the soldiers having besieged the bishops in the church, and endeavoured to break up the council, it was adjourned till the following year, when it met at NicŠa. The papal legates sat in the first place, then Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople, then the deputies of the Eastern bishops, who were themselves unable to attend because not permitted by the Saracen conquerors, afterwards Agapetus, bishop of CŠsarea, in Cappadocia, John, bishop of Ephesus, Constantine, metropolitan of Cyprus, with 250 bishops and archbishops, and above 100 priests and monks, and two commissioners of the emperor and empress to maintain order.

The first session was held on the 24th September, 787, in the Church of S. Sophia; it opened with the reading of the {421} letter of the empress Irene and the emperor, wherein they assured to the bishops that they had assembled the synod with the consent of the patriarchs, and that they left the bishops at full liberty to speak their minds; that Paul, the last patriarch of Constantinople, acknowledging his fault in having received the decrees of the council of the Iconoclasts, had quitted his see, and had caused Tarasius to be elected in his room; that Tarasius had refused the dignity, but having been urged to accept it, had required a council to be held to suppress the schism which divided the Church on the subject of images; and that, therefore, in accordance with his request, this council was convened. In conclusion, the empress and her son exhorted the bishops to judge truthfully and courageously, in accordance with Catholic doctrine and practice; and they said that letters had been received from Pope Adrian, which should be read to the assembly.

After this many of the prelates who had taken part with the Iconoclasts, or had submitted to the decrees, seeing that the direction of the courtly breeze had changed, veered round with obsequious readiness. Such were, Basil, bishop of Ancyra, Theodosius of Myra, Theodosius of Amorn, Hypatius of NicŠa, and others, who now acknowledged that they reverenced sacred images.

In the next session the letters of Pope Adrian were read, declaring the utility of images as means of teaching the ignorant, and of awakening piety and compunction. He demanded also that all archbishops of his patriarchate should receive ordination from the bishop of Rome, and that the primacy of the see of Rome should receive general recognition, as also that the patriarch of Constantinople should be prevented from assuming the title of "Universal Bishop." These latter articles were not transcribed by the Greek fathers. Dupin, the judicious historian, suggests that probably the legates of the Pope did not judge it {422} prudent at that moment to present them. A letter from Adrian to Tarasius was then read, expressing the trouble given to the Pope by the news of the nomination of a layman to the influential see of Constantinople, and exhorting him to procure the condemnation of the synod which had forbidden images in churches. After the reading of this letter, the Papal legates asked Tarasius whether he approved of it. He answered that he did, and that he did reverently honour the images of Christ, the Holy Virgin, and the saints, but that to God alone was due true adoration and worship (latria). Of this the synod approved. Our English word worship has got at the present time a meaning which it had not of old. Worship now means to adore as God, with supreme reverence; and such worship may not be given to creatures, however exalted; but the old signification of the word had not this force, but was synonymous with reverence. Thus, in the Anglican prayer book, in the marriage service, the husband says to the wife, "With my body I thee worship," i.e., honour; and magistrates are called the "worshipful." When Protestants accuse Catholics of worshipping images, in one sense they are right, but in another sense they are wrong. Catholics do worship sacred images so far as to render them respect and honour, but they do not give to them that honour which is implied by the word "worship" in its modern sense. In the old signification of the word, the sailor worships the quarterdeck when he touches his cap on passing it, the soldier worships the royal standard when he presents arms to it, and the peers the throne when they bow to it on taking their places in the House of Lords.

In the third session of the council, a letter from the patriarch of Jerusalem, approved by his bishops, was read, wherein he acknowledged that reverence and honour were to be shown to sacred images.

{423} In subsequent sessions the acts of the Iconoclastic Council at Jerusalem were examined and refuted in order, and the council closed with the usual acclamations and prayers for the prosperity of the emperor and empress; after which synodal letters containing the decrees were sent to all churches. Pope Adrian approved of all that had been decreed, and sent copies of the Acts into France, where pictures and images were used historically, but no honour, such as burning candles or offering of incense before them, was allowed. On receiving these copies, Charlemagne wrote, or caused to be written, or put forth under his name, a work containing an examination of the decrees of the second council of NicŠa, by some of the bishops, of whom Alcuin was chief. This contained a repudiation of these Acts, and a rejection of image-worship. It maintained that respect was due to pictures and statues of the Saviour and the Saints, but refused the right of offering them any sort of religious honour, as by lighting candles and incensing them. This work was presented to Pope Adrian by Engilbert, the ambassador of Charlemagne, and it drew forth from the pope an answer which, however, did not alter the practice of the Gallican Church, for in the Council of Frankfort, held in 794, the decrees relative to the worshipping of images passed by the second Council of NicŠa were rejected, as was the case again in a council held at Paris, in 824. Tarasius, in the meantime, obedient to the decrees of the synod, restored holy images throughout the extent of his patriarchate. His life was a model of perfection to both clergy and laity. He lived a quiet, austere life, in the midst of magnificence and luxury. He reduced to the smallest possible amount the expenses of his household, and gave to the poor what he had economised. He often took the dishes of meat from his table to distribute among them with his own hands: and he assigned them a large annual {424} revenue. And that none might be overlooked, he visited every house and hospital in Constantinople. His discourses turned on the mortification of the senses, and he was particularly severe against all theatrical entertainments, which served then to encourage and diffuse licentiousness. Some time after, the emperor became enamoured of Theodota, a maid of honour to his wife, the empress Mary, and, after having spent seven years in marriage, in 795, he resolved to divorce the empress. He used every effort to gain the patriarch. He sent an officer to him to inform him that a plot of the empress to poison him had been discovered. S. Tarasius, however, received the request to divorce the emperor, and marry him to Theodota, with a stern refusal. "Tell him that I will rather suffer death and all manner of torments than consent to his design." The emperor, hoping to prevail with him by flattery, sent for him to the palace, and said, "I can conceal nothing from you, whom I regard as my father. No one can deny but I may divorce one who has attempted my life. The Empress Mary deserves death or perpetual penance." He then produced a vessel, full of the poison, which he pretended she had prepared for him. The patriarch, with good reason, judging this to be an attempt to impose upon him, answered, that he was too well convinced that his passion for Theodota was at the bottom of all his complaints against the empress. He boldly declared to Constantine that even if she were guilty of the crime laid to her charge, a second marriage during her lifetime would be adulterous. The monk John, who had been legate of the Eastern patriarchs in the council at NicŠa, being present, also spoke resolutely to the emperor, who was so irritated that he drove them both out of his presence, and John narrowly escaped with his life. As soon as they were gone, he turned the empress Mary out of the palace and obliged her to assume the veil. Tarasius persisted in {425} his refusal to marry him to Theodota, and the ceremony was performed by Joseph, the treasurer of the church of Constantinople. The patriarch became thenceforth an object of persecution to the emperor, who placed spies about his person, suffered no one to speak with him without their leave, and banished many of his relations and servants. This confinement gave the patriarch more leisure for prayer and contemplation. In the meantime, the ambitious Irene, discontented at being no longer at the head of the administration, formed a conspiracy to dethrone her son. The secret was faithfully kept above eight months, till the emperor, suspicious of his danger, escaped from Constantinople, with the design of appealing to the provinces and armies. By this hasty flight the empress was left on the brink of a precipice. She addressed a private epistle to the friends whom she had placed about his person with a menace that, unless they accomplished, she would reveal, their treason. Their fear rendered them intrepid. They seized the emperor on the Asiatic shore, and transported him to Constantinople, where his mother and the other conspirators decided to render him incapable of the throne by blinding him. Her emissaries assaulted the sleeping prince, and stabbed their daggers into his eyes. He survived for several years, oppressed by the court, and forgotten by the world; whilst his unnatural mother resumed the sovereign power, of which he had divested her by becoming of age. She reigned for five years, during which she recalled all the banished, and favoured the Catholics. But she was in turn conspired against by the high treasurer, Nicephorus, who was secretly invested with the purple, and crowned at S. Sophia by the patriarch. The empress was sent into exile in the isle of Lesbos, where she was obliged to earn a scanty subsistence by the labours of her distaff, till her haughty spirit consuming her, she died of grief.

{426} Under Nicephorus, S. Tarasius persevered peaceably in his practices of penance, and in the functions of his pastoral charge. Through his last sickness he continued to offer daily the holy Sacrifice as long as he was able to move. A little before his death he fell into a trance, as the author of his life, who was an eye-witness of the scene, relates, wherein he was heard disputing with a number of accusers, very busy in sifting his whole life, and objecting to his actions. He seemed to be in fear and agitation, and defending himself against everything laid to his charge. This filled all present with fear, seeing the endeavours of the enemy of man to find some condemnation in the life of so holy and so irreprehensible a bishop. But a great serenity succeeded, and the holy man gave up his soul to God in peace, on the 25th of February, in 806, having sat twenty-one years and two months. God honoured his memory with miracles, some of which are related by the author of his life. His festival began to be celebrated under his successor.

(A.D. 1117.)

[Authority:—His life, by Baldric, B. of D˘le (d. 1130); and another attributed to Andrew, monk of Fontevrault, and his disciple.]

Robert of Arbrissel was born of poor parents, in a village of Brittany, then called Arbrissel, and now known as Arbresec, in the diocese of Rennes, near La Guierche, in the year 1045 or 1047. His father, Damalioc, who afterwards embraced a religious life, and his mother, Orvenda, were pious people who brought him up to love God above all things. When of an age to study, with their consent he went to several towns of his native province, to learn in the schools without being a charge to his parents; and, making {427} great progress, he went to Paris, where he so distinguished himself that he became a doctor in the university. At this time Silvester de la Guierche, Chancellor of Conon II., duke of Brittany, was placed upon the episcopal throne of Rennes, but being desirous of relieving himself of his duties on various accounts, he chose Robert, and appointed him his vicar-general, with absolute power in the diocese. Robert employed his authority in restoring ecclesiastical discipline, putting down simony, prohibiting incestuous marriages amongst the laity, and in enforcing clerical celibacy. As long as Silvester de la Guierche was alive, Robert was safe from the enemies his discipline had aroused, but, on the death of his protector, he was obliged to leave Brittany, and take refuge in Angers, where he gave lessons in theology. But, wishing to consecrate himself entirely to God, he quitted Angers, and buried himself in the forest of Craon, in Anjou, where he lived in great austerity, wearing a habit of pig skin, and eating roots and wild fruit. His fame as a second S. John the Baptist, having been bruited about, great numbers came to place themselves under his direction, so that he speedily saw his forest solitude invaded by many hundreds of anchorites. The number became at length so great as to oblige him to disperse them through the neighbouring forests. Not being able to watch over all, he divided them into three colonies, of which he retained one, and gave the others to two of his disciples: the B. Vitalis of Mortain, who founded the order of Savigny; and the B. Raoul de la Futaye, founder of the abbey of S. Sulpice, at Rennes.

Robert was obliged to quit his retired life, and preach the Crusade, by order of Pope Urban II. He, therefore, placed his colony under the care of the bishop of Angers, and undertook the execution of the task imposed upon him.

{428} On the confines of Anjou and Poitou, about four miles from the little town of Candes, was an extensive tract of undulating land, covered with bushes, and wholly uncultivated; a little valley, traversed by a slender stream in this district, bore the name of Fontevrault. Here, in 1099, Robert began to build some huts to shelter his followers, and here he settled to found a new colony. Many religiously disposed persons of both sexes, young and old, gathered round him, and Robert found it necessary to establish distinct residences for the men and for the women, each with its own separate oratory. The work of the women was to sing continually the praises of God; that of the men was, between their spiritual exercise, the tillage of the soil. Charity, unity, modesty, and gentleness, prevailed in this singular colony. All lived on what their hands produced, or on the alms sent them; and they bore the name of "The poor of Jesus Christ."

The example of these new solitaries attracted great numbers, many of whom had only an imperfect or a mistaken vocation. Women who had led dissolute lives, feeling a passing compunction, hastened thither, assumed the outward profession, waxed cold, and gave great scandal by fresh lapses. This drew forth severe censure from Marbod, bishop of Rennes, and Godfrey, abbot of Vend˘me. The former wrote to Robert a letter full of reproach, in which he told him that he had quitted the Order of the Regular Canons to run after women, and that the colony of Fontevrault was a scandal to the Church, through the confinement of some of the women, and the cries of new born babes; and he rebuked him for having given the religious habit to persons who asked for it, without having previously tested their sincerity. The letter of Godfrey of Vend˘me, was couched in a similar strain of remonstrance; but he went further, and, trusting to hearsay, reprimanded Robert for {429} associating too freely with the females of his Order, and seeing them in private without the presence of witnesses. Some have supposed these letters to be spurious, but without sufficient grounds. A man of great singleness of mind and guilelessness of spirit is easily deceived by the professions of others, and is liable to be led into actions which, with more worldly wisdom, he would avoid as indiscreet. Indeed, the formation of this double society was hardly consistent with prudence, and Robert found it necessary to keep it within the bounds of severe and vigilant prescriptions, to prevent the recurrence of those scandals which had called forth the reprimand of Marbod and the abbot of Vend˘me. Godfrey was afterwards so thoroughly convinced that he was in error in attributing evil to the saintly Robert, that he became his ardent champion. Robert erected three convents, strictly enclosed, for the women: one for virgins and widows, called the Grand Moutier, was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin; another for penitents, was placed under the patronage of S. Mary Magdalene; and a third, for leprous and infirm women, was dedicated to S. Lazarus. The house of the men was completely distinct, and was placed under the invocation of S. John the Divine. One large church was erected to serve the four houses, and the whole community was placed by Robert under the supreme direction of an abbess; and he set the example of submission, by appointing Petronilla de Craon, widow of the Baron de Chemille, Superior to the Order, and he lived in obedience to her till his death, which took place on February 25th, 1117.

[69]   Or Diodorus.

[70]   The Iconoclastic party was not actuated by any religious feeling, but was simply that of free-thinkers, as the Protestant and very prejudiced ecclesiastical historian Gieseler is constrained to admit. He says, "the enlightenment party, the opponents of images, was not created by a religious feeling, but merely by the emperor's will, and thus partly fostered a superficial, free-thinking, rather than a beneficial reformatory tendency."


February 26.

(A.D. 251.)

[Roman Martyrology, the ancient one called S. Jerome's, those of Bede, Ado, Usuardus, Notker, &c. By the Greeks on Feb. 28th. Authority:—The ancient and genuine Acts.]

IN the reign of Decius, Pollio was governor of Pamphylia. When persecution broke out, Nestor, bishop of Magida, an obscure town in that province, knowing that he was particularly feared by the pagans, and that the first stroke was sure to fall upon him, ordered his flock to disperse into places of safety, and then calmly awaited the officers of justice. They found him in prayer, and led him forth with his head covered with a hood (mafortium). And when he came into the forum, he was honourably received, all the court rising and saluting him. He said, "God pardon you, why have you done this?" They answered, "Thy manner of life is deserving of respect." Then he was taken apart from the public, and stools were placed for the magistrates and his advocates, and a chair for the bishop, and he was requested to sit down. He replied, "The honour of being summoned into your presence suffices me." Then {431} the Irenarch said, "Sir, dost thou know the order of the emperor?" "I know the command of the Almighty, not that of the emperor," was the reply of the Bishop. "O Nestor," said the magistrate, "consent without difficulty, that we be not called to judge thee." "I obey the commands of the heavenly King," answered Nestor. "Thou art possessed," said the magistrate. "Nay," said the bishop, "not I, but thou, for thy gods are devils." "I shall have to send thee to the governor," said the Irenarch, "for they are true gods. Beware of torture." Then Nestor signing the cross on his brow, said, "Wherefore dost thou threaten me with torture? The only torments I dread are those of my God. Be well assured, in torture, or out of torture, Him shall I confess."

Then he was taken to Perga, where was the governor of the province, which he reached on the fourth Sabbath (Saturday.) And when the Irenach had presented him to Pollio the governor, Nestor was again urged with kind and courteous words to renounce his religion; but he as constantly refused. "Torment me as thou wilt," said he, "with chains or wild beasts, or sword, as long as there is any breath in my nostrils, I will confess the name of my Lord Jesus Christ." Then the judge ordered him to be suspended on the little horse, and to be cruelly tortured. The executioner laid his sides bare, tearing them with iron hooks; but Nestor chanted, "I will alway give thanks unto the Lord: his praise shall ever be in my mouth." (Ps. xxxiii.; (A. V. 34) 1.) The judge, astonished at his endurance, exclaimed, "Why, wretched man! art thou not ashamed to put thy faith in a man, and he short-lived?" "Let that be my confusion, and that also of all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus," answered the martyr. And when the crowd clamoured that he should be released from his sufferings, the governor asked again, "What, then, is {432} thy final choice, to be with us, or with thy Christ?" Then the martyr exclaimed, "With my Christ have I ever been, with Him am I now, and with Him shall I ever be." Seeing his inflexibility, Pollio said scornfully, "Nestor, as thou hast rejected the immortal gods to follow the crucified One, I will not be so wanting in devotion to this God of thine, as to condemn thee to any other death. Thou shalt be crucified on the wood."

Then a cross was made ready, and Nestor, the bishop, was nailed to it. And as he hung, he exhorted the people, and at length he bid them kneel and pray to God through Jesus Christ; and all knelt, and when he had said the final Amen, he breathed forth his spirit.

(A.D. 303.)

[German Martyrology. No trustworthy authorities for his life and acts. The following account is from the Augsburg Breviary.]

Dionysius, together with his sister Hilaria, (August 12th), her daughter Afra, (August 7th), and the rest of his family, was converted and baptized by S. Narcissus the bishop, afterwards chief pastor of the Church of Gerona, in Spain, (March 18th.) As Narcissus was obliged to leave the little band of Christians at Augsburg, he instructed, and then ordained, Dionysius to be their priest, or, as some writers assert, their bishop. Thus Dionysius became the spiritual father of a little family of true believers, and was called to encourage them during the fiery trial of persecution. He saw his sister Hilaria, and her daughter Afra, glorify God by martyrdom. Knowing that his own turn had come, he fortified himself with the Holy Sacrament, yielded himself into the hands of those who sought his life, and dying a martyr's death, gained the crown and palm.

{433} The relics of this saint, who is reckoned the first bishop of Augsburg, together with those of Quiriacus, were discovered in the year 1118, and were translated by the abbot Egino to the Church of S. Ulrich, in Augsburg, and enclosed in an altar. Later, in the year 1258, Hartmann, bishop of Augsburg, opened this altar, and placed them, on 26th Feb., in a new altar, dedicated to SS. Dionysius and Quiriacus, and he ordered that this day should be observed as the festival of S. Dionysius. The Church of Augsburg honours him as her first bishop, though the episcopal see of Augsburg was not regularly constituted till 250 years later, when Sosimus became the first of a succession of prelates which from that time to the present has not failed.

(A.D. 326.)

[Roman Martyrology, and those of Bede, Usuardus, Ado, Notker, &c. Authorities:—Sozomen, Socrates, Eusebius, and the Apology of S. Athanasius.]

S. Alexander was patriarch of Alexander when Arius, the arch-heretic, began to preach his denial of the eternal Godhead of Christ. Alexander, one of the mildest of men, endeavoured by gentleness and kind expostulation to bring the heretic back to the true belief. But when he found that he was incorrigible, he summoned an assembly of his clergy, and therein questioned Arius, and on his boldly proclaiming his disbelief in the fundamental doctrine of the Catholic faith, he excommunicated him. A council was called at Alexandria about the end of the year 320, in which Arius was again tried, and the sentence of excommunication was ratified by nearly one hundred bishops, who were present. Alexander attended the famous General {434} Council of NicŠa, assembled in 325, which finally condemned the heresy of Arius. S. Alexander, after this triumph of the faith, returned to Alexandria; where, after having recommended S. Athanasius for his successor, he died on the 26th February, in the year 326. For a fuller account of the Arian heresy, and the Council of NicŠa, the reader is referred to the life of S. Athanasius, (May 2nd.)

(A.D. 421.)

[Commemorated by Greeks and Latins on the same day. Authority:—His life, written by Mark the Deacon, his disciple.]

Porphyrius, a native of Thessalonica, in Macedonia, was of a noble and wealthy family. The desire of renouncing the world made him leave his friends and country at twenty-five years of age, in 378, to pass into Egypt, where he consecrated himself to God in a famous monastery in the desert of ScetÚ. After five years spent there in the penitential exercises of a monastic life, he went into Palestine to visit the holy places of Jerusalem. After this he took up his abode in a cave near the Jordan, where he passed other five years in great austerity, till he fell sick, when a complication of disorders obliged him to return to Jerusalem. There he never failed daily to visit all the holy places, leaning on a staff, for he was too weak to stand upright. It had happened that, about the same time, Mark, an Asiatic, and the author of his life, came to Jerusalem with the same intent. He was much edified by the devotion with which Porphyrius visited the holy places. And seeing him, one day, labour with great pain up the stairs in the chapel built by Constantine, he ran to him to offer his assistance; but Porphyrius refused it, saying, "It is not {435} right that I who am come hither to supplicate pardon for my sins should be eased by any one: rather let me undergo some labour and inconvenience, that God, beholding it, may have compassion on me." He never omitted his visits of piety to the holy places, and daily partook of the Holy Sacrament. The only thing that afflicted him was, that his fortune had not as yet been sold for the use of the poor. This he commissioned Mark to do for him, who accordingly set out for Thessalonica, and in three months' time returned to Jerusalem with money and effects, to the value of four thousand five hundred pieces of gold. When the blessed man saw him, he embraced him, with tears of joy. But Porphyrius was now so completely recovered, that Mark scarcely knew him to be the same person: for his body was erect and vigorous, and his face looked full, fresh, and ruddy. Porphyrius perceiving his friend's amazement, said with a smile, "Be not surprised, Mark, to see me in perfect health and strength, but admire the unspeakable goodness of Christ, who can easily cure what man has despaired of." Mark asked him by what means he had recovered. He replied, "Forty days ago, being in extreme pain, I made a shift to reach Mount Calvary, where, fainting away, I fell into a kind of trance, during which, methought I saw our Saviour on the cross, and the good thief hanging beside him. I said to Christ, Lord, Remember me, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom: whereupon he ordered the thief to come to my assistance, and he, raising me off the ground on which I lay, bade me go to Christ. I ran to Him, and He coming off His cross, said to me, Take this wood (meaning the cross) into thy custody. In obedience to Him, methought I laid it on my shoulders and carried it some way. I awoke soon after, and have been free from pain ever since, and without the least appearance of my having ever ailed any thing." Mark {436} was so edified with the holy man's discourse and good example, that he resolved to live with him, for he was endued with a divine prudence, an eminent spirit of prayer, and a complete control over his passions. He distributed all the money and effects Mark had brought him among the necessitous in Palestine and Egypt, so that in a very short time, he had reduced himself to the necessity of labouring for his daily food. He therefore learned to make shoes and dress leather, while Mark, being well skilled in writing, obtained a handsome livelihood by copying books. He therefore desired the saint to partake of his earnings. But Porphyrius replied, in the words of S. Paul, He that doth not work, neither let him eat. He led this laborious and penitential life till he was forty years of age, when the bishop of Jerusalem ordained him priest, though much against his will, and committed to him the keeping of the holy Cross. This was in 393. The saint changed nothing in his austere life, feeding only upon roots and the coarsest bread, and not eating till after sunset, except on Sundays and holy days, when he ate at noon, and added a little oil and cheese; and a small quantity of wine in the water he drank. This was his method of living till his death. Having been elected bishop of Gaza without his knowledge, in 396, John, the metropolitan and archbishop of CŠsarea, wrote to the patriarch of Jerusalem to desire him to send over Porphyrius, that he might consult him on certain difficult passages of Scripture. He was sent accordingly, but charged to return in seven days. Porphyrius, receiving this order, seemed at first disturbed, but said, "God's will be done." That evening he called Mark, and said to him, "Brother Mark, let us go and venerate the holy places and the sacred Cross, for it will be long before we shall be able to do it again." Mark asked him why he said this. He answered, "Our Saviour appeared to me the night past, and said 'Give {437} up the treasure of the cross which thou hast, for I will marry thee to a wife, poor indeed, and despicable, but of great piety and virtue. Take care to adorn her well; for, however contemptible she may appear, she is My sister.' This," said he, "Christ signified to me last night: and I fear, in consequence, that I am about to be charged with the sins of others, whilst I labour to expiate my own; but the will of God must be obeyed." When they had venerated the holy places, and the sacred Cross, and Porphyrius had prayed long before it, with many tears, he shut up the Cross in its golden case, and delivered the keys to the bishop; and, having obtained his blessing, he, and his disciple, Mark, set out, with three others. They arrived the next day, which was Saturday, at CŠsarea. The archbishop obliged them to sup with him. After spiritual discourse they took a little sleep, and then rose to assist at the night service. Next morning the archbishop bid the GazŠans lay hold on Porphyrius, and, while they held him, he ordained him bishop. The holy man wept bitterly, and was inconsolable at being promoted to a dignity for which he judged himself unfit. The GazŠans, however, performed their part in endeavouring to comfort him; and, having assisted at the Sunday office, and stayed one day more at CŠsarea, they set out for Gaza, and, late on Wednesday night, arrived there much harassed and fatigued. For the heathens living in the villages near Gaza, having notice of their coming, had so damaged the roads in several places, and clogged them with thorns and logs of wood, that they were scarcely passable.

That year happened to be one of great drought, and this the pagans ascribed to the coming of the new Christian bishop, saying that their god Marnas had foretold that Porphyrius would bring public calamities on their city. In Gaza stood a famous temple of that idol, which the emperor {438} Theodosius the Elder had commanded to be shut up, but not demolished, on account of its beautiful structure. The governor afterwards had permitted the heathens to open it again. As no rain fell the two first months after the arrival of S. Porphyrius, the idolaters, in great affliction, assembled in this temple to offer sacrifices, and make supplications to their god Marnas, whom they called the Lord of rains. These they repeated for seven days, going also to a place of prayer outside the town. But, finding all their endeavours ineffectual, they lost all hopes of a supply. A dearth ensuing, the Christians, to the number of two hundred and eighty, women and children included, after a day's fast and a night's vigil, by the order of their bishop, went in procession to S. Timothy's church, in which lay the relics of the holy martyr, S. Meuris, and of the confessor, S. Theis, singing hymns. But, on their return to the city, they found the gates shut against them, and the heathens obstinately determined not to open them. In this situation, the Christians addressed Almighty God with redoubled fervour, imploring Him to send them the blessing so much wanted. Presently the clouds gathered, and there fell such a quantity of rain, that the heathens opened their gates, and, joining them, cried out, "Christ alone is God: He alone has overcome." They accompanied the Christians to the church, to thank God for the benefit received; and this miracle resulted in the conversion of one hundred and seventy-six persons, whom the saint instructed, baptized, and confirmed, as he did also one hundred and five more before the end of that year. The miraculous preservation of the life of a pagan woman in labour, who had been despaired of, occasioned the conversion of that family and others, to the number of sixty-four.

The heathens, perceiving their number decrease, grew very troublesome to the Christians, whom they excluded {439} from commerce, and all public offices, and annoyed in various ways. S. Porphyrius, to screen himself and his flock from their outrages, had recourse to the Emperor's protection. On this errand he sent Mark, his disciple, to Constantinople, and went thither, afterward, himself, in company with John, his metropolitan, archbishop of CŠsarea. At Constantinople they applied to S. John Chrysostom, who joyfully received them, and recommended them to the eunuch Amantius, who had great credit with the Empress, and was a zealous servant of God. Amantius, having introduced them to the Empress, she received them with great distinction, assured them of her protection, and begged their prayers for her safe delivery, a favour she received a few days after. She desired them, in another visit, to sign her and her new-born son, Theodosius the Younger, with the cross, which they did. The young prince was baptized with great solemnity, and on that occasion the Empress obtained from the Emperor all that the bishops had requested, and in particular that the temple of Gaza should be demolished. An imperial edict was drawn up for this purpose, and delivered to Cynegius, a patrician full of zeal, who was charged to see it executed. They stayed at Constantinople during the feast of Easter, and, at their departure, the Emperor and Empress bestowed on them great presents. When they landed in Palestine, near Gaza, the Christians came out to meet them, with a cross carried before them, singing hymns. In the place called Tetramphodos, or Four-ways-end, stood a marble statue of Venus, on a marble altar, which was in great reputation for giving oracles to young women about the choice of husbands. As the two bishops, with the procession of the Christians, and the cross borne before them, passed through that square, this idol fell down of itself, and was broken to pieces; whereupon thirty-two men and seven women were converted.

{440} Ten days after, arrived Cynegius, having with him a duke, or general, with a strong guard of soldiers, and the civil magistrates of the country. He assembled the citizens, and read to them the emperor's edict, commanding their idols and temples to be destroyed. This was accordingly done, and no less than eight public temples in the city were burnt; viz., those of the Sun, Venus, Apollo, Proserpine, Hecate, the Hierion, the temple of fortune, and that of Marnas. The Marnion, in which men had been often sacrificed, burned for many days. After this, the private houses and courts were all searched; the idols were every where burned or thrown into the common sewers, and all books of magic and superstition were cast into the flames. Many idolators desired baptism; but the saint gave them a long probation, and prepared them for that sacrament by daily instructions. On the spot where the temple of Marnas had stood, was built the church of Eudoxia, in the figure of a cross. The empress sent for this purpose, precious pillars and rich marble from Constantinople. Of the marble taken out of the Marnion, S. Porphyrius made steps and a road to the church, that it might be trampled upon. Before he would suffer the church to be begun, he proclaimed a fast, and the next morning, attended by his clergy and all the Christians in the city, they went in a body to the place, from the church Irene, singing the Venite exultemus Domino, and other psalms, and answering to every verse, Allelulia; the procession being led by a cross. They all set to work, carrying stones and other materials, and digging the foundations, according to the plan marked out and directed by Rufinus, a celebrated architect, singing psalms and saying prayers during their work. The church was begun in 403, when thirty high pillars arrived from Constantinople, two of which, called CarostiŠ, shone like emeralds, when placed in the church. It took five years to build, and, when {441} finished in 408, the bishop performed the consecration of it on Easter-day, with the greatest pomp and solemnity. His alms to the poor on that occasion seemed boundless. The good bishop spent the remainder of his life in zealously instructing his flock in the doctrine of God, and in all virtuous living.

The heathen, on one occasion, rose in sedition, attacked the house of the bishop, and set it on fire, so that he and his deacons were obliged to escape over the roof, and take refuge in the room of a maiden of fourteen, an orphan, named Salaphtha, and a heathen. The girl showed them every kindness, keeping their place of retreat secret, and supplying them with bread and cheese and vegetables. The bishop took the opportunity of infusing into the young mind of the girl the first principles of Christianity, and when the tumult was abated, and he with his companions were able to go forth in safety, he left her earnestly desiring baptism. The maiden afterwards became a zealous Christian, and was consecrated to a life of virginity by the old bishop, whom she had saved from the rage of his enemies.


February 27.

(A.D. 250.)

[Roman Martyrology; but some on Feb. 19th; by the Greeks on Oct. 30th. Authority:—The contemporary letters by Dionysius, B. of Alexandria, to Germanus, quoted by Eusebius, Hist. Eccles. vi., c. 41.]

SAINT DIONYSIUS, bishop of Alexandria, in a letter describing the sufferings of his church during the persecutions of Decius, after having lamented the apostacy of some, adds: "But others remained firm and blessed pillars of the Lord, confirmed by the Lord himself, and receiving of Him strength suited to their measure of faith, proved admirable witnesses of His kingdom. The first of these was Julian, a man afflicted with the gout, neither able to walk nor to stand, who, with two others that carried him, was arraigned. Of these, the one immediately denied his faith, but the other, named Chronion, surnamed Eunus, and the aged Julian himself, having confessed the Lord, were carried on camels through the whole city, a very large one, as you know, and were scourged, and finally consumed in an immense fire, in the midst of a crowd of spectators. But a soldier, named Besas, standing near, having opposed the insolence of the multitude whilst these martyrs were on the way to execution, {443} was assailed by them with loud shouts, and this brave soldier of God, after he had excelled in the great conflict of piety, was beheaded."

Relics at Autun.

(A.D. 297.)

[Greek MenŠa. Authority:—The Chronicon Alexandrinum, or Chron. Paschale, under date 269 from the Ascension, which is equivalent to 297 of the vulgar era. In this Chronicle he is called Gelasinus. Theodoret may, perhaps, allude to him, when he says that some have passed from the stage of the theatre to the ranks of the martyrs. Du curand GrŠc. Affect., Serm. 8. Much the same circumstances are related of S. Genesius (Aug. 25th), who suffered about 286, unless both are the same; Gelasius in the West becoming Genesius by a slight change of liquids.]

Gelasius was a comic actor, the second clown of the theatre at Heliopolis, in Phœnicia. One day, on the stage was performed a parody of Christian rites for the amusement of the heathen spectators. A large bathing tub was introduced on the stage, filled with warm water, and the clown, Gelasius, was dipped in it, the other clown pronouncing over him the sacramental words. When he rose from the bath, and was vested in white, it was observed that a change had come over him; the jesting air and laugh were gone, and a solemn expression had overspread his countenance. "I am a Christian," said he; "in the font I saw a dazzling light. Therefore, I will die as a Christian." As soon as the audience became aware that he spoke in sober earnest, the theatre became a scene of wild tumult, the people deserted their seats, and rushed on the stage, and dragged the poor actor forth, clothed in his white robe, and stoned him to death outside the theatre. His body was transported to the village of Mariamnia, near Heliopolis, of which he was a native, and an oratory was erected by the Christians over his tomb.



[Some Gallican Martyrologies.]

Nothing whatever is known of this saint. The author of the history of the translation of her relics to Conflans, near Pontoise, a short distance from Paris, says that her virtues, her merits, and her mode of passion, are utterly unknown. So also is the date of her death. The relics were translated about the year a.d. 912. As an instance of the manner in which confusion has arisen in the lives and acts of martyrs of an early date, it is deserving of mention that in the church of Quimper, the Matin lections for the feast of S. Honorina are portions of the Acts of S. Dorothea, transferred to Feb. 27th, to do duty for the unrecorded S. Honorina.

(ABOUT A.D. 460.)

[Greek MenŠa. No commemoration in Western Church. Authority:—Theodoret, Philothaeus, c. xxviii.]

"Not only have I heard of this man from others," says Theodoret, "but I saw him myself." ThalelŠus erected for his habitation a small hut against an idol shrine, near Gabala, to which many people resorted, and where they offered sacrifice to devils. The evil spirits, enraged at his thus assaulting them in their sanctuary, endeavoured by hideous clamours and frightful apparitions, to scare the Christian hermit away; but every effort of demons and idolaters to drive him from this shrine proved ineffectual. ThalelŠus succeeded in converting many who came as votaries to the temple, and persuaded them to bend their necks to the sweet yoke of Christ's law. With many of {445} these converts Theodoret conversed. After that ThalelŠus had lived thus a while, he devised for himself a strange and horrible penance. He made two wheels, and then joined them by pieces of wood into a species of barrel, but open between the bars. He enclosed himself within this case, which was so low that his chin rested on his knees, and remained therein for many years. He had been ten years in it when Theodoret saw him. This frightful self-immolation is by no means to be regarded as deserving of imitation. But it was called forth by peculiar circumstances, and for a special purpose. The rude people of Syria could be impressed no other way. To win these souls from heathenism this phase of the ascetic life was evoked, it served its purpose, and passed away.

(ABOUT A.D. 596.)

[Roman Martyrology, and those of Usuardus, Notker, Ado, and Bede; but by the Spanish Church and Mozarabic Kalendar, followed by the Bollandists, on March 13th. Authorities:—His own writings, the letters of S. Gregory the Great, and early Spanish histories.]

This illustrious friend of the great S. Gregory, this apostle of the Visigoths, was of illustrious birth. His father, Severian duke of Carthagena, and mother, Turtura, of royal Ostrogoth blood, had three sons and two daughters. The sons were, S. Leander, S. Fulgentius, B. of Ecija, and S. Isidore, who succeeded Leander as archbishop of Seville. The daughters were S. Florentina, abbess of fifty convents, and the princess Theodosia, married to king Leovigild, who became the mother of the illustrious martyr, S. Hermenigild.

From his boyhood, Leander was regarded as endowed {446} with singular eloquence and power of fascinating others. He retired, when young, from the world, and took the religious habit in a monastery of Seville, where he gained so great a reputation that, on the archiepiscopal see becoming vacant, he was elected to it by the unanimous voice of clergy and people.

Leovigild, his brother-in-law, then reigned over the Visigoth kingdom, in Spain, and openly professed Arianism. This caused great embarrassment to Leander, who used every effort to confirm the Catholics in their faith, and to oppose the heretics at every point. He was sent on an embassy from the Catholics to the emperor Tiberius, at Constantinople, where he made the acquaintance of S. Gregory the Great, then cardinal-deacon of Pope Pelagius II., who had sent him at this time on the affairs of the church, to the imperial court. The warmest attachment sprang up between these two great men, and it was at the instance of S. Leander, that S. Gregory wrote his famous "Morals of the Book of Job." When their business was concluded, both saints returned to their country, S. Gregory to Italy, and S. Leander to Spain, where he succeeded in converting prince Hermenigild, his nephew, the eldest son of king Leovigild. This placed the Catholics in great danger. The king, in an explosion of rage, executed his son on Easter-day, 586, and began a furious persecution of the Church. S. Leander and his brother, S. Fulgentius, together with several other bishops, were exiled, and the king seized on the property and revenues of the Church, and, adding cruelty to robbery, put several nobles to death, and confiscated their lands.

S. Leander, though exiled, warred with his pen against the Arian heresy, and wrote two works confuting the errors of Arianism, and a third book answering objections which had been raised against his arguments.

{447} The persecution did not last long, for in the following year, 587, Leovigild, finding himself about to die, recalled the Catholic bishops, and commended his son, Recared, to the care of S. Leander. Thus, to use the words of S. Gregory, Recared, following not the perfidy of his father, an Arian, but the faith of his martyred brother, was brought himself, and the whole nation of the Visigoths, to the true faith.

In the third council of Toledo, 589, the archbishop of Seville presiding, a solemn declaration of the consubstantiality of the Divine Persons was drawn up, and signed by the king, Recared, and his queen, Badda, daughter of king Arthur, of Britain. Next year another synod was held at Seville, in which he presided, to establish the complete conversion of the nation from Arianism to the true faith.

S. Leander died in 596, on March 13th, and his body was laid in the church of SS. Justus and Rufina. His relics are now preserved in a chapel of the Cathedral church.

In art, S. Leander appears with (1) a flaming heart in his hand, to represent his zeal for the conversion of the Visigoths, but this is a symbol used for a multitude of other saints; or with (2) a pen; or (3) with Recared or Hermenigild as a boy at his side.

(ABOUT A.D. 660.)

[Roman Martyrology, and those of Bede, Usuardus, Ado, Notker, &c. Authority:—An ancient epitome of his life, pub. by the Bollandists. In French he is called S. Garmier or S. Germier.]

Baldomer was a blacksmith of Lyons, living a simple, pious life, "in chastity clean, in friendship firm, in charity {448} benign, in reading intent, in watchings solicitous, in almsgiving prompt," says his biographer. S. Viventius, abbot of S. Just, going into a church one day, noticed the blacksmith at his devotions, and afterwards entering into conversation with him, was so struck with his holiness and knowledge of the Scriptures, that he gave him a cell in his abbey, where he edified all the brethren by his modesty and diligence. His gentleness was so great, that at meal times he crumbled bread in his hand, and, holding it out of the window, the wild birds came, full of trust, and perched on his fingers. Then he would say, "Eat, little birds, eat, and praise the Lord." He was ordained subdeacon much against his will, by Caudrick, bishop of Lyons, and died about the year 660.

(ABOUT A.D. 727.)

[Anglican Martyrology of John Wilson, in the first edition; but in the second edition on Nov. 25th. Ferrarius and Bollandus on Feb. 27th. Authority:—Mention in the life of S. Wereburga, attributed to Joscelyn, c. 3.]

S. Alnoth was a hermit, who had been a cowherd of S Wereburga, but embracing the eremitical life, settled in a wood at Stowe, near Bugbrook, in Northamptonshire, but was murdered by robbers. His body was buried at Stowe.


February 28.


ON the last day of February are commemorated two friends of S. Paul, Nymphas, of whom he speaks in his Epistle to the Colossians, and Eubulus, whom he mentions in his Second Epistle to S. Timothy, as being with him at Rome. Nymphas was at Laodicea. Nothing further is known of these two.

(A.D. 261-3.)

[Roman Martyrology. Authority:—A paschal letter by Dionysius, patriarch of Alexandria, quoted by Eusebius. lib. viii. c. 21, 22.]

These brave victims of the plague in Alexandria, who died through ministering to pest-stricken heathens and Christians alike, are commemorated by the Church as examples to all whose office or charity calls them to attend to the sick. Dionysius, the patriarch, writes of the pestilence which succeeded war and famine in Alexandria, in one of his Easter letters, "To other men the present is a fit season for a festival, but now to us all things are filled with {450} tears; all are mourning, and by reason of the multitudes, already dead and dying, the whole city resounds with groans. As when the first-born of Egypt were slain, so is it now; there is a great lamentation, for there is not a house in which is not one dead. I wish this were all, but we have undergone other calamities before this plague. First, we were driven into exile, and persecuted, and put to death; then came war and the famine, which, indeed, we and the heathen endured alike; and now we are assailed by this pestilence, a calamity to the heathen more dreadful than anything else, but not so to us, but rather a school to try us. Most of our brethren, by their exceeding great love and brotherly affection, not sparing themselves, were constant in their attendance on the sick, ministering to their wants without fear and without cessation, and they have departed most sweetly with those to whom they ministered. Many also, who had healed others, fell victims themselves. The best of our brethren have departed this life in this way, some were priests, others deacons, and some laity of great commendation. This death, with the piety and ardent faith which attended it, appears to be but little inferior to martyrdom itself. Our people took up the bodies of these saints with their open hands and on their bosoms, cleansed their eyes and closed their mouths, carried them on their shoulders, and composed their limbs, and decently washed and clothed them for burial, and those who did this themselves shared in receiving the same offices. Those that survived always followed those going before them. But it was different with the heathen. They repelled those who began to sicken, and avoided their dearest friends. They would cast them out into the roads half-dead, or throw them out when dead without burial, shunning all communication with the sick and infected."



The bodies of fourteen martyrs, by name, Symphorian, Macarius, Victorinus, Maurice, Anicetus, Modestus, Cyriacus, Faustus, Placidus, Rocchus, Alexander, Genesius, Eulalia, and Irene, extracted from the catacombs of S. Callixtus and S. Lucina, are preserved at Antwerp, in the Church of the Jesuits, to which they were translated on Feb. 27th, 1650. Nothing is known of the acts and martyrdom of these saints.

(A.D. 457.)

[Greek MenŠa on this day. Baronius and others have expressed surprise that the name of S. Proterius is inserted in no Western Martyrologies. Authority:—Evagrius, lib. iii. 13; Theophanes, the letters of Anatolius, Patr. of Constantinople, &c.]

S. Proterius was the head of the orthodox party at Alexandria, when the patriarch Dioscorus adopted Eutychian views. That unprincipled and haughty prelate, knowing the esteem in which Proterius was held, made him arch-priest of his diocese; but as his heretical opinions became more evident, Proterius took decided steps to oppose him, and on the condemnation and deposition of Dioscorus by the Council of Chalcedon, in 452, he was ordained in his room. This led to a schism in the Church of Alexandria, the Catholics acknowledging Proterius, and the Eutychians holding with Dioscorus. The Eutychians were headed by two ecclesiastics, Timothy Ailurus, and Mongus, who had been excommunicated for heresy. In a tumult that broke out, Ailurus, having obtained consecration from two bishops of their faction, mounted the episcopal {452} throne, and proclaimed himself sole patriarch of Alexandria. Proterius fled for safety to the baptistery of the Church of S. Quirinus, but the heretics broke in and stabbed him to death; then dragged his body through the streets, hacked it to pieces, and burnt it.

(A.D. 460.)

[Roman, Benedictine, and most Latin Martyrologies. Authorities:—A life by a contemporary monk of Condate, also a life by S. Gregory of Tours.]

Romanus, trained in the monastery of Ainay, near Lyons, left his father's house at the age of thirty-five, and carrying with him "Lives of the Fathers of the Desert," and some tools and vegetable seeds, made his way into the high mountains and inhabited forests of the Jura, found a site enclosed between three steep heights, at the confluence of two streams, and there founded, under the name of Condate, a monastery destined to become one of the most celebrated in the West. The soil was well adapted for cultivation, but in consequence of the difficulty of access to the place, it became the property of the first occupant. He found shelter at first under an enormous fir tree, the thick branches of which represented to him the palm which served Paul, the first hermit, in the desert of Egypt, for a tent; then he began to read, to pray, and to plant his herbs, with a certainty of being protected against the curious and importunate, by the extreme roughness of the paths which crossed those precipices, and also by the masses of fallen and interlaced trees, which are often met with in fir woods not yet subjected to regular care and tendance.

His solitude was disturbed only by the wild animals, and now and then by some bold huntsman. However, he was {453} joined there by his brother Lupicinus and others, in so great a number, that they were soon obliged to spread themselves, and form new establishments in the environs. The two brothers governed these monasteries together, and maintained order and discipline, not without difficulty, among the increasing multitude of novices, against which an old monk protested, complaining that they did not even leave him room in which to lie down. Women followed; and upon a neighbouring rock, suspended like a nest at the edge of a precipice, the sister of our two abbots ruled five hundred virgins, so severely cloistered, that having once entered the convent, they were seen no more, except during the transit of their bodies from the death bed to the grave.

As for the monks, each had a separate cell; they had only the church and the refectory in common. In summer they took their siesta under the great firs, which in winter protected their dwelling against the snow and the north wind. They sought to imitate the anchorites of the East, whose various rules they studied daily, tempering them by certain alleviations, which were necessitated by the climate; their daily labour, and even by the constitution of the Gaulish race. They wore sabots, and tunics of skins tacked together, which protected them from the rain, but not from the rigorous cold of these bleak heights, where people are, says their biographer, in winter sometimes crushed beneath the snow, and in summer stifled by the heat produced by the reflection of the sun upon the perpendicular walls of rock. Lupicinus surpassed them all in austerity; he slept in the trunk of an old tree, and lived only upon pottage made of barley-meal, ground with the bran, without salt, without oil, and without even milk; and one day, disgusted at the delicacy of his brethren, he threw indiscriminately into the same pot, the fish, the herbs, and the roots, which the monks had prepared apart, and with {454} some care. The community was greatly irritated, and twelve monks, whose patience was exhausted, went away. Upon this, an altercation arose between the two brothers. "It would have been better," said Romanus to Lupicinus, "not to have come hither, than to be a cause of dispersion to our monks." "Never mind," answered Lupicinus, "it is the straw separating from the corn; those twelve are proud, mounted on stilts, and God is not with them." However, the more gentle and forbearing Romanus succeeded in bringing back the fugitives, who all, in their turn, became superiors of communities.

S. Romanus made a pilgrimage to Agaunum (S. Maurice in the Valais), to visit the scene of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion. On his way, he cured two lepers by a kiss, and the fame of this miracle coming to the ears of the Genevese, the bishop and clergy, and the whole town, turned out to meet and receive him with honour.

When he felt that he must die, he called to him his sister from the convent on the rock, and his brother Lupicinus, to whom he commended the care of his monks, and then fell asleep in Christ.[71]

Relics in the Church of S. Romain-de-Roche in the Jura.

[71]   Chiefly from the Monks of the West, ii. p. 486, seq.


February 29.

(A.D. 992.)

[Wilson's Anglican Martyrology, and those of Wyon, Menardus, and Morolycus. But Molanus on October 15th. Authorities:—His life by Eadmer; also Florence of Worcester, William of Malmesbury, and the Ramsey Chronicle.]

OSWALD, the only saint commemorated on Feb. 29th, was the nephew of S. Odo, archbishop of Canterbury, and of Osketill, bishop, first of Dorchester, and afterwards of York. He was educated by S. Odo, and made first canon and then dean of Winchester, but he took the monastic habit in the abbey of Fleury, in France, and was recalled by S. Odo to England, where he found favour with S. Dunstan, who commended him to king Edgar, and, by his command, he was chosen bishop of Worcester, about the year 959. One of his first acts was to establish twelve monks at Westbury, in his diocese. He afterwards built Ramsey monastery, on an island in Ramsey Mere, given to the Order of S. Benedict by Earl Hilwyn, cousin of king Edgar, who had been cured of gout by an apparition of the patriarch of western monks. S. Dunstan, as is well known, laboured diligently to enforce celibacy on the clergy in England. A council was held in 969, in which the clergy were ordered to live single or to resign their cures, and Oswald of Worcester, and Ethelwold of Winchester, were commissioned to enforce this decree. Oswald was afterwards made archbishop of York, without resigning the see of Worcester. {456} He had established a Benedictine monastery, dedicated to the Mother of God, at Worcester, and the monastic church from that time became the Cathedral.

It was his wont to wash every day the feet of twelve poor men, whom he afterwards fed. On the Tuesday after the third Sunday in Lent, Feb. 29th, he was performing this duty as usual. After he had wiped the feet of the last poor man, and had stooped to kiss them, he said "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," and gently expired.

He died, and was buried at Worcester. Ten years after, his remains were taken up by his successor, Adulph, and translated to York, on October 15th. It is said that when his body was taken into Worcester Abbey Church, after his death, a white dove hovered above it. His purple and gold stole was preserved in Beverley Minster, in the time of Thomas Stubbs, who mentions the fact in his account of the Archbishops of York.

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson & Co.
Edinburgh and London

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