The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints, Vol. 7. July

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Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation has been standardized.

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This book was written in a period when many words had not become standardized in their spelling. Words may have multiple spelling variations or inconsistent hyphenation in the text. These have been left unchanged unless indicated with a Transcriber’s Note.

Footnotes are identified in the text with a superscript number and have been accumulated in a table at the end of the text.

Transcriber’s Notes are used when making corrections to the text or to provide additional information for the modern reader. These notes are not identified in the text, but have been accumulated in a table at the end of the book.

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St. Rumold, Bishop and Martyr
SS. Julius and Aaron, Martyrs
St. Theobald, Confessor
St. Gal, Bishop
Another St. Gal, Bishop
St. Calais, Abbot
St. Leonorus, Bishop
St. Simeon
St. Thierri, Abbot
St. Cybar, Recluse
The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin
SS. Processus and Martinian, Martyrs
St. Otho, Bishop and Confessor
St. Monegondes, Recluse
St. Oudoceus, Bishop
St. Phocas, Martyr
St. Guthagon, Recluse
St. Gunthiern, Abbot
St. Bertran, Bishop
St. Ulric, Bishop and Confessor
St. Odo, Bishop and Confessor
St. Sisoes, Anchoret
St. Bertha, Widow, Abbess
St. Finbar, Abbot in Ireland
St. Bolcan, Abbot in Ireland
St. Peter, Bishop and Confessor
St. Modwena, Virgin in Ireland
St. Edana, Virgin in Ireland
St. Palladius, Bishop and Confessor, Apostle of the Scots
Account of ancient principal Scottish Saints commemorated in an ancient Scottish Calendar published by Mr. Robert Keith
St. Julian, Anchoret
St. Sexburgh, Abbess
St. Goar, Priest, Confessor
St. Moninna, Virgin in Ireland
St. Pantænus, Father of the Church
St. Willibald, Bishop and Confessor
St. Hedda, Bishop and Confessor
St. Edelburga, Virgin
St. Felix, Bishop and Confessor
St. Benedict XI., Pope and Confessor
St. Elizabeth, Queen of Portugal
St. Procopius, Martyr
SS. Kilian, Bishop, Colman, Priest, and Totnan, Deacon, Martyrs
St. Withburge, Virgin
B. Theobald, Abbot
St. Grimbald, Abbot
St. Ephrem, Doctor of the Church
Appendix on the Writings of St. Ephrem
SS. Martyrs of Gorcum
St. Everildis, Virgin
St. Veronica Giuliani
The Seven Brothers, and St. Felicitas, their mother, Martyrs
SS. Rufina and Secunda, Virgins, Martyrs
St. James, Bishop and Confessor
His Writings
St. Hidulphus, Bishop
St. Pius I., Pope and Martyr
St. Drostan, Abbot in Scotland
St. John Gualbert, Abbot
SS. Nabor and Felix, Martyrs
St. Eugenius, Bishop, &c., Confessors
St. Anacletus, Pope and Martyr
St. Turiaf, Bishop
St. Bonaventure, Cardinal, Bishop, and Doctor of the Church
Life of B. Giles of Assisio
Lives and Writings of Peter Lombard, surnamed Master of the Sentences, Bishop of Paris, John Duns Scotus, Professor of Divinity at Oxford, and William Ockham
St. Camillus de Lellis, Confessor
St. Idus, Bishop in Ireland
St. Henry II., Emperor
Some account of the Territories conferred by Pepin, and confirmed by Charlemagne, on the Holy See
St. Plechelm, Bishop and Confessor
St. Swithin, Bishop and Confessor
St. Eustathius, Patriarch of Antioch, Confessor
Life and Writings of Eusebius, Bishop of Cæsarea
St. Elier, Hermit and Martyr
St. Alexius, Confessor
St. Speratus, &c., Martyrs
Life and Writings of Tertullian
St. Marcellina, Virgin
St. Ennodius, Bishop and Confessor
St. Leo IV., Pope and Confessor
Some Account of the Slander of Pope Joan
St. Turninus, Confessor, of Ireland
St. Symphorosa and her seven Sons, Martyrs
St. Philastrius, Bishop and Confessor
St. Arnoul, Bishop and Confessor
St. Arnoul, Martyr
St. Frederic, Bishop and Martyr
St. Odulph, Confessor
St. Bruno, Bishop and Confessor
St. Vincent of Paul, Confessor
Some Account of Jansenism
St. Arsenius, Anchoret of Sceté
St. Symmachus, Pope and Confessor
St. Macrina, Virgin
St. Joseph Barsabas, Confessor
St. Margaret, Virgin and Martyr
SS. Justa and Rufina, Martyrs
St. Ceslas, Confessor
St. Aurelius, Bishop and Confessor
St. Ulmar, Abbot
St. Jerom Æmiliani, Confessor
St. Praxedes, Virgin
St. Zoticus, Bishop and Martyr
St. Barhadbesciabas, Martyr
St. Victor, Martyr
Life and Writings of Cassian
Lives and Writings of Hugh and Richard, Canon Regulars of St. Victor
St. Arbogastus, Bishop and Confessor
St. Mary Magdalen
St. Vandrille, Abbot
St. Joseph of Palestine
St. Meneve, Abbot
St. Dabius, Confessor, of Ireland
St. Apollinaris, Bishop and Martyr
St. Liborius, Bishop and Confessor
St. Lupus, Bishop and Confessor
St. Francis Solano, Confessor
SS. Romanus and David, Martyrs
Some Account of the Russians, their Saints, &c.
St. Christina, Virgin and Martyr
SS. Wulfhad and Ruffin, Martyrs
St. Lewine, Virgin and Martyr
St. Declan, Bishop in Ireland
St. Kinga, Virgin
St. James the Great, Apostle
St. Christopher, Martyr
SS. Thea and Valentine, Virgins, and St. Paul, Martyrs
St. Cucufas, Martyr
St. Nissen, Abbot in Ireland
St. Anne, Mother of the Blessed Virgin
St. Germanus, Bishop and Confessor
St. Pantaleon, Martyr
SS. Maximian, Malchus, Martinian, Dionysius, John, Serapion, and Constantine, Martyrs
St. Congall, Abbot in Ireland
St. Lucian, Confessor in Ireland
SS. Nazarius and Celsus, Martyrs
St. Victor, Pope and Martyr
St. Innocent I., Pope and Confessor
St. Sampson, Bishop and Confessor
St. Martha, Virgin
SS. Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice, Martyrs
St. Felix, Pope and Martyr
St. William, Bishop and Confessor
St. Olaus, King and Martyr
Another St. Olaus, King and Martyr
SS. Abdon and Sennen, Martyrs
St. Julitta, Martyr
St. Ignatius of Loyola, Confessor
St. John Columbini, Confessor
St. Helen, Martyr




From the Bollandists. Ward, Act. &c. S. Rumoldi, Lov. 1662, 4to. Sellerii Act. S. Rumoldi, An. 1718, &c.

A. D. 775.

St. Rumold renounced the world in his youth and embraced a state of voluntary poverty, being convinced that whatever exceeds the calls of nature is a useless load and a perfect burden to him that bears it. He was the most declared enemy to voluptuousness; and by frugality, moderation, and a heart pure and disengaged from all seducing vanities, and desires of what is superfluous, he tasted the most solid pleasure which virtue gives in freeing a man from the tyranny of his passions, when he feels them subjected to him, and finds himself above them. Victorious over himself, by humility, meekness, and mortification, he reaped in his soul, without any obstacles from self-love or inordinate attachments, the sweet and happy fruits of assiduous prayer and contemplation, whereby he sanctified his studies, in which he made great progress, and at the same time advanced daily in Christian perfection. He had faithfully served God many years in his own country, when an ardent zeal for the divine honor and the salvation of souls induced him to travel into Lower Germany to preach the faith to the idolaters. He made a journey first to Rome to receive his mission from the chief pastor, and with the apostolic blessing went into Brabant, great part of which country about Mechlin he converted to the faith. He was ordained a regionary or missionary bishop without any fixed see. He frequently interrupted his exterior functions to renew his spirit before God in holy solitude. In his retirement he was slain on the 24th of June in 775, by two sons of Belial, one of whom he had reproved for adultery. His body was thrown into a river, but being miraculously discovered, it was honorably interred by his virtuous friend and protector, count Ado. A great and sumptuous church was built at Mechlin to receive his precious relics, which is still possessed of that treasure, and bears the name of this saint. The city of Mechlin keeps his feast a solemn holiday, and honors him as its patron and apostle. Janning the Bollandist gives a long history of his miracles. His great church at Mechlin was raised to the metropolitical dignity by Paul IV. Ware says that the feast of St. Rumold was celebrated as a double festival with an office of nine lessons throughout the province of Dublin before the reformation. It was extended to the whole kingdom of Ireland in the year 1741.

It was from the spirit of prayer that the saints derived all their lights and all their strength. This was the source of all the blessings which heaven through their intercession showered down on the world, and the means which they employed to communicate an angelical purity to their souls. “This spirit,” says a father of the Church,2 “is nourished by retreat, which in some manner may be called the parent of purity.” This admirable transformation of our souls produced by prayer is to be attributed to God’s glory, which by prayer he makes to shine in the secret of our hearts. In fine, when all the avenues of our senses are closed against the creature, and that God dwells with us, and we with God; when freed from the tumult and distractions of the world we apply all our attention to interior things and consider ourselves such as we are, we then become capable of clearly contemplating the kingdom of God, established in us by that charity and ardent love which consumes all the rust of earthly affections. For the kingdom of heaven, or rather the Lord of heaven itself, is within us, as Jesus Christ himself assures us.


These saints were Britons, and seem to have taken, the one a Roman and the other a Hebrew name at their baptism. They glorified God by martyrdom at Caerleon upon Usk in Monmouthshire, in the persecution of Dioclesian, probably about the year 303. St Gildas,3 St. Bede,4 and others, speak of their triumph as having been most illustrious. Leland and Bale say, SS. Julius and Aaron had travelled to Rome, and “there applied themselves to the sacred studies.” Bede adds, “very many others of both sexes, by unheard-of tortures, attained to the crown of heavenly glory.” Giraldus Cambrensis informs us, that their bodies were honored at Caerleon in the year 1200, when he wrote. Each of these martyrs had a titular church in that city; that of St. Julius, belonged to a nunnery, and that of St. Aaron to a monastery of canons. See Godwin De Episc. Landav. Geoffrey of Monmouth, Giraldus Cambrensis, Leland, and Tanner, Bibl. Britan. p. 1.


He was of the family of the counts palatine of Champagne, and son of count Arnoul. He was born at Provins in Brie in 1017, and was called Theobald from the most virtuous archbishop of Vienne, who was his uncle. In his youth he preserved his heart free from the corruption of the world amidst its vanities; and the more pains others took to make him conceive a relish for them, the more diligent he was in fencing his heart against their dangers, the more perfectly he discovered their emptiness and secret poison. In reading the lives of the fathers of the desert he was much affected by the admirable examples of penance, self-denial, holy contemplation, and Christian perfection, which were set before his eyes as it were in a glass, and he earnestly desired to imitate them. The lives of St. John the Baptist, of St. Paul the hermit, St. Antony, and St. Arsenius in their wildernesses, charmed him, and he sighed after the like sweet retirement, in which he might without interruption converse with God by prayer and contemplation. He often resorted to an holy hermit named Burchard, who lived in a little island in the Seine; and by making essays he began to inure himself to fasting, watching, long prayers, and every rigorous practice of penance. He declined all the advantageous matches and places at court or in the army which his father could propose to him. His cousin Eudo, count palatine of Champagne, and count of Chartres and Blois, upon the death of his uncle Rodolph, the last king of Burgundy, in 1034, laid claim to that crown as next heir in blood; but the emperor Conrad the Salic seized upon it by virtue of the testament of the late king.5 Hereupon ensued a war, and count Arnoul ordered his son to lead a body of troops to the succor of his cousin. But the young general represented so respectfully to his father the obligation of a vow by which he had bound himself to quit the world, that he at length extorted his consent.

Soon after the saint and another young nobleman called Walter, his intimate friend, each taking one servant, went to the abbey of St. Remigius in Rheims, and thence having sent back their servants with their baggage, they set out privately; and in the clothes of two beggars, in exchange for which they had given their own rich garments, they travelled barefoot into Germany. Finding the forest of Petingen in Suabia a convenient solitude for their purpose, they built themselves there two little cells. Having learned from Burchard that manual labor is a necessary duty of an ascetic or penitential life, and not being skilled in the manner of working to make mats or baskets, they often went into the neighboring villages and there hired themselves by the day to serve the masons, or to work in the fields, to carry stones and mortar, to load and unload carriages, to cleanse the stables under the servants of the farmers, or to blow the bellows and to make fires for the forges. With their wages they bought coarse brown bread, which was their whole subsistence. Whilst they worked with their hands, their hearts were secretly employed in prayer; and at night retiring again into their forest, they watched long, singing together the divine praises, and continuing in holy contemplation. Their carriage and the tenderness of their complexion discovered that they had not been trained up in manual labor, and the reputation of their sanctity after some time drew the eyes of men upon them. To shun which they resolved to forsake a place where they were no longer able to live in humiliation and obscurity. They performed barefoot a pilgrimage to Compostella, and returned into Germany.

Passing through Triers, it happened that Theobald there met his father count Arnoul; but with his tanned face, and in his ragged clothes, passing for a beggar, he was not known by him. He was strongly affected, and was scarcely able to stifle the tender sentiments with which his heart was quite overcome at the sight of so dear and affectionate a parent. However, he suppressed them; but to quit the neighborhood where he might be again exposed to the like trial, he undertook a pilgrimage to Rome. The two fervent penitents travelled everywhere barefoot; and after they had visited all the holy places in Italy, they chose for their retirement a hideous woody place called Salanigo, near Vicenza, where with the leave of the lord of the manor they built themselves two cells, near an old ruinous chapel. Prayer and the exercises of penance were their constant employment, till after two years God called Walter to himself. Theobald looked upon this loss as a warning that he had not long to live, and he exerted his whole strength, redoubling his pace to run with greater vigor as he drew near the end of his race. He had lived on oat bread and water, with roots and herbs, but at length he interdicted himself even the use of bread, taking no other food but herbs and roots. He always wore a rough hair shirt; his bed was a board, and for the five last years of his life he took his rest sitting on a wooden seat. The bishop of Vicenza promoted him to priest’s orders, and several persons put themselves under his direction. His lineage and quality being discovered, his aged parents were no sooner informed that their son was alive, and that the hermit of Salanigo, the reputation of whose sanctity, prophecies, and miracles filled all Europe, was that very son whose absence had been to them the cause of so long a mourning; but they set out with great joy to see him. His frightful desert, his poor cell, his tattered clothes, and above all his emaciated body, made so strong impressions upon their hearts at the first sight that they both cast themselves at his feet, and for a considerable time were only able to speak to him by their tears. When they were raised from the ground, and had recovered from their first surprise, faith overcame in them the sentiments of nature, and converted their sorrow into joy. The sight of so moving an example extinguished in their hearts all love of the world, and they both resolved upon the spot to dedicate themselves to the divine service. The count was obliged by his affairs to return into Brie, but Gisla, the saint’s mother, obtained her husband’s consent to finish her course near the cell of her son. The saint made her a little hut at some distance from his own, and took great pains to instruct her in the practice of true perfection. He was shortly after visited with his last sickness; his body was covered over with blotches and ulcers, and every limb afflicted with some painful disorder. The servant of God suffered this distemper with a most edifying patience and joy. A little before his death he sent for Peter the abbot of Vangadice, of the order of Camaldoli, from whose hands he had received the religious habit a year before. To him he recommended his mother and his disciples: and having received the viaticum he expired in peace on the last day of June, 1066, being about thirty-three years old, of which he had spent twelve at Salanigo and three in Suabia, and in his pilgrimages. His relics were translated to the church dependent on the abbey of St. Columba, at Sens, and afterward to a chapel near Auxerre called St. Thibaud aux Bois. He was canonized by Alexander III. and his name is in great veneration at Sens, Provins, Paris, Auxerre, Langres, Toul, Triers, Autun, and Beauvais. See his life faithfully written by a contemporary author.



He was born about the year 489. His father George was of the first houses of that province, and his mother Leocadia was descended from the family of Vettius Apagatus, the celebrated Roman, who suffered at Lyons for the faith of Christ. They both took special care of the education of their son; and when he arrived at a proper age, proposed to have him married to the daughter of a respectable senator. The saint, who had taken a resolution to consecrate himself to God, withdrew privately from his father’s house to the monastery of Cournon, near the city of Auvergne, and earnestly prayed to be admitted there amongst the monks; and having soon after obtained the consent of his parents, he with joy renounced all worldly vanities to embrace religious poverty. Here his eminent virtues distinguished him in a particular manner, and recommended him to Quintianus, bishop of Auvergne, who promoted him to holy orders.

The bishop dying in 527, St. Gal was appointed to succeed him; and in this new character his humility, charity, and zeal were conspicuous; but, above all, his patience in bearing injuries. Being once struck on the head by a brutal man, he discovered not the least emotion of anger or resentment, and by this meekness disarmed the savage of his rage. At another time Evodius, who from a senator became a priest, having so far forgot himself as to treat him in the most insulting manner, the saint, without making the least reply, arose meekly from his seat and went to visit the churches of the city. Evodius was so touched by this conduct, that he cast himself at the saint’s feet in the middle of the street and asked his pardon. From this time they both lived on terms of the most cordial friendship. St. Gal was favored with the gift of miracles; and died about the year 553. He is mentioned this day in the Roman Martyrology. See St. Greg. of Tours, his nephew, Vit. Patr. c. 6. Hist. Franc. l. 4, c. 5; also the remarks of Mabillon, sec. 1. Bened. Gall. Christ, Nov. t. 2, p. 237, and Selier the Bollandist, t. 1, Jul. p. 103.

Another St. Gal, called the Second, is honored at Clermont on the 1st of November. He was bishop of that see in 650. See Gall. Christ. Nova, t. 2, p. 245.



He was born in Auvergne, of a family equally virtuous and noble. He was yet a child when they sent him to the monastery of Menat in the diocess of Clermont, in order to be early principled in knowledge and piety. Here he became a religious, and practised all the prescriptions of the rule with the greatest fervor. After some time he quitted the monastery with St. Avi, and they both retired to the abbey of Micy near Orleans. The bishop of this city having destined them for holy orders, they withdrew themselves from the abbey, and advancing together as far as Perche, led by their fervor to the austerities of an eremitical life, they separated. St. Calais was followed by two persons, who by no means would consent to quit him, and with these he went to Maine, where he perfectly revived the rigorous discipline of the ancient eastern hermits. But as he was constantly visited by numbers who sought to live under his direction, he at length consented to receive them. King Childebert gave him land whereon to build a monastery, which was first called Anisole or Anille, from the river on which it was situated,6 but it is now, as well as the little town built round it, called after the saint. The life of the holy founder was not only extraordinary for penance and prayer, but he excelled in the exact observance of his rules; insomuch that he constantly refused the visit of queen Ultrogotha wife of Childebert, because one of the statutes forbade to enter the monastery. He died in 542, and his name is mentioned this day in the Roman Martyrology. A portion of his relics is kept in the abbey of St. Calais, but the greatest part is in the chapel of the castle of Blois, which also bears his name. See the life of St. Calais, written by Siviard, fifth abbot of Anille, with the notes of Mabillon, and the Bollandist, t. 1, Jul. p. 85, and Martenne Ampl. Coll. t. 1, præf. p. 4, &c.


He was of a noble family in Wales, and educated under the care of St. Iltut; and passing over into that part of France called the province of Domnone, he founded a monastery between the rivers of Rancé and Arguenon, on a piece of ground which was given him by Jona, the lord of the country. His many extraordinary virtues drew the attention of king Childebert, who very pressingly invited him to Paris, where he was received by this prince and his royal consort Ultrogotha with every possible demonstration of the highest respect. At his return he had the affliction to hear that his protector Jona was stripped of his possessions, and murdered by Conomor. Happily however he arrived time enough to shelter that unfortunate nobleman’s son Judual from the bloody tyrant’s cruelty, and conveyed him safely to England: whence Judual afterward returned, and recovered his inheritance. The saint is styled bishop, though he had no fixed see. For it was then an established custom in Brittany to honor the principal abbots with the episcopal dignity. The year in which St. Leonorus died is not known. His body was translated to a parochial church near St. Malo, which still retains the name of St. Lunaire: here his tomb is shown, which is empty, his relics being inclosed in a shrine. The feast of his translation is on the 13th of October, but he is principally honored in the several diocesses of Brittany on the 1st of July. He is patron of many churches. See the Breviary of Leon, of the abbey of St. Meen, &c. also Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bretagne, p. 91, and the Martyrology of Usuard.


He was a native of Egypt, and born about the year 522. Having performed a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, he retired to a desert near the Red Sea, where he remained twenty-nine years in the constant practice of a most austere penitential life. Here he was constantly revolving in mind that we must love humiliations if we would be truly humble; that at least we should receive those which God sends us with resignation, and own them exceedingly less than the measure of our demerits; that it is even sometimes our advantage to seek them; that human prudence should not always be our guide in this regard; and that there are circumstances where we ought to follow the impulse of the Holy Spirit, though not unless we have an assurance of his inspiration. The servant of God, animated by an ardent desire to be contemptible among men, quitted the desert, and at Emesus succeeded to his wish; for by affecting the manners of those who want sense, he passed for a fool. He was then sixty years old, and lived six or seven years in that city, when it was destroyed by an earthquake in 588. His love for humility was not without reward, God having bestowed on him extraordinary graces, and even honored him with the gift of miracles. The year of his death is unknown. Although we are not obliged in every instance to imitate St. Simeon, and that it would be rash even to attempt it without a special call; yet his example ought to make us blush, when we consider with what an ill will we suffer the least thing that hurts our pride. See Evagrius, a contemporary writer, l. 4, c. 5; the life of the saint by Leontius, bishop of Napoli in Cyprus; that of St. John the Almoner; and the Bollandists, t. 1, Jul. p. 129.


He was born in the district of Rheims. His father Marquard was abandoned to every infamous disorder. An education formed on the best Christian principles in the house of such a person would more than probably be blasted by his bad example; but our saint was happily removed, and educated in learning and piety, under the edifying example of the holy bishop Remigius.

He married in complaisance to his relations; but easily persuaded his wife to embrace the virgin state; and becoming himself a monk, he was made superior of an abbey founded by St. Remigius on Mont-d’Hor, near Rheims. Some time after he received holy orders, and became famous by the many extraordinary conversions he wrought through the zeal and unction wherewith he exhorted sinners to repentance; among these was his own father, who persevered to his death under the direction of his son. He succeeded also, in conjunction with St. Remigius, in converting an infamous house into a nunnery of pious virgins. According to the most common opinion he died on the 1st of July, 533. It is said that king Thierri assisted at his funeral, and esteemed himself honored in being one of his bearers to the grave. His relics, lest they should be exposed to the impiety of the Normans, were hidden under ground, but discovered in 976, and are still preserved in a silver shrine. He is mentioned on this day in the Roman Martyrology. See Mabillon, Act. t. 1, p. 614. Bulteau, Hist. de l’Ordre de St. Ben. t. 1, p. 287; Baillet ad l. Jul. and Gal. Christ. Nov. t. 9, p. 180.


Eparcus, commonly called Cybar, quitted the world in spite of his parents, who would hinder him to follow his vocation; and retiring to the monastery of Sedaciac in Perigord, he there served God some time under abbot Martin, and soon became known and admired for his extraordinary virtues and miracles. Wherefore, in dread of the seduction of vain-glory, he left his monastery to hide himself in absolute solitude. It was near Angouleme, with the bishop of Perigueux’s and his abbot’s leave, he shut himself up in a cell. But his virtues were too striking for concealment, and the bishop of Angouleme obliged him to accept the priesthood. Cybar was extremely austere in his food and apparel, especially during Lent. Although a recluse, he did not refuse to admit disciples; but he would not allow them manual labor, as, after his own example, he willed they should be constantly occupied in prayer. When any of them would complain for want of necessaries, he would tell them with St. Jerom, that “Faith never feared hunger.” Nor was he deceived in his trust on Providence, as he always found abundance for himself and his disciples in the beneficence of the faithful; insomuch that he was even enabled to redeem a great number of captives. He died the 1st of July, 581, having lived about forty years in his cell. His relics were kept in the abbey church of his name until 1568, when they were burnt by the Huguenots. See Mabillon, Act. t. 1, p. 267; Bulteau, Histoire de l’Ordre de St. Benoit, t. 1, p. 235; Gallia Chr. Nov. t. 2, p. 978, 979, &c.



From the example of Christ, his blessed Mother, and the apostles, St. Thomas shows8 that state to be in itself the most perfect which joins together the functions of Martha and Mary, or of the active and contemplative life. This is endeavored by those persons who so employ themselves in the service of their neighbor, as amidst their external employs or conversation often to raise their minds to God, feeding always on their heavenly invisible food, as the angel did in Toby’s company on earth. Who also, by the practice and love of daily recollection and much solitude, fit themselves to appear in public; and who by having learned the necessary art of silence in its proper season, and by loving to speak little among men,9 study to be in the first place their own friends, and by reflection and serious consideration to be thoroughly acquainted with themselves, and to converse often in heaven.10 Such will be able to acquit themselves of external employs without prejudice to their own virtue, when called to them by duty, justice, or charity. They may avoid the snares of the world, and sanctify their conversation with men. Of this the Blessed Virgin is to us a perfect model in the visit paid to her cousin Elizabeth, as St. Francis of Sales takes notice, who borrowed from this mystery the name which he gave to his Order of nuns, who, according to the first plan of their institute, were devoted to visit and attend on the sick.

The angel Gabriel, in the mystery of the Annunciation, informed the mother of God, that her cousin Elizabeth had miraculously conceived, and was then in the sixth month of her pregnancy. The Blessed Virgin, out of humility, concealed the favor she had received and the wonderful dignity to which she was raised by the incarnation of the Son of God in her womb; but in the transport of her holy joy and gratitude, she would go to congratulate the mother of the Baptist; with which resolution the Holy Ghost inspired her for his great designs in favor of her Son’s precursor not yet born. Mary therefore arose, saith St. Luke, and with haste went into the hilly-country into a city of Juda; and entering into the house of Zachary saluted Elizabeth. She made this visit to a saint, because the company of the servants of God is principally to be sought, from whose example and very silence the heart will always treasure up something, and the understanding receive some new light and improvement in charity. As glowing coals increase their flame by contact, so is the fire of divine love kindled in a fervent soul by the words and example of those who truly love God. In this journey what lessons of humility does the holy Virgin give us! She had been just saluted mother of God, and exalted above all mere creatures, even the highest seraphim of heaven; yet far from being elated with the thoughts of her incomprehensible dignity, she appears but the more humble by it. She prevents the mother of the Baptist in this office of charity; the mother of God pays a visit to the mother of her Son’s servant; the Redeemer of the world goes to his precursor. What a subject of confusion is this to the pride of the children of the world! who, not content with the rules of respect which the law of subordination requires, carry their vanity to an excess of ceremoniousness contrary even to good manners, and to the freedom of conversation, which they make an art of constraint and of torture both to themselves and others; and in which they seek not any duty of piety or improvement in virtue, but loathsome means of foolish flattery, the gratification of vanity, or that dissipation of mind which continually entertains it with trifles and idleness, and is an enemy to serious consideration and virtue.

When the office of charity called upon Mary, she thought of no dangers or difficulties in so painful and long a journey of above fourscore miles from Nazareth in Galilee to Hebron, a sacerdotal city in the mountainous country on the western side of the tribe of Juda. The inspired writer takes notice, that she went with haste or with speed and diligence, to express her eagerness to perform this good office. Charity knows not what sloth is, but always acts with fervor. She likewise would hasten her steps out of modesty, not choosing to appear abroad, but as compelled by necessity or charity; not travelling out of vanity, idleness, or curiosity, but careful in her journey to shun the dissipation of the world, according to the remarks of St. Ambrose. Whence we may also gather with what care she guarded her eyes, and what was the entertainment of her pious soul with God upon the road. Being arrived at the house of Zachary, she entered it, and saluted Elizabeth. What a blessing did the presence of the God-man bring to this house, the first which he honored in his humanity with his visit! But Mary is the instrument and means by which he imparts to it his divine benediction; to show us that she is a channel through which he delights to communicate to us his graces, and to encourage us to ask them of him through her intercession. At the voice of the mother of God, but by the power and grace of her Divine Son, in her womb, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost and the infant in her womb was sanctified; and miraculously anticipating the use of reason, knew by divine inspiration the mystery of the incarnation, and who it was that came to visit him. From this knowledge he conceived so great, so extraordinary a joy as to leap and exult in the womb.11 If Abraham and all the ancient prophets exulted only to foresee in spirit that day when it was at the distance of so many ages, what wonder the little Baptist felt so great a joy to see it then present! How eagerly did he desire to take up his office of precursor, and already to announce to men their Redeemer that he might be known and adored by all! But how do we think he adored and reverenced him present in his mother’s womb? and what were the blessings with which he was favored by him? He was cleansed from original sin, and filled with sanctifying grace, was made a prophet, and adored the Messiah before he was yet born.

At the same time Elizabeth was likewise filled with the Holy Ghost; and by his infused light, she understood the great mystery of the Incarnation which God had wrought in Mary, whom humility prevented from disclosing it even to a saint, and an intimate friend. In raptures of astonishment, Elizabeth pronounced her blessed above all other women, she being made by God the instrument of his blessing to the world, and of removing the malediction which through Eve had been entailed on mankind. But the fruit of her womb she called blessed in a sense still infinitely higher, he being the immense source of all graces, by whom only Mary herself was blessed. Elizabeth, then turning her eyes upon herself, cried out—Whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? She herself had conceived barren and by a miracle; but Mary, a virgin, and by the Holy Ghost; she conceived one greater than the prophets, but Mary the eternal Son of God, himself true God. The Baptist, her son, used the like exclamation to express his confusion and humility when Christ came to be baptized by his hands. In the like words and profound sentiments ought we to receive all the visits of God in his graces, especially in the holy sacraments. Elizabeth styles Mary, Mother of her Lord, that is, mother of God; and she foretells that all things would befall her and her Son which had been spoken by the prophets.

Mary hearing her own praise, sunk the lower in the abyss of her nothingness, and converting all good gifts to the glory of God, whose gratuitous mercy had bestowed them, in the transport of her humility, and melting in an ecstasy of love and gratitude, burst into that admirable canticle called the Magnificat. It is the first record in the New Testament, and both in the noble sentiments which compose it, and in the majesty of the style, surpasses all those of the ancient prophets. It is the most perfect model of thanksgiving and praise for the incarnation of the Son of God, and the most precious monument of the profound humility of Mary. In it she glorifies God with all the powers of her soul for his boundless mercies, and gives to him alone all the glory. In the spiritual gladness of her heart she adores her Saviour, who had cast his merciful eyes upon her lowliness. Though all nations will call her blessed, she declares that nothing is her due but abjection, and that this mystery is the effect of the pure power and mercy of God; and that he who had dethroned tyrants, fed the hungry in the wilderness, and wrought so many wonders in favor of his people, had now vouchsafed himself to visit them, to live among them, to die for them, and to fulfil all things which he had promised by his prophets from the beginning. Mary stayed with her cousin almost three months; after which she returned to Nazareth.

Whilst with the Church we praise God for the mercies and wonders which he wrought in this mystery, we ought to apply ourselves to the imitation of the virtues of which Mary sets us a perfect example. From her we ought particularly to learn the lessons by which we shall sanctify our visits and conversation; actions which are to so many Christians the sources of innumerable dangers and sins. We must shun not only scurrilous and profane discourse, but whatever is idle, light, airy, or unprofitable; whilst we unbend our mind, we ought as much as possible to see that conversation which is conducive to the improvement of our hearts or understandings, and to the advancement of virtue and solid useful knowledge. If we suffer our mind to be puffed up with empty wind, it will become itself such as is the nourishment upon which it feeds. We should shun the vice of talkativeness, did we but consult that detestable vanity itself which betrays us into this folly. For nothing is more tyrannical or more odious and insupportable in company than to usurp a monopoly of the discourse. Nothing can more degrade us in the opinion of others than for us to justle, as it were, for the word; to vent all we have in our hearts, at least a great deal that we ought to conceal there; and without understanding ourselves, or taking a review of our meaning or words, to pour out embryos of half-formed conceptions, and speak of the most noble subjects in an undress of thoughts. What proofs of our vanity and folly, what disgraces, what perplexities, what detractions, and other evils and sins should we avoid, if we were but sparing and reserved in our words! If we find ourselves to swell with an itch of talking, big with our own thoughts, and impatient to give them vent, we must by silence curb this dangerous passion, and learn to be masters of our words.


By the preaching and miracles of SS. Peter and Paul at Rome, many were converted to the faith, and among others several servants and courtiers of the emperor Nero, of whom St. Paul12 makes mention.13 In the year 64 that tyrant first drew his sword against the Christians, who were in a very short time become very numerous and remarkable in Rome. A journey which he made into Greece in 67, seems to have given a short respite to the Church in Rome. He made a tour through the chief cities of that country, attended by a great army of singers, pantomimes, and musicians, carrying instead of arms, instruments of music, masks, and theatrical dresses. He was declared conqueror at all the public diversions over Greece, particularly at the Olympian, Isthmian, Pythian, and Nemæan games, and gained there one thousand eight hundred various sorts of crowns. Yet Greece saw its nobility murdered, the estates of its rich men confiscated, and its temples plundered by this progress of Nero. He returned to Rome only to make the streets of that great city again to stream with blood. The apostles SS. Peter and Paul, after a long imprisonment, were crowned with martyrdom. And soon after them their two faithful disciples Processus and Martinian gained the same crown. Their acts tell us that they were the keepers of the Mamertine jail during the imprisonment of SS. Peter and Paul, by whom they were converted and baptized. St. Gregory the Great preached his thirty-second homily on their festival, in a church in which their bodies lay, at which, he says, the sick recovered their health, those that were possessed by evil spirits were freed, and those who had forsworn themselves were tormented by the devils. Their ancient church on the Aurelian road being fallen to decay, pope Paschal I. translated their relics to St. Peter’s church on the Vatican hill, as Anastasius informs us. Their names occur in the ancient Martyrologies. See Tillemont, Hist. Eccl. t. 1, p. 179, and Hist. des Emp. Crevier, &c.


He was a native of Swabia, in Germany, and being a clergyman eminent for piety and learning, was chosen by the emperor Henry IV. to attend his sister Judith in quality of chaplain when she was married to Boleslas III. duke of Poland, that state remaining deprived of the royal dignity14 from the year 1079 till it was restored in 1295, in favor of Premislas II. After the death of that princess, Otho returned, and was made by Henry IV. his chancellor. That prince caused the seals and crosses of every deceased bishop and great abbot to be delivered to him, and he sold them to whom he pleased. This notorious simony and oppression of the Church was zealously condemned by the pope, in opposition to whom the emperor set up the antipope Guibert. Otho labored to bring his prince to sentiments of repentance and submission, and refused to approve his schism or other crimes. Notwithstanding which, so great was the esteem which the emperor had for his virtue, that, resolving to make choice at least of one good bishop, he nominated him bishop of Bamberg in 1103. The saint, notwithstanding the schism, went to Rome and received his confirmation together with the pall from pope Paschal II. He labored to extinguish the schism, and to obviate the mischiefs which it produced; and for this purpose he displayed his eloquence and abilities in the diet at Ratisbon in 1104. Henry V. succeeding his father in 1106, continued to foment the schism; yet inherited the esteem of his predecessor for our saint, though he always adhered to the holy see, and was in the highest credit with all the popes of his time; so strongly does virtue command respect even in its adversaries, and such is the power of meekness in disarming the fiercest tyrants. St. Otho joined always with the functions of his charge the exercises of an interior life, in which he was an admirable proficient. He made many pious foundations, calling them inns which we erect on our road to eternity.

Boleslas IV. duke of Poland, son of that Boleslas who had married the sister of Henry IV. having succeeded his elder brother Ladislas II. and conquered part of Pomerania, entreated St. Otho to undertake a mission among the idolaters of that country. The good bishop having settled his own diocess in good order, and obtained of pope Honorius II. a commission for that purpose, took with him a considerable number of zealous priests and catechists, and passed through Poland into Prussia, and thence into eastern Pomerania. He was met by Uratislas II. duke of Upper Pomerania, who received the sacrament of baptism with the greatest part of his people in 1124. St. Otho returned to Bamberg for Easter the following year, having appointed priests every where to attend the new converts, and finish the work he had so happily begun. The towns of Stetin and Julin having again relapsed into idolatry, St. Otho, with a second blessing of pope Honorius II. returned into Pomerania in 1128, brought those cities back to the faith, and through innumerable hardships and dangers carried the light of the gospel into Noim, and other remote barbarous provinces. He returned again to the care of his own flock, amidst which he died the death of the saints on the 30th of June, 1139. He was buried on the 2d of July, on which day he is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology. He was canonized by Clement III. in 1189. The rich shrine which contains his sacred remains is preserved in the electoral treasury at Hanover. See Thesaurus Reliquiarum Electoris Brunswico-Luneburgensis, folio, printed at Hanover in 1713. See also the accurate life of this saint in the latter editions of Surius, and in Acta Sanctorum, by the Bollandists, t. 1, Julii.


She was a native of Chartres, and honorably married. She had two daughters, who were the objects of her happiness and most ardent desires in this world till God was pleased, in mercy towards her, to deprive her of them both by death. Her grief for this loss was at first excessive, and by it she began to be sensible that her attachment to them had degenerated into immoderate passion; though she had not till then perceived the disorder of a fondness which had much weakened in her breast the love of God, and the disposition of perfect conformity to his holy will above all things and in all things. A fear of offending God obliged her to overcome this grief, and she confessed the divine mercy in the cure of her inordinate affection which stood in need of so severe a remedy. However, resolving to bid adieu to this transitory treacherous world, she, with her husband’s consent, built herself a cell at Chartres, in which she shut herself up, serving God in great austerity and assiduous prayer. She had no other furniture than a mat strewed on the floor on which she took her short repose, and she allowed herself no other sustenance than coarse oat bread with water which was brought her by a servant. She afterward removed to Tours, where she continued the same manner of life in a cell which she built near St. Martin’s. Many fervent women joining her, this cell grew into a famous nunnery, which has been since changed into a collegiate church of secular canons. St. Monegondes lived many years a model of perfect sanctity, and died in 570. She is named in the Roman Martyrology.

The loss of dear friends is a sensible affliction, under which something may be allowed to the tenderness of nature. Insensibility is no part of virtue. The bowels of saints are always tender, and far from that false apathy of which the stoics boasted. “I condemn not grief for the death of a friend,” says St. Chrysostom,15 “but excess of grief. To mourn is a part of nature; but to mourn with impatience is to injure your departed friend, to offend God, and to hurt yourself. If you give thanks to God for his mercies and benefits, you glorify him, honor the deceased, and procure great advantages for yourself.” Motives of faith must silence the cries of nature. “How absurd is it to call heaven much better than this earth, and yet to mourn for those who depart thither in peace,” says the same father in another place.16



This saint, dedicated to God from his infancy by his parents, was reared in Christian principles under the inspection of his uncle Saint Theliau, bishop of Landaff; and succeeded him in this see about the year 580.17 Mauric, king of Glamorgan, held him in the highest veneration, and assisted him in all his endeavors to promote the glory of God; being however excommunicated by the saint for assassinating a prince called Cynedu, he, by his humble submission and penance, was at length restored to the communion of the Church. St. Oudoceus dying about the end of the sixth century, is mentioned in the English Calendars on the 2d of July. See Usher, Antiquit. Britan. p. 291; Wharton, Anglia Sacra, t. 2, p. 669; Alford, in Annal. and Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bretagne, p. 89.



From his panegyric, written by St. Asterius, and another by St. Chrysostom, t. 2, ed. Ben. p. 704, Ruinart, p. 627.

A. D. 303.

St. Phocas dwelt near the gate of Sinope, a city of Pontus, and lived by cultivating a garden, which yielded him a handsome subsistence, and wherewith plentifully to relieve the indigent. In his humble profession he imitated the virtue of the most holy anchorets, and seemed in part restored to the happy condition of our first parents in Eden. To prune the garden without labor and toil was their sweet employment and pleasure. Since their sin, the earth yields not its fruit but by the sweat of our brow. But still, no labor is more useful or necessary, or more natural to man, and better adapted to maintain in him vigor of mind or health of body than that of tillage; nor does any part of the universe rival the innocent charms which a garden presents to all our senses, by the fragrancy of its flowers, by the riches of its produce, and the sweetness and variety of its fruits; by the melodious concert of its musicians, by the worlds of wonders which every stem, leaf, and fibre exhibit to the contemplation of the inquisitive philosopher, and by that beauty and variegated lustre of colors which clothe the numberless tribes of its smallest inhabitants, and adorn its shining landscapes, vying with the brightest splendor of the heavens, and in a single lily surpassing the dazzling lustre with which Solomon was surrounded on his throne in the midst of all his glory. And what a field for contemplation does a garden offer to our view in every part, raising our souls to God in raptures of love and praise, stimulating us to fervor, by the fruitfulness with which it repays our labor, and multiplies the seed it receives; and exciting us to tears of compunction from our insensibility to God by the barrenness with which it is changed into a frightful desert, unless subdued by assiduous toil! Our saint joining prayer with his labor, found in his garden itself an instructive book, and an inexhausted fund of holy meditation. His house was opened to all strangers and travellers who had no lodging in the place; and after having for many years most liberally bestowed the fruit of his labor on the poor, he was found worthy also to give his life for Christ. Though his profession was obscure, he was well known over the whole country by the reputation of his charity and virtue.

When a cruel persecution, probably that of Dioclesian in 303, was suddenly raised in the Church, Phocas was immediately impeached as a Christian, and such was the notoriety of his pretended crime, that the formality of a trial was superseded by the persecutors, and executioners were despatched with an order to kill him on the spot wherever they should find him. Arriving near Sinope, they would not enter the town, but stopping at his house without knowing it, at his kind invitation they took up their lodging with him. Being charmed with his courteous entertainment, they at supper disclosed to him the errand upon which they were sent, and desired him to inform them where this Phocas could be most easily met with. The servant of God, without the least surprise, told them he was well acquainted with the man, and would give them certain intelligence of him next morning. After they were retired to bed he dug a grave, prepared everything for his burial, and spent the night in disposing his soul for his last hour. When it was day he went to his guests, and told them Phocas was found, and in their power whenever they pleased to apprehend him. Glad at this news, they inquired where he was. “He is here present,” said the martyr,—“I myself am the man.” Struck at his undaunted resolution, and at the composure of his mind, they stood a considerable time as if they had been motionless, nor could they at first think of imbruing their hands in the blood of a person in whom they discovered so heroic a virtue, and by whom they had been so courteously entertained. He indirectly encouraged them saying, that as for himself, he looked upon such a death as the greatest of favors, and his highest advantage. At length, recovering themselves from their surprise, they struck off his head. The Christians of that city, after peace was restored to the Church, built a stately church which bore his name, and was famous over all the East. In it were deposited the sacred relics, though some portions of them were dispersed in other churches.

St. Asterius, bishop of Amasea about the year 400, pronounced the panegyric of this martyr, on his festival, in a church, probably near Amasea, which possessed a small part of his remains. In this discourse18 he says, “that Phocas from the time of his death was become a pillar and support of the churches on earth: he draws all men to his house; the highways are filled with persons resorting from every country to this place of prayer. The magnificent church which (at Sinope) is possessed of his body, is the comfort and ease of the afflicted, the health of the sick, the magazine plentifully supplying the wants of the poor. If in any other place, as in this, some small portion of his relics be found, it also becomes admirable, and most desired by all Christians.” He adds, that the head of St. Phocas was kept in his beautiful church in Rome, and says, “The Romans honor him by the concourse of the whole people in the same manner they do Peter and Paul.” He bears testimony that the sailors in the Euxine, Ægean, and Adriatic seas, and in the ocean, sing hymns in his honor, and that the martyr has often succored and preserved them; and that the portion of gain which they in every voyage set apart for the poor is called Phocas’s part. He mentions that a certain king of barbarians had sent his royal diadem set with jewels, and his rich helmet a present to the church of St. Phocas, praying the martyr to offer it to the Lord in thanksgiving for the kingdom which his divine majesty had bestowed upon him. St. Chrysostom received a portion of the relics of Saint Phocas, not at Antioch, as Baronius thought, and as Fronto le Duc and Baillet doubt, but at Constantinople as Montfaucon demonstrates.19 On that solemn occasion the city kept a great festival two days, and St. Chrysostom preached two sermons, only one of which is extant.20 In this he says, that the emperors left their palaces to reverence these relics, and strove to share with the rest in the blessings which they procure men. The emperor Phocas built afterward another great church at Constantinople in honor of this martyr, and caused a considerable part of his relics to be translated thither. The Greeks only style Saint Phocas hiero-martyr or sacred martyr, which epithet they sometimes give to eminent martyrs who were not bishops, as Ruinart demonstrates against Baronius.


He was an Irishman of royal blood, who forsaking the world to labor in securing eternal happiness, led a penitential, contemplative life at Oosterk, near Bruges, in Flanders, with B. Gillon, an individual companion. He was famed for his eminent sanctity, attested by miracles after his death. His shrine is there held in veneration, and a chapel built in his honor. He is said to have lived in the eighth century. Gerard, bishop of Tournay, translated the relics of this saint on the 3d of July, 1059, in the presence of the abbots of Dun, Oubenbourg, and Ececkout; and on the 1st of October, 1444, they were visited by Nicholas, suffragan bishop of Tournay. See Colgan in MSS. and Molanus, p. 136.


This saint flourished in the sixth century. He was a prince in Wales, which he left in his youth, and retired into Armorica to live a recluse. He stopt at the isle of Groie, which is about a league from the mouth of the Blavet. Grallon was then lord of the isle, and was so edified at his conversation, that he bestowed on him, for founding a monastery, the land between the confluence of the river Isol and Ellé. For which reason even to this day, the abbey is called Kemperle, which in the old British language signifies the conflux of Ellé. One year that a prodigious swarm of insects devoured the corn, Guerech I., count of Vannes, dreading a famine, deputed three persons of quality to engage the saint’s prayers to God for turning away the scourge. Gunthiern sent him water which he had blessed, which he desired to be sprinkled over the fields, and the insects were destroyed. The count, in gratitude for this extraordinary blessing, gave him the land near the river Blavet, which was then called Vernac; but is now known by the name of Hervegnac or Chervegnac. The saint, it is thought, died at Kemperle. During the incursions of the Normans, his body was concealed in the isle of Groie. It was discovered in the eleventh century, and brought to the monastery of Kemperle,21 which now belongs to the Benedictine Order. St. Gunthiern is patron of this abbey as well as of many other churches and chapels in Brittany. He is mentioned in ancient calendars on the 29th of June, but the moderns place his feast on the 3d of July. See Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bretagne, p. 49.


He seems to have been born in Poitou, and having dedicated himself to the service of the Church, he received the tonsure in the city of Tours. St. Germain, bishop of Paris, invited him to his diocess, formed him to virtue, and, in token of esteem for his merit, made him his archdeacon. After the death of Baldegisil, an unworthy prelate, who sought only to enrich himself by the spoils of his church, St. Bertran was chosen his successor in the diocess of Mans in 586. At first he met some opposition from the corrupt manners of his people, but zealous endeavors to restore them to virtue had soon the deserved success. By his prudence he saved the state from a war which threatened it from Waroc and Windimacle, princes of Brittany. He was called to the court of Gontran, king of Orleans and Burgundy, to negotiate certain interesting matters regarding the Church. He built, endowed, and repaired a great number of hospitals and churches. His will, which he made in 615, is an esteemed piece of church-antiquity. In it are many considerable legacies to churches and monasteries. But what is singularly remarkable, we see by it, that the holy bishop enjoyed on every occasion the favor and protection of Fredegonda. During the troubles occasioned by the civil wars in France, St. Bertran was three several times banished from his diocess. This introduced many disorders among his people, which he happily removed with the assistance of Clotaire, who after long struggles at length united to his kingdom those of Burgundy and Austrasia. It is believed that he died the 30th of June, 623. But he is honored on the 3d of July, being the day on which his relics were translated. See St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. l. 8, c. 39, and l. 9, c. 18; and the saint’s will published with excellent notes by Papebroke, 6 Jun. and Baillet, under the 3d of July.



From his accurate life, written by Gerard of Ausburg, in Mabillon, sæc. 2, Ben. &c. See the Bollandists.

A. D. 973.

St. Ulric or Udalric was son of count Hucbald, and of Thietberga, daughter of Burchard, one of the first dukes of Higher Germany. He was born in 893, and was educated from seven years of age in the abbey of St. Gal. Guiborate, a holy virgin who lived a recluse near that monastery, foretold him that he should one day be a bishop, and should meet with severe trials, but exhorted him to courage and constancy under them. So delicate and tender was the complexion of the young nobleman that all who knew him judged he could never live long. But regularity and temperance preserved a life, and strengthened a constitution which excessive tenderness of parents, care of physicians, and all other arts would probably have the sooner worn out and destroyed: which cardinal Lugo shows to have often happened by several instances in austere religious Orders.23 The recovery of the young count was looked upon as miraculous. As he grew up, his sprightly genius, his innocence and sincere piety, and the sweetness of his temper and manners charmed the good monks; and he had already made a considerable progress in his studies when his father removed him to Ausburg, where he placed him under the care of Adalberon, bishop of that city. The prelate, according to the custom of those times, made him his chamberlain when he was only sixteen years old, afterward promoted him to the first orders, and instituted him to a canonry in his cathedral. The young clergyman was well apprised of the dangers, and instructed in the duties of his state, which he set himself with all his strength faithfully to discharge. Prayer and study filled almost all his time, and the poor had much the greatest share in his revenues. During a pilgrimage which he made to Rome, this bishop died, and was succeeded by Hiltin. After his return he continued his former manner of life, advancing daily in fervor and devotion, and in the practices of humility and mortification. He was most scrupulously careful to shun as much as possible the very shadow of danger, especially with regard to temptations against purity, and it was his usual saying to others: “Take away the fuel, and you take away the flame.”

Hilton dying in 924, Henry the Fowler, king of Germany, nominated our saint, who was then thirty-one years of age, to the bishopric of Ausburg, and he was consecrated on Holy Innocents’ day. The Hungarians and Sclavonians had lately pillaged that country, murdered the holy recluse Saint Guiborate, whom the Germans honor as a martyr, plundered the city of Ausburg, and burnt the cathedral. The new bishop, not to lose time, built for the present a small church, in which he assembled the people, who in their universal distress stood in extreme need of instruction, comfort, and relief; all which they found so abundantly in Ulric, that every one thought all the calamities they had suffered sufficiently repaired by the happiness they enjoyed in possessing such a pastor. He excused himself from attending the court, knowing of what importance the presence of a bishop is to his flock, for which he is to give a severe account to God. The levying and care of his troops, which in quality of prince of the empire he was obliged to send to the army, he entrusted to a nephew, devoting himself entirely to his spiritual functions. He rose every morning at three o’clock to assist with his canons at matins and lauds: after which he recited the psalter, litany, and other prayers. At break of day he said in choir the office for the dead, and prime, and was present at high mass. After tierce and long private devotions he said mass. He only left the church after none, and then went to the hospital, where he comforted the sick, and every day washed the feet of twelve poor people, giving to each of them a liberal alms. The rest of the day he employed in instructing, preaching, visiting the sick, and discharging all the duties of a vigilant pastor. He took his frugal meal only in the evening before complin. In this the poor always shared with him, for whom and for strangers meat was served up, except on fast-days, though he never touched it himself. He allowed himself very little time for sleep, lay on straw, and never used any linen. In Lent he redoubled his austerities and devotions. He made every year the visit of his whole diocess, and held a synod of his clergy twice a year. Upon the death of Henry I. Otho I. succeeded in the kingdom of Germany, between whom and his unnatural son Luitolf, a civil war broke out. St. Ulric strenuously declared himself against the rebels, who on that account harassed and plundered his diocess. But Arnold, count palatine, being slain before the walls of Ratisbon, St. Ulric obtained the king’s pardon for his son and the rest of the rebels.

The saint had fenced the city of Ausburg with strong walls, and erected several fortresses to secure the people from the inroads of barbarians. This was a precaution of the utmost importance; for the Hungarians made a second incursion, and laid siege to Ausburg. The good pastor continued in prayer, like Moses on the mountain, for his people, whom he convened in frequent processions and devotions. His prayers were heard, and the barbarians, being seized with a sudden panic fear, raised the siege and fled in great confusion. They were met and cut to pieces by Otho, who, in 962, was crowned Emperor by the pope. St. Ulric built his cathedral in a stately manner, and dedicated it again to God in honor of St. Afra, the celebrated patroness of Ausburg, in which city she received the crown of martyrdom in the persecution of Dioclesian. She is commemorated on the 5th of August. The saint earnestly desired to resign his bishopric, and retired to the monastery of St. Gal, some time before his death; but met with too great opposition. He made a second journey of devotion to Rome, and was received with extraordinary marks of esteem by the pope, and at Ravenna by the emperor and his pious empress. Otho I. died in May, 973, and from that time the saint’s health began sensibly to decline. During his last sickness he redoubled his fervor. In his agony he caused himself to be laid on ashes blessed and strewed on the floor in the form of a cross, in which posture he died amidst the prayers of his clergy, on the 4th of July, 973, being about fourscore years old, and having been bishop fifty years. He was buried in the church of St. Afra, which at present bears his name. His sanctity was attested by miracles, and he was canonized by pope John XV. in 993.

The saints living by faith had recourse to God in all their actions, and by that means drew down his blessing on their undertakings. It was the saying of a great man, that persons who expose themselves to many dangers and sins, often meet with temporal miscarriages,24 like the Israelites when they were deceived by the Gabaonites, because they neglect to commend their enterprises to God by fervent prayer and to consult his will.


He was born in the province of East Angles, of noble Danish parents, who, about the year 870, had accompanied Inguar and Hubba in their barbarous expedition, and had acquired a peaceable plentiful settlement in that part of England. Odo from a child loved the Christian religion, frequented the churches, and often spoke with honor of Christ to his parents; for which he was frequently severely chastised by them, and at length disinherited and turned out of doors. The young nobleman, rejoicing to see himself naked, and found worthy to suffer something for God, chose him for his inheritance; and, fearing lest by sloth he should lose the advantages he had already gained, resolved to give himself wholly to God, and embrace an ecclesiastical state. He was enabled to perform his studies by the liberality of the most noble and virtuous duke Athelm, who seems to have been son of the ealderman Athelm, who in the reign of king Ethelwolf, being assisted by the Dorsetshire men, had defeated the Danes near Portland, in 838. The duke or governor Athelm was one of the principal noblemen of England in the reign of king Alfred, and in the Saxon annals, is styled ealderman of Wiltshire. Being a most religious man, he was much taken with the piety of Odo. In 887 he made a devout pilgrimage to Rome, and carried thither the alms of king Alfred and of the West-Saxons, as the Saxon Annals testify. He had before that time procured Odo to be ordained priest, and made use of him for his confessarius, as did many others who belonged to the court. He recited every day the church office with him, as it was then customary for pious persons among the laity to do. Our saint accompanied him to Rome in quality of chaplain. On the road, this nobleman fell sick of a fever which in seven days reduced him almost to extremity. But Odo, after praying for him, presented him a glass of wine on which he had made the sign of the cross, bidding him have an entire confidence in God. Athelm had no sooner drunk the glass, than he found himself perfectly cured, and able to get on horseback. Athelm died in 898.

Odo continued to be caressed as much as ever, and was often employed by the kings Alfred and his son Edward the Elder, who began his reign in 901. King Alfred had by his wisdom and prowess raised the English monarchy to the highest pitch of grandeur, and the Danes who, from the time of the martyrdom of St. Edmund, were possessed of part of Northumberland, and of the kingdom of the East-Angles, were confined within those territories, and restrained in the eastern provinces from making inroads by the famous ditch running from the northern fens to the river Ouse, and into Suffolk, separating Mercia and the kingdom of the East-Angles, called at this day, from a town of that name, Reech-dike, and by the common people Devil’s-dike. This great ditch, mentioned by the Saxon Annals in the reign of Edward the Elder, seems made about this time. When the Danes broke the truce, king Edward entirely subdued them in the country of the East-Angles; he also defeated the Scots, Cumbrians, and Welch. He built towns and fortresses in many parts of the kingdom, as Ethelred, earl of Mercia, and after his death his courageous and virtuous widow Ethelfleda, daughter to king Alfred, did in the middle counties. But nothing reflects greater honor on the name of this king, and on his wise counsellors, than the body or code of laws which he added to those of his father Alfred,25 in enacting which the Danish king of the East-Angles, Guthrun, or rather Guthrun’s successor, Eoric, concurred. In these laws only pecuniary fines are prescribed for theft, and most other crimes; for which capital punishments were not generally instituted before the thirteenth century. Edward the Elder reigned twenty-four years, and dying in 925 was buried in the monastery which his father Alfred had founded at Winchester.

Athelstan, his eldest son, reigned fourteen years with great prudence and valor. His father Edward having extinguished the kingdom of the Danes among the East-Angles, Athelstan expelled them out of Northumberland; obliged the Welch to pay him a considerable annual tribute; and in 938 vanquished also the Scots. For their king, Constantine, protecting the Danes in Northumberland under their last king Guthfrith and his son Anlaff, drew on himself the arms of king Athelstan, who marched with his victorious army to the very north of Scotland, in 934, as William of Malmesbury relates. In the same year Constantine invaded England with a great army of Scots, Danes, and Irish, another Anlaff, king of Dublin and some of the Western Islands, coming over to his assistance. Athelstan met them at Brunanburgh, a place at present unknown, near the Humber, and with his valiant West-Saxons attacking Anlaff, whilst his cousin Turketil, at the head of the Londoners, fell on the Scots, he gained a most complete victory, which he ascribed to the intercession of Saint John of Beverly. Having on the other side driven the Welch out of Exeter he founded there a noble monastery, which was afterward made the cathedral when the bishopric was removed from Crediton to that city. Alfred of Beverly calls Athelstan the first monarch of all England, though out of modesty he never assumed that title, but left it to his brother Edred to take. For after the extinction of the Danish kingdom in Northumberland, and the death of Ethelfleda, countess of Mercia, there remained no petty sovereign in his dominions, which had always been the case from Egbert to his time. Athelstan also subdued the Welch and the Scots, and according to our historians made not only the former, but likewise the latter tributary, though this the Scottish writers deny with regard to their country. King Athelstan was a great lover of peace, piety, and religion: he was devout, affable to all, learned himself, and a patron of learned men; and he was as much admired and beloved by his subjects for his humility and humanity as he was feared by enemies and rebels for his military skill and invincible courage. He framed many good laws, in which he inflicted chiefly pecuniary penalties for crimes; for which purpose he fixed for every offence a value or price according to every one’s rank and estate. This great king reposed an entire confidence in the prudence and sanctity of his chaplain, and not content to make use of his counsels in his most weighty concerns, he carried him with him in his war, that he might always animate himself to virtue by his example and holy advice. The kingdom of the West-Saxons was for some time all comprised under the diocess of Winchester, till in the reign of king Ina, about the year 705, the see of Shirburne was erected, and in 905 that of Wilton for Wiltshire, though these two sees were again united and fixed at Salisbury in 1046. King Athelstan about the beginning of his reign procured St. Odo to be chosen second bishop of Wilton, according to Le Neve’s Fasti, though some say of Shirburne. Nevertheless, the saint was obliged often to attend the king, and was present at the great battle of Brunanburgh, against the Danes, Scots, and Irish, in which Athelstan, being attacked by Anlaff, and almost surrounded by enemies, having also broken or lost his sword, called aloud for help. St. Odo ran in upon this occasion, and first discovered to the king a sword hanging by his side, which was thought to have been sent from heaven, with which, animated by the saint, he gained one of the most glorious and advantageous victories that ever was won by the English nation.

Athelstan dying in 941, left the crown to his brother Edmund, at that time only eighteen years of age. This prince reduced a second time the Northumbers and Anlaff the Dane, who had again revolted; and governed by the wise counsels of St. Odo, he enacted many wholesome laws, especially to prevent family feuds and murders. By one of these it is ordained that if several thieves combine together, the eldest shall be hanged, the rest whipped thrice. This seems the first law by which robbery was punished in England by death. The king was religious and valiant, and being a judge of men, reposed an entire confidence in St. Odo, who, in 942, was translated to the metropolitan see of Canterbury. The saint had consented to his first promotion with great reluctance. But he opposed the second a long time with a dread which saints are usually filled with on such occasions. He alleged first, his unworthiness, secondly, the canons against translations, and thirdly, that he was no monk. His two first difficulties were overruled; and as to the third, he at length consented to receive the Benedictin habit from the hands of the abbot of Fleuri, now St. Bennet’s on the Loire, a house then famous for its regularity. The abbot was therefore invited into England for this purpose, or according to others, St. Odo travelled to Fleuri, and received the habit from his hands; after which he was installed archbishop. King Edmund was assassinated by Leof, an outlawed thief, who had insolently seated himself at the king’s table, in a great banquet which the king gave on the feast of St. Austin, archbishop of Canterbury, in 948.

Edmund left two sons very young, Edwy and Edgar, but was succeeded by his brother Edred, in whose days happened the following miracle, related by Eadmer in his exact life of our saint; also by William of Malmesbury, and the Chronicles of the Church of Canterbury, quoted in Parker’s British Antiquities, and Du Pin.26 Some of the clergy at Canterbury being tempted to doubt of the real presence of Christ’s body in the holy eucharist, St. Odo begged by his prayers that God would be pleased mercifully to demonstrate to them the truth of this sacred mystery; and at this petition, whilst he was saying mass in his cathedral, at the breaking of the host, blood was seen by all the people distilling from it into the chalice; the saint called up to the altar those who labored under the temptation before-mentioned, and others then present, to bear witness to the miracle. Full of gratitude, they afterward celebrated with their archbishop a solemn thanksgiving for this wonderful miracle, in which Christ had manifested himself visible in the flesh to their corporeal eyes. King Edred died in 955, after a lingering illness, which he sanctified by the most edifying patience and acts of devotion, having reigned nine years and a half. He took the title of king of Great Britain, as he styles himself in a charter which he gave to the abbey of Croyland, recited by Ingulphus. In another, given to the abbey of Reculver,27 he calls himself Monarch of all England.

Edwy, the eldest son of king Edmund, succeeded next to the throne, and was crowned at Kingston by St. Odo. But being a youth abandoned to excessive lust, after the coronation dinner he left his bishops and nobles to go to his mistress Ethelgiva, who was his own near relation. St. Dunstan, then abbot of Glastenbury, reproved him by order of St. Odo, but was banished by the tyrant, and the monks turned out of Glastenbury and many other monasteries. St. Odo exerted his zeal against the adulteress, but the king repaired to Gloucester when she fled to that city. The enormities of his reign stirred up the Mercians and Northumbers to take up arms against him, and to crown his younger brother Edgar. Edwy retained the kingdom of the West-Saxons till his death, which happened in 959, according to Florence of Worcester and Laud’s copy of the Saxon annals.

Edgar exceedingly honored St. Odo, recalled St. Dunstan, and advanced him to the bishopric of Worcester. He reigned about sixteen years in uninterrupted peace and prosperity, till his death in 975, beloved by all his subjects, and revered by foreigners. William of Malmesbury and Florence of Worcester mention his two great fleets, said to have consisted of three thousand six hundred ships, with which he yearly scoured the British seas; and he had six or eight petty kings often to wait on him, namely, Kenneth of the Scots, Malcolm of Cumberland, Maccus, lord of Man and the Isles, and five princes of Wales, who all rowed his galley from Chester down the river Dee. These princes of Wales were the successors of Howel Dha, the wise legislator and powerful prince of all Wales.28 King Edgar’s salutary laws are chiefly to be ascribed to St. Odo and St. Dunstan. This great king, by the direction of these holy men, set himself earnestly to repair the damages which the Church and State had received under the tyranny of his brother.

St. Odo never intermitted the daily instruction of his clergy and flock, notwithstanding his great age, and strenuously labored to advance daily in the divine love. He died in 961. His relics, when his shrine was plundered at the change of religion, seem to have been deposited under a small tomb which is seen at this day in the same place where the shrine formerly stood. His name was famous in our English Martyrologies. For his virtue he was usually styled whilst living, Odo se gode, that is, in the Saxon language, Odo the Good. The Constitutions of St. Odo seem charges delivered by him to the clergy.29 The laws of the kings Athelstan, Edmund, and Edgar, are part laws of the State, part of the Church. They were enacted in general assemblies or synods, and are for the most part to be ascribed to St. Odo. See Matthew of Westminster, Florence of Worcester, and the life of St. Odo, written, not by Osbern the famous monk of Canterbury, in 1070, as Mabillon conjectured, Sæc. Ben.  V. p. 203, but by Eadmer, the disciple of St. Anselm, in 1121, as Henry Wharton demonstrates in his Preface, vol. 2, p. 10, Anglia Sacra. The Life of St. Odo, written by Osbern, and quoted by William of Malmesbury, seems nowhere to be extant. The History of St. Odo is compiled by Ericus Pantopidanus in his Gesta Danorum extra Daniam. Hafniæ. 1740. t. 2, § 2, § 8, p. 157.


After the death of St. Antony, St. Sisoes was one of the most shining lights of the Egyptian deserts. He was an Egyptian by birth. Having quitted the world from his youth, he retired to the desert of Sceté, and lived some time under the direction of abbot Hor. The desire of finding a retreat yet more unfrequented induced him to cross the Nile and hide himself in the mountain where Saint Antony died some time before. The memory of that great man’s virtues being still fresh, wonderfully supported his fervor. He imagined he saw him, and heard the instructions he was wont to deliver to his disciples; and he strained every nerve to imitate his most heroic exercises, the austerity of his penance, the rigor of his silence, the almost unremitting ardor of his prayer, insomuch that the reputation of his sanctity became so illustrious as to merit the full confidence of all the neighboring solitaries. Some even came a great distance to be guided in the interior ways of perfection; and, in spite of the pains he took, he was forced to submit his love of silence and retreat to the greater duty of charity. He often passed two days without eating, and was so rapt in God that he forgot his food, so that it was necessary for his disciple Abraham to remind him that it was time to break his fast. He would sometimes be even surprised at the notice, and contend that he had already made his meal; so small was the attention he paid to the wants of his body.30 His prayer was so fervent that it often passed into ecstasy. At other times his heart was so inflamed with divine love, that, scarce able to support its violence, he only obtained relief from his sighs, which frequently escaped without his knowledge, and even against his will.31 It was a maxim with him, that a solitary ought not to choose the manual labor which is most pleasing to him.32 His ordinary work was making baskets. He was tempted one day as he was selling them, to anger; instantly he threw the baskets away and ran off. By efforts like these to command his temper he acquired a meekness which nothing could disturb. His zeal against vice was without bitterness; and when his monks fell into faults, far from affecting astonishment or the language of reproach, he helped them to rise again with a tenderness truly paternal.33 When he once recommended patience and the exact observance of rules, he told the following anecdote: “Twelve monks, benighted on the road, observed that their guide was going astray. This, for fear of breaking their rule of silence, they forbore to notice, thinking within themselves that at daybreak he would see his mistake and put them in the right road. Accordingly, the guide discovering his error, with much confusion, was making many apologies; when the monks being now at liberty to speak, only said, with the greatest good humor, ‘Friend, we saw very well that you went out of your road; but we were then bound to silence.’ The man was struck with astonishment, and very much edified at this answer expressive of such patience and strictness of observance.”34

Some Arians had the impudence to come to his mount, and utter their heresy before his disciples. The saint, instead of an answer, desired one of the monks to read St. Athanasius’s treatise against Arianism, which at once stopped their mouths and confounded them. He then dismissed them with his usual good temper. St. Sisoes was singularly devoted to humility; and in all his advices and instructions to others, held constantly before their eyes this most necessary virtue. A recluse saying to him one day, “Father, I always place myself in the presence of God;” he replied, “It would be much more your advantage to place yourself below every creature, in order to be securely humble.” Thus, while he never lost sight of the divine presence, it was ever accompanied with the consciousness of his own nothingness and misery.35 “Make yourself little,” said he to a monk, “renounce all sensual satisfactions, disengage yourself from the empty cares of the world, and you will find true peace of mind.”36 To another, who complained that he had not yet arrived at the perfection of St. Antony, he said, “Ah! if I had but one only of that great man’s feelings, I would be all one flame of divine love.”37 Notwithstanding his extraordinary mortifications, they appeared so trifling in his mind, that he called himself a sensual man, and would have every one else to be of the same opinion.38 If charity for strangers sometimes constrained him to anticipate dinner-hour, at another season, by way of indemnification, he protracted his fast, as if his body were indebted to so laudable a condescension.39 He dreaded praise so much, that in prayer, as was his custom, with hands lifted up to heaven, when sometimes he apprehended observation, he would suddenly drop them down. He was always ready to blame himself, and saw nothing praiseworthy in others which did not serve him for an occasion to censure his own lukewarmness.40 On a visit of three solitaries wanting instruction, one of them said, “Father, what shall I do to shun hell-fire?” He made no reply. “And for my part,” added another, “how shall I escape the gnashing of teeth, and the worm that never dies?” “What also will become of me,” concluded the third, “for every time I think on utter darkness I am ready to die with fear?” Then the saint breaking silence, answered, “I confess that these are subjects which never employ my thoughts, and as I know that God is merciful, I trust he will have compassion on me. You are happy,” he added, “and I envy your virtue. You speak of the torments of hell, and your fears on this account must be powerful guards against the admission of sin. Alas! then, it is I should exclaim, What shall become of me? I, who am so insensible as never even to reflect on the place of torments destined to punish the wicked after death. Undoubtedly this is the reason I am guilty of so much sin.” The solitaries retired much edified with this humble reply.41 The saint said one time, “I am now thirty years praying daily that my Lord Jesus may preserve me from saying an idle word, and yet I am always relapsing.” This could only be the language which humility dictates; for he was singularly observant of the times of retirement and silence, and kept his cell constantly locked to avoid interruption, and always gave his answers to those who asked his advice in the fewest words.42 The servant of God, worn out with sickness and old age, yielded at last to his disciple Abraham’s advice, and went to reside a while at Clysma, a town on the border, or at least in the neighborhood of the Red Sea.43 Here he received a visit from Ammon, or Amun, abbot of Raithe, who, observing his affliction for being absent from his retreat, endeavored to comfort him by representing that his present ill state of health wanted the remedies which could not be applied in the desert. “What do you say,” returned the saint, with a countenance full of grief, “was not the ease of mind I enjoyed there everything for my comfort?” He was not at ease till he returned to his retreat, where he finished his holy course. The solitaries of the desert assisting at his agony, heard him, as Rufinus relates, cry out, “Behold, abbot Antony, the choir of prophets and the angels come to take my soul.” At the same time his countenance shone, and being some time interiorly recollected with God, he cried out anew, “Behold! our Lord comes for me.” At the instant he expired, his cell was perfumed with a heavenly odor.44 He died about the year 429, after a retreat of at least sixty-two years in St. Antony’s Mount. His feast is inserted in the Greek Menologies on the 6th of July; and in some of the Latin Calendars on the 4th of the same month. See Rosweide, Cotelier, Tillemont, t. 12, p. 453, and the Bollandists ad diem 6 Julii, t. 2, p. 280.

This saint must not be confounded with two other Sisoes, who lived in the same age. One, surnamed the Theban, lived at Calamon, in the territory of Arsinoe. Another had his cell at Petra. It is of Sisoes the Theban that the following passage is related, though some authors by mistake have ascribed it to St. Sisoes of Sceté. A certain recluse having received some offence, went to Sisoes to tell him that he must have revenge. The holy old man conjured him to leave his revenge to God, to pardon his brother, and forget the injury he had received. But seeing that his advice had no weight with him, “At least,” said he, “let us both join in an address to God,” then standing up, he prayed thus aloud: “Lord, we no longer want your care of our interests or your protection, since this monk maintains that we can and ought to be our own avengers.” This extraordinary petition exceedingly moved the poor recluse, and throwing himself at the saint’s feet, he begged his pardon, protesting that from that moment he would forget he had ever been injured.45 This holy man loved retirement so much that he delayed not a moment even in the church after the mass to hasten to his cell. This was not to indulge self-love or an affected singularity, but to shun the danger of dissipation, and enjoy in silence and prayer the sweet conversation of God. For at proper seasons, especially when charity required it, he was far from being backward in giving himself to the duties of society. Such was his self-denial that he seldom or ever eat bread. However, being invited one time by the neighboring solitaries to a small repast, in condescension, and to show how little he was guided by self-will, observing that it would be agreeable, “I will eat,” said he, “bread, or anything you lay before me.”46 See Bulteau, Hist. Mon. d’Orient, l. 1, c. 3, n. 7, p. 56. Tillemont, t. 12, and Pinius, one of the continuators of Bollandus, on the 6th of July.



She was the daughter of count Rigobert and Ursana, related to one of the kings of Kent in England. In the twentieth year of her age she was married to Sigefroi, by whom she had five daughters, two of whom, Gertrude and Deotila, were saints. After her husband’s death, she put on the veil in the nunnery which she had built at Blangy in Artois, a little distance from Hesdin. Her daughters Gertrude and Deotila followed her example. She was persecuted by Roger or Rotgar, who endeavored to asperse her with king Thierri III. to revenge his being refused Gertrude in marriage. But this prince, convinced of the innocence of Bertha, then abbess over her nunnery, gave her a kind reception, and took her under his protection. On her return to Blangy, Bertha finished her nunnery, and caused three churches to be built, one in honor of St. Omer, another she called after St. Vaast, and the third in honor of St. Martin of Tours. And then, after establishing a regular observance in her community, she left St. Deotila abbess in her stead, having shut herself in a cell, to be employed only in prayer. She died about the year 725. A great part of her relics are kept at Blangy.47 See Mabillon, sec. 3, Ben. part. 1, p. 451, Bulteau, Hist. de l’Ordre de St. Benoit, t. 2, l. 4, c. 31, and Baillet on the 4th of July.



See Colgan in MSS. ad 4 Julii. He is not to be confounded with St. Finbar, the first bishop of Cork, who is honored on the 25th of September.


A Disciple of St. Patrick in Ireland. His relics remain at Kilmore, i. e. Great Cell, where his monastery stood. See Colgan, ib.




From his life, written by John de la Marche, his professor in laws, the year after his death, with the notes of Pinius the Bollandist, Julii, t. 1, p. 486. See also the bull of his beatification in Miræus, and a history of a great number of miracles wrought by his intercession and relics in Pinius, ib. His life is compiled by a Celestine monk from original authentic MSS. kept in the houses of the Celestines at Avignon, Paris, Nantes, &c., printed at Paris in 1681.

A. D. 1387.

The most illustrious houses of the dukes and counts of Luxemburg and St. Pol, not only have held for several centuries the first rank among the nobility of the Low Countries, but vie with most royal families in Europe; the former having given five emperors to the Germans, several kings to Hungary and Bohemia, a queen to France, and innumerable renowned heroes, whose great actions are famous in the histories of Europe and the East. But none of their exploits have reflected so great a lustre on these families as the humility of our Saint Peter. He was son to Guy of Luxemburg, count of Ligny, and to Maud, countess of St. Pol; and was born at Ligny, a small town in Lorrain, in the diocess of Toul, in 1369. He was nearly related to the emperor Wenceslas, Sigismund, king of Hungary, and Charles VI., king of France. He lost his pious father at three years of age, and his most virtuous mother a year after; but his devout aunt, the countess of Orgieres and countess dowager of St. Pol,48 took care of his education, and made a prudent choice of most virtuous persons whom she placed about him. By the excellent example and precepts of his masters, and the strong impressions of an early grace, he seemed formed by nature to perfect virtue. In his tender age the least sallies of the passions seemed rather prevented than subdued; and his ardor in the pursuit of virtue so far surpassed the ordinary capacity of children of his tender age, that it was a matter of astonishment to all that knew him. His assiduity and fervor in prayer, his secret self-denials, great abstemiousness, and, above all, his love of humility in an age when others are usually governed only by the senses, seemed a miracle of divine grace. He made a private vow of perpetual chastity before he was seven years of age, and he contrived by a hundred little artifices that no poor person should ever be dismissed wherever he was without an alms. At ten years of age he was sent to Paris, where he studied Latin, philosophy, and the canon law. In the meantime his eldest brother Valeran, count of St. Pol, was taken prisoner by the English in a battle in which they defeated the French and Flemings in Flanders. Upon the news that his brother was made prisoner and sent to Calais, Peter, in 1381, interrupted his studies, went over to London, and delivered himself up a hostage for his brother till his ransom should be paid. The English were charmed with his extraordinary virtue, and after he had stayed a year in London, generously gave him his liberty, saying his word was a sufficient pledge and security for the ransom stipulated. King Richard II. invited him to his court; but Peter excused himself, and hastened back to Paris to his studies. His watchings and fasts were very austere, and he made no visits but such as were indispensable, or to persons of extraordinary virtue, from whose conversation and example he might draw great spiritual advantage for the benefit of his own soul. With this view he often resorted to Philip of Maisiers, a person eminently endowed with the double spirit of penance and prayer, who, having been formerly chancellor of the kingdoms of Jerusalem and Cyprus, led for twenty-five years a retired life in the convent of the Celestines in Paris, without taking any vows, or professing that Order. From this devout servant of God our saint received important instructions and advice, which gave him great light in the exercises of prayer, and in the paths of interior spiritual perfection.

In 1383 his brother, the count of St. Pol, obtained for him a canonry in our Lady’s at Paris; which ecclesiastical preferment was to him a new motive to increase his fervor in the divine service. His devotion and assiduity in choir, his charity towards all, his innocence, his perfect spirit of mortification, and his meekness, edified exceedingly the whole city; and the modesty with which he endeavored to conceal his virtues was like a fine transparent veil through which they shone with redoubled lustre. His humility was most conspicuous, of which the following instance, among others, is recorded: When a young clerk refused to carry the cross at a solemn procession, the new canon took it up, and carried it with so much devotion, that the whole city was struck with admiration to see him. Peter strove only to advance in humility and Christian perfection: this was the sole point which he had in view in all his actions and undertakings; and he was very far from aspiring to the least ecclesiastical dignity. But the reputation of his extraordinary sanctity reaching Avignon, Clement VII., who, in the great schism, was acknowledged by France for true pope, nominated him archdeacon of Dreux, in the diocess of Chartres, and soon after, in 1384, bishop of Metz, his great sanctity and prudence seeming to many a sufficient reason for dispensing with his want of age. But Peter’s reluctance and remonstrances could only be overcome by a scruple which was much exaggerated to him, that by too obstinate a disobedience he would offend God. He made his public entry at Metz barefoot, and riding on an ass, to imitate the humility of our Redeemer. He would suffer no other magnificence on that occasion than the distribution of great arms and largesses among the poor; nor would he admit any attendants but what might inspire modesty and piety.

He had no sooner taken possession of his church than with the suffragan, Bertrand, a Dominican, who was given him for his assistant, and consecrated bishop of Thessaly, he performed the visitation of his diocess, in which he everywhere corrected abuses, and gave astonishing proofs of his zeal, activity, and prudence. He divided his revenues into three parts, allotting one to his church, a second to the poor, and reserving a third for himself and family, though the greatest share of this he added to the portion of the poor. On fast-days commanded by the Church he took no other sustenance than bread and water; and he fasted in the same austere manner all Advent, and all Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays throughout the year. When several towns had revolted from him and created for themselves new magistrates, his brother, the count of St. Pol, reduced them to their duty by force of arms. The holy bishop was exceedingly mortified at this accident, and out of his own patrimony made amends to every one even among the rebels for all losses they had sustained, which unparalleled charity gained him all their hearts. Though he was judged, by those who were best acquainted with his interior, during his whole life never to have stained his baptismal innocence by any mortal sin, he had so high an idea of the purity in which a soul ought always to appear in the divine presence, especially when she approaches the holy mysteries, that he went every day to confession with extraordinary compunction, and bewailed the least imperfections with many tears. The very shadow of the least sloth or failing in any action affrighted him. In the year 1384, Clement VII., soon after he had nominated him bishop, created him cardinal, under the title of St. George, and in 1386 called him to Avignon, and obliged him to reside there near his person. Peter continued all his former austerities in the midst of a court, till Clement commanded him to mitigate them for the sake of his health, which seemed to be in a declining condition. His answer was: “Holy Father, I shall always be an unprofitable servant, but I can at least obey.” He desired to compensate for what he lost in the practices of penance by redoubling his alms-deeds. By his excessive charities his purse was always empty; his table was most frugal, his family very small, his furniture mean, and his clothes poor, and these he never changed till they were worn out. It seemed that he could not increase his alms, yet he found means to do it by distributing his little furniture and his equipage among the indigent, and selling for them the episcopal ring which he wore on his finger. Everything about him breathed an extraordinary spirit of poverty, and published his affection for the poor. At his death his whole treasure amounted only to twenty-pence. In all his actions he seemed attentive only to God; and he fell into raptures sometimes in the street, or whilst he waited on the pope at court. An ancient picture of the saint is kept in the collegiate church of our Lady at Autun, in which he is painted in an ecstasy, and in which are written these words which he was accustomed frequently to repeat: “Contempt of the world, contempt of thyself: rejoice in thy own contempt, but despise no other person.”

Ten months after his promotion to the dignity of cardinal, the saint was seized with a sharp fever, which so much undermined his constitution that his imperfect recovery was succeeded by a dangerous slow fever. For his health he was advised to retire to Villeneuve, an agreeable town situate opposite to Avignon, on the other side of the Rhone. He was glad by this opportunity to see himself removed from the noise and hurry of the court. During his last illness he went to confession twice every day; never passed a day without receiving the holy communion; and the constant union of his soul with God, and the tenderness of his devotion, seemed continually to increase as he drew near his end. His brother Andrew coming to see him, the saint spoke to him with such energy on the vanity of the world, and on the advantages of piety, that his words left a deep impression on his heart during his whole life. This brother afterward taking holy orders was made bishop of Cambray, and became one of the most holy prelates of that age. Our saint recommended to him in particular his sister Jane of Luxemburg, whom he had induced to make a vow of perpetual chastity, and whose whole life was a perfect pattern of Christian perfection. Saint Peter sent her by this brother a small treatise containing certain rules of perfection, which he had drawn up for her. Finding his strength quite exhausted, he desired and received the last sacraments; after which he called all his servants, and as they stood weeping round his bed, he begged their pardon for not having edified them by his example as he ought to have done. He then conjured them all to promise to do for his sake one thing which he was going to ask of them. To this they most readily engaged themselves. But they were much surprised when he ordered them to take a discipline which lay under his pillow, and every one to give him many stripes on his back, in punishment for the faults he had committed in regard to them, who were, as he said, his brethren in Christ and his masters. Notwithstanding their extreme unwillingness they were obliged to comply with his request in order to satisfy him. After this act of penance and humiliation, he conversed with God in silent prayer till he gave up his innocent soul into his hands, on the 2d of July, 1387, being eighteen years old, wanting eighteen days. Though he had the administration of a diocess, he had not received priestly orders, but seems to have been deacon, and his dalmatic is shown at Avignon. He was buried without pomp, according to his orders, in the church-yard of St. Michael.

On account of many miracles that were wrought both before and after his interment, the citizens of Avignon built a rich chapel over his grave. The convent and church of the Celestines have been since built over that very spot, and in this church is the saint’s body at present enshrined under a stately mausoleum. The history of the miracles which have been wrought at his tomb fills whole volumes. A famous one in 1432, moved the city of Avignon to choose him for its patron. It is related as follows: A child about twelve years old fell from a high tower in the palace of Avignon upon a sharp rock, by which fall his skull was split, his brains dashed out, and his body terribly bruised. The father of the child, almost distracted at this accident, ran to the place, and falling on his knees with many tears, implored the intercession of St. Peter. Then gathering up the scattered bloody pieces of the child’s skull, he carried them with the body in a sack, and laid them on the saint’s tomb. The people and the Celestine monks joined their earnest prayers; and after some time the child returned to life, and was placed upon the altar that all might see him thus wonderfully raised from the dead. This miracle happened on the 5th of July, on which day the festival of the saint has ever since been celebrated at Avignon. After juridical informations on his life and miracles, the bull of his beatification was published by the true pope Clement VII. of the family of Medicis, in 1527.

St. Peter was a saint from the cradle, because he always strove to live only for God, and his divine honor. If one spark of that ardent love of God which inflamed the saints in their actions animated our breasts, it would give wings to our souls in all we do. We should devote ourselves every moment to God with our whole strength; and by our fidelity, and by the purity and fervor of our intention, we should with the saints make all our actions perfect sacrifices of our hearts to him. “God considers not how much, but with how ardent an affection the thing is given,” says St. Cyprian.49 And, as St. Ambrose writes,50 “Thy affection stamps the name and value on thy action. It is just rated at so much as is the ardor from which it proceeds. See how just is this judge—He asks thy own soul what value he is to set on thy work.”


Having led a religious life several years in her own country, she came into England in the reign of king Ethelwolf, about the year 840. That pious and great king being acquainted with her sanctity, committed to her care the education of his daughter Editha, and founded for her the monastery of Pollesworth, near the forest of Arden in Warwickshire, which flourished till the dissolution, bearing usually the name of St. Editha, its patroness and second abbess. St. Modwena had before established two famous nunneries in Scotland, one at Stirling, the other in Edinburgh. She made some other pious foundations in England, but to apply herself more perfectly to the sanctification of her own soul, she led during seven years in anachoretical life in an isle in the Trent, which was called Andresey from the apostle St. Andrew, in whose honor she procured her oratory to be dedicated. When the great abbey of Burton-upon-Trent was founded in the year 1004, it was dedicated under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin and St. Modwena, and was enriched with the relics of this saint, which were translated thither from Andresey; whence Leland calls the monastery of Burton Modwenestow. See Pinius the Bollandist, t. 2, Julij, p. 241. Tanner’s Notitia Mon. &c.


She is titular saint of the parish of new Tuamia, in the diocess of Elphin, and another in that of Tuam. A famous holy well bears her name, much resorted to by the sick. See Colgan, ad 5 Jul.




From St. Prosper and other historians, quoted by Usher, Antiq. Brit. Eccles. c. 16, p. 416, 424; Keith. Cat. Episc. Scot. p. 233; and the Bollandists 6 Jul. t. 2, Jul. p. 286.


The name of Palladius shows this saint to have been a Roman, and most authors agree that he was deacon of the church of Rome. At least St. Prosper in his chronicle informs us, that when Agricola, a noted Pelagian, had corrupted the churches of Britain with the insinuation of that pestilential heresy, pope Celestine, at the instance of Palladius the deacon, in 429, sent thither St. Germanus, bishop of Auxerre, in quality of his legate, who, having ejected the heretics, brought back the Britons to the Catholic faith. The concern of Palladius for these islands stopped not here; for it seems not to be doubted, but it was the same person of whom St. Prosper again speaks, when he afterwards says, that in 431 pope Celestine sent Palladius, the first bishop, to the Scots then believing in Christ. From the lives of SS. Albeus, Declan, Ibar, and Kiaran Saigir, Usher shows52 that these four saints preached separately in different parts of Ireland, which was their native country before the mission of St. Patrick. St. Ibar had been converted to the faith in Britain; the other three had been instructed at Rome, and were directed thence back into their own country, and according to the histories of their lives, were all honored with the episcopal character. St. Kiaran Saigir (who is commemorated on the 5th of March) preceded St. Patrick in preaching the gospel to the Ossorians, and was seventy-five years of age on St. Patrick’s arrival in Ireland. Hence it is easy to understand what is said of St. Palladius, that he was sent bishop to the Scots believing in Christ: though the number of Christians among them must have been then very small. St. Prosper, in his book against the Author of the conferences,53 having commended pope Celestine for his care in delivering Britain from the Pelagian heresy, adds, that “he also ordained a bishop for the Scots, and thus, whilst he endeavored to preserve the Roman island Catholic, he likewise made a barbarous island Christian.” Usher observes that this can be understood only of Ireland; for though part of North-Britain was never subject to the Romans, and the greatest part of it was then inhabited by the Picts, yet it never could be called a distinct island. It is also clear from Tertullian, Eusebius, St. Chrysostom, and others, that the light of the gospel had penetrated among the Picts beyond the Roman territories in Britain, near the times of the apostles. These people, therefore, who had lately begun to receive some tincture of the faith when our saint undertook his mission, were doubtless the Scots who were settled in Ireland.

The Irish writers of the lives of St. Patrick say, that Palladius had preached in Ireland a little before St. Patrick, but that he was soon banished by the king of Leinster, and returned to North Britain, where they tell us he had first opened his mission. It seems not to be doubted but he was sent to the whole nation of the Scots, several colonies of whom had passed from Ireland into North Britain, and possessed themselves of part of the country, since called Scotland.54 After St. Palladius had left Ireland, he arrived among the Scots in North Britain, according to St.  Prosper, in the consulate of Bassus and Antiochus, in the year of Christ 431.55 He preached there with great zeal, and formed a considerable church. The Scottish historians tell us, that the faith was planted in North Britain about the year 200, in the time of king Donald, when Victor was pope of Rome. But they all acknowledge that Palladius was the first bishop in that country, and style him their first apostle.56 The saint died at Fordun, the capital town of the little county of Mernis, fifteen miles from Aberdeen to the south, about the year 450. His relics were preserved with religious respect in the monastery of Fordun, as Hector Boetius57 and Camden testify. In the year 1409, William Scenes, archbishop of St. Andrew’s and primate of Scotland, enclosed them in a new shrine enriched with gold and precious stones. His festival is marked on the 6th of July in the Breviary of Aberdeen and the Scottish Calendars; but in some of the English on the 15th of December. Scottish writers, and calendars of the middle ages, mention St. Servanus and St. Ternan as disciples of St. Palladius, and by him made bishops, the former of Orkney, the latter of the Picts. But from Usher’s chronology it appears that they both lived later.

It is easy to conceive how painful and laborious the mission of this saint must have been; but where there is ardent love, labor seems a pleasure, and either is not felt or is a delight. It is a mark of sloth and impatience for a man to count his labors, or so much as to think of pains or sufferings in so glorious an undertaking. St. Palladius surmounted every obstacle which a fierce nation had opposed to the establishment of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Ought not our hearts to be impressed with the most lively sentiments of love and gratitude to our merciful God, for having raised up such great and zealous men, by whose ministry the light of true faith has been conveyed to us.


This saint was carried away captive from some Western country when he was very young, and sold for a slave in Syria. For some years he much aggravated the weight of his chains by his impatience under them; till having the happiness to receive the light of faith he found them exceedingly lightened by the comfort which religion afforded him. A right use of his afflictions from that moment contributed much to the sanctification of his soul. Not long after, he recovered his liberty by the death of his master, and immediately in the fervor of his devotion dedicated himself to the service of God in an austere monastery in Mesopotamia. He frequently resorted to the great St. Ephrem for advice and instructions in the exercises of virtue; and that holy man went often to see him, that he might edify himself by his saintly conversation. This learned doctor of the Syriac church tells us, that he could not forbear always admiring the sublime sentiments and spiritual lights with which God favored a man who appeared in the eyes of the world ignorant and a barbarian. Julian was of a robust body, inured to labor, but he weakened and emaciated it by great austerities. He worked with his hands, making sails for ships; and wept almost continually at the consideration of his past sins, and of the divine judgments. St. Ephrem tells us that he often admired to find that in the copies of the holy Bible after Julian had used them some days, several words were effaced, and others rendered scarcely legible, though the manuscripts were entire and fair before; and that the holy man candidly confessed to him when he one day asked him the reason, that the tears which he shed in reading often blotted out letters and words. Our saint always looked upon himself as a criminal, trembling, and expecting every moment the coming of his judge to call him to an account. It is easy to imagine how remote such a disposition of mind was from being capable of entertaining the very thought of amusements. His extreme humility appeared in his words, dress, and all his actions. He had much to suffer from certain tepid and slothful monks, but regarded himself as happy to meet with so favorable opportunities of redeeming his sins, and of exercising acts of penance, patience, meekness, and charity. Prayer was almost the uninterrupted employment of his heart. He made in his little cell a kind of a sepulchre, where he lived retired for greater solitude whenever his presence was not required at duties of the community. He assisted at the divine office without ever moving his body, keeping his whole attention fixed on God, as if he had been standing before the tribunal of his sovereign judge. Saint Ephrem assures us that God honored him with the gift of miracles. Sozomen writes58 that his life was so austere, that he seemed almost to live without a body. Thus he spent twenty-five years in his monastery, purifying his soul by patience, obedience, and the labors of penance. He passed to a glorious immortality about the year 370. See his life written by his friend St. Ephrem, Op. t. 3, p. 254, ed. Vatic.


She was daughter of Anna the religious king of the East-Angles, and his devout queen Hereswide, sister to St. Hilda. A pious education laid in her the foundation of that eminent sanctity for which she was most conspicuous during the whole course of her life. She was given in marriage to Ercombert, king of Kent, a prince of excellent dispositions, which she contributed exceedingly to improve by her counsels and example. She had a great share in all his zealous undertakings for promoting virtue and the happiness of his people, especially in extirpating the last remains of idolatry in his dominions, and in enforcing the observance of Lent, and other precepts of the Church, by wholesome laws. Her virtue commanded the reverence, and her humility and devotion raised the admiration of all her subjects; and her goodness and unbounded charity gained her the love of all, especially the poor. She had a longing desire to consecrate herself wholly to God in religious retirement, and that others at least might attend the divine service for her night and day without impediment, she began in her husband’s lifetime to found a monastery of holy virgins in the isle of Sheppey, on the coast of Kent, which she finished after his death in 664, whilst her son Egbert sat on the throne. Here she assembled seventy-four nuns, but hearing of the great sanctity of St. Etheldreda at Ely, and being desirous to live in greater obscurity, and to be more at liberty to employ all her thoughts on heaven, she left the kingdom of Kent, and retired to Ely before the year 679, in which she was chosen to succeed her sister St. Etheldreda, or Audry, in the government of that house. Sixteen years after she caused the body of that saint to be taken up, and passed herself to bliss in a good old age, on the 6th of July, toward the end of the seventh century. Her monastery in Sheppey, called Le Mynstre in Sheppey, was destroyed by the Danes, but rebuilt in 1130, and consecrated by William, archbishop of Canterbury, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Sexburgh; and it subsisted in the hands of Benedictin nuns till the dissolution of abbeys. St.  Ermenilda, daughter of king Ercombert and St. Sexburgh, was married to Wulpher, king of Mercia, but after his death retired to Ely, near her mother and her two aunts St. Audry and St. Withburg, three daughters of king Anna. St. Wereburgh, daughter of St. Ermenilda and king Wulpher, was a nun at Hearburgh (which seems to have been near Stanford or Croyland). Her relics were venerated at Hearburgh, till in the ninth century they were removed to Leicester. See the life of St. Sexburgh in Capgrave; also Bede and Narratio de Sanctis qui in Anglia quiescunt, in Hickes, Diss. Epistol. p. 117. Thesaur. t. 1, and Monast. Anglic. t. 1, p. 88, et 152. Weever’s Funeral Monuments, p. 283, and Kalendarium in quo annotantur dies obitûs Sororum Monasterii de Sheppey. MS. Bibliot. Cotton.


Aquitain gave this saint his birth and education; but out of a desire of serving God entirely unknown to the world, in 519 he travelled into Germany, and settling in the territory of Triers, he shut himself in his cell, and arrived at such an eminent degree of sanctity as to be esteemed the oracle and miracle of the whole country. He resolutely refused the archbishopric of Triers, and died in 575. Round his cell arose the town of St. Guver, on the left bank of the Rhine between Wesel and Boppard. See Brower and Pinius the Bollandist, t. 2, Julij, p. 328.


Of Sliabh-Cuillin, i. e. Mount Cullen, where she led a most holy life in austere penance and heavenly contemplation. She died in 518, and is much honored in that part of Ireland. See Colgan ad 6 Jul.




See St. Jerom, Catal. Clem. Alex. and Eusebius. Also Ceillier, t. 2, p. 237.

This learned father and apostolic man flourished in the second age. He was by birth a Sicilian, by profession a stoic philosopher. For his eloquence he is styled by St. Clement of Alexandria the Sicilian Bee. His esteem for virtue led him into an acquaintance with the Christians, and being charmed with the innocence and sanctity of their conversation he opened his eyes to the truth. He studied the holy scriptures under the disciples of the apostles, and his thirst after sacred learning brought him to Alexandria in Egypt, where the disciples of St. Mark had instituted a celebrated school of the Christian doctrine. Pantænus sought not to display his talents in that great mart of literature and commerce; but his great progress in sacred learning was after some time discovered, and he was drawn out of that obscurity in which his humility sought to live buried. Being placed at the head of the Christian school some time before the year 179, which was the first of Commodus, by his learning and excellent manner of teaching he raised its reputation above all the schools of the philosophers, and the lessons which he read, and which were gathered from the flowers of the prophets and apostles, conveyed light and knowledge into the minds of all his hearers, as St. Clement of Alexandria, his eminent scholar, says of him. The Indians who traded to Alexandria, entreated him to pay their country a visit, in order to confute their Brachmans. Hereupon he forsook his school, and was established by Demetrius, who was made bishop of Alexandria in 189, preacher of the gospel to the Eastern nations. Eusebius tells us that St. Pantænus found some seeds of the faith already sown in the Indies, and a book of the gospel of St. Matthew in Hebrew, which St. Bartholomew had carried thither. He brought it back with him to Alexandria, whither he returned after he had zealously employed some years in instructing the Indians in the faith. The public school was at that time governed by St. Clement, but St. Pantænus continued to teach in private till in the reign of Caracalla, consequently before the year 216, he closed a noble and excellent life by a happy death, as Rufinus writes.59 His name is inserted in all Western Martyrologies on the 7th of July.

The beauty of the Christian morality, and the sanctity of its faithful professors, which by their charms converted this true philosopher, appear nowhere to greater advantage than when they are compared with the imperfect and often false virtue of the most famous sages of the heathen world.60 Into what contradictions and gross errors did they fall, even about the divinity itself and the sovereign good! To how many vices did they give the name of virtues! How many crimes did they canonize! It is true they showed indeed a zeal for justice, a contempt of riches and pleasures, moderation in prosperity, patience in adversities, generosity, courage, and disinterestedness. But these were rather shadows and phantoms than real virtues, if they sprang from a principle of vanity and pride, or were infected with the poison of interestedness or any other vitiated intention, which they often betrayed, nay, sometimes openly avowed, and made a subject of their vain boasts.


He was son of the holy king St. Richard, and was born about the year 704 in the kingdom of the West-Saxons, about the place where Southampton now stands. When he was three years old his life was despaired of in a violent sickness; but when all natural remedies proved unsuccessful, his parents carried him and laid him at the foot of a great cross which was erected in a public place near their house, according to the custom in Catholic countries to this day. There they poured forth their prayers with great fervor, and made a promise to God that in case the child recovered they would consecrate him to the divine service. God accepted their pious offering, and the child was immediately restored to his health. St. Richard kept the child two years longer at home, but only regarded him as a sacred depositum committed to him by God; and when he was five years old placed him under the abbot Egbald, and other holy tutors in the monastery of Waltheim. The young saint, from the first use of his reason, in all his thoughts and actions seemed to aspire only to heaven, and his heart seemed full only of God and his holy love. He left this monastery about the year 721, when he was seventeen years old, and his brother Winibald nineteen, to accompany his father and brother in a pilgrimage of devotion to the tombs of the apostles at Rome, and to the Holy Land. They visited many churches in France on their road; but St. Richard died at Lucca, where his relics are still venerated in the church of St. Fridian, and he is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 7th of February. The two sons went on to Rome, and there took the monastic habit.

Above two years after this, Winibald having been obliged to return to England, St. Willibald with two or three young Englishmen set out to visit the holy places which Christ had sanctified by his sacred presence on earth. They added most severe mortifications to the incredible fatigues of their journey, living only on bread and water, and at land using no other bed than the bare ground. They sailed first to Cyprus and thence into Syria. At Emesa St. Willibald was taken by the Saracens for a spy, was loaded with irons, and suffered much in severe confinement for several months, till certain persons who were charmed with his wonderful virtue, and moved with compassion for his disaster, satisfied the caliph of his innocence, and procured his enlargement. The holy pilgrims expressed their gratitude to their benefactors, and pursued their journey to the holy places. They resolved in visiting them to follow our Divine Redeemer in the course of his mortal life; and therefore they began their devotions at Nazareth. Our saint passed there some days with his companions in the continual contemplation of the infinite mercies of God in the great mystery of the incarnation; and the sight of the place in which it was wrought drew from his eyes streams of devout tears during all the time of his stay in that town. From Nazareth he went to Bethlehem, and thence into Egypt, making no account of the fatigues and hardships of his journey, and assiduously meditating on what our Blessed Redeemer had suffered in the same. He returned to Nazareth, and thence travelled to Cana, Capharnaum, and Jerusalem. In this last place he made a long stay to satisfy his fervor in adoring Christ in the places where he wrought so many great mysteries, particularly on the mountains of Calvary and Olivet, the theatres of his sacred death and ascension. He likewise visited all the famous monasteries, lauras, and hermitages in that country, with an ardent desire of learning and imitating all the most perfect practices of virtue, and whatever might seem most conducive to the sanctification of his soul. The tender and lively sentiments of devotion with which his fervent contemplation on the holy mysteries of our redemption inspired him at the sight of all those sacred places, filled his devout soul with heavenly consolations, and made on it strong and lasting impressions. In his return a severe sickness at Acon exercised his patience and resignation. After seven years employed in this pilgrimage he arrived safe with his companions in Italy.

The celebrated monastery of Mount Cassino having been lately repaired by pope Gregory II. the saint chose that house for his residence, and his fervent example contributed very much to settle in it the primitive spirit of its holy institute during the ten years that he lived there. He was first appointed sacristan, afterward dean or superior over ten monks, and during the last eight years porter, which was an office of great trust and importance, and required a rooted habit of virtue which might suffer no abatement by external employs and frequent commerce with seculars. It happened that in 738 St. Boniface coming to Rome begged of pope Gregory III. that Willibald, who was his cousin, might be sent to assist him in his missions in Germany. The pope desired to see the monk, and was much delighted with the history of his travels, and edified with his virtue. In the close of their conversation he acquainted him of bishop Boniface’s request. Willibald desired to go back at least to obtain the leave and blessing of his abbot; but the pope told him his order sufficed, and commanded him to go without more ado into Germany. The saint replied that he was ready to go wheresoever his holiness should think fit. Accordingly he set out for Thuringia where St. Boniface then was, by whom he was ordained priest. His labors in the country about Aichstadt, in Franconia and Bavaria, were crowned with incredible success, and he was no less powerful in words than in works.

In 746 he was consecrated by St. Boniface bishop of Aichstadt. This dignity gave his humility much to suffer, but it exceedingly excited his zeal. The cultivation of so rough a vineyard was a laborious and painful task; but his heroic patience and invincible meekness overcame all difficulties. His charity was most tender and compassionate, and he had a singular talent in comforting the afflicted. He founded a monastery which resembled in discipline that of Mount Cassino, to which he often retired. But his love of solitude diminished not his pastoral solicitude for his flock. He was attentive to all their spiritual necessities, he visited often every part of his charge, and instructed all his people with indefatigable zeal and charity. His fasts were most austere, nor did he allow himself any indulgence in them or in his labors on account of his great age, till his strength was entirely exhausted. Having labored almost forty-five years in regulating and sanctifying his diocess, he died at Aichstadt on the 7th of June, 790, being eighty-seven years old. He was honored with miracles, and buried in his own cathedral. Pope Leo VII. canonized him in 938. In 1270 the bishop Hildebrand built a church in his honor, into which his relics were translated, and are honorably preserved to this day; but a portion is honored at Furnes in Flanders. See the three lives of St. Willibald written by contemporary authors, especially that by a nun of his sister St. Walburga’s monastery. She gives from the saint’s own relation a curious and useful description of the Holy Land, as it stood in that age; which is rendered more curious by the notes of Mabillon, and those of Basnage in his edition of Canisius’s Lect. Antiquæ. On St. Willibald, see Solier the Bollandist, t. 2, Julij, p. 485.


He was an English Saxon, a monk of the monastery of St. Hilda, and was made bishop of the West-Saxons in 676. He resided first at Dorchester near Oxford, but afterward removed his see to Winchester. King Ceadwal going to Rome to be baptized died there, and was buried in the church of St. Peter in 688. His kinsman Ina succeeded him in the throne.61 In his wise and wholesome laws, the most ancient extant among those of our English Saxon kings, enacted by him in a great council of bishops and ealdermen in 693, he declares that in drawing them up he had been assisted by the counsels of St. Hedda and St. Erconwald.62 In these laws theft is ordained to be punished with cutting off a hand or a foot; robbery on the highway, committed by a band not under seven in number, with death, unless the criminal redeem his life according to the estimation of his head. Church dues are ordered to be paid under a penalty of forty shillings; and if any master order a servant to do any work on a Sunday, the servant is made free and the master amerced thirty shillings. St. Hedda governed his church with great sanctity about thirty years, and departed to the Lord on the 7th of July, 705. Bede63 and William of Malmesbury assure us, that his tomb was illustrated by many miracles. His name is placed in the Roman Martyrology. See Solier the Bollandist, t. 2, Julij, p. 482.


She was daughter to Anna king of the East Angles, and out of a desire of attaining to Christian perfection, went into France, and there consecrated herself to God in the monastery of Faremoutier, in the forest of Brie, in the government of which she succeeded its foundress St. Fara. After her death her body remained uncorrupt, as Bede testifies.64 She is honored in the Roman, French, and English Martyrologies on this day.65 In these latter her niece St. Earcongota is named with her. She was daughter to Earconbercht king of Kent, and of St. Sexburga; accompanied St. Edelburga to Faremoutier, and there taking the veil with her, lived a great example of all virtues, and was honored after her happy death by many miracles, as Bede relates. Hereswide, the wife of king Anna, the mother of many saints, after the death of her husband, retired also into France, and consecrated herself to God in the famous monastery of Cale or Chelles, five leagues from Paris, near the marne (founded by St. Clotilda, but chiefly endowed by St. Bathildes), where she persevered, advancing daily in holy fervor to her happy death. See the history of the monastery of Chelles in the sixth tome of the late history of the diocess of Paris, by Abbé Lebeuf, and Solier on this day, p. 481, &c.


The most illustrious among the bishops of Nantes was saint Felix, a person of the first rank in Aquitain, some say of Bourges in the First Aquitain; others more probably think of the Second Aquitain on the sea-coast and nearer Brittany. In the world he was more illustrious by his virtue, his eloquence, and learning, than by his dignities and high birth. The Greek language was as familiar to him as his own; he was a poet and orator, and seems from Fortunatus’s expression to have written a panegyric on the queen St. Radegundes in verse. He had been married when he was called to succeed Evemer, the holy bishop of Nantes, toward the close of the year 549, in the 37th year of his age. His zeal for discipline and good order appeared in the regulations he made for his own diocess, and in the decrees of the third council of Paris in 557, in the second of Tours in 566, and the fourth of Paris in 573. His charity to the poor had no other bounds but those of their necessities, and considering that the revenues of the Church were the patrimony of the poor, he reserved to himself only the prudent and troublesome administration of them for their use. He sold for them and the Church his own patrimony, and made it his study and earnest endeavor that no one in his diocess should pass unrelieved in distress. His predecessor had formed a project of building a cathedral within the walls of the city of Nantes, which Felix executed in the most magnificent manner. Fortunatus describes it to have been composed of three naves, of which the middle was supported by great pillars. A great cupola was raised in the middle. The church was covered with tin, and within was only azure, gold, mosaic, paintings, pilasters, foliages, various figures, and other ornaments. Euphronius archbishop of Tours, and the bishops of Angers, Mans, Rennes, Poitiers, and Angouleme performed the dedication; no bishop of the Britons was invited to the ceremony; for which it appears that their commerce with the French was not entirely free. The Britons were then possessed of no lands in the diocess of Nantes except the territory of Croisic, in which was the palace of Aula Quiriaca or Guerrande, vulgarly Warand, probably so called from Guerech I. the British count of Vannes, who resided there. Canao, one of his successors, when Felix was made bishop, had put to death three of his brothers, and held a fourth named Macliau in prison. St. Felix by his intercession saved his life, and obtained his liberty. St. Gregory of Tours complains that bishop Felix had been prepossessed by false informations against Peter, Gregory’s brother, and accused him of favoring an unworthy nephew; but in other places bears testimony to his eminent sanctity, which is much extolled by Fortunatus and others. Guerech II. count of Vannes, plundered the diocesses of Rennes and Vannes, and repulsed the troops which king Chilperic sent against him; but, at the entreaties of St. Felix, withdrew his forces, and made peace. The holy prelate died on the 8th of January in 584, the seventieth year of his age, of his episcopal dignity thirty-three.

He is honored at Nantes, of which he was the sixteenth bishop from St. Clair, on the 7th of July, the day of the translation of his relics. See Fortunatus, l. 3, c. 4, 5, 6, 7. St. Gregory of Tours, l. 5, c. 5. Ceillier, t. 16, p. 562. M. Travers, Histoire abrégée des Evêques de Nantes, tome 7, part 2, des Mémoires de Littérature recueillis par P. Desmolets de l’Oratoire. Stilting the Bollandist, t. 2, Jul. p. 470. Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bretagne, p. 121.


His family name was Nicholas Bocasini. He was a native of Treviso, which city was then an independent commonwealth, but since the year 1336 is subject to that of Venice. He was born in 1240, and studied first at Treviso, and afterwards at Venice, where, at fourteen years of age, he took the habit of St. Dominick. He seemed desirous to set no bounds to his fervor and fidelity in the practice of every means of improving his soul daily in virtue: and, during fourteen years, enriched his mind with an uncommon store of sacred learning. After this term he was appointed professor and preacher at Venice and Bologna, and with incredible fruit communicated to others those spiritual riches which he had treasured up in silence and retirement, being always careful by the same means to preserve and increase his own stock. He wrote several sermons and comments on the holy scripture, which are still extant. He was chosen provincial of Lombardy, and, in 1296, the ninth general of his Order. On that occasion, by a pathetic circular letter,66 he exhorted his brethren to a love of poverty, humility, retirement, prayer, charity, and obedience. In 1297 he was sent by Boniface VIII. nuncio into France, to be the mediator of peace between that nation and the English; and was created cardinal during his residence there in 1298. Nothing but the strict command of his Holiness could have obliged him to accept that dignity, which cost him many tears. He was made soon after bishop of Ostia, and dean of the sacred college; and in 1301 went legate a latere into Hungary, to endeavor to compose the differences which divided that nation into factions, and had already laid it waste by a dreadful civil war; in which cardinal Boncasini succeeded to a miracle. He also abolished in that country several superstitious practices, and other abuses and scandals. He afterward exerted his zeal in Austria and at Venice, being successively legate in both those places.

Boniface VIII. dying on the 11th of October, 1303, the cardinals entered the conclave on the 21st of the same month, and on the day following unanimously chose our saint pope. He was seized with trembling at the news; but being compelled to acquiesce, was crowned on the following Sunday. He continued his former practices of humility, mortification, and penance. When his mother came to his court in rich attire, he refused to see her till she had put on again her former mean apparel. Rome was at that time torn by civil divisions, especially by the factions of the Colonnas against the late pope, but the moderation, meekness, and prudence of our saint soon restored the whole country to perfect tranquillity. He pardoned the Colonnas and other rebels, Sciarra Colonna and William of Nogaret excepted, who remained under the former sentence of proscription. He pacified Denmark, and other kingdoms of the North, and appeased the State and Church of France. He reconciled the cities of Venice and Padua without effusion of blood. He joined his zealous endeavors with Helena, queen of Servia, in the conversion of her son Orosius. This good pope died the martyr of peace, to make which reign over the whole Christian world he seemed only to have lived. Having sat only eight months and seventeen days, he departed this life at Perugia, on the 6th of July, in the year of our Lord, 1304, of his age sixty-three. Some say he died of poison secretly given him by the contrivance of certain wicked men who were enemies to the public tranquillity. He was honored by miracles, examined and approved by the bishop of Perugia, and attested by Platina and other historians. See Conc. t. 10, also his life collected by Pagi, in his Annals, and in an express work by the late learned Dominican, F. Peter Thomas Campana; and Vie de S. Benoit XI. ou Caractère de la Sainteté du B. Benoit XI. à Toulouse, 1739. See also F. Touron, Hommes Illustres, t. 1, l. 7, p. 655, and Benedict XIV. de Canoniz, t. 4, Append. and in his new Roman Martyrology on the 7th of July.



From her Authentic Life, written by a Franciscan friar; Mariana, and other Spanish historians. See Janning the Bollandist, Julij, t. 2, ad diem 4, p. 169.

A. D. 1336.

St. Elizabeth was daughter of Peter III. king of Arragon, and grand-daughter of James I. who had been educated under the care of St. Peter Nolasco, and was surnamed the Saint, and from the taking of Majorca and Valentia, Expugnator or the Conqueror. Her mother, Constantia, was daughter of Manfred king of Sicily, and grandchild to the Emperor Frederic II. Our saint was born in 1271, and received at the baptismal font by the name of Elizabeth, from her aunt, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, who had been canonized by Gregory IX. in 1235. Her birth established a good understanding between her grandfather James, who was then on the throne, and her father, whose quarrel had divided the whole kingdom. The former took upon himself the care of her education, inspired her with an ardor for piety above her age, though he died in 1276 (having reigned sixty-three years), before she had completed the sixth year of her age.

Her father succeeded to the crown, and was careful to place most virtuous persons about his daughter, whose example might be to her a constant spur to all virtue. The young princess was of a most sweet and mild disposition, and from her tender years had no relish for anything but what was conducive to piety and devotion. It was doing her the most sensible pleasure if any one promised to lead her to some chapel to say a prayer. At eight years of age she began to fast on vigils, and to practise great self-denials; nor could she bear to hear the tenderness of her years and constitution alleged as a reason that she ought not to fast or macerate her tender body. Her fervor made her eagerly to desire that she might have a share in every exercise of virtue which she saw practised by others, and she had been already taught that the frequent mortification of the senses, and still more of the will, is to be joined with prayer to obtain the grace which restrains the passions, and prevents their revolt. How little is this most important maxim considered by those parents who excite and fortify the passions of children, by teaching them a love of vanities, and indulging them in gratifications of sense! If rigorous fasts suit not their tender age, a submission of the will, perfect obedience, and humble modesty, are in no time of life more indispensably to be inculcated; nor is any abstinence more necessary than that by which children are taught never to drink or eat out of meals, to bear several little denials in them without uneasiness, and never eagerly to crave anything. The easy and happy victory of Elizabeth over herself was owing to this early and perfect temperance, submissiveness, and sincere humility. Esteeming virtue her only advantage and delight, she abhorred romances and idle entertainments, shunned the usual amusements of children, and was an enemy to all the vanities of the world. She could bear no other songs than sacred hymns and psalms; and from her childhood said every day the whole office of the breviary, in which no priest could be more scrupulously exact. Her tenderness and compassion for the poor made her, even in that tender age, to be styled their mother.

At twelve years of age she was given in marriage to Dionysius, king of Portugal. That prince had considered in her, birth, beauty, riches, and sprightliness of genius, more than virtue; yet he allowed her an entire liberty in her devotions, and exceedingly esteemed and admired her extraordinary piety. She found no temptation to pride in the dazzling splendor of a crown, and could say with Esther, that her heart never found any delight in the glory, riches, and grandeur with which she was surrounded. She was sensible that regularity in our actions is necessary to virtue, this being in itself most agreeable to God, who shows in all his works how much he is the lover of order; also a prudent distribution of time fixes the fickleness of the human mind, hinders frequent omissions of pious exercises, and is a means to prevent our being ever idle and being governed by humor and caprice in what we do, by which motives a disguised self-love easily insinuates itself into our ordinary actions. Our saint therefore planned for herself a regular distribution of her whole time, and of her religious exercises, which she never interrupted, unless extraordinary occasions of duty or charity obliged her to change the order of her daily practices. She rose very early every morning, and after a long morning exercise, and a pious meditation, she recited matins, lauds and prime of the Church office. Then she heard mass, at which she communicated frequently every week. She said every day also the little office of our Lady, and that of the dead: and in the afternoon had other regular devotions after even-song or vespers. She retired often into her oratory to her pious books, and allotted certain hours to attend her domestic affairs, public business, or what she owed to others. All her spare time she employed in pious reading, or in working for the altar, or the poor, and she made her ladies of honor do the like. She found no time to spend in vain sports and recreations, or in idle discourse or entertainments. She was most abstemious in her diet, mean in her attire, humble, meek, and affable in conversation, and wholly bent upon the service of God in all her actions. Admirable was her spirit of compunction, and of holy prayer; and she poured forth her heart before God with most feeling sentiments of divine love, and often watered her cheeks and the very ground with abundant tears of sweet devotion. Frequent attempts were made to prevail with her to moderate her austerities, but she always answered that if Christ assures us that his spirit cannot find place in a life of softness and pleasure, mortification is nowhere more necessary than on the throne, where the passions find more dangerous incentives. She fasted three days a week, many vigils besides those prescribed by the Church; all Advent; a Lent of devotion, from the feast of St. John Baptist to the feast of the Assumption; and soon after this she began another Lent, which she continued to St. Michael’s day. On all Fridays and Saturdays, on the eves of all festivals of the Blessed Virgin and the apostles, and on many other days, her fast was on bread and water. She often visited churches and places of devotion on foot.

Charity to the poor was a distinguishing part of her character. She gave constant orders to have all pilgrims and poor strangers provided for with lodging and necessaries. She made it her business to seek out and secretly relieve persons of good condition who were reduced to necessity, yet out of shame durst not make known their wants. She was very liberal in furnishing fortunes to poor young women, that they might marry according to their condition, and not be exposed to the danger of losing their virtue. She visited the sick, served them, and dressed and kissed their most loathsome sores. She founded in different parts of the kingdom many pious establishments, particularly an hospital near her own palace at Coïmbra, a house for penitent women who had been seduced into evil courses, at Torres-Novas, and an hospital for foundlings, or those children who, for want of due provision, are exposed to the danger of perishing by poverty, or the neglect and cruelty of unnatural parents. She was utterly regardless of her own conveniences, and so attentive to the poor and afflicted persons of the whole kingdom, that she seemed almost wholly to belong to them; not that she neglected any other duties which she owed to her neighbor, for she made it her principal study to pay to her husband the most dutiful respect, love, and obedience, and bore his injuries with invincible meekness and patience. Though king Dionysius was a friend of justice, and a valiant, bountiful, and compassionate prince, yet he was, in his youth, a worldly man, and defiled the sanctity of the nuptial state with abominable lusts. The good queen used all her endeavors to reclaim him, grieving most sensibly for the offence of God, and the scandal given to the people; and she never ceased to weep herself, and to procure the prayers of others for his conversion. She strove to gain him only by courtesy, and with constant sweetness and cheerfulness cherished his natural children, and took great care of their education. By these means she softened the heart of the king, who, by the succor of a powerful grace, rose out of the filthy puddle in which he had wallowed for a long time, and kept ever after the fidelity that was due to his virtuous consort. He instituted the order of Christ in 1318; founded, with a truly royal magnificence, the university of Coïmbra, and adorned his kingdom with public buildings. His extraordinary virtues, particularly his liberality, justice, and constancy, are highly extolled by the Portuguese, and after his entire conversion, he was the idol and glory of his people. A little time before his perfect conversion there happened an extraordinary accident. The queen had a very pious, faithful page, whom she employed in the distribution of her secret alms. A wicked fellow-page envying him on account of this favor, to which his virtue and services entitled him, treacherously suggested to his majesty that the queen showed a fondness for that page. The prince, who by his own sensual heart was easily inclined to judge ill of others, gave credit to the slander, and resolved to take away the life of the innocent youth. For this purpose he gave order to a lime-burner, that if on such a day he sent to him a page with this errand to inquire, “Whether he had fulfilled the king’s commands?” he should take him and cast him into the lime-kiln, there to be burnt; for that death he had justly incurred, and the execution was expedient for the king’s service. On the day appointed he despatched the page with this message to the lime-kiln; but the devout youth on the road passing by a church, heard the bell ring at the elevation at mass, went in and prayed there devoutly; for it was his pious custom, if he ever heard the sign given by the bell for the elevation, always to go thither, and not depart till mass was ended. It happened, on that occasion, that as the first was not a whole mass, and it was with him a constant rule to hear mass every day, he stayed in the church, and heard successively two other masses. In the meantime, the king, who was impatient to know if his orders had been executed, sent the informer to the lime-kiln, to inquire whether his commands had been obeyed; but as soon as he was come to the kiln, and had asked the question, the man, supposing him to be the messenger meant by the king’s order, seized him, and threw him into the burning lime, where he was soon consumed. Thus was the innocent protected by his devotion, and the slanderer was overtaken by divine justice. The page who had heard the masses went afterward to the lime-kiln, and having asked whether his majesty’s commands had been yet executed, brought him back word that they were. The king was almost out of himself with surprise when he saw him come back with this message, and being soon informed of the particulars, he easily discovered the innocence of the pious youth, adored the divine judgments, and ever after respected the great virtue and sanctity of his queen.

St. Elizabeth had by the king two children, Alphonsus, who afterward succeeded his father, and Constantia, who was married to Ferdinand IV., king of Castille. This son, when grown up, married the infanta of Castille, and soon after revolting against his own father, put himself at the head of an army of malecontents. St. Elizabeth had recourse to weeping, prayer, fasting, and almsdeeds, and exhorted her son in the strongest terms to return to his duty, conjuring her husband at the same time to forgive him. Pope John XXII. wrote to her, commending her religious and prudent conduct; but certain court flatterers whispering to the king that she was suspected of favoring her son, he, whom jealousy made credulous, banished her to the city of Alanquer. The queen received this disgrace with admirable patience and peace of mind, and made use of the opportunity which her retirement afforded, to redouble her austerities and devotions. She never would entertain any correspondence with the malecontents, nor listen to any suggestions from them. The king himself admired her goodness, meekness, and humility under her disgrace; and shortly after called her back to court, and showed her greater love and respect than ever. In all her troubles she committed herself to the sweet disposal of divine providence, considering that she was always under the protection of God, her merciful father.

Being herself of the most sweet and peaceable disposition, she was always most active and industrious in composing all differences between neighbors, especially in averting war, with the train of all the most terrible evils which attend it. She reconciled her husband and son, when their armies were marching one against the other; and she reduced all the subjects to duty and obedience. She made peace between Ferdinand IV., king of Castille, and Alphonsus de la Cerda, his cousin-german, who disputed the crown: likewise between James II., king of Arragon, her own brother, and Ferdinand IV., the king of Castille, her son-in-law. In order to effect this last she took a journey with her husband into both those kingdoms, and to the great satisfaction of the Christian world, put a happy period to all dissensions and debates between those states. After this charitable work, king Dionysius, having reigned forty-five years, fell sick. St. Elizabeth gave him most signal testimonies of her love and affection, scarce ever leaving his chamber during his illness, unless to go to the church, and taking infinite pains to serve and attend him. But her main care and solicitude was to secure his eternal happiness, and to procure that he might depart this life in sentiments of perfect repentance and piety. For this purpose she gave bountiful alms, and caused many prayers and masses to be said. During his long and tedious illness he gave great marks of sincere compunction, and died at Santaren, on the 6th of January, 1325. As soon as he had expired, the queen retired into her oratory, commended his soul to God, and consecrating herself to the divine service, put on the habit of the third Order of Saint Francis. She attended the funeral procession, with her husband’s corpse, to Odiveras, where he had chosen his burying-place in a famous church of Cistercian monks. After a considerable stay there, she made a pilgrimage to Compostella, and returning to Odiveras, celebrated there her husband’s anniversary with great solemnity; after which she retired to a convent of Clares, which she had begun to rebuild before the death of her husband. She was desirous to make her religious profession, but was diverted from that design for some time upon a motive of charity, that she might continue to support an infinity of poor people by her alms and protection. She therefore contented herself at first with wearing the habit of the third Order, living in a house which she built contiguous to her great nunnery, in which she assembled ninety devout nuns. She often visited them, and sometimes served them at table, having for her companion in this practice of charity and humility her daughter-in-law, Beatrix, the queen then reigning. However, by authentic historical proofs it is evinced that before her death she made her religious profession in the aforesaid third Order, as pope Urban VIII., after mature discussion of those monuments, has declared.67

A war being lighted up between her son Alphonsus IV., surnamed the brave, king of Portugal, and her grandson, Alphonsus XI., king of Castille, and armies being set on foot, she was startled at the news, and resolved to set out to reconcile them, and extinguish the fire that was kindling. Her servants endeavored to persuade her to defer her journey, on account of the excessive heats, but she made answer that she could not better expend her health and her life than by seeking to prevent the miseries and calamities of a war. The very news of her journey disposed both parties to peace. She went to Estremoz, upon the frontiers of Portugal and Castille, where her son was; but she arrived ill of a violent fever, which she looked upon as a messenger sent by God to warn her that the time was at hand wherein he called her to himself. She strongly exhorted her son to the love of peace and to a holy life; she confessed several times, received the holy viaticum on her knees at the foot of the altar, and shortly after extreme unction; from which time she continued in fervent prayer, often invoking the Blessed Virgin, and repeating these words: “Mary, mother of grace, mother of mercy, defend us from the wicked enemy, and receive us at the hour of our death.” She appeared overflowing with heavenly joy, and with those consolations of the Holy Ghost which make death so sweet to the saints; and in the presence of her son, the king, and of her daughter-in-law, she gave up her happy soul to God on the 4th of July, in the year 1336, of her age sixty-five. She was buried with royal pomp in the church of her monastery of poor Clares, at Coïmbra, and honored by miracles. Leo X. and Paul IV. granted an office on her festival; and in 1612 her body was taken up and found entire. It is now richly enshrined in a magnificent chapel, built on purpose. She was canonized by Urban VIII. in 1625, and the 8th of July appointed for her festival.

The characteristical virtue of St. Elizabeth was a love of peace. Christ, the prince of peace, declares his spirit to be the spirit of humility and meekness; consequently the spirit of peace. Variance, wrath, and strife, are the works of the flesh, of envy, and pride, which he condemns, and which exclude from the kingdom of heaven. Bitterness and contention shut out reason, make the soul deaf to the motives of religion, and open the understanding to nothing but what is sinful. To find the way of peace we must be meek and patient, even under the most violent provocations; we must never resent any wrong, nor return railing for railing, but good for evil; we must regard passion as the worst of monsters, and must judge it as unreasonable to hearken to its suggestions as to choose a madman for our counsellor in matters of concern and difficulty; above all, we must abhor it not only as a sin, but as leading to a numberless variety of other grievous sins and spiritual evils. Blessed are the peacemakers, and all who love and cultivate this virtue among men, they shall be called the children of God, whose badge and image they bear.


He was a native of Jerusalem, but lived at Bethsan, otherwise called Scythopolis, where he was reader in the church, and also performed the function of exorcist, and dispossessing demoniacs, and that of interpreter of the Greek tongue into the Syro-Chaldaic.68 He was a divine man, say his acts, and had always lived in the practice of great austerity and patience, and in perpetual chastity. He took no other sustenance than bread and water, and usually abstained from all food for two or three days together. He was well skilled in the science of the Greeks, but much more in that of the holy scriptures; the assiduous meditation on which nourished his soul, and seemed also to give vigor and strength to his emaciated body. He was admirable in all virtues, particularly in a heavenly meekness and humility. Dioclesian’s bloody edicts against the Christians reached Palestine in April, 303, and Procopius was the first person who received the crown of martyrdom in that country, in the aforesaid persecution. He was apprehended at Bethsan and led, with several others, bound to Cæsarea, our city, say the acts, and was hurried straight before Paulinus, prefect of the province.69 The judge commanded the martyr to sacrifice to the gods. The servant of Christ answered he never could do it; and this he declared with a firmness and resolution that seemed to wound the heart of the prefect as if it had been pierced with a dagger. The martyr added, there is no God but one, who is the author and preserver of the world. The prefect then bade him sacrifice to the four emperors, namely Dioclesian, Herculius, Galerius, and Constantius. This the saint again refused to do, and had scarce returned his answer but the judge passed sentence upon him, and he was immediately led to execution and beheaded. He is honored by the Greeks with the title of The Great Martyr. See his original Chaldaic Acts, published by Steph. Assemani, t. 2, p. 166, and a less accurate old Latin translation; given by Ruinart, and by Henry Valois, Not. in Euseb. l. 8. The author of these acts was Eusebius of Cæsarea, an eye-witness.


Kilian or Kuln was a holy Irish monk, of noble Scottish extraction. With two zealous companions he travelled to Rome in 686, and obtained of pope Conon a commission to preach the gospel to the German idolaters in Franconia; upon which occasion Kilian was invested with episcopal authority. The missionaries converted and baptized great numbers at Wurtzburg, and among others Gosbert, the duke of that name. This prince had taken to wife Geilana, the relict of his deceased brother; and though he loved her tenderly, being put in mind by St. Kilian that such a marriage was condemned and void by the law of the gospel, he promised to dismiss her, saying that we are bound to love God above father, mother, or wife. Geilana was tormented in mind beyond measure at this resolution; jealousy and ambition equally inflamed her breast; and, as the vengeance of a wicked woman has no bounds, during the absence of the duke in a military expedition, she sent assassins, who privately murdered the three holy missionaries in 688. The ruffians were themselves pursued by divine vengeance, and all perished miserably. St. Burchard, who, in the following century, was placed by St. Boniface in the episcopal see of Wurtzburg, translated their relics into his cathedral. A portion of those of St. Kilian, in a rich shrine, was preserved in the treasury of the elector of Brunswic-Lunenburg in 1713, as appears from the printed description of that cabinet. See the acts of these martyrs compiled by Egilward, monk of St. Burchard’s at Wurtzburg, extant imperfect in the eleventh century, in Surius, t. 4, entire in Canisius, t. 4, par. 2, p. 628, and t. 3, ed. Basn., p. 174. Also among the Opuscula of Serrarius, printed at Mentz in 1611, in the collection of the writers of Wurtzburg published by Ludewig, p. 966, and in Mabillon and the Bollandists. See also Thesaurus reliquiarum Electoralis Brunsvico-Luneburgicus. Hanoveræ, 1713, and Solier, t. 2, Julij, p. 600.


She was the youngest of the four sisters, all saints, daughters of Annas the holy king of the East-Angles. In her tender years she devoted herself to the divine service, and led an austere life in close solitude for several years at Holkham, an estate of the king her father, near the sea-coast in Norfolk, where a church, afterward called Withburgstow, was built. After the death of her father she changed her dwelling to another estate of the crown called Dereham. This is at present a considerable market-town in Norfolk, but was then an obscure retired place. Withburge assembled there many devout virgins, and laid the foundation of a great church and nunnery, but did not live to finish the buildings. Her holy death happened on the 17th of March, 743. Her body was interred in the church-yard of Dereham, and fifty-five years after, found uncorrupt, and translated into the church. One hundred and seventy-six years after this, in 974, Brithnoth (the first abbot of Ely, after that house, which had been destroyed by the Danes, was rebuilt), with the consent of king Edgar, removed it to Ely, and deposited it near the bodies of her two sisters. In 1106 the remains of the four saints were translated into the new church and laid near the high altar. The bodies of SS. Sexburga and Ermenilda were reduced to dust, except the bones. That of St. Audry was entire, and that of St. Withburge was not only sound but also fresh, and the limbs perfectly flexible. Warner, a monk of Westminster, showed this to all the people, by lifting up and moving several ways the hands, arms, and feet. Herbert bishop of Thetford, who in 1094 translated his see to Norwich, and many other persons of distinction, were eye-witnesses hereof. This is related by Thomas, monk of Ely, in his history of Ely,70 which he wrote the year following, 1107. This author tells us, that in the place where St. Withburge was first buried, in the church-yard of Dereham, a large fine spring of most clear water gushes forth.71 It is to this day called St. Withburge’s well, was formerly very famous, and is paved, covered, and inclosed; a stream from it forms another small well without the church-yard. See her life, and Leland, Collect. vol. iii. p. 167.


He was by his virtue the great ornament of the illustrious family of Montmorency in France. He was born in the castle of Marli. His father, Bouchard of Montmorency, gave him an education suitable to his birth, and trained him up to the profession of arms, in which so many heroes of that family have signalized themselves. But Theobald manifested from his infancy a strong inclination to a state of holy retirement, dreading the least shadow of danger which could threaten his innocence. He spent great part of his time in prayer, and resorted often to the church of the nunnery called Port-Royal, which had been founded in 1204 by Matthew of Montmorency, and on which his father Bouchard had bestowed so many estates that he was regarded as a second founder. Theobald took the Cistercian habit at Vaux de Cernay in 1220, and was chosen abbot of that house in 1234. He lived in the midst of his brethren as the servant of every one, and surpassed all others in his love of poverty, silence, and holy prayer. He was highly esteemed by St. Lewis. His happy death happened in 1247. His shrine in his abbey is visited by a great concourse of people on the Whitsun-holidays. His solemn festival is there kept on the 8th, and in some places on the 9th of July, probably the day on which the first translation of his relics was made. The Bollandists defer his life to the 8th of December, the day of his death. See Le Nain, Histoire de Citeaux, t. 9.


He was a monk at St. Bertin’s, and with his abbot entertained king Alfred in that abbey when that prince was going to Rome. This king, afterward by the advice of Eldred archbishop of Canterbury, sent messengers to St. Bertin’s to invite Grimbald over into England, where he arrived, Hugh being twelfth abbot of that monastery, in the year 885. Asserius, a monk of Menevia or St. David’s, whom king Alfred honored with his particular esteem, and who was afterward bishop of Shireburn, was one of these messengers.

The Oxonian writers tell us that Grimbald was appointed first professor of divinity at Oxford, when he is said to have founded that university; and that Asserius, John Erigena, and St. Neot taught there at the same time. The learned Mr. Hearne says not only that Grimbald built St. Peter’s church in the East, but also that the eastern vault of his ancient structure is standing to this day, of which he gives a plan. Upon the death of Eldred archbishop of Canterbury, king Alfred pressed Grimbald to accept that dignity; but was not able to extort his consent, and was obliged to allow him to retire to the church of Winchester. King Alfred’s son and successor Edward, in compliance with his father’s will, built the New Minstre close to the old, in which he placed secular canons, says Tanner, and appointed St. Grimbald abbot over them; this title being then given to a superior of secular or regular priests. About sixty years after, bishop Ethelwolph brought in monks in place of those secular canons. King Henry I. removed this monastery of New Minstre out of the walls of the city to the place called Hide, which still continued sometimes to be called St. Grimbald’s monastery. The body of the great king Alfred was removed by his son from the Old Minstre, and that of his queen Alswithe from the nunnery of Nunnaminstre, and deposited together in the New Minstre, afterward in Hide-Monastery. Nunnaminstre was founded by king Alfred, or rather by his queen Alswithe. St. Edburge, a daughter of king Edward, was a nun, and, according to Leland, abbess there. St. Grimbald in his last sickness, though extremely feeble, gathered strength when the sacred viaticum was brought, rose out of bed, and received it prostrate on the ground. After this he desired to be left alone for three days, which he spent in close union of his heart with God. On the fourth day the community was called into his chamber, and amidst their prayers the saint calmly breathed forth his happy soul on the 8th of July in the year 903, of his age eighty-three. His body was reposed in this church, and honored amongst its most precious relics. It was taken up by St. Elphegus, and exposed in a silver shrine. See his life written by Goscelin, monk of St. Bertin’s; Capgrave; Leland, Collect. t. 1, p. 18. John Yperius in Chron. S. Bertini; Molan. in Natal. Sanct. Belgii; Hearne, Præf. in Lelandi Collect. t. 1, p. 28, t. 2, p. 217, and Præf. in Thomæ Caii Vindicias Oxon. contra Joan. Caium Cantabrig. p. 27. Woode Ant. Oxon. t. 1, p. 9.




From his works in the late Vatican edition; also from St. Gregory of Nyssa, in his panegyric of St. Ephrem; and from Palladius, Theodoret, Sozomen, &c. See t. 1, Op. St. Ephrem, Romæ, An. 1743, or St. Ephrem Syri Opera Omnia Latine. Venetiis, 1755, 2 tomis.

A. D. 378.

This humble deacon was the most illustrious of all the doctors, who, by their doctrine and writings, have adorned the Syriac church. He was born in the territory of Nisibis, a strong city on the banks of the Tigris, in Mesopotamia. His parents lived in the country, and earned their bread with the sweat of their brows, but were ennobled by the blood of martyrs in their family, and had themselves both confessed Christ before the persecutors under Dioclesian, or his successors. They consecrated Ephrem to God from his cradle, like another Samuel, but he was eighteen years old when he was baptized. Before that time he had committed certain faults which his enlightened conscience extremely exaggerated to him after his perfect conversion to God, and he never ceased to bewail, with floods of tears, his ingratitude towards God, in having ever offended him. Sozomen72 says these sins were little sallies of anger, into which he had sometimes fallen with his playfellows in his childhood. The saint himself mentions in his confession73 two crimes (as he styles them) of this age, which called for his tears during his whole life. The first was, that in play he had driven a neighbor’s cow among the mountains, where it happened to be killed by a wild beast; the second was a doubt which once came into his mind in his childhood, whether God’s particular providence reached to an immediate superintendency over all our individual actions. This sin he exceedingly magnifies in his contrition, though it happened before his baptism, and never proceeded further than a fluctuating thought from ignorance in his childhood; and in his Testament he thanks God for having been always preserved by his mercy since his baptism from any error in faith. Himself assures us that the divine goodness was pleased in a wonderful manner to discover to him, after this temptation, the folly of his error, and the wretched blindness of his soul in having pretended to fathom the secrets of providence.

Within a month after he had been assaulted by the temptation of the aforesaid doubt, he happened in travelling through the country to be benighted, and was forced to take up his quarters with a shepherd who had lost in the wilderness the flock committed to his charge. The master of the shepherd suspected him guilty of theft, and pursuing him, found him and Ephrem together, and cast them both into prison, upon suspicion that they had stolen his sheep. Ephrem was extremely afflicted at his misfortune, and in the dungeon found seven other prisoners, who were all falsely accused or suspected of different crimes, though really guilty of others. When he had lain seven days in prison in great anguish of mind, an angel appearing to him in his sleep told him he was sent to show him the justice and wisdom of divine providence in governing and directing all human events; and that this should be manifested to him in the case of those prisoners who seemed to suffer in his company unjustly. The next day the judge called the prisoners before him, and put two of them to the torture, in order to compel them to confess their crimes. While others were tormented, Ephrem stood by the rack trembling and weeping for himself, under the apprehension of being every moment put to the question. The bystanders rallied him for his fears, and said—“Ay, it is thy turn next; it is to no purpose now to weep: why didst thou not fear to commit the crime?” However, he was not put on the rack, but sent back to prison. The other prisoners, though innocent of the crimes of which they were first arraigned, were all convicted of other misdemeanors, and each of them received the chastisement due to his offence. As to Ephrem, the true thief having been discovered, he was honorably acquitted, after seventy days’ confinement. This event the saint relates at length in his confession.74 God was pleased to give him this sensible proof of the sweetness, justice, and tender goodness of his holy providence, which we are bound to adore in resignation and silence; waiting until the curtain shall be drawn aside, and the whole economy of his loving dispensations to his elect displayed in its true amiable light, and placed in its full view before our eyes in the next life. Though, to take a view of the infinite wisdom, justice, and sanctity which God displayeth in all the dispensations of his providence, we must take into the prospect the rewards and punishments of the next world, and all the hidden springs of this adorable mystery of faith; yet his divine goodness to excite our confidence in him, was pleased, by this revelation to his servant, to manifest in this instance his attributes justified in part, even in this life, of which he hath given us a most illustrious example with regard to holy Job.

St. Ephrem, from the time of his baptism, which he received soon after this accident, began to be more deeply penetrated with the fear of the divine judgment, and he had always present to his mind the rigorous account he was to give to God of all his actions, the remembrance of which was to him a source of almost uninterrupted tears. Hoping more easily to secure his salvation in a state in which his thoughts would never be diverted from it, soon after he was baptized he took the monastic habit, and put himself under the direction of a holy abbot, with whose leave he chose for his abode a little hermitage in the neighborhood of the monastery. He seemed to set no bounds to his fervor. He lay on the bare ground, often fasted whole days without eating, and watched a great part of the night in prayer. It was a rule observed in all the monasteries of Mesopotamia and Egypt, that every religious man should perform his task of manual labor, of which he gave an account to his superior at the end of every week. The work of these monks was always painful, that it might be a part of their penance; and it was such as was compatible with private prayer, and a constant attention of the mind to God; for they always prayed or meditated at their work; and for this purpose, the first task which was enjoined a young monk was to get the psalter by heart. The profits of their labor, above the little pittance which was necessary for their mean subsistence in their penitential state, were always given to the poor. St. Ephrem made sails for ships. Of his poverty he writes thus in his Testament: “Ephrem hath never possessed purse, staff, or scrip, or any other temporal estate; my heart hath known no affection for gold or silver, or any earthly goods.” He was naturally choleric, but so perfectly did he subdue this passion, that meekness was one of the most conspicuous virtues in his character, and he was usually styled The meek, or the peaceable man of God. He was never known to dispute or contend with any one; with the most obstinate sinners he used only tears and entreaties. Once, when he had fasted several days, the brother who was bringing him a mess of pottage made with a few herbs for his meal, let fall the pot, and broke it. The saint seeing him in confusion, said cheerfully,—“As our supper will not come to us, let us go to it.” And sitting down on the ground by the broken pot, he picked up his meal as well as he could. Humility made the saint rejoice in the contempt of himself, and sincerely desire that all men had such a knowledge and opinion of his baseness and nothingness as to despise him from their hearts, and to look upon him most unworthy to hold any rank among creatures. This sincere spirit of profound humility all his words, actions, and writings breathed in a most affecting manner.

Honors and commendations served to increase the saint’s humility. Hearing himself one day praised, he was not able to speak, and his whole body was covered with a violent sweat, caused by the inward agony and confusion of his soul at the consideration of the last day; for he was seized with extreme fear and dread, thinking that he should be then overwhelmed with shame, when his baseness and hypocrisy should be proclaimed and made manifest before all creatures, especially those very persons who here commended him, and whom he had deceived by his hypocrisy. We may hence easily judge how much the thought of any elevation or honor affrighted him. When a certain city sought to choose him bishop, he counterfeited himself mad.

Compunction of heart is the sister of sincere humility and penance, and nothing seemed more admirable in our saint than this virtue. Tears seemed always ready to be called forth in torrents as often as he raised his heart to God, or remembered the sweetness of his divine love, the rigor of his judgments, or the spiritual miseries of our souls. “We cannot call to mind his perpetual tears,” says St. Gregory of Nyssa, “without melting into tears. To weep seemed almost as natural to him as it is for other men to breathe. Night and day his eyes seemed always swimming in tears. No one could meet him at any time, who did not see them trickling down his cheeks.” He appeared always drowned in an abyss of compunction. This was always painted in most striking features on his countenance, the sight of which was, even in his silence, a moving instruction to all that beheld him. This spirit of compunction gave a singular energy to all his words and writings; it never forsakes him, even in panegyrics or in treating of subjects of spiritual joy. Where he speaks of the felicity of paradise or the sweetness of divine love in transports of overflowing hope and joy, he never lost sight of the motives of compunction, and always returns to his tears. By the continual remembrance of the last judgment he nourished in his soul this constant profound spirit of compunction.

St. Gregory of Nyssa writes, that no one can read his discourses on the last judgment without dissolving into tears, so awful is the representation, and so strong and lively the image which he paints of that dreadful day. Almost every object he saw called it afresh to his mind. The spotless purity of our saint was the fruit of his sincere humility, and constant watchfulness over himself. He says that the great St. Antony, out of modesty, would never wash his feet, or suffer any part of his body, except his face and hands, to be seen naked by any one.

St. Ephrem spent many years in the desert, collected within himself, having his mind raised above all earthly things, and living as it were out of the flesh, and out of the world, to use the expression of St. Gregory Nazianzen. His zeal drew several severe persecutions upon him from certain tepid monks, but he found a great support in the example and advice of St. Julian, whose life he has written. He lost this comfort by the death of that great servant of God; and about the same time died in 338 (not 350, as Tillemont mistakes), St. James, bishop of Nisibis, his spiritual director and patron. Not long after this, God inspired St. Ephrem to leave his own country, and go to Edessa, there to venerate the relics of the saints, by which are probably meant chiefly those of the apostle St. Thomas. He likewise desired to enjoy the conversation of certain holy anchorets who inhabited the mountains near that city, which was sometimes reckoned in Mesopotamia and sometimes in Syria. Under the weak reigns of the last of the Seleucidæ, kings of Asia, it was erected into a small kingdom by the princes called Abgars. As the saint was going into Edessa, a certain courtezan fixed her eyes upon him, which when he perceived he turned away his face, and said with indignation: “Why dost thou gaze upon me?” To which she made this smart reply. “Woman was formed from man; but you ought always to keep your eyes cast down on the earth, out of which man was framed.” St. Ephrem, whose heart was always filled with the most profound sentiments of humility, was much struck and pleased with this reflection, and admired the providence of God, which sends us admonitions by all sorts of means. He wrote a book on those words of the courtezan, which the Syrians anciently esteemed the most useful and the best of all the writings of this incomparable doctor, but it is now lost. It seems to have contained maxims of humility.

St. Ephrem lived at Edessa, highly honored by all ranks and orders of men. Being ordained deacon of that church, he became an apostle of penance, which he preached with incredible zeal and fruit. He from time to time returned into his desert, there to renew in his heart the spirit of compunction and prayer; but always came out of his wilderness, inflamed with the ardor of a Baptist, to announce the divine truths to a world buried in spiritual darkness and insensibility. The saint was educated with great natural talents, which he had improved by study and contemplation. He was a poet, and had read something of logic; but had no tincture of the rest of the Grecian philosophy. This want of the heathenish learning and profane science was supplied by his good sense and uncommon penetration, and the diligence with which he cultivated his faculties by more sublime sacred studies. He learned very accurately the doctrine of the Catholic faith, was well versed in the holy scriptures, and was a perfect master of the Syriac tongue, in which he wrote with great elegance and propriety. He was possessed of an extraordinary faculty of natural eloquence. Words flowed from him like a torrent, which yet were too slow for the impetuosity and multitude of thoughts with which he was overwhelmed in speaking on spiritual subjects. His conceptions were always clear, his diction pure and agreeable. He spoke with admirable perspicuity, copiousness, and sententiousness, in an easy unaffected style; and with so much sweetness, so pathetic a vehemence, so natural an accent, and so strong emotions of his own heart, that his words seemed to carry with them an irresistible power. His writings derive great strength from the genius and natural bold tropes of the Oriental languages applied by so great a master, and have a graceful beauty and force which no translation can attain; though his works are only impetuous effusions of an overflowing heart, not studied compositions. What recommends them beyond all other advantages of eloquence, is, they are all the language of the heart, and a heart penetrated with the most perfect sentiments of divine love, confidence, compunction, humility, and all other virtues. They present his ardent, humble, and meek soul such as it was, and show how ardently he was occupied only on the great truths of salvation; how much he humbled himself without intermission, under the almighty hand of God, infinite in sanctity and terrible in his justice; with what profound awe he trembled in the constant attention to his adorable presence, and at the remembrance of his dreadful judgment, and with what fervor he both preached and practised the most austere penance, laboring continually with all his strength “to prepare himself a treasure for the last hour,” as he expresses himself. His words strongly imprint upon the souls of others those sentiments with which he was penetrated: they carry light and conviction; they never fail to strike, and pierce to the very bottom of the soul. Nor is the fire which they kindle in the breast a passing warmth, but a flame which devours and destroys all earthly affections, transforms the soul into itself, and continues without abating, the lasting force of its activity.75 “Who that is proud,” says St. Gregory of Nyssa, “would not become the humblest of men by reading his discourse on humility? Who would not be inflamed with a divine fire by reading his treatise on charity? Who would not wish to be chaste in heart and spirit, by reading the praises he has given to virginity?”

The saint, though most austere to himself, was discreet in the direction of others, and often repeated this advice, that it is a dangerous stratagem of the enemy to induce fervent converts to embrace in the beginning excessive mortifications.76 Wherefore it behooves them not to undertake without prudent counsel any extraordinary practices of penance; but always such in which they will be able to persevere with constancy and cheerfulness. Who ever laid on a child a burden of a hundred pounds weight, under which he is sure to fall?

St. Ephrem brought many idolaters to the faith, and converted great numbers of Arians, Sabellians, and other heretics. Saint Jerom commends a book which he wrote against the Macedonians, to prove the divinity of the Holy Ghost. He established the perfect efficacy of penance against the Novatians, who, though the boldest and most insolent of men, seemed like children without strength before this experienced champion, as St. Gregory of Nyssa assures us. Not less glorious were his triumphs over the Millenarians, Marcionites, Manichees, and the disciples of the impious Bardesanes, who denied the resurrection of the flesh, and had in the foregoing century spread his errors at Edessa, by songs which the people learned to sing. St. Ephrem, to minister a proper antidote against this poison, composed elegant Catholic songs and poems which he taught the inhabitants both of the city and country with great spiritual advantage. Apollinaris began openly to broach his heresy a little before the year 376, denying in Christ a human soul, which he pretended that the divine person supplied in the humanity: whence it would have followed that he was not truly man, but only assumed a human body, not the complete human nature. St. Ephrem was then very old, but he opposed this new monster with great vigor. Several heresies he crushed in their birth, and he suffered much from the fury of the Arians under Constantius, and of the Heathens under Julian, but in both these persecutions reaped glorious laurels and trophies.

It was by a divine admonition, as himself assures us,77 that about the year 372, he undertook a long journey to pay a visit to Basil. Being arrived at Cæsarea he went to the great church, where he found the holy bishop preaching. After the sermon, St. Basil sent for him, and asked him by an interpreter, if he was not Ephrem the servant of Christ.78 “I am that Ephrem,” said he, “who have wandered astray from the path of heaven.” Then melting into tears, and raising his voice, he cried out,—“O my father, have pity on a sinful wretch, and lead me into the narrow path.” St. Basil gave him many rules of holy life, and after long spiritual conferences dismissed him with great esteem, having first ordained his companion priest. St. Ephrem himself never would consent to be promoted to the sacerdotal dignity, of which he expresses the greatest dread and apprehension, in his sermon on the priesthood.79 Being returned to Edessa he retired to a little solitary cell, where he prepared himself for his last passage, and composed the latter part of his works. For, not content to labor for the advantage of one age, or one people, he studied to promote that of all mankind, and all times to come. The public distress under a great famine called him again out of his retirement in order to serve, and procure relief for the poor. He engaged the rich freely to open their coffers, placed beds for the sick in all the public porticos, visited them every day, and served them with his own hands. The public calamity being over, he hastened back to his solitude, where he shortly after sickened of a fever. He wrote about that time his seventy-six Paræneses or moving exhortations to penance, consisting in a great measure of most effective prayers; several of which are used by the Syrians in their Church office. His confidence in the precious fruits of the holy sacrament of the altar raised his hope, and inflamed his love, especially in his passage to eternity. Thus he expresses himself:80 “Entering upon so long and dangerous a journey I have my viaticum, even Thee, O Son of God. In my extreme spiritual hunger, I will feed on thee, the repairer of mankind. So it shall be that no fire will dare to approach me; for it will not be able to bear the sweet saving odor of thy body and blood.” The circumstances of our saint’s death are edifying and deserve our notice. For nothing more strongly affects our heart, or makes on it a more sensible impression, than the behavior and words of great men in their last moments.

St. Ephrem was always filled with grief, indignation, and confusion when he perceived others to treat him as a saint, or to express any regard or esteem for him. In his last sickness he laid this strict injunction on his disciples and friends:81 “Sing no funeral hymns at Ephrem’s burial: suffer no encomiastic oration. Wrap not my carcase in any costly shroud: erect no monument to my memory. Allow me only the portion and place of a pilgrim; for I am a pilgrim and a stranger as all my fathers were on earth.” Seeing that several persons had prepared rich shrouds for his interment, he was much afflicted, and he charged all those who had such a design to drop it, and give the money to the poor, which he in particular obliged a rich nobleman, who had bought a most sumptuous shroud for that purpose, to do. St. Ephrem, as long as he was able to speak, continued to exhort all men to the fervent pursuit of virtue, as his last words sufficiently show, says St. Gregory of Nyssa, meaning the saint’s Testament, which is still extant genuine, and the same that was quoted by St. Gregory, Sozomen, &c. In it he says: “I Ephrem die. Be it known to you all that I write this Testament to conjure you always to remember me in your prayers after my decease.”82 This he often repeats. He protests that he had always lived in the true faith, to which he exhorts all most firmly to adhere. Deploring and confessing aloud the vanity and sinfulness of his life, he adjures all present that no one would suffer his sinful dust to be laid under the altar, and that no one would take any of his rags for relics, nor show him any honor, for he was a sinner and the last of creatures. “But,” says he, “throw my body hastily on your shoulders, and cast me into my grave, as the abomination of the universe. Let no one praise me; for I am full of confusion, and the very abstract of baseness. To show what I am, rather spit upon me, and cover my body with phlegm. Did you smell the stench of my actions, you would fly from me, and leave me unburied, not being able to bear the horrible corruption of my sins.” He forbids any torches or perfumes, ordering his corpse to be thrown into the common burying-place among poor strangers. He expresses most feeling sentiments of compunction, and gives his blessing to his disciples, with a prediction of divine mercy in their favor; but excepts two among them, Aruad and Paulonas, both persons famed for eloquence; yet he foresaw that they would afterward apostatize from the Catholic faith. The whole city was assembled before the saint’s door, every one being bathed in tears; and all strove to get as near to him as possible, and to listen to his last instructions. A lady of great quality named Lamprotata, falling at his feet, begged his leave to buy a coffin for his interment; to which he assented, on condition that it should be a very mean one, and that the lady would promise to renounce all vanities in a spirit of penance, and never again to be carried on the shoulders of men, or in a chair; all which she cheerfully engaged herself to perform. The saint, having ceased to speak, continued in silent prayer till he calmly gave up his soul to God. He died in a very advanced age about the year 378. His festival was kept at Edessa immediately after his death. On it St. Gregory of Nyssa soon after spoke his panegyric at the request of one Ephrem, who having been taken captive by the Ismaelites had recommended himself to this saint his patron, and had been wonderfully delivered from his chains and from many dangers. St. Gregory closes his discourse with this address to the saint. “You are now assisting at the divine altar, and before the prince of life with the angels, praising the most holy Trinity: remember us all, and obtain for us the pardon of our sins.” The true Martyrology of Bede calls the 9th of July the day of his deposition; which agrees with Palladius, who places his death in harvest-time, though the Latins have long kept his festival on the 1st of February, and the Greeks on the 28th of January. His perpetual tears, far from disfiguring his face, made it appear more serene and beautiful, and his very aspect raised the veneration of all who beheld him. The Greeks paint him very tall, bent with old age, of a sweet and beautiful countenance, with his eyes swimming in tears, and the venerable marks of sanctity in his looks and habit.

Saint Austin says, that Adam in paradise praised God and did not sigh; but in our present state, a principal function of our prayer consists in sighs and compunction. Divine love, as St. Gregory observes,83 our banishment from God, our dangers, our past sins, our daily offences, and the weight of our own spiritual miseries, and those of the whole world, call upon us continually to weep, at least spiritually and in the desire of our heart, if we cannot always with our eyes. Every object round about us suggests many motives to excite our tears. We ought to mingle them even with our hymns of praise and love. Can we make an act of divine love without being pierced with bitter grief and contrition, reflecting that we have been so base and ungrateful as to have offended our infinitely good God? Can we presume without trembling to sing his praises with our impure affections, or to pronounce his adorable name with our defiled lips? And do we not first endeavor by tears of compunction to wash away the stains of our souls, begging to be sprinkled and cleansed by hyssop dipped, not in the blood of sheep or goats, but in the blood of the spotless lamb who died to take away the sins of the world? If the most innocent among the saints weeps continually from motives of holy love, how much more ought the sinner to mourn! “The voice of the turtle hath been heard in our land.”84 If the turtle, the emblem of innocence and fidelity, makes its delight to mourn solitary in this desert, what ought not the unfaithful soul to do? The penitent sinner, instead of the sighs of the turtle, ought to pour forth his grief in loud groans, imitating the doleful cries of the ostrich, and in torrents of tears, by which the deepest sorrow for having offended so good a God, forces his broken heart to give it vent.


The first volume of the Vatican edition of this father’s works begins with his sermon On Virtues and Vices. He expresses in it a surprise to see the full seek food from him who was empty, and says he is confounded to speak, seeing every word would accuse and condemn himself. However, trembling, he recommends to his hearers the fear of God; charity, by which we are meek, patient, tender to all, desirous to serve, give to all; hope, and longanimity, by which we bear all; patience, meekness, sweetness to all; inviolable love of truth in the smallest things, obedience, temperance, &c., and speaks against all the contrary vices, envy, detraction, &c.

His two Confessions or Reprehensions of himself are only effusions of his heart in these dispositions. The first he begins as follows: “Have pity on me, all ye that have bowels of compassion.” Then he earnestly begs their prayers that he may find mercy with God, though he was from his infancy an useless abandoned vessel. He laments his spiritual miseries in the most moving words, declaring that he trembles lest, as flames from heaven devoured him who presumed to offer profane fire on the altar, so he should meet with the same judgment for appearing before God in prayer without having the fire of his divine love in his heart. He invites all men to weep and pray for him, making a public confession of the failings which his pure lights discovered in his affections; for in these, notwithstanding his extraordinary progress in the contrary virtues, he seemed to himself to discern covetousness, jealousy, and sloth, though he appeared of all men the most remote from the very shadow of those vices; and by tears of compunction he studied more and more to purify his heart, that God might vouchsafe perfectly to reign in it. The second part of this work is a bitter accusation of his pride; which sin, as he adds, destroys even the gifts of God in a soul, blasts all her virtues, and renders them a most filthy abomination; for all our virtues will be tried at the last day by a fire which only humility can stand. He laments how pride infects the whole world; that some, by a strange frenzy, seek to gratify it in earthly fooleries, and the most silly vanities, on which the opinion of madmen has stamped a pretended dignity and imaginary value. He laments bitterly, that even spiritual men are in danger of sinning, by taking pride in virtue itself, though this be the pure gift of God; and when by his mercy we are enriched with it, we are, nevertheless, base and unprofitable servants.

In his second Reprehension of himself, after having elegantly demonstrated a particular providence inspecting and governing the minutest affairs and circumstances, he grievously accuses himself of having entertained a doubt of it in his youth, before his conversion to God. He condemns himself as guilty of vain-glory, sloth, lukewarmness, immortification, irreverence in the church, talkativeness, contentiousness, and other sins. He fears lest his repentance should be like that of Esau, and begs the pity and prayers of all men for an infamous blind leper. He weeps to see that some men had conceived an esteem for him to whom none was due; and he cries out to them—“Take off my false covering, and you will see in me nothing but worms, stench, and filth: remove the cloak of hypocrisy, and you will find me a hideous and nauseous sepulchre.” He compares himself to the Pharisees, as wearing only the habit of the prophets and saints, to his heavier condemnation; for vice, covered with a mask of virtue, is always more odious and detestable. In another Confession (t. 3, p. 439), after accusing himself of sloth, pride, uncharitableness, and other sins, he most movingly entreats all men to weep for him; wishing they could see the extreme miseries of his heart, which could not fail most powerfully to excite their compassion, though they could not be able to bear the hideous sight of the load of his monstrous iniquities.

His treatise on the Passions is of the same nature, a lamentation that from his infancy he had been a contemner of grace, and slothful to virtue, strengthened daily his passions, and groaned in the midst of snares which made him fear to live lest he should go on relapsing into sloth.

He has left us many tracts on Compunction, which indeed all his writings breathe. In the first which bears this title, he invites all, rich and poor, old and young, to join him in weeping, to purchase eternal life and to be delivered from everlasting death: by weeping and crying to see with the blind man in the gospel, the soul will be enlightened to see her miseries. God, the angels, all heaven expect and invite us earnestly to these tears: God’s terrible judgment is at hand which he describes, and then adds, to prevent its justice we must weep not one day only, but all the days of our life, as David did, in affliction, continual prayer, austerities, and alms. The narrow gate does not admit others; the Judge will exclude those who sought their joy on earth and pampered their flesh. Then it will be too late to trim our lamps, or seek for the oil of good works; then no more poor will stand at any door for us to redeem our sins by alms. He laments our spiritual miseries, especially his sins and sloth continued all his life now to the eleventh hour. He awakes his soul by the short time that remains, and that uncertain too.

In his second he relates, that going out of Edessa early one morning, accompanied with two brethren, and beholding the heavens beautifully spangled with bright stars, he said to himself—“If the lustre of these luminaries be so dazzling, how will the saints shine when Christ shall come in glory! But suddenly the thought of that terrible day struck my mind, and I trembled in all my joints, and was seized with convulsions, and in an agony of fear, sighing and overwhelmed with a flood of tears, I cried out in bitter anguish of mind: ‘How shall I be then found! How shall I stand before that tribunal! A monster infected with pride among the humble and the perfect, a goat among the sheep, and a barren tree without fruit. The martyrs will show their torment, and the monks their virtues; but thou, alas! O sinful, vain, and arrogant soul, wilt only bear thy sloth and negligence.’” His two companions, moved by the excess of his tears, wept with him.

In his Discourse, that we ought never to laugh with a worldly joy, but to always weep, he enforces the obligation of perpetual compunction and tears.

In his ascetic Sermon, he says grief and zeal compel him to speak, but his unworthiness and his sins persuade him to be silent, his eyes delight only in tears to bewail night and day in floods the wounds of his soul, and above all that pride which conceals them from him. He laments tepidity and love of earthly things should be found among monks, and that some interrupt their mortifications, weeping one day and laughing the next, lying one night on the ground, the next on a soft bed, whereas all our life ought to be a course of penance; he extols the humility and constant mortification of the ancient and all true monks, like shining diamonds in the world. The rest of this long discourse is a vehement exhortation of the monks to fervor and zeal, this life being a time of traffic, and very short, and a nothing; the recompense immense, and the rigor of God’s justice terrible to all. He pronounces woes to himself in the confusion he expected in the last day before all who esteemed him here. Begs earnestly all pray for him. One of the principal means to preserve this fervor, is a strict examen every night and morning. A trader casts up every day his losses and gains, and is solicitous to repair any losses; so do you, says he, every morning and night make up your accounts carefully; examine yourself: Have I to-day spoken any idle words, despised any, &c.? Have I this night watched, prayed, &c.? He advises not to undertake too much in austerities, but such as the soul will not relax in, than which nothing is more pernicious.

His parænetic Sermon is also addressed to young monks, whom he advises to the continual presence of God in their minds most earnestly under temptations. Against sloth, he observes, this succeeding fervor by fits makes a life one chain of risings and falling again; building by mortification and destroying again by relaxing. He bids them have this inscription in the beginning of their book: Sloth banished for ever and ever from my soul.

His two sermons on the Fathers deceased, are also to monks, showing and lamenting their tepidity by the fervor of their fathers in the deserts. His Hypomnisticon is an exhortatory epistle to the same.

His treatise on Virtue is to a novice; he tells him obedience has no merit unless in hard and harsh things, for even wild beasts grow tame by mild treatment.

Next follows his book in Imitation of Proverbs, in definitions and strong sentences on all virtues, in which he teaches tears in prayer are the beginning of a good life; vain-glory is like a worm in a tree. He speaks much on humility, presumption, charity, tears out of the desire of eternal happiness, and weeps to consider his own wretchedness and poverty.

His treatise for the Correction of those who live wickedly, is full of zeal, humility, and an extraordinary contempt of himself, and spirit of compunction.

That on Penance is a pathetic exhortation to sinners to return by the mercy of God, who expects them before the dawning of the day of life which is coming on; by the comfort which the angels will receive, and from the frightful trial at the last day, against which he prays for himself.

His discourse On the Fear of Souls, is a lamentation and prayer for himself at the sight of the heavens, still in stronger expressions and tears.

His sermon On the Second Coming of Christ, shows the joy of the blessed, and exaggerates the severity of that trial from the immensity of God’s benefits to us.

In his Tetrasyllabus he explains how the devil vanquished by the fervent, always says, I will then go to my friends, the slothful, where I shall have no labor, nor want stratagems. I have but to fetter them in the chains with which they are pleased, and I shall have them always willing subjects. He exhorts all therefore to constant fervor. In another place he exhorts all continually to repeat to themselves against sloth; “Yet a little of thy journey remains and thou wilt arrive at thy place of rest. Then take thy rest not now on the road.”

In his book on those words, Attende Tibi, to a monk, he presses the precept of being always fervent, never relaxing, in every virtue, especially in purity; and adds the example of St. Anthony, who, as St. Athanasius relates, notwithstanding his great mortifications, which he never relaxed from his youth to his old age, would never bathe or so much as wash his feet, or ever suffered any part of his body to be seen, except his face and hands, till after his death.

He has left us an excellent long prayer for a soul to say in time of any temptation; another for grace and pardon of sins.

A novice among the monks often had begged of St. Ephrem some direction. The saint extols his zeal and humility in desiring advice from a sinner, whose intolerable stench infects all his works. His first lesson to him is that he always remember the presence of God, and avoid all unnecessary words. He recommends then to him, in ninety-six lessons, perfect obedience, abstinence, silence, solitude, which frees a man from three dangers, viz., of the eyes, ears, and tongue; never to have so much compassion for any novice as to offend God, and so perish with him; if he be tepid, it is better he should perish alone than you also by condescension; never to speak to a superior in favor of an expelled brother, without most evident proofs of his perfect conversion; for a little spark falling into a barn, easily destroys all the labors of a whole year: to avoid frequent long conversations with any young man about piety or other things, for fear of fond love; never to desire anything great or public, for God’s honor, but rather to love to be hid and unknown; many in dens and deserts were the greatest saints, but without humility the most glorious virtues and the greatest actions are lost; never to seek the care of souls, but to employ in it the utmost diligence, if it be laid upon him: always to walk in the narrow way of compunction and mourning. His other lessons conduce to humility and other virtues.

His fifty-five Beatitudes comprise the happiness of all virtues, as of ever glorifying God, which is to be as the cherubim and seraphim. He closes them bursting into tears at the reflection how far he is from any of them by his sloth under a holy garb, and how distant from the holy servants of God, who persevered some in sackcloth and chains, others on pillars, others in enclosure and fasting, others in obedience, &c. He adds twenty other beatitudes.

His book of one hundred chapters on humility, consists chiefly of short examples; as, a certain novice always kept silence. Some said to him, He is silent because he knows not how to speak. Others said, No, but it is because he has a devil. He, hearing all this, gave no answer, but glorified God in his heart.

In the second volume we have the life of St. Abraham; a long panegyric on the Patriarch Joseph; a sermon on the Transfiguration; one on the Last Judgment, and on the necessity and advantage of spending this life in tears; a treatise of ninety chapters on the right way of living; fifty paræneses or exhortations to the monks, on obedience, humility, &c.; a most pathetic sermon on the second coming of Christ, in which he expresses himself as follows: “Beloved of Christ, lend a favorable attention to what I am going to say on the dreadful coming of our Lord. Remembering that hour, I tremble with an excess of fear. For who can relate those horrible things? what tongue can express them? When the King of kings, arising from his throne of glory, shall descend, and sit the just judge, calling to an account all the inhabitants of the earth. At this thought I am ready to swoon away: my limbs quake for fear, my eyes swim in tears, my voice fails, my lips shrink, my tongue falters, and my thoughts are wrapt up in silence. I am obliged to denounce these things to you; yet fear will not suffer me to speak. A loud thunder now affrights us; how then shall we stand at the sound of the last trumpet, louder than any thunder, summoning the dead to rise! Then the bones of all men in the bowels of the earth, hearing this voice, shall suddenly run, and seek out their joints; and, in the twinkling of an eye, we shall see all men risen and assembled to judgment. The great king shall command, and instantly the earth quaking, and the troubled sea shall give up the dead which they possess, whether devoured by fish, beast, or fowl. All in a moment shall appear present, and not a hair will be wanting.” He goes on describing the frightful fire consuming all things on the earth; the angels separating the sheep and the goats; the standard of the great king, that cross on which he was nailed, shining bright, and borne before him; men standing to meet this tremendous majesty, revolving their own deeds; the just with joy, the wicked worse than dead with fear; the angels and cherubim appearing, singing, Holy, Holy, Holy; the heavens opened, and the King of kings revealed in such incomparable glory, that the heavens and the earth will fly from before his face. “Who then,” says he, “can stand? He places before our eyes the books opened, and all our actions, thoughts, and words called to an account!” He then cries out: “What tears ought we not to shed night and day without intermission, for that terrible appearance!” Here the venerable old man was no longer able to break through his sighs and tears, and stood silent. The auditory cried out—“Tell us what more terrible things will follow.” He answered, “Then all mankind will stand with eyes cast down, between life and death, heaven and damnation, before the tribunal; and all degrees of men shall be called to a rigorous examination. Wo to me! I desire to tell you what things will follow, but my voice fails me through fear, and I am lost in confusion and anxiety; the very rehearsal of these things is most dreadful.” The audience repeated again: “Tell us the rest, for God’s sake, for our advantage and salvation.” He therefore proceeded, “Then, beloved of Christ, shall be required in all Christians the seal of baptism, entire faith, and that beautiful renunciation which they made before witnesses, saying, I renounce Satan, and all his works; not one, or two, or five, but all the works of the devil. In that hour this renunciation will be demanded of us, and happy is he who shall have kept it faithfully as he promised.” Here, he stopping in tears, they cried again: “Tell us also what follows this.” He answered: “I will tell you in my grief, I will speak through my sighs and tears; these things cannot be related without tears, for they are extremely dreadful.” The people entreated again: “O servant of God, we beseech you to instruct us fully.” The holy man, again striking his breast, and weeping bitterly, said: “O my brethren, beloved of Christ, how sorrowful, and how frightful things do you desire to hear! O terrible hour! Wo to me, wo to me! Who will dare to relate, or who will bear to hear this last and horrible rehearsal; all you who have tears, sigh with me! and you who have not, hear what will befall you; and let us not neglect our salvation. Then shall they be separated, without hopes of ever returning to each other again, bishops from fellow-bishops, priests from fellow-priests, deacons from fellow-deacons, subdeacons and lectors from their fellows; those who were kings as the basest slaves; children from parents; friends from kindred and intimates. Then princes, philosophers, wise men of the world, seeing themselves thus parted, shall cry out to the saints with bitter tears; ‘Farewell eternally, saints and servants of God; farewell parents, children, relations, and friends; farewell prophets, apostles, and martyrs; farewell Lady Mother of God; you prayed much for us that we might be saved, but we would not. Farewell life-giving cross; farewell paradise of delights, kingdom without end, the heavenly Jerusalem. Farewell ye all; we shall never more behold one of you, hastening to our torment without end or rest,’” &c.

A Sermon on fraternal Charity, and on the Last Judgment, in which his tears again hindered him from pursuing his subject. Nothing can be more terrifying or more moving than these discourses, or than the next on Antichrist, or that after on the Cross, or that of Interrogations. There follow his Testament, his Sermon on the Cross and on Charity, in which he salutes and honors that holy instrument of our redemption in the strongest words and highest epithets, which, as he says, all nations adore, and which saving sign we mark on our doors, foreheads, eyes, mouths, breast, and our whole body. His Sermon against heretics on the precious margarite, to prove the Virgin Mary mother of God; that on the vice of the tongue; his Panegyric on St. Basil; his Sermon on the Sinful Woman in the gospel; on the Forty Martyrs; on Abraham and Isaac; on Daniel and the three children. Sermons on the eight capital bad thoughts; gluttony, fornication, avarice, anger, sadness, sloth, vain-glory, and pride; on perfection, on patience, and suffering; and many small tracts to monks. One contains a relation of a holy virgin in a monastery of three hundred, who was never seen eating, but worked washing the dishes and cleaning the scullery, feigning herself a fool, and bearing blows and all insults without murmuring or answering a word; called by derision, Salla or Sallop. St. Pityrumus, an anchoret, was admonished by an angel to go and see in her one who surpassed him and the others in virtue: having seen all the nuns he found not her, she being left behind in the kitchen. At his desire, which all laughed at, she was brought out. The anchoret immediately fell at her feet, crying, “Bless me, Amma” (i. e. spiritual mother). She also fell at his feet. The nuns said to him, “Don’t incur such a disgrace; this is Salla.” “No (said he), you are all Salæ.” Upon this all honored her, and one confessed, that she had thrown on her the washings of the dishes; another had struck her; another had thrust mustard up her nostrils, &c. She not bearing esteem, retired thence unknown, and was never more heard of.

The third volume contains many Sermons and Discourses, chiefly on the judgments of God and the last day; on penance, compunction, prayer, charity, and other virtues; and on vices and passions. Also the life of St. Julian the anchoret. Pious poems and several panegyrics of, and prayers to the Blessed Virgin, whose virginity and dignity of mother of God he clearly asserts.

The fourth volume consists of his Commentaries on the five books of Moses, on Joshua, Judges, and the four books of Kings. St. Gregory of Nyssa says, he studied and meditated assiduously on the holy scriptures, and expounded them all from the first book of Genesis to the last in the New Testament, with an extraordinary light, with which the Holy Ghost filled him. Many other Oriental writers testify the same. His exposition is very literal, full, and learned; nothing escapes him in them.

The fifth volume gives us his Commentaries on Job and on all the prophets. Eleven sermons on several passages of holy scripture, in which he exhorts principally to avoid all occasions of sin, and to perpetual tears and penance. Thirteen sermons on the birth of Christ; and fifty-six polemical sermons against heresies, viz. of the Marcionites, Manicheans, especially their judiciary astrology; of the Novatians, Messalians, &c. His zeal was moved seeing these errors spread in his country. He employs the Church’s authority, scriptures, and reasons to confute them.

The sixth volume gives us ninety other polemical Discourses against the Arian and Eunomian heretics or Searchers, as he calls them, because they attempted to penetrate the divine mysteries, and the incomprehensible nature of God himself. They are equally solid and strong; not dry, as most writings of controversy, but full of unction and of the greatest sentiments of devotion, and an inexpressible ardor to ever love and praise our great God and Redeemer. His sermon against the Jews is no less remarkable.

His Necrosima or eighty-five funeral canons, were written on Death and God’s judgments, which he had always before his eyes. He teaches evidently in them the use of ecclesiastical funeral rites and prayers at burials; that the souls of the departed immediately are judged by a particular judgment; the good immediately admitted to the enjoyment of God; those who die without having expiated venial sin, suffer in the flames of purgatory till it be satisfied for, but are relieved by the sacrifices, prayers, and other pious works of the faithful on earth. Of these fifty-four are short funeral discourses on the death of bishops, monks, and persons of all conditions. They are full of his extreme fear of the divine judgment, and a great contempt of the vanity of the world. He says in the eighty-first canon, “Entering on so long and dangerous a journey, I have my viaticum, thee, O Son of God; when hungry, I will eat thee, repairer of mankind; so it shall be, that no fire will dare approach my members, for it will not be able to bear the sweet saving odor of thy body and blood,” &c. He uses the same motive of confidence of immortality, from being fed with the body and blood of Christ, and employs that endearing divine grace to move God to have mercy on him. He repeats the same prayer in his thirteenth Parænesis. Nothing can be clearer than the texts collected by Ceillier (t. 8, p. 101) from the writings of St. Ephrem, in favor of the real presence of the sacred body of Christ in the holy eucharist. See on them the judicious remarks of an able critic, Mém. de Trev. Jan. 1756, p. 55.

Here follow four sermons on Freewill; also seventy-six moving Paræneses or exhortations to penance. In the forty-second, he tells us, that when he lay down to take a little repose in the night, he reflected on the excessive and boundless love of God, and instantly rose again to pay him the tribute of the most fervent praise and thanks he was able. “But being deterred,” says he, “by the remembrance of my sins, I began to melt into tears, and should have been disturbed beyond my strength, had not the thief, the publican, the sinful woman, the Cananean, the Samaritan, and other examples of mercy, given me comfort and courage.” He says that at other times, when he was going to fall asleep, the remembrance of his sins banished all thoughts of giving rest to his wearied body, and made sleep yield to sighs, groans, and floods of tears, to which he invited himself by the example of the penitent David, washing his bed with briny torrents; for the silence of night is the most proper season for our tears. It appears he composed this work, at least part, a little before his death; for in the forty-third Parænesis he writes, “I Ephrem am now dying. I write my last will and testament to all lovers of truth, who shall rise up after me. Persevere night and day in prayer. The husbandman reapeth a great crop by assiduous labor; so will you, if you never interrupt your devotion. Pray without ceasing.”

His book in fifteen elegant discourses on the Terrestrial Paradise, explaining its history in Genesis, and comforting himself with the name and happiness of the good thief on the cross, makes a transition to the heavenly Paradise, on the felicity of which he speaks with incredible joy and pleasure. In his eighth discourse he teaches the soul cannot perfectly see God before the resurrection; but means by the perfectly complete enjoyment, for he is very express (loc. cit. supra) that the blessed behold God immediately on their death; as Muratori demonstrates against Burnet, in his dissertation on Paradise, c. 2.

Eighteen very devout sermons on divers subjects close his works; on Christ’s Nativity and Resurrection; on Prayer, on Humility, which he teaches is the weapon our Redeemer conquered hell by, and has put into our hands as our principal and only armor against our spiritual enemies.

The works of this father demonstrate the uniformity in faith of the Syriac church in the fourth century, with that of the universal church of all ages.

Several of St. Ephrem’s works were translated into Latin, and published at Rome in 1589, by Gerard Vossius or Volkens, provost of Tongres. A Greek edition of the same was printed at Oxford in 1709, by the care of Mr. Edward Thwaites. A more complete edition of this father’s works was given to the public at Rome in six volumes in folio, in 1732 and 1743, under the direction of cardinal Querini, librarian of the Vatican, and Monsignor Joseph Assemani, first prefect of the same library. In this we have the original Syriac text of a good part of these works, and the ancient Greek version of the rest. The Latin translation is the work partly of Gerard Vossius, partly of F. Peter Benedetti, a Maronite Jesuit who lived at Rome; and in the last volumes of Stephen Assemani archbishop of Apamea, who also published the Chaldaic acts of the Martyrs, and is nephew of the aforesaid Joseph Assemani. The Greek text in the last volumes, especially in the sixth, is published very incorrect. See Mémoires de Trevoux for January, 1756, p. 146.


Nineteen priests and religious men, who were taken by the Calvinists in Gorcum, after suffering many insults, were hanged on account of their religion at Bril, on the 9th of July, 1572. Of these, eleven were Franciscan friars, called Recollects, of the convent of Gorcum, amongst whom were Nicholas Pick the guardian, and Jerom Werden, vicar of the same convent. The former was thirty-eight years old, an eminent preacher, and a man endued with the primitive spirit of his order, especially the love of holy poverty and mortification. He feared the least superfluity even in the meanest and most necessary things, especially in meals; and he would often say: “I fear if St. Francis were living, he would not approve of this or that.” He was most zealous to preserve this spirit of poverty and penance in his house, and he used to call property and superfluity the bane of a religious state. His constant cheerfulness rendered piety and penance itself amiable. He often had these words in his mouth: “We must always serve God with cheerfulness.” He had frequently expressed an earnest desire to die a martyr, but sincerely confessed himself altogether unworthy of that honor. The other martyrs were a Dominican, two Norbertins, one Canon Regular of St. Austin, called John Oosterwican,85 three curates, and another secular priest. The first of these curates was Leonard Vechel, the elder pastor at Gorcum. He had gained great reputation in his theological studies at Louvain under the celebrated Ruard Tapper; and in the discharge of pastoral duties at Gorcum, had joined an uncommon zeal, piety, eloquence, and learning with such success, that his practice and conduct in difficult cases was a rule for other curates of the country, and his decisions were regarded as oracles at the university itself. For the relief of the poor, especially those that were sick, he gave his temporal substance with such tenderness and profusion as to seem desirous, had it been possible, to have given them himself. He reproved vice without respect to persons; and by his invincible meekness and patience disarmed and conquered many who had been long deaf to all his remonstrances, and added only insults to their obstinacy. Nicholas Poppel was the second pastor at Gorcum, and though inferior in abilities, was in zeal worthy to be the colleague of Vechel, and to attain to the same crown with him. The rest of this happy company had made their lives an apprenticeship to martyrdom. They were declared martyrs, and beatified by Clement X. in 1674. The relation of several miracles performed by their intercession and relics which was sent to Rome in order to their beatification, is published by the Bollandists.86 The greatest part of their relics is kept in the church of the Franciscan friars at Brussels, whither they were secretly conveyed from Bril. See the accurate history of their martyrdom written by the learned doctor William Estius, printed at Douay in 1603. Also Batavia Sacra, part 2, p. 174, and various memoirs collected by Solier the Bollandist, t. 2, Julij, p. 736.


Kinegils, king of the West-Saxons, having been baptized by St. Berinus in 635, this holy virgin had the happiness of being brought to the knowledge of Christ. In order to devote herself most perfectly to the service and love of her heavenly spouse, she fled secretly from the house of her parents to seek some holy monastery of nuns, and was joined in the way by two other virgins named Bega and Wuldreda. St. Wilfrid gave her a spot called before the Bishop’s Dwelling, but since her time Everildisham, that is, the dwelling of Everildis. Neither F. Alford nor F. Solier were able to find the situation of this place. Here she trained up many virgins to the perfection of divine love, the summit of Christian virtue, by animating them with the true spirit, and continually encouraging them in the most fervent and most faithful discharge of all the duties, and application to all the exercises of their holy profession. She went to God on the 9th of July, on which day Solier the Bollandist found her name in an ancient copy of Usuard’s Martyrology. F. Alford sent to Bollandus a transcript of lessons used formerly in some church now unknown. Her name does not occur in any English or Irish Calendar now extant, nor has Alford mentioned her in his annals. See Solier, t. 2, Julij, p. 713.


The following account is an abridgment of her Life, written by P. M. Salvatori, the promoter of the Cause in the process of her Canonization. His work was published in Rome in 1803, entitled Vita della B. Veronica Giuliana.


A. D. 1727.

We earnestly beseech the devout reader, whilst he is reading the life of her whose wonderful history we are about to relate, not to decide upon its merits, until he shall have carefully considered, not only the events themselves, but how, in every case, the graces which the servant of God received, are not only remarkable signs of Divine favor, but ever produced in her heart deeper humility, more ardent charity, and a wish to conceal them from the eyes of men;—that they were particularly communicated to her during prayer;—and that, to the desire of suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ, she added the most rigorous mortification of her flesh; all which the immortal pontiff, Benedict XIV., has laid down as criterions whereby to determine the reality of such supernatural gifts. In order to glorify his servant, it pleased God, during her lifetime, to make known her virtues and the graces which he had conferred upon her, to many of her companions, and to no less than four bishops of the city wherein she lived, and thirteen religious men of various orders, who were her directors, by whom an exact and faithful record of all her actions has been handed down to us. From their attestations, and other authentic accounts, the following narrative has been formed of actions and virtues which many volumes would not be sufficient to detail.

Saint Veronica Giuliani was born on the Feast of St. John the Evangelist, in 1660, at Mercatello, in the States of the Church. She received in baptism the name of Ursula, for God destined her, like that holy martyr, to be a virgin and the leader of many other virgins to the kingdom of heaven. In her very infancy her future sanctity was foreshadowed; for, on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, which the Church keeps as days of penance, she would never take nourishment, save a small quantity in the morning and the evening: and before she was six months old, seeing a picture representing the most Blessed Trinity, in whose honor that day was dedicated (12th June, 1661), she left her mother’s arms of her own accord, and, without any assistance whatever, walked to it, and with many signs of reverence, remained as if enchanted before it;87 and being carried, at the age of a year and a half, to a shop, by a servant who wanted some soil, in selling which the shopkeeper used a false measure, her tongue was loosed, and she cried out, in a clear voice, “Act fairly, for God sees you.” At the age of three years, these seeds of virtue began to develope themselves still more. They produced in her those extraordinary feelings of love and affection towards Our Blessed Saviour and his Virgin Mother, which have only been communicated to the most favored souls. When she was about four years of age, her mother fell so dangerously ill, that the Viaticum was brought to her. The moment the priest entered the house, Ursula saw such a bright light surrounding him, that she ran to him, and earnestly begged to receive the blessed sacrament. To keep her quiet, she was told that there were no more particles left; but she at once answered, that, he might safely break a portion off that intended for her mother, because, as the mirror, when broken, does not cease to reflect the images that it represented when entire, so is Jesus equally present in the smallest fragment as well as in the entire host from which it has been separated. As soon as her mother had communicated, she sprang upon the bed, exclaiming, “O what sweet things you have had!” And coming near her mouth, she said, “O what a sweet scent!” Nor could the attendants succeed in making her leave her mother in peace. Before her death, she called her five children to her bed-side, and recommended each of them to one of the five wounds of the passion. To Ursula she gave that in our Saviour’s side; to which the devotion of her after-life was directed, and through it she received those many graces of which we shall afterwards speak. On the night following her mother’s death, she refused to go to bed, until the servants placed a picture of Our Lady and Jesus upon the bed, when she immediately lay down and slept peacefully.

At the age of seven she was admitted to the sacrament of Confirmation, and, during the ceremony, her godmother saw her guardian angel by her side. Similar visions, which occurred in the seventh or eighth year of her age, we have recorded in her own words:—“I remember,” she says, “that when I was about seven or eight years old, twice during the Holy Week, Jesus appeared to me covered with wounds, and telling me to be devout to His most holy passion, instantly disappeared. I wept bitterly, and every time that I heard speak of the torments and sufferings of Our Lord, I felt something at my heart; and everything that I undertook I offered up in honor of His passion. A desire came into my head of asking my confessor for some mortification, but I did not yield to it. Still I made sufferings for myself, but all without my confessor’s leave; such as the discipline, walking on my bare knees, piercing myself with a pin, and beating myself with thistles. If I heard of the works of penance performed by others, I went to the image of my Saviour, and said, ‘Lord, if I had their instruments of mortification, I would do the same; but since I have them not, I offer Thee my desire.’ He has often let me know and remember that He made me (at that age) affectionate invitations. Thus, for example, when I had determined on taking some recreation, and could never find time to do so, I heard Jesus in my interior, asking me, ‘What dost thou seek, what dost thou desire? I am thy real contentment;’ and I at once replied, ‘Lord, for Thy sake I will deprive myself of the pleasure which I sought.’ How these answers were uttered, I know not; but this I know, that I did make them.... Sometimes, whilst I was gazing at the crucifix, Jesus spoke to my heart, and said, ‘I will be Thy guide and spouse;’ and I stretched out my arms, and exclaimed, ‘I will be Thy spouse, and no one shall move me from it. I promise it with all my heart; grant that I may never separate myself from Thee.’”

Her father having obtained a lucrative situation at Placentia, removed thither with his family. In that city, Ursula, who was about ten years old. made her first communion, on the feast of the Purification, in 1670. When she had received Our Lord, she felt an unusual fire burning within her breast, which continued after her return home; so that thinking it to be an ordinary effect in all communicants, she, in her innocent way, asked her sisters how long it generally lasted. But perceiving, from their surprise, that it was a special grace imparted by her Saviour, she did not again speak of it, but endeavored to receive the holy sacrament of love as frequently as possible.

At this time the gift of mental prayer was communicated to her. In what manner she received it, the following account, which she wrote afterwards, by the command of her directors, will explain:—“When I was about twelve years of age, I think, a desire frequently came into my mind, of placing myself in mental prayer; but I did not know how to set about it. It seemed mere folly to ask my confessor to instruct me in it, because he knew my wickedness; and I thought that none ought to apply to it except the good and those who are really inclined to virtue; but in myself there was nothing but inconstancy, and want of perseverance. I went on making my altars, although, while I was making them, I felt at times an application of my mind to prayer. As soon as I had finished, I knelt down before them, and remained on my knees for a long time; but what I did I know not, for I was, so to speak, out of myself. I felt such pleasure, that I should not have cared to eat or do anything else. I desired that all creatures should love and honor God. I ran to ask my sisters to come and sing with me. They did so, and I felt great comfort therein. As soon as my father returned home, I led him to my altar, and induced him to say some prayers with me. When the Nativity drew near, I could not contain myself for joy; and several times, whilst I was looking at the representation of Our Lord in the crib, I think I saw Him surrounded with glory; He drew me to a union with Himself, but I know not how. Of this I spoke to no one, nor did I derive any profit therefrom, for I soon returned to my usual childish follies. On the day of communion, all my delight was to be about my altar. Although I knew not how to pray mentally, my mind became all recollected in God. I seemed to feel my Lord in a special manner within my heart. I placed myself in prayer; and the longer I was employed therein, the longer I wished to remain. I had a certain interior light that showed me the inconstancy of worldly things, and I was inclined to abandon everything. I knew no other good but God. These considerations strengthened my desire of becoming a religious. The desire of suffering, I think, I had from my infancy, and afterwards; but, alas! it profited me in nothing. I had no sooner left the altar, than I set about annoying some one or other.

“Although I sought amusement in worldly diversions, I felt my mind wholly turned to God. As well as I can remember, the passion of my Redeemer moved me very much; at times even to tears. The more I exercised myself in mental prayer, the more tedious I found the things of the world. At times, I had some particular insight into myself; but this I did not mention to my confessor. It is true that such lights made me advance farther than ever in the way of prayer; and, in order that I might not be observed, I told the servant to call me early in the morning; she did so, and I rose at once. I remained in prayer for several hours, but what I did I cannot relate. I know that I was out of myself, and felt a willingness and desire to be employed in all the work of the house, but this was forbidden, lest it should injure me. I seldom rose up from prayer, before I had been told by the Lord that I was to be His spouse. Still I remained steadfast in my desire of entering a religious order, and this desire increased daily. When a festival occurred, I felt a flame in my heart, which set my whole soul on fire. I could not remain quiet, I ran about the house as if I were mad, and made people laugh at me. Sometimes all my delight was in making altars; and although, in my uncle’s house, this was not so easy as at home, I never left off making them. For work I had not much inclination, but I could do as much in an hour as another in a day. I did not care to learn anything, but whatever I saw done, I found myself able to do, and succeeded when I set about it. I was the torment of everybody, and yet all wished me well, and liked me better than my sisters. When I thought of this, it surprised me beyond measure. No one spoke harshly to me; and yet I performed all sorts of naughty tricks. I was naturally hasty, and whenever I was vexed, I stamped and beat the ground like a horse; and believe me, I did so through mere wickedness, for no one ever provoked me to it. At times I took a thing into my head, and wished it to turn out as I desired. I felt an internal reproach for not mortifying myself, but I paid no attention to it. It seemed to me, that whenever I placed myself in prayer, God gave me to understand what he wished me to do; but I thought it was a mere fancy of my own, although the same light returned to my soul. It improved me much in virtue, and I began to accustom myself to silence, which enabled me to apply better to prayer; and although I did not mortify myself, I was encouraged to do so. Thus, by degrees, I became more and more in love with suffering. Oftentimes I rose during the night, and spent a short time in prayer; I had a peculiar affection for it, which led to application, but not to recollections.88 In the manner here described I spent the last two years that I remained in the world, that is, the fourteenth and fifteenth of my age. Still I gave way to many vanities, and often felt satisfaction in them; but, at the same time, I felt the internal reproach, which did not let me rest until I had withdrawn from many amusements which I was used to seek.”

These were the beginnings of those high gifts of prayer and contemplation to which she afterwards attained; but it must not be supposed that the exercise of them was at all times attended with comfort and delight to her soul; for her writings mention the violent repugnance of the flesh, the strong temptations, the obscurity of mind, and dryness of affection, with which she had to contend in the struggle between the world and grace.

Besides these interior trials, her perseverance and constancy to her Virgin Spouse were put to the most severe test, in the endeavors made by her father and other relations to induce her to join in the vain and idle occupations of others in her state of life, and to yield to their repeated arguments and even snares, to induce her to enter the married state. “Our father wished,” she writes, “that I should be more finely dressed than others, and one day I wore one vanity, and another day another. He was so fond of me, that, when at home, he would always have me beside him. All this I complied with. But I began to perceive that he was not willing that I should become a nun, and he told me I must marry, and that as long as he lived I must not leave him. But this news filled me with sorrow, because every time he spoke in this manner, I felt a stronger desire of being a nun. I told others so, but no one would believe me, and everybody was against my intention, especially my father, who even shed tears, and told me positively that he would never consent; and in order to drive the thought out of my head, he brought other gentlemen into the house and then called me. In their presence, he promised me all sorts of pleasures and amusements, and they did the same. They talked about the things of the world, in order to persuade me to set my fancy upon them, but their discourses led me to a contrary desire. At that moment, worldly things appeared so disgusting, that I could not hear them mentioned; and more than once I told these persons that they must not speak again on such subjects, because the more I heard, the more my soul was withdrawn from them. But all that I said, availed me nothing; every day my martyrdom was renewed. I had patience for some time; but at last, I declared in their presence that such discourses disgusted me, and before them all, I expressed my deep commiseration for the wretchedness of the unfortunate persons who are attached to worldly things. I spoke as little as possible, because I knew that my father took great delight in hearing me talk, and I did everything in my power to diminish his attachment, by avoiding all those actions in which he took delight; but all to no purpose; his affections seemed to increase daily. At times, he said to me, ‘I wish to content you in everything; the only thing I beg of you is, that you will not turn nun.’ With these words, he wept through affection. I said to him, ‘If you wish to content me, I do not want any other favor from you, except that you would put me in a convent; all my desires are there. Content me in this, and you will content me in everything else, and depend upon it, it will be a source of comfort to yourself afterwards.’”

Her father, finding all his efforts unsuccessful, sent her to live with her uncle, whom he secretly instructed to use all his influence and artifice to dissuade her from her design. Here she had an illness, for which the physicians could discover no remedy; until some of her attendants, perceiving that she grew sensibly better, whenever they talked of nuns and convents, informed her father, who thereupon gave up his opposition to her entreaties, and, as soon as he had allowed her to choose the convent in which she would be professed, she rose from her bed, and all symptoms of sickness immediately disappeared.

She then begged him to allow her to enter the rigorous convent of capuchine nuns at Città di Castello, and was conducted by her uncle to the bishop of the diocese, to obtain his permission. He told them that all the places in the convent were filled up, and they left him, to return home. But Ursula besought her uncle to return with her to his presence, where, falling on her knees, she prayed him in such earnest accents to comfort her by granting her request, that he was inclined to make an exception in her favor. He put several questions to her, and asked her amongst the rest, if she knew Latin. Her uncle at once replied in the negative, but Ursula, full of confidence in God’s aid, took up the breviary, and read it with the most correct pronunciation; and although she had never studied Latin, she was able, during the rest of her life, to quote the texts of Scripture with perfect aptness and propriety. The bishop accordingly granted her leave to enter the convent, into which she was admitted on the 17th of July, 1677, and was vested on the Feast of SS. Simon and Jude, in the same year. The devil sought to weaken her love of her new state, by representing it as one leading to despair: at one time, he filled her imagination with the remembrance of the many proposals of marriage and the young men that she had rejected; at another, he made the time of prayer tedious and disgusting to her. “It seems,” she says, “as if all hell were let loose against me, but I heeded it not. When I felt more than usually agitated by their attacks, I went alone into my cell, and there poured out my soul in prayer to God, and represented my necessities to him. Sometimes I offered up acts of prayer, and besought Him not to desert me; and said to him, full of faith, ‘My God, Thou knowest that I am Thy spouse, grant, therefore, that I may never be separated from Thee. Now, for ever, I place myself in Thy hands; I am ready for whatever Thou shalt command. I am Thine, I am Thine, that is enough.’” God did not fail to strengthen her, by saying to her heart, “Fear not, thou art mine. It is my will that thou shouldst suffer and combat; fear not.” At her reception, she took the name of Veronica, by which we shall henceforth call her.

We pass over the numerous instances of suffering and obedience which she gave during her novitiate; at the end of which she was admitted to make her profession on All Saints’ day, 1678. Her writings contain many allusions to the joy which she derived from the recurrence of this day of solemn renunciation of the world and dedication of herself to her Heavenly Spouse. The first years she passed in the order were distinguished by the most extraordinary marks of Divine grace; all of which produced in her, compunction and sorrow for her sins, and love of mortification, and the cross of Christ. One of her raptures she thus describes: “The first time that I had these recollections with a vision, it seemed to me that I saw, on a sudden, Our Lord with a heavy cross on His shoulders, when He invited me to take a part in that precious treasure. This invitation was given by communication rather than by words. At that instant I felt a strong desire of sufferings, and it seemed that the Lord planted the cross in my heart, giving me to understand the value of suffering. This understanding I received in the following manner. It appeared as if all sorts of torments were represented to me, and, at the same moment, I saw them transformed into jewels and precious stones, all of which were made in the figure of the cross. During this time, I was given to know that God wished pure suffering in me; and then the vision disappeared. When I came to myself, I felt a violent pain in my head, which has never since left me, and so eager was my desire of suffering, that I would willingly have faced every torment that can be conceived. From that moment I have ever had in my mouth these words, ‘The cross and sufferings are jewels and joys.’” From this account it may be collected, that, on this occasion, Jesus impressed that visible mark of the cross upon her heart, which was seen, after her death, by several persons, when her body was opened for that purpose.

Veronica was successively appointed to fill every office of the community, in all of which she displayed the same wonderful examples of virtue, and love of obedience and suffering; and many signs of Divine favor proved to her sisters how pleasing her actions were to Almighty God. She was appointed Mistress of the Novices, in her thirty-fourth year, and continued for twenty-two years in that office, until she was chosen abbess, in 1716; and even then, so extraordinary had been the efficacy of her prayers, and zeal in the discharge of it, that her sisters forced her, contrary to the usual order, to retain it during the eleven years she was abbess. More than once, to free them from sickness, and other inconveniences, she obtained of God, that she might suffer in their stead; and some of them were relieved by her, in their anxiety and trouble of mind, which had been supernaturally made known to her. On one occasion was revealed to her the severe judgment which God will make of superiors and directors of religious communities, by whose fault any relaxation of fervor creeps amongst those committed to their care. On the 9th of November, she fell dangerously ill, and during the agony which succeeded, was carried in spirit before the throne of the Divine Judge. She beheld Christ, with a severe countenance, seated on a throne of majesty, surrounded by angels; Our blessed Lady on one side, and her patron saints on the other. When her good angel presented her to the awful judgment, she expected to be condemned to hell,—so severe, she tells us, were the reproaches of the Judge, and so unprovided was she with good works; but so earnest were the prayers of Mary, and of her holy advocates, that the divine countenance of Christ at last grew calm; and, after giving her various salutary admonitions, He dismissed her.

On the morning after her agony, she called her novices; and, having obtained leave from her confessor to speak to them respecting their failings, and her own negligence in correcting them, which had been revealed to her during her vision of judgment, she whispered to them with such earnestness, that they burst into a flood of tears, and, at the end, she said to them, “Do not learn of me, who have been the scandal of all in all my conduct; for in the observance of the rules, as well as in obedience, love and charity, I have been ever proud and devoid of humility.” The nuns interrupted her with tears and sobs, charging themselves with the fault, in not having followed her instructions, but she rejoined, “take heed of little things, for, before God, things are very different from what we suppose.”

We must now pass to the sublime novitiate and preparation of grace, by which she became, during the last thirty-five years of her life, an exact image of Our crucified Lord. In the year 1693, she beheld, in a vision, a mysterious chalice or cup, which she knew to be the presage of the Divine passion, whereof she was to be a perfect copy. This vision was repeated in various forms during the following years. At one time, the chalice appeared upon a bright cloud, surrounded with glory; at another, without any ornament: sometimes the liquor contained in it, boiled and ran over in great abundance; at other times, it issued from it, drop by drop. Her spirit was ready to quaff it to the bottom, but the flesh shuddered and drew back, as did our Lord’s in the garden; but she subdued it by severe mortifications. “I must not be too confident,” she writes, “because I know that, as yet, it is not dead. The spirit I have always found eager and desirous of drinking it, and willing to taste of such bitterness, in order to fulfil the will of God. At times I felt these desires, and I exclaimed: ‘When will the hour come, O my God, when Thou wilt allow me to drink of Thy cup? I await Thy will, but Thou alone knowest my thirst: I thirst, I thirst, but not for comforts, but for bitterness and sufferings.’ I felt that I could wait no longer. One night, whilst I was in prayer, being quite out of myself, it seems that Our Lord appeared to me, and, holding the cup in His hand, said: ‘This is for thee, and I present it to thee, that thou mayest taste, as much as I have tasted, for thy sake, but not yet. Prepare thyself, for thou also shalt taste it.’ He then disappeared, leaving the remembrance of that chalice so deeply impressed on my mind, that it has ever since remained there.”

The anxiety and dread inspired by the constant appearance of this cup before her mind’s eyes, threw her into a violent fever, which was succeeded by such weakness of body, that her superiors forced her to submit to the prescriptions and treatment of physicians, which served only to increase her torments.

But the most sensible torment was, the privation of the light of God. “All these sufferings were a mere nothing in comparison with what I experienced in myself, deserted, abandoned in blackest darkness, at such a distance from God, that I could not even breathe nor sigh to God.... O, intolerable agony of the soul! to see herself stript of every support, and utterly separated to a distance from its Sovereign Good. She sighs, but is not heard; she calls her Spouse, but He comes not; she seeks Him, but he flies still farther off; she prays to Him, but he will not hear.... My soul was in such torment, that the agony of death cannot, I think, be more bitter. I had no relief, save in seeing the cup approach nearer and nearer.... God be praised! for His love, all is little. Welcome the naked cross, welcome pure suffering. I am ready for all things to give delight to my Lord, and to fulfil His divine will.”

God recompensed her readiness to drink the chalice of sufferings, by making her a partaker of the torments of His passion. On the fourth of April, 1694, as near as can be ascertained, He appeared to her, and presented her with His crown of thorns. In obedience to her confessor, she thus describes her vision. “On the fourth of April, whilst I was in prayer during the night, I fell into a recollection, and in it had an intellectual vision, wherein Our Lord appeared to me, with a large crown of thorns upon His head. Immediately I cried out, ‘My spouse, give me a part of these thorns, I deserve them, not Thou, my Sovereign Good!’ I heard him reply, ‘I am now come to crown thee, my beloved;’ and then He took the crown off his head, and placed it upon mine. The pain I suffered, at that instant, was so excessive, that I have never, as far as I can understand, suffered anything like it. But it seemed to me that such suffering was a great joy to me; I felt as if I should die, if I had not some torment to undergo.”

Finding herself unable to go through her ordinary duties, and being anxious, at the same time, to conceal these divine favors from her companions, she prayed to God,—“My God, I beseech Thee, if it be Thy will, to give me strength to perform the work and other duties prescribed for me, and let these Thy graces never be manifest, but always in secret.” We pray the reader to observe how exactly all the prayers of Veronica, and the effects produced in her soul, are conformable to the rules whereby Benedict XIV. teaches us to judge of the truth or falsehood of such supernatural favors as she received. They are always communicated during prayer; they excite in her a more ardent desire of undergoing still greater torments for the sake of God, —they lead above all to humility and anxiety to hide them from the eyes of the world. Let us now see how another of his criterions corresponds with the reality of her visions and other graces: we mean how they inflamed her with burning charity and zeal for the glory of God, and the conversion of sinners. “This pain (of the crown of thorns) inspired me with such compassion for sinners, that, offering to the Eternal Father all the sufferings of Jesus, and all His merits with those of Our Lady for the conversion of sinners, I prayed more earnestly than ever for sufferings, begging Him to send me more torments. At that instant, I felt a fresh renewal of the crown of thorns, not only round my head, as usual, but all over it; and, for several hours, I remained rejoicing amid thousands of torments. It is only a few days since I had this renewal, and it was signified to me, at the same time, that this was a warning that I was to spend this Lent in continual suffering. God be praised! Everything is little for His sake!”

This crowning was renewed several times during the course of her life. Her directors, being informed that it had taken place, commissioned Sister Florida Ceoli to observe if there were any visible marks of it on her head. She deposed, on oath, as follows:—“I visited her, and saw that she had upon her forehead something like a circle, tending to a red color. Sometimes I have observed upon it certain pimples, about the size of a pin-head, in the form of little buttons. At other times she had her forehead sprinkled with marks of a purple color all round, like the figure of thorns which came down towards the eyes; and, in particular, I saw one of these marks, like thorns, come down towards the right eye, and even passed quite under it, filling it with tears; and I saw that the tears were blood, from the veil wherewith she wiped them away; as I have frequently told her confessors who enjoined me to watch her.”

But not content with these observations made by her companions, and wishing fully to ascertain if such effects proceeded from natural or supernatural causes, the bishop of the city caused her to be placed under the care of physicians and surgeons; but, after they had exhausted all the resources of their art, and applied remedies so cruel and so violent that none of the sisterhood would assist at them, but left Veronica herself to hold the heated instruments for them, they abandoned the attempt; and the bishop and her directors were persuaded that He alone, who had imprinted such marks of love upon His servant, was capable of curing them, and that he had thereby wished to render her more and more conformable to Himself.

The sacred Scriptures use the word espousals to denote a more intimate union formed between God and the soul by the most perfect love. In the book of Canticles the Holy Ghost describes the correspondence of a soul with grace, under the figure of two spouses, and in the New Testament, Our Lord speaks of the virgins whom He admits to His heavenly marriage-feast. This spiritual union with certain devout souls God has been pleased to make manifest to them by more sensible signs, accompanied by formalities like those used in ordinary marriages. Of such we read in the life of the ecstatic St. Catharine of Siena. To this exalted dignity God was pleased to raise Veronica, as he revealed to her, during the crowning with thorns, of which we have already spoken.

One of the commands given to Veronica, after her espousals, was that she should increase her fasting; and about a year after that event, she received a direct injunction from God to fast for three whole years upon nothing but bread and water. But Almighty God, wishing at the same time to put her obedience to her superiors to the test, caused them all to refuse her their permission, without which she could not put the Divine command in practice. And, although He continued to repeat His command and even to reproach her for not fulfilling it; and although her stomach rejected every other food but bread, yet her superiors obstinately refused to accede to her petition. “I was full of joy,” she says, “because in this way I suffered much, but I felt that the flesh could bear no more.” At length, after she had undergone the severest torments, from the refusal of her superiors, the weakness of her body, and her sorrow of mind, at not being able to comply with the will of God, from March to September, God was pleased to support her by milk miraculously supplied in the same manner as is related by the Bollandists of the holy virgins, Lidwige, or Lidwina, in Holland, and Geltrude in Belgium.

The most severe trial to which she was exposed, was from desolation and sadness of spirit, and from the bitter malice and fierce assaults of the devil against her purity, during 1696, the year after her mystic espousals.

Under the 17th of October, we read as follows: “Amongst my other tribulations came this also. Whilst I was in prayer, there came upon me such, and so many evil thoughts of impurity and of grievous sins, and they threw me into such anguish, that at one time they covered me with perspiration, and at another made me freeze, with an internal agony, which confused and disturbed my soul. I did not wish to disquiet myself, nor to give myself trouble and pain, but I could not help it; I felt myself so oppressed and sunk in these filthy thoughts, and my mind so completely obscured, that I could do nothing. The demon tempted me, and I seemed to hear a dreadful voice, which continually repeated, ‘See, these are the fruits of praying for sinners. All their sins are crowding upon thy head. Do good now, if thou canst.’ As he spoke these words, the devil seemed to make merry and rejoice. O God, what torment it gave me! As well as I could, I begged of God the salvation of souls, and I said, ‘My sovereign good, Spouse of my soul, I do not offend Thee in will, and therefore I detest and abhor every wicked thought; and now and for ever, I tell Thee, that my will does not wish to entertain them. Rather death, and a thousand deaths, than that I should ever consent to a single thought that can offend Thee.’ As I said this, though with great difficulty, the devil tormented me by suggesting worse thoughts than ever, and telling me that no hope was left me. I replied, ‘Liar that thou art, I will not yield to thy falsehoods. Jesus will I love, Jesus will I serve; I have no other good but Jesus.’ In this struggle I remained for several hours, always with desolation, dryness, and temptations. God be blessed for all!” The like temptations and assaults, both from her flesh and from the devil, are described under December of the same year, but she repeated with the glorious martyr St. Cecily, fiat cor meum et corpus meum immaculatum ut non confundar, “Let my heart and body be immaculate, that I may not be confounded.” On Christmas eve she made an incision upon her heart in the form of a cross, with a pen-knife. With the blood, which issued from it, she wrote a fervent protestation of love, and a dedication of her will to her infant Saviour. Four other writings of the same kind, made during the course of that and the following year, 1697, all breathe the same feelings of consecration of her will to Jesus, and especially of ardent charity and zeal for the salvation of her neighbors, whose mediatrix she had promised to be. In one of them, she writes, “I intend at this moment to confirm all the protestations which I have made with my own blood. Lo! I am ready to give my life and blood for the conversion of sinners, and the confirmation of the Holy Faith. O my God! with your heart, with your love, I make this invitation. O souls redeemed with the blood of Jesus, I speak to you; O sinners, come all to the heart of Jesus, to the fountain, to the boundless sea of His love. Come, all of you, men and women, come all! leave sin; come to Jesus!” Her loving spouse rewarded her constancy and love.

On Good Friday, the 5th of April, 1697, she received those rich pledges of love which were vouchsafed to the seraphic St. Francis, St. Catharine, and other saints; for Our Lord, after having previously foretold these graces, and after displaying his mercies in other ways, to her, was pleased to imprint upon her hands and feet, the stigmata or wounds of his most sacred passion. These wounds were afterwards renewed upon several other occasions, and their reality was made known to many persons. For the Tribunal of the Holy Office at Rome, having received information thereof, ordered the bishop of the city to make an inquiry into the truth of the report. He repaired to the grate of the convent, with several other ecclesiastics, who severally saw the wounds which her blessed Spouse had made. Those in the hands and feet, as Florida Ceoli and other sisters attest, were on the upper side round, and about the size of a farthing, but less on the under side, deep and red when open, and covered with a thin cicatrix or crust, when closed. The wound in the left side, above the left breast, was between four and five fingers in length, and about one finger broad in the middle, growing thinner towards the two extremities, exactly like the wound of a lance. Veronica was so alarmed at the thought of undergoing these examinations so dreadful to her virginal modesty, that she told sister Florida Ceoli, in confidence, she should have died of confusion, if God had not deprived her of her senses, during them. And her profound humility suggested to her to beg earnestly of her beloved Saviour to leave her the pain, but hide the marks of these wounds from the eyes of the world, as he had done to St. Catharine of Siena, and other saints; but he ordered her to tell her confessor, that these wounds were to remain, that by the rigorous investigations of the Congregation of the Holy Office, it might be known that they had been imprinted by His divine hand; and that for this purpose, they were to remain visible for three years. So in effect it happened; for after three years, on the 5th of April, 1700, the wounds closed, but not until it had been proved to many that they were indeed the work of divine love. But, although they were closed to the eyes of others, it is attested by several witnesses, that the pain still continued, and that they were renewed after that date upon the greater festivals of the church, the feasts of St. Francis and of his stigmata, and as often as her superiors commanded. She herself mentions their being renewed in 1703, three years after their closing; and her confessor, Father Ranier Guelfi, as late as holy Saturday, the 19th of April, 1726, having been informed by her, that Jesus had renewed her wounds twice upon that same day, commanded her to pray that they might be renewed for the third time. She obeyed, and after remaining in ecstasy at his feet for some time, told him that she had obtained the grace. To his astonishment he beheld the wounds open, and blood issuing from them. To have additional witnesses, he pretended to disbelieve her, and ordered her to show them to two of her companions, who both saw them open and covered with blood, as they testify in the process. Besides the testimony of these and the many others, both ecclesiastics and nuns, who saw these wounds, the reality of their existence was proved by the fact that the most diligent endeavors of surgeons to cure them served only to inflame them still more. But the most undoubted proof is, that she was able in spite of them, to live and perform her duties during a space of thirty years; especially when we reflect that the physician and surgeon, who inspected her body, after her death, agreed that the wound in her left side was enough, at any instant, to have caused her death, so that they considered her very continuance in life a miracle.

Veronica foretold that twenty-four marks would be found engraven upon her heart; and, by the order of her confessor, she described the exact form and disposition of them, by cutting them out in red and white paper; and after her death, they were found to correspond in every particular with the account and picture which she had made of them. They were as follows:—a Latin cross, with a C in the top of the upright piece; the centre of the transverse an F; in the right point of the transverse a V; and in the left an O. Above the cross was, on one side, a crown of thorns; on the left of which was a banner upon a staff, which passed transversely over the cross, and the flag of the banner was divided into two tongues, on the upper of which was a large I, and on the lower an m in running hand. At the top of the banner was a flame, and, lower down, a hammer, a pair of pincers, a lance, and a reed with a sponge represented upon the top. On the right of the cross, beginning from above, was a small garment to represent the seamless vest of Our Lord, another flame, a chalice, two wounds, a column, three nails, a scourge, and seven swords; with the letters P.P.V. on other parts of the heart. All these marks were exactly described by her upon paper, which being compared with her heart, soon after death, were found to agree in every particular. Her confessor attests that the meaning of the above letters and emblems is:—The seven swords are the seven dolors of Mary; the banner, the ensign of her victories over the Devil, the world and herself; the two letters, I (J) and m, Jesus and Mary; C, Charity; F, Faith and Fidelity to God; O, Obedience; the two VV, Humility and the Will of God (Umiltà, and Volontà di Dio), P P, Patience and Suffering (Patire); the two flames, the love of God and her neighbor.

But we have now reached the point towards which all her aspirations were directed; the happy moment when she was to be united to that Spouse, towards whom her soul had hastened, as the thirsty hart flieth to the fountains of living waters. She endured, as she had foretold, in this her last stage of more than mortal agony and bitterness, a three-fold purgatory; first, in the persecutions and harshness of men, on the part of her physicians, and those who attended her, then on the part of the devil, who tempted her to despair; and, lastly, from holy obedience; for, although she had so fervently longed for the moment wherein she was to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, it had been made known to her that she was not to die, without the command of her confessor; that so the obedience, which had been so perfect in life, might be crowned even on earth, by opening for her the gate of heavenly bliss. And, as in her burning charity, and her eager desire and incomparable endurance of suffering, as well as in the pains of His blessed passion, she had so closely copied our Lord, so it pleased Him to make the days of her last illness of the same number as the years of His sojourn in this vale of tears; and on the thirty-third day, to close her life by an agony of three hours, like to his own upon the cross. As she lay motionless and tranquil, her confessor, perceiving that her life was drawing near its term, said, “Be glad of heart, sister Veronica, what you have so much longed for, is near at hand.” As she heard these words, she gave a sign of her unspeakable joy, and then turned and fastened her eyes upon him. He began to recite the “Recommendation of a Departing Soul,” and suggest acts of virtue and resignation, without being able to understand why she looked at him with so fixed an eye. At length, enlightened by Almighty God, he recollected that she had told him that she would not wish to die, save with the leave of her superiors, and through holy obedience, which permission she now craved by the fixed and earnest eye wherewith she regarded him. Animated, therefore, with a lively faith in God, he approached her and said, “Sister Veronica, since it is the will of God that you should now go to enjoy Him, and since it is the pleasure of His Divine Majesty, that for your departure, the leave of His minister should also be granted,—I now give it to you.” Scarcely were these words uttered, than she bent her eyes in token of submission; then turning towards her spiritual daughters, as if to give them her last blessing, she bowed her head, and yielded up her soul, in the peace of the Lord, on Friday, the 9th of July, 1727, in the sixty-seventh year of her age, and the fiftieth of her religious profession.

Of her perfection in the discharge of all the duties of her state of life,—of her faith, hope, and love of God and her neighbor,—of her meekness and humility, which she practised in the most heroic degree,—it is unnecessary here to say more, than that in them she was an exact copy of that virtue which her loving Spouse displayed in His life amongst men. Even upon earth, her sanctity was made manifest by the accomplishment of the events which she had foretold, and by the miracles that she performed; and since her death, the most wonderful favors have been obtained by her intercession. From the many that are recorded in the acts of her beatification, we select only two. The first is that of her confidential companion and friend, sister Mary Magdalen Boscaini, who, in the course of the years 1729-30, was attacked by such a complication of disorders, that she could neither taste food, nor lie down, without considerable difficulty; she was subject to frequent fainting-fits and vomitings, and remained in this state for eleven months, being declared by her physicians to have reached an advanced stage of consumption. At last, on the vigil of St. Matthias, in 1730, eleven months since the beginning of her illness, her confessor exhorted her to place a firm reliance upon Veronica, under whom she had passed her novitiate; and when he had excited her confidence and hope, he gave her to drink some water, in which a relic of the saint had been. She drank it, and instantly sprang out of bed, and ran to see one of her sisters, who was also sick; and afterwards to meet the physician at the door, who was coming to make his usual visit. He carefully examined her; and, after feeling her pulse, pronounced it to be a miracle, as the effect proved, for she lived twelve years longer,—when a second illness attacked her, from which she recovered, in like manner, by the intercession of Veronica; and so lived for twenty-two years more, dying in 1765. The second miracle was the sudden and perfect cure of Maria Pacciarini, of an arthritic rheumatism of long duration; from which she instantaneously and perfectly recovered, by the intercession of Veronica.

Veronica was beatified by Pius VII., in 1804, the Cardinal Duke of York being the reporter of the Cause to the Congregation of Rites. She was solemnly canonized by Gregory XVI., on Trinity Sunday, 26th May, 1839.

“There are often found, in the lives of those who enjoy a reputation for sanctity, certain extraordinary marks, which the profane rashly and foolishly scoff at, as empty and dreamy visions: and the inexperienced multitude, on the other hand, receives as irrefragable proofs of virtue: nor are those wanting, who, misled by a deceitful semblance of prudence and caution, blindly pronounce them the result of artifice and cunning. The prudent man avoids all these extremes; and, whilst he silently admires things beyond the reach of ordinary understandings, inquires into their causes; but, still, not from such effects does he decide upon the virtues of those in whom they are conspicuous, but looks chiefly to the conduct and actions they have produced in them, that from the fruits, as our Divine Master teacheth, the quality of the tree may be known.”89



From their genuine acts in Ruinart, and Tillemont, t. 2. See the remarks of Pinius the Bollandist, t. 3, Julij, p. 5.


The illustrious martyrdom of these saints has been justly celebrated by the holy fathers. It happened at Rome under the emperor Antoninus, that is, according to several ancient copies of the acts, Antoninus Pius.90 The seven brothers were the sons of St. Felicitas, a noble pious Christian widow in Rome, who brought them up in the most perfect sentiments and practice of heroic virtue. After the death of her husband she served God in a state of continency91 and employed herself wholly in prayer, fasting, and works of charity. By the public and edifying example of this lady and her whole family, many idolators were moved to renounce the worship of their false gods, and to embrace the faith of Christ, which Christians were likewise encouraged by so illustrious a pattern openly to profess. This raised the spleen of the heathenish priests, who complained to the emperor Antoninus that the boldness with which Felicitas publicly practised the Christian religion, drew many from the worship of the immortal gods who were the guardians and protectors of the empire, and that it was a continual insult on them; who, on that account, were extremely offended and angry with the city and whole state. They added, that in order to appease them, it was necessary to compel this lady and her children to sacrifice to them. Antoninus being himself superstitious was prevailed upon by this remonstrance to send an order to Publius the prefect of Rome, to take care that the priests should be satisfied, and the gods appeased in this matter. Publius caused the mother and her sons to be apprehended and brought before him. When this was done he took Felicitas aside, and used the strongest inducements to bring her freely to sacrifice to the gods, that he might not be obliged to proceed with severity against her and her sons; but she returned him this answer: “Do not think to frighten me by threats, or to win me by fair speeches. The spirit of God within me will not suffer me to be overcome by Satan, and will make me victorious over all your assaults.” Publius said in a great rage: “Unhappy woman, is it possible you should think death so desirable as not to permit even your children to live, but force me to destroy them by the most cruel torments?” “My children,” said she, “will live eternally with Christ if they are faithful to him; but must expect eternal death if they sacrifice to idols.” The next day the prefect, sitting in the square of Mars before his temple, sent for Felicitas and her sons, and addressing his speech to her, said: “Take pity of your children, Felicitas; they are in the bloom of youth, and may aspire to the greatest honors and preferments.” The holy mother answered: “Your pity is really impiety, and the compassion to which you exhort me would make me the most cruel of mothers.” Then turning herself towards her children, she said to them, “My sons, look up to heaven where Jesus Christ with his saints expects you. Be faithful in his love, and fight courageously for your souls.” Publius being exasperated at this behavior, commanded her to be cruelly buffeted, saying: “You are insolent indeed, to give them such advice as this in my presence, in contempt of the orders of our princes.”

The judge then called the children to him one after another, and used many artful speeches, mingling promises with threats to induce them to adore the gods. Januarius, the eldest, experienced his assaults the first, but resolutely answered him: “You advise me to do a thing that is very foolish, and contrary to all reason; but I confide in my Lord Jesus Christ, that he will preserve me from such an impiety.” Publius ordered him to be stripped and cruelly scourged, after which he sent him back to prison. Felix, the second brother, was called next, and commanded to sacrifice. But the generous youth replied, “There is one only God. To him we offer the sacrifice of our hearts. We will never forsake the love which we owe to Jesus Christ. Employ all your artifices; exhaust all inventions of cruelty; you will never be able to overcome our faith.” The other brothers made their answers separately, that they feared not a passing death, but everlasting torments; and that having before their eyes the immortal recompenses of the just, they despised the threats of men. Martialis, who spoke last, said: “All who do not confess Christ to be the true God, shall be cast into eternal flames.”92 The brothers, after being whipped, were remanded to prison, and the prefect, despairing to be able ever to overcome their resolution, laid the whole process before the emperor. Antoninus having read the interrogatory, gave an order that they should be sent to different judges, and be condemned to different deaths. Januarius was scourged to death with whips loaded with plummets of lead. The two next, Felix and Philip, were beaten with clubs till they expired. Sylvanus, the fourth, was thrown headlong down a steep precipice. The three youngest, Alexander, Vitalis, and Martialis, were beheaded, and the same sentence was executed upon the mother four months after. St. Felicitas is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 23d of November; the sons on the 10th of July, on which day their festival is marked in the old Roman Calendar, published by Bucherius.93

St. Gregory the Great delivered his third homily on the Gospels, on the festival of St. Felicitas, in the church built over her tomb on the Salarian road. In this discourse he says, that this saint “having seven children was as much afraid of leaving them behind her on earth, as other mothers are of surviving theirs. She was more than a martyr, for seeing her seven dear children martyred before her eyes, she was in some sort a martyr in each of them. She was the eighth in the order of time, but was from the first to the last in pain, and began her martyrdom in the eldest, which she only finished in her own death. She received a crown not only for herself, but likewise for all her children. Seeing them in torments she remained constant, feeling their pains by nature as their mother, but rejoicing for them in her heart by hope.” The same father takes notice how weak faith is in us: in her it was victorious over flesh and blood; but in us is not able to check the sallies of our passions, or wean our hearts from a wicked and deceitful world. “Let us be covered with shame and confusion,” says he, “that we should fall so far short of the virtue of this martyr, and should suffer our passions still to triumph over faith in our hearts. Often one word spoken against us disturbs our minds; at the least blast of contradiction we are discouraged or provoked; but neither torments nor death were able to shake her courageous soul. We weep without ceasing when God requires of us the children he hath lent us; and she bewailed her children when they did not die for Christ, and rejoiced when she saw them die.” What afflictions do parents daily meet with from the disorders into which their children fall through their own bad example or neglect! Let them imitate the earnestness of St. Felicitas in forming to perfect virtue the tender souls which God hath committed to their charge, and with this saint they will have the greatest of all comforts in them; and will by his grace count as many saints in their family as they are blessed with children.


They were sisters, and the daughters of one Asterius, a man of a senatorian family in Rome. Their father promised them in marriage, the first to Armentarius, and the second to Verinus, who were then both Christians, but afterward apostatized from the faith when the storm raised by Valerian and Gallien in 257, fell upon the Church. The two virgins resisted their solicitations to imitate their impiety, and fled out of Rome; but were overtaken, brought back, and after other torments condemned by Junius Donatus, prefect of Rome, to lose their heads. They were conducted twelve miles out of Rome, executed in a forest on the Aurelian Way, and buried in the same place. It was then called the Black Forest, Sylva Nigra, but from these martyrs this name was changed into that of Sylva Candia or the White Forest. A chapel was built over their tomb, which pope Damasus demolished, erecting a large church in its room. A town rose in the same place, which was called Sylva Candia, and made an episcopal see. But the city being destroyed by barbarians in the twelfth century, the bishopric was united by Calixtus II. to that of Porto, and the relics of the saints were translated at the same time, in the year 1120, to the Lateran basilic, where they are kept near the baptistery of Constantine. See their Acts abridged by Tillemont, t. 4, p. 5. Also the remarks of Pinius the Bollandist, t. 3, Julij, p. 28, and Laderchius Diss. de Basilicis SS. Marcellini et Petri, c. 2, p. 6.



From Theodoret, Phil. c. 1, et Aist. l. 1, c. 7. Gennadius, c. 1. Tillemont, t. 7, p. 263. Ceillier, t. 4. Assemani, Bibl. Orient. t. 1, p. 186. Cuper the Bollandist, and the saint’s works, published in Armenian and Latin, by Nic. Antonelli, at Rome, in 1755; add the accounts given of this saint in the Menology of the Armenians at Venice, on the seventh day of the month Caghozi, the 15th of our December; in the Synaxary of the Egyptians on the eighteenth of Tobi, our 12th of January, by St. Gregory of Nariegha, an Armenian bishop, in 980, author of many devout Armenian orations and prayers. (Orat. 99, in St. Jacob. in libro Precum edito Constantinopoli, An. 1700.) Also by Moyses Cheronensis, Histor. Armenæ l. 3, art. 7, though this author flourished not in the fifth century (as the Whistons imagine with those who confound him with Moyses the grammarian, who translated the Bible from the Greek and Syriac into the Armenian tongue, in the reign of Theodosius the Younger, as Galanus mentions), but after the year 727, in which arose the great schism of which this historian speaks, and of which the patriarch John IV. of Oznium was author. See James Villotte, the Jesuit, in Diction. Armen. in Serie Patriarcharum.

A. D. 350.

This eminent saint, and glorious doctor of the Syriac church, was a native of Nisibis, in Mesopotamia, which country was then subject to the eastern empire.94 He had a genius rich by nature, which he cultivated with indefatigable application; though after laying a foundation of the sciences, he confined himself to sacred studies. In his youth entering the world, he became soon apprised of its dangers. He saw that in it only ambition, vanity, and voluptuousness reign; that men here usually live in a hurry and a crowd, without finding leisure to look into themselves, or to study that great science which ought to be their only affair. He trembled at the sight of its vices, and the slippery path of its pleasures, which, though they seem agreeable at first, yet when tasted are nothing but bitterness and mortal poison, and whilst they flatter the senses, destroy the soul; and he thought it the safer part to conquer by flight, or at least, with the Baptist, to prepare and strengthen himself in retirement, that he might afterward be the better able to stand his ground in the field. He accordingly chose the highest mountains for his abode, sheltering himself in a cave in the winter, and the rest of the year living in the woods, continually exposed to the open air; and knowing that our greatest conquest is to subdue ourselves, in order to facilitate this important victory, he joined to assiduous prayer the practice of great austerities. He lived only on wild roots and herbs, which he ate raw, and had no other garments than a tunic and cloak, both made of goat’s hair very coarse. Notwithstanding his desire to live unknown to men, yet he was discovered, and many were not afraid to climb the rugged rocks that they might recommend themselves to his prayers, and receive the comfort of his spiritual advice. He was favored with the gifts of prophecy and miracles in an uncommon measure, of which he gave several proofs in a journey he took into Persia to visit the new churches that were planting there, and strengthen the young converts laboring under grievous persecutions. His presence fortified them in their good resolutions, and inspired them with that spirit of martyrdom which afterwards showed itself in their glorious triumphs. He converted many idolaters, and wrought several miracles in that country. He suffered torments for the faith in the persecution continued by Maximinus II. for Gennadius places him in the number of confessors under that tyrant; and Nicephorus names him among the holy bishops in the council of Nice, who bore the glorious marks of their sufferings for Christ. His personal merit and great reputation occasioned his promotion to the see of Nisibis; but here he still followed the same course of life he had inured himself to on the mountains, to his fasts and austerities adding the care of the poor, the correction of sinners, and all the other toils and hardships of episcopacy. Such was his charity for the poor, that he seemed to possess nothing but for their relief. In the acts of St. Miles and his companions, Persian martyrs, it is related that St. James built at Nisibis a very stately church. St. Miles coming to that city was astonished at the majesty of the edifice, and having made some stay there with St. James, returned to Adiab, whence he sent the holy bishop a present of a great quantity of silk for the ornaments of his church.

Theodoret relates95 of him that one day as he was travelling, he was accosted by a gang of beggars who had concerted a plot whereby to impose upon the servant of God, with the view of extorting money from him on pretence to bury their companion, who lay stretched on the ground as if he had been dead. The holy man gave them what they asked, and “offering up supplications to God as for a soul departed, he prayed that his divine majesty would pardon him the sins he had committed whilst he lived, and that he would admit him into the company of the saints,” says Theodoret. As soon as the saint was gone by, his companions calling upon him to rise and take his share of the booty, were strangely surprised to find him really dead. Seized with sudden fear and grief, they shrieked in the utmost consternation, and immediately ran after the man of God, cast themselves at his feet, confessed the cheat, begged forgiveness, and by entreaties and mournful looks pleaded for pity, and besought him by his prayers to restore their unhappy companion to life, which the saint performed, as this grave author assures us. When the heresy of Arius was set abroach, and began to infect many churches, St. James strenuously exerted himself in defending his church from the contagion, and labored to crush the growing evil. He assisted at the council of Nice in 325, as Theodoret and Gennadius testify; likewise at the council of Antioch held under St. Eustathius, about the year 326. Being at Constantinople in 336, when Constantine commanded St. Alexander, the holy bishop of that city, to leave his see in case he persisted to refuse admitting to communion Arius, who had imposed on that prince by an hypocritical confession of faith; St. James exhorted the people to have recourse to God by fasting and prayer during seven days; and on the eighth day, which was the very Sunday on which Arius was to have been admitted, the unhappy man was found dead in a privy into which he had stepped to ease nature.96

The most famous miracle of our Thaumaturgus was that by which he protected the city of Nisibis from the barbarians, as is related by Theodoret both in his religious and ecclesiastical history; by Theophanes, the Alexandrian Chronicle, and even by Philostorgius himself,97 who was a rank Arian, cannot be suspected of being too favorable to St. James. Sapor II. the haughty king of Persia, twice besieged Nisibis with the whole strength of his empire, whilst our saint was bishop; and the city was every time miraculously protected by the prayers of St. James. Of these sieges the first was laid soon after the death of Constantine the Great, which happened on the 22nd of May, in 337, after that prince had reigned thirty-nine years, nine months, and twenty-seven days. His valor had kept the barbarians in awe. But upon his demise Sapor came, and in 338 sat down before Nisibis with a prodigious army of foot, horse, elephants, and all sorts of warlike engines. But after continuing the siege sixty-three days, he was compelled shamefully to raise it, and return into Persia; and his army, harassed by the enemy in its march, and exhausted by fatigues, was at length destroyed by famine and epidemical diseases.98 The emperor Constantius, when the Persians again invaded the territories of the Romans in 348, by his pusillanimity and misconduct gave them a great superiority in the field. And Cosroës, elated with success, and enriched by the plunder of many provinces, ventured a second time with an army still much stronger than before to lay siege to Nisibis in 350. His troops having seized all the avenues, and made their approaches with a fury beyond example, he first endeavored to make a breach in the walls by battering rams and mines, but all to no purpose. At length, after seventy days’ labor, he caused a dam to be raised at a considerable distance from the city, thereby to stop the river Mygdon, which ran through it; this he ordered to be broken down when the water was at its full height; so that the violence with which it beat against the wall of the city made a wide breach in it. At this the Persians rent the air with loud shouts of joy, but deferred the assault till the next day, that the waters might be first carried off, they not being able to make their approaches by reason of the inundation. When they came up to the breach they were strangely surprised to find another wall which the inhabitants had raised behind the former with an astonishing expedition, being encouraged by St. James, who remained himself all the time in the church at his prayers, by which he conquered, like Moses on the mountain. Sapor marching up to the breach in person, fancied he saw a man in royal apparel on the wall, whose purple and diadem cast an uncommon brightness. This person he believed was the Roman emperor Constantius, and threatened to put to death those who had told him the emperor was at Antioch. But upon their giving him fresh assurances that Constantius was really there, and convinced that heaven fought for the Romans, he threw up a javelin into the air, out of impotent revenge because heaven seemed to take part against him. Then St. Ephrem, deacon of Edessa and St. James’s disciple, being present, entreated him to go upon the walls to take a view of the Persians, and pray to God that he would defeat the infidel army. The bishop would not pray for the destruction of any one, but he implored the divine mercy that the city might be delivered from the calamities of so long a siege. Afterwards, going to the top of a high tower, and turning his face towards the enemy, and seeing the prodigious multitude of men and beasts which covered the whole country, he said: “Lord, thou art able by the weakest means to humble the pride of thy enemies; defeat these multitudes by an army of gnats.” God heard the humble prayers of his servant, as he had done that of Moses against the Egyptians, and as he had by the like means vanquished the enemies of his people when he conducted them out of Egypt.99 For scarce had the saint spoken these words, when whole clouds of gnats and flies came pouring down upon the Persians, got into the elephants’ trunks, and the horses’ ears and nostrils, which made them chafe and foam, throw their riders, and put the whole army into confusion and disorder.100 A famine and pestilence which followed, carried off a great part of the army; and Sapor, after lying above three months before the place, set fire to all his own engines of war, and was forced to abandon the siege and return home with the loss of twenty thousand men. Sapor received a third foil under the walls of Nisibis, in 359, upon which he turned his arms against Amidus, took that strong city, and put the garrison and the greatest part of the inhabitants to the sword.101 The citizens of Nisibis attributed their preservation to the intercession of their glorious patron, St. James, though he seems to have been translated to glory before this last siege. Gennadius says he died in the reign of Constantius, whose death happened in 361.102 That of St. James is placed by most moderns in 350, soon after the second siege of Nisibis. Gennadius informs us, that out of a pious confidence that the saint’s earthly remains would be a pledge of his intercession with God for the protection of the city against the barbarians, by an order of the emperor Constantius, though an Arian, pursuant to an express injunction of his father Constantine the Great, notwithstanding the severe laws to the contrary then in force, the body of St. James was buried within the walls of the city. Julian, the Apostate, in 361, envying the saint this distinguished privilege, commanded these sacred remains to be removed without the city. Soon after, upon his death the emperor Jovian, in 363, in order to purchase peace of the Persians, was obliged to yield up to them Nisibis, with the five Roman provinces situated on the Tigris, and great part of Mesopotamia. But the inhabitants of Nisibis who were compelled by Jovian to remove before he delivered up the city, carried with them the sacred relics of this saint, which, according to the Menology of the Armenians at Venice, were brought to Constantinople about the year 970. His name is famous both in the Eastern and Western Martyrologies. His festival is kept by the Latins on the 15th of July, by the Greeks on the 13th of January and the 31st of October, by the Syrians on the 18th of January, and by the Armenians on a Saturday in the month of December. The last honor him with no less solemnity than the Assyrians, and observe before his feast a fast of five days with the same severity with that of Lent. In his office they sing the long devout Armenian hymns, which were compiled in his honor by Saint Nierses, patriarch of Armenia, the fourth of that name, surnamed of Ghelaia, who strenuously defended the union with the Latin church against the Greek emperor, Michael Commenus, in the twelfth century, and is honored by the orthodox Armenians among the saints.104

St. James’s learning and writings have procured him a rank next to St. Ephrem among the doctors of the Syriac church; and the Armenians honor him as one of the principal doctors of their national church. For though St. James was a Syrian, he wrote excellent treatises in the Armenian language for their instruction,105 at the request of a holy bishop of that nation called Gregory, whose letter to our saint is still extant. In it he promises himself the happiness of paying St. James a visit, and passing some time with him, in order to improve himself more perfectly by his lessons in the knowledge and practice of true virtue: in the mean time he earnestly conjures him to favor him with some short instructions, and teach him what is the true foundation of a spiritual life of faith, by what means the edifice is to be raised in our souls, and by what good works, by what virtue it is to be finished and brought to perfection. St. James complied with his desire in eighteen excellent discourses still extant.106 They are published at Rome in one volume, folio, in 1756, in Armenian and Latin, by M. Nicholas Antonelli, canon of the Lateran basilic.

The visible protection with which God watches over his servants ought to excite our confidence in him. He assures us that his tenderness for them surpasses the bowels of the most affectionate mother, and he styles himself their protector and their safeguard.107 This made St. Chrysostom cry out,108 “Behold, I testify and proclaim to all men with a loud voice, and would raise it, were it possible, louder than any trumpet, that no man on earth can hurt a good Christian, nor even the tyrant the devil. If God be for us, who is against us? says the apostle.” How far otherwise is it with the wicked! They are cast off by their God; they are not his people; not fed or watched over by that special tender providence which he affords his servants: they are a forsaken, abandoned vineyard.109 He is their enemy, and hath set his eyes upon them for evil, not for good.110 What rest or comfort can the sinner enjoy who knows he hath an almighty arm continually stretched out against him?


From Richerius, in his Chronicle of Senones, t. 3, Spicileg. and the saint’s three imperfect lives, with the remarks of Solier the Bollandist, t. 3, Jul. p. 205. See also Calmet, Hist. de Lorraine, l. 10, p. 445, &c.

A. D. 707.

St. Hidulph, or Hildulph, was born at Ratisbon in Bavaria, of one of the most illustrious families in the country, and renounced great temporal possessions in his youth to consecrate himself to God in an ecclesiastical state, which he embraced with his brother St. Erard, who was advanced to the episcopal see at Ratisbon, was buried in Moyen-Moutier, and is honored among the saints on the 8th of January.111 Hidulph was consecrated archbishop of Triers, and discharged for some time all the duties of a vigilant and zealous pastor. The monastery of St. Maximin had been founded in the fourth century, and doubtless observed the discipline of the oriental monks. Hidulph introduced into it the Benedictin Order about the year 665, and so much augmented it in revenues and settled in it so perfect a spirit of monastic virtue, that it was the admiration of that age, and is to this day one of the most flourishing abbeys in Germany.

Hidulph was much taken with the charms of holy retirement, with the happy security and liberty of that state, its exercises of humility, penance, and prayer, and the liberty which it affords of living disengaged from worldly attachments and distractions, in a continual application to heavenly things. He was also strongly affected by the example and conversation of many divine men who then adorned the Church, and maintained in it the true spirit of Christ, by the odor of sanctity which their angelic minds and deportment spread, and who were raised to this heroic virtue by the exercises of a monastic life. The obligations of his own charge (which he could not abandon unless his reasons for resigning it were such as to be approved of by a superior authority, as that of a primate, and rather of the pope as patriarch of the West) withheld him some time, but at length he found means to resign his see to St. Veomade, abbot of St. Maximin’s, and hid himself in that monastery.112 But finding it impossible to live in the obscurity which he sought, in the midst of his own diocess, he retired secretly amidst the mountains of Voge, on the confines of Lorrain, and settled in a small hermitage on the spot which the monks of Senones and Estival gave him, and on which he soon after, about the year 676, built the monastery of Moyen-Moutier. This name was given it from its situation between the abbeys of Senones to the east, of Estival to the west, of Bodon-Moutier to the north, and to the south that of Jointures, now the collegiate church of canons, and the town of St. Die. Three hundred monks served God under his direction; for, besides those who composed the monastery of Moyen-Moutier, at the request of his friend St. Die, upon his death-bed, and of his community, he took upon him also the charge of that abbey, and many lived under his conduct in separate cells. St. Hidulph governed his own monastery above thirty years, though for some time, whilst he was obliged to reside at St. Die’s, he appointed a vicar in his room at Moyen-Moutier. He returned thither before his death, which happened in 707, or, according to others, in 713. His relics are kept in a silver shrine in this monastery, which at present bears his name, and in union with that of St. Vannes, began the reformation of the Benedictin Order, which is so famous in Lorrain, and in France. Saint Hidulph’s name is not inserted in the Roman Martyrology, but is famous in German, French, and Benedictin Calendars.

The sanctity of those ancient monks who, by the exercises of humility and holy solitude, attained to so wonderful a victory over their passions, so sublime a degree of virtue, and so heavenly a temper as to have seemed rather angels than men, was the admiration even of infidels, and the edification of all those who had the happiness of enjoying their conversation. “For my part,” said Saint Sulpicius Severus, or his friend Posthumianus,113 “so long as I shall keep alive and in my senses, I shall ever celebrate the monks of Egypt, praise the anchorets, and admire the hermits.” Of the same another ancient eye-witness says,114 “There have I seen many fathers leading an angelic life, and walking after the example of Jesus.” The more happy and the more perfect a religious state is, the greater ought to be the watchfulness and the fervor of those who are engaged in it not to fall short of their obligations, and lose the precious graces of their vocation.

Persons in the world are usually inclined to show no indulgence for the least failings which they observe in religious persons. How much soever the reformation and perfect sanctification of the more illustrious portion of the flock of Christ be to be desired and prayed for by all, and promoted by the chief pastors, these severe censors would better employ their zeal in looking into, and reforming their own hearts. They must never forget that all Christians, by their baptismal engagements and the sacred law of the gospel which they profess, are bound to sanctify their souls, and to serve God in the perfect sentiments and practice of all virtues. If in this degenerate age many religious establishments stand in need of a spur or some reformation, we may believe an enemy “that there is no class or condition of Christians in general which does not want it still much more.”


According to the pontificals, he was the son of one Rufinus, and a native of Aquileia. He had served the Church among the clergy at Rome many years under Adrian and Antoninus Pius,115 when, according to Tillemont, in the fourth year of the reign of the latter he succeeded St. Hyginus in the papacy in 142. He condemned the heresiarch Valentinus, and rejected Marcion, who came from Pontus to Rome after the death of Hyginus, as we have related elsewhere. The conflicts which St. Pius sustained obtained him the title of martyr, which is given him not only in Usuard’s Martyrology, but also in many others more ancient; though Fontanini, a most judicious and learned critic, strenuously maintains, against Tillemont, that he died by the sword. He passed to a better life in 157, and was buried at the foot of the Vatican hill on the 11th of July. See Tillemont, t. 2, p. 312, and especially Fontanini, who discusses at length all things relating to this pope, in his Historia Literaria Aquileiensis, l. 2, c. 3 and 4.


Was a prince of royal blood in Scotland, educated under the discipline of the great Saint Columba. He was afterward abbot of Dalcongaile; but in his old age lived a recluse in a forest. He died about the year 809. His sacred remains were deposited in a stone coffin at Aberdeen. See Colgan, ad 11 Jul.




From his exact life compiled by Blaise Melanisius, general of his Order, with the long notes of Cuper the Bollandist. See also two other lives of the saint with a long history of his miracles, ib., t. 3, Julij, p. 311.

A. D. 1073.

St. John Gualbert was born at Florence of rich and noble parents, and in his youth was carefully instructed in the Christian doctrine and in the elements of the sciences; but afterward, by conversing with the world, he imbibed a relish for its vanities and follies. While a thirst of worldly pleasure kept possession of his desires, and seemed to him innocent, and while he thought a certain degree of worldly pride the privilege of his birth, he was a stranger to the gospel maxims of penance, meekness, and lowliness of heart; and all arguments of virtue lost their force upon him. But God was pleased by a remarkable accident to open his eyes, and to discover to him his errors, and the extent of his obligations. Hugo, his only brother, was murdered by a gentleman of the country; and our young nobleman determined to revenge the crime by the death of him who had perpetrated it, and who seemed out of the reach of the laws. Under the influence of his resentment, which was much heightened by the invectives and persuasion of his own father Gualbert, he neither listened to the voice of reason nor of religion. The motive of revenge is criminal if it creeps into the breast even in demanding the just punishment of a delinquent; much more if it push men to vindicate their own cause themselves by returning injury for injury, and wreaking wrongs on those that inflicted them. But passion stifled remorse, and John was falsely persuaded that his honor in the world required that he should not suffer so flagrant an outrage to pass unpunished. It happened that riding with his man home to Florence on Good Friday, he met his enemy in so narrow a passage that it was impossible for either of them to avoid the other. John seeing the murderer, drew his sword, and was going to despatch him. But the other, alighting from his horse, fell upon his knees, and with his arms across, besought him by the passion of Jesus Christ, who suffered on that day, to spare his life. The remembrance of Christ, who prayed for his murderers on the cross, exceedingly affected the young nobleman; and meekly raising the supplicant from the ground with his hand, he said, “I can refuse nothing that is asked of me for the sake of Jesus Christ. I not only give you your life, but also my friendship for ever. Pray for me that God may pardon me my sin.” After embracing each other they parted, and John went forward on his road till he came to the monastery of St. Minias,116 of the holy Order of St. Bennet. Going into the church, he offered up his prayers before a great crucifix, begging with many tears and extraordinary fervor that God would mercifully grant him the pardon of his sins. Whilst he continued his prayer the crucifix miraculously bowed its head to him, as it were to give him a token how acceptable the sacrifice of his resentment, and his sincere repentance were. The divine grace made such deep impressions on his heart, that rising from his devotions he cast himself at the feet of the abbot, earnestly begging to be admitted to the religious habit. The abbot was apprehensive of his father’s displeasure; but at length was prevailed upon with much ado to allow him to live in the community in his secular habit. After a few days John cut off his hair himself, and put on a habit which he borrowed. His father, at this news of the step his son had taken, hastened to the monastery, and stormed and complained dreadfully; till after some time seeing the steadiness of his son’s resolution, and hearing his reasons and motives, he was so well satisfied, that he gave him his blessing, and exhorted him to persevere in his good purposes.

St. John devoted himself to the exercises of his new state in the most perfect dispositions of a true penitent. He was most exact in every religious observance. He subdued his body with much fasting and watching; never gave way to idleness, but kept himself day and night employed almost in continual prayer. His corporeal austerities he animated with a perfect interior spirit of penance, or desire of punishing sin in himself, the more powerfully to move God to compassion and mercy towards him; and he endeavored by them to facilitate the subjection of his passions, which victory he completed by a watchfulness over the motions of his own heart, and heroic acts of all virtues, especially meekness and humility. But assiduous and humble prayer and meditation were the principal means by which this wonderful change was effected in all the affections of his soul, so that he became entirely a new man. Nothing can have so prevalent a power to still the agitation of passion in the breast, nothing is so fit to induce a smooth and easy flow, and a constant evenness of temper, as a frequent application to the throne of grace. This presence of the mind with the Lord is an absence from the body, or from the tumult of carnal passions. The pure and serene tranquillity that springs up in the soul by an intercourse with heaven, shows that here she is nearest the centre of her true happiness, where earthly things lose all their power of attraction. The very preparation of the heart to wait upon God in this solemn exercise is of admirable use to remove that corruption which inflames the passions. Especially a lively sense of God’s infinite greatness, and of our littleness and infirmities, powerfully impressed on our minds by assiduous prayer, soon brings us to a conviction that pride is the root of all our disorders; and enables us to discover its disguises, and to banish it out of our souls. By fidelity and perseverance St. John obtained the victory over himself, and became most eminent in meekness, humility, silence, obedience, modesty, and patience.

When the abbot died our saint was earnestly entreated by the greatest part of the monks to accept that dignity; but his consent could by no means be extorted. Not long after, he left this house with one companion, and went in quest of a closer solitude. He paid a visit to the hermitage of Camaldoli; and having edified himself with the example of its fervent inhabitants, he proceeded further to an agreeable shady valley covered with willow trees, commonly called Vallis Umbrosa, in the diocess of Fiesoli, half a day’s journey from Florence, in Tuscany. He found in that place two devout hermits, with whom he and his companion concerted a project to build themselves a small monastery of timber and mud-walls, and to form together a little community, serving God according to the primitive austere rule and spirit of the Order of St. Bennet. The abbess of St. Hilary gave them the ground on which they desired to build, and when the monastery was finished, the bishop of Paderborn, who attended the emperor Henry III. into Italy, consecrated the chapel. Pope Alexander II. in 1070 approved this new Order, together with the rule in which the saint added certain particular constitutions to the original rule of St. Bennet. From this confirmation is dated the foundation of the Order of Vallis-Umbrosa. St. John was chosen the first abbot, nor was he able to decline that dignity. He gave his monks a habit of an ash color; and settled among them retirement, silence, disengagement of their hearts from all earthly things, the most austere practice of penance, profound humility, and the most universal charity.

Though most humble and mild, he severely reproved the least tepidity or sloth in others. For the virtue of meekness is not further removed from intemperate anger which clouds or dethrones reason, than from a vicious defect or tameness and stupidity which beholds vice with indifference. God has committed to every man a kind of trust and guardianship of virtue, whose rights we are obliged to maintain in proportion to our power not only by example, but also by advice, exhortation, and reproof, as often as it is reasonable. And he who regards the sins of others with a careless unconcernedness, makes himself accountable for them, when it is in his power to prevent them. Superiors especially lie under the most grievous obligations to check and chastise the irregularities and faults of those under their immediate care and inspection. Our saint feared no less the danger of too great lenity and forbearance than that of harshness; and was a true imitator both of the mildness and zeal of the Jewish legislator, whom the Holy Ghost calls “the meekest of all men upon the face of the earth.” St. John was himself a perfect model of all virtues, and tender and compassionate towards all, especially the sick. This compassion for them he learned by his own perpetual infirmities, and weakness of stomach. Such was his humility that he would never be promoted even to Minor Orders, never presumed to approach nearer the altar than was necessary to receive the holy communion, and never would open the church door, but always prayed one in Minor Orders to open it for him. He was very zealous for holy poverty, and would not allow any monasteries to be built in a costly or sumptuous manner, thinking such edifices not agreeable to a spirit of poverty. He founded the monastery of St. Salvi, that of Moscetta, that of Passignano, another at Rozzuolo, and another at Monte Salario. He reformed some other monasteries, and left about twelve houses of his Order at his death. Besides monks he received lay-brothers, who were exempt from choir and silence, and employed in external offices. This is said to be the first example of such a distinction; but it was soon imitated by other Orders. The saint’s charity to the poor was not less active than his love for holy poverty. He would have no poor person sent from his door without an alms, and often emptied all the granaries and stores of his monasteries in relieving them. In a great dearth he supplied, sometimes by miracle, the multitudes of poor people that flocked to his monastery of Rozzuolo. The saint was endowed with the spirit of prophecy, and by his prayers restored many sick persons to perfect health. The holy pope Leo IX. went to Passignano on purpose to see and converse with this holy man. Stephen IX. and Alexander II. had the greatest esteem for him. This latter testifies that the whole country where he lived owed to his zeal the entire extinction of simony. The holy man at length fell sick of a sharp fever at Passignano. He called for all the abbots and superiors of his Order, and telling them he was soon to leave them, strongly exhorted them to watch vigilantly over the most exact observance of their rule, and to maintain peace and fraternal charity. After this, having most devoutly received the last sacraments, he died happily on the 12th of July in 1073, being seventy-four years old. Pope Celestine III. having caused juridical informations to be taken concerning his virtues and miracles, solemnly enrolled him among the saints in the year 1193.

The eminent degree of penance and sanctity to which the divine grace raised this saint, was the fruit of his mildness in forgiving an injury. Christ not only commands us to pardon all offences, but has recommended this precept to us with his expiring breath, with his head crowned with thorns and his hands stretched out for us. We renounce the glorious title of being his disciples if, whilst we behold him hanging on the cross, and hear his last prayers, we trample on his sacred law, and harbor malice in our hearts against a brother whom our dying Redeemer commands us to forgive for his sake. Can we be angry with him who is by so many sacred ties our brother, the living son and member of our common Redeemer and Father, and whom we expect to be the associate of our happiness for all eternity? We owe infinitely more to Christ than any brother can owe to us: the least venial sin is an immense debt. Our Divine Master not only conjures us to forgive our brother for His sake, but also makes it our own infinite interest so to do, promising to pardon us our immense debts in the same manner as we pardon others. Shall we base worms who have nothing to boast of before men only our having concealed from them our baseness and ignominy; and to whom the most cruel outrages from creatures would be too mild a treatment, considering our sins; shall we, I say, complain of injuries which we ought to receive with patience and joy as the easy means of cancelling our own sins, and procuring for ourselves the greatest graces and mercy.


They suffered at Milan under Maximian Herculeus about the year 304. Their bodies were first interred without the walls of the city, but afterward brought into it, and deposited in the place where a church was built over their tomb, to which great multitudes of people resorted with wonderful devotion, as Paulinus testifies in his life of St. Ambrose. In the same church St. Ambrose discovered the relics of SS. Gervasius and Protasius, as himself relates in his letter to his sister Marcellina. The people continued to venerate the relics of SS. Nabor and Felix with the same ardor of devotion, as that holy doctor assures us.117 They are still honored in the same church, which at present bears the name of St. Francis. See Solier the Bollandist, t. 3, Julij, p. 280.



From Victor Vitensis, Hist. Persec. Vandal. l. 2 and 3. See Tillemont, t. 16, Ceillier, t. 15, p. 206, Rivet, Hist. Lit. de la Fr. t. p. 38, Ruinart, &c.

A. D. 505.

The Roman provinces in Africa were for a long time one of the richest and most noble portions of the empire. The Carthaginian barbarism and perfidy had given place to the most flourishing reign of the sciences, arts, and religion. The nobles of this country were all princes, and for riches and state, seemed to vie with kings; its peace seemed on every side secure. But the strongest cities and empires are often nearest a fall; they are founded, to be again sooner or later torn to pieces. Every state has even within itself the seeds of its own destruction; these will occasion the dissolution of every body politic no less certainly than the internal weakness of the animal body must bring it to a fatal period. This was the condition of the Roman empire in its decline, when its rulers, to preserve Italy which they regarded as its heart or head, abandoned its extremities to the Goths and Vandals. At a time when Africa thought of no danger, in the reign of the emperor Valentinian III. in 428, Genseric, king of the Vandals and Alans, having lately made a settlement in part of Spain,118 passed into this country, and in a short time became master of those fertile provinces. This politic barbarian king kept great armies perpetually prepared for any expedition, by which he prevented the vigilance of his enemies, and astonished all the world with the rapidity of his enterprises. The Vandals, who were mostly Christians, but infected with the Arian heresy, laid the whole country waste by fire and sword, plundered all places, even churches and monasteries; burned alive two bishops, and tortured others to extort from them the treasures of their churches; razed the public buildings at Carthage, and banished Quodvultdeus, bishop of that city, with many others. But in 454, at the request of the emperor Valentinian, Genseric allowed the Catholics to choose a bishop of Carthage, and St. Deogratias was raised to that dignity, who died soon after Genseric was returned from the plunder of Rome. The persecution growing hotter, many suffered torments for the faith, and several received the crown of martyrdom. The Arians, by a sacrilege never before heard of, made themselves shirts and breeches of the altar-cloths, and at Tinuzuda spilt and scattered the body and blood of Christ on the pavement.119 Catholics being by an edict disqualified for bearing any office in the government, Armogastes, a nobleman who held an honorable post in the household of Theodoric the king’s son, was condemned by the tyrant to keep cattle. Genseric dying after a reign of thirty-seven years, was succeeded by his son Huneric, a more barbarous persecutor than his father had ever been.

The episcopal see of Carthage had remained vacant twenty-four years, when in 481, Huneric permitted the Catholics on certain conditions to choose one who should fill it. The people, impatient to enjoy the comfort of a pastor, pitched upon Eugenius, a citizen of Carthage, eminent for his learning, zeal, piety, and prudence; and such was his deportment in this dignity, that he was venerable to the very heretics, and so dear to the Catholics that every one of them would have thought it a happiness to lay down his life for him. His charities to the distressed were excessive, especially considering his poverty. But he always found resources for their necessities in the hearts of his people; and he refused himself everything that he might give all to the poor. When others put him in mind that he ought to reserve something for his own necessaries, his answer was: “If the good pastor must lay down his life for his flock, can it be excusable for me to be solicitous for the necessities of my body?” He fasted every day, and often allowed himself only a most slender evening refection of bread and water. His virtue gained him the respect and esteem even of the Arians; but at length envy and blind zeal got the ascendant in their breasts, and the king sent him an order never to sit in the episcopal throne, preach to the people, or admit into his chapel any Vandals among whom several were Catholics. The saint boldly answered the messenger, that the laws of God commanded him not to shut the door of his church to any that desired to serve him in it. Huneric, enraged at this answer, persecuted the Catholics many ways, especially the Vandals who had embraced the faith. He commanded guards to be placed at the doors of the Catholic churches, who when they saw any man or woman going in clothed in the habit of the Vandals, struck them on the head with short staffs jagged and indented, which being twisted into their hair, and drawn back with great violence, tore off the hair and skin together. Some lost their eyes by this means, and others died with the extreme pain; but many lived a long time after. Women with their heads flayed in this manner, were publicly led through the streets, with a crier going before them to show them to the people. But this barbarous usage did not cause any one to forsake the true religion. Next, the tyrant deprived the Catholics who were at court of their pensions, and sent them to work in the country. He also ordered that none should be admitted to bear any office in his palace, or any public charge, who was not an Arian. He afterward turned them out of their houses, stripped them of all their wealth, and sent them to Sicily, or Sardinia. After this, his persecution fell on all Catholics. One edict followed another against them, and the cloud thickened every day over their heads. Many nuns were so cruelly tortured that several died on the rack. Great numbers of bishops, priests, deacons, and eminent Catholic laymen were banished to the number of four thousand nine hundred and seventy-six, all of whom the tyrant sent into a desert, where they were fed with barley like horses. This desert was filled with scorpions and venomous serpents; but they did not destroy any of the servants of God. The people followed their bishops and priests with lighted tapers in their hands, and mothers carried their little babes in their arms, and laid them at the feet of the confessors, all crying out with tears,—“Going yourselves to your crowns, to whom do you leave us? Who will baptize our children? Who will impart to us the benefit of penance, and discharge us from the bonds of sins by the favor of reconciliation and pardon? Who will bury us with solemn supplications at our death? By whom will divine sacrifices be made?”120

The bishop Eugenius was spared in the first storm, probably that the inhabitants of the capital might seem to be somewhat considered. But in May, 483, the king sent him a summons requiring the Catholics, whom he called Homoousians, to hold a conference or disputation with his Arian bishops at Carthage on the 1st day of February ensuing. Eugenius answered the terms were not equal, seeing their enemies were to be judges; and that as it was the common cause of all churches, other foreign churches ought to be invited and consulted, “especially the church of Rome, which is the head of all churches.”121 About that time one Felix, who had been long blind, addressed himself to St. Eugenius desiring him to pray that he might recover his sight, saying he had been admonished by a vision so to do. The bishop showed great reluctance and confusion, alleging that he was a base sinner; but at length, after blessing the font for the solemn administration of baptism on the Epiphany, he said to the blind man,—“I have told you that I am a sinner, and the last of all men; but I pray God that he show you mercy according to your faith, and restore to you your sight.” Then he made the sign of the cross on his eyes, and the blind man saw; the whole city was witness to the triumph of the faith. The king sent for Felix, and examined himself all the circumstances of the miracle, which he found too evident to be called in question. However, the Arian bishops told him that Eugenius had performed it by recourse to art magic. The Catholics made choice of ten disputants for the conference, which was opened on the 5th of February. Cyrila, patriarch of the Arians, was seated on a throne; the Catholics who were standing, asked who were the commissaries to take down in writing what should pass in the disputation; and were answered that Cyrila would perform that office. The Catholics asked by what authority he claimed the jurisdiction and rank of patriarch. The Arians not being able to produce any sufficient warrant for his usurpation, filled the hall with noise and tumult and obtained an order that every lay Catholic there present should receive a hundred bastinadoes. Cyrila sought various pretences to defer the conference. The Catholics, however, presented a written confession of their faith. This takes up the whole third book of Victor’s history, though he has only inserted the first part, in which the consubstantiality of God the Son is proved from the scriptures. The second part, which confirmed the same from the writings of the fathers, is lost. This confession seems to have been drawn up by St. Eugenius, to whom Gennadius ascribes a confession of faith against the Arians.122 When this was read the Arians quarrelled that the orthodox took the name of Catholics, though this was given them by the whole world, even by the heretics themselves, as St. Austin observed a little before this time in that very country. Upon this, however, the Arians abruptly broke up the conference, and the king, on the 25th of February in 484, published a severe edict for a general persecution, which he had already prepared for that purpose. By this all the Catholic clergy were banished out of towns, and forbidden to perform any functions even in the country; all Catholics were declared incapable of inheriting, or disposing of any estates real or personal, with other such articles. Executioners were despatched to all parts of the kingdom, and many Catholics were put to barbarous deaths, and many more inhumanly tormented. One Dionysia, after having been herself cruelly scourged, seeing her son Majoricus, a tender youth, tremble at the sign of the torments prepared for him, she looked on him with a stern countenance, and said,—“Remember, son, we were baptized in the name of the Trinity, and in the bosom of our mother the Church.” The young man, encouraged by these words, suffered martyrdom with undaunted resolution, and his mother buried him within her own house, that she might every day offer to the holy Trinity her prayers over his grave, in the lively hope of a glorious resurrection with him at the last day. Her cousin Emilius, her sister Dativa, and innumerable others in different parts of Africa, received the like crowns. At Typasus, in Mauritania Cæsariensis, certain Catholics who had assisted at the celebration of the divine mysteries in a private house, were informed against; and by the king’s order had their tongues plucked out, and their right hands cut off; yet they spoke as well as ever, as St. Victor Vitensis, an eye-witness, assures us.123 He says, Reparatus, a subdeacon, one of this number, was entertained when he wrote, in the court of the emperor Zena at Constantinople, and was there highly honored, especially by the empress; and that though entirely deprived of his tongue, he spoke gracefully, and without the least defect or imperfection. Æneas of Gaza, a Platonic philosopher, who was then at Constantinople, and wrote in 533,124 says, he himself had seen them in that city, and had heard them speak distinctly; and not being able to believe his own ears, he had examined their mouths, and seen that their tongues were plucked out to the very roots, so that he wondered they could have survived so cruel a torment. Procopius, who wrote soon after, says also125 that he had seen these persons at Constantinople, and had heard them speak freely, without feeling anything of their punishment; but that two of them, by falling into a grievous sin of the flesh, lost the use of their speech, which they had till then enjoyed.

The tyrant wreaked his impotent vengeance on many others, especially on Vandals who had been converted to the Catholic faith; but was not able to overcome their heroic constancy. The streets of Carthage were filled with spectacles of his cruelty; and one was there meeting continually some without hands, others without eyes, nose, or ears, others whose heads appeared sunk in between their shoulders by having been hung up by the hands on the tops of houses for sights to the people. Above four hundred and sixty bishops were brought to Carthage in order to be sent into banishment: of this number eighty-eight died under great hardships at Carthage, some few made their escape, and the rest were banished. St. Eugenius after having long encouraged others to the conflict was himself at length on a sudden carried into exile, without being allowed to take leave of his friends. He found means, however, to write a letter to his flock, which St. Gregory of Tours has preserved.126 In it he says,—“I with tears beg, exhort, and conjure you by the dreadful day of judgment, and the awful light of the coming of Christ, that you hold fast the Catholic faith. Preserve the grace of the holy baptism, and the unction of the chrism. Let no man born again of water return to the water.” This he mentions, because the Arians in Africa, like the Donatists, rebaptized those that came over to their sect. St. Eugenius protests to his flock that if they remain constant, no distance nor death could separate him from them in spirit; but that he was innocent of the blood of those that should perish, and that this his letter would be read before the tribunal of Christ at the last day for severer condemnation of such base apostates. “If I return to Carthage,” says he, “I shall see you in this life; if not, I shall meet you in the other. Pray for us, and fast; fasting and alms have never failed to move God to mercy. Above all things remember that we are not to fear those who can only kill the body.”

We have a catalogue of all the bishops of the provinces of Africa who came to the conference, and were sent into banishment;127 namely, fifty-four of the proconsular province, one hundred and twenty-five of Numidia, one hundred and seven of the province of Byzacena, one hundred and twenty of the province of Mauritania Cæsariensis, forty-four from the province of Sitifi, five from that of Tripolis, besides ten from Sardinia and other places; in all four hundred and sixty-four bishops, of which number eighty-eight died at Carthage before their departure into exile, forty-six were banished to Corsica, three hundred and three to other places, and twenty-eight made their escape. St. Eugenius was carried into the uninhabited desert country in the province of Tripolis, and committed to the guard of Antony, an inhuman Arian bishop, who treated him with the utmost barbarity. The saint added to his sufferings voluntary austerities, wore a rough hair-shirt, lay on the ground, and passed great part of the night in prayer and tears. When he was afflicted with a palsy, Antony, because vinegar was contrary to his distemper, obliged him to drink it in large quantities. Yet God was pleased to restore his servant to his health. It is observed by our historian, that the Arian bishops were all cruel persecutors, and went through the cities and provinces, filling all places with scenes of horror, rebaptizing persons by force and violence, scourging, mangling, torturing, and banishing even women and children. The fifth book of the history of this persecution is filled with examples. The apostates signalized themselves above others by the cruelties which they exercised upon the orthodox. Elpidophorus, one of this number, was appointed judge at Carthage to condemn the more zealous to be tortured. Muritta, the deacon who had assisted when he was baptized in the bosom of the Catholic Church, being brought before him, took with him the chrismale or white garment, with which at the time he received the apostate coming out of the font he had clothed him, as an emblem of that innocence which he engaged himself to preserve always unspotted; and producing it before the whole assembly, he says,—“This robe will accuse you when the judge shall appear in majesty at the last day. It will bear testimony against you to your condemnation.”128 This relation is gathered from Saint Victor, bishop of Vita, in the province of Byzacena; who being banished by king Huneric for the faith in 487, retired to Constantinople, and wrote (probably in that city) in five books, the history of the Vandalic persecution.129

St. Victor relates that Huneric, the great persecutor of the Church, died miserably, being devoured by worms, in December, 484, having reigned almost eight years. Nor was he succeeded, as he had earnestly desired, by his son Hilderic, but by Gontamund, a nephew, whom the maturity of his age rendered better able to bear the burden of the state. This prince, in the year 488, which was the fourth of his reign, recalled St. Eugenius to Carthage, and at his request opened the churches of the Catholics, and permitted the exiled priests also to return. Gontamund died in 496, and his brother Thrasimund was called to the crown, of whom mention hath been made in the life of St. Fulgentius. Though this king often affected a show of moderation, he sometimes used the sword and every other violent measure to depress the cause of truth, which at other times he pretended to seek after. But his inconstancy betrayed his want of sincerity. True virtue is steady, but the fool changeth like the moon; he who is governed by his passions, is everything by fits, and if he one day pretends to condemn his vices, he by relapses soon repents again of this very repentance, which frequently springs rather from a disgust of sin, than from any principle of true virtue. Thrasimund by this levity or hypocrisy never deserved to arrive at the light of the true faith, and often persecuted its most holy champions, of which among many others the sufferings of St. Eugenius are an instance. St. Gregory of Tours relates130 that by his authority the judges condemned our saint, one Longinus, and St. Vindemial, bishop of Capsa, in Africa, to be beheaded. St. Vindemial died by the sword; but the tyrant commanded St. Eugenius to be led to the place of execution, and though he protested under the axe that he would rather lose his life than depart from the Catholic faith, he was again brought back to Carthage, and banished into Languedoc, which country was then subject to Alaric, king of the Visigoths, who was also an Arian. He died in his exile in a monastery which he built and governed at Viance (since called St. Amaranth’s from the tomb of that martyr), about a mile from Albi. He passed to a better life in 505, on the 13th of July. King Hilderic afterward recalled the surviving exiled prelates; but peace was not perfectly restored to that church before the year 534, when Belisarius, a general who was master of all the maxims of the first Romans with regard to the art of war, vanquished Gelimer, the last Vandal king in Africa, and sent him prisoner to Constantinople.131

The saints chose to suffer every temporal loss, torment, or death with which the world could threaten them rather than lose the holy treasure of faith. This gift is a light which shineth upon us132 from God, to direct us amidst our darkness in the path to eternal life, as the pillar of fire conducted the Israelites through the wilderness. It is the seed, or rather the root of a spiritual life, and of every virtue that is meritorious of everlasting glory. “Faith is the solid foundation of all virtues,” says St. Ambrose.133 And in another place he cries out:134 “O faith, richer than all treasures! more healing and sovereign than all medicines!” Our faith if true must have three conditions or qualities. 1. It must be firm, admitting no doubt or wavering; ready to brave all dangers, torments, and death; thus it filled the martyrs with joy under the most affrighting trials, and made them triumph over fires and the sword.135 2. It must be entire; for the least wilful obstinate error concerning one article destroys the whole fabric of faith, by rejecting its motive which is everywhere the same testimony of divine revelation. “You who believe what you please, and reject what you please, believe yourselves or your own fancy, rather than the gospel,” as St. Austin says. 3. Faith must be active, animated by charity, fruitful in good works. A dead or a barren faith is compared by St. James to a carcass without a soul, and to the faith of the devils who believe and tremble. How active and animated was faith in the souls of all the saints! the eminent virtues which we admire in them were all the fruit of their faith, and sprang from this root. With what care ought we to nourish and improve this holy seed in our breasts? Gardeners cultivate most diligently those seeds which are most precious.


He governed the Church after St. Clement nine years three months, according to the Liberian pontifical, and according to another very old Vatican manuscript register; but according to some later pontificals, twelve years and three months. He perhaps sat three years as vicar to St. Clement during his banishment, says Berti.136 Trajan raised the third persecution against the Church whilst he was in the East in 107. In those difficult times St. Anacletus suffered much, and is styled a martyr in very ancient Martyrologies.



Was born in the diocess of Vannes, in the neighborhood of the abbey of Ballon, near which Charles the Bald was defeated by the Britons in 845; in which war this monastery seems to have been destroyed. Turiaf went young to Dol, was instructed in piety and learning, and promoted to holy orders by St. Thiarmail, abbot of St. Samson’s and bishop of Dol. This prelate afterward appointed him his vicar and chorepiscopus, and at his death, probably in 733, our saint was placed in that episcopal chair. Admirable was the austerity of his life, his zeal, his charity, his watchfulness, his fervor in prayer, and his firmness in maintaining discipline. A powerful lord named Rivallon having committed many acts of violence, the bishop went to his castle at Lanncafrut, and by his strong remonstrances made him sensible of the enormity of his crimes. By the bishop’s injunction he underwent a canonical penance during seven years, and repaired all injustices and oppressions by a sevenfold satisfaction. St. Turiaf died on the 13th of July, probably about the year 749, though even the age is not certain. In the wars of the Normans his relics were brought to Paris, and are still kept in the abbey of St. Germain-des-Prez. The new Paris breviary mentions that dreadful fires have been sometimes miraculously extinguished by them. The life of St. Turiaf, written in the tenth century, is a confused eulogium, in which prodigies take place of facts. The notes of the Bollandists are incomparably more valuable than the text, ad 13 Jul. p. 614. See Barrali, Chronic. Lirin. t. 2, p. 186. Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bret. p. 177.




From his works, Wadding’s Annals of the Friar Minors, the discourse of Octavian de Marinis for his canonization, and from his Life, written by Peter Galesini, by order of Sixtus V. See also Boule, Raynaud de Colonia, and the Bollandists.

A. D. 1274.

St. Bonaventure, the great light and ornament of the holy Order of St. Francis, for his extraordinary devotion, ardent charity, and eminent skill in sacred learning, is surnamed the Seraphic Doctor. He was born at Bagnarea in Tuscany, in the year 1221, of pious parents, named John of Fidenza and Mary Ritelli. He was christened by the name of John; but afterward received that of Bonaventure on the following occasion. In the fourth year of his age he fell so dangerously sick that his life was despaired of by the physicians. The mother in excessive grief had recourse to the Almighty physician by earnest prayer, and going into Umbria cast herself at the feet of St. Francis of Assisium, with many tears begging his intercession with God for the life of her son. Would Christians address themselves to God with an humble confidence in all their corporal necessities, their afflictions would never fail to be turned into divine blessings. But their neglect of this duty deserves to be chastised by spiritual misfortunes, and often also by temporal disappointments without comfort or remedy. St. Francis was moved to compassion by the tears of the mother, and at his prayer the child recovered so perfect a state of health that he was never known to be sick from that time till the illness of which he died.137 The glorious saint, at whose petition God granted this favor, saw himself near the end of his mortal course, and foretelling the graces which the divine goodness prepared for this child, cried out in prophetic rapture; O buona ventura, that is, in Italian, Good luck. Whence the name of Bonaventura was given our saint. The devout mother in gratitude consecrated her son to God by a vow, and was careful to inspire into him from the cradle the most ardent sentiments of piety, and to inure him betimes to assiduous practices of self-denial, humility, obedience, and devotion. Bonaventure from his infancy entered upon a religious course, and appeared inflamed with the love of God as soon as he was capable of knowing him. His progress in his studies surprised his masters, but that which he made in the science of the saints, and in the practice of every virtue was far more extraordinary. It was his highest pleasure and joy to hear by how many titles he belonged to God, and he made it his most earnest study and endeavor to devote his heart with his whole strength to the divine service.

In 1243, being twenty-two years of age, he entered into the Order of St. Francis, and received the habit in the province of Rome from the hands of Haymo, an Englishman, at that time general of the Order.138 St. Bonaventure mentions in his prologue to the life of Saint Francis, that he entered this state, and made his vows with extraordinary sentiments of gratitude for the preservation of his life through the intercession of St. Francis, resolving with the greatest ardor to serve God with his whole heart. Shortly after, he was sent to Paris to complete his studies under the celebrated Alexander of Hales, surnamed the Irrefragable Doctor.139 After his death in 1245, St. Bonaventure continued his course under his successor, John of Rochelle. His penetrating genius was poised by the most exquisite judgment, by which, while he easily dived to the bottom of every subtle inquiry, he cut off whatever was superfluous, dwelling only on that knowledge which is useful and solid, or at least was then necessary to unravel the false principles and artful sophistry of the adversaries of truth. Thus he became a masterly proficient in the scholastic philosophy, and in the most sublime parts of theology. Whilst he referred all his studies to the divine honor and his own sanctification he was most careful not to lose the end in the means, and suffer his application to degenerate into a dissipation of mind and a vicious idle curiosity. This opens an avenue into the heart for self-conceit, jealousy, envy, and a total extinction of the spirit of prayer, with a numberless train of other spiritual evils, which lay waste the affections of the soul, and banish thence the precious fruits of the Holy Ghost. To shun those rocks often fatal to piety, he seemed never to turn his attention from God, and by the earnest invocation of the divine light in the beginning of every action, and holy aspirations with which he accompanied all his studies, he may be said to have made them a continued prayer. When he turned his eyes to his book, they were swimming with tears of love and devotion excited by his assiduous meditation on the wounds of Christ, and his heart still continued to inflame its affections from that its beloved object, which he seemed to read in every line. St. Thomas Aquinas coming one day to pay a visit to our saint, asked him in what books he had learned his sacred science. St. Bonaventure, pointing to his crucifix before him, said, “This is the source of all my knowledge. I study only Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

Not content to make his studies in some sort a continuation of prayer, he devoted entirely to that heavenly exercise the greater part of his time, knowing this to be the key of divine graces and of a spiritual life. For only the Spirit of God, as St. Paul teaches, can lead us into the secrets and designs of God, and engrave his holy maxims on our hearts. He alone can make himself known, as no other light can discover the sun to us but its own; and it is in prayer that God communicates himself to us. He here enlightens the souls of his servants, and is their interior instructor. But as St. Austin says, honey cannot be poured into a vessel that is full of wormwood: neither can this excellent grace or gift of prayer find place in a soul which is not first prepared to receive the sensible presence of the Holy Ghost by holy compunction, and by the practice of penance, humility, and self-denial. These virtues fitted the soul of our saint to be admitted to the chaste embraces of the heavenly bridegroom. Such was the innocence and purity in which he lived, and so perfect a mastery he had obtained over his passions, that Alexander of Hales used to say to him, that he seemed not to have sinned in Adam. An eminent spirit of penance was the principal guardian of this grace of innocence. The austerities of Saint Bonaventure were excessive, yet amidst his penitential tears a remarkable cheerfulness appeared always in his countenance, which resulted from the inward peace of his soul. Himself lays down this maxim:140 “A spiritual joy is the greatest sign of the divine grace dwelling in a soul.”

To his mortifications he added the practice of the greatest humiliations. In attending the sick he was particularly ambitious to serve them in the lowest and most humbling offices. In this charitable duty he seemed prodigal of his own life and health, and chose always to be about those whose distempers were most loathsome or contagious and dangerous. He had no eyes to see anything in himself but faults and imperfections, and wonderful was the care with which he endeavored to conceal from others his extraordinary practices of virtue. When their rays broke through the veil of his humility, and shone forth to others, the saint in order to cast a shade over them before men, or at least to strengthen his own heart against the danger, and to indulge his love of abjection, embraced the greatest humiliations. He always regarded himself as the most ungrateful and the basest of sinners, unworthy to walk upon the earth, or to breathe the air; and these humble sentiments were accompanied with the deepest compunction, and abundant tears. This humility sometimes withheld him from the holy table notwithstanding the burning desires of his soul to be united daily afresh to the object of his love, and to approach the fountain of grace. But God was pleased by a miracle to overcome his fears, and to recompense his humility. “Several days had passed,” say the acts of his canonization, “nor durst he yet presume to present himself at the heavenly banquet. But whilst he was hearing mass, and meditating on the passion of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, to crown his humility and love, put into his mouth, by the ministry of an angel, part of the consecrated host, taken from the hand of the priest.” By this precious favor his soul was drowned in a torrent of pure delights; and from that time he was encouraged to approach with an humble confidence to the bread of angels which gives life and strength.

From this time his communions were accompanied with overflowing sweetness and consolations, and with raptures of divine joy and love. If in our communions we seem to receive, instead of torrents, scarce a small portion of heavenly grace, the reason is, because our hearts are too narrow. The vessel which we bring is too small. If we dilated our souls by humility, burning desires, and love, we should receive, like the saints, an abundant supply of these living waters. St. Bonaventure prepared himself to receive the holy order of priesthood by long fasts, humiliations, and fervent prayer, that he might obtain in it an abundant measure of graces proportioned to so high a function. He considered that sacred dignity with fear and trembling, and the higher and more incomprehensible it appeared to him, so much the more did he humble himself when he saw himself invested with it. As often as he approached the altar, the profound annihilation of himself, and the tender love with which he offered, beheld in his hands, and received into his breast, the Lamb without spot, appeared by his tears, and his whole exterior. A devout prayer which he composed for his own use after Mass, beginning with these words, Transfige dulcissime domine, is recommended by the Church to all priests on that most solemn occasion.

Bonaventure looked upon himself as called by the obligations of his priestly character to labor for the salvation of his neighbor, and to this he devoted himself with extraordinary zeal. He announced the word of God to the people with an energy and unction which kindled a flame in the hearts of those that heard him; everything was inflamed that came from his mouth. For an assistance to himself in this function he compiled his treatise called Pharetra, consisting of animated sentiments gathered from the writings of the fathers. In the meantime, he was employed in teaching privately in his own convent, till he succeeded his late master, John of Rochelle, in a public chair of the university. The age required by the statutes for this professorship was thirty-five, whereas the saint was only thirty-three years old; but his abilities amply supplied that defect, and on this literary theatre he soon displayed them to the admiration of the whole Church. He continued always to study at the foot of the crucifix. The disagreement between the university and the regulars being terminated by pope Alexander IV. in 1256, Saint Thomas and St. Bonaventure were invited to take the doctor’s cap together. As others contend for precedence, the two saints had a vehement contest of humility, each endeavoring to yield the first place to the other. They knew no pretexts of the interest of their Orders, nor were they sensible of any prerogatives but those of humility. St. Bonaventure prayed and entreated him with so much earnestness, that at length St. Thomas acquiesced to receive the degree first, and our saint triumphed over both his friend and himself.

The holy king of St. Lewis honored St. Bonaventure with his particular esteem, invited him often to his own table, and consulted him in his most intricate concerns, placing an entire confidence in his advice. He engaged him to compile an office of the passion of Christ for his use. St. Bonaventure drew up a rule for St. Isabella, the king’s sister, and for her nunnery of mitigated Clares at Long-Champs. His book On the Government of the Soul, his Meditations for every day in the week, and most of his other lesser tracts were written to satisfy the requests of several devout persons of the court. The unction which every word breathes in the writings of this holy doctor pierces the heart, and his concise expression is an abyss, or rather a treasure of most profound sentiments of humility, compunction, love, and devotion, the riches of which a pious heart finds everywhere boundless. Especially his tender sentiments of the love of God, and on the sacred passion of Christ, exceedingly recommend to all devout persons his meditations on this latter subject, and express the burning affections with which his pure soul glowed towards that stupendous mystery of infinite love, goodness, and mercy, that perfect model of all virtue and sanctity, and source of all our good.

The celebrated Gerson, the most learned and devout chancellor of Paris, writes of the works of St. Bonaventure.141 “Among all the Catholic doctors, Eustachius (for so we may translate his name of Bonaventure) seems to me the most proper for conveying light to the understanding, and at the same time warming the heart. In particular his Brevioloquium and Itinerarium are written with so much force, art, and conciseness, that nothing can be beyond them.” In another book he says:142 “St. Bonaventure’s works seem to me the most proper for the instruction of the faithful. They are solid, safe, pious, and devout; and he keeps as far as he can from niceties; not meddling with logical or physical questions which are foreign to the matter in hand. Nor is there any doctrine more sublime, more divine, or more conducive to piety.” Trithemius recommends this doctor’s writings in the following words: “His expressions are full of fire, they no less warm with divine love the hearts of those who read them, than they fill their understanding with the most holy light. His works surpass those of all the doctors of his time, if we consider the spirit of divine love and of Christian devotion that speaks in him. He is profound in few words, penetrating without curiosity, eloquent without vanity; his discourse is inflamed without being bloated. Whoever would be both learned and devout, let him read the works of St. Bonaventure.”143

This is chiefly to be understood of his spiritual tracts. In these the author discovers everywhere a most profound spirit of humility and holy poverty, with a heart perfectly disengaged from all earthly things, and full of the most ardent love of God, and the most tender devotion to the sacred passion of our Divine Redeemer. The eternal joys of heaven were the frequent entertainment of his pious soul, and he seems never to have interrupted his ardent sighs after them. He endeavored by his writings to excite in all others the same fervent desires of our heavenly country. He writes144 that “God himself, all the glorious spirits, and the whole family of the eternal King wait for us, and desire that we should be associated to them; and shall not we pant above all things to be admitted into their happy company? He would appear amongst them with great confusion, who had not in this valley of tears continually raised his soul above all things visible to become already, in ardent desire, an inhabitant of those blessed regions.” He clearly shows that he was not able to express the transports of holy joy that overflowed his soul, as often as he contemplated its future union with God in immortal bliss and uninterrupted love and praise. He revolved in mind the raptures of gratitude and joy in which the blessed spirits behold themselves in the state of security for ever, whilst they see so many souls on earth every day overthrown by their spiritual enemies, and so many others lost in hell. He was strongly affected with the thought of the glorious company of millions of angels and saints, all most holy, loving, and glorious, adorned each with their distinguishing trophies and graces; in which every one will possess in others every gift which he hath not, and all those gifts which himself hath, doubled so many times as he hath partners in bliss. For loving every companion as himself he will rejoice for the felicity of each no less than for his own. Whereupon, with St. Anselm, he often asked his own heart, here so poor, so weak, and overwhelmed with miseries, if then it would be able, without being strengthened and raised above itself by an extraordinary grace, to contain its joy for its own felicity; how it could be able to contain so many and such excess of joys. But this saint’s sublime sentiments of piety and devotion are best learned from his own works. His love of an interior life did not hinder his application to promote the divine honor in others by various exterior employments; but these he animated and sanctified by a constant spirit of recollection and prayer.

Whilst he continued to teach at Paris he was chosen general of his Order in a chapter held in the convent called Ara-Cœli, at Rome, in 1256. The saint was only thirty-five years old. Nevertheless pope Alexander IV. confirmed the election. St. Bonaventure was thunderstruck at this news, and prostrating himself on the ground, he with many tears implored the divine light and direction. After which he set out immediately for Rome. The Franciscan Order was at that time divided by intestine dissensions, some of the friars being for an inflexible severity, others demanding certain mitigations of the letter of the rule. The young general no sooner appeared among them, but by the force of his exhortations which he tempered with mildness and charity, he restored a perfect calm; and all the brethren marched under this new Josue with one heart, in the same spirit, and in the same path. William of Saint-Amour, a member of the university of Paris, having published a bitter invective against the Mendicant Orders, entitled, “On the Dangers of the Latter Times,” St. Thomas answered it. St. Bonaventure also confuted it by a book, which he called, “On the Poverty of the Lord Jesus,” in which his mildness in handling the controversy against a most virulent adversary reflected a double advantage on his victory.

Our saint, in his return to the schools at Paris, visited several of his convents in the way, in which he showed everywhere that he was only become superior to be the most humble, the most charitable, and the most compassionate of all his brethren, and the servant of his whole Order. Notwithstanding his great employments, he never omitted his usual exercises of devotion, but laid out his time and regulated his functions with such wonderful prudence as to find leisure for everything. He composed several works at Paris, but often retired to Mante for greater solitude. A stone, which he used for his pillow, is shown to this day in that convent. In 1260 the saint held a general chapter at Narbonne, and in concert with the definitors, gave a new form to the old Constitutions, added certain new rules, and reduced them all into twelve chapters. At the request of the friars assembled in this chapter, he undertook to write the life of St.  Francis; but went first from Narbonne to Mount Alverno, and there assisted at the dedication of a great church. In a little oratory, built upon the very place where Saint Francis had received the miraculous marks of the wounds of our Saviour, St. Bonaventure continued a long while abstracted, and in an ecstasy, in holy meditation. He there wrote his incomparable treatise, called Itinerarium Mentis in Deum, or the Way of the Soul to God, showing that all her comfort and riches are to be found in God alone, and tracing out the sure way that leads to him. Whilst he was in Italy he gathered the most authentic memoirs for the life of St. Francis, which he compiled with the spirit which shows him to have been filled with all the heroic virtues of his founder, whose life he wrote. St. Thomas Aquinas coming one day to pay him a visit whilst he was employed in this work, saw him through the door of his cell, raised in contemplation above the ground, and going away, said: “Let us leave a saint to write for a saint.” In 1230 St. Bonaventure assisted at the translation of the relics of St. Antony, which was performed at Padua. From that city he went to hold a general chapter at Pisa, in which, by words and example, he exhorted his brethren to a great love of holy solitude. He gave on that and every other occasion proofs of his tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin. When he was first made general he put his Order under her special patronage. He regulated many pious exercises of devotion to her, composed his Mirror of the Virgin, setting forth her graces, virtues, and prerogatives, with many prayers, which are tender and respectful effusions of the heart, to implore her intercession. He wrote a pathetic paraphrase in verse of the anthem Salve Regina.145 He published the praises of the Mother out of devotion to the Son, and to extend His glory. To propagate his honor and saving faith he sent, by the pope’s authority, preachers into many barbarous nations, and lamented his situation that he could not go himself, and expose his life among the infidels.

The venerable brother Giles, the third companion of St. Francis at Assisio,146 said one day to St. Bonaventure: “Father, God has shown us great mercy and bestowed on us many graces. But we who are poor and ignorant idiots, what can we do to correspond to his immense goodness, and to be saved?” St. Bonaventure answered; “If God were to bestow on any one no other talents besides the grace of loving him, this alone suffices, and is every spiritual treasure,” B. Giles said,—“Can a dull idiot love God as perfectly as a great scholar?” St. Bonaventure replied: “A poor old woman may love him more than the most learned master and doctor in theology.” At this brother Giles, in a sudden fervor and jubilation of spirit, went into a garden, and standing at a gate toward the city (of Rome) he looked that way, and cried out with a loud voice,—“Come, the poorest, most simple, and most illiterate old woman, love the Lord our God, and you may attain to a higher degree of eminence and happiness than brother Bonaventure with all his learning.” After this he fell into an ecstasy, in which he continued in sweet contemplation without motion for the space of three hours.147

Pope Clement IV. in 1265, nominated St. Bonaventure archbishop of York, being assured how agreeable he would be to that church, to the king of England, and his whole kingdom. But St. Bonaventure having first by earnest prayer, begged that God would preserve him from so great a danger, went and cast himself at the feet of his holiness, and by tears and entreaties extorted from him a discharge from that burden. He held a general chapter at Paris in 1266; and in the next, which he assembled at Assisium, he ordered the triple salutation of the Blessed Virgin called the Angelus Domini to be recited every evening at six o’clock, to honor the incomprehensible mystery of the Incarnation, which ought to be the object of our perpetual praises and thanksgiving.

In 1272, Theobald, the holy archdeacon of Liege, a native of Placentia, then absent in the Holy Land, was chosen pope, and took the name of Gregory X., a person of such eminent sanctity that a process has been set on foot for his canonization; and Benedict XIV., in 1745, ordered his name to be inserted in the Roman Martyrology. He was a man of an extraordinary reputation throughout all his life, for prudence in the conduct of his affairs; for courage, greatness of mind, and contempt of money; for devotion, clemency, and charity to the poor. He died on the 10th of January, 1276, on his return from the council at Abruzzo in Tuscany, of which city he is the titular patron. Miracles have rendered his name illustrious. Bonaventure fearing this holy pope would compel him to accept of some ecclesiastical dignity, left Italy and went to Paris, where he wrote his Hexaëmeron or pious exposition of the creation, or work of six days. He had scarce finished it, when at Whitsuntide he received from the pope a brief by which he was nominated cardinal, and bishop of Albano, one of the six suffragans of Rome. His holiness added a precept to him to accept that double charge without alleging any pretext against it, and immediately to repair to Rome. He sent two nuncios to meet him on the road with the hat and other ensigns of his dignities. They found the saint reposing on his journey in a convent of his Order at Migel, four leagues from Florence, and employed in washing the dishes. He desired them to hang the cardinal’s hat on the bough of a tree, because he could not decently take it in his hands, and left them to walk in the garden till he had finished his work. Then taking up the hat he went to the nuncios, and paid them the respect due to their character. Gregory X. came from Orvietto to Florence, and there meeting Bonaventure ordained him bishop with his own hands; then ordered him to prepare himself to speak in the general council which he had called to meet at Lyons for the reunion of the Greeks.

The emperor Michael Palæologus had made proposals to pope Clement IV. for a union. Pope Gregory X. zealously pursued this affair. Joseph, patriarch of Constantinople, made a violent opposition, but was obliged by the emperor to retire into a monastery. To bring this affair to a happy conclusion, Gregory X. invited the Greeks to come to the general council which he assembled at Lyons for this very purpose, and also to concert measures for pushing on a war for the recovery of the Holy Land, which the pope promoted with all his might. This was the fourteenth general council and the second of Lyons. At it were present five hundred bishops, seventy abbots, James king of Arragon, and the ambassadors of the emperor Michael and of other Christian princes. St. Thomas of Aquin died on the road to this synod. St. Bonaventure accompanied the pope through Milan to it, and arrived at Lyons in November, though the council was only opened on the 7th of May, 1274.148 Bonaventure sat on the pope’s right hand, and first harangued the assembly. Between the second and third sessions he held his last general chapter of his Order, in which he abdicated the office of general. He found leisure to preach, and he established at Lyons a pious confraternity called Del Gonfalone, which he had formerly instituted at Rome. In it pious persons associated themselves in certain daily devotions, under the patronage of the mother of God. The deputies of the Greeks being arrived at Lyons, St. Bonaventure was ordered by the pope to confer with them. They were charmed with his sweetness, and convinced by his reasoning, and they acquiesced in every point. In thanksgiving the pope sung mass on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, and the gospel was sung first in Latin, then in Greek. After this St. Bonaventure preached on the unity of faith. Then the creed was sung first in Latin, then in Greek, and as a seal of the reunion of the two Churches, those words were thrice repeated: “Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son.” In memory of this solemn function two crosses are placed on the high altar of the metropolitan church of St. John at Lyons.149 St. Bonaventure was taken ill after this session; nevertheless he assisted at the fourth, in which the Logothete or high chancellor of Constantinople abjured the schism. But the next day the saint’s strength began entirely to fail him, insomuch that he was no longer able to attend business. From that time he gave himself up entirely to his private devotions, and the constant amiable serenity of his countenance demonstrated the holy peace and joy of his soul in those most awful moments. The pope himself gave him extreme unction, as is attested by an inscription which hath been preserved in the same chamber in which he died, to our times. The saint kept his eyes constantly fixed on a crucifix, and expired in great tranquillity on the 14th of July, in the year 1274, of his age the fifty-third. The pope and the whole council solemnized his obsequies on the same day in the church of the Franciscans at Lyons. Peter of Tarentaise, a Dominican friar, cardinal and bishop of Ostia, afterward pope under the name of Innocent V., preached his funeral panegyric, in which he said,—“No one ever beheld him who did not conceive a great esteem and affection for him; and even strangers, by hearing him speak, were desirous to follow his counsel and advice; for he was gentle, affable, humble, pleasing to all, compassionate, prudent, chaste, and adorned with all virtues.”

The body of St. Bonaventure was translated into the new church of the Franciscans on the 14th of March, 1434. King Charles VIII. founded their new convent at Lyons, at the foot of the castle of Pierre Incise, in 1494, with a rich chapel in which the saint’s remains were enshrined, except a part of the lower jaw, which that king caused to be conveyed to Fontainbleau, and it is now in the church of the Cordeliers in Paris: the bones of an arm are kept at Bagnarea, and a little bone at Venice. In 1562 the Calvinists plundered his shrine, burned his relics in the market-place, and scattered the ashes in the river Saone, as is related by the learned Jesuit Possevinus, who was then at Lyons.150 They stabbed to death the guardian with a Catholic captain whom they had made prisoner; they burned the archives of the library and set fire to the convent. The saint’s head and some other relics escaped the fury of the rebels by having been concealed. St. Bonaventure was canonized by Sixtus IV. in 1482. Sixtus V. enrolled his name among the doctors of the Church, in the same manner as Pius V. had done that of St. Thomas Aquinas. The acts of his canonization record several approved miracles wrought by his intercession. The city of Lyons, in 1628, being grievously afflicted with the plague, the raging distemper began to cease from the time in which certain relics of our saint were devoutly carried in procession. That and other cities have experienced the divine mercy in like manner, in several other public calamities, by invoking St. Bonaventure’s intercession. Charles of Orleans, father of Louis XII. king of France, was taken prisoner by the English in the battle of Agincourt, in 1425. During his captivity he fell ill of a fever, under which no human remedies gave him any relief. The more desperate his situation appeared, with the more earnestness he set himself to implore the patronage of St. Bonaventure, and a perfect recovery was the recompense of his devotion. In gratitude, as soon as he was set at liberty, he went to Lyons to offer up his thanksgivings and prayers at the tomb of the saint, on which he bestowed magnificent presents.151

St. Bonaventure, this great master of a spiritual life, places not the perfection of Christian virtue so much in the more heroic exercises of a religious state as in the performing well our ordinary actions. “The best perfection of a religious man,” says he, “is to do common things in a perfect manner.152 A constant fidelity in small things is a great and heroic virtue.” It is a continual crucifixion of self-love and all the passions; a complete sacrifice of all our actions, moments, and affections, and the entire reign of God’s grace throughout our whole lives. Quintilian lays it down for the great rule in forming an orator, that he accustom himself never to write or speak carelessly even on the most trifling subject or in common conversation, but that he study always to express himself in the most proper manner possible; with far greater diligence ought every one to strive to perform all even the meanest of his actions in the most perfect manner, and to improve every grace, every moment of time to advance in virtue.


He was born in 1550 at Bacchianico in Abruzzo, in the kingdom of Naples. He lost his mother in his infancy, and six years after his father, who was a gentleman, and had been an officer, first in the Neapolitan and afterward in the French troops in Italy. Camillus having learned only to read and write, entered himself young in the army, and served first in the Venetian, and afterward in the Neapolitan troops, till, in 1574, his company was disbanded. He had contracted so violent a passion for cards and gaming, that he sometimes lost even necessaries. All playing at lawful games for exorbitant sums, and absolutely all games of hazard for considerable sums are forbidden by the law of nature, by the imperial or civil law,153 by the severest laws of all Christian or civilized nations, and by the canons of the Church.154 No contract is justifiable in which neither reason nor proportion is observed. Nor can it be consistent with the natural law of justice for a plan to stake any sum on blind chance, or to expose, without a reasonable equivalent or necessity, so much of his own or antagonist’s money, that the loss would notably distress himself or any other person. Also many other sins are inseparable from a spirit of gaming, which springs from avarice, is so hardened as to rejoice in the loss of others, and is the source and immediate occasion of many other vices. The best remedy for this vice is, that those who are infected with it be obliged, or at least exhorted, to give whatever they have won to the poor.

Camillus was insensible of the evils attending gaming, till necessity compelled him to open his eyes; for he at length was reduced to such straits, that for a subsistence he was obliged to drive two asses, and to work at a building which belonged to the Capuchin friars. The divine mercy had not abandoned him through all his wanderings, but had often visited him with strong interior calls to penance. A moving exhortation which the guardian of the Capuchins one day made him, completed his conversion. Ruminating on it as he rode from him upon his business, he at length alighted, fell on his knees, and vehemently striking his breast, with many tears and loud groans deplored his past unthinking sinful life, and cried to heaven for mercy. This happened in February in the year 1575, the twenty-fifth of his age; and from that time to his last breath he never interrupted his penitential course. He made an essay of a novitiate both among the Capuchins and the Grey Friars, but could not be admitted to his religious profession among either on account of a running sore in one of his legs, which was judged incurable. Therefore leaving his own country he went to Rome, and there served the sick in St. James’s hospital of incurables four years with great fervor. He wore a knotty hair shirt, and a rough brass girdle next his skin; watched night and day about the sick, especially those that were dying, with the most scrupulous attention. He was most zealous to suggest to them devout acts of virtue and to procure them every spiritual help. Fervent humble prayer was the assiduous exercise of his soul, and he received the holy communion every Sunday and holiday, making use of St. Philip Neri for his confessarius. The provisors or administrators having been witnesses to his charity, prudence, and piety, after some time appointed him director of the hospital.

Camillus grieving to see the sloth of hired servants in attending the sick, formed a project of associating certain pious persons for that office who should be desirous to devote themselves to it out of a motive of fervent charity. He found proper persons so disposed, but met with great obstacles in the execution of his design. With a view of rendering himself more useful in spiritually assisting the sick, he took a resolution to prepare himself to receive holy orders. For this purpose he went through a course of studies with incredible alacrity and ardor, and received all his orders from Thomas Goldwell, bishop of St. Asaph’s, suffragan to cardinal Savelli, the bishop vicegerent in Rome, under pope Gregory XIII. A certain gentleman of Rome named Firmo Calmo, gave the saint six hundred Roman sequines of gold (about two hundred and fifty pounds sterling), which he put out for an annuity of thirty-six sequines a year during his life; this amounting to a competent patrimony for the title of his ordination, required by the council of Trent and the laws of the diocess. The same pious gentleman, besides frequent great benefactions during his life, bequeathed his whole estate real and personal on Camillus’s hospital at his death. The saint was ordained priest at Whitsuntide in 1584, and being nominated to serve a little chapel called our Lady’s ad miracula, he quitted the direction of the hospital. Before the close of the same year he laid the foundation of his congregation for serving the sick, giving to those who were admitted into it a long black garment with a black cloth for their habit. The saint prescribed them certain short rules, and they went every day to the great hospital of the Holy Ghost, where they served the sick with so much affection, piety, and diligence, that it was visible to all who saw them, that they considered Christ himself as lying sick or wounded in his members.

They made the beds of the patients, paid them every office of charity, and by their short pathetic exhortations disposed them for the last sacraments, and a happy death. The founder had powerful adversaries and great difficulties to struggle with; but by confidence in God he conquered them all. In 1585 his friends hired for him a large house, and the success of his undertaking encouraged him to extend further his pious views; for he ordained that the members of his congregation should bind themselves by the obligation of their institute, to serve persons infected with the plague, prisoners, and those who lie dying in private houses.

Sickness is often the most severe and grievous of all trials, whence the devil made it his last assault in tempting Job.155 It is a time in which a Christian stands in need of the greatest constancy and fortitude; yet through the weakness of nature, is generally the least able to keep his heart united with God, and usually never stands more in need of spiritual comfort and assistance. The state of sickness is always a visitation of God, who by it knocks at the door of our heart, and puts us in mind of death; it is the touchstone of patience, and the school or rather the harvest of penance, resignation, divine love, and every virtue. Yet by a most fatal abuse is this mercy often lost and perverted by sloth, impatience, sensuality, and forwardness. Those who in time of health were backward in exercising fervent acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, &c., in sickness are still more indisposed for practices with which they are unacquainted; and to their grievous misfortune sometimes pastors cannot sufficiently attend them, or have not a suitable address which will give them the key of their hearts, or teach them the art of insinuating into the souls of penitents the heroic sentiments and an interior relish of those essential virtues.

This consideration moved Camillus to make it the chief end of his new establishment, to afford or procure the sick all spiritual succor, discreetly to suggest to them short pathetic acts of compunction and other virtues, to read by them, and to pray for them. For this end he furnished his priests with proper books of devotion, especially on penance and on the sufferings of Christ; and he taught them to have always at hand the most suitable ejaculations extracted from the psalms and other devotions.156 But dying persons were the principal object of our saint’s pious zeal and charity. A man’s last moments are the most precious of his whole life; and are of infinite importance; as on them depends his eternal lot. Then the devil useth his utmost efforts to ruin a soul, and cometh down, having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time.157 The saint therefore redoubled his earnestness to afford every spiritual help to persons who seemed in danger of death. He put them early in mind to settle their temporal concerns, that their thoughts might be afterward employed entirely on the affair of their soul. He advised those friends not to approach them too much, whose sight or immoderate grief could only disturb or afflict them. He disposed them to receive the last sacraments by the most perfect acts of compunction, resignation, faith, hope, and divine love; and he taught them to make death a voluntary sacrifice of themselves to the divine will, and in satisfaction for sin; of which it is the punishment. He instructed them to conjure their blessed Redeemer by the bitter anguish which his divine heart felt in the garden and on the cross, and by his prayer with a loud voice and tears, in which he deserved to be heard for his reverence, that he would show them mercy, and give them the grace to offer up their death in union with his most precious death, and to receive their soul as he with his last breath recommended his own divine soul into the hands of his heavenly Father, and with it those of all his elect to the end of the world. He instituted prayers for all persons in their agony, or who were near their death.

Every one was charmed at so perfect a project of charity, and all admired that such noble views and so great an undertaking should have been reserved to an obscure illiterate person. Pope Sixtus V. confirmed this congregation in 1586, and ordered that it should be governed by a triennial superior. Camillus was the first, and Roger, an Englishman, was one of his first companions. The church of St. Mary Magdalen was bestowed on him for the use of his congregation. In 1588 he was invited to Naples, and with twelve companions founded there a new house. Certain galleys having the plague on board were forbid to enter the harbor. Wherefore these pious Servants of the sick (for that was the name they took) went on board, and attended them; on which occasion two of their number died of the pestilence, and were the first martyrs of charity in this holy institute. St. Camillus showed a like charity in Rome when a pestilential fever swept off great numbers, and again when that city was visited by a violent famine. In 1591 Gregory XV. erected this congregation into a religious Order, with all the privileges of the mendicant Order, and under the obligation of the four vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and perpetually serving the sick, even those infected with the plague; he forbade these religious men to pass to any other Order except that of the Carthusians. Pope Clement VIII. in 1592 and 1600 again confirmed this Order with additional privileges. Indeed the very end of this institution engaged all men to favor it; especially those who considered how many thousands die, even in the midst of priests, without sufficient help in preparing themselves for that dreadful hour which decides their eternity; what superficial confessions, what neglect in acts of contrition, charity, restitution, and other essential duties, are often to be feared; which grievous evils might be frequently remedied by the assiduity of well qualified ministers.

Among many abuses and dangerous evils which the zeal of St. Camillus prevented, his attention to every circumstance relating to the care of dying persons soon made him discover that in hospitals many are buried alive, of which Cicatello relates several examples,158 particularly of one buried in a vault, who was found walking about in it when the next corpse was brought to be there interred. Hence the saint ordered his religious to continue the prayers for souls yet in their agony for a quarter of an hour after they seem to have drawn their last breath, and not to suffer their faces to be covered so soon as is usual, by which means those that are not dead are stifled. This precaution is most necessary in cases of drowning, apoplexies, and such accidents and distempers which arise from mere obstructions or some sudden revolution of humors.159 St. Camillus showed still a far greater solicitude to provide all comforts and assistance for the souls of those that are sick, suggesting frequent short pathetic aspirations, showing them a crucifix, examining their past confessions and present dispositions, and making them exhortations with such unction and fervor that his voice seemed like a shrill trumpet, and pierced the hearts of all who heard him. He encouraged his disciples to these duties with words of fire. He did not love to hear anything spoken unless divine charity made part of the subject; and if he had a sermon in which it was not mentioned, he would call the discourse a gold ring without a stone.

He was himself afflicted with many corporal infirmities, as a sore in his leg for forty-six years; a rupture for thirty-eight years which he got by serving the sick; two callous sores in the sole of one of his feet, which gave him great pain; violent nephritic colics, and for a long time before he died, a loss of appetite. Under this complication of diseases he would not suffer any one to wait on him, but sent all his brethren to serve poor sick persons. When he was not able to stand he would creep out of his bed, even in the night, by the sides of the beds, and crawl from one patient to another to exhort them to acts of virtue, and see if they wanted anything. He slept very little, spending great part of the night in prayer and in serving the sick. He used often to repeat with St. Francis: “So great is the happiness which I hope for, that all pain and suffering is a pleasure.” His friars are not obliged to recite the Church office unless they are in holy Orders; but confess and communicate every Sunday and great holiday, have every day one hour’s meditation, hear mass, and say the litany, beads, and other devotions. The holy founder was most scrupulously exact in every word and ceremony of the holy mass, and of the divine office. He despised himself to a degree that astonished all who knew him. He laid down the generalship in 1607, that he might be more at leisure to serve the poor. He founded religious houses at Bologna, Milan, Genoa, Florence, Ferrara, Messina, Palermo, Mantua, Viterbo, Bocchiano, Theate, Burgonono, Sinuessa, and other places. He had sent several of his friars into Hungary, and to all other places which in his time were afflicted with the plague. When Nola was visited with that calamity in 1600, the bishop constituted Camillus his vicar general, and it is incredible what succors the sick received from him and his companions, of whom five died of that distemper. God testified his approbation of the saint’s zeal by the spirit of prophecy and the gift of miracles, on several occasions, and by many heavenly communications and favors.

He assisted at the fifth general chapter of his Order in Rome in 1613, and after it, with the new general, visited the houses in Lombardy, giving them his last exhortations, which were everywhere received with tears. At Genoa he was extremely ill, but being a little better, duke Doria Tursi sent him in his rich galley to Civita Vecchia, whence he was conveyed in a litter to Rome. He recovered so as to be able to finish the visitation of his hospitals, but soon relapsed, and his life was despaired of by the physicians. Hearing this, he said,—I rejoice in what hath been told me: We shall go into the house of the Lord. He received the viaticum from the hands of cardinal Ginnasio, protector of his Order, and said with many tears,—“O Lord, I confess I am the most wretched of sinners, most undeserving of thy favor; but save me by thy infinite goodness. My hope is placed in thy divine mercy through thy precious blood.” Though he had lived in the greatest purity of conscience ever since his conversion, he had been accustomed to go every day to confession with great compunction and many tears. When he received the extreme unction he made a moving exhortation to his religious brethren, and having foretold that he should die that evening, he expired on the 14th of July, 1614, being sixty-five years one month and twenty days old. He was buried near the high altar in St. Mary Magdalen’s church; but upon the miracles which were authentically approved, his remains were taken up and laid under the altar; they were enshrined after he was beatified in 1742, and in 1746 he was solemnly canonized by Benedict XIV. See the life of St. Camillus by Cicatello his disciple, and the acts of his canonization with those of SS. Fidelis of Sigmaringa, Peter Regalati, Joseph of Leonissa, and St. Catharine de Ricci, printed at Rome in 1749, p. 10, 65, and 529, and Bullar. Rom. t. 16, p. 88. Heylot, Hist. des Ordres Relig. t. 4, p. 263.


Was a worthy disciple of St. Patrick, by whom he was baptized. He is often invoked in the old Irish prayer in verse which bears the name of St. Moling. See Colgan in MSS.



From his authentic life, published by Surius and D’Andilly, and from the historians Sigebert, Glaber, Dithmar, Lambert of Aschaffenburg, Leo Urbevetanus in his double chronicle of the popes and emperors, in Deliciæ Eruditor. t. 1 and 2. Aventin’s Annals of Bavaria, &c.

A. D. 1024.

St. Henry, surnamed the Pious and the Lame, was son of Henry, duke of Bavaria, and of Gisella, daughter of Conrad, king of Burgundy, and was born in 972. He was descended from Henry, Duke of Bavaria, son of the emperor Henry the Fowler, and brother of Otho the Great, consequently our saint was near akin to the three first Emperors who bore the name of Otho. St. Wolfgang, the Bishop of Ratisbon, being a prelate the most eminent in all Germany for learning, piety, and zeal, our young prince was put under his tuition, and by his excellent instructions and example he made from his infancy wonderful progress in learning and in the most perfect practice of Christian virtue. The death of his dear master and spiritual guide, which happened in 994, was to him a most sensible affliction. In the following year he succeeded his father in the duchy of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin Otho III. he was chosen emperor.160 He was the same year crowned king of Germany at Mentz, by the archbishop of that city. He had always before his eyes the extreme dangers to which they are exposed who move on the precipice of power, and that all human things are like edifices of sand, which every breath of time threatens to overturn or deface; he studied the extent and importance of the obligations which attended his dignity; and by the assiduous practice of humiliations, prayer, and pious meditation, he maintained in his heart the necessary spirit of humility and holy fear, and was enabled to bear the tide of prosperity and honor with a constant evenness of temper. Sensible of the end for which alone he was exalted by God to the highest temporal dignity, he exerted his most strenuous endeavors to promote in all things the divine honor, the exaltation of the Church, and the peace and happiness of his people.

Soon after his accession to the throne he resigned the dukedom of Bavaria, which he bestowed on his brother-in-law Henry, surnamed Senior. He procured a national council of the bishops of all his dominions, which was assembled at Dortmund, in Westphalia, in 1005, in order to regulate many points of discipline; and to enforce a strict observance of the holy canons. It was owing to his zeal that many provincial synods were also held for the same purpose in several parts of the empire. He was himself present at that of Frankfort in 1006, and at another of Bamberg in 1011. The protection he owed his subjects engaged him sometimes in wars, in all which he was successful. By his prudence, courage, and clemency, he stifled a rebellion at home in the beginning of his reign, and without striking a stroke compelled the malecontents to lay down their arms at his feet, which when they had done he received them into favor. Two years after he quelled another rebellion in Italy, when Ardovinus or Hardwic, a Lombard lord, had caused himself to be crowned king at Milan. This nobleman, after his defeat, made his submission, and obtained his pardon. When he had afterward revolted a second time, the emperor marched again into Italy, vanquished him in battle, and deprived him of his territories, but did not take away his life, and Ardovinus became a monk. After this second victory, St. Henry went in triumph to Rome, where, in 1014, he was crowned emperor with great solemnity by pope Benedict VIII. On that occasion, to give a proof of his devotion to the holy see, he confirmed to it, by an ample diploma, the donation made by several former emperors, of the sovereignty of Rome and the exarchate of Ravenna:161 and after a short stay at Rome, took leave of the pope, and in his return to Germany kept the Easter holydays at Pavia; then he visited the monastery of Cluni, on which he bestowed the imperial globe of gold which the pope had given him, and a gold crown enriched with precious stones. He paid his devotions in other monasteries on the road, leaving in every one of them some rich monument of his piety and liberality. But the most acceptable offering which he made to God was the fervor and purity of affection with which he renewed the consecration of his soul to God in all places where he came, especially at the foot of the altars. Travelling through Liege and Tries he arrived at Bamberg, in which city he had lately founded a rich episcopal see, and had built a most stately cathedral in honor of St. Peter, which pope John XVIII. took a journey into Germany to consecrate in 1019. The emperor obtained of this pope, by an honorable embassy, the confirmation of this and all his other pious foundations. For he built and endowed other churches with the two monasteries at Bamberg, and made the like foundations in several other places; thus extending his zealous views to promote the divine honor and the relief of the poor to the end of time. Bruno, bishop of Ausburg, the emperor’s brother, Henry, duke of Bavaria, and other relations of the saint complained loudly that he employed his patrimony on such religious foundations, and the duke of Bavaria and some others took up arms against him in 1010; but he defeated them in the field; then pardoned the princes engaged in the revolt, and restored to them Bavaria and their other territories which he had seized.

The idolatrous inhabitants of Poland and Sclavonia had some time before laid waste the diocess of Meersburg, and destroyed that and several other churches. St. Henry marched against those barbarous nations, and having put his army under the protection of the holy martyrs St. Laurence, St. George, and St. Adrian, who are said to have been seen in the battle fighting before him, he defeated the infidels. He had made a vow to re-establish the see of Meersburg in case he obtained the victory, and he caused all his army to communicate the day before the battle which was fought near that city. The barbarians were seized with a panic fear in the beginning of the action, and submitted at discretion. The princes of Bohemia rebelled, but were easily brought back to their duty. The victorious emperor munificently repaired and restored the episcopal sees of Hildesheim, Magdeburg, Strasburg, Misnia, and Meersburg, and made all Poland, Bohemia, and Moravia tributary to the empire. He procured holy preachers to be sent to instruct the Bohemians and Polanders in the faith. Those have been mistaken who pretend that St. Henry converted St. Stephen, king of Hungary; for that prince was born of Christian parents. But our saint promoted his zealous endeavors, and had a great share in his apostolic undertakings for the conversion of his people.

The protection of Christendom, and especially of the holy see, obliged St. Henry to lead an army to the extremity of Italy,162 where he vanquished the conquering Saracens, with their allies the Greeks, and drove them out of Italy, left a governor in the provinces which he had recovered, and suffered the Normans to enjoy the territories which they had then wrested from the infidels, but restrained them from turning their arms towards Naples or Benevento. He came back by Mount Cassino, and was honorably received at Rome; but during his stay in that city, by a painful contraction of the sinews in his thigh, became lame and continued so till his death. He passed by Cluni, and in the duchy of Luxemburg had an interview with Robert, king of France, son and successor of Hugh Capet.163 It had been agreed that, to avoid all disputes of pre-eminence, the two princes should hold their conference in boats on the river Meuse, which as Glaber writes, was at that time the boundary that parted their dominions. But Henry, impatient to embrace and cement a friendship with that great and virtuous king, paid the first visit to Robert in his tent, and afterward received him in his own. A war had broken out between these two princes in 1006, and Henry gave the French a great overthrow; but being desirous only to govern his dominions in peace, he entered into negotiations which produced a lasting peace. In this interview, which was held in 1023, the conference of the two princes turned on the most important affairs of Church and State, and on the best means of advancing piety, religion, and the welfare of their subjects. After the most cordial demonstrations of sincere friendship they took leave of each other, and St. Henry proceeded to Verdun and Metz. He made frequent progresses through his dominions only to promote piety, enrich all the churches, relieve the poor, make a strict inquiry into all public disorders and abuses, and prevent unjust usurpations and oppressions. He desired to have no other heir on earth but Christ in his members, and wherever he went he spread the odor of his piety, and his liberalities on the poor.

It is incredible how attentive he was to the smallest affairs amidst the multiplicity of business which attends the government of the state; nothing seemed to escape him; and whilst he was most active and vigilant in every duty which he owed to the public, he did not forget that the care of his own soul and the regulation of his interior was his first and most essential obligation. He was sensible that pride and vain-glory are the most dangerous of all vices, and that they are the most difficult to be discovered, and the last that are vanquished in the spiritual warfare; that humility is the very foundation of all true virtue, and our progress in it the measure of our advancement in Christian perfection. Therefore the higher he was exalted in worldly honors the more did he study to humble himself, and it is said of him, that never was greater humility seen under a diadem. He loved those persons best who most freely put him in mind of his mistakes, and these he was always most ready to confess, and to make for them the most ample reparation. Through misinformations, he for some time harbored coldness toward Saint Herebert archbishop of Cologne; but discovering the innocence and sanctity of that prelate, he fell at his feet, and would not rise till he had received his absolution and pardon. He banished flatterers from his presence, calling them the greatest pests of courts; for none can put such as affront on a man’s judgment and modesty, as to praise him to his face, but the base and most wicked of interested and designing men, who make use of this artifice to insinuate themselves into the favor of a prince, to abuse his weakness and credulity, and to make him the dupe of their injustices. He who listens to them exposes himself to many misfortunes and crimes, to the danger of the most foolish pride and vain-glory, and to the ridicule and scorn of his flatterers themselves; for a vanity that can publicly hear its own praises, openly unmasks itself to its confusion. The emperor Sigismund giving a flatterer a blow on the face, called his fulsome praise the greatest insult that had ever been offered him. St. Henry was raised by religion and humility above this abjectness of soul which reason itself teaches us to abhor and despise. By the assiduous mortification of the senses he kept his passions in subjection. For pleasure, unless we are guarded against its assaults, steals upon us by insensible degrees, smooths its passage to the heart by a gentle and insinuating address, and softens and disarms the soul of all its strength. Nor is it possible for us to triumph over unlawful sensual delights, unless we moderate and practise frequent self-denials with regard to lawful gratifications. The love of the world is a no less dangerous enemy, especially amidst honors and affluence; and created objects have this quality that they first seduce the heart, and then blind the understanding. By conversing always in heaven, St. Henry raised his affections so much above the earth as to escape this snare.

Prayer seemed the chief delight and support of his soul; especially the public office of the Church. Assisting one day at this holy function at Strasburg, he so earnestly desired to remain always there to sing the divine praises among the devout canons of that Church, that, finding this impossible, he founded there a new canonry for one who should always perform that sacred duty in his name. In this spirit of devotion it has been established that the kings of France are canons of Strasburg, Lyons, and some other places; as in the former place the emperors, in the latter the dukes of Burgundy, were before them. The holy sacrament of the altar and sacrifice of the mass were the object of St. Henry’s most tender devotion. The blessed Mother of God he honored as his chief patroness, and among other exercises by which he recommended himself to her intercession, it was his custom, upon coming to any town, to spend a great part of the first night in watching and prayer in some church dedicated to God under her name, as at Rome in St. Mary Major. He had a singular devotion to the good angels and to all the saints. Though he lived in the world so as to be perfectly disengaged from it in heart and affection, it was his earnest desire entirely to renounce it long before his death, and he intended to pitch upon the abbey of St. Vanne, at Verdun, for the place of his retirement. But he was diverted from carrying this project into execution, by the advice of Richard the holy abbot of that house.164 He had married St. Cunegonda, but lived with her in perpetual chastity, to which they had mutually bound themselves by vow. It happened that the empress was falsely accused of incontinency, and St. Henry was somewhat moved by the slander; but she cleared herself by her oath, and by the ordeal trials, walking over twelve red hot plough-shares without hurt. Her husband severely condemned himself for his credulity, and made her the most ample satisfaction. In his last illness he recommended her to her relations and friends, declaring that he left her an untouched virgin. His health decayed some years before his death, which happened at the castle of Grone, near Halberstadt, in 1024, on the 14th of July, toward the end of the fifty-second year of his life; he having reigned twenty-two years from his election, and ten years and five months from his coronation at Rome. His body was interred in the cathedral at Bamberg with the greatest pomp, and with the unfeigned tears of all his subjects. The great number of miracles by which God was pleased to declare his glory in heaven, procured his canonization, which was performed by Eugenius III., in 1152. His festival is kept on the day following that of his death.165

Those who by honors, dignities, riches, or talents are raised by God in the world above the level of their fellow-creatures, have a great stewardship, and a most rigorous account to give at the bar of divine justice, their very example having a most powerful influence over others. This St. Fulgentius observed, writing to Theodorus, a pious Roman senator,166—“Though,” said he, “Christ died for all men, yet the perfect conversion of the great ones of the world brings great acquisitions to the kingdom of Christ. And they who are placed in high stations must necessarily be to very many an occasion of eternal perdition or of salvation. And as they cannot go alone, so either a high degree of glory or an extraordinary punishment will be their everlasting portion.”


He was by birth a noble English Saxon, but born in the southern part of Scotland; for Lothian and the rest of the Lowlands as far as Edinburgh Frith belonged for several ages to the Northumbrian English. Having received holy orders in his own country he made a pilgrimage to Rome, whence he returned home enriched with holy relics. Some time after, in company with the holy bishop St. Wiro, and St. Otger a deacon, he passed into those parts of Lower Germany which had not then received the light of faith. Having obtained the protection of Pepin, mayor of the palace in Austrasia, he converted the country now called Guelderland, Cleves, Juliers, and several neighboring provinces lying chiefly between the Rhine, the Wahal, and the Meuse. When he had planted the gospel there with great success he retired to St. Peter’s Mount near Ruremund, but continued to make frequent missions among the remaining infidels. Prince Pepin, who though he had formerly fallen into adultery, led afterward a penitential and Christian holy life, went every year from his castle of Herstal to confess his sins to his holy pastor after the death of St. Wiro, which the author of St. Plechelm’s life relates in the following words.167 “Pepin, the king of the French (that is, mayor with royal authority), had him in great veneration, and every year, in the beginning of Lent, having laid aside his purple, went from his palace barefoot to the said mount of Peter where the saint lived, and took his advice how he ought to govern his kingdom according to the holy will and law of God, and by what means he might promote the faith of Christ and every advantage of virtue. There also having made the confession of his sins to the high priest of the Lord, and received penance, he washed away with his tears the offences which through human frailty he had contracted.” F. Bosch, the Bollandist, observes, this prince must have been Pepin, surnamed of Herstal, or the Fat, who, though he never enjoyed the title of king, reigned in Austrasia with regal power, and with equal piety and valor. He died in 714, in the castle of Jopil on the Meuse, near Liege, which was his paternal estate, St. Pepin of Landen his grandfather being son of Carloman, the first mayor of his family, grandson of Charles count of Hesbay near Liege, the descendant of Ferreol, formerly præfectus-prætorio of the Gauls. St. Plechelm survived Pepin of Herstel seventeen years, is called by Bollandus bishop of Oldenzel and Ruremund, and died on the 15th of July, 732. He was buried in our lady’s chapel in the church, on the mountain of St. Peter, now called of St. Odilia, near Ruremund. His relics were honored with many miracles. The principal portion of them is now possessed by the collegiate church of Oldenzel, in the province of Over-Yssel, part at Ruremund. His name is famous in the Belgic and other Martyrologies. His ancient life testifies that he was ordained bishop in his own country before he undertook a missionary life. Bede, in the year 731, mentions Pechthelm, who having been formerly a disciple of St. Aldhelm, in the kingdom of the West-Saxons, returning to his own country was ordained bishop to preach the gospel with more authority. He afterward fixed his see at Candida Casa, now a parliamentary town of Galloway in Scotland, called Whitehorn. The Bollandists in several parts of their work contend this Pechthelm to have been a different person from St. Plechelm, whom Stilting demonstrates to have been at Mount St. Peter, whilst the other, somewhat elder according to Bede, was in North-Britain at Candida Casa; though Antony Pagi168 and the author of Batavia Sacra endeavor to prove him, against F. Bosch and his colleagues, to have been the same. See his authentic life with the remarks of Bollandus and his colleagues, Julij, t. 4, p. 58, and Batavia Sacra, p. 50.169



This city had been famous in the time of the Romans and a station of their troops, being called by Ptolemy and Antoninus, Venta. It became afterwards the chief seat of the West-Saxon kings. Among these, Kynegils, having received the faith about the year 635, gave to St. Birinus the city of Dorcester for his episcopal see, but founded a church at Winchester, which was dedicated by St. Birinus to St. Peter, according to the Saxon Chronicle, or to the Holy Trinity, according to Thomas Rudburn. Wini, the third bishop of the West-Saxons, fixed his see at Winchester, and this church became one of the most flourishing cathedrals of all Britain. St. Swithun, called in the original Saxon language Swithum, received in this church the clerical tonsure, and put on the monastic habit in the Old Monastery, which had been founded by king Kynegils. He was of noble parentage, passed his youth in innocent simplicity, and in the study of grammar, philosophy, and the holy scriptures. He was an accomplished model of all virtues when he was promoted to holy orders by Helinstan or Helmstan, bishop of Winchester.

Being ordained priest, he was made provost or dean of the Old Monastery. His learning, piety, and prudence, moved Egbert, king of the West-Saxons, to make him his priest, under which title the saint subscribed a charter granted to the abbey of Croyland in 833. That great prince committed to his care the education of his son Ethelwolf, and made use of his counsels in the government of his kingdom. A degeneracy of manners had crept into the courts of the Merceians and Northumbrians, and their government was weakened by intestine divisions and several revolutions. Egbert having first vanquished Swithred, king of the East-Saxons, and added his kingdom to his own, upon several provocations, invaded Mercia, and conquered it in 823, but soon after restored Withlaf, whom he had expelled, to the throne of that kingdom on condition he should hold the crown of him, and pay him an annual tribute. He treated in the same manner Eandred, the last king of the Northumbers, and made him tributary, after he had with a great army laid waste that province. The kingdom of the East Angles submitted to him about the same time with Mercia, with which it had been long engaged in war and was thereby reduced to extreme poverty. Kent being at that time tributary to Mercia, it fell also to the share of the conqueror. After this, Egbert assembled all the great men of his kingdom, both clergy and laity, in a council at Winchester, in which he enacted that this kingdom should ever after be called England, and all his subjects Englishmen. At the same time he was again crowned, and from that year, 829, was styled king of England. Thus were the names of Saxons and Jutes abolished among us, and an end was put to the heptarchy, or division of this nation into seven kingdoms, which began to be formed by Hengist in 457, when he took the title of king, seven years after his arrival in this island, in 449. Towards the latter end of Egbert’s reign the Danes first began to infest England. This general name historians give to those shoals of pirates which were composed not only of Danes, but also of Norwegians, Goths, Sweones or Swedes, and Vandals, as Eginhard, Henry of Huntingdon, and others assure us.170

King Egbert reigned thirty-seven years over the West Saxons, and nine years over all England, dying in the year 838, or according to others in 837. Ethelwolf, his only surviving son, had been educated in piety and learning under the care of St. Swithin, then provost of the Old Monastery in Winchester,171 and had been ordained subdeacon by bishop Helmstan, as Rudburn, Huntingdon, and others relate. But upon the death of his elder brother, whose name is not known, he was dispensed with by pope Leo to marry, and returning again to a secular life, helped his father in his wars, and after his death was advanced to the throne. He married Osberge, a lady of remarkable piety, and had four sons by her, Ethelbald, Ethelbright, Ethelred, and Alfred. He governed his kingdom by the prudent advice of Alstan, bishop of Shirborne, in temporal affairs; and by that of St. Swithin in ecclesiastical matters, especially those which concerned his own soul. And though the king was of a slow disposition, yet by the assistance of these worthy counsellors, he reigned prudently and happily; the Danes were often repulsed, and many noble designs for the good of the Church and state were begun, and prosperously executed. Bearing always the greatest reverence to St. Swithin, whom he called his master and teacher, he procured him, upon the death of Helmstan, to be chosen bishop of Winchester, to which see he was consecrated by Ceolnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, in 852. Herne has given us the profession of faith which he made on that occasion, according to custom, in the hands of the archbishop.172 William of Malmesbury says, that though this good bishop was a rich treasure of all virtues, those in which he took most delight were humility and charity to the poor; and in the discharge of his episcopal functions he omitted nothing belonging to a true pastor. He built divers churches, and repaired others; and made his journeys on foot, accompanied with his clerks, and often by night to avoid ostentation. Being to dedicate any church, he with all humility used to go barefoot to the place. His feasting was not with the rich, but with the needy and the poor. His mouth was always open to invite sinners to repentance, and to admonish those that stood to beware of falling. He was most severe to himself, and abstemious in his diet, never eating to satisfy his appetite, but barely to sustain nature; and as to sleep, he admitted no more than what after long watching and much labor was absolutely necessary. He was always delighted with psalms and spiritual canticles, and in conversation would bear no discourse but what tended to edification.

By his counsel and advice king Ethelwolf, in a Mycel synod or great council of the nation in 854, enacted a new law by which he gave the tithes or tenth part of his land throughout the kingdom to the Church, exempt and free from all taxations and burthens, with an obligation of prayers in all churches for ever for his own soul, on every Wednesday, &c. This charter, to give it a more sacred sanction, he offered on the altar of St. Peter at Rome in the pilgrimage which he made to that city in 855. He likewise procured it to be confirmed by the pope.173 He carried with him to Rome his youngest and best beloved son Alfred, rebuilt there the school for the English, and ordered to be sent every year to Rome one hundred mancuses174 for the pope, one hundred for the church of St. Peter, and as much for that of St. Paul, to furnish them with lights on Easter Eve. He extended the Romescot or Peter-pence to his whole kingdom. He reigned two years after his return from Rome, and died in 857. He ordained, that throughout all his own hereditary lands, every ten families shall maintain one poor person with meat, drink, and apparel; from whence came the Corrodies which still remain in divers places. St. Swithin departed to eternal bliss, which he had always thirsted after, on the 2d of July, 862, in the reign of king Ethelbert. His body was buried, according to his order, in the church-yard, where his grave might be trodden on by passengers.

About one hundred years after, in the days of king Edgar, his relics were taken up by St. Ethelwold, then bishop of Winchester, and translated into the church in 964. On which occasion Malmesbury affirms that such a number of miraculous cures of all kinds were wrought, as was never to the memory of man known to have been in any other place. Lanfrid, in the original Saxon Lantfred, called by Leland all illustrious doctor, being then a monk at Winchester, wrote, in 980, a history of this translation, and of the miraculous cures of a blind man, and many others through the intercession of this saint; which history has never been printed; though we have two beautiful fair manuscript copies of it, the one in the Cotton, the other in the king’s library in the enclosure of Westminster Abbey.175 In the reign of William the Conqueror, Walkelyn, bishop of Winchester, a Norman, and the king’s relation, laid the foundation of the new church in 1079, which he lived to finish with the abbey, so that in 1093, the monks, in the presence of almost all the bishops and abbots of England, came in great joy from the old to the new monastery, and on the feast of St. Swithin, the shrine of this saint was in another solemn procession translated from the old to the new church; and on the next day the bishop’s men began to demolish the old abbey. William of Wickham, the celebrated chancellor of England in the reign of Edward III. and founder of a great college in Oxford, in 1379, added the nave and west front to this cathedral which is now standing. This church was first dedicated to the Holy Trinity under the patronage of St. Peter; afterward by St. Ethelwold, in presence of king Etheldred, St. Dunstan, and eight other bishops, to St. Swithin, as Rudburn relates, in 980.176 King Henry VIII. in 1540, commanded this cathedral to be called no longer St. Swithin’s, but of the Holy Trinity.177

St. Swithin is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 2d of July, which was the day of his death; but his chief festival in England was on the 15th of the same month, the day of the translation of his relics. See the calendar prefixed to the chronicle entitled Scala Mundi in a fair MS. in folio in the library of the English college at Douay; also the Sarum Breviary and Missal. An arm of St. Swithin was kept in the abbey of Peterborough, as is mentioned by Hugh Candidus or White, in his accurate history of that monastery, published by Mr. Spark, p. 1723. The abbey of Hyde was first built within the precincts of the cathedral by king Edward the Elder, in pursuance of his father Alfred’s will, for secular canons, over whom St. Grimbald was intended to preside, had not his death prevented it. These canons, after sixty years’ continuance, yielded this church to the monks whom, in 964, St. Ethelwold brought in; from which time this abbey was called Newminster till it was translated by king Henry I. and the bishop William Giffard, to a place near the walls of the city called Hyde. Of this magnificent abbey not so much as the walls are left standing, though in it lay the remains of king Edward, his son Alfred, his daughter St. Eadburga, &c. Its church was dedicated to the Holy Trinity, St. Peter, and St. Grimbald. See the short life of St. Swithin, written by Wolstan, a monk of Winchester, dedicated to St. Elphege, then bishop of that city, in 1001, but translated to Canterbury in 1006. It is published by Mabillon, sæc. 5, Ben. p. 628. See also Malmesbury, t. 2, de Pontif. Robert of Glocester’s Chronicle in verse, published by Mr. Herne. Thomas Rudburn, Historia Major Wintoniensis, published by Wharton, t. 1, p. 200. Lord Clarendon, and Sam. Gale, On the Antiquities of Winchester, and Pinius the Bollandist, t. 1, Julij, ad diem 2, p. 321. Also S. Swithuni vita et miracula per Lamfridum monachum Winton. MSS. in Bibl. Regia Londini, xv. c. vii. 1.




From St. Athanasius, Sozomen, Theodoret, l. 1, Hist. c. 6, St. Jerom, in Catal. c. 85. See Tillem. t. 7, p. 21, Ceillier, t. 4, and the Bollandists, Bosch in his Life, t. 4, Jul. p. 130, and Solier in Hist. Chron. Patr. Antioch, ante, t. 4, Jul. p. 35.

A. D. 338.

St. Eustathius was a native of Sida in Pamphylia, and with heroic constancy confessed the faith of Christ before the pagan persecutors, as St. Athanasius assures us,178 though it does not appear whether this happened under Dioclesian or Licinius. He was learned, eloquent, and eminently endowed with all virtue, especially an ardent zeal for the purity of our holy faith. Being made bishop of Beræa in Syria he began in that obscure see to be highly considered in the Church, insomuch that St. Alexander of Alexandria wrote to him in particular against Arius and his impious writings, in 323. St. Philogonius, bishop of Antioch, a prelate illustrious for his confession of the faith, in the persecution of Licinius, died in 323. One Paulinus succeeded him, but seems a man not equal to the functions of that high station; for, during the short time he governed that church, tares began to grow up among the good seed. To root these out, when that dignity became again vacant, in 324, the zeal and abilities of St. Eustathius were called for, and he was accordingly translated to this see, in dignity the next to Alexandria, and the third in the world. He vigorously opposed the motion, but was compelled to acquiesce. Indeed, translations of bishops, if made without cogent reasons of necessity, become, to many, dangerous temptations of ambition and avarice, and open a door to those fatal vices into the sanctuary. To put a bar to this evil, St. Eustathius, in the same year, assisting at the general council of Nice, zealously concurred with his fellow bishops to forbid for the time to come all removals of bishops from one see to another.179 The new patriarch distinguished himself in that venerable assembly by his zeal against Arianism. Soon after his return to Antioch he held a council there to unite his church, which he found divided by factions. He was very strict and severe in examining into the characters of those whom he admitted into the clergy, and he constantly rejected all those whose principles, faith, or manners appeared suspected: among whom were several who became afterward ringleaders of Arianism. Amidst his external employs for the service of others, he did not forget that charity must always begin at home, and he labored in the first place to sanctify his own soul; but after watering his own garden he did not confine the stream there, but let it flow abroad to enrich the neighboring soil, and to dispense plenty and fruitfulness all around. He sent into other diocesses that were subject to his patriarchate, men capable of instructing and encouraging the faithful. Eusebius, archbishop of Cæsarea, in Palestine (which church was, in some measure, subject to Antioch), favored the new heresy in such a manner as to alarm the zeal of our saint.180 This raised a violent storm against him.

Eusebius of Nicomedia laid a deep plot with his Arian friends to remove St. Eustathius from Antioch, who had attacked Eusebius of Cæsarea, and accused him of altering the Nicene Creed. Hereupon, Eusebius of Nicomedia, pretending a great desire to see the city of Jerusalem, set out in great state, taking with him his confidant, Theognis of Nice. At Jerusalem they met Eusebius of Cæsarea, Patrophilus of Scythopolis, Aëtius of Lydda, Theodotus of Laodicea, and several others, all of the Arian faction; who returned with them to Antioch. There they assembled together, as in a Synod, in 331, and a debauched woman, whom the Arians had suborned, coming in, showed a child which she suckled at her breast, and declared that she had it by Eustathius. The saint protested his innocence, and alleged that the apostle forbids a priest to be condemned unless convicted by two or more witnesses. This woman, before her death, after a long illness, called in a great number of the clergy, and publicly declared to them the innocence of the holy bishop, and confessed that the Arians had given her money for this action, pretending that no perjury was implied in her oath, upon the frivolous and foolish plea that she had the child by a brazier of the city called Eustathius.181 The Arians accused him also of Sabellianism, as Socrates and others testify; this being their general charge and slander against all who professed the orthodox faith.

The Catholic bishops who were present with Eustathius, cried out loudly against the injustice of these proceedings, but could not be heard, and the Arians pronounced a sentence of deposition against the saint; and Eusebius of Nicomedia and Theognis hastened to inform the emperor Constantine of these proceedings. The Arian bishops invited Eusebius of Cæsarea to exchange his see for the patriarchal chair of Antioch, but he alleged the prohibition of the canons; and the emperor Constantine commended his modesty by a letter which Eusebius has inserted in his life of that prince.182 We should have been more edified with his humility had this circumstance been only recorded by others.183 This happened, not in 340, as Baronius and Petavius imagine, but in 330 or 331, as is manifest not only from the testimony of Socrates, Sozomen, Theodoret, and Philostorgius, but also from several circumstances of the affair.184 The people of Antioch raised a great sedition on this occasion, but the emperor Constantine, being prepossessed by the slanders of the two bishops, ordered St. Eustathius to repair to Constantinople, and thence sent him into banishment. The holy pastor assembled the people before his departure from Antioch, and exhorted them to remain steadfast in the true doctrine: which exhortations were of great weight in preserving many in the Catholic faith. St. Eustathius was banished with several priests and deacons first into Thrace, as St. Jerome and St. Chrysostom testify, and from thence into Illyricum, as Theodoret adds. Socrates and Sozomen confound him with a priest of Constantinople of the same name, when they tell us he was recalled by Jovian, and survived till the year 370: for St. Eustathius died thirty years before St. Meletius was advanced to the see of Antioch in 360, as Theodoret testifies. Nor was he mentioned in the council of Sardica, or in any of the disputes that followed; and our best critics and historians conclude him to have been dead in 337. Philippi, in Macedon, which, in the division of the empire into diocesses, was comprised in that of Illyricum, was the place of his death,185 but his body was interred at Trajanopolis, in Thrace, from which city Calandion, one of his successors, caused it to be translated to Antioch, about the year 482, as Theodorus Lector informs us.186

St. Eustathius bore his exile with patience and perfect submission, and was under its disgraces and hardships greater and more glorious than whilst his zeal and other virtues shone with the brightest lustre on the patriarchal throne. We may please ourselves in those actions in which we seem to be something; into which, however, self-love, under a thousand forms, easily insinuates itself. But the maxims of our Divine Redeemer teach us that no circumstances are so happy for the exercise of the most heroic virtue as humiliations and distresses when sent by Providence. These put our love to the test, apply the remedy to the very root of our spiritual disorders, employ the most perfect virtues of meekness, forgiveness, and patience, and call forth our resignation, humility, and reliance on Providence; in these trials we learn most perfectly to die to our passions, to know ourselves, to feel our own nothingness and miseries, and with St. Paul to take pleasure in our infirmities. Here all virtue is more pure and perfect. A Christian suffering with patience and joy, bears in spirit the nearest resemblance to his crucified Master, and enters deepest into his most perfect sentiments of humility, meekness, and love; for Jesus on his cross is the model by which his disciples are bound to form themselves, which they nowhere can do with greater advantage than when they are in a like state of desolation and suffering.


In the isle of Jersey and on the coasts of Normandy the name of this servant of God has been in singular veneration from the time of his happy death. He was converted to the faith by St. Marcou, a holy abbot in Armorica, and being inflamed with an ardent desire of serving God in the practice of perfect virtue; retired into the isle of Jersey, and choosing for his abode a cave on the summit of a rock of difficult access, there led an eremitical life in rigorous fasting and assiduous prayer. In this lonely retreat he was murdered by robbers or infidel barbarians. The chief town in the island, which is situate seven leagues from Cotentin, bears his name. The dean of the island is still invited to all diocesan synods of Coutances, the island having been formerly subject to the spiritual jurisdiction of that see. See the new Martyrology of Evreux; Piganiol, Descrip. de la France, t. 9, p. 557. The acts of S. Helier, in the Bollandists, 16 Julij, and of S. Marcou, 1 Maij. Also Trigan, Hist. de Normandie, l. 3, p. 91, l. 4, p. 124. The Breviaries of Coutances and Rennes, and that of the Cistercian abbey of Beaubec, in the diocess of Rouen, which is possessed of his relics.



From Joseph the Younger, in a poem of the ninth age, divided into Odes, an anonymous writer of his Life in the tenth century, noted by the Bollandists, a homily of St. Adalbert, bishop of Prague, and martyr, of the same age, and from other monuments, free from later interpolations; on all which see Pinius the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 239, who confutes at large the groundless and inconsistent surmises of Baillet. Above all, see Nerinio, abbot of the Hieronymites at Rome, who has fully vindicated the memory of St. Alexius in his Dissertation De Templo et Cœnobio, SS. Bonifacii et Alexii, in 4to. Romæ, 1752. On his Chaldaic Acts, see Jos. Assemani, ad 17 Martii, in Calend. Univ. t. 6, p. 187, 189; and Bibl. Orient. t. 1, p. 401.


St. Alexius or Alexis is a perfect model of the most generous contempt of the world. He was the only son of a rich senator of Rome, born and educated in that capital, in the fifth century. From the charitable example of his pious parents he learned, from his tender years, that the riches which are given away to the poor, remain with us for ever; and that alms-deeds are a treasure transferred to heaven, with the interest of an immense reward. And whilst yet a child, not content to give all he could, he left nothing unattempted to compass or solicit the relief of all whom he saw in distress. But the manner in which he dealt about his liberal alms was still a greater proof of the noble sentiments of virtue with which his soul was fired; for by this he showed that he thought himself most obliged to those who received his charity, and regarded them as his greatest benefactors. The more he enlarged his views of eternity, and raised his thoughts and desires to the bright scene of immortal bliss, the more did he daily despise all earthly toys; for, when once the soul is thus upon the wing, and soars upwards, how does the glory of this world lessen in her eye! and how does she contemn the empty pageantry of all that worldlings call great!

Fearing lest the fascination, or at least the distraction of temporal honors might at length divide or draw his heart too much from those only noble and great objects, he entertained thoughts of renouncing the advantages of his birth, and retiring from the more dangerous part of the world. Having, in compliance with the will of his parents, married a rich and virtuous lady, he on the very day of the nuptials, making use of the liberty which the laws of God and his Church give a person before the marriage be consummated, of preferring a more perfect state, secretly withdrew, in order to break all the ties which held him in the world. In disguise he travelled into a distant country, embraced extreme poverty, and resided in a hut adjoining to a church dedicated to the Mother of God. Being, after some time there, discovered to be a stranger of distinction, he returned home, and being received as a poor pilgrim, lived some time unknown in his father’s house, bearing the contumely and ill treatment of the servants with invincible patience and silence. A little before he died, he by a letter discovered himself to his parents. He flourished in the reign of the emperor Honorius, Innocent the first being bishop of Rome; and is honored in the calendars of the Latins, Greeks, Syrians, Maronites, and Armenians. His interment was celebrated with the greatest pomp by the whole city of Rome, on the Aventin hill. His body was found there in 1216, in the ancient church of St. Boniface, whilst Honorius III. sat in St. Peter’s chair, and at this day is the most precious treasure of a sumptuous church on the same spot, which bears his name jointly with that of St. Boniface, gives title to a cardinal, and is in the hands of the Hieronymites.

The extraordinary paths in which the Holy Ghost is pleased sometimes to conduct certain privileged souls are rather to be admired than imitated. If it cost them so much to seek humiliations, how diligently ought we to make a good use of those at least which providence sends us! It is only by humbling ourselves on all occasions that we can walk in the path of true humility, and root out of our hearts all secret pride. The poison of this vice infects all states and conditions: it often lurks undiscovered in the foldings of the heart even after a man has got the mastery over all his other passions. Pride always remains even for the most perfect principally to fight against; and unless we watch continually against it, nothing will remain sound or untainted in our lives; this vice will creep even into our best actions, infect the whole circle of our lives, and become a main spring of all the motions of our heart; and what is the height of our misfortune, the deeper its wounds are, the more is the soul stupified by its venom, and the less capable is she of feeling her most grievous disease and spiritual death. St. John Climacus writes,187 that when a young novice was rebuked for his pride, he said: “Pardon me, father, I am not proud.” To whom the experienced director replied: “And how could you give me a surer proof of your pride than by not seeing it yourself?”



When the emperor Severus returned victorious from having vanquished the kings who had taken part with Nigar against him, he published his cruel edicts against the Christians in the year of Christ 202, the tenth of his reign. But the general laws of the empire against foreign religions, and the former edicts of several emperors against the Christians, were a sufficient warrant to many governors to draw the sword against them before that time; and we find that the persecution was very hot in Africa two years before, under the proconsul Saturninus, in the eighth year of Severus and two hundredth of Christ. The first who suffered at Carthage were twelve persons, commonly called the Scillitan Martyrs, probably because they were of Scillita, a town of the proconsular Africa. They were brought prisoners to Carthage, and on the 16th of July were presented to the proconsul whilst he was seated on his tribunal. The six principal among them were Speratus, Narzalis, and Cittinus; and three women, Donata, Secunda, and Vestina. The proconsul offered them the emperor’s pardon if they would worship the gods of the Romans. Speratus answered in the name of all: “We have never committed any crime, we have injured no one; so far from it, we have always thanked God for the evil treatment we have received; wherefore we declare to you that we worship no other God but the true one, who is the lord and master of all things; we pray for those who persecute us unjustly, according to the law we have received.” The proconsul urged them to swear by the emperor’s genius. Speratus said, “I know not the genius of the emperor of this world, but I serve the God of heaven, whom no mortal man hath ever seen or can see. I never committed any crime punishable by the laws of the state. I pay the public duties for whatever I buy, acknowledging the emperor for my temporal lord; but I adore none but my God, who is the King of kings, and sovereign Lord over all the nations in the world. I have been guilty of no crime, and therefore cannot have incurred punishment.” Hereupon the proconsul said, “Let them be carried to prison, and put in the wooden stocks till to-morrow.”

On the day following, the proconsul being seated on his tribunal, ordered them all to be brought before him, and said to the women, “Honor our prince, and offer sacrifice to the gods.” Donata replied, “We give to Cæsar the honor that is due to Cæsar; but we adore and offer sacrifice to God alone.” Vestina said, “I also am a Christian.” Secunda said, “I also believe in my God, and will continue faithful to him. As for your gods we will neither serve nor adore them.” The proconsul then ordered them into custody, and having called up the men, he said to Speratus, “Art thou still resolved to remain a Christian?” Speratus replied, “Yes, I am, be it known to all, I am a Christian.” All that had been apprehended with him cried out, “We also are Christians.” The proconsul said, “Will you not then so much as deliberate upon the matter, or have any favor shown you?” Speratus replied, “Do what you please; we die with joy for the sake of Jesus Christ.” The proconsul asked, “What books are those which you read and have in reverence?” Speratus answered, “The four gospels of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; the epistles of the apostle St. Paul, and the rest of the scriptures, revealed by God.”188 The proconsul said, “I give you three days to repent in.” Upon which Speratus made answer, “We will never depart from the faith of our Saviour Jesus Christ, therefore take what course you think fit.” The proconsul seeing their constancy and resolution, pronounced sentence against them in these terms: “Speratus, Narzalis, Cittinus, Veturius, Felix, Acyllinus, Lætantius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestina, Donata, and Secunda, having acknowledged themselves Christians, and having refused to pay due honor and respect to the emperor, I condemn them to be beheaded.” This sentence being read, Speratus, and all those who were with him, said, “We give God thanks for vouchsafing to receive us this day as martyrs in heaven, for confessing his name.” Having said this, they were led to the place of execution, where they all fell on their knees, and once more gave thanks to Jesus Christ. Whilst they continued in prayer, their heads were struck off. The faithful who transcribed their acts out of the public registers, add:189 “The martyrs of Christ finished their conflict in the month of July, and they intercede for us to our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be given honor and glory with the Father and the Holy Ghost through all ages.”

Tertullian,190 soon after their martyrdom, addressed his excellent apologetic discourse for the Christian religion to the governors of the provinces, but without success. He testifies191 that Saturninus, who first drew the sword against the Christians in Africa, soon after lost his eyes. As to the emperor Severus, after carrying on the persecution ten years, whilst he was making war in Britain, being on his march with his army, his eldest son Bassianus, surnamed Antonius Caracalla, who marched after him, stopped his horse, and drew his sword to stab him, but was prevented by others. Severus only reproached him for it, but died soon after at York, of grief for his son’s treachery, rather than of the gout, on the 4th of February in the year 211, having lived sixty-five years, and reigned seventeen and eight months. His two sons, Antoninus Caracalla and Geta, succeeded him; but the elder caused the latter to be stabbed in his mother’s bosom, who was sprinkled with his blood. See the acts of the Scillitan martyrs, copied from the court registers by three different Christians, who added short notes, published by Baronius, ad an. by Tillemont, t. 3, Ceillier, t. 2, p. 211, Cuper the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 202, by Ruinart, p. 75, and by Mabillon, t. 3, Analect. p. 153, and abridged 204.


She was the eldest sister to St. Ambrose and Satyrus, and after the death of her father, who was prefect of the Gauls, removed to Rome with her pious mother and brothers. She was discreet beyond her years, and from her cradle sought with her whole heart the only thing for which she was created and sent into the world. Being charged at Rome with the education of her two brothers, she inspired them, by words and example, with an ardent thirst of virtue. She taught them that nobleness of blood cannot enhance merit, nor make men more illustrious unless they despise it; and that learning is an unpardonable crime and folly, if by it a man should desire to know everything that is in heaven and earth but himself; for with the true knowledge of ourselves are all our studies to begin and end, if we desire to render them in any degree advantageous to ourselves. She kindled in their tender breasts a vehement desire, not of the show of virtue, but to become truly virtuous. In her whole conduct all her view was only the glory of God. The better to pursue this great end she resolved to renounce the world; and on Christmas-day, in 352, she put on the religious habit, and received the veil from the hands of pope Liberius, in St. Peter’s church, in presence of an incredible multitude of people. The pope, in a short discourse on that occasion, exhorted her frequently to love only our Lord Jesus Christ, the chaste spouse of her soul, to live in continual abstinence, mortification, silence, and prayer, and always to behave herself in the church with the utmost respect and awe. He mentioned to her the page of Alexander the Great, who, for fear of disturbing the solemnity of a heathenish sacrifice by shaking off his hand a piece of melted wax that was fallen upon it, let it burn him to the bone.

Marcellina in her practice went beyond the most perfect lessons. She fasted every day till evening; and sometimes passed whole days without eating. She never touched any fare but what was of the coarsest kinds, and drank only water. She never laid herself down to rest till quite overcome with sleep. The greatest part both of the day and night she devoted to prayer, pious reading, and tears of divine love and compunction. St. Ambrose advised her in the decline of her life to moderate her austerities, but always to redouble her fervor in tears and holy prayer, especially in reciting often the psalms, the Lord’s prayer, and likewise the creed, which he calls the seal of a Christian, and the guard of our hearts. She continued at Rome after the death of her mother, living not in a nunnery but in a private house with one fervent virgin, the faithful companion of all her holy exercises. St. Ambrose died in 397. She survived him, though it is uncertain how long. Her name is mentioned in the Roman and other Martyrologies on the 17th of July. See St. Ambrose, l. 3, de Virgin. c. 1, 2, 3, 4, t. 2, p. 1741, and Ep. 20 et 22, ed. Ben. and Cuper the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 231.


Magnus Felix Ennodius was descended of an illustrious family, settled in Gaul, and was a kinsman to the greatest lords of his time; as, to Faustus, Boëtius, Avienus, Olybrius, &c. He seems to call Arles the place of his birth;192 but he passed his first years in Italy, and had his education at Milan under the care of an aunt, after whose death he took to wife a rich and noble lady. Eloquence and poetry were the favorite studies of his youth, and he had the misfortune to be drawn astray into the wide path of the world. But he was struck with remorse, and listening to the voice of divine grace, changed his life and wept bitterly for his past disorders. Out of gratitude to the divine mercy for his call, he entered into orders with the consent of his wife, who at the same time devoted herself to God in a state of perpetual continency. Having a particular confidence in the powerful intercession of St. Victor, the martyr at Milan, he earnestly implored through it the grace to lead a holy life as he informs us.193

Being ordained deacon, yet young, by St. Epiphanius of Pavia, he from that time despised profane studies, to give himself up entirely to those that are sacred. He wrote an apology for pope Symmachus and his council against the schism formed in favor of Laurence. He was pitched upon to make a panegyric upon Theodoric, king of Italy, whom he commends only for his victories and temporal success. He wrote the life of St. Epiphanius of Pavia, who died in 497, and was succeeded by Maximus; likewise that of St. Antony of Lerins, who is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on the 26th of December, besides several letters and other works, both in prose and verse. He assures us, that under a violent fever, in which he was given over by the physicians, he had recourse to the heavenly physician through the intercession of his patron St. Victor, and that in a moment he found himself restored to perfect health.194 To perpetuate his gratitude for this benefit, he wrote a work which he called Eucharisticon, or Thanksgiving; in which he gives a short account of his life, especially of his conversion from the world, and how, through the intercession of St. Victor, he obtained the grace for his wife that she freely entered into his views in their making, by joint consent, mutual vows of perpetual continency. After the death of Maximus he was advanced to the episcopal see of Pavia about the year 510, not in 490, as Labbe mistakes; for, in his Eucharisticon, he says he was only sixteen years old when Theodoric came into Italy in 489. He governed his church with a zeal and authority worthy a true disciple of St. Epiphanius.

Ennodius was made choice of by pope Hormisdas to endeavor the reunion of the Eastern to the Western Church. The emperor Anastasius fomented the division by favoring the Eutychian heresy, by banishing many orthodox prelates, and by protecting schismatical bishops of Constantinople; and in dissembling (the basest character of a prince) he was a second Herod or Tiberius, whose artifices could not leave them even in things where their interest was not concerned. Upon this errand Ennodius made two journeys to Constantinople, the first in the year 515, with Fortunatus, bishop of Catana, and the second in 517, with Peregrinus, bishop of Misenum. The points upon which he was ordered to insist were, that the faith of the council of Chalcedon and the letters of pope Leo against Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscorus, and their followers, Timothy Elurus and Peter the Fuller, should be received; the anathema, pronounced against Acacius of Constantinople and Peter of Antioch, subscribed; and that the emperor should recall the bishops whom he had banished for adhering to the orthodox faith and communion. The emperor, whose conduct in all he did was equivocal, sent back the legates with a letter, wherein he declared that he condemned Nestorius and Eutyches, and received the council of Chalcedon. Other things he promised to conclude by ambassadors whom he would send to Rome; but his only aim was to gain time, and even whilst Ennodius was at Constantinople he condemned to banishment four bishops of Illyricum for the Catholic cause, namely, Laurence of Lignida, Alcyson of Nicopolis, Gaianus of Naïssum, and Evangelus of Paulitala. He deferred sending his ambassadors till the middle of the next year, and then, instead of bishops as he had promised, sent only two laymen, Theopompus, Comes Domesticorum or captain of his guards, and Severianus, Comes Consistorii or counsellor of state, and their instructions were confined to general protestations of laboring for the peace of the Church. The pope answered that, far from having any need of being entreated on that head, he threw himself at the emperor’s feet to implore his protection for the peace and welfare of God’s Church.

Ennodius’s second legation into the East proved as unsuccessful as the former; for Anastasius rejected the formulary which the pope had drawn up for the union, and endeavored to bribe the legates with money. But finding them proof against all temptations, he caused them to be sent out of his palace through a back door, and put on board a ship with two prefects and several Magisterians,195 who had orders not to suffer them to enter into any city. Notwithstanding this, the legates found an opportunity of dispersing their protestations in all cities; but the bishops who received them, from the dread they were under of being accused, sent them all to Constantinople. Upon this, Anastasius being very much exasperated, dismissed about two hundred bishops who were already come to a council which was to have been held at Heraclea to compose the distracted state of the Oriental church. Such was the conclusion of the promise this emperor had given of concurring to restore union between the churches. The people and the senate reproached him with the breach of the oath he had made to that purpose; but he impiously said that there was a law which commanded an emperor to forswear himself and to tell a lie in cases of necessity. This confirmed the people in their general suspicion, that he had imbibed the opinions of the Manichees.

St. Ennodius was obliged to put to sea in an old rotten vessel, and all persons were forbidden to suffer him to land in any port of the eastern empire, whereby he was exposed to manifest danger. Nevertheless, he arrived safe in Italy and returned to Pavia. The glory of suffering for the faith, which his zeal and constancy had procured him, far from serving to make him slothful or remiss in the discharge of his pastoral duties, was on the contrary a spur to him in the more earnest pursuit of virtue, lest by sluggishness he should deprive himself of the advantages which he might seem to have begun to attain. He exerted his zeal in the conversion of souls, his liberality in relieving the poor, and in building and adorning churches, and his piety and devotion in composing sacred poems on the Blessed Virgin, St. Cyprian, St. Stephen, St. Dionysius of Milan, St. Ambrose, St. Euphemia, St. Nazarius, St. Martin, &c., on the mysteries of Pentecost and on the Ascension, on a baptistery adorned with the pictures of several martyrs whose relics were deposited in it. He wrote two new forms of blessing the paschal candle, in which the divine protection on the faithful is implored against winds, storms, and all dangers through the malice of our invisible enemies.196 St. Ennodius died on the 1st of August, 521, being only forty-eight years old. He is styled a great and glorious confessor by the popes Nicholas I. and John VIII., and is honored in the Roman Martyrology on the 17th of July. His works were published by two Jesuits, F. Andrew Scot at Tournay in 1610, and by F. James Sirmond, with notes, at Paris, in 1611, and most completely among the works of F. Sirmond, at Paris in 1696, t. 1. See his works, the letters of pope Hormisdas, the Pontifical and F. Sirmond’s collections. Also Solier the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 271.


He was son of a Roman nobleman, had been educated in the monastery of St. Martin without the walls, and was made by Sergius II. priest of the four crowned martyrs. He was chosen pope after the death of Sergius II. in 847, and governed the Church eight years, three months, and some days. The Saracens from Calabria had lately plundered St. Peter’s church on the Vatican, and were still hovering about Rome. Leo made it his first care to repair the ornamental part of this church, especially the Confession or burying-place of St. Peter with the altar which stood upon it. To prevent a second plundering of that holy place, he, with the approbation and liberal contributions of the emperor Lothaire, enclosed it and the whole Vatican hill with a wall, and built there a new rione or quarter of the city, which from him is called Leonina. He rebuilt or repaired the walls of the city, fortified with fifteen towers. Whilst he was putting Rome in a posture of defence, the Saracens marched towards Porto in order to plunder that town. The Neapolitans sent an army to the assistance of the Romans: the pope met these troops at Ostia, gave them his blessing, and all the soldiers received the holy communion at his hands. After the pope’s departure, a bloody battle ensued, and the Saracens were all slain, taken, or dispersed. The good pope considered the sins of the people as the chief source of public disasters; and being inflamed with a holy zeal, he most vigorously exerted his authority for the reformation of manners and of the discipline of the Church. For this purpose he held at Rome a council of sixty-seven bishops; and, among other instances, he deposed and excommunicated Anastasius, cardinal priest of St. Marcellus’s church, because he had neglected to reside in his parish. He received honorably Ethelwolph, king of England, who, in 854, made a pilgrimage to Rome.

Pope Leo directed to all bishops and pastors a Homily on the Pastoral Care, published by Labbe from the Vatican manuscripts, and also extant in the Roman Pontifical. In it all the chief functions of the pastoral charge are regulated, and every duty enforced with no less learning than piety. Among other miracles performed by this holy pope, it is recorded that by the sign of the cross he extinguished a great fire in the city, which threatened the church of the prince of the apostles. He died on the 17th of July, 855, and Bennet III., priest of the church of St. Calixtus, was immediately chosen pope in his room.197 He, with many tears, begged that so formidable a burden might not be laid on his shoulders, but could not prevail. Anastasius, the deposed priest, set up for pope, and procured the protection of the emperor Louis II.; but the steady unanimity of the people in the election of Bennet III., overcame this opposition, and he was consecrated on the 1st day of September in the same year, 855, as is related by Anastasius, who was then living, and shortly after (before the year 870) Bibliothecarian of the church of Rome, the most learned man and the most shining ornament of that age, as Dr. Cave allows him to have been. See Solier the Bollandist, t. 4, Jul. p. 302.


Was a holy Irish priest and monk, who, coming with St. Foilan into the Netherlands, labored with unwearied zeal in bringing souls to the perfect practice of Christian virtue. The territory about Antwerp reaped the chief fruit of his apostolic mission. He died there about the close of the eighth century. His relics were translated into the principality of Liege, and are honorably enshrined in a monastery situated on the Sambre. See Colgan MSS. ad 17 Jul.




From their genuine Acts in Ruinart, c. 18. Some manuscripts attribute them to the celebrated Julius Africanus, who wrote a chronology from the beginning of the world to the reign of Heliogabalus, now lost, but commended by Eusebius as an exact and finished work. See Ceillier, t. 1, p. 668.

A. D. 120.

Trajan’s persecution in some degree continued during the first year of Adrian’s reign, whence Sulpicius Severus places the fourth general persecution under this emperor. However, he put a stop to it about the year 124, moved probably both by the apologies of Quadratus and Aristides, and by a letter which Serenius Granianus, proconsul of Asia, had written to him in favor of the Christians.198 Nay, he had Christ in veneration, not as the Saviour of the world, but as a wonder or novelty, and kept his image together with that of Apollonius Tyanæus. This God was pleased to permit, that his afflicted church might enjoy some respite. It was, however, again involved in the disgrace which the Jews (with whom the Pagans at these times in some degree confounded the Christians) drew upon themselves by their rebellion, which gave occasion to the last entire destruction of Jerusalem in 134. Then, as St. Paulinus informs us,199 Adrian caused a statue of Jupiter to be erected on the place where Christ rose from the dead, and a marble Venus on the place of his crucifixion; and at Bethlehem,200 a grotto consecrated in honor of Adonis or Thammuz, to whom he also dedicated the cave where Christ was born. This prince, towards the end of his reign, abandoned himself more than ever to acts of cruelty, and being awaked by a fit of superstition, he again drew his sword against the innocent flock of Christ. He built a magnificent country palace at Tibur, now Tivoli, sixteen miles from Rome, upon the most agreeable banks of the river Anio, now called Teverone. Here he placed whatever could be procured most curious out of all the provinces. Having finished the building, he intended to dedicate it by heathenish ceremonies, which he began by offering sacrifices, in order to induce the idols to deliver their oracles. The demons answered: “The widow Symphorosa and her seven sons daily torment us by invoking their God; if they sacrifice, we promise to be favorable to your vows.”

This lady lived with her seven sons upon a plentiful estate which they enjoyed at Tivoli, and she liberally expended her treasures in assisting the poor, especially in relieving the Christians that suffered for the faith. She was widow of St. Getulius or Zoticus, who had been crowned with martyrdom with his brother Amantius. They were both tribunes of legions or colonels in the army, and are honored among the martyrs on the 10th of June. Symphorosa had buried their bodies in her own farm, and sighing to see her sons and herself united with them in immortal bliss, she prepared herself to follow them by the most fervent exercise of all good works.

Adrian, whose superstition was alarmed at this answer of his gods or their priests, ordered her and her sons to be seized, and brought before him. She came with joy in her countenance, praying all the way for herself and her children, that God would grant them the grace to confess his holy name with constancy. The emperor exhorted them at first in mild terms to sacrifice. Symphorosa answered: “My husband, Getulius, and his brother Amantius, being your tribunes, have suffered divers torments for the name of Jesus Christ rather than sacrifice to idols; and they have vanquished your demons by their death, choosing to be beheaded rather than to be overcome. The death they suffered drew upon them ignominy among men, but glory among the angels; and they now enjoy eternal life in heaven.” The emperor changing his voice, said to her in an angry tone: “Either sacrifice to the most powerful gods, with thy sons, or thou thyself shalt be offered up as a sacrifice together with them.” Symphorosa answered: “Your gods cannot receive me as a sacrifice; but if I am burnt for the name of Jesus Christ, my death will increase the torment which your devils endure in their flames. But can I hope for so great a happiness as to be offered with my children a sacrifice to the true and living God?” Adrian said: “Either sacrifice to my gods, or you shall all miserably perish.” Symphorosa said “Do not imagine that fear will make me change; I am desirous to be at rest with my husband, whom you put to death for the name of Jesus Christ.” The emperor then ordered her to be carried to the temple of Hercules, where she was first buffeted on the cheeks, and afterward hung up by the hair of her head. When no torments were able to shake her invincible soul, the emperor gave orders that she should be thrown into the river with a great stone fastened about her neck. Her brother Eugenius, who was one of the chief of the council of Tibur, took up her body, and buried it on the road near that town.

The next day the emperor sent for her seven sons all together, and exhorted them to sacrifice and not imitate the obstinacy of their mother. He added the severest threats, but finding all to be in vain, he ordered seven stakes with engines and pulleys to be planted round the temple of Hercules, and the pious youths to be bound upon them; their limbs were in this posture tortured and stretched in such manner that the bones were disjointed in all parts of their bodies. The young noblemen, far from yielding under the violence of their tortures, were encouraged by each other’s example, and seemed more eager to suffer than the executioners were to torment. At length the emperor commanded them to be put to death, in the same place where they were, different ways. The eldest called Crescens had his throat cut; the second called Julian was stabbed in the breast; Nemesius the third was pierced with a lance in his heart; Primativius received his wound in the belly, Justin in the back, Stacteus on his sides, and Eugenius the youngest died by his body being cleft asunder into two parts across his breast from the head down wards. The emperor came the next day to the temple of Hercules, and gave orders for a deep hole to be dug, and all the bodies of these martyrs to be thrown into it. The place was called by the heathen priest, The seven Biothanati; which word signifieth in Greek and in the style of art magic, such as die by a violent death, particularly such as were put to the torture. After this, a stop was put to the persecution for about eighteen months.201 During which interval of peace the Christians took up the remains of these martyrs, and interred them with honor on the Tiburtin road, in the midway between Tivoli and Rome, where still are seen some remains of a church erected in memory of them in a place called to this day, The seven Brothers.202 Their bodies were translated by a pope called Stephen, into the church of the Holy Angel in the fish-market in Rome, where they were found in the pontificate of Pius IV., with an inscription on a plate, which mentioned this translation.203

St. Symphorosa set not before the eyes of her children the advantages of their riches and birth, or of their father’s honorable employments and great exploits; but those of his piety and the triumph of his martyrdom. She continually entertained them on the glory of heaven, and the happiness of treading in the steps of our Divine Redeemer, by the practice of humility, patience, resignation, and charity, which virtues are best learned in the path of humiliations and sufferings. In these a Christian finds this solid treasure, and his unalterable peace and joy both in life and death. The honors, riches, applause, and pleasures with which the worldly sinner is sometimes surrounded, can never satiate his desires; often they do not even reach his heart, which under this gorgeous show bleeds as it were inwardly, while silent grief, like a worm at the core, preys upon his vitals. Death at least always draws aside the curtain, and shows them to have been no better than mere dreams and shadows which passed in a moment, but have left a cruel sting behind them, which fills the mind with horror, dread, remorse, and despair, and racks the whole soul with confusion, perplexities, and alarms.


We know nothing of this saint’s country, only that he quitted it and the house and inheritance of his ancestors, like Abraham, the more perfectly to disengage himself from the ties of the world. He lived in perfect continency, and often passed whole nights in meditating on the holy scriptures. Being ordained priest he travelled through many provinces to oppose the infidels and heretics, especially the Arians, whose fury was at that time formidable over the whole Church. His zeal and lively faith gave him courage to rejoice with the apostles in suffering for the truth, and to bear in his body the marks of the stripes which he received by a severe scourging which he underwent for Jesus Christ. At Milan he vigorously opposed the endeavors of Auxentius, the impious Arian wolf, who labored to destroy the flock of Christ there; and our saint was its strenuous guardian before St. Ambrose was made bishop of that city. He afterward went to Brescia, and finding the inhabitants of that place savage and barbarous, almost entirely ignorant in spiritual things, yet desirous to learn, he took much pains to instruct them, and had the comfort to see his labors crowned with incredible success. He rooted out the tares of many errors, and cultivated this wild soil with such assiduity that it became fruitful in good works. Being chosen the seventh bishop of this see, he exerted himself in the discharge of all his pastoral functions with such vigor as even to outdo himself; and the authority of his high dignity added the greater weight to his endeavors. He was not equal in learning to the Ambroses and Austins of that age; but what was wanting in that respect was abundantly made up by the example of his life, his spirit of perfect humility and piety, and his unwearied application to every pastoral duty; and he is an instance of what eminent service moderate abilities may be capable of in the Church, when they are joined with an heroic degree of virtue.

To caution his flock against the danger of errors in faith, he wrote his Catalogue of Heresies, in which he does not take that word in its strict sense and according to the theological definition; but sometimes puts in the number of heresies certain opinions which he rejects only as less probable, and which are problematically disputed; as that the witch of Endor evoked the very soul of Samuel.204 He everywhere breathes an ardent zeal for the Catholic faith. St. Gaudentius extols his profound humility, his meekness, and sweetness towards all men, which was such that it seemed natural to him to repay injuries only with kindness and favors, and he never discovered the least emotions of anger. By his charity and patience he gained the hearts of all men. In all he did he sought no interest but that of Jesus Christ; and sovereignly contemning all earthly things he pursued and valued only those that are eternal. Being most mortified and sparing in his diet and apparel, he seemed to know no other use of money than to employ it in relieving the poor; and he extended his liberality, not only to all that were reduced to beggary, but also to tradesmen and all others, whom he often generously enabled to carry on, or when expedient to enlarge their business. Though he communicated himself with surprising charity and goodness to all sorts of persons of every age, sex, and condition, he seemed always to receive the poor with particular affection. He trained up many pious and eminent disciples, among whom are named St. Gaudentius, and one Benevolus, who in his life was a true imitator of the apostles; and being afterward preferred to an honorable post in the emperor Valentinian’s court, chose rather to lay it down than to promulgate a rescript of the empress Justina in favor of the Arians. St. Austin saw St. Philastrius at Milan with St. Ambrose, in the year 384.205 He died soon after, and before St. Ambrose, his metropolitan, who after his death placed St. Gaudentius in the see of Brescia. This saint solemnized every year with his people the day on which his master St. Philastrius passed to glory, and always honored it with a panegyric; but of these discourses only the fourteenth is extant. See the life or encomium of St. Philastrius by St. Gaudentius, published by Surius. Also the accurate history of the church of Brescia, entitled Pontificum Brixianorum series commentario historico illustrata, opera J. H. Gradonici. C. R. Brixie, 1755, t. 1.


Among the illustrious saints who adorned the court of king Clotaire the Great, none is more famous than St. Arnoul. He was a Frenchman, born of rich and noble parents; and, having been educated in learning and piety, was called to the court of king Theodebert, in which he held the second place among the great officers of state, being next to Gondulph, mayor of the palace. Though young, he was equally admired for prudence in the council and for valor in the field. By assiduous prayer, fasting, and excessive alms-deeds, he joined the virtues of a perfect Christian with the duties of a courtier. Having married a noble lady called Doda, he had by her two sons, Clodulf and Ansegisus; by the latter the Carlovingian race of kings of France descended from St. Arnoul. Fearing the danger of entangling his soul in many affairs which passed through his hands, he desired to retire to the monastery of Lerins; but being crossed in the execution of his project, passed to the court of king Clotaire. That great monarch, the first year in which he reigned over all France, assented to the unanimous request of the clergy and people of Metz, demanding Arnoul for their bishop. Our saint did all that could be done to change the measures taken, but in vain. He was consecrated bishop in 614, and his wife Doda took the religious veil at Triers. The king obliged Arnoul still to assist at his councils, and to fill the first place at his court. The saint always wore a hair shirt under his garments; he sometimes passed three days without eating, and his usual food was only barley and water. He seemed to regard whatever he possessed as the patrimony of the poor, and his alms seemed to exceed all bounds. His benevolence took in all the objects of charity, but his discretion singled out those more particularly whose greater necessities called more pressingly upon his bounty.

In 622 Clotaire II. divided his dominions, and making his son Dagobert king of Austrasia, appointed St. Arnoul duke of Austrasia and chief counsellor and Pepin of Landen mayor of his palace. The reign of this prince was virtuous, prosperous, and glorious, so long as Arnoul remained at the helm; but the saint anxiously desiring to retire from all business, that he might more seriously study to secure his own salvation before he should be called hence, never ceased to solicit the king for leave to quit the court. Dagobert long refused his consent, but at length, out of a scruple lest he should oppose the call of heaven, granted it, though with the utmost reluctance. St. Arnoul resigned also his bishopric, and retired into the deserts of Vosge, near the monastery of Remiremont, on the top of a high mountain, where a hermitage is at this day standing. Here the saint labored daily with fresh fervor to advance in the path of Christian perfection; for the greater progress a person has already made in virtue, the more does the prospect enlarge upon him, and the more perfectly does he see how much is yet wanting in him, and how great a scope is left for exerting his endeavors still more. Who will pretend to have made equal advances with St. Paul towards perfection? yet he was far from ever thinking that he had finished his work, or that he might remit anything in his endeavors. On the contrary, we find him imitating the alacrity of those who run in a race who do not so much consider what ground they have already cleared, as how much still remains to call forth their utmost eagerness and strength. Nor can there be a more certain sign that a person has not yet arrived at the lowest and first degree of virtue, than that he should think he does not need to aim higher. In this vigorous pursuit St. Arnoul died on the 16th of August in 640. His remains were brought to Metz, and enrich the great abbey which bears his name. The Roman Martyrology mentions him on the 18th of July, on which day the translation of his relics was performed; the Gallican on the 16th of August. See his life, faithfully compiled by his successor, in Mabillon, Act. Bened. t. 2, p. 150. Also Calmet, Hist. de Lorraine, t. 1, l. 9, n. 10, &c. p. 378, 381, &c. Bosch the Bollandist, t. 5, Jul. p. 423; and D. Cajot, Benedictin monk of St. Arnoul’s Les Antiquités de Metz, an. 1761.


He preached the faith among the Franks after St. Remigius had baptized king Clovis. He suffered much in his apostolic labors, and was at length martyred in the Aquilin forest between Paris and Chartres, about the year 534. His name is highly reverenced at Paris, Rheims, and over all France. See Cuper the Bollandist, Julij, t. 4, p. 396.


He was descended of a most illustrious family among the Frisons, and according to the author of his life, was great-grandson to Radbod, king of that country, before it was conquered by the French. He was trained up in piety and sacred literature among the clergy of the church of Utrecht. His fasts and other austerities were excessive, and his watchings in fervent prayer were not less inimitable. Being ordained priest, he was charged by bishop Ricfrid with the care of instructing the catechumens, and that good prelate dying in 820, he was chosen the eighth bishop of Utrecht from St. Willibrord.206 The holy man, with many tears, before the clergy and people, declared, in moving terms, his incapacity and unworthiness, but by the authority of the emperor Louis Debonnaire was compelled to submit. He therefore repaired to his metropolitan, the archbishop of Mentz, and at Aix-la-Chapelle received the investiture by the ring and crosier, and was consecrated by the bishops in presence of the emperor, who zealously recommended to him the extirpation of the remains of idolatry in Friesland. The new bishop was met by the clergy and others of his church, and by them honorably conducted from the Rhine to Utrecht. He immediately applied himself to establish everywhere the best order, and sent zealous and virtuous laborers into the northern parts, to root out the relics of idolatry which still subsisted there.

Charlemagne, by treating with severity the conquered Frisons and Saxons, had alienated their minds from his empire; but upon his death in 814, Louis his son, whom he had made in his own life-time king of Aquitain, came to the empire, by excluding his little nephew Bernard, king of Italy, grandson of Pepin, elder brother to this Louis, whom their father made king of Italy, but who died in 810, leaving that kingdom to his son and grandson both named Bernard. Louis upon his accession to the throne eased the Saxons of their heavy taxes, and showed them so much lenity that he gained their hearts to the empire for ever, and from his courtesy and from this and other actions of clemency was surnamed The Debonnaire, or the Gracious. He lost his queen Irmingarde, who died at Angiers in 818, by whom he had three sons, Lothaire, Pepin, and Louis. The first he made king of Italy,207 the second king of Aquitain, and Louis king of Bavaria; reserving to himself the rest of Bavaria and France. In 819 he married Judith, daughter of Guelph, count of Aldorff, by whom he had Charles the Bald, afterward emperor and king of France. She was an ambitious and wanton woman; her adulteries gave great scandal to the people, and her overbearing insolence and continual intrigues embroiled the state, and drove the three eldest sons into open rebellion against their father.208 Nothing can excuse the methods to which these unnatural princes had recourse, under pretence of remedying the public disorders, which sprang from the weakness of their father, and the malice of a hated mother-in-law. But the scandals of her lewdness stirred up the zeal of our holy pastor to act the part of a second John the Baptist. The contemporary author of the life of Wala, abbot of Lorbie, who was deeply concerned in the secret transactions of that court, confidently charges her with incest and adultery with her relation and favorite minister, Bernard count of Barcelona. The author of the life of St. Frederic says, her marriage with Louis was incestuous, and within the forbidden degrees of affinity; but this circumstance could not have escaped the censure of her enemies; and from their silence is rejected by Mabillon and others as fabulous.

Whatever the scandals of her gallantries were, St. Frederic, the neighborhood of whose see gave him free access to the court, then chiefly kept at Aix-la-Chapelle, admonished her of them with an apostolic freedom and charity, but without any other effect than that of drawing upon himself the fury and resentment of a second Jezebel, if we may believe the historians of that age. Our saint suffered also another persecution. The inhabitants of Wallacria, now called Walcheren, one of the principal islands of Zealand, belonging to the Netherlands, were of all others the most barbarous, and most averse to the maxims of the gospel. On which account St. Frederic, when he sent priests into the northern uncultivated provinces of his diocess, took this most dangerous and difficult part chiefly to himself; and nothing here gave him more trouble than the incestuous marriages contracted within the forbidden degrees, and the separation of the parties. To extirpate this inveterate evil he employed assiduous exhortations, tears, watching, prayer, and fasting; summoned an assembly of the principal persons of the island, and earnestly recommended the means to banish this abuse from among them, broke many such pretended marriages, and reconciled many persons that had done sincere penance to God and his Church. He composed a prayer to the Blessed Trinity with an exposition of that adorable mystery against heresies, which for many ages was used in the Netherlands with great devotion. The reputation of his sanctity made him to be considered as one of the most illustrious prelates of the Church, as appears from a poem of Rabanus Maurus, his contemporary, in praise of his virtue, published with notes among his poetical works, together with those of Fortunatus by F. Brower, S. J.209

Whilst this holy pastor was intent only upon the duties of his charge, one day when he came from the altar having said mass, as he was going to kneel down in the chapel of St. John Baptist to perform his thanksgiving and other private devotions, he was stabbed in the bowels by two assassins. He expired in a few minutes, reciting that verse of the hundred and fourteenth psalm,—I will please the Lord in the land of the living. The author of his life says these assassins were employed by the empress Judith, who could not pardon the liberty he had taken to reprove her incest. William of Malmesbury210 and other historians assert the same; and this seems clearly to have been the true cause and manner of his martyrdom; William Heda,211 Beka,212 Emmius,213 and many others confirm the same. Baronius in his annals, Mabillon, Le Cointe, and Baillet think these assassins were rather sent by some of the incestuous inhabitants of Wallacria, but this opinion is destitute of the authority of ancient historians. The martyr’s body was buried in the same church of St. Saviour, called Oude-Munster, at Utrecht. His death happened on the 17th of July, 838, as Mabillon has proved. See the life of St. Frederic with the notes of Cuper the Bollandist, Julij, t. 4, p. 452, and Batavia Sacra, p. 99. Also Heda’s History of the Bishops of Utrecht, Beka and Emmius.


He was born of noble French parents, and distinguished in his youth by the innocence of his manners, and his remarkable progress in learning and piety. Being ordained priest, he was made curate of Oresscoth in Brabant. St. Frederic afterward, by urgent entreaties, engaged him, for the greater glory of God, to be his strenuous assistant in reforming the manners of the fierce Frisons; in which undertaking it is incredible what fatigues he underwent, and what proofs he gave of heroic patience, meekness, zeal, and charity. Contemplation and prayer were the support and refreshment of his soul under his continual labors and austerities. Several wonderful predictions of things which happened long after his death, are recorded in his life. In his old age he resided at Utrecht, and died canon of the cathedral. To his last moments he allowed himself no indulgence, and never relaxed his fervor in labor; but rather redoubled his pace the nearer he saw his end approach, knowing this to be the condition of the Christian’s hire, and fearing to lose by sloth and for want of perseverance the crown for which he fought. His fasts, his watchings, his assiduity in prayer, his almsdeeds, his zeal in instructing the people, and exhorting all men to the divine love and the contempt of all earthly things, seemed to gather strength with his years. Being seized with a fever, he with joy foretold his last moment, and earnestly exhorting his brethren to fervor, and commending himself to their prayers, he promised, by the divine mercy, never to forget them before God, and happily departed this life in the ninth age, on the 12th of June, on which day his festival was kept with great solemnity at Utrecht and Staveren. Several churches and chapels bear his name; but the chapel at the New Bridge in Amsterdam, called Olofs-Kapel, was erected by the Danish sailors in memory of St. Olaus, king of Norway and Martyr, not of St. Odulph, as the Bollandists and some others have mistaken. See the life of St. Odulph in the Bollandists, Junij, t. 2, and Batavia Sacra, p. 106.


He was of the illustrious family of the lords of Asti in Piemont and born near that city. From his cradle he considered, that man’s happiness is only to be found in loving God; and to please him in all his actions was his only and his most ardent desire. He made his studies in the monastery of St. Perpetuus in the diocess of Asti. Bosch proves that he never was canon of Asti, but enjoyed some years a canonry at Sienna, as he himself informs us. In the Roman council in 1079, he defended the doctrine of the Catholic Church concerning the blessed eucharist against Berengarius; and pope Gregory VII. nominated him bishop of Segni in the ecclesiastical state in 1081. Bruno, who had been compelled to submit, after a long and strenuous resistance, served his flock, and on many important occasions the universal Church, with unwearied zeal. Gregory VII. who died in 1085, Victor III. formerly abbot of mount Cassino, who died in 1087, and Urban II. who had been scholar to St. Bruno (afterward institutor of the Carthusians) at Rheims, then a monk at Cluni, and afterward bishop of Ostia, had the greatest esteem for our saint. He attended Urban II. into France in 1095, and assisted at the council of Tours in 1096. After his return into Italy he continued to labor for the sanctification of his soul and that of his flock, till not being able any longer to resist his inclination for solitude and retirement, he withdrew to mount Cassino, and put on the monastic habit. The people of Segni demanded him back; but Oderisus, abbot of mount Cassino, and several Cardinals, whose mediation the saint employed, prevailed upon the pope to allow his retreat. The abbot Oderisus was succeeded by Otho in 1105, and this latter dying in 1107, the monks chose bishop Bruno abbot. He was often employed by the pope in important commissions, and by his writings labored to support ecclesiastical discipline214 and to extirpate simony. This vice he looked upon as the source of all the disorders which excited the tears of all zealous pastors in the Church, by filling the sanctuary with hirelings, whose worldly spirit raises an insuperable opposition to that of the gospel. What would this saint have said had he seen the collation of benefices, and the frequent translations of bishops in some parts, which serve to feed and inflame avarice and ambition in those in whom, above all others, a perfect disengagement from earthly things and crucifixion of the passions ought to lay a foundation of the gospel temper and spirit? Paschal II. formerly a monk of Cluni, succeeded Urban II. in the pontificate in 1099. By his order St. Bruno having been abbot of mount Cassino about four years, returned to his bishopric, having resigned his abbacy, and left his abbatial crosier on the altar. He continued faithfully to discharge the episcopal functions to his death, which happened at Segni on the 31st of August in 1125. He was canonized by Lucius III. in 1183, and his feast is kept in Italy on the 18th of July. See his anonymous authentic life, and Leo of Ostia and Peter the deacon in their chronicle of mount Cassino, with the notes of Solier the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 471. Also Dom. Maur Marchesi, dean of mount Cassino, in his apparatus (prefixed to the works of this saint) printed at Venice in 1651; Mabillon, Annal. Bened. l. 70, Ceillier, t. 21, p. 101.




From his edifying life written by Abelly, bishop of Rodez, and again by the celebrated continuator of Tournely’s Theological Lectures, Dr. Peter Collet, in two volumes, quarto, Nancy, 1748. See also Perrault, Hommes Illustr. Helyot, Hist. des Ord. Relig. t. 8, p. 64, and the bull of his canonization published by Clement XII. in 1737, apud Bened. XIV. de canoniz., t. 4, Append. p. 363.

A. D. 1660.

Even in the most degenerate ages, when the true maxims of the gospel seem almost obliterated among the generality of those who profess it, God fails not, for the glory of his holy name, to raise to himself faithful ministers to revive the same in the hearts of many. Having, by the perfect crucifixion of the old man in their hearts, and the gift of prayer, prepared them to become vessels of his grace, he replenishes them with the spirit of his apostles that they may be qualified to conduct others in the paths of heroic virtue, in which the Holy Ghost was himself their interior Master. One of these instruments of the divine mercy was St. Vincent of Paul. He was a native of Poul, a village near Acqs in Gascony, not far from the Pyrenæan mountains. His parents, William of Paul and Bertranda of Morass, occupied a very small farm of which they were the proprietors, and upon the produce of which they brought up a family of four sons and two daughters. The children were brought up in innocence, and inured from their infancy to the most laborious part of country labor. But Vincent, the third son, gave extraordinary proofs of his wit and capacity, and from his infancy showed a seriousness and an affection for holy prayer far beyond his age. He spent great part of his time in that exercise when he was employed in the fields to keep the cattle. That he might give to Christ in the persons of the poor all that was in his power, he deprived himself of his own little conveniences and necessaries for that purpose in whatever it was possible for him to retrench from his own use. This early fervent consecration of himself to God, and these little sacrifices which may be compared to the widow’s two mites in the gospel, were indications of the sincere ardor with which he began to seek God from the first opening of his reason to know and love him; and were doubtless a means to draw down upon him from the author of these graces other greater blessings. His father was determined by the strong inclinations of the child to learning and piety, and the quickness of his parts, to procure him a school education. He placed him first under the care of the Cordeliers or Franciscan friars at Acqs, paying for his board and lodging the small pension of sixty French livres, that is, not six pounds English, a year.

Vincent had been four years at the schools when Mr. Commet, a gentleman of that town, being much taken with his virtue and prudence, chose him sub-preceptor to his children, and enabled him to continue his studies without being any longer a burden to his parents. At twenty years of age, in 1596, he was qualified to go to the university of Toulouse, where he spent seven years in the study of divinity, and commenced bachelor in that faculty. In that city he was promoted to the holy orders of subdeacon and deacon in 1598, and of priesthood in 1600, having received the tonsure and minor orders a few days before he left Acqs. He seemed already endowed with all those virtues which make up the character of a worthy and zealous minister of the altar; yet he knew not the full extent of heroic entire self-denial, by which a man becomes dead and crucified to all inordinate self-will; upon which perfect self-denial are engrafted the total sacrifice of the heart to God, perfect humility, and that purity and ardor of divine charity which constitute the saint. Vincent was a good proficient in theology and other sciences of the schools, and had diligently applied himself to the study of the maxims of Christian virtue in the gospel, in the lives of the saints, and in the doctrine of the greatest masters of a spiritual life. But there remained a new science for him to learn, which was to cost him much more than bare study and labor. This consists in perfect experimental and feeling sentiments of humility, patience, meekness, and charity; which science is only to be learned by the good use of severe interior and exterior trials. This is the mystery of the cross, unknown to those whom the Holy Ghost has not led into this important secret of his conduct in preparing souls for the great works of his grace. The prosperity of the wicked will appear at the last day to have often been the most dreadful judgment, and a state in which they were goaded on in the pursuit of their evil courses; whilst, on the contrary, it will then be manifested to all men that the afflictions of the saints have been the greatest effects of divine mercy. Thus, by a chain of temporal disasters, did God lay in the soul of Vincent the solid foundation of that high virtue to which by his grace he afterward raised him.

The saint went to Marseilles in 1605, to receive a legacy of five hundred crowns which had been left him by a friend who died in that city. Intending to return to Toulouse, he set out in a felucca or large boat from Marseilles to Narbonne, but was met in the way by three brigantines of African pirates. The infidels seeing the Christians refuse to strike their flag, charged them with great fury, and on the first onset killed three of their men, and wounded every one of the rest; Vincent received a shot of an arrow. The Christians were soon obliged to surrender. The first thing the Mahometans did was to cut the captain in pieces because he had not struck at the first summons, and in combat had killed one of their men and four or five slaves. The rest they put in chains; and continued seven or eight days longer on that coast, committing several other piracies, but sparing the lives of those that made no resistance. When they had got a sufficient booty they sailed for Barbary. Upon landing they drew up an act of their seizure, in which they falsely declared that Vincent and his companions had been taken on board of a Spanish vessel, that the French consul might not challenge them. Then they gave to every slave a pair of loose breeches, a linen jerkin, and a bonnet. In this garb they were led five or six times through the city of Tunis to be shown; after which they were brought back to their vessel, where the merchants came to see them, as men do at the sale of a horse or an ox. They examined who could eat well, felt their sides, looked at their teeth to see who were of scorbutic habits of body, consequently unlikely for very long life; they probed their wounds, and made them walk and run in all paces, lift up burdens, and wrestle, to judge of their strength. Vincent was bought by a fisherman, who, finding that he could not bear the sea, soon sold him again to an old physician, a great chemist and extractor of essences, who had spent fifty years in search of the pretended philosopher’s stone. He was humane, and loved Vincent exceedingly; but gave him long lectures on his alchemy, and on the Mahometan law, to which he used his utmost efforts to bring him over; promising, on that condition, to leave him all his riches, and to communicate to him, what he valued much more than his estate, all the secrets of his pretended science. Vincent feared the danger of his soul much more than all the hardships of his slavery, and most earnestly implored the divine assistance against it, recommending himself particularly to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, to which he ever after attributed his victory over this temptation. He lived with this old man from September 1605 to August 1606, when, by this physician’s death, he fell to the share of a nephew of his master, a true man-hater. By resignation to the divine will, and confidence in providence, he enjoyed a sweet repose in his own heart under all accidents, hardships, and dangers; and by assiduous devout meditation on the sufferings of Christ, learned to bear all his afflictions with comfort and joy, uniting himself in spirit with his Divine Redeemer, and studying to copy in himself his lessons of perfect meekness, patience, silence, and charity. This new master sold him in a short time to a renegado Christian who came from Nice in Savoy. This man sent him to his temat or farm situate on a hot desert mountain. This apostate had three wives, of which one, who was a Turkish woman, went often to the field where Vincent was digging, and out of curiosity would ask him to sing the praises of God. He used to sing to her, with tears in his eyes, the psalm Upon the rivers of Babylon, &c. the Salve Regina, and such like prayers. She was so much taken with our holy faith, and doubtless with the saintly deportment of the holy slave, that she never ceased repeating to her husband, that he had basely abandoned the only true religion, till like another Caiphas or ass of Balaam, without opening her own eyes to the faith, she made him enter into himself. Sincerely repenting of his apostasy, he agrees with Vincent to make their escape together. They crossed the Mediterranean sea in a small light boat which the least squall of wind would overset; and they landed safe at Aigues-Mortes, near Marseilles, on the 28th of June, 1607, and thence proceeded to Avignon. The apostate made his abjuration in the hands of the vice-legate, and the year following went with Vincent to Rome, and there entered himself a penitent in the austere convent of the Fate-Ben-Fratelli, who served the hospitals according to the rule of St. John of God.

Vincent received great comfort at the sight of a place most venerable for its pre-eminence in the church, which has been watered with the blood of so many martyrs, and is honored with the tombs of the two great apostles SS. Peter and Paul and many other saints. He was moved to tears at the remembrance of their zeal, fortitude, humility, and charity, and often devoutly visited their monuments, praying earnestly that he might be so happy as to walk in their steps, and imitate their virtues. After a short stay at Rome, to satisfy his devotion, he returned to Paris, and took up his quarters in the suburb of St. Germain’s. There lodged in the same house a gentleman, the judge of a village near Bourdeaux, who happened to be robbed of four hundred crowns. He charged Vincent with the theft, thinking it could be nobody else; and in this persuasion he spoke against him with the greatest virulence among all his friends, and wherever he went. Vincent calmly denied the fact, saying, “God knows the truth.” He bore this slander six years, without making any other defence, or using harsh words or complaints, till the true thief being taken up at Bourdeaux on another account, to appease his own conscience and clear the innocent he sent for this judge, and confessed to him the crime. St. Vincent related this in a spiritual conference with his priests, but as of a third person; to show that patience, humble silence, and resignation are generally the best defence of our innocence, and always the happiest means of sanctifying our souls under slanders and persecution; and we may be assured that providence will in its proper time justify us, if expedient.

At Paris Vincent became acquainted with the holy priest Monsieur de Berulle, who was afterward cardinal, and at that time was taken up in founding the Congregation of the French Oratory. A saint readily discovers a soul in which the spirit of God reigns. Berulle conceived a great esteem for St. Vincent from his first conversation with him; and to engage him in the service of his neighbor, he prevailed with him first to serve as curate of the parish of Clichi, a small village near Paris; and soon after to quit that employ to take upon him the charge of preceptor to the children of Emmanuel de Gondy, count of Joigny, general of the galleys of France. His lady, Frances of Silly, a person of singular piety, was so taken with the sanctity of Vincent, that she chose him for her spiritual director and confessor. In the year 1616, whilst the countess of Joigny was at a country seat at Folleville, in the diocess of Amiens, Vincent was sent for to the village of Gannes, two leagues from Folleville, to hear the confession of a countryman who lay dangerously ill. The zealous priest, by carefully examining his penitent, found it necessary to advise him to make a general confession, with which the other joyfully complied. The penitent by this means discovered that all his former confessions had been sacrilegious for want of a due examination of his conscience; and afterward, bathed in tears, he declared aloud, in transports of joy before many persons and the countess of Joigny herself, that he should have been eternally lost if he had not spoken to Vincent. The pious lady was struck with dread and horror to hear of such past sacrileges, and to consider the imminent danger of being damned in which that poor soul had been; and she trembled lest some others among her vassals might have the misfortune to be in the like case. Far from the criminal illusion of pride by which some masters and mistresses seem persuaded that they owe no care, attention, or provision to those whose whole life is employed only to give them the fruit of their sweat and labors; she was sensible from the principles both of nature and religion, that masters or lords lie under strict ties of justice and charity towards all committed to their care; and that they are bound in the first place, as far as it lies in their power, to see them provided with the necessary spiritual helps for their salvation. But to wave the obligation, what Christian heart can pretend to the bowels of charity, and be insensible at the dangers of such persons? The virtuous countess felt in her own breast the strongest alarms for so many poor souls, which she called her own by many titles. She therefore entreated Vincent to preach in the church of Folleville, on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, in 1617, and fully to instruct the people in the great duty of repentance and confession of sins. He did so; and such crowds flocked to him to make general confessions that he was obliged to call in the Jesuits of Amiens to his assistance. The Congregation of the mission dates its first institution from this time, and in thanksgiving for it, keeps the 25th of January with great solemnity.

By the advice of Monsieur de Berulle, St. Vincent left the house of the countess in 1617, to employ his talents among the common people in the villages of Bresse, where he heard they stood in great need of instruction. He prevailed upon five other zealous priests to bear him company, and with them formed a little community in the parish of Chatillon in that province. He there converted by his sermons the count of Rougemont and many others from their scandalous unchristian lives to a state of eminent penance and fervor, and in a short time changed the whole face of the country.215 The good countess his patroness was infinitely pleased with his success, and gave him sixteen thousand livres to found a perpetual mission among the common people in the place and manner he should think fit. But she could not be easy herself whilst she was deprived of his direction and advice; she therefore employed Monsieur de Berulle, and her brother-in-law cardinal de Retz, to prevail with him to come to her, and extorted from him a promise that he would never abandon the direction of her conscience so long as she lived, and that he would assist her at her death. But being extremely desirous that others, especially those who were particularly entitled to her care and attention, should want nothing that could contribute to their sanctification and salvation, she induced her husband to concur with her in establishing a company of able and zealous missionaries who should be employed in assisting their vassals and farmers. This project they proposed to their brother, John Francis of Gondi, the first archbishop of Paris, and he gave the college of Bons Enfans for the reception of the new community. All things being agreed on St. Vincent took possession of this house in April 1625. The count and countess gave forty thousand French livres to begin the foundation.

St. Vincent attended the countess till her pious death, which happened on the 23d of June the same year; after which he joined his Congregation. He drew up for it certain rules or constitutions which were approved by pope Urban VIII., in 1632. King Louis XIII. confirmed the establishment by letters patent, which he granted in May the same year; and, in 1633, the regular canons of St. Victor gave to this new institute the priory of St. Lazarus, which being a spacious building was made the chief house of the Congregation, and from it the Fathers of the Mission were often called Lazarites or Lazarians. They are not religious men, but a Congregation of secular priests, who after two years’ probation make four simple vows, of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability. They devote themselves to labor, in the first place, in sanctifying their own souls by the particular holy exercises prescribed in their institute; secondly, in the conversion of sinners to God; and thirdly, in training up clergymen for the ministry of the altar and the care of souls. To attain the first end, their rule prescribes them an hour’s meditation every morning, self-examination thrice every day, spiritual conferences every week, a yearly retreat of eight days, and silence except in the hours allowed for conversation. To comply with the second obligation, they are employed eight months every year in missions among the country people, staying three or four weeks in each place which they visit, every day giving catechism, making familiar sermons, hearing confessions, reconciling differences, and performing all other works of charity. To correspond with the third end which St. Vincent proposed to himself, some of this Congregation undertake the direction of seminaries, and admit ecclesiastics or others to make retreats of eight or ten days with them, to whom they prescribe suitable exercises; and for these purposes excellent rules are laid down by the founder. Pope Alexander VII., in 1662, enjoined by a brief, that all persons who receive holy orders in Rome, or in the six suffragan bishoprics, shall first make a retreat of ten days under the direction of the fathers of this Congregation, under pain of suspension. St. Vincent settled his institute also in the seminary of St. Charles in Paris, and lived to see twenty-five houses of it founded in France, Piedmont, Poland, and other places.

This foundation, though so extensive and beneficial, could not satisfy the zeal of this apostolic man. He by every other means studied to procure the relief of others under all necessities, whether spiritual or corporal. For this purpose he established many other confraternities, as that called Of Charity, to attend all poor sick persons in each parish; which institution he began in Bresse, and propagated in other places where he made any missions; one called Of the Dames of the Cross, for the education of young girls; another of Dames to serve the sick in great hospitals, as in that of Hotel Dieu in Paris. He procured and directed the foundation of several great hospitals, as in Paris that of foundlings, or those children who, for want of such a provision, are exposed to the utmost distress, or to the barbarity of unnatural parents; also that of poor old men; at Marseilles the stately hospital for the galley-slaves, who, when sick, are there abundantly furnished with every help both corporal and spiritual. All these establishments he settled under excellent regulations, and supplied with large sums of money to defray all necessary expenses. He instituted a particular plan of spiritual exercises for those that are about to receive holy orders; and others for those who desire to make general confessions, or to deliberate upon the choice of a state of life. He also appointed regular ecclesiastical conferences on the duties of the clerical state, &c. It must appear almost incredible that so many and so great things could have been effected by one man, and a man who had no advantage from birth, fortune, or any shining qualities which the world admires and esteems. But our surprise would be much greater if we could enter into a detail of his wonderful actions, and the infinite advantages which he procured others. During the wars in Lorrain, being informed of the miseries to which those provinces were reduced, he collected charities among pious persons at Paris, which were sent thither, to the amount of fifteen or sixteen thousand livres, says Abelly; nay, as Collet proves from authentic vouchers, of two millions, that is, according to the value of money at that time, considerably above one hundred thousand pounds sterling; and he did the like on other occasions. He assisted King Louis XIII. at his death, and by his holy advice and exhortations that monarch expired in perfect sentiments of piety and resignation. Our saint was in the highest favor with the queen regent, Anne of Austria, who nominated him a member of the young king’s Council of Conscience, and consulted him in all ecclesiastical affairs, and in the collation of benefices; which office he discharged ten years.

Amidst so many and so great employs his soul seemed always united to God; in the most distracting affairs it kept, as it were, an eye always open to him, in order to converse continually with him. This constant attention to him he often renewed, and always when the clock struck, by making the sign of the cross (at least secretly with his thumb upon his breast) with an act of divine love. Under all crosses, disappointments, and slanders, he always preserved a perfect serenity and evenness of mind, which it did not seem in the power of the whole world to disturb; for he considered all events only with a view to the divine will, and with an entire resignation to it, having no other desire but that God should be glorified in all things. Whether this was to be done by his own disgrace and sufferings, or by whatever other means it pleased the divine majesty, he equally rejoiced. Not that he fell into the pretended apathy or insensibility of the proud Stoics, or into the impious indifference of the false Mystics, afterwards called Quietists, than which nothing is more contrary to true piety, which is always tender, affectionate, and most sensible to all the interests of charity and religion. This was the character of our saint, who regarded the afflictions of all others as his own, sighed continually with St. Paul after that state of glory in which he should be united inseparably to his God, and poured forth his soul before him with tears over his own and others’ spiritual miseries. Having his hope fixed as a firm anchor in God, by an humble reliance on the divine mercy and goodness, he seemed raised above the reach of the malice of creatures, or the frowns of the world; and he enjoyed a tranquillity within his breast which no storms were able to ruffle or disturb. So perfect was the mastery which he had gained over his passions, that his meekness and patience seemed unalterable, whatever provocations he met with. He was never moved by affronts, unless to rejoice secretly under them, because he was sure to find in them a hidden treasure of grace, and an opportunity of vanquishing himself. This is the fruit of the victory which perfect virtue gains over self-love; and it is a more perfect sacrifice to God, a surer test of sincere virtue, a more heroic victory, and a more glorious triumph of the soul to bear a slander, an injurious suspicion, or an unjust insult, in silence and patience, than the most shining exterior act of virtue; a language often repeated, but little understood or practised among Christians. Perfect self-denial, the most profound humility, and an eminent spirit of prayer were the means by which St. Vincent attained to this degree of perfection; and he most earnestly recommended the same to his disciples. Humility he would have them to make the basis of his Congregation, and it was the lesson which he never ceased to repeat to them, that they ought to study sincerely to conceal even their natural talents. When two persons of extraordinary learning and abilities once presented themselves, desiring to be admitted into his Congregation, he gave them both a repulse, telling them, “Your abilities raise you above our low state. Your talents may be of good service in some other place. As for us, our highest ambition is to instruct the ignorant, to bring sinners to a spirit of penance, and to plant the gospel-spirit of charity, humility, meekness, and simplicity in the hearts of all Christians.” He laid it down also as a rule of humility, that, if possible, a man ought never to speak of himself or his own concerns, such discourse usually proceeding from, and nourishing in the heart, pride and self-love. This indeed is a rule prescribed by Confucius, Aristotle, Cato, Pliny, and other philosophers; because, say they, for any one to boast of himself is always the most intolerable and barefaced pride, and modesty in such discourse will be suspected of secret vanity. Egotism, or the itch of speaking always of a man’s self, shows he is intoxicated with the poison of self-love, refers everything to himself, and is his own centre, than which scarce anything can be more odious and offensive to others. But Christian humility carries this maxim higher, teaching us to love a hidden life, and to lie concealed and buried, as being in ourselves nothingness and sin.

St. Vincent exerted his zeal against the novelties concerning the article of divine grace which sprang up in his time. Michael Baius, doctor and professor of divinity at Louvain, advanced a new doctrine concerning the grace conferred on man in the two states before and after Adam’s fall, and some other speculative points; and pope Pius V. in 1567, condemned seventy-six propositions under his name. Some of these, Baius confessed he had taught, and these he solemnly revoked and sincerely condemned with all the rest in 1580, in presence of F. Francis Toletus, afterward cardinal, whom Gregory XIII. had sent for that very purpose to Louvain. Cornelius Jansenius and John Verger, commonly called Abbé de St. Cyran, contracted a close friendship together during their studies first at Louvain, afterward at Paris, and concerted a plan of a new system of doctrine concerning divine grace, founded, in part, upon some of the condemned errors of Baius. This system Jansenius, by his friend’s advice, endeavored to establish in a book, which from St. Austin, the great doctor of grace, he entitled, Augustinus. After having been bishop of Ipres from 1635 to 1638, he died of the pestilence, having never published his book, in the close of which he inserted a declaration that he submitted his work to the judgment of the Church.216 Fromond, another Louvanian divine, and abler scholar, and a more polite writer, polished the style of this book, and put it in the press.217 Verger became director of the nuns of Port-Royal, had read some ancient writers on books of devotion, and wrote with ease.218 But his very works on subjects of piety, however neatly written, betray the author’s excessive presumption and forbidding self-sufficiency. He became the most strenuous advocate for Jansenism, and was detained ten years prisoner in the castle of Vincennes. He died soon after he had recovered his liberty, in 1643. This man had by his reputation gained the esteem of St. Vincent; but the saint hearing him one day advance his errors, and add that the Church had failed for five or six hundred years past, he was struck with horror, and from that moment renounced the friendship of so dangerous a person. When these errors were afterward more publicly spread abroad, he strenuously exerted himself against them; on which account Gerberon, the Jansenistical historian, makes him the butt of his rancor and spleen. But general and vague invectives of the enemies to truth are the commendation of his piety and zeal.219 Our saint’s efforts to destroy that heresy, says Abelly, never made him approve a loose morality, which on all occasions he no less avoided and abhorred than the errors of the Jansenists. He was particularly careful in insisting on all the conditions of true repentance to render it sincere and perfect; for want of which he used to say with St. Ambrose, that some pretended penitents are rendered more criminal by their sacrilegious hypocrisy in the abuse of so great a sacrament, than they were by all their former sins.

In the year 1658 St. Vincent assembled the members of his Congregation at St. Lazarus, and gave to every one a small book of rules which he had compiled. At the same time he made a pathetic exhortation, to enforce the most exact and religious observance of them. This Congregation was again approved and confirmed by Alexander VII., and Clement X. St. Vincent was chosen by St. Francis of Sales director of his nuns of the Visitation that were established at Paris. The robust constitution of the zealous servant of God was impaired by his uninterrupted fatigues and austerities. In the eightieth year of his age he was seized with a periodical fever, with violent night sweats. After passing the night almost without sleep, and in an agony of pain, he never failed to rise at four in the morning, to spend three hours in prayer, to say mass every day (except on the three first days of his annual retreat, according to the custom he had established), and to exert, as usual, his indefatigable zeal in the exercises of charity and religion. He even redoubled his diligence in giving his last instructions to his spiritual children; and recited every day after mass the prayers of the Church for persons in their agony, with the recommendation of the soul, and other preparatory acts for his last hour. Alexander VII. in consideration of the extreme weakness to which his health was reduced, sent him a brief to dispense him from reciting his breviary; but before it arrived the servant of God had finished the course of his labors. Having received the last sacraments and given his last advice, he calmly expired in his chair, on the 27th of September 1660, being fourscore and five years old. He was buried in the church of St. Lazarus in Paris, with an extraordinary concourse and pomp. An account of several predictions of this servant of God, and some miraculous cures performed by him whilst alive, may be read in his life written by Collet,220 with a great number of miracles wrought through his intercession after his death at Paris, Angiers, Sens, in Italy, &c. Mr. Bonnet, superior of the seminary at Chartres, afterward general of the Congregation, by imploring this saint’s intercession, was healed instantaneously of an inveterate entire rupture, called by the physicians entero-epiplo-celle,221 which had been declared by the ablest surgeons absolutely incurable; this miracle was approved by cardinal Noailles. Several like cures of fevers, hemorrhages, palsies, dysenteries, and other distempers were juridically proved. A girl eight years old, both dumb and lame, was cured by a second Novena or nine days’ devotion performed for her by her mother in honor of St. Vincent. His body was visited by cardinal Noailles in presence of many witnesses, in 1712, and found entire and fresh, and the linen cloths in the same condition as if they were new. The tomb was then shut up again. This ceremony is usually performed before the beatification of a servant of God, though the incorruption of the body by itself is not regarded as a miraculous proof at Rome or elsewhere, as Collet remarks.222 After the ordinary rigorous examinations of the conduct, heroic virtues, and miracles of this saint at Rome, pope Benedict XIII. performed with great solemnity the ceremony of his beatification, in 1729. Upon the publication of the brief thereof, the archbishop of Paris caused the grave to be again opened. The lady marechale of Noailles, the marshal her son, and many other persons were present; but the flesh on the legs and head appeared corrupted, which alteration from the state in which it was found twenty-seven years before, was attributed to a flood of water which twelve years before this had overflowed that vault. Miracles continued frequently to be wrought by the relics and invocation of St. Vincent. A Benedictin nun at Montmirel, afflicted with a violent fever, retention of urine, ulcers, and other disorders, her body being swelled to an enormous size, and having been a long time paralytic, was perfectly cured all at once by a relic of St. Vincent applied to her by Monseigneur Joseph Languet, then bishop of Soissons. Francis Richer, in Paris, was healed in a no less miraculous manner. Miss Louisa Elizabeth Sackville, an English young lady at Paris, was cured of a palsy by performing a novena at the tomb of St. Vincent; which miracle was attested in the strongest manner, among others, by Mrs. Hayes, a protestant gentlewoman with whom she lodged. Miss Sackville became afterward a nun in the French abbey called of the Holy Sacrament, in Paris, lived ten years without any return of her former disorder, and died in 1742. St. Vincent was canonized in 1737 by pope Clement XII.

This saint could not display his zeal more to the advantage of his neighbor than by awaking Christians from the spiritual lethargy in which so many live. He set before their eyes the grievous disorder of lukewarmness in the divine service, and explained to them, like another Baptist, the necessity and obligations of sincere repentance; for those certainly can never be entitled to the divine favor who live in an ambiguous, divided, and distracted state of sinning and repenting; of being heathens and Christians by turns. Still more dreadful is the state of those who live in habitual sin, yet are insensible of their danger, and frightful miseries! Into what extravagance, folly, spiritual blindness, and sometimes incredulity, do men’s passions often plunge them! To what a degree of madness and stupidity do men of the finest natural parts sink, when abandoned by God! or rather when they themselves abandon God, and that light which he has set up in the world! Let us by tears and prayers implore the divine mercy in favor of all blind sinners.


He was a Roman by birth, and was related to senators. He had been trained up in learning and piety, was sincerely virtuous, and well skilled, not only in the holy scriptures, but also in the profane sciences, and in the Latin and Greek languages and literature. He was in deacon’s orders, and led a retired life at home with his sister, in Rome, when the emperor Theodosius the Great wanted a person to whom he might intrust the care of his children, and desired the emperor Gratian to apply for that purpose to the bishop of Rome, who recommended Arsenius. Gratian sent him to Constantinople, where he was kindly received by Theodosius, who advanced him to the rank of a senator, with orders that he should be respected as the father of his children, whose tutor and preceptor he appointed him. No one in the court at that time wore richer apparel, had more sumptuous furniture, or was attended by a more numerous train of servants than Arsenius; he was attended by no fewer than a thousand, all richly clad. Theodosius coming one day to see his children at their studies, found them sitting, whilst Arsenius talked to them standing. Being displeased thereat, he took from them for some time the marks of their dignity, and caused Arsenius to sit, and them to listen to him standing.

Arsenius had always a great inclination to a retired life, which the care of his employment and the incumbrances of a great fortune made him desire the more ardently; for titles and honors were burthensome to him. At length, about the year 390, an opportunity offered itself. Arcadius having committed a considerable fault, Arsenius whipped him for it. The young prince, resenting the chastisement, grew the more obstinate. Arsenius laid hold of this occasion to execute the project he had long before formed of forsaking the world. The Lives of the Fathers, both in Rosweide and Cotelier, make no mention of this resentment of Arcadius, which circumstance is only related by Metaphrastes; on which account it is omitted by Tillemont and others. It is most certain that retirement had long been the object of the saint’s most earnest wishes and desires; but before he left the court, he for a long time begged by earnest prayer to know the will of God; and one day making this request with great fervor, he heard a voice, saying, “Arsenius, flee the company of men, and thou shalt be saved.” He obeyed the call of heaven without delay, and going on board a vessel, sailed to Alexandria, and thence proceeded to the desert of Sceté, where he embraced an anachoretical life. This happened about the year 394, he being in the fortieth year of his age, and having lived eleven years at the court. There he renewed his prayers to God, begging to be instructed in the way of salvation, having no other desire than to make it his only study to please God in all things. Whilst he prayed thus, he again heard a voice which said, “Arsenius, flee, hold thy peace, and be quiet; these are the principles of salvation,”223 that is, the main things to be observed in order to be saved. Pursuant to the repeated advice or injunction of fleeing and avoiding human conversation, he made choice of a very remote cell, and admitted very few visits even from his own brethren. When he went to the church, upwards of thirty miles distance from his habitation, he would place himself behind one of the pillars, the better to prevent his seeing or being seen by any one. Theodosius, in great affliction for the loss of him, caused search to be made for him both by sea and land; but being soon after called into the West to revenge the death of Valentinian II., and to extinguish the rebellion of Arbogastus his murderer, and Eugenius, died of a dropsy at Milan in 395. Arcadius being left emperor of the East, advanced Rufin, who was the prefectus-prætorio, and had been his flattering governor, to the rank of prime minister, committing to him the direction not only of his armies, but also of the whole empire. He at the same time earnestly desired to call back to court his holy master Arsenius, that he might be assisted by his wise and faithful counsels. Being informed that he was in the desert of Sceté, he wrote to him, recommending himself to his prayers, begging his forgiveness, and offering him the disposal of all the tribute of Egypt, that he might make a provision for the monasteries and the poor at his discretion; but the saint had no other ambition on earth than to be allowed the liberty of enjoying his solitude, that he might employ his time in bewailing his sins, and in preparing his soul for eternity. He therefore answered the emperor’s message only by word of mouth, saying, “God grant as all the pardon of our sins; as to the distribution of the money, I am not capable of such a charge, being already dead to the world.” When he first presented himself to the ancients or superiors of the monks of Sceté, and begged to be allowed to serve God under their direction, they recommended him to the care of St. John the Dwarf, who, when the rest in the evening sat down to take their repast, took his place among them, and left Arsenius standing in the middle without taking notice of him. Such a reception was a severe trial to a courtier; but was followed by another much rougher; for, in the middle of the repast, St. John took a loaf or portion of bread, and threw it on the ground before him, bidding him, with an air of indifference, eat if he would. Arsenius cheerfully fell on the ground, and in that posture took his meal. St. John was so satisfied with his behavior in this single instance, that he required no further trial for his admission, and said to his brethren: “Return to your cells with the blessing of the Lord. Pray for us. This person is fit for a religious life.”

Arsenius, after his retreat, only distinguished himself among the anchorets by his greater humility and fervor. At first he used, without perceiving it, to do certain things which he had practised in the world, which seemed to savor of levity or immortification, as, for instance, to sit cross-legged, or laying one knee over another. The seniors were unwilling, through the great respect they bore him, to tell him of this in a public assembly in which they were met to hold a spiritual conference together; but abbot Pemen or Pastor made use of this stratagem: He agreed with another that he should put himself in that posture; and then he rebuked him for his immodesty; nor did the other offer any excuse. Arsenius perceived that the reproof was meant for him, and corrected himself of that custom. In other respects he appeared from the beginning an accomplished master in every exercise of virtue in that venerable company of saints. To punish himself for his seeming vanity at court, because he had there gone more richly habited than others, his garments were always the meanest of all the monks in Sceté. He employed himself on working-days till noon in making mats of palm-tree leaves; and he always worked with a handkerchief in his bosom, to wipe off the tears which continually fell from his eyes. He never changed the water in which he moistened his palm-tree leaves, but only poured in fresh water upon it as it wasted. When some asked him one day why he did not cast away the corrupted water, he answered, “I ought to be punished by this ill smell for the sensuality with which I formerly used perfumes when I lived in the world.” To satisfy for former superfluities he lived in the most universal poverty, so that in a violent fit of illness having occasion for a small sum to procure him some little necessaries, he was obliged to receive it in alms, whereupon he gave God thanks for being made worthy to be thus reduced to the necessity of asking alms in his name. The distemper continued so long upon him that the priest of this desert of Sceté caused him to be carried to his apartment contiguous to the church, and laid him on a little bed made of the skins of beasts, with a pillow under his head. One of the monks coming to see him, was much scandalized at his lying so easy, and said, “Is this the abbot Arsenius?” The priest took him aside, and asked him what his employment had been in the village before he was a monk? The old man answered, “I was a shepherd, and lived with much pains and difficulty.” Then the priest said, “Do you see this abbot Arsenius? when he was in the world he was the father of the emperors: he had a thousand slaves clothed in silk, with bracelets and girdles of gold, and he slept on the softest and richest beds. You who was a shepherd, did not find in the world the ease which you now enjoy.” The old man, moved by these words, fell down, and said, “Pardon me, father, I have sinned; he is in the true way of humiliation;” and he went away exceedingly edified. Arsenius in his sickness wanting a linen garment, accepted something given him in charity, to buy one, saying, “I return thanks to thee, O Lord, for thy grace and mercy, in permitting me to receive alms in thy name.” One of the emperor’s officers, at another time, brought him the will of a senator, his relation, who was lately dead and had left him his heir. The saint took the will, and would have torn it to pieces, but the officer threw himself at his feet, and begged him not to tear it, saying, such an accident would expose him to be tried for his life. St. Arsenius, however, refused the estate, saying, “I died before him, and cannot be made his heir.”

Though no one knew the saint’s fasts, they must have been excessive, as the measure of corn, called thallin,224 sent him for the year, was exceeding small; this, however, he managed so well as not only to make it suffice for himself, but also to impart some of it to his disciples when they came to visit him. When new fruit was brought him he just tasted it, and gave thanks to God; but he took so little as to show he did it only to avoid the vanity of singularity. Great abstinence makes little sleep to suffice nature. Accordingly St. Arsenius often passed the whole night in watching and prayer, as we learn from his disciple Daniel. At other times, having watched a considerable part of the night, when nature could hold out no longer, he would allow himself a short repose, which he took sitting, after which he resumed his wonted exercises. On Saturday evenings, as the same disciple relates, it was his custom to go to prayers at sun-set, and continue in that exercise with his hands lifted up to heaven till the sun beat on his face the next morning. His affection for the holy exercise of prayer, and his dread of the danger of vain-glory, gave him the strongest love of retirement. He had two disciples who lived near him, and did all his necessary business abroad. Their names were Alexander and Zoilus; he afterward admitted a third, called Daniel. All three were famous for their sanctity and discretion, and frequent mention is made of them in the histories of the fathers of the deserts of Egypt. St. Arsenius would seldom see strangers who came to visit him, saying, he would only use his eyes to behold the heavens.

Theophilus, the patriarch of Alexandria, came one day in company with a certain great officer and others to visit him, and begged he would entertain them on some spiritual subject for the good of their souls. The saint asked them whether they were disposed to comply with his directions; and being answered in the affirmative, he replied; “I entreat you, then, that wherever you are informed of Arsenius’s abode, you would leave him to himself, and spare yourselves the trouble of coming after him.” On another occasion, when the same patriarch sent to know if he would open his door to him if he came, St. Arsenius returned for answer, that if he came alone he would; but that if he brought others with him he would seek out some other place, and would stay there no longer. Melania, a noble Roman lady, travelled as far as Egypt only to see Arsenius, and by means of Theophilus, contrived to meet him as he was coming out of his cell. She threw herself at his feet. The saint said to her, “A woman ought not to leave her house. You have crossed these great seas that you may be able to say at Rome that you have seen Arsenius, and raise in others a curiosity to come and see me.” Not daring to lift up her eyes, as she lay on the ground, she begged he would always remember her and pray for her. He answered, “I pray that the remembrance of you be blotted out of my mind.” Melania returned to Alexandria in great grief at this answer: but Theophilus comforted her, saying, “He only prayed that he might forget your person on account of your sex; but as for your soul, doubt not but he will pray for you.”

The saint never visited his brethren, contenting himself with meeting them at spiritual conferences. The abbot Mark asked him one day in the name of the hermits, why he so much shunned their conversation? The saint answered: “God knoweth how dearly I love you all; but I find I cannot be both with God and with men at the same time; nor can I think of leaving God to converse with men.” This disposition, however, did not hinder him from giving short lessons of virtue to his brethren, and several of his apophthegms are recorded among those of the ancient fathers. He said often, “I have always something to repent of after having conversed with men; but have never been sorry for having been silent.” He had frequently in his mouth those words which St. Euthymius and St. Bernard used also to repeat to themselves, to renew their fervor in the discharge of the obligations of their profession: “Arsenius, why hast thou forsaken the world, and wherefore art thou come hither?” Being asked one day why he, being so well versed in the sciences, sought the instruction and advice of a certain monk who was an utter stranger to all human literature? he replied, “I am not unacquainted with the learning of the Greeks and Romans; but I have not yet learned the alphabet of the science of the saints, whereof this seemingly ignorant person is master.”

Though the saint was excellently versed in sacred learning, and in the maxims and practice of perfect Christian virtue, he never would discourse on any point of scripture, and chose rather to hear than to instruct or speak, making it the first part of his study to divest his mind of all secret opinion of himself, or confidence in his own abilities or learning; and this he justly called the foundation of humility and all Christian virtue. Evagrius of Pontus, who had distinguished himself at Constantinople by his learning, and had retired to Jerusalem, and thence into the deserts of Nitria in 385, expressed his surprise to our saint, that many very learned men made no progress in virtue, whilst many Egyptians who knew not the very letters of the alphabet arrived at a high degree of sublime contemplation. To whom Arsenius made this answer: “We make no progress in virtue, because we dwell in that exterior learning which puffs up the mind; but these illiterate Egyptians have a true sense of their own weakness, blindness, and insufficiency; by which they are qualified to labor successfully in the pursuit of virtue.” This saint used often to cry out to God with tears, in the most profound sentiment of humility, “O Lord, forsake me not; I have done nothing that can be acceptable in thy sight; but for the sake of thy infinite mercy enable and assist me that I may now begin to serve thee faithfully.”

Nothing is so remarkable or so much spoken of by the ancients concerning our saint, as the perpetual tears which flowed from his eyes almost without intermission. The source from which they sprung was the ardor with which he sighed after the glorious light of eternity, and the spirit of compunction with which he never ceased to bewail the sins of his life past, and the daily imperfections into which he fell. But nothing was more amiable or sweet than these tears of devotion, as appeared in the venerable and majestic serenity of his countenance. His example was a proof of what the saints assure us concerning the sweetness of the tears of divine love. “When you hear tears named,” says St. Chrysostom,225 “do not represent to yourselves any thing grievous or terrible. They are sweeter than any carnal delights which the world can enjoy.” St. Austin says to the same purpose:226 “The tears of devotion are sweeter than the joys of theatres.” St. John Climacus unfolds to us at large the incomparable advantages and holy pleasure of pious tears, and among other things writes thus:227 “I am astonished when I consider the happiness of holy compunction; and I wonder how carnal men can think it affliction. It contains in it a pleasure and spiritual joy as wax does honey. God in an invisible manner visits and comforts the heart that is broken with this holy sorrow.” Saint Arsenius being asked by a certain person what he must do to deliver himself from a troublesome temptation of impure thoughts, the saint gave him this answer,—“What did the Midianites do? They decked and adorned their daughters, and led them to the Israelites, though they used no violence upon them. Those among the servants of God that treated them with severity, and revenged their treachery and criminal designs with their blood, put a stop to their lewdness. Behave in the same manner with regard to your evil thoughts. Repulse them vigorously, and punish yourself for this attempt made in yourself towards a revolt.”

This great saint lived in a continual remembrance and apprehension of death and the divine judgment. This made Theophilus, the busy patriarch of Alexandria, cry out when he lay on his death-bed in 312: “Happy Arsenius! who has had this moment always before his eyes.” His tears did not disfigure his countenance, which, from the inward peace and joy of his soul, mixed with sweet compunction; and from his assiduous conversation with God, appeared to have something angelical or heavenly; being equally venerable for a certain shining beauty, and an inexpressible air of majesty and meekness, in a fair and vigorous old age. The great and experienced master in a contemplative life, St. John Climacus, proposes St. Arsenius as an accomplished model, and calls him a man equal to the angels,228 saying that he shunned so rigorously the conversation of men, only that he might not lose something more precious, which was God, who always filled his soul. Our saint called it a capital and indispensable duty of a monk never to intermeddle in any temporal concerns, and never to listen to any news of the world. He was tall and comely, but stooped a little in his old age; had a graceful mien, his hair was all white, and his beard reached down to his girdle; but the tears which he shed continually had worn away his eyelashes. He was forty years old when he quitted the court, and he lived in the same austere manner from that time to the age of ninety-five; he spent forty years in the desert of Sceté, except that about the year 395, he was obliged to leave it for a short time, on account of an irruption of the Mazici, a barbarous people of Lybia; but the plunderers were no sooner returned home but he hastened back to his former solitude, where he remained till a second inroad of the same barbarians, in which they massacred several hermits, compelled him entirely to forsake this abode about the year 434. He retired weeping to the rock of Troë, called also Petra, over against Memphis, and ten years after, to Canopus near Alexandria; but not being able to bear the neighborhood of that great city, he stayed here only three years; then returned to Troë, where he died two years after. Knowing that his end was drawing near he said to his disciples, —“One only thing I beg of your charity, that when I am dead I may be remembered in the holy sacrifice. If in my life I have done any thing that is accepted by God, through his mercy, that I shall now find again.” They were much grieved to hear him speak as if they were going soon to lose him. Upon which he said, “My hour is not yet come. I will acquaint you of it; but you shall answer at the tribunal of Christ, if you suffer any thing belonging to me to be kept as a relic.” They said with tears (being solicitous for a funeral procession), “What shall we do alone, father? for we know not how to bury the dead.” The saint answered, “Tie a cord to my feet, and drag my carcass to the top of the mountain, and there leave it.” His brethren seeing him weep in his agony, said to him, “Father, why do you weep? are you like others, afraid to die?” The saint answered, “I am seized with great fear: nor has this dread ever forsaken me from the time I first came into these deserts.” The saints all serve God in fear and trembling, in the constant remembrance of his judgment; but this is always accompanied with a sweet confidence in his infinite love and mercies. The Holy Ghost indeed so diversifies his gifts and graces as to make these dispositions more sensible in some than in others. Notwithstanding this fear, St. Arsenius expired in great peace, full of faith, and of that humble confidence which perfect charity inspires, about the year 449. He was ninety-five years old, of which he had spent fifty-five in the desert. Abbot Pemen having seen him expire, said with tears, “Happy Arsenius! who have wept for yourself so much here on earth! Those who weep not here shall weep eternally hereafter.” This saint was looked upon by the most eminent monks of succeeding ages as a most illustrious pattern of their state. The great St. Euthymius endeavored in all his exercises to form himself upon the model of his life, and to copy in himself his humility, his meekness and constant evenness of mind, his abstinences and watching, his compunction and tears, his love of retirement, his charity, discretion, fervor, assiduous application to prayer, and that greatness of soul which appeared with so much lustre in all his actions. The name of St. Arsenius occurs in the Roman Martyrology on the 19th of July. See his life written by St. Theodore the Studite; and another in Metaphrastes; also the Lives of the Fathers of the Desert, in Rosweide and D’Andilly, t. 2, p. 183, collated with a very fair ancient MS. probably of Saint Edmund’s-bury, more ample than that published by Rosweide, in the hands of Mr. Martin, attorney at law in Palgrave, in Suffolk. See likewise the Apophthegms of the Fathers in Cotelier’s Monumenta Ecclesiæ Græcæ; the collections and remarks of Pinius the Bollandist, Jul. t. 4, p. 605, and F. Marian, Vies des Pères des Déserts d’Orient, t. 3, p. 284 ad 339.


He was a native of Sardinia, and archdeacon of the Roman church under pope Anastasius, and succeeded him in the holy see in 498. Festus, the patrician, had been gained by Anastasius, emperor of Constantinople, and a protector of the Eutychians, to endeavor to procure from pope Anastasius a confirmation of the Henoticon of Zeno, an imperial edict in favor of those heretics, as Theophanes relates. That pope dying, Festus, by bribes, gained several voices to raise Laurence, archpriest of St. Praxedes, to the pontificate. They were both ordained the same day; Symmachus in the basilic of Constantine, and Laurence in that of our lady. Theodoric, king of Italy, though an Arian, ordered that election should take place which was first, and made by the greater number. By this rule Symmachus was acknowledged lawful pope. He called a council at Rome of seventy-three bishops, and sixty-seven priests, which, to prevent cabals and factions in the elections of popes, ordained that if any one promised his vote to another, or deliberated in any assembly upon that subject, whilst the pope is living, he should be deposed and excommunicated; and that after the pope’s death that person should be duly elected who had a majority of the voices of the clergy. Laurence subscribed these decrees the first among the priests,229 and was afterward made bishop of Nocera. Soon after, some of the clergy and senators, by the contrivance of Festus and Probinus, privately recalled Laurence to Rome, and renewed the schism, which is by many historians reckoned the first that happened in that church, though Novatian had attempted to form one. The schismatics accused Symmachus of many crimes, and king Theodoric commanded a synod should be held at Rome upon that occasion. The bishops of Liguria, Emilia, and Venetia took Ravenna in their way to Rome, and strongly represented to the king, that the pope himself ought to call the council, which right he enjoyed both by the primacy of his see, derived from St. Peter, and by the authority of councils; also, that there never had been an instance of his being subjected to the judgment of his inferiors.230 The king showed them the pope’s letters by which he agreed to, and summoned the council. Indeed the pontifical says, that Symmachus assembled this council.231

The synod met at Rome in September, 501, and declared pope Symmachus acquitted of the accusations entered against him, condemning to be punished as schismatics any who should celebrate mass without his consent; but pardoning those who had raised the schism, provided they gave satisfaction to the pope.232 When this decree was carried into Gaul, all the bishops were alarmed at it; and they charged Saint Avitus, bishop of Vienne, to write about it in the name of them all. He addressed his letter to Faustus and Symmachus, two patricians who had both been consuls, complaining, that when the Pope had been accused before the prince, the bishops, instead of opposing such an injustice, had taken upon them to judge him: “For,” says he, “it is not easy to apprehend how the superior can be judged by his inferiors, especially the head of the Church.” However, he commends the council for bearing testimony to his innocence, and earnestly entreats the senate to maintain the honor of the Church, and not to suffer the flocks to rise up against their pastors. The famous deacon Paschasius, a man eminent for his great alms-deeds and other good works, had the misfortune blindly to abet this schism to the latter end of his life; for which St. Gregory the Great relates, upon the authority of a certain revelation,233 that he was detained in purgatory after his death, but delivered by the prayers of St. Germanus, bishop of Capua. Ceillier thinks that he repented only in his last moments;234 or, that simplicity of heart extenuated his sin. Paschasius wrote a learned book on the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, though the two books on that subject which now bear his name, are the work of Faustus of Riez.

Pope Symmachus wrote to the emperor Anastasius declaring that he could not hold communion with him so long as he maintained that of Acacius. That prince expected such a menace from the zeal of the pope, and therefore he had not written to him upon his promotion, according to custom. He also accused him of Manicheism, though Symmachus had banished the Manichees out of Rome; and he did not cease to thwart the pope, dreading his known zeal against his favorite sect of the Acephali. Symmachus composed an apology against this emperor, in which he shows the dignity of the Christian priesthood.235 He wrote to the Oriental bishops, exhorting them to suffer banishment and all persecutions rather than to betray the divine truth.236 King Thrasimund having banished many Catholic African bishops into Sardinia, pope Symmachus sent them annually both clothes and money; and there is still extant among the works of Ennodius a letter which this pope sent to comfort them. He accompanied it with some relics of the martyrs SS. Nazarius and Romanus. He redeemed many captives; and gave one hundred and seventy-nine pounds of silver in ornaments to several churches in Rome; and to the chapel of the holy cross, a gold cross of ten pound weight, in which he inclosed a piece of the true cross. On a ciborium, that is, in the language of that time, a tabernacle, which he gave to St. Paul’s church, he caused to be engraved the figures of our Saviour and the twelve apostles. He instituted that the hymn of divine praise called the Gloria in Excelsis should be sung on every Sunday, and on the festivals of martyrs, as the pontifical testifies. He filled the papal chair fifteen years and eight months; and died on the 19th of July, 514. See his letters, the councils, and Anastasius Bibl. Also F. Amort’s Diss. on the cause of pope Symmachus, printed at Bologna in 1758.


She was the eldest of all the ten children of St. Basil the elder, and St. Emmelia; and being trained up in excellent sentiments of piety, after the death of her father, consecrated her virginity by vow to God, and was a great assistant to her mother in educating her younger brothers and sisters. St. Basil the Great, St. Peter of Sebaste, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and the rest, learned from her their early contempt of the world, dread of its dangers, and application to prayer and the word of God. When they were sent abroad for their improvement, Macrina induced her mother to concur with her in founding two monasteries, one for men, the other for women, at a little distance from each other, on their own estate, near Ibora in Pontus. That of men was first governed by St. Basil, afterward by St. Peter. Macrina drew up the rules for the nunnery with admirable prudence and piety, and established in it the love and spirit of the most universal poverty, and disengagement from the world, mortification, humility, assiduous prayer, and singing of psalms. God was pleased to afflict her with a most painful cancer: which at length her mother cured by making, at her request, the sign of the cross upon the sore; only a black spot remained ever after upon the part that had been affected.

After the death of St. Emmelia, Macrina disposed of all that was left of their estate in favor of the poor, and lived herself, like the rest of the nuns, on what she earned by the labor of her hands. Her brother Basil died in the beginning of the year 379, and she herself fell ill eleven months after. St. Gregory of Nyssa, making her a visit, after eight years’ absence, found her sick of a raging fever, lying on two boards, one of which served for her bed, and the other for her pillow. He was exceedingly comforted by her pious discourses, and animated by the fervor and ardent sighs of divine love and penance, by which she prepared herself for her last hour. She calmly expired, after having armed herself with the sign of the cross. Such was the poverty of the house that nothing was found to cover her corpse when it was carried to the grave, but her old hood and coarse veil; but St. Gregory threw over it his episcopal cloak. She had worn about her neck a fillet, on which hung an iron cross and a ring. St. Gregory gave the cross to a nun named Vestiana, but kept himself the ring, in which the metal was hollow, and contained in it a particle of the true cross. Araxus, bishop of the place, and St. Gregory led up the funeral procession, which consisted of the clergy, the monks, and nuns, in two separate choirs. The whole company walked singing psalms, with torches in their hands. The holy remains were conveyed to the church of the Forty Martyrs, a mile distant from the monastery, and were deposited in the same vault with the saint’s mother. Prayers were offered up for them both. St. Macrina died in December, 379; but is commemorated both by the Latins and Greeks on the 19th of July. This account is given us by St. Gregory of Nyssa, in the funeral discourse he made upon her, t. 2, p. 149. Add the remarks of F. Bosch, the Bollandist, t. 4, Julij, p. 589.



He was one of the seventy-two disciples of our Lord, and was put in competition with St. Matthias to succeed the traitor Judas in the apostleship.237 St. Chrysostom238 remarks that St. Joseph was not displeased, but rejoiced in the Lord to see the preference given to St. Matthias. After the dispersion of the disciples he preached the gospel to many nations; and among other miracles, drank poison without receiving any hurt, as Papias, and from him Eusebius, testify.239 This saint, from his extraordinary piety, was surnamed the Just.

The lives of the apostles and primitive Christians were a miracle in morals, and a sensible effect of almighty grace. Burning with holy zeal, they had no interest on earth but that of the divine honor, which they sought in all things; and being warmed with the expectation of an eternal kingdom, they were continually discoursing of it, and comforting one another with the hopes of possessing it; and they did little else but prepare to die. Thus by example, still more than by words, they subdued their very enemies to the faith, and brought them to a like spirit and practice. Their converts, by a wonderful change of manners, became in a moment new creatures. Those who had been the most bitter enemies, long bent to lust and passion, became the most loving, forgiving, and chaste persons in the world. Has grace wrought in us so perfect a conversion? Do our lives glorify God’s name in this manner, by a spirit and practice agreeable to the principles of our divine faith?


According to the ancient Martyrologies, she suffered at Antioch in Pisidia, in the last general persecution. She is said to have been instructed in the faith by a Christian nurse, to have been persecuted by her own father, a priest of the idols; and after many torments, to have gloriously finished her martyrdom by the sword. Her name occurs in the Litany inserted in the old Roman order, and in the most ancient calendars of the Greeks. From the east her veneration was exceedingly propagated in England, France, and Germany, in the eleventh century, during the holy wars. Her body is now kept at Monte-Fiascone in Tuscany. Vida, the glory of the Christian muses, has honored St. Margaret who is one of the tutelar saints of Cremona, his native city, with two hymns; begging of God through her prayers, not long life, riches, or honors, but the grace of a happy death and a holy life, that he might be admitted, with a devout and pious heart, to praise God in the choir of his holy servants. See his hymns, and Pinius the Bollandist, Julij, t. 5, p. 28.


These holy martyrs were two Christian women at Seville in Spain, who maintained both themselves and many poor persons by selling earthenware. A fervent soul finds in the most ordinary course of life occasions of exercising many heroic acts of virtue, and makes every ordinary action a perfect holocaust by performing it with a most ardent desire of pleasing God with the entire sacrifice of itself. Such were the lives of these two faithful servants of God in the world. So perfect a virtue deserved to be honored with the crown of martyrdom. Though these saints gave all their substance to the poor, and were desirous to serve every one for the edification of their souls, yet no motives could draw them into any criminal condescension. Not to concur to the idolatrous superstitions, they refused to sell vessels for the use of heathenish sacrifices. The Pagans, offended at their religious scruple, when Dioclesian’s edicts renewed the persecution, broke all the ware in their shop, and impeached them for their faith before the governor. The prefect, after they had boldly confessed Christ, commanded them to be stretched on the rack, and their sides in the meantime to be torn with iron hooks. An idol was placed near the rack with incense, that if they would offer sacrifice, they should be that moment released; but their fidelity was not to be shaken. Justa expired on the rack: which, when the judge saw, he ordered Rufina to be strangled, and their bodies to be burnt. They suffered in the year 304. See their acts published by Maldonat; also Ado, Usuard, &c.


He was of the house of the counts of Odrovans, and brother to St. Hyacinth, and lived near Cracow in Poland. Having devoted himself to God in an ecclesiastical state, he became eminent for piety, learning, and the innocence of his manners. He was first instituted to a canonry at Cracow, but afterward promoted to be conservator of Sendomir. His riches he employed on the poor, leading himself a most abstemious penitential life. Happening to accompany his uncle Yvo Konski, chancellor of Poland, into Italy, he received at Rome, together with St. Hyacinth, the habit of St. Dominic from the hands of that holy founder in 1218. Returning into Germany and Poland, he preached penance with wonderful fruit. In 1222 he founded at Prague a convent of one hundred and twenty-six friars, in which Andrew, the bishop of Prague, took the religious habit, having first, with the consent of pope Honorius III. resigned his see. St. Ceslas built in the same city a nunnery of the same order, in which, soon after his death, queen Margaret, daughter of Leopold, archduke of Austria, and widow of Henry, king of the Romans, professed herself, out of humility, a lay-sister. The saint sent Adrian with twenty-six other friars of his order to preach the faith in Bosnia, where they all received the crown of martyrdom. St. Ceslas himself preached in Silesia, and resided long at Breslaw. He directed St. Hedwiges in the paths of Christian perfection, was endowed with the gifts of prophecy and miracles, and filled the northern kingdoms with many eminent servants of God.

In 1240 the Tartars, marching from Asia with an army of five hundred thousand men, fell like a torrent on the West, and spread universal desolation over Russia, Bulgaria, Sclavonia, Poland, and Hungary, to the borders of Germany. They slew Henry II., surnamed the Pious, duke of Silesia, in a great battle at Wolstadt in 1241, and marched against Breslaw, his capital. The inhabitants burned or hid their most precious effects, and, abandoning the city to the enemy, shut themselves up in the citadel. St. Ceslas bore them company to assist and comfort them, and never ceased with tears to implore the divine protection. God was pleased to hear his prayers. When the barbarians had made a breach, and were preparing to scale the walls, the saint coming from offering the divine mysteries appeared upon the walls, and at the same time a globe of fire fell from the heavens upon the camp of the infidels, which it filled with confusion and terror. In the meantime the Christians made a sally, and the numberless troops of the barbarians perceiving that heaven visibly fought against them, whilst many were perishing by the flame, betook themselves to flight, and abandoned their enterprise. Thus they who had overturned so many thrones, and trampled to the ground so many powerful armies, saw themselves tumbled down from their victories and pride by the prayer of one humble servant of God, who renewed on this occasion the miracles of Elias and Eliseus. The circumstances of this wonderful deliverance are authentically attested by ancient records, still preserved among the public archives of the city of Breslaw, and are related by Martin Cromer, bishop of Heilsberg or Warmia, in his history of Poland, Longinus, and other historians of the northern kingdoms. St. Ceslas died in July, the following year, 1242. His relics are preserved in a stately chapel at Breslaw. The immemorial veneration of his name was approved by Clement XI. in 1713. See Touron, Vie de St. Dominique, p. 622; Bzovius, t. 13; Longinus in Hist. Poloniæ; Matthias de Miacovia, in Chronicis Poloniæ, et Benedict XIV. de Canoniz. l. 2, c. 34, p. 264.


He was archdeacon of Carthage, when, in 388, he was promoted to the archiepiscopal dignity of that see, to which was annexed a jurisdiction little inferior to that of a patriarch over all the metropolitans of the different provinces of Africa. He cultivated a strict friendship with St. Austin, held several councils against the Donatists, and was the first that condemned Celestius the Pelagian in a council held in 412, and Pelagius himself in another council in 416. He anathematized their heresy before St. Austin entered the lists against it. St. Aurelius died in 423. He is highly extolled by St. Fulgentius,240 and is mentioned in the African Calendar of the fifth age on the 20th of July. See the Acts of the Councils of Carthage, Baronius, Baillet, &c.



He was nobly born at Sylviaco in the territory of Boulogne in Picardy. Renouncing the world in his youth, he entered himself a brother in the abbey of Hautmont in Haynault, where it was his employment to keep the cattle, and to hew wood for the community. He was distinguished for his eminent spirit of prayer, and being compelled by obedience to receive holy orders, was promoted to the priesthood. He after this obtained leave to live alone in a hermitage near mount Cassel, and afterward in 688 founded in a wood upon his father’s estate in Sylviaco in the Boulognois, the abbey of Samer, corruptly so called for St. Ulmar’s, at present of the Congregation of St. Maur. St. Ulmar founded a nunnery at Vileria, now Wiere aux bois, a mile from his own monastery, in which he placed his niece Bertana abbess. Ceadwalla, king of the West-Saxons, passing that way in his journey to Rome to receive baptism, conferred on St. Ulmar a notable largess toward carrying on his foundation. In close retirement in his hermitage near mount Cassel, the saint preserved himself always free from worldly passions by flying from the occasions which chiefly excite them, and by withdrawing from the great scene of earthly business, envy, avarice, and strife. Here shutting out the busy swarm of vain images which besets us in the world, he inured his mind to happy recollection and heavenly contemplation. In this sweet repose he daily advanced in fervor and divine charity till he was called to the joys of his Lord on the 20th of July, 710. He was glorified by miracles, and is named in the Roman and other Martyrologies on the 20th of July. On the 17th of June his relics were conveyed to Boulogne for fear of the plunder of the Normans; and from thence to the abbey of St. Peter’s at Ghent, where they were burnt by the fury of the Calvinists in the sixteenth century. See his life written soon after his death in Mabillon, Act. Bened. t. 3, p. 237; and more full, with new remarks, by Cuper the Bollandist, Jul. t. 5, p. 81.



He was born at Venice of a patrician family; and, in the most troublesome times of the republic, served in the troops from his childhood. Whilst he was governor of the new castle in the mountains of Tarviso, he was taken prisoner, cast into a dungeon, and loaded with chains. His sufferings he sanctified by penance and prayer; and being delivered by the miraculous protection of the mother of God, arriving at Tarviso, he hung up his chains before an altar consecrated to God under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, and, returning to Venice, devoted himself to the exercises of prayer and all virtues. At that time a famine and a contagious distemper having reduced many families to the greatest distress, he laid himself out in relieving all, but was particularly moved with compassion for abandoned orphans. These he gathered in a house which he hired, clothed and fed them at his own expense, and instructed them himself with unwearied zeal in the Christian doctrine and in all virtue. By the advice of St. Cajetan and others, he passed to the continent and erected like hospitals for orphans at Brescia, Bergamo, and other places; and others for the reception of penitent women. At Somascha, on the frontiers of the Venetian dominions, between Bergamo and Milan, he founded a house which he destined for the exercises of those whom he received into his Congregation, and in which he long resided. From this house it took its name; though it was sometimes called St. Mayeul’s, titular of a college at Pavia, which St. Charles Borromeo put under his direction.

The instruction of youth and young clergymen became also an object of his zeal in his foundations, and continues still to be in his institute. The brothers, during the life of the founder, were all laymen, and it was only approved as a pious Congregation. The holy founder died at Somascha on the 8th of February, 1537, of a contagious distemper which he had caught by attending the sick. He was beatified by Benedict XIV.; and canonized by Clement XIII. An office in his honor was appointed for the 20th of July, by a decree of the holy see published in 1769. Three years after his death, in 1540, his Congregation was declared a religious Order by Paul III., and confirmed under the rule of St. Augustine by St. Pius V. in 1571, and again by Sixtus V. in 1586. It has no houses out of Italy and the Catholic Swiss Cantons. It is divided into three provinces, of Lombardy, Venice, and Rome. The general is chosen every three years out of each province in its turn. See his life written in Latin by Aug. Turtura, Milan, 1620, 8vo., and Helyot, Histoire des Ord. Rel. t. 4, c. 33.



She was daughter of Pudens, a Roman senator, and sister to St. Pudentiana, and in the days of pope Pius I. and the emperor Antoninus Pius, edified the church of Rome, by the bright lustre of her virtues. All her great riches she employed in relieving the poor and the necessities of the Church. By the comfort and succors which she afforded the martyrs she endeavored to make herself partaker of their crowns, and she lived in the assiduous exercise of prayer, watching, and fasting. She died in peace and was buried near her sister on the Salarian road. Bede and other martyrologists style her a virgin. An old title or parish church in Rome bearing her name is mentioned in the life of pope Symmachus. It was repaired by Adrian I. and Paschal I., and lastly by St. Charles Borromeo, who took from it his title of cardinal.

The primitive Christians lived only for heaven, and in every step looked up to God, regardless of all lower pursuits or meaner advantages that could interfere with their great design of knowing and loving him. This constant attention to God awed them in their retirements; this gave life and wings to their devotion, and animated them to fervor in all their actions; this carried them through the greatest difficulties and temptations, and supported them under all troubles and afflictions.



He first detected, zealously confuted, and condemned the errors and impostures of the Cataphryges or Montanists with their false prophecies, as Eusebius mentions. To this triumph over heresy and imposture he added the crown of martyrdom, which he received in the persecution of Severus, about the year 204. See Eusebius, b. 5, c. 16, and the ancient martyrologies.


In the fifteenth year of the great persecution raised in Persia by king Sapor II., by the command of Sapor Tamsapor governor of Adiabene, Barhadbesciabas, the zealous deacon of the city of Arbela, was apprehended and put on the rack. Whilst he was tormented, the officers continually cried out to him, “Worship water and fire, and eat the blood of beasts, and you shall be immediately set at liberty.” But the blessed deacon Barhadbesciabas showed, by the cheerfulness of his countenance, that the interior joy of his happy soul overcame the torments he felt in his body. He often said to the judge, “Neither you nor your king, nor any manner of torments shall ever be able to separate me from the love of Jesus: Him alone have I served from my infancy to this old age.” The tyrant at length condemned him to be beheaded, and commanded Aghæus, an apostate Christian nobleman, to be his executioner. The holy deacon stood bound waiting with joy for the happy moment which was to associate him to the angels; but Aghæus trembled so as not to be able to give the blow. He struck, however, seven times at the martyr’s neck, and not being able to sever his head from his body, ran his sword into his bowels; of which wound the holy deacon expired soon after. The judge set guards to watch the blessed corpse; but two clerks carried it off in the night, and buried it after the Roman fashion. He suffered on the 20th day of the month of July, in the year 354, of Sapor II. 45. See his genuine Chaldaic acts in Assemani, t. 1, p. 129.


The emperor Maximian, reeking with the blood of the Thebæan legion, and many other martyrs whom he had massacred in different parts of Gaul, arrived at Marseilles, the most numerous and flourishing church in those provinces. The tyrant breathed here nothing but slaughter and fury, and his coming filled the Christians with fear and alarms. In this general consternation, Victor, a Christian officer in the troops, went about in the night time from house to house visiting the faithful, and inspiring them with contempt of a temporal death and the love of eternal life. He was surprised in this action, so worthy a soldier of Jesus Christ, and brought before the prefects Asterius and Eutychius, who exhorted him not to lose the fruit of all his services and the favor of his prince for the worship of a dead man; so they called Jesus Christ. He answered, that he renounced those recompenses if he could not enjoy them without being unfaithful to Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who vouchsafed to become man for our salvation, but who raised himself from the dead, and reigns with the Father, being God equally with him. The whole court heard him with tumultuous shouts of indignation and rage. However, the prisoner being a person of distinction, the prefects sent him to Maximian himself. The incensed countenance of an emperor did not daunt the champion of Christ; and the tyrant seeing his threats to have no effect upon him, commanded him to be bound hands and feet and dragged through all the streets of the city, exposed to the blows and insults of the populace. Every one of the heathens seemed to think it a crime not to testify their false zeal, by offering some indignity or other to the martyr. Their design was to intimidate the Christians, but the example of the martyr’s resolution served to encourage them.

Victor was brought back bruised and bloody to the tribunal of the prefects, who thinking his resolution must have been weakened by his sufferings, began to blaspheme our holy religion, and pressed him again to adore their gods. But the martyr filled with the Holy Ghost, and encouraged by his presence in his soul, expressed his respect for the emperor and his contempt of their gods, adding, “I despise your deities, and confess Jesus Christ: inflict upon me what torments you please.” The two prefects only disagreed about the choice of the tortures. After a warm contest Eutychius withdrew, and left the prisoner to Asterius, who commanded him to be hoisted on the rack, and most cruelly tortured a long time. The martyr, lifting up his eyes to heaven, asked patience and constancy of God, whose gift he knew it to be. Jesus Christ appeared to him on the rack, holding a cross in his hands, gave him his peace, and told him that he suffered in his servants, and crowned them after their victory. These words dispelled both his pains and his grief; and the tormentors being at last weary, the prefect ordered him to be taken down, and thrown into a dark dungeon. At midnight God visited him by his angels; the prison was filled with a light brighter than that of the sun, and the martyr sung with the angels the praises of God. Three soldiers who guarded the prison, seeing this light, were surprised at the miracle, and casting themselves at the martyr’s feet asked his pardon, and desired baptism. Their names were Alexander, Longinus, and Felician. The martyr instructed them as well as time would permit, sent for priests the same night, and going with them to the sea-side he led them out of the water, that is, was their godfather, and returned with them again to his prison.

The next morning Maximian was informed of the conversion of the guards, and, in a transport of rage, sent officers to bring them all four before him in the middle of the market-place. The mob loaded Victor with injuries, and would fain have compelled him to bring back his converts to the worship of their gods; but he said, “I cannot undo what is well done.” And turning to them he encouraged them saying, “You are still soldiers; behave with courage, God will give you victory. You belong to Jesus Christ, be faithful. An immortal crown is prepared for you.” The three soldiers persevered in the confession of Jesus Christ, and by the emperor’s orders were forthwith beheaded. Victor prayed in the mean time with tears that he might, by being united with them in their happy death, be presented in their glorious company before God; but after having been exposed to the insults of the whole city as an immovable rock lashed with the waves, and been beaten with clubs and scourged with leather thongs, he was carried back to prison, where he continued three days, recommending to God his martyrdom with many tears. After that term the emperor called him again before his tribunal, and having caused a statue of Jupiter, with an altar and incense, to be placed by him, he commanded the martyr to offer incense to the idol. Victor went up to the profane altar, and by a stroke of his foot threw it down. The emperor ordered the foot to be forthwith chopped off; which the saint suffered with great joy, offering to God these first fruits of his body. A few moments after, the emperor condemned him to be put under the grindstone of a handmill, and crushed to death. The executioners turned the wheel, and when part of his body was bruised and crushed, the mill broke down. The saint still breathed a little; but his head was immediately ordered to be cut off. His and the other three bodies were thrown into the sea, but being cast ashore were buried by the Christians in a grotto hewn out of a rock. The author of the acts adds, “They are honored to this day with many miracles, and many benefits are conferred by God and our Lord Jesus Christ on those who ask them through their merits.”

In the fifth century Cassian241 built a great monastery near the tomb of this saint, which afterward received the rule of St. Bennet, but was afterward secularized by Benedict XIV. The relics of St. Victor remain in that church, the most ancient in all France, full of illustrious monuments of primitive saints. Some part of the relics of St. Victor was conveyed to Paris and laid in a chapel built in his honor, which soon after, in the reign of Louis VI., was enlarged, and the royal monastery of regular canons founded there, which bears the name of this saint, its glorious patron.242 This institute and abbey were commenced by William of Champeaux, archdeacon of Paris, a man of eminent piety and learning, who having taught for many years rhetoric and theology, with extraordinary reputation, in the cloister of the cathedral, retired to this little chapel of St. Victor, then in the skirts of the town. There with certain fervent clergymen he lived in close solitude, assiduous prayer, and great austerity, allowing no other food to be served in his community but herbs, pulse, and roots, with bread and salt. By the pressing importunities of the bishop of Paris and other persons of distinction, he was obliged to resume his theological lectures, which he seems to have continued at St. Victor’s as F. Gourdan shows. Whence Rollin calls this monastery the cradle of the university of Paris. In favor of this holy institute king Louis VI. founded and built there a magnificent abbey, which still subsists in a most flourishing condition. Gilduin, a most holy man, was appointed first abbot, whilst William of Champeaux taught there, who in 1113 was consecrated bishop of Chalons on the Saone. Dying in 1121, according to his desire he was buried at Clairvaux, by St. Bernard, who had received at his hands the abbatial benediction.243 See St. Victor’s genuine acts, which are not unworthy the pen of Cassian, to whom some ascribe them; but without grounds. They are published and much commended by Bosquet in the fourth tome of his History of the Church of France, p. 202. See also Tillemont, t. 4, Ceillier, t. 3, p. 366. Fleury, l. 8, n. 20. Rivet, Hist. Littér. t. 2, p. 231, and Cuper the Bollandist, t. 5, Jul. p. 135. F. Gourdan has compiled at length the life of St. Victor, with an account of many miracles wrought through his intercession, and a collection of many devout hymns and prayers in his honor, and other various memorials relating to this saint, in the seventh tome of his MS. history of the eminent men of the royal abbey of St. Victor at Paris. See also Oudin, t. 2. De Script. Eccl., p. 1138.


The Irish challenge this saint as a native of their island. The Scots also lay claim to him, and are supported by Richer’s Chronicle of Sens, written in the thirteenth century, and by the life of St. Florentius, his successor, though his acts say he was of a noble family in Aquitain. Travelling into Alsace he led an anachoretical life in the Sacred Forest (for this is the interpretation of the Teutonic name Heiligesforst), about the year 630. He was often called to the court of king Dagobert II., and by his interest promoted to the episcopal see of Strasburg. His acts relate, that not long after his exaltation he raised to life Dagobert’s son, killed by a fall from a horse; these acts call this prince Sigebert; his name is not recorded by the historians. Many other miracles are ascribed to this saint; who, assisted by the liberality of this king, enriched the Church of Strasburg with several large estates. King Dagobert bestowed on it, for his sake, the manor and town of Rufach, with an extensive country situated on both sides the river Alse or Elle, together with the old royal palace of Isenburg, residing himself at Kirchem near Molsheim. St. Arbogastus also founded, or at least endowed, several monasteries, the principal among which were Surburg and Shutteran: some say also Ebersheimunster; but the chief founder of this last was duke Athico, the father of St. Odilia, by the direction of St. Deodatus, bishop of Nevers. St. Arbogastus died, according to Bosch the Bollandist, in 678, the year before Dagobert offered the bishopric of Strasburg to St. Wilfrid, who was then on his journey to Rome. Upon his declining that dignity, it was conferred on St. Florentius. All writers on St. Arbogastus’s life mention that, in his last will, he ordered his body should be interred on the mountain which was the burial-place of malefactors. His will was complied with; but the church of St. Michael was afterward built upon the spot, and surrounded by a village called Strateburg. Near it was founded the abbey of St. Arbogastus, to which his body was translated with honor by his successor St. Florentius. See the life of St. Arbogastus which seems to have been written in the tenth age, published with remarks by F. Bosch, t. 5, Julij, p. 168.



The illustrious penitent woman mentioned by St. Luke,244 was, by her perfect conversion, an encouraging example and model of penitence to all succeeding ages. She is called the Sinner,245 to express her pre-eminence in guilt. This epithet seems to imply that she led a lewd and disorderly life. The scandal of her debaucheries had rendered her name infamous throughout the whole city. Naim, Tiberias, or some neighboring place in Galilee, seems to have been the chief theatre of her disorders, at least at the time of her conversion. They took their rise from small beginnings; for no one becomes a great proficient in vice all at once. The fences of virtue are weakened by degrees before they are entirely broken down.

The steps by which young persons, like this sinner, are led into evil courses, are pointed out to us by our Divine Redeemer in the parable of the prodigal son. The source of all his misfortunes is a love of independence and of his own will. He is full of his own wisdom, and of a certain self-sufficiency; is an enemy to advice, the means to find out truth and to discover dangers. All who contradict his passions, or tell him the truth, are odious to him; the counsels of tender parents he calls interested; those of God’s anointed too severe and scrupulous; those of the old and experienced, cowardly and mean-spirited. Young persons, above all others, are in an age in which the devil prepares innumerable snares, the world lays many stratagems, and passions easily eclipse reason; and it behoves them infinitely to be strongly persuaded that their safety consists altogether in most sincere dispositions of humility, obedience, and docility. Tractableness and dutifulness towards superiors is the most essential virtue of that age, next to the obligation of religion, which we owe to God. Those companions, whose discourse and behavior tend to inspire a contempt of parents and other superiors, are of all pests the most dangerous to youth.

The prodigal son, blinded by his passions, thought himself prudent and strong enough to be his own governor and master, and flattered himself that his love of liberty and pleasure was not very criminal or unjust; but from this root all vices have sprouted up, and are not to be restrained by him who opens to them such a door by shaking off the happy yoke of subjection, which is the divine ordinance. Such is the strange disorder of that mischievous passion, that though the prodigal son lived in dignity and plenty, and enjoyed all temporal blessings and all the comforts of life without feeling its troubles or knowing its miseries, yet he was not content. His subjection to a good father was true freedom; he was the object of all his parent’s cares, and he reaped the fruit of all his labors. But so distempered was his soul, that the constraint of this tender guardian’s watchful eye seemed to embitter all his pleasures, and such an obedience appeared to him an insupportable burden and slavery, which therefore he would shake off to have no other law but his own will. This was his capital enemy, though he would not be so persuaded; and by indulging it he fostered a young tiger in his own bosom, which soon grew too strong for him and tore him to pieces. We are astonished at the quick progress which the passions make when once the bridle is let loose. The prodigal youth, seeing himself possessed of that dangerous liberty which he had so passionately desired, full of false joy at the prospect of imaginary happiness, went into a foreign country, to be at a greater distance from all troublesome advisers. His passions being so far yielded to, had no longer any bounds, and he denied his heart nothing of its irregular desires, being no longer master of himself. Unthinking and blinded he soon squandered away his fortune, without keeping any accounts, or knowing how it was spent; he was surprised to find his hands empty, and himself starving, and that he had not yet found those enjoyments which he had promised himself; instead of which he had met with nothing but shadows and miseries. Nevertheless, cleaving still to so treacherous a world, and yet entertaining desperate foolish hopes of finding happiness in it, he went on in the pursuit of his passions; and losing himself daily more and more in the mazes of sin, he was at length reduced to have no other company but that of the most filthy of beasts, and almost to perish with hunger at the heels of the hogs which he was condemned to serve and fatten.

This is a true picture of the sinner who has thrown off the holy yoke of God, and has enslaved himself to his passions. How earnestly ought every Christian to pray that God may always so strengthen his resolution with his grace, that he may never receive any other than his sweet and holy law? What completes the misfortune of the habitual sinner is, that few who have fallen into that gulf ever sincerely rise again. The very afflictions which converted the prodigal son throw thousands into despair. God’s powerful graces are weakened after having been long contemned; and habits grow stronger than reason. When the poison of sin has sunk deep into the heart, it is not expelled by an ordinary grace. Of such a sinner that curse is pronounced, that even in his old age, if he ever arrive at it, his bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall descend with him into the grave, and shall sleep with him in the dust.246 Christ indeed came from heaven to save all such; in his tender compassion for their miseries he invites them to return to him, and for their encouragement has shown a remarkable example of his mercy in our saint. Having considered in the image of the prodigal son, the unhappy steps by which she fell, we shall, with greater edification, take a view of the circumstances which have given so great a lustre to her repentance.

Jesus, not long after he had raised to life the son of a widow at Naim, a town in Galilee, was invited to dinner by a certain Pharisee called Simon, who seems to have lived in the same town, or some neighboring city, as Calmet shows. Our Lord was pleased to accept his invitation, chiefly that he might confound the pride of the Pharisees by manifesting the power of his grace in the wonderful conversion of this abandoned sinner. His bowels had yearned over her spiritual miseries, and he spread upon her soul a beam of his divine light which penetrated her understanding and her heart so effectually, that, listening to the interior voice of his grace, she saw the abominable filth and miseries in which she was plunged, was filled with confusion and horror, and conceived the most sincere detestation of her ingratitude and baseness. Our Lord went to the banquet in great joy to wait for this soul, which he himself had secretly wounded with his holy love, and which he was pleased to draw to him in the midst of a great assembly, that by her public repentance she might repair the scandal she had given, and he might give to all succeeding ages an illustrious instance of his mercy towards all repenting sinners. She began her conversion by entering into herself. As her fall was owing to inconsideration, so doubtless her first step towards repentance was serious reflection on the misery of her present condition, the happiness she had forfeited, and the punishment she was to expect. From these considerations she raised her thoughts to others higher and more noble, those of divine love, reflecting who He is whom she had so grievously offended, and how excessive and incomprehensible his goodness is, which she had so long and so basely slighted. This motive of love, to which Christ ascribed her conversion, drew from her eyes a torrent of tears, and made her cry out with the prodigal son, that she had sinned against heaven. That model of true penitents forgot his corporeal miseries and all other circumstances of his fall, being full of this reflection alone, how he could be capable of offending so good a parent. He acknowledged himself unworthy to be again called a child; yet he deferred not a moment to restore his heart to him to whom he owed it, and, confiding in his indulgence, threw himself upon his mercy, hoping by his goodness to be admitted among his hired servants.

In the like dispositions does our penitent raise her heart to God. She hearkens not to the suggestions of worldly prudence which might seem to require some time for deliberation, for settling her concerns, or for taking proper measures about her conversion itself; the least delay appears to her a new crime, a fresh aggravation of her misfortune. She was informed that our Divine Redeemer was at table in the house of the Pharisee. She did not so much as think of the disgrace to which she exposed herself by appearing before a numerous and honorable assembly, of the reproaches and disdain she was to expect from the Pharisee, or the fear of moving Christ himself to indignation by an unseasonable importunate address. One moment’s delay in seeking her physician seemed too much, because her heart was now wounded with divine love. Sinners who, in returning to God, think too nicely that they have temporal interests to provide for, friends to please, and opportunities to wait for, are far from the dispositions of this happy penitent. She found mercy because she sought it before all things. Had she dallied with grace, it would have been justly withdrawn; had she been for compounding with her passions, they would have again enslaved her more strongly than ever. She found all difficulties vanish in a moment, because her conversion was sincere and perfect; by one steady resolution the work is done. What further deliberation can one that has sinned require than that the gate of mercy is yet open to him? Let him at all rates make haste to find it, though for this he should sacrifice every thing else. So insupportable to this holy penitent was the stench of her own filth, and the load of her guilt, that she could not defer the remedy an hour longer to wait for a better opportunity, or to inquire if our Lord was at leisure to hear her; and a firm confidence in his boundless mercy was her encouragement, and her strong assurance that he would not reject her tears.

When the prodigal son said to himself, I will arise, and will go to my Father, we might have asked him, says St. Peter Chrysologus, what he trusted to for his pardon? upon what he grounded his confidence? upon what hope or assurance he presumed to appear in the presence of him whom he had so heinously offended? His answer would have been, “This is the assured ground of my confidence, that he is my Father. I have forfeited all title to the name or rank of his son; but he hath not lost the quality or affection of a parent. I want no stranger to intercede with a father. The tender affection of his own breast pleads powerfully within him, and is sure to incline him in my favor. His paternal bowels are moved, and yearn to restore to a son by pardon that life which he formerly gave him by birth.”247 In like sentiments this penitent woman seeks her Almighty Physician, professing herself altogether undeserving and unworthy of mercy, and therefore alleges nothing on her side to recommend her to his compassion, except only that she was the work of his hands, though an unnatural and rebellious child, in whom that title was only a grievous exaggeration of her guilt; but she confidently appeals to his infinite goodness and mercy, and begs that for his own sake he will save her, in whom he still discovers, though frightfully disfigured, the traces of his divine image which his own omnipotent hand had formed, and which it is in his power easily to repair and perfect.

In these dispositions she bolted into the chamber where Jesus was at dinner with the Pharisee, and, regardless of what others thought or said of her past life or of her present boldness,248 she made up to her Redeemer and Physician. She durst not appear before his face, and therefore went behind him; and the nearer she approached his sacred person streams gushed more abundantly from her eyes. She reflected how basely she had defiled and sought to destroy her own soul, and how impiously she had robbed Christ of many other souls whilst he was come from heaven, and was ready to sacrifice himself on the cross for her and them; and at this and other like considerations she was not able to moderate her grief. The inward confusion she felt at the sight of her sins and baseness made her despise all the confusion which she could receive before men, or rather rejoice in it to meet that contempt which she acknowledged herself most justly to deserve from all creatures. Attentive only on Christ, from whom she sought her health and salvation, standing at his feet, she watered them with her tears, wiped them with her hair, most respectfully kissed them, and anointed them with rich perfumes and sweet-scented essences which she had brought in an alabaster box. She now defaces or consecrates to penance whatever had formerly been an instrument of sin; her eyes, which had been full of dangerous charms, are now converted into fountains of tears to cleanse the stains of her soul; and her hair, once dressed in tresses and curls to ensnare souls, now hangs loose and dishevelled, and serves for a towel to wipe our Lord’s feet, which she kisses with her lips, and scents with her perfumes, formerly the incentives of vice. The penitent must consecrate his riches to Christ in the poor which are his feet; must employ his eyes in tears, and his lips in supplications for mercy, and must make all that serve to charity and mortification which before served self-love. These exterior offerings must be accompanied with the interior sacrifice of the heart, by humble confidence in the divine mercy, by lively faith and ardent love, with which the soul of a sinner approaches to Jesus, and is reconciled to him. Our holy penitent prepared as it were an altar at the feet of our Lord, on which she offered to him the true sacrifice of a contrite and humble heart. There losing the use of her speech whilst grief intercepted her words, she spoke only by her tears; but before Him to whom the secrets of her heart were open, these sighs, and this silence itself, was a louder cry than that of any words could have been. Thus she earnestly begged of God’s pure mercy, that pardon which she confessed herself most unworthy to obtain.

Jesus, who had himself inspired her with these dispositions, cast on her a favorable eye of mercy. He was come to the Pharisee’s banquet exulting with holy joy, which sprung from his foreknowledge of the conversion of this soul; the mainspring of all he did and suffered on earth being that insatiable thirst for the salvation of sinners which brought him from heaven, and which was not to be satisfied but by his sufferings on the cross, and by the last drop of his blood poured out for them upon it. In these sentiments he had testified that it was his delight to converse with sinners, out of compassion for their miseries, being desirous to draw them out of that gulf into which they had blindly plunged themselves. This he expressed by many moving parables, especially that of the prodigal son, where he paints his mercy in the strongest coloring by the manner in which he represents the good old father receiving him upon his return. From the time of his going astray the tender parent never allowed himself any respite in his tears, inquiries, and search: at length, from an eminence in which he looked about on every side, still hoping he should one day see him return, he descried him at a distance. He saw only a disfigured, languishing, and frightful spectre; the wretched remains of a debauchee and rake worn out by riots and revellings: his features horrid and defaced, his body resembling a walking skeleton, but half covered with a few filthy rags. Yet, under this disguise, his eye, directed by love, discovered him at a great distance, and before any other could see him, knew that it was his son. Far from being disgusted at such a spectacle, he ran to meet him, affection giving vigor to his enfeebled age. He remembered no longer his past behavior, but rushing to his embraces, kissed him, and bathed his head and face with floods of tears which joy drew from his eyes, and which he mingled with the tears of sincere grief and affection which the penitent son abundantly poured forth. The good father wiped them off his face, prevented his confusion, restored him to his former rank, called for, and gave him the best robe; a ring upon his finger (a symbol of dignity), and shoes on his feet. He, moreover, ordered a fatted calf to be forthwith killed, and gave a splendid entertainment with music, inviting all to rejoice with him and make merry, because his son whom he lamented as dead was come to life again, and he that had been lost was found. If the birth of this son, when he was first brought to life, had been to him a subject of great joy, how much more reason had he to rejoice seeing him now restored by a second birth, so much the more joyful, as it wiped away his tears, and changed his grievous sorrow into comfort? Thus doth our loving God and Redeemer receive the penitent sinner; thus is there joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance. The Holy Ghost clothes him with the robe of sanctifying grace, puts a ring on his hand, the emblem of his divine gifts, and gives shoes to his feet, that is, fortifies him with strength to tread on the venomous aspick and basilisk, and to trample upon the raging lion and dragon.

The Pharisee who had invited Jesus to his table, was shocked to see an infamous sinner well known in that city, admitted by our Lord to stand at his feet, and secretly said within himself that He could not be a prophet, or know that she was a scandalous person. To inculcate our strict obligation of shunning bad company, God commanded all intimacy with public sinners to be avoided, lest the sound should be infected by the contagion of their vices. The haughty Pharisees construed this law according to the false maxims of their pride, as if it were a part of virtue to despise sinners, and as if that respect and charity which we owe to all men, were not due to such; but the humble man, whilst he shuns the snare of wicked company, places himself below the worst of sinners, as the most ungrateful of all creatures; discharges all offices of charity, and spares neither tears nor pains to reclaim those that are gone astray. The contempt of any one is always the height of pride, which degrades a man in the sight of God beneath that sinner whom he undervalues. This was the case of the Pharisee; and such was the disorder of his pride that it betrayed him into a rash judgment by which he condemned a penitent who was then a saint; and, arraigning the goodness and mercy of God, blasphemously censured the sanctity of our Redeemer. Nothing is more wonderful in the conduct of the Son of God on earth, than the patience and meekness with which he bore the contradictions, murmurings, and blasphemies of men in most unjustly condemning his charity itself. We cannot form any idea unless we have experienced it, what force such injurious treatment has to make men abandon the good which they have begun, and cease bestowing favors on those that murmur against them. Christ has encouraged us by his example to this heroic practice of virtue, teaching us that the most effectual means of confounding slanderers is to instruct them by silence, meekness, perseverance in good works, and a constant return of sincere kind offices; he shows how we must still persevere steadfastly to regulate our intentions and actions according to the maxims of piety, and give ourselves no trouble about what men will say of us.

Christ sought indirectly by a parable, to cure the pride and rash judgment of this Pharisee, and convince him that she to whom much had been forgiven, then loved God the more; consequently was more acceptable to him. Some interpreters understand his words, that much was forgiven this penitent, because her love and sorrow were great and sincere; others take the meaning to be, that gratitude would make her after this mercy more fervent in love. Each interpretation is undoubtedly true; but, as A. Lapide shows, the first seems most agreeable to the context. The conversion of sinners is usually begun by motives of fear, but is always perfected by those of love; and the fervor of their love will be the measure of the grace which they will receive. By the love of vanity the soul falls from Christ; and by his divine love she returns to him. How fervent was this love in our devout penitent! By it she is become at once insensible of the reproaches and judgment of men; she defers not her sacrifice a single moment, and allows not herself the least mitigation in it; she cuts off all her engagements, extirpating them to the very root both in her heart and actions; she renounces for ever all dangerous occasions of her disorders. With what courage and resolution does she embrace all the most heroic practices of penance? confessing publicly her crimes: looking upon the utmost humiliation as her due and her gain, and as falling far short of what she deserves; chastising sin in herself without mercy, in order to excite the divine compassion; making the number and enormity of her sins the measure of her penance, or rather desiring to set no bounds to it, as the malice of her offences went beyond all bounds; and devoting the remainder of her life to tears, prayer, and every exercise of virtue and divine love. She is the first to confess Jesus Christ publicly before men, and in the presence of his enemies. By these dispositions she deserved that her Lord should take upon him her defence, and declare himself her protector. Happy are those sinners who by the sincerity and fervor of their repentance will have at the last day their Judge, Redeemer, and God, for their advocate and patron! The first and most important grace which the Church teaches us in her litany most earnestly to ask of God is, that He vouchsafe, in his mercy, to bring us to this true penance.

Mercy is the property and the favorite attribute of our divine Redeemer; and tinder is not so soon kindled by fire when applied to it, as the divine mercy blots out all sin when it is implored with a heart full of confusion and truly penitent. Hence Christ assured this humble sinner that her offences were cancelled, and that her lively faith, animated by ardent charity, which drew from her eyes tears of repentance, had saved her; and he insured to her that solid and happy peace which is the fruit of such a repentance. The pious cardinal Berulle admires the happy intercourse between the heart of this holy penitent and that of Jesus; the first employed in the most perfect sentiments of compunction, love, and entire sacrifice; the second, in the tender motions of mercy, love, and goodness: the penitent offers floods of tears; these Jesus repays with treasures of graces and mercy, by which he makes her soul a heaven on earth, as bright and pure as the angels, and the throne of the whole blessed Trinity. The hearts of the penitent and of Jesus are two sources which perpetually answer each other; the more the penitent pours forth her heart in contrition, the more abundantly does Jesus in return bestow on her his infinite graces. It is at the feet of Jesus that these wonders are wrought; witness this example, and that of the sister of Lazarus, in the house of Simon the Leper in Bethania. It is good for us to make this our dwelling in spirit. The adorable feet of Jesus so often wearied in seeking sinners, and at last bored on the cross for their salvation, are the source of all blessings. Here this true penitent consecrates to him her heart, her mind, her actions, her perfumes, all she is or has; and here he cleanses her soul, and kindles in her his love, which the rebel angel lost in heaven. All his attention is taken up on her, he entertains her alone, forgetting the master of the feast, and others that were seated with him at table. He even gave the Pharisee sensible proofs how much her fervor and penance surpassed in the sight of God his pretended justice and charity, though it were presumed real. Perseverance in this fervor completed her happiness. Gratitude to God for so great a mercy, and so distinguished a grace, was to her a fresh spur to advance every day in this love with greater ardor and fidelity. Thus the greater the debts were which had been forgiven her, the more earnestly she strove with all her powers to love him who vouchsafed to accept her humble sacrifice. This same motive of gratitude ought to have no less weight with those who, by God’s singular grace, have always preserved their innocence; for, whether God shows mercy by pardoning sins or by preventing them in us, we are totally indebted to Him for the grace which we receive. Upon this great principle, St. Austin addresses the Pharisee who despised our holy penitent, in the following words:249 “O Pharisee! to say you are less indebted to the divine mercy, because less was forgiven you, is a capital ingratitude and pride. For by whom were you preserved from those crimes which you did not commit? One who hath sinned much, stands indebted for the gracious pardon of exceeding great debts. Another who hath sinned less, owes to God the benefit, that he hath not defiled himself with grievous sins. You have not fallen into adultery; but God saith to you, it is owing to me who governed and protected you. If no tempter ever enticed you, this was the effect of my special care and providence in your favor. If you escaped the occasions of dangers from time and place, this likewise was ordained by me. Perhaps a temptation and an opportunity of sinning occurred; yet I withheld you by wholesome fear, that you did not consent to the evil. You are indebted to me for your preservation from all the crimes which you did not commit; for there is no sin that one committeth, which another person might not commit if he were not preserved by him who made man.” We cannot sufficiently admire and praise the excess of the divine goodness towards men who were born children of wrath, and vessels of weakness and corruption. Wonderful is his mercy in those whom he preserves from the contagion of vice and mortal sin; but its influence appears with the greatest lustre in sinners whom by repentance it not only cleanses from their guilt, but exalts to the highest places in his favor. Of this our fervent penitent is an instance, who, after her conversion, surpassed others in the ardor of her charity, with which she gave herself up entirely to the service of her Redeemer.

St. Clement of Alexandria, St. Gregory the Great, and many other writers both ancient and modern, doubt not but this penitent was Mary Magdalen, of whom St. Luke makes first mention in the following chapter. This surname seems to have been given her from Magdala, a town mentioned by Josephus, or rather from Magdalum, both situated in Galilee.250 She was by extraction a Galilæan, and is reckoned among the devout women who followed Christ from Galilee. St. Luke, after speaking of the conversion of her that had been a sinner, says251 that certain women who had been cured of wicked spirits and infirmities followed Christ in his travels through Galilee, and up to Jerusalem, and assisted him with their substance; and our Lord receives such good offices from them, to give them an occasion of exercising a gratitude and charity with which he was well pleased. Among these, the evangelist names Mary Magdalen, out of whom our Lord had cast seven devils, Joanna the wife of Chusa Herod’s steward, and one Susanna. St. Gregory the Great, Lightfoot, and some others, by these seven devils understand seven capital vices of which Magdalen was cured by her conversion; but Maldonat, Grotius, and others doubt not but she had been literally possessed by seven evil spirits, by whom she might be agitated at intervals, and which were cast forth at her conversion. Gratitude and devotion having attached her to our Divine Redeemer after so great a benefit, she followed him almost wherever he went, that she might have an opportunity of listening to all his sacred instructions, and of exercising her charity in ministering to him her substance.252 She attended him in his sacred passion, and stood under the cross on Mount Calvary. For her to arrive at the summit of divine love, it was necessary she should pass through the sharpest trials. “No one,” says Thomas à Kempis, “was highly rapt whose fidelity was not sooner or later put to the test; for he is not worthy of the high contemplation of God who hath not, for God’s sake, been exercised with some tribulation; and the trial going before is usually a sign of ensuing consolation.” A great mystery is contained in those words of the evangelist,—There stood near the cross of Jesus, Mary his mother, and his mother’s sister Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. Happy association! happy state and situation near Jesus on his cross! cries out the devout cardinal Berulle. This is a new order of souls which consists in the spirit, in the interior, and is invisible to men, but visible and glorious to the eyes of God and the angels. An order of souls crucified with Jesus, and through Jesus, which takes its birth from his cross. The order, at the same time, both of the cross and of heaven; the order and school of love by the martyrdom of the heart; which by learning to die to the world and inordinate self-love, lives to God and his pure love. This happiness we attain to, by being united in spirit to Jesus crucified, as Magdalen was at the foot of his cross. She suffered by love what he suffered in his body by the hands of the Jews. The same cross crucified Jesus and Magdalen in him and with him. The thorns pierced her heart with his head, and her soul was bathed in all his sorrows; but the crucifixion was in both a martyrdom of love; and that love which triumphed over Jesus by making him die on the cross, crucified her heart to all inordinate love of creatures, thenceforward to reign and triumph alone in all her affections, so that she could say in a twofold sense; “My love is crucified.” Mary Magdalen forsook not her Redeemer after his death; but remained by his sacred body, was present at its interment, left it only to obey the law of observing the festival, and having rested on the sabbath from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, as soon as the festival was over went to buy spices in order to embalm our Lord’s body. Having made all things ready, in company with other devout women, she set out very early the next morning with the spices, before it was light, and arrived at the sepulchre just when the sun was risen.253 As they went they were anxious how they should get the heavy stone which shut up the door of the monument, taken away; but upon their arrival found it removed to their hands. God never fails to be with his servants in what they undertake for his honor; and the difficulties, whether real or imaginary, with the apprehension of which the devil attempts to discourage them, are banished by confidence and resolution, and vanish as shadows in the execution. The pious women looked into the sepulchre, and finding the body not there, Mary Magdalen ran to inform Peter and the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and I know not where they have laid him.” SS. Peter and John, the two most fervent in love among the apostles, ran immediately to the sepulchre, and were there assured by the holy women who were at the door of the monument, that going in they had seen two angels clad in white shining apparel, and that one of them who sat at the right hand of the place where the body had lain, bid them not to fear, but to acquaint the apostles that Jesus was risen, showing them at the same time the place where his body had been laid. Peter and John having narrowly viewed the sepulchre, doubted no longer of what was told them, and in great astonishment returned to Jerusalem to the other disciples. Mary Magdalen, who had brought them to the sepulchre of her Lord, made the throne of divine love, would not return with them, or be drawn from the sacred place where the true ark of the testament, the body of her Redeemer, had rested three days, and continued at the monument bemoaning herself for not being able to see her Redeemer, either dead or alive. Not being able to assuage the violence of her grief and of her desire to see her Lord, she stood weeping without the door of the sepulchre. The entrance being low and narrow she stooped down to look into it again and again, and beheld the two angels in white, one of them sitting at the place where Jesus’s head lay, and the other at the feet, who thus accosted her, “Woman, why weepest thou?” She replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.” Neither the surprise of this apparition nor the brightness and glory of these heavenly messengers could touch her heart, or divert her thoughts from him whom she loved, and whom alone she sought, and we suffer so many foolish objects to distract us, and carry away our affections. In her answer to the angels she called him My Lord, to express the share which by love she had in him, and her title to him as her God, Lord, and Redeemer. Afterward to the apostles she calls him The Lord, to excite them to duty and love to the common Lord of all creatures. But why did not these angels inform her that he whom she so earnestly sought was risen in glory? Doubtless, because the Lord of angels would reserve it to himself to give her that comfort. Blessed be thy name for ever, O adorable Jesus, who so tenderly wipest away the tears of thy servants with thy own hand, and sweet voice, and convertest their sorrow into transports of inexpressible joy. Jesus first manifested himself to the Magdalen in disguise to make a trial himself of her love; but his tenderness could not suffer a delay, and he soon discovered himself openly to her; for, as soon as she had returned the answer above mentioned to the angels, she turned about, and saw Jesus himself standing by her, but took him for the gardener. He asked her why she wept, and whom she sought. She said to him, “Sir, if thou hast taken him hence tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.” According to the remark of St. Bernard and St. Thomas of Villa Nova, love made her not to name him, because being full of Him alone, she imagined every body else must be so too, and that this stranger must understand of whom she spoke. Love also made her forget her own weakness, and think herself able to carry a heavy corpse, provided she could be so happy any way as to serve her beloved; for to ardent love nothing seems impossible or difficult. Jesus, infinitely pleased with her earnestness and love, manifested himself to her, saying with his sweet and amiable voice; Mary! He at first mentioned her tears, and the object which she so earnestly sought, to excite her love. All this while she knew him not, though he was present, and conversing with her, because these words carried not with them the ray of light to discover him; but her name was no sooner pronounced by him, but his voice excited in her a rapture of light and love, and gave her the most sublime and full knowledge, and the sweetest enjoyment of the most desirable of objects, of him risen in glory who was the life of the world, and her life. Hearing him sweetly call her by her name, and thus knowing him, she turning said, Rabboni, that is, Master. And casting herself at his feet in transports of devotion she would have embraced them. But Jesus said to her, “Do not touch me; for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and tell them, that I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” That is, my Father by nature, yours by grace, says St. Austin. He bade her make haste to carry his message to his beloved disciples for their speedy comfort, and not lose time in giving demonstrations of her reverence and love. St. Leo explains these words of our Lord as follows,254 “It is not a time to demonstrate your affection for me in such a manner as if I were in a mortal state; I am with you but for a short time, to strengthen your faith. When I shall have ascended to my Father, then you shall again possess me for eternity.” Thus Mary Magdalen, out of whom Jesus had cast seven evil spirits, was the first that saw Him after his rising from the dead. This pre-eminence of grace, this distinguishing favor and love of Jesus was the recompense of her ardent love, by which she attended last his body in the sepulchre, from which she was only drawn by the duty of the Sabbath; and she was the first who returned thither: she sought him dead, and found him living. In obedience to his commands she immediately departed to acquaint the apostles with the joyful message.255 Jesus, who suffered her so long at his feet to satisfy her ardent love and compunction when he received her to mercy, here allows her, after her long search, scarce to remain a few moments in the state of enjoyment; but he separates himself from her to return into the secret of inaccessible light, invisible to mortal eye. Why does not he who is Life itself allow her to live in his happy presence? Why does not he allow her at least as many hours of enjoyment as she had spent in her search of him? But this separation itself is an effect of his greatest love, this life being a state of action, of conflict, and of trials for the exercise of virtue; and Magdalen in this separation itself which was from him, by his appointment, and for her greater advancement in his love, found by obedience, zeal, and resignation to his will, her comfort, life, and great increase of his love and all graces. The other devout women who had seen the angels at the sepulchre, in their return to Jerusalem, were also favored with an apparition of our Lord. He having met and saluted them, they prostrated themselves at his feet, and embraced them worshipping him, though they were greatly afraid.256 Jesus bid them not fear, but go and tell his brethren that he would go before them into Galilee, where they should see him.257

It is an ancient popular tradition of the inhabitants of Provence in France, that St. Mary Magdalen, or perhaps, Mary the sister of Lazarus, St. Martha, and St. Lazarus, with some other disciples of our Lord, after his ascension, being expelled by the Jews, put to sea, and landed safe at Marseilles, of which church they were the founders, St. Lazarus being made the first bishop of that city.259 The relics of these saints were discovered in Provence in the thirteenth century, those of St. Mary Magdalen at a place now called St. Maximin’s, those of St. Martha at Tarascon upon the Rhone, and others in St. Victor’s at Marseilles. They were authentically proved genuine by many monuments found with them in these several places. Charles I., king of Naples and brother of St. Louis, was at that time sovereign count of Provence; but he being then in Naples engaged in war with the house of Arragon, his son Charles of Anjou, prince of Salerno, governed Provence. This prince was beaten at sea by the fleet of the king of Arragon in 1284, and taken prisoner; and though his father died the year following, he could not recover his liberty before the year 1288. He ascribed his deliverance to the intercession of our saint, the discovery of whose relics had excited his devotion to her; he had already founded the church of St. Maximin’s upon the spot where they were discovered, and assisted at the solemn translation of them in 1279. He committed this royal foundation to the Dominican friars, and the prior, who is nominated by the king, is exempt from the ordinary jurisdiction both of the archbishop of Aix, and of the immediate superiors of his Order. The chief part of the relics of this saint was translated from the subterraneous chapel in the middle of this church, and being put in a porphyry urn, the present of pope Urban VIII. was placed over the high altar. King Louis XIV., and the principal noblemen of his court, were present at this translation, which was performed with great pomp in 1660. The saint’s head, with many other relics, remains in the subterraneous chapel; it is set in a gold case enchased with large diamonds, and surmounted with the royal crown of Charles II. styled king of Sicily or Naples. Before it is a curious statue of queen Anne of Brittany, on her knees, made of enamelled gold. Three leagues from St. Maximin’s, towards Marseilles, is a famous solitary convent of Dominicans, situated on a very high rock, encompassed on every side with wild deserts and mountains. It is called La Ste. Baume; which in the Provençal language signifies Holy Cave. It was anciently a celebrated hermitage, and is a place now resorted to by pilgrims, out of devotion to this glorious saint. Both Latins and Greeks keep the festival of St. Mary Magdalen on the 22d of July; it is in some places a holiday of precept, and was such formerly in England, as appears from the council of Oxford in 1222.

The pious cardinal Berulle was most tenderly devoted to this great saint, whom he called his principal patroness; and nothing can be more affecting in sentiments of compunction and divine love than the discourses which he has left us in her honor.260 She is the excellent model of penitents. If we have sinned, why do not we by her example speedily lay hold of the sovereign remedy of penance? If violent temptations and terrible enemies seem to stand in our way, if the world allures us, if the devil fights fiercely against us, and unbridled passions are rebellious and clamorous, other penitents have courageously surmounted greater obstacles than we can meet with. God incites us no less than he did them, and he is no less ready to fight in us and for us. Jesus holds out the crown to encourage us, and has already prepared the banquet of spiritual joy and sweetness for us at our return. If we arise in earnest he will come, and will make his solemn supper in our soul; and there will be exultation and a voice resounding praise through the whole heavenly court; but we must never think our penance accomplished, must never put a stop to our tears so long as we remember that we have sinned: God prolongs our life that we may continue to weep for our ingratitude in having offended him. If our conversion be sincere, to make amends for past losses and offences, we must consecrate to the divine service with the utmost fervor all our time, and all that we are to do. The Magdalen, after Jesus Christ had rendered himself master of her soul, had neither heart nor liberty but to give herself entirely to her deliverer.



He was nearly related to Pepin of Landen and Erchinoald, the two first lords in the kingdom of Austrasia; and in his youth was made count of the palace under Dagobert I. He was humble on the highest pinnacle of honors, and mortified amidst pleasures. To retrieve himself from the dissipation and other ill effects, of which hurry and much conversation with the world are dangerous occasions, he frequently retired into his closet, and there conversed much with God by devout prayer, and with himself by serious consideration on his own duties, condition, and spiritual miseries. In compliance with the will of his parents he took to wife a virtuous and noble lady; but, on the very day of his marriage, obtained her consent that they should both consecrate their virginity to God; which they did by a mutual vow on the same day. Vandrille in 629 took the monastic habit at Montfaucon in Champagne, an abbey then lately founded by St. Baudri. He afterward built a monastery upon his own estate, called Elisang. In order to perfect himself in the most approved rules and exercises of an ascetic or monastic life, he took a journey to Bobio and to Rome. After his return into France he spent ten years in the monastery of Romans, on the Isere. After which term, with the blessing of his abbot, he repaired to St. Oüen, archbishop of Rouen, by whom he was some time after ordained priest. In 648 the saint founded the famous monastery of Fontenelles, five leagues below Rouen, in the territory of Caux, in which he in a short time saw himself at the head of three hundred monks. His life was always most austere; he slept little, was clad in sackcloth, and was most scrupulously exact in all the exercises of the monastic rule, in which, he was well assured, the sanctification of his state consisted. He went to receive the recompense of his labors on the 22d of July in 666, being ninety-six years old. He was buried in the church of St. Paul, now in ruins: his body was translated by St. Bainus into that of St. Peter’s, still standing; and in 944 to Ghent. It was lost in the persecution of the Calvinists in 1578; but an arm had been restored to Fontenelles, and the other arm been given to the abbey of Brone; where these relics are still preserved. See his two lives of the same age in Mabillon, and in Bosch the Bollandist, Julij, t. 5, p. 253. Also Gallia Christ. Nova, t. 11, p. 155, 166, and the history of the translation of his relics to the abbey of Blandine, now St. Peter’s at Ghent, and a history of his miracles, with F. Bosch’s notes, t. 5, p. 281; also F. Toussaint-du-Plessis, Descript. Geogr. Hist. de la Haute Normandie.



The Jews, after the destruction of Jerusalem, erected two academies, the one at Babylon, the other at Tiberias, a city on the lake of Genesareth, rebuilt by Herod, in honor of the emperor Tiberias. Both these schools flourished till the Saracen empire overran those countries. That of Tiberias produced the Massoretes or Massoretic doctors, so famous for the invention of the vowel points in the Hebrew tongue, and their care in preserving the genuine text of the holy bible. Though the Jews then retained no sort of jurisdiction or form of government, yet they chose one among their chief doctors to whom they gave the title of patriarch or prince of the captivity. The most celebrated person who ever bore this honor among them was Hillel, whose name is still in great veneration with the Jews, and who was their most learned oracle, and the principal founder and ornament of their academy at Tiberias. This Hillel, a few days before his death, sent for a Christian bishop in the neighborhood under the character of a physician, who ordered a bath to be prepared in his chamber, as if it had been for his health, and baptized him in it. Hillel received the divine mysteries, and died.

Joseph, one of his assistants, called Apostoli, whose life we are writing, was witness to this secret transaction, and having always been the confident of Hillel, had the care of his son Judas who succeeded him in the dignity of patriarch of the Jews. He found the holy gospels in Hillel’s treasure, and read them with incredible pleasure. The young patriarch fell into evil courses, and employed magical arts to seduce a Christian woman; but the sign of the cross made his charms of no effect. Joseph was surprised to hear this prodigy. He seemed in a dream one night to see Christ, and to hear from his mouth these words, “I am Jesus whom thy fathers crucified; believe in me.” He relished our holy faith more than ever, and going into Cilicia to collect the tenths for the patriarch, he borrowed again the holy gospels. The Jews, already dissatisfied with his conduct, finding him with this holy book, dragged him to their synagogue, and cruelly scourged him. They were preparing worse treatment for him when the bishop rescued him out of their hands. Joseph having already begun to suffer for Christ, was soon disposed to receive baptism.

Constantine the Great became master of the East in 323. He gave Joseph the title and rank of count, with authority to build churches over Palestine, wherever he should judge proper. Joseph began to raise one at Tiberias. The Jews employed many artifices to hinder the work, and stopped his lime-kilns from burning by enchantments, but he, making the sign of the cross upon a vessel of water, and invoking the name of Jesus, poured it on the kilns, and the fire instantly burst forth and burned with great activity. Count Joseph showed no less zeal against the Arians than against the Jews, and both conspired together to persecute him; but he was protected by his dignity of count, which gave him a superior command and authority. Joseph, however, when the emperor Constantius persecuted the orthodox prelates, retired from Tiberias to the neighboring city Scythopolis, where, in 355, he lodged St. Eusebius of Vercelli, banished by the Arians. His was the only Catholic house in that town. He harbored many other illustrious servants of God, and among the rest St. Epiphanius, who had from his own mouth the particulars here related. Joseph was then seventy years of age. He died soon after, about the year 356. The Greeks and Latins both mention his name in their martyrologies. See St. Epiphanius, hær. 30, c. 4. Tillemont, t. 7. Fleury, l. 11, n. 35. Dom Gervaise in his life of St. Epiphanius, c. 18, 19, 20, and Pinius the Bollandist, t. 5, Julij, p. 238.


He was born in Anjou of a family allied to the emperor Charlemagne. From his infancy it was his only ambition to serve Christ with his whole heart. When he was of an age to be settled in the world, his parents obliged him to accept a ring sent him by a great lord of the country named Baronte, as a token that he would marry his daughter; but to prevent this engagement, he fled into Auvergne, and there received the monastic habit at the hands of St. Chaffre or Theofrede, who was then œconome of the monastery of Carmery or Cormeri, so called from its founder Carmen, duke of that country, since called St. Theofrede’s or Chaffre’s monastery in Auvergne, four leagues from Puy in Velay, whom he had met at Menat, and followed to this abbey. Here he lived seven years under the holy abbot Eudo; then returned to Menat seven leagues from Clermont; this monastery he built in such a manner as to have borne the name of its founder. He governed it for many years with great sanctity, and died in 720. He is honored with singular veneration in Auvergne and Anjou, and mentioned by Usuard on the 22d of July. See Mabillon, Sec. 3, Ben., part 1, Labbe, t. 2, Bibl. Novæ, p. 591. Branche, Vies des SS. d’Auvergne et Velay. Baillet, &c.


A zealous Irish priest who preached with wonderful fruit in his own country and in Albany in Scotland; is titular saint of the parish of Domnach Cluana in the county of Down, and of Kippau in the Highlands, where a famous church is dedicated to God under his invocation by the name of Movean. See Colgan in MSS.




See Pinius in the Acts of the Saints, Julij, t. 5, p. 329, and Farlat, Illyrici Sacra, t. 1, p. 259.

St. Apollinaris was the first bishop of Ravenna. Bede, in his true Martyrology, says that he sat twenty years, and was crowned with martyrdom in the reign of Vespasian. His acts say that he was a disciple of St. Peter, and made by him bishop of Ravenna. Though their authority deserves little regard, this circumstance must be allowed, being agreeable to the time, and supported by other authorities. St. Peter Chrysologus, the most illustrious among his successors, has left us a sermon in honor of our saint,261 in which he often styles him a martyr; but adds, that though he frequently spilt portions of his blood for the faith, and ardently desired to lay down his life for Christ, yet God preserved him a long time to his Church, and did not suffer the persecutors to take away his life. So he seems to have only been a martyr by the torments he endured for Christ, which he survived at least some days. His body lay first at Classis, four miles from Ravenna, still a kind of suburb to that city, and its sea-port, till it was choked up by the sands. In the year 549 his relics were removed into a more secret vault in the same church, as an inscription still extant there testifies. See Mabillon.262 St. Fortunatus exhorted his friends to make pilgrimages to his tomb, and St. Gregory the Great ordered parties in doubtful suits at law to be sworn before it. Pope Honorius built a church under his name in Rome about the year 630. It occurs in all Martyrologies, and the high veneration which the Church paid early to his memory is a sufficient testimony of his eminent sanctity and apostolic spirit.

The virtue of the saints was true and heroic, because humble, and proof against all trials. That of the heathen philosophers was lame, and generally false and counterfeit, whence Tertullian calls the latter, Traders in fame. “Where is now the similitude,” says he, “between a philosopher and a Christian? a disciple of Greece and of heaven? a trader in fame, and a saver of souls?263 between a man of words, and a man of works?” And St. Jerom writes, “A philosopher is an animal of fame, one who basely drudges for the breath of the people.”264 Lactantius severely rallies Cicero, because, though he was very sensible of the vanity of the worship then established, yet he would not have that truth told the people for fear of unhinging the religion of the state. “Now what is to be done with a man,” says our Christian philosopher, “who knows himself in an error, yet wilfully dashes upon a rock, that the people may do so too? who makes no use of his wisdom for the regulation of his life, but entangles himself to ensnare others, whom, as the wiser person, he was obliged to rescue from error? But O Cicero, if you have any regard for virtue, attempt rather to deliver the people out of ignorance. It is a noble enterprise, and worthy all your powers of eloquence. Never fear but your oratory will hold out in so good a cause, which never failed you in the defence of so many bad ones. But Socrates’s prison is the thing you dread; and therefore truth must want a patron; but certainly, as a wise man, you ought to despise death in competition with truth; and you had fallen much more honorably by speaking well of truth, than for speaking ill of Antony; nor will you ever rise to that height of glory by your Philippics, as you would have done by laboring to undeceive the world, and dispute the people into their senses.”265 The philosophers did not love truth well enough to suffer for it. Plato dissembled, for fear of Socrates’s hemlock; but the Christian religion raised its professors above all considerations present, for the joy that was set before them.


He was descended of a noble Gaulish family, and by his innocence and sanctity of life was recommended to the priesthood in the church of Mans. He loved retirement and prayer, never conversed with seculars but on spiritual accounts, and linked himself only with those among the clergy whose actions and words were such as might inspire him more and more with the spirit of his state. His distinguished learning and virtue fixed all eyes upon him, and in 348 he was chosen fourth bishop of Mans. Indefatigable in all the functions of his charge, he prayed and fasted much, and was most attentive in succoring the necessities of the poor, by that means to draw down the blessing of God upon himself and his flock. He built and endowed many new churches in his diocess, and having governed it forty-nine years, died about the year 397. His remains were translated to Paderborn in 836, and he is honored as patron of that city. See Tillemont, t. 10, p. 307. Fleury, l. 28, n. 61, p. 495.



From his ancient accurate life, extant in Surius, and illustrated with notes by F. Bosch the Bollandist, Julij, t. 7, p. 19. See also Ceillier, t. 15, p. 40. Tillemont, t. 16, p. 127. Rivet, Hist. Littér. t. 2, p. 486. Calmet, Hist. de Lorraine, t. 1, l. 6, n. 44, p. 274, and Camuzat, Catal. Episc. Trecens. p. 153, et Antiquitates Tricassinæ, &c., 8vo., 1610.

A. D. 478.

St. Lupus, called in French St. Leu, was born of a noble family at Toul, and being learned and eloquent, pleaded at the bar for some years with great reputation. He married Pimeniola, a virtuous sister of St. Hilary of Arles. After six years spent in holy wedlock, fired with an ardent desire of serving God with greater perfection, they parted by mutual consent, and made a mutual vow of perpetual continency. Lupus betook himself to the famous abbey of Lerins, then governed by St. Honoratus. He lived there a year, and added many austerities to those prescribed by the rule, yet always regulated his fervor by the advice of St. Honoratus. He sold great part of his estate for the benefit of the poor, when he renounced the world. After the first year, when St. Honoratus was made bishop of Arles, he went to Macon in Burgundy to dispose of an estate he had left there, in charitable uses. He was preparing to return to Lerins when he was met by the deputies of the church of Troyes, which, upon the death of St. Ursus, in 426, had chosen him bishop, the eighth from St. Amator, founder of this see. His resistance was to no purpose, and he was consecrated by the prelates of the province of Sens. In this dignity he continued the same practices of humility, mortification, and as much as possible even of poverty. He never wore any other garments than a sackcloth and a single tunic, lay upon boards, and allotted every second night entire to watching in prayer. He often passed three days without taking any nourishment, and after so rigorous a fast allowed himself nothing but a little barley bread. Thus he lived above twenty years; laboring at the same time in all his pastoral functions with a zeal worthy an apostle.

About the latter end of the fourth century, Pelagius, a British monk, and Celestius a Scot, broached their heresy in Africa, Italy, and the East, denying the corruption of human nature by original sin, and the necessity of divine grace. One Agricola, a disciple of these heresiarchs, had spread this poison in Britain. The Catholics addressed themselves to their neighbors the bishops of Gaul, begging their assistance to check the growing evil. An assembly of bishops, probably held at Arles in 429, deputed St. Germanus of Auxerre and St. Lupus of Troyes, to go over into our island to oppose this mischief. The two holy pastors, burning with zeal for the glory of Christ, accepted the commission the more willingly as it seemed laborious and painful. They came over and entirely banished the heresy by their prayers, preaching, and miracles. St. Lupus, after his return, set himself with fresh vigor to reform the manners of his own flock. In this he displayed so great prudence and piety, that St. Sidonius Apollinaris calls him, “The father of fathers and bishop of bishops, the chief of the Gallican prelates, the rule of manners, the pillar of truth, the friend of God, and the intercessor to him for men.”266 He spared no pains to save one lost sheep, and his labors were often crowned with a success which seemed miraculous. Among other instances it is recorded that a certain person of his diocess, named Gallus, had forsaken his wife and withdrawn to Clermont. St. Lupus could not see this soul perish, but wrote to St. Sidonius, then bishop of Clermont, a strong letter so prudently tempered with sweetness, that Gallus by reading it was at once terrified and persuaded, and immediately set out to return to his wife. Upon which St. Sidonius cried out, “What is more wonderful than a single reprimand, which both affrights a sinner into compunction, and makes him love his censor!” This letter of St. Lupus and several others are lost; but we have one by which he congratulated Sidonius upon his promotion to his see, having passed from a secular prefecture or government to the episcopacy, which charge he shows to be laborious, difficult and dangerous. He strongly exhorts him, above all things, to humility. This letter was written in 471, and is given us by D’Achery.267

God at that time afflicted the western empire with grievous calamities, and Attila with a numberless army of Huns overran Gaul, calling himself “The Scourge of God,” to punish the sins of the people. Rheims, Cambray, Besançon, Auxerre, and Langres had already felt the effects of his fury, and Troyes was the next place threatened. The holy bishop had recourse to God in behalf of his people by fervent prayer, which he continued for many days, prostrate on the ground, fasting and weeping without intermission. At length, putting on his bishop’s attire, full of confidence in God, he went out to meet the barbarian at the head of his army. Attila, though an infidel, seeing him, was moved to reverence the man of God, who came up to him boldly, followed by his clergy in procession, with a cross carried before them. He spoke to the king first, and asked him who he was? “I am,” said Attila, “the scourge of God.” “Let us respect whatever comes to us from God,” replied the bishop; “but if you are the scourge with which heaven chastises us, remember you are to do nothing but what that almighty hand, which governs and moves you, permits.” Attila, struck with these words, promised the prelate to spare the city. Thus the saint’s prayer was a better defence than the most impregnable ramparts. It protected a city which had neither arms, nor garrison, nor walls, against an army of at least four hundred thousand men, which, after plundering Thrace, Illyricum, and Greece, crossing the Rhine, had filled with blood and desolation the most flourishing countries of France. Attila, turning with his army from Troyes, was met on the plains of Chalons by Aëtius, the brave Roman general, and there defeated. In his retreat he sent for St. Lupus, and caused him to accompany him as far as the Rhine, imagining that the presence of so great a servant of God would be a safeguard to himself and his army; and sending him back, he recommended himself to his prayers. This action of the good bishop was misconstrued by the Roman generals, as if he had favored the escape of the barbarian, and he was obliged to leave Troyes for two years. He spent that time in religious retirement, in great austerity and continual contemplation. When his charity and patience had at length overcome the envy and malice of men, he went back to his church, which he governed fifty-two years, dying in the year 479. The chief part of his body is kept in a rich silver shrine; his skull and principal part of his head in another far more precious, in the figure of a bishop, formed of silver, adorned with jewels and diamonds said by some to be the richest in France. Both are in the abbatial church of regular canons of St. Austin, which bears the name of St. Lupus. He was first buried in the church of St. Martin in Areis, of the same Order, then out of the walls, though long since within them. Many churches in England bear his name. The family name of Sentlow among us is derived from St. Leu, as Camden remarks.

It was by omnipotent prayer that the saints performed such great wonders. By it Moses could ward off the destruction of many thousands, and by a kind of holy violence disarm the divine vengeance.268 By it Elias called down fire and rain from heaven. By it Manasses in chains found mercy, and recovered his throne; Ezechias saw his health restored, and life prolonged; the Ninevites were preserved from destruction; Daniel was delivered from the lions, St. Peter from his chains, and St. Thecla from the fire. By it Judith and Esther saved God’s people. By the same have the servants of God so often commanded nature, defeated armies, removed mountains, cast out devils, cured the sick, raised the dead, drawn down divine blessings, and averted the most dreadful judgments from the world, which, as an ancient father says, subsists by the prayers of the saints.269


This saint was born at Montilia in Andalusia to 1549, performed his studies in the schools of the Jesuits, and in 1569 made his religious profession amongst the Franciscans in the place of his nativity. An extraordinary humility and contempt of himself and of worldly vanity and applause; self-denial, obedience, meekness, patience, and the love of silence, recollection, and prayer mental and vocal, formed his character. Whole nights he frequently passed without sleep on the steps of the altar, before the Blessed Sacrament, in meditation and devout prayer, with wonderful interior delight and devotion. Burning with holy zeal and charity, and an ardent desire of the salvation of souls, after he was promoted to the priesthood, he divided his time between silent retirement and the ministry of preaching. His sermons, though destitute of the ornaments of studied eloquence, powerfully withdrew men from vice, and kindled in their breasts an ardent desire of virtue. The saint was appointed master of novices, first in the convent of Arizava, two miles from Cordova, afterward in that of Monte. Then he was made guardian in the province of Granada. His whole life, says Alvarez de Paz, may be called a holy uninterrupted course of zealous action, yet was at the same time a continued most fervent prayer, abounding with heavenly illuminations and consolations. A perfect spirit of poverty emptied his heart of the love of all created things, that Christ alone might occupy and fill it; and he rejoiced in his nakedness and privation of earthly goods, that he might barely use them to serve the necessities of nature, without suffering them to enslave his heart, or to find any place in his affections, which he reserved pure and entire for spiritual goods. Interior humility and self-denial perfected the disengagement of his heart, and the extraordinary austerities of his penitential life subjected his senses, and rendered the liberty which his soul enjoyed complete; by which he was prepared for the spirit of prayer and the pure love of heavenly things. Earthly comforts used with moderation, and as supports of our weakness, may be sanctified by a good intention; but whilst they bolster up our weakness, they keep it alive and strengthen it; and if they are sought after, or made use of with eagerness and attachment, immoderately or frequently, they strongly nourish self love and sensuality, and produce a distrust of the solid food of devotion and divine love.

The mortified lives of all the saints who arrived at a familiarity with God in holy prayer, are but a comment upon, or sensible examples of, the indispensable gospel precept of dying to ourselves. By no other steps could St. Francis Solano have arrived at the perfection of spiritual life. A pestilence which raged at Granada afforded him an opportunity of exerting his heroic virtue in attending the infected; but a more noble theatre of action was opened to him by the mission into America, upon which he was sent. Peru and Tucuman were the countries in which he reaped the principal harvest; and the five last years of his life he preached chiefly at Lima, and induced the inhabitants of that great city, by sincere repentance, to appease the divine anger, which they had provoked by their sins. The reputation of his wonderful sanctity was enhanced by many miracles. Yet by humility he looked upon himself as the least among men, and he never appeared in public but when called abroad by zeal for the salvation of souls. Before his death he was purified by a lingering illness, and in his last moments repeated those words of the psalmist: I have rejoiced in those things which have been said to me: We will go into the house of the Lord. He departed this life on the 14th of June in 1610, the sixty-second of his age, and fortieth of his religious profession. F. Alvarez de Paz, an eye-witness, describes the stately and religious pomp of his funeral, at which the viceroy of Peru and the archbishop of Lima assisted, with extraordinary devotion. The saint was beatified by Clement X. and canonized by Benedict XIII. in 1726, and his principal festival was appointed on the 24th of July. See his life compiled by Didacus of Cordova; also by Alphonsus of Mondietta. See likewise the History of the Provinces of Peru, and the edifying account of our saint given by the pious and learned Jesuit F. Alvarez de Paz, l. 5, c. 14, t. 2, Op. p. 1752 and 1753; and Benedict XIV., De Canoniz. t. 1, Append. Also the Lives of Saints, published in High Dutch, by F. Maximilian Rasler, S. J.; and F. Charlevoix, Hist. de Paraguay, t. 1, l. 3, and 4.



The history of the conversion of the Russians (now called Muscovites) to the faith of Christ, has been perplexed by the mistakes of many who have treated this point of history. The learned Jesuit F. Antony Possevin was betrayed into many falsities concerning this people.271 And upon his authority some have pretended that the Muscovites received the faith from the Greek schismatics, and at the same time adhered to their schism; than which, nothing can be more notoriously false, as Henschenius and Papebrochius272 show. F. Stilting, another learned Bollandist, has demonstrated by an express dissertation,273 that the Muscovites were at first Catholics, and that even in the time of the Council of Florence the Catholics and schismatics in Russia made two equal halves. The Greek schism was formed by Cerularius several years after the conversion of the Russians. The schism indeed of Phocius was a short prelude to it.

Cedrenus, Zonaras, and some others relate, that an army of Russians besieged Constantinople in the time of the emperor Michael III., when Photius held that see; and that being obliged to raise the siege, they obtained certain Greek priests from Constantinople, who instructed them in the Christian faith. This first mission Baronius places in 853, Pagi in 861; but this must either be understood of some tribe of Russians in Bohemia, where St. Cyril then preached; or these authors must have confounded together things which happened at different times; for the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenetta, who lived near that time, and could not but be acquainted with this transaction, says both in his life of his grandfather, Basil the Macedonian, and in his book, On administering the Empire, that the Russians besieged the city in the time of Photius, but that they were converted to the faith by priests sent at their request from Constantinople in the time of Basil the Macedonian and the patriarch St. Ignatius, whom that prince restored upon his ascending the throne in 867; which also appears from Zonarus.

The first plant of the faith in this nation was the holy queen Helen, called before her baptism Olga. She was wife to the duke Ihor or Igor, who undertook an expedition against the city of Constantinople, as Simeon Metaphrastes, the monk George, Cedrenus, Zonaras, and Curopalates relate. Having been repulsed by the generals of the emperors Romanus and Constantine, he was slain by the Dreulans in his return. His widow, Olga, with great valor and conduct, revenged his death, vanquished the Dreulans, and governed the state several years with uncommon prudence and courage. When she was almost seventy years old, she resigned the government to her son Suatoslas, and going to Constantinople, was there baptized, taking the name of Helen.274 Many place this event in 952, which date seems most agreeable to the Greek historians; but Kulcinius and Stilting infer from the chronology of the dukes of Russia, that she seems to have been baptized in 945. We are expressly assured by Constantine Porphyrogenetta that it happened in 946. She returned into her own country, and by her zealous endeavors brought many to the faith; but was never able to compass the conversion of her son, who was probably withheld by reasons of state. She died in 970 or 978. Her grandson, Uladimir, who succeeded Suatoslas, asked by a solemn embassy, and obtained in marriage, Anne, sister to the two emperors Basil and his colleague and brother Constantine. Nicholas Crysoberga, the orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, a person always zealous in maintaining the communion of the see of Rome, at that prince’s request, sent into Muscovy one Michael with other preachers, who baptized Uladimir, and married him to the princess about the year 988.275 This duke founded near Kiow the great monastery of the Cryptæ in favor of the abbot St. Antony, and died, according to Kulcinius, in 1008. His two sons SS. Boris and Hliba or Cliba, called in Latin Romanus and David, were murdered by the usurper Suatopelch, their impious brother, in 1010. It was their zeal for the faith of Christ which gave occasion to their death. Jaroslas, another brother, defeated the usurper, and obtained the principality; his daughter Anne was married to Henry I., king of France, in 1044, and became the foundress of the church of St. Vincent at Senlis. Romanus and David are honored in Muscovy on the 24th of July. Their remains were translated into a church which was built in their honor at Vislegorod in 1072, the ceremony being performed with great pomp, by George the fifth archbishop of Kiow, and several other bishops, in presence of Izazlas, Suatoslas, and Usevolod, princes of Russia, and a great train of noblemen. The synod of Zamoski, in 1720, which was approved by the Congregation de Propagandâ Fide, and confirmed by pope Benedict XIII., reckons among the holidays of precept which are kept by the Catholic Russians in Lithuania and other provinces, the feast of these two martyrs, celebrated on the 24th of July; and that of the translation of their relics on the 2d of May.276

The Catholic Russians in Lithuania and Poland keep no festival of any other Muscovite saints except of these two martyrs.277 But the Muscovites honor several other saints of their own country; several among whom flourished, and doubtless were placed by them in their Calendar before their schism, as Papebroke and Jos. Assemani observe. Such are the queen Helen or Olga, on the 11th of July, who died, according to Kulcinius, in 978. Uladimir, her grandson, duke of the Russians, and son of Suatoslas on the 15th of July, who was baptized in 990, died in 1014, and was buried in our Lady’s church at Kiow.278 Antony, abbot, a native of Russia, who embraced the monastic state upon Mount Athos, and returning to Kiow, became the patriarch of that Order in his own country, and on a mountain half a mile from the town founded, about the year 1020, the great Russian monastery of Pieczari or the Cryptæ, in which the archimandrite of all the Russian monks resides, and the archbishop of Kiow has an apartment. Antony died in 1073, on the 10th of July, on which his festival is kept in Muscovy.279 This monastery is famous for the Cryptæ or vaults, in which the bodies of many saints and monks who lived above six hundred years ago, remain uncorrupted and fresh. Agapetus, disciple of Antony, at the Cryptæ, famous for miracles, honored on the 1st of June. Athanasius, monk at the Cryptæ, on the 2d of December; he was a native of Trapesond, who, by the liberality and protection of the emperor Nicephorus Phocas, founded the great monastery on Mount Athos in Macedonia. He is honored by the Greeks and Muscovites on the 5th of July.280 The lives of these and several other ancient monks of this house were written by Polycarp, who died in 1182. The grand duke Alexander, surnamed Newski, who died in 1262, and is honored on the 30th of April. Sergius, an abbot, is honored by the Muscovites on the 25th of September. He died in 1292, and was never involved in the schism, as Papebroke, Kulcinius, and Jos. Assemani show. This Sergius was born at Roslow, founded the monastery of the Holy Trinity at Rudosno (sixty Italian miles from Moscow), the richest and most numerous in Muscovy, in which are sometimes two or three hundred monks. The body of Sergius is kept there incorrupt, and is much visited out of devotion from Moscow, sometimes by the czars. These and several others who are named in the Muscovite Calendar with the most eminent saints of the eastern and western churches, lived either before or when this nation was not engaged in the Greek schism. But to these saints the Muscovites add some few who died since their separation from the catholic communion, as Photius, archbishop of Kiow, whose principal merit consisted in the obstinacy with which he maintained the schism. See Kulcinius, Specimen Ecclesiæ Ruthenicæ; Papebroke in the beginning of May, Comm. in Ephem. Jos. Assemani, in Calend. Univ. ad 25 Sept. t. 5, p. 254, &c.


She suffered many torments, and a cruel death, for the faith in the persecution of Dioclesian, at Tyro, a city which stood formerly in an island in the lake of Bolsero in Tuscany, but has been long since swallowed up by the waters. Her relics are now at Palermo in Sicily. She is much honored both in the Latin and Greek church, and is named in the Martyrologies which bear the name of St. Jerom, that of Bede augmented by Florus, and others. See Ughelli, Italia Sacra, t. 5, and Pinius the Bollandist, t. 5, Julij, p. 495.


They were two brothers, the sons of Wulfere, the king of Mercia, second brother and successor of Peada. Having been privately baptized by St. Chad, bishop of Litchfield, about the year 670, they were both slain whilst they were at their prayers by their father’s order, who, out of political views, at that time favored idolatry, though he afterward did remarkable penance for this crime. His father Penda had persecuted the Christians, but his elder brother Peada had begun to establish the faith in his dominions. Florence of Worcester says, Wulfere was only baptized a little before his death, in 675, consequently after this murder; but Bede testifies that he was godfather to Edelwalch, king of the West Saxons, almost twenty years before. But either he relapsed (at least so far as to be for some time favorable to idolatry), or this murder was contrived by some Pagan courtiers, without his privity, as Bradshaw relates it. The queen Emmelinda, mother of the two young princes, caused their bodies to be buried at Stone, which place took its name from a great heap of stones which was raised over their tomb, according to the Saxon custom. She afterward employed these stones in building a church upon the spot, which became very famous for bearing the names of these martyrs who were patrons of the town, and of a priory of regular canons there. The procurator of this house, in a journey to Rome, prevailed on the pope to enrol these two royal martyrs among the saints, and left the head of St. Wulfhad, which he had carried with him, in the church of St. Laurence at Viterbo. (Leland, Collect. t. 1, p. 1, 2.) After this, Wulfere and his brother and successor Ethelred, abolished idols over all Mercia. See the acts of these royal martyrs in the History of Peterborough abbey, and Leland’s Itinerary, and Collect. t. 1, p. 1. Also Cuper the Bollandist, t. 5, Julij, p. 571.


Was a British virgin who suffered martyrdom under the Saxons before their conversion to the faith. Her body was honorably kept at Seaford near Lewes, in Sussex, till, in 1058, her remains, with those of St. Idaberga, virgin, and part of those of St. Oswald, were conveyed into Flanders, and are now deposited in St. Winock’s abbey at Berg. They have been honored by many miracles, especially at the time of this translation, as even the century-writers of Magdeburg mention. A history of these miracles written by Drogo, an eye-witness to several, is published by Solier the Bollandist, p. 608, t. 5, Jul. See also Alford in Annal. ad an. 687, n. 21.



Was baptized by St. Colman, and preached the faith in that country a little before the arrival of St. Patrick, who confirmed the episcopal see of Ardmore, in a synod at Cashel in 448.281 Many miracles are ascribed to St. Declan, and he has ever been much honored in the viscounty of Dessee, anciently Nandesi. See Usher; Bosch the Bollandist, p. 590, and Colgan in MSS. ad 24 Julij.


She was daughter of Bela IV. king of Hungary, and Mary, daughter to Theodorus Lascharis, emperor of Constantinople: was married 1239 to Boleslas the Chaste, sovereign of Lesser Poland, or of the palatinates of Cracow, Sandomire, and Lublin; but by mutual consent lived in perpetual chastity. Prayer, mortification, alms, and daily attendance on the poor in the hospitals, employed her time. Boleslas dying in 1279, she took the veil in the great monastery of Sandecz, which she had lately built for nuns of the Order of St. Clare. She died on the 24th of July in 1292. She was venerated with singular piety in the diocess of Cracow and several other parts of Poland, and her name was solemnly inscribed among the saints by Alexander VIII. in 1690. See her life by John Longinus commonly called Dlugos, with remarks by Bosch the Bollandist, t. 5, Julij, p. 661.



St. James, the brother of St. John Evangelist, son of Zebedee and Salome and nearly related to Christ, was called the Great to distinguish him from the other apostle of the same name who was bishop of Jerusalem, and is surnamed the Less, perhaps because he was lower in stature, or more probably because he was the younger. St. James the Great seems to have been born about twelve years before Christ, and was many years older than his brother St. John. Salome is otherwise called Mary, and was sister to the Blessed Virgin, which some take in the strict sense of the word; others understand by it only cousin-german, according to the Hebrew phrase, and think that the Blessed Virgin was an only daughter.

St. James was by birth a Galilean, and by profession a fisherman with his father and brother, living probably at Bethsaida, where St. Peter also dwelt at that time. Jesus walking by the lake of Genesareth saw St. Peter and St. Andrew fishing, and he called them to come after him, promising to make them fishers of men. Going on a little farther on the shore, he saw two other brothers, James and John, in a ship, with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he also called them; who forthwith left their nets and their father and followed him.282 Probably by conversing with St. Peter their townsman, and by other means, they had before this call an entire conviction that Jesus was the Christ; and no sooner did they hear his invitation, and saw the marks of his divine will directing them to what was eminently conducive to his honor, but the same moment they quitted all things to comply with this summons. They held no consultation, made no demur, started no difficulties, thought of no consequences or dangers; and their sacrifice was most perfect and entire. Like Abraham, they preferred obedience to the divine command, before all the endearments of their nearest relations, and forsook all they had, and all their hopes and prospects in the world, to become the disciples of Jesus. Zebedee their father seems to have approved of their resolution, and their mother Salome devoted herself heartily to the service of our Lord, as the gospels frequently mention. All fervent souls ought to be in the like dispositions of perfect sacrifice with these apostles, without the least inordinate attachment to any thing on earth, being most ready to renounce everything if God’s greater glory should require it. With what boundless liberality does the Divine Spirit shower down his choicest treasures upon souls which thus perfectly open themselves to him! This the apostles, of whom we speak, happily experienced in themselves. But they for some time so followed Christ, and listened to his divine instructions, as still to return from time to time to their fishing trade for a maintenance. It was in the same first year of Christ’s preaching that Peter and Andrew, at the command of their divine Master, took a prodigious shoal of fishes by a miraculous draught. James and John were their partners, though in another boat, and were called in to assist in hauling up the nets. Astonished at this manifestation of Christ’s power, they entirely quitted their business, the more perfectly to attach themselves to him.283

In the year 31 St. James was present with his brothers St. John and St. Peter at the cure of St. Peter’s mother-in-law, and at the raising of the daughter of Jairus from the dead. This same year Jesus formed the college of his apostles, into which he adopted St. James and his brother St. John. He gave these two the surname of Boanerges, or Sons of Thunder, probably to denote their active zeal. When a town of the Samaritans refused to entertain Christ, they suggested that he should call down fire from heaven to consume it; but our Blessed Redeemer gave them to understand that meekness and patience were the arms by which they were to conquer.284 Christ distinguished St. Peter, St. James, and St. John by many special favors above the rest of the apostles. They alone were admitted to be spectators first of his glorious transfiguration, and afterward of his agony and bloody sweat in the garden. The instructions and example of the Son of God had not fully enlightened the understandings of these apostles, nor purified their hearts, before the Holy Ghost had shed his beams upon them; and their virtue was still imperfect, as appeared in the following instance;—Mary Salome, the mother of James and John, relying upon their merit, and her relation to Christ, and imagining that he was going to erect a temporal monarchy, according to the notion of the carnal Jews concerning the Messias, presented to him a request that her two sons might sit, the one on his right hand and the other on his left, in his kingdom. By this example we are put in mind how often the fondness of parents renders them the spiritual murderers of their own children, and makes them blindly excuse, flatter, and encourage their secret vices and passions. At the same time we are taught how formidable an enemy ambition is, which could find admittance in the breasts of two apostles (though yet novices) before the descent of the Holy Ghost. They doubtless disguised their vice under the cloak of a reasonable desire, and a virtuous emulation of preferment, with a design of serving their Master by it. Only the children of light discover the deceit and snare of this enemy; only profound humility discerns and condemns the specious pretences of subtle pride and covetousness. The two sons of Zebedee seem to have spoken by the mouth of their mother; wherefore Christ directed his answer to them, telling them, they knew not what they asked; for in his kingdom preferments are attainable, not by the most forward and ambitious, but by the most humble, and most laborious, and the most patient. He therefore asked them if they were able to drink of his cup of suffering. The two apostles understanding the condition under which Christ offered them his kingdom, and glowing with ardor and courage to suffer, answered peremptorily they were able to do it. Our Lord told them, they should indeed have their portions of suffering; but for the honors of his kingdom, he could make no other disposal of them than according to his decrees in conjunction with his Father, in proportion to every one’s charity and patience in suffering.

The virtue of the most fervent novices in the service of God is very imperfect, so long as entire self-denial, and a great assiduity and spirit of prayer have not yet prepared their souls for, and called down upon them a plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost, who fills their understanding with a clear and new heavenly light, and by the ardor of his charity consumes the rust of the affections, and fills them with his fervor. In this state even the moral virtues acquire an heroic and infused degree of perfection. Humility now gives the soul a much more clear and feeling knowledge of her own infirmities, baseness, and imperfections, with much stronger sentiments of a just contempt of herself; and the like is to be said of divine and fraternal charity, and all other virtues; so that she seems to herself translated into a region of new light, in which by continual heroic acts of these virtues, and especially of prayer and contemplation, she makes daily and wonderful advances. This perfection the apostles received in a more miraculous manner by the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them, when he not only engraved the law of love deeply in their hearts, but also bestowed on them the external graces and gifts of prophecy and miracles, and qualified them for the execution of the great commission they had received from Christ.

How St. James was employed in preaching and promoting the gospel after Christ’s ascension, we have no account from the writers of the first ages of Christianity. It appears that he left Judæa some time after the persecution that was raised at the martyrdom of St. Stephen in the year 30, and was returned again ten years after when he suffered martyrdom. The addition to St. Jerom’s catalogue of illustrious men tells us, that he preached the gospel to the twelve tribes of the Jews, in their dispersion up and down the world. Though the apostles, during the first twelve years, preached generally in the neighborhood of Judea, yet St. James might in that interval make a voyage to Spain, and preach some time in that country, as Baronius observes. F. Cuper adds, that his martyrdom happened above a year after the dispersion of the apostles, in which space he had the fairest opportunity of visiting Spain. That he preached there is constantly affirmed by the tradition of that church, mentioned by St. Isidore, the Breviary of Toledo, the Arabic books of Anastasius patriarch of Antioch, concerning the Passions of the martyrs and others. Cuper the Bollandist285 traces this tradition very high, and confirms it from St. Jerom,286 St. Isidore, the ancient Spanish office, &c., and from many corroborating circumstances. St. Epiphanius says, that St. James always lived a bachelor, in much temperance and mortification, never eating flesh nor fish; that he wore only one coat, and a linen cloak, and that he was holy and exemplary in all manner of conversation. He was the first among the apostles who had the honor to follow his divine master by martyrdom, which he suffered at Jerusalem, whither he was returned, in the eleventh year after our Lord’s ascension.

Agrippa, the grandson of Herod, by Aristobulus, was author of this persecution. Being brought up at Rome in the reign of Tiberius, he, basely flattering Caligula in his passions, gained the confidence of that monster, who was no sooner placed on the imperial throne than he gave Agrippa the title of king, with the tetrarchies of Philip and Lysanias, which were then vacant.287 Claudius, in the year 41, enlarged his dominions, giving him also Jerusalem and all the rest of Judæa, Samaria, and whatever other provinces had been possessed by his grandfather Herod. He gave also to his younger brother Herod the little kingdom of Chalcis in Syria, near mount Labinus. Agrippa reigned with great state and magnificence. Being very fond of pleasing the Jewish nation, when he came from Cæsarea to Jerusalem to keep the Passover in the year 43, he began to persecute the Christians; and the first who fell a victim to his popular zeal was St. James the Great, whom he caused to be apprehended and beheaded there a little before Easter, in the year 43, about fourteen years after the death of Christ. Clement of Alexandria, and from him Eusebius,288 relate that his accuser, observing the great courage and constancy of mind wherewith the apostle underwent his trial, was so affected with it, that he repented of what he had done, declared himself publicly a Christian, and was condemned to be beheaded with St. James. As they were both led together to execution, he begged pardon of the apostle by the way for having apprehended him. St. James, after pausing a little, turned to him, and embraced him, saying, Peace be with you. He then kissed him, and they were both beheaded together.289 The body of the apostle was interred at Jerusalem; but not long after carried by his disciples into Spain, and deposited at Iria Flavia, now called El Padron, upon the borders of Gallicia. The sacred relics were discovered there in the beginning of the ninth century, in the reign of Alphonsus the Chaste, king of Leon. By the order of that prince they were translated to Compostella, four miles distant, to which place pope Leo III. transferred the episcopal see from Iria Flavia. This place was first called Ad S. Jacobum Apostolum, or Giacomo Postolo, which words have been contracted into the present name, Compostella. It is famous for the extraordinary concourse of pilgrims that resort thither to visit the body of St. James, which is kept with great respect in the stately cathedral. F. Cuper the Bollandist proves the truth of the tradition of the Spanish church concerning the body of St. James having been translated to Compostella, and gives authentic histories of many miracles wrought through his intercession, and of several apparitions by which he visibly protected the armies of a Christian against the Moors in that kingdom.290 The military order of St. James, surnamed the Noble, was instituted by Ferdinand II. in 1175.

The Church, by the martyrdom of St. James, lost in her infancy one of her main pillars; but God was pleased that his name should be glorified by so illustrious a testimony, and that it should appear he was the immediate supporter and defender of his Church. For when it was deprived of its chief members and pastors, it remained no less firm than before; and even grew and gathered strength from the most violent persecutions. The apostle with confidence committed his tender flock to God, and commended to them his own work, whilst he rejoiced to go to his Redeemer, and to give his life for him. We all meet with trials. But can we fear or hesitate to drink a cup presented to us by the hand of God, and which our Lord and Captain, by free choice, and out of pure love, was pleased himself to drink first for our sake? He asks us whether we can drink of his cup, he encourages us by setting before our eyes the glory of heaven, and he invites us by his own divine example. Let us humbly implore his grace, without which we can do nothing, and take with joy this cup of salvation, which he presents us with his divine hand.


He suffered martyrdom under Decius in Lycia, and is honored on this day in the Martyrology which bears the name of St. Jerom, and in other western Calendars, but is commemorated by the Greeks and other Oriental nations on the 9th of May. The Mosarabic Breviary, attributed to St. Isidore, mentions the translation of his relics to Toledo, whence they were brought into France, and are at present shown enshrined at the abbey of St. Denys near Paris. He seems to have taken the name of Christopher upon the like motive that St. Ignatius would be called Theophorus, to express his ardent love for his Redeemer, by which he always carried him in his breast as his great and only good, his inestimable treasure, and the object of all his affections and desires. There seem to be no other grounds than this name for the vulgar notion of his great stature, the origin of which seems to have been merely allegorical, as Baronius observes, and as Vida has beautifully expressed in an epigram on this saint.291 The enormous statues of St. Christopher, still to be seen in many Gothic cathedrals, expressed his allegorical wading through the sea of tribulations, by which the faithful meant to signify the many sufferings through which he arrived at eternal life. They are monuments of the devotion of our ancestors to this saint, whose intercession they implored especially against pestilential distempers. Saint Gregory the Great mentions a monastery in Sicily which bore the name of St. Christopher. See Pinius the Bollandist, t. 6, p. 125.


In the year 308 there were at the same time six emperors, successors of Dioclesian, namely, in the East Galerius, Lucinius, and Maximinus; in the West, Constantine, Maxentius, and his father, Maximian Herculeus, who had reassumed the purple. Firmilian, the successor of Urbanus in the government of Palestine, under Maximinus II., carried on the persecution with great cruelty. When fourscore and seventeen confessors, men, women, and children, out of an innumerable multitude of Christians who were banished a long while before to the porphyry quarries in Thebais, were brought before him, he commanded the sinews of the joint of their left feet to be burnt with a hot iron; and their right eyes to be put out, and the eye holes burnt with a hot iron to the very bottom of the orb. In this condition he sent them to work at the mines in Palestine about mount Libanus. Many others were brought before this inhuman judge from different towns of Palestine, and were tormented various ways.

Among the Christians taken at Gaza, whilst they were assembled to hear the holy scriptures read, was a holy virgin named Thea, whom the judge threatened with the prostitution of her chastity in the public stews. She, to whom her virtue was most dear, reproached him for such infamous injustices. Firmilian, enraged at her liberty of speech, caused her to be inhumanly scourged, then stretched on the rack, and her sides torn with iron hooks till the bare ribs appeared. Valentina, a pious Christian virgin of Cæsarea, who had also by vow consecrated her chastity to God, being present at this spectacle, cried out to the judge from the midst of the crowd, “How long will you thus torment my sister?” She was immediately apprehended, and being dragged by force to the altar, she threw herself upon it, and overturned it with her feet, together with the fire and sacrifice which stood ready upon it. Firmilian, provoked beyond bounds, commanded her sides to be more cruelly torn than any others. Being at length wearied with tormenting her, he ordered the two virgins to be tied together and burnt. This was executed on the 25th of July, 308. One Paul, an illustrious confessor, was beheaded for the faith on the same day, by an order of this judge. The fervor with which he prayed at the place of execution for the emperor, the judge who condemned him, and his executioner, drew tears from all that were present. Soon after, one hundred and thirty Egyptian confessors, by an order of Maximinus, had one eye pulled out, and one foot maimed, and were sent, some to the mines in Palestine, others to those in Cilicia. See Eusebius de Martyr. Palestinæ, c. 8; Tillemont, t. 5; Fleury, l. ix.; Orsi, t. 4.


At Barcelona he is called St. Cougat, at Ruel, near Paris, St. Quiquenfat, in some other parts of France St. Guinefort. He was a native of Scillite in Africa, and one of the first families of that country. To escape the persecution raised by Dioclesian, he retired with St. Felix into Mauritania, and afterward into Spain. He was no sooner landed at Barcelona but he was apprehended, and confessing his faith before Dacian, the cruel governor, was condemned by him, after suffering many torments, to lose his head, in 304. His companion, Felix, received a like crown soon after him in Gironne. The relics of St. Cucufas were brought into France in 777, and deposited in the abbey of St. Denys, near Paris, in 835, where they still remain with due honor. See Prudentius, hymn 4, the new Paris Breviary on this day, the Roman Martyrology, and Bosch the Bollandist, t. 6, Jul. p. 169. See also Chatelain, Notes sur le Martyr. Fevr. 16, p. 656.


Whom St. Patrick baptized, ordained deacon, and appointed abbot of Montgairt or Mountgarret, in the county of Wexford, on the borders of Kilkenny, of which place he is titular saint. See Colgan in MSS. ad 25 Julij.



See Cuper the Bollandist, t. 6, Julij, p. 233.

The Hebrew word Anne signifies gracious. St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, are justly honored in the Church, and their virtue is highly extolled by St. John Damascen. The emperor Justinian I. built a church at Constantinople in honor of St. Anne, about the year 550.292 Codinus mentions another built by Justinian II. in 705. Her body was brought from Palestine to Constantinople in 710, whence some portions of her relics have been dispersed in the West. F. Cuper the Bollandist has collected a great number of miracles wrought through her intercession.293

God has been pleased by sensible effects to testify how much he is honored by the devotion of the faithful to this saint, who was the great model of virtue to all engaged in the married state, and charged with the education of children. It was a sublime dignity and a great honor for this saint to give to a lost world the advocate of mercy, and to be parent of the mother of God. But it was a far greater happiness to be, under God, the greatest instrument of her virtue, and to be spiritually her mother by a holy education in perfect innocence and sanctity. St. Anne, being herself a vessel of grace, not by name only, but by the possession of that rich treasure, was chosen by God to form his most beloved spouse to perfect virtue; and her pious care of this illustrious daughter was the greatest means of her own sanctification and her glory in the church of God to the end of ages. It is a lesson to all parents whose principal duty is the holy education of their children. By this they glorify their Creator, perpetuate his honor on earth to future ages, and sanctify their own souls. St. Paul says, that it is by the education of their children that parents are to be saved.294 Nor will he allow any one who has had children, ever to be admitted to serve the altar, whose sons do not, by their holy conduct, give proofs of a virtuous education. Nevertheless, we see parents solicitous about the corporal qualifications of their children, and earnest to procure them an establishment in the world; yet supinely careless in purchasing them virtue, in which alone their true happiness consists. This reflection drew tears from Crates, a heathen philosopher, who desired to mount on the highest place in his city and cry out, with all his strength: “Citizens, what is it you think of? You employ all your time in heaping up riches to leave to your children; yet take no care to cultivate their souls with virtue, as if an estate were more precious than themselves.”295


He was born at Auxerre about the year 380, of noble parents. Having laid the foundation of sound literature at home, he studied eloquence and the civil law at Rome, and pleaded with great reputation in the court of the Præfectus-prætorio. He married a lady of great quality named Eustachia, and being taken notice of by the emperor Honorius, was raised by him to several honorable employments, and at last to that of duke in his own province, which dignity gave him the command over all the troops in that country. Germanus being returned to Auxerre, was careful to shun gross vices, but his religion seemed confined to principles of integrity, and his virtues were merely human; for he was unacquainted with the true spirit of mortification, humility, and prayer. The young duke had a passion for hunting, and hung up the heads of the wild beasts which he killed on a great tree in the middle of the city, as trophies of his diversion. No one could presume to show him the meanness and folly of this favorite petty vanity, by which he seemed to authorize the superstitious custom of the Pagans who did the like to honor their gods. St. Amator, who was at that time the zealous bishop of Auxerre, made him strong remonstrances on the danger of countenancing such remains of idolatry, but without effect. At last, watching an opportunity, he caused this tree to be cut down while Germanus was absent, who, upon hearing this news, grievously threatened the bishop. St. Amator withdrew for a while to Autun; where he learned by a revelation that Germanus was designed by God to be his successor. He therefore procured privately the consent of Julius, the prefect of Gaul, that he might give the tonsure to Germanus; for, by the laws, no officer could quit his employment without such a permission. Julius giving leave, St. Amator returned to Auxerre, and causing the church doors to be shut when Germanus was come in, he gave him the tonsure, and ordained him deacon. By this instance, it appears, that immediately after the general persecutions, clerks were distinguished by the tonsure. This proof is the stronger, as the priest Constantius wrote this life in the same age. Germanus durst not make any opposition for fear of resisting the will of God. St. Amator died soon after on the 1st of May in 418, and St. Germanus was unanimously chosen by the clergy and people to succeed him, and consecrated by the bishops of the province on the 7th of July, notwithstanding the great reluctance he discovered.

Full of a deep sense of the obligations of his new dignity, he became at once another man. He renounced all the pomps and vanities of the world, lived with his wife no otherwise than if she had been his sister, distributed all his possessions to the poor and to the Church, and embraced a life of poverty and austerity. From the day he was ordained bishop to his death, that is, for thirty years together, he never touched wheaten bread, wine, vinegar, oil, pulse, or salt. He began every meal by putting a few ashes in his mouth to renew in his soul a spirit of penance, and took no other sustenance than barley bread, which grain he had threshed and ground himself, that he might, as a true penitent, live by his own labor. He never ate but in the evening, sometimes about the middle of the week, often only on the seventh day. His dress was the same in winter and summer, and consisted of a cowl and tunic which he never changed till they were worn to pieces. He always wore a hair-cloth next his skin. His bed was enclosed with two boards, strewed with ashes, without a bolster, and covered with a sack-cloth and one blanket. He always carried about him some relics of saints in a little box, tied to a leather string. He extended his hospitality to all sorts of persons, washed the feet of the poor, and served them with his own hands, at the same time that he himself fasted. He built a monastery over against Auxerre, on the other side of the river Yone, in honor of SS. Cosmas and Damian, which now goes by the name of St. Marian’s, from one of its first abbots. He found the sepulchres of several martyrs, particularly of a great multitude who had been put to death in the persecution of Aurelian, with St. Priscus, otherwise called St. Bry, in a place called Coucy, where their bodies had been thrown into a cistern or pit out of which he took them, and built in their honor a church and monastery, called at this day de Saints en Puy saye. St. Germanus gave all his landed estates to the Church, consisting of several agreeable and spacious manors, lying all contiguous to one another.296 Seven of these he gave to the cathedral church, namely Appoigny, where his father and mother had been buried in St. John’s church; little Varsy, where stood a palace; great Varsy, Toucy, Poeilly, Marcigny, and Perigni. Three he settled on the monastery of St. Cosmas, namely, Monceaux, Fontenay, and Merilles. He bestowed three others, called Garchy, Concou, and Molins, on the church which he built in honor of St. Maurice, which at this day bears the name of St. Germanus himself. In this manner he reduced himself to great poverty, and to perpetuate the divine honor, and the relief of the indigent, enriched the church of Auxerre which he found very poor. By many like examples, it appears, that the great endowments of several churches were originally owing to the liberality of their bishops, as Fleury observes.

Pelagius began to dispute against the necessity of divine grace at Rome, about the year 405. Being himself by birth a Briton, it is not to be wondered that he should have disciples in Britain. Among these one Agricola, the son of Severinus, who, after the birth of this son, was chosen bishop and became a Pelagian, spread the poison of this heresy in our island. The deacon Pelladius, whom pope Celestine had sent to the places infected with this heresy, and whom he afterward ordained bishop, and commissioned to go into Scotland, moved him to provide for the preservation of so many souls; and other Catholics in Britain had sent a deputation to the bishops in Gaul, entreating them to send over some able person to defend the faith and oppose the growing evil. Pope Celestine nominated St. Germanus of Auxerre to go thither in quality of his vicar in the year 429, as St. Prosper assures us.297 The bishops of Gaul assembled in a numerous council for the same purpose, and agreed to entreat St. Lupus, who had then been only two years bishop of Troyes, to accompany St. Germanus in this important mission.298 These two holy prelates, proceeding on their journey, came to Nanterre near Paris, where St. Germanus gave his blessing and good counsel to St. Genevieve, and foretold her future sanctity. She being at that time about fifteen years old, and desirous to consecrate herself a virgin to God, St. Germanus, after many solemn prayers in the church, received there her vow, and confirmed it by laying his right hand upon her head.299

St. Germanus and St. Lupus embarking in the winter season, were overtaken with a furious tempest, which St. Germanus appeased by casting some drops of blessed oil, according to Constantius, but according to Bede, of holy-water, into the sea, having first invoked the adorable Trinity. Being arrived in Britain they were met by a great multitude of people and the fame of their sanctity, doctrine, and miracles soon filled the whole country. They confirmed the Catholics in all parts, and converted the heretics, preaching often in the highways and fields where the churches were not able to contain the crowd that flocked to them. The Pelagians everywhere shunned them; but being at length ashamed thus to condemn themselves by their flight and silence, accepted a conference. The disputation was held at Verulam before an incredible number of people. The heretics, who made their appearance with a great train and in rich apparel, spoke first. When they had talked a long time, the bishops answered them with great eloquence, and so invincibly supported their arguments with quotations from scripture, that their adversaries were fairly reduced to silence. The people applauded their victory with joyful acclamations. Before the assembly broke up, a certain tribune and his wife presented their little daughter of ten years of age, who was blind, to the two holy bishops; and they bid them take her to the Pelagians. But the latter joined the parents in begging the saints to pray for her. The two bishops made a short prayer; then Germanus called upon the Blessed Trinity; and taking from his neck the little box of relics which he wore, laid it upon the eyes of the girl before the whole assembly, who immediately recovered her sight, to the great joy of her parents and of all the people. From that day no one opposed the doctrine of the holy bishops. The saints went from this conference to return thanks to God at the tomb of St. Alban, the most illustrious martyr in Britain. St. Germanus caused his sepulchre to be opened, and deposited in it his box of relics of apostles and martyrs, taking from the same place a little of the dust which still retained some marks of the blood of St. Alban. This he carried away with him, and, at his return, built at Auxerre a church in his honor, where he placed these relics.300

The Saxons from Germany on one side, and on the other the Picts, at that time harassed the Britons. Paul the deacon tells us, that an army of Picts and Scots invaded their territories whilst the two bishops were in the island; and bishop Usher takes notice, that the Saxons and English who inhabited Sleswic, and all the German coast from Denmark to the Rhine, made descents upon Britain from time to time before the arrival of Hengist and Horsa in 449. The Britons having assembled an army against these plunderers, invited the two holy bishops into their camp, hoping to be protected by their prayers and presence. The saints complied with their request, but employed their time in bringing the idolaters to the faith, and the Christians to a reformation of their manners. Many of the former demanded baptism, and the saints prepared them to receive it at Easter, for it was then Lent. They erected a church in the camp of green boughs twisted together, in which the catechumens received the sacrament of regeneration; and the whole army celebrated the festival with great devotion. After Easter, St. Germanus had recourse to a stratagem, by which, without bloodshed, he rescued his dear converts and the country out of the danger with which they were threatened. The enemy approaching, he put himself at the head of the Christians with so much skill and address as showed he had not forgotten his old profession of a general. He led his little army into a vale between two high mountains, and ordered his troops to send forth the same shout for which he would give them a sign. When the Saxon pirates came near them, he cried out thrice, Alleluiah, which was followed by the whole British army; and the sound was often repeated by the echo from the hills with as dreadful a noise as if the rocks had been rent asunder. The barbarians, in a sudden fright, judging from the shout that they were falling upon the swords of a mighty army, flung down their arms and ran away, leaving behind them all their baggage and a great booty. Many of them were drowned in crossing a river, by missing the fords.301 Bishop Usher302 says, this battle seems to have been fought near a town in Flintshire, called in the British tongue, Guid-cruc, but in English, Mould. The place retains to this day the name of Maes Garmon, or German’s field. The two holy bishops, after so many victories, returned home to their respective dioceses.303

St. Germanus found his people loaded with extraordinary imposts, and undertook a journey to Arles, to solicit Auxiliaris, prefect of Gaul, in their behalf. On the road, the people everywhere met him in crowds, with the women and children, to receive his blessing. When he drew near to Arles, the prefect Auxiliaris himself, contrary to custom, was come a good way to meet him, and conducted him to the capital. He admired his gracefulness, and the charity and authority which his countenance and conversation displayed, and found him to exceed his reputation. He made him great presents, and entreated him to cure his wife who had been long ill of a quartan ague. He obtained his request, and granted to St. Germanus the discharge from the taxes which he had asked for his people. The saint being returned home, applied himself earnestly to reform their manners; but used to retire from time to time to his monastery of SS. Cosmas and Damian. In 446 he was called again into Britain, to assist that church against the Pelagian heresy, which began a second time to raise its head there. He took for his companion St. Severus, who had been lately promoted to the archbishopric of Triers, and had formerly been a disciple of St. Lupus of Troyes. In Britain he sought out those who had been seduced by the heretics, and converted many of them; so that the obstinate sowers of those errors found no longer any retreat here, and quitted the island. A principal man of the country, called Elaphius, brought to him his son who was in the flower of his age, and had one ham contracted, and his leg withered. St. Germanus made him sit down, and touching his ham and leg, healed him in the presence of Many. St. Germanus considering that ignorance could not be banished, nor the reformation which he had established maintain its ground, without regular schools for the instruction of the clergy, instituted schools of learning, by which means, “These churches continued afterward pure in the faith, and free from heresy,” as Bede observes.304 In South-Wales, having ordained St. Iltutus priest, and St. Dubricius archbishop of Landaff, he charged them with the care of several schools, which soon grew very famous for the numbers, learning, and eminent sanctity of those that were there educated. Two of these, under the immediate direction of the latter, were seated at Hentlan and Moch-ros, places lying on the river Wye, where he had one thousand scholars, for years together. The names of the most eminent among them are mentioned in the life of St. Dubricius, written (as some maintain) by St. Thelian’s own hand in the ancient Landaff register.305 The schools of St. Iltutus at Llan-Iltut (now Lantwit) near Boverton, and at Llan-elty near Neath in Glamorganshire, were in like repute, and equally filled with the sons of the nobility from all parts of the island. Among his disciples we find St. Gildas, St. Leonorius bishop and confessor, St. Samson, St. Magloire, St. Malo, St. Paul afterward bishop of Leon, and Daniel, whom St. Dubricius made bishop of Bangor, where he likewise instituted a seminary for the Britons. Paulinus, another disciple of St. Germanus, did the like at Whiteland in Caermarthenshire, where St. David and St. Theliau studied. The seminaries of Llancarvan near Cowbridge, and the famous school of Bencor in Flintshire, were also noble monuments of St. Germanus’s zeal. This saint was on his road back when he met a deputation from the inhabitants of Armorica or Brittany who besought him to be their protector; for to punish them for a revolt, Aëtius, the Roman general in Gaul, had sent Eocarich, a Pagan and barbarous king of the Alemanni, to subdue them. St. Germanus boldly accosted the barbarian, stopping his horse by the bridle, at the head of his army. The German at first refused to hear him, but at length listened to his discourse, and by it was so much softened as to call off his troops, and agree not to ravage the province, on condition that he should obtain the pardon of the people from the emperor, or from his general Aëtius. In order to procure this the saint undertook a journey to Ravenna, where the emperor Valentinian III. then resided.

He wrought several miracles on the way, and at Milan delivered a man who was possessed by the devil. He entered the city of Ravenna by night to avoid honors and pomp; but the people being aware of his precaution, a great crowd waited for him, and saluted him with acclamations. He was received with great joy by the bishop St. Peter Chrysologus; by the young emperor Valentinian, and his mother Placidia. She sent to his house a great silver vessel filled with dainties, without any flesh, which she knew he would never touch. The saint sent her in return a barley loaf upon a wooden dish. The empress received it graciously, ordered the dish to be enchased with gold, and kept the loaf by which several miraculous cures were performed. The emperor confirmed his request; but the restless people by raising new disturbances destroyed the effect of the imperial clemency. The saint was continually attended at Ravenna by six bishops, and wrought there many miracles. The son of Volusian, chancellor or secretary to the patrician Sigisvultus, being dead and cold, the saint was called, and having put all the company out of the chamber, he prostrated himself near the corpse and prayed with tears. After some time the dead man began to stir, opened his eyes, and moved his fingers. St. Germanus raised him, he sat up, and, by degrees, was restored to perfect health. One day after matins, as the saint was talking with the bishops of religious matters, he said to them, “My brethren, I recommend my passage to your prayers. Methought I saw this night our Saviour, who gave me provision for a journey, and told me it was to go into my native country, and to receive eternal rest.” A few days after, he fell sick. All the city was alarmed. The empress went to see him, and he desired the favor of her to send back his corpse into his own country; to which she assented, though very unwillingly. He died at Ravenna on the seventh day of his illness, which was the last of July in 448, having held his see thirty years and twenty-five days. The empress Placidia took his reliquary, St. Peter Chrysologus his cowl and hair shirt, and the six other bishops divided his clothes among them. The eunuch Acholius, prefect of the emperor’s chamber, one of whose servants, when sick, the saint had cured, had his corpse embalmed; the empress clothed it with a rich habit and gave a coffin of cypress wood; the emperor furnished the carriages, the expense of the journey, and the officers to attend it. The funeral pomp was most magnificent; the number of lights was so great, that they shone as broad day. Everywhere as it passed, the people came to meet it, showing all manner of honors. Some levelled the ways and repaired the bridges, others bore the corpse, or at least sung psalms. The clergy of Auxerre went as far as the Alps to meet it. The sacred treasure was brought to that city fifty days after the saint’s death, and after having been exposed six days, was interred on the 1st of October in the oratory of St. Maurice, which he had founded, where stands at present the famous abbey which bears his name. His principal festival is kept on the 31st of this month. St. Germanus was the titular saint of many churches in England, and of the great abbey of Selby in Yorkshire, the abbot whereof was a parliamentary baron. A chapel near Verulam, in which St. Germanus had preached, was a place of great devotion to him among our ancestors, and was afterward dedicated under his name. From him the parliamentary borough of St. German’s in Cornwall is called. See his life written by the priest Constantius, who was nearly his contemporary, and is commended by St. Sidonius Apollinaris in the same age: also Bede, and Nennius the British historian, who wrote in 620. All these relate the miracles mentioned above. See also Leland’s Itinerary, Brown-Willis, Usher, Fleury, Tillemont, t. 15, Rivet, Hist. Littér., t. 2, p. 256, and Recueil des Lettres sur la Vérification des Reliques de St. Germain d’Auxerre, 1753, in 8vo.



See the Collections of F. Bosch the Bollandist, t. 6, Julij, p. 397.

A. D. 303.

He was physician to the emperor Galerius Maximianus, and a Christian, but fell by a temptation which is sometimes more dangerous than the severest trials of the fiercest torments; for bad example, if not shunned, insensibly weakens, and at length destroys the strongest virtue. Pantaleon being perpetually obsessed by it in an impious idolatrous court, and deceived by often hearing the false maxims of the world applauded, was unhappily seduced into an apostasy. But a zealous Christian called Hermolaus, by his prudent admonitions awakened his conscience to a sense of his guilt, and brought him again into the fold of the Church. The penitent ardently wished to expiate his crime by martyrdom; and to prepare himself for the conflict, when Dioclesian’s bloody persecution broke out at Nicomedia in 303, he distributed all his possessions among the poor. Not long after this action he was taken up, and in his house were also apprehended Hermolaus, Hermippus, and Hermocrates. After suffering many torments they were all condemned to lose their heads. St. Pantaleon suffered the day after the rest. He is ranked by the Greeks amongst the great martyrs. Procopius mentions a church in his honor at Constantinople, which being decayed was repaired by Justinian. His relics were translated to Constantinople, and there kept with great honor as St. John Damascen informs us.306 The greatest part of them are now shown in the abbey of St. Denys near Paris, but his head at Lyons.

Physicians honor St. Pantaleon as their chief patron after St. Luke. Happy are they in that profession, who improve their study chiefly to glorify the supreme Creator, whose infinite power and wisdom are displayed in all his works; and who by the opportunities of charity which their art continually offers them, rejoice to afford comfort, and corporal, if not often also spiritual succor, to the most suffering and distressed part of their species, especially among the poor. All the healing powers of medicine are a gift of God;307 and he himself who could have restored Ezechias to health by the least act of his omnipotent will, directed Isaiah to apply dry figs to the abscess into which his fever was terminating; than which poultice, no better remedy could have been used to promote suppuration.308 St. Ambrose,309 St. Basil,310 and St. Bernard,311 inveigh severely against too nice and anxious a care of health, as a mark of inordinate self-love and immortification; nor is anything generally more hurtful to it. But as man is not master of his own life or health, he is bound to take a moderate reasonable care not to throw them away.312 To neglect the more simple and ordinary succors of medicine when absolutely necessary, is to transgress that law of charity which every one owes to himself.313 The saints who condemned as contrary to their penitential state, far-sought or exquisite means, with St. Charles Borromæo, were scrupulously attentive to essential prescriptions of physicians in simple and ordinary remedies. But let the Christian in sickness seek in the first place the health of his soul by penance, and the exercise of all virtues. Let him also consider God as his chief physician, begging him, if it may be conducive to his divine honor, to restore the frame he created, and entreating our Redeemer to stretch out that hand upon him, with which in his mortal state he restored so many sick to their health. He who trusts more in the art of physicians than in the Lord, will deserve the reproach of Asa, king of Juda.314 So hidden are often the causes of distempers, so precarious the power of remedies, and so uncertain the skill of the ablest physicians, that their endeavors frequently check nature instead of seconding its efforts, and thus hasten death. The divine blessing alone is the Christian’s sheet-anchor, perfect resignation to the divine will is the secure repose of his soul; and the fervent exercise of penance, patience, and devotion, is his gain in the time of sickness.



Having confessed the faith before the proconsul at Ephesus under Decius in 250, they were walled up together in a cave in which they had hid themselves, and there slept in the Lord. Some moderns, mistaking this expression, have imagined that they only lay asleep, till they were found in 479, under Theodosius the younger. The truth seems to be, that their relics were then discovered. They are much honored by the Greeks, Syrians, and all the Oriental nations. Their relics were conveyed to Marseilles in a large stone coffin, which is still shown there in St. Victor’s church. In the Musæum Victorium at Rome is a factitious plaster or stone (made of sulphur melted with fire and mortar), formed in imitation of a large precious stone, in which is cut a group of figures representing the Seven Sleepers with their names, and near Constantine and John are exhibited two clubs; near Maximian a knotty club; near Malchus and Martinian two axes; near Serapion a burning torch, and near Danesius (whom others call Dionysius) a great nail. That large nails (clavi trabales, or such as were used in joining great rafters or beams in buildings) were made use of as instruments of torture is evident from St. Paulinus315 and Horace.316 From this ancient monument some infer that these martyrs were put to death by various torments, and that their bodies were only buried in the aforesaid cave. In this group of figures, these martyrs are represented all as very young, and without beards. In ancient Martyrologies and other writings, they are frequently called boys.317 The cave in which their bodies were found became a place famous for devout pilgrimages, and is still shown to travellers, as James Spon testifies.318 See St. Gregory of Tours, l. 1, de Glor. Mart. c. 95, and Cuper the Bollandist, Julij, t. 6, p. 375. Also, Dissertatio de Sanctis Septem Dormientibus, Romæ, 1741 in 4to. in which the above said group of figures is explained, c. 5, &c.


On the upper part of the lake Erne, of which parish he is titular patron. Before his death he committed the government of his monastery to his beloved disciple St. Fegnarnach. In that territory his festival is a holiday of precept, as Colgan assures us, on this 27th of July.


Is titular saint of the parish called Kill-luicain in Ireland.



From two sermons delivered on their festival, the one by St. Ennodius, the other passes under the name of St. Ambrose, and was written soon after his time, perhaps by St. Gaudentius of Brescia; also from Paulinus the deacon, in his life of St. Ambrose. See Tillemont, t. 2, and Pinius the Bollandist, t. 6, Julij, p. 503.


St. Nazarius’s father was a heathen, and enjoyed a considerable post in the Roman army. His mother Perpetua was a zealous Christian, and was instructed by St. Peter, or his disciples, in the most perfect maxims of our holy faith. Nazarius embraced it with so much ardor, that he copied in his life all the great virtues he saw in his teachers; and out of zeal for the salvation of others left Rome, his native city, and preached the faith in many places with a fervor and disinterestedness becoming a disciple of the apostles. Arriving at Milan he was there beheaded for the faith, together with Celsus, a youth whom he carried with him to assist him in his travels. These martyrs suffered soon after Nero had raised the first persecution. Their bodies were buried separately in a garden without the city, where they were discovered and taken up by St. Ambrose in 395. In the tomb of St. Nazarius a vial of the saint’s blood was found as fresh and red as if it had been spilt that day. The faithful stained handkerchiefs with some drops, and also formed a certain paste with it; a portion of which St. Ambrose sent to St. Gaudentius bishop of Brescia. St. Ambrose conveyed the bodies of the two martyrs into the new church of the apostles, which he had just built. A woman was delivered of an evil spirit in their presence. St. Ambrose sent some of these relics to St. Paulinus of Nola, who received them with great respect, as a most valuable present, as he testifies.319

The martyrs died as the outcasts of the world, but are crowned by God with immortal honor. The glory of the world is false and transitory, and an empty bubble or shadow; but that of virtue is true, solid, and permanent, even in the eyes of men; for, to use the comparison of St. Basil,320 as the more we look upon the sun the more we admire it, and by reviewing it never find it less bright or less beautiful; so the memory of the martyrs which we celebrate, after so many years, is only more fresh in our minds, and will be more flourishing in all ages to come.


He was a native of Africa, and succeeded St. Eleutherius in the pontificate, in the year 192, the nineteenth of Commodus. The practice of those virtues which had prepared him for that dignity, rendered him a true successor of the apostles. He vigorously opposed the rising heresies of that age. Theodotus of Byzantium, a tanner, having apostatized from the faith to save his life in a late persecution, afterward, to extenuate his guilt, pretended that he had denied only a man, not God; teaching that Christ was nothing more than a mere man, as the Socinians teach at this day; whereas the Arians allowed him to have been before the world, though himself a creature. Theodotus going to Rome, there drew many into his blasphemous error; for he was well versed in polite literature; but Victor checked his progress by excommunicating him with Ebion, Artemon, and another Theodotus who had taught the same blasphemy.321 This other Theodotus, called Trapezita, or the banker, was author of the Melchisedecian heresy, pretending that Melchisedec was greater than Christ.

Montanus, a new convert in Mysia, near Phrygia, out of an unbounded desire of invading the first dignities of the Church, and filled with rage to see himself disappointed, began to preach against the Church; and having by pride and ambition given entrance to the devil, commenced false prophet, and sometimes losing his senses, began in an enthusiastic strain to utter extraordinary expressions. Prisca, or Priscilla, and Maximilla, two women of quality, but of debauched lives, left their husbands, and being filled with the same spirit, spoke like Montanus, void of sense, and after an extravagant and unusual manner, pretending they succeeded the prophets among the disciples of the apostles. Montanus placed himself above the apostles, saying, that he had received the Paraclete, or the Holy Ghost promised by Christ, to perfect his law. He denied that the Church had power to forgive the sins of idolatry, murder, and impurity, and hardly received any sinners on repentance. St. Paul had allowed second marriages, but Montanus forbade them as inconsistent with the perfect law of chastity; and he forbade Christians to flee in time of persecution. The Montanists were also called from their country Cataphryges, and Pepuzeni from Pepuzium, a little town in Phrygia, which was their capital, and which they called Jerusalem.322 They boasted of their martyrs, as the Marcionites also did; which other heretics seldom pretend to, as St. Irenæus and Origen take notice; nor could these have any great number. Apollonius, a Catholic writer quoted by Eusebius, confounding the hypocrisy of the Montanists, reproached their pretended prophetesses with infamous debaucheries, and with receiving presents, saying, “Does a prophet color his hair, paint his eye-brows, play at dice, or lend out money on usury? I will demonstrate that they are guilty of these things.” The Catholics met to examine their pretended new prophecies, and convicted them of falsehood, because the true prophets were not beside themselves when they spoke; also the Montanists had lied in their predictions, and opposed the doctrine of the Church. Asterius Urbanus, a learned priest (for he calls St. Zoticus fellow-priest), confounded them by these arguments, in a great conference held at Ancyra about the year 188. Their prophecies and errors being condemned as impious, the followers of Montanus were driven out of the Church, and excommunicated. It was reported for certain, that Montanus and Maximilla, led away by the spirit that possessed them, afterward hanged themselves. These particulars are related by Eusebius.

Tertullian, who fell into this heresy about the time of the death of Pope Victor, says,323 that this pope at first admitted to the communion of the Church these pretended prophets. And it was easy to be deceived in a matter of fact concerning persons at such a distance, and who appeared under the garb of hypocrisy. But he had no sooner answered their letters, in which he acknowledged them brethren, but Praxeas coming from the East, brought him an ample account of their tenets and practice: and Victor immediately recalled his letters of communion, and condemned these innovators. This Praxeas was a Phrygian, and being puffed up because he had suffered imprisonment for the faith, began to sow a new heresy at Rome, maintaining but one person in God, and attributing crucifixion to the Father as well as to the Son; whence his followers were called Patripassians. His errors being brought to light, he was also cut off from the communion of the Church.

About the same time Tatian fell from the Church. He was a Syrian, a Platonic philosopher, and a disciple of St. Justin, martyr, after whose death he taught some time at Rome. Afterward, returning into Syria in 171, he there broached his errors, which he durst not advance at Rome. He borrowed several of them from Marcion, Valentinus, and Saturninus, teaching two principles, and that the Creator is the evil principle or God. He added several new errors, as that Adam was damned. He condemned marriage as no less criminal than adultery, whence his followers were called Encratitæ, or the continent. They were likewise called Hydroparastatæ, or Aquarii, because, in consecrating the eucharist, they used only water, for they condemned all use of wine, and likewise the use of flesh-meat.324 The ancients observe that Tatian’s fall was owing to pride, which often attends an opinion of knowledge;325 and of this there cannot be a more dangerous symptom in a scholar than a fondness for novelty and singularity, especially if joined with obstinacy and opiniativeness.

St. Victor was watchful to cut off these scandals in their root, and every where to maintain the purity of the faith with unity. Up an this motive, he exerted his zeal in the dispute about the time of celebrating Easter. The churches of Lesser Asia kept it with the Jews on the fourteenth day of the first moon after the vernal equinox, on whatever day of the week it fell. The Roman church, and all the rest of the world, kept Easter always on a Sunday immediately following that fourteenth day. Pope Anicetus permitted these Asiatics to keep their own custom, even at Rome; but Pope Soter, his successor, obliged them to conform to the custom of places where they should be. Several councils held at Rome, in Palestine, in Pontus, in Gaul, at Corinth, and other places, unanimously determined the point according to the Roman custom. Yet Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, wrote strenuously in defence of the Asiatic custom, which he said was derived from St. Philip who died at Hierapolis, from St. John Evangelist, St. Polycarp, bishop and martyr, Sagaris, bishop and martyr, who died at Laodicea, and others. Victor seeing the Asiatics fixed in their resolution, threatened to cut them off from the communion of the Church; from the words of Eusebius326 some moderns infer with Baronius, Constant, and De Marca, that he excommunicated them in a letter, but immediately suspended or recalled the sentence: others with Thomassin, Natalis Alexander, and Graveson, think that he only threatened it; which opinion best agrees with the sequel. To reconcile the different passages of authors, F. John Philip Monti327 thinks pope Victor, upon receiving the refractory answer of Polycrates, drew up a sentence of excommunication, but never sent or published the same, being overcome by the advice of St. Irenæus. The schism which Blastus, a priest, had lately formed at Rome, upon the difference of this rite, for which he had been degraded by pope Eleutherius, probably made St. Victor more severe in extirpating a practice which became daily more dangerous to the unity of the Church; but prudence and charity recommended a toleration some time longer, which he was prevailed upon to grant, by a letter of St. Irenæus, who wrote to him on that subject in his own name, and in that of his brethren in Gaul. St. Victor died soon after this, in the year 201, the ninth of Severus, after he had sat ten years. He is styled a martyr by some writers of the fifth age, and in an ancient pontifical written in 530. Though Severus only published the edicts for his persecution in 202, several Christians had suffered in his reign before that time, as Tillemont remarks.328 F. Pagi thinks St. Victor did not die by the sword, because in some Martyrologies he is called only confessor, though his dignity and zeal exposed him to continual persecutions, for which alone he might deserve the title of martyr. See Eusebius Hist. l. 5, c. 23. Orsi, Berti Diss. Hist. t. 2, p. 88.


He was a native of Albano, near Rome; and, upon the death of pope Anastasius in 402, was unanimously chosen to fill the pontifical chair. He ascended it by compulsion, and considering himself in it with trembling, he never ceased to beg of God the spirit of his holy wisdom and prudence, which he stood the more in need of, as the times in which he lived were more difficult. Alaric the Goth, with an army of barbarians, threatened to carry desolation over all Italy. The pope exhorted the faithful to receive the scourges of heaven with submission and humility, and undertook several journeys to negotiate a reconciliation between the emperor Honorius and Alaric, but in vain. The Goths received a great overthrow from the Roman army commanded by Stilico, in 403. But Alaric led them a second time to attempt the plunder of Rome; and because Honorius refused to make him general of the imperial army, he took that city on the 24th of August, 410, and abandoned it to the fury of his soldiers, excepting the church of SS. Peter and Paul, to which he granted the privilege of a sanctuary. Pope Innocent was at that time absent with the emperor at Ravenna. The year following, Alaric being dead, his brother-in-law and successor Atulphus again plundered Rome.

After the departure of the barbarians, the good pope hastened thither, and by his presence brought comfort and joy to that afflicted people. He taught them to draw an advantage from their sufferings by making a good use of them, and so much were the Heathens edified at the patience, resignation, and virtue with which the Christians suffered the loss of their goods and whatever was dear, without any murmuring or complaint, that they came in crowds desiring to be instructed in the faith and baptized. The pope labored incessantly to form them a holy people, always occupied in good works. His letters, especially those to Exuperius, the most holy bishop of Toulouse, and Decentius, bishop of Gubbio, in answer to their several queries, contain many useful rules, and judicious decisions. In the former, he says, that communion or absolution is never to be denied to dying penitents, that we may not imitate the hardness of the Novatians. In that to Decentius he says, that only bishops, who have the sovereignty of the priesthood, can confer the Holy Ghost in confirmation, by anointing the foreheads of persons baptized; and that he cannot recite the words of the form for fear of discovering the mysteries or sacraments to the infidels. He uses the same precaution in speaking of the sacrifice; so inviolable was the secret with which, out of respect, the primitive Christians treated the sacraments. In the same epistle, this pope mentioning the extreme unction which is given to the sick, he says, it cannot be administered to penitents before their reconciliation, because it is a sacrament; and all sacraments are refused them in that state. This evinces that it was held to be no less properly a sacrament than the eucharist. He indeed allows the custom that then prevailed for the laity to use the holy oils out of devotion, but without the sacramental words, and not as a sacrament; for being consulted whether bishops could give that sacrament, which was usually administered by priests, he proves that bishops can do it, because priests can; consequently, he supposes as undoubted, that only priests, not laymen, can minister this holy sacrament.

When, in 416, the councils of Carthage and Milevum had condemned the Pelagian errors, and wrote to the pope against them, the synodal letters of both these councils having been drawn up by St. Austin, St. Innocent, in his answer to the bishops of the council of Milevum, says, that “all ecclesiastical matters throughout the world are, by divine right, to be referred to the apostolic see, that is, to St. Peter, the author of its name and honor.” He commends the bishops of this council for so doing: “Following,” says he, “the ancient rule which you know with me, has been always observed by the whole world.”329 The confirmation given by pope Innocent to these two African councils being brought to Africa, St. Austin said,330 “The decisions of the two councils have been already sent to the apostolic see; the rescripts are also come from thence. The cause is now finished; would to God that the error may at last be at end.” St. Innocent closed his life with exerting his zeal in defence of divine grace, dying in 417, having been pope fifteen years. See his letters, and the councils, Ceillier, t. 10, p. 104, and Cuper the Bollandist, t. 6, Jul. p. 548.


He was a child of prayer, and was born about the year 496, of noble parentage, in that part of South Wales which is now called Glamorganshire, then in the country of the Demetes, upon the borders of the Wenetes, who inhabited the province called by the Britons Guent, now Monmouthshire. At seven years of age he was put under the care of St. Iltutus, a very learned abbot in Glamorganshire, and having made great progress in learning and virtue, was ordained priest by Saint Dubritius, bishop of Caërleon. In 512 he passed into a neighboring island; where he led an eremitical life, as did several others, under the direction of St. Piro, a holy priest. By an order of SS. Dubritius and Iltutus he paid a visit to his aged father who lay dangerously ill. The saint restored him by his prayers to his health, and converted him, and his whole numerous family, including his uncles, cousins, and brothers, whom he placed in several monasteries, but his father and an uncle in his own community of hermits. In 516 he made a voyage into Ireland, to animate himself to fervor by the example and instructions of many illustrious saints who flourished there, and after his return shut himself up in a cave in a wilderness. In 520 St. Dubritius called him to a synod at Caërleon, and in it ordained him bishop without being fixed in any particular see. St. Sampson continued his former austere manner of life, abstaining wholly from flesh, sometimes eating only once in two or three days, and often passing the whole night in prayer standing, though sometimes when he watched the night, he took a little rest, leaning his head against a wall. To gain souls to God by the exercise of the ministry with which he saw himself intrusted, he passed over into Brittany in France, with his father and his cousin St. Magloire, and was followed by St. Maclou or Malo, another cousin. St. Sampson there converted many idolaters, raised a dead man to life, and wrought many other miracles. He founded a great abbey, which he called Dole,331 and fixed there the episcopal see which was before subject to Quidalet, now St. Malo’s. This see of Dole long enjoyed a metropolitical jurisdiction over all the bishops of Brittany.332 He subscribed to the second council of Paris, held in 557, in the manner following, “I Sampson, a sinner, bishop, have consented and subscribed.” He used to have a cross carried before him, as is the custom of archbishops at present. He died about the year 564. A considerable part of his relics was translated to Paris, with those of St. Magliore and St. Maclou, in the tenth century, for fear of the inroads of the Normans. See his life in Mabillon, Act. Bened. t. 1, p. 176, and Solier the Bollandist, t. 6, Jul. p. 568.



She was sister to Mary and Lazarus, and lived with them at Bethania, a small town two miles distant from Jerusalem, a little beyond mount Olivet. Our Blessed Redeemer had made his residence usually in Galilee, till in the third year of his public ministry he preached chiefly in Judæa, during which interval he frequented the house of these three holy disciples. Martha seems to have been the eldest, and to have had the chief care and direction of the household. It appears from the history of the resurrection of Lazarus that their family was of principal note in the country. In the first visit, as it seems, with which Jesus honored them,333 St. Luke tells us334 that St. Martha showed great solicitude to entertain and serve him. She forgot the privilege of her rank and riches, and would not leave so great an honor to servants only, but was herself very busy in preparing everything for so great a guest and his holy company. Mary sat all the while at our Saviour’s feet, feeding her soul with his heavenly doctrine. In this she found such inexpressible sweetness, and so great spiritual advantage, that she forgot and contemned the whole world, and would suffer nothing to draw her from her entertainment with her God, or make her lose any one of those precious moments. At his sacred discourses her heart was inflamed, her pure soul seemed to melt in holy love, and in a total forgetfulness of all other things she said to herself, with the spouse in the Canticles, My beloved to me, and I to him, who feedeth among the lilies;335 that is with chaste souls, or among the flowers of virtues. St. Austin observes that this house represents to us the whole family of God on earth. In it no one is idle, but his servants have their different employments, some in the contemplative life, as recluses; others in the active; as, first, those who labor for the salvation of souls in the exterior functions of the pastoral charge; secondly, those who, upon pure motives of charity, serve the poor or the sick; and, lastly, all who look upon their lawful profession in the world as the place for which God has destined them, and the employment which he has given them; and who faithfully pursue its occupations with a view purely to accomplish the divine will, and acquit themselves of every duty in the order in which God has placed them in this world. He is the greater saint, whatever his state of life may be, whose love of God and his neighbor is more pure, more ardent, and more perfect; for charity is the soul and form of Christian perfection.

But it has been disputed whether the contemplative or the active life be in itself the more perfect. St. Thomas answers this question,336 proving from the example of Christ and his apostles, that the mixed life, which is made up of both, is the most excellent. This is the apostolic life, with the care of souls, if in it the external functions of instructing, assisting, and comforting others, which is the most noble object of charity, be supported by a constant perfect spirit of prayer and contemplation. In order to this, a long and fervent religious retirement ought to be the preparation which alone can form the perfect spirit of this state; and the same must be constantly nourished and improved by a vehement love and frequent practice of holy retirement, and a continued recollection, as Christ during his ministry often retired to the mountains to pray; for that pastor who suffers the spirit of prayer to languish in his soul, carries about a dead soul in a living body, to use the expression of St. Bonaventure.337 The like interior must animate; and some degree of assiduity in the like exercises, as circumstances will allow, must support those who are engaged in worldly employs, and those who devote themselves to serve Christ’s most tender and afflicted members, the poor and the sick, as Martha served Christ himself.

With so great love and fervor did Martha wait on our Redeemer, that, as we cannot doubt, she thought that if the whole world were occupied in attending so great a guest, all would be too little. She wished that all men would employ their hands, feet, and hearts, all their faculties and senses, with their whole strength, in serving with her their gracious Creator, made for us our brother. Therefore, sweetly complaining to him, she desired him to bid her sister Mary to rise up and help her. Our meek and loving Lord was well pleased with the solicitude and earnestness, full of affection and devotion, wherewith Martha waited on him; yet he commended more the quiet repose with which Mary attended only to that which is of the greatest importance, the spiritual improvement of her soul. Martha, Martha, said he, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is necessary. If precipitation or too great eagerness had any share in her service, this would have been an imperfection; which, nevertheless, does not appear. Christ only puts Martha in mind that though corporal duties ought not to be neglected, and if sanctified by a perfect intention of charity are most excellent virtues, yet spiritual functions, when they come in competition, are to be preferred. The former, indeed, become spiritual, when animated by a perfect spirit and recollection; but this is often much impaired by the distraction of the mind, and in the course of action. In our external employments, which we direct with a pure intention to fulfil the divine will, we imitate the angels when they are employed by God in being our guardians, or in other external functions with which God hath charged them; but as these blessed spirits in such employs never lose sight of God, so ought we in all our actions to continue, at least virtually, to adore and praise his holy name; but herein the eye of the soul is often carried off, or its attention much weakened, whereas, in heavenly contemplation, the heart is wholly taken up in God, and more perfectly united to him by adoration and love. This is the novitiate of heaven, where it is the uninterrupted occupation of the blessed. In this sense Christ so highly commends the choice of Mary, affirming that her happy employment would never be taken from her. He added, “One thing is necessary;” which words some explain as if he had said, “A little is enough, one dish suffices;” but the word necessary determines the sense rather to be, as St. Austin, St. Bernard, Maldonatus, Grotius, and others, expound it, eternal salvation is our only affair.

Another instance which shows how dear this devout family was to our divine Saviour, is the raising of Lazarus to life. When he fell sick, the pious sisters sent to inform Christ, who was then absent in Galilee. They said no more in their message than this: He whom thou lovest is sick. They knew very well that this was enough; and that his tender bowels would be moved to compassion by the bare representation of their calamity. It was not to remove our corporal miseries that Christ came from heaven, and died and suffered so much; this was not the object which drew down this Almighty Physician among us. If, in his mortal life on earth, he healed the sick and raised the dead, by these miracles he would manifest, as by sensible tokens, the spiritual cures which he desired to work in our souls. We groan under the weight of innumerable and the most dreadful spiritual miseries. Our tender Redeemer knows their horrible depth and endless extent; but he would have us to conceive a just sense of them, to acknowledge them, and earnestly to implore his aid; for this he sheds the rays of his light upon our blind souls, and rouses us by his repeated graces. The first step towards a deliverance is, that we confess, with a feeling sense, our extreme baseness and ingratitude, and our weakness and total incapacity of doing anything of ourselves towards our recovery; but we have a physician infinitely tender and powerful. To him then we must continually lay open our distress, and with deep compunction display our miseries before his holy eyes, earnestly striving by this dumb eloquence to move him to pity; exposing to him that we whom he loveth still as the work of his hands, as the price of his blood, lie ingulfed in unspeakable miseries. Thus we must entreat him, with tears and loud cries of our hearts, to look down on his image in our souls, now disfigured and sullied with sin; on his kingdom left desolate by the tyranny of the devil and our passions: on the vineyard which himself had planted, adorned, and fenced, but which is laid waste by merciless robbers and enemies; and that he would stretch out his almighty hand to repair these breaches, and save us. So long as life lasts we can never be sure that we shall find mercy, or rest secure of the issue of our great trial upon which our eternity depends; so long, therefore, we ought never to cease, with most earnest cries, to implore the clemency of our Judge, laying open our spiritual miseries to him in these words of the two sisters,—“Behold he, whom thou lovest, is sinking under the weight of his evils,” and beg him to remember his ancient love and mercies towards us. We ought also in corporal distempers to address ourselves to God with the like words, begging with Martha our own or our brother’s corporal health, if this may be expedient to our souls, and conducive to the divine honor.

In all these petitions we ought to implore the joint supplications of the saints, as at the entreaties of the sisters Christ raised Lazarus. Having received their message, he wanted no other prompter than that of his own compassion and affection; an emblem of the paternal mercy with which he draws to himself, and receives penitent sinners. Had the prodigal son offered any plea of merits or deserts, he had never deserved to find favor; but he knew the goodness and tenderness of his father, who had with restless nights waited with impatience to see him return. The tender parent wanted no motives drawn from other objects or things without himself. The paternal affection within his own breast pleaded in favor of his disobedient child. By this his very bowels yearned to embrace him again, and raise him from spiritual death to life. This same tenderness and compassion in Christ was the grounds of the sisters’ confidence. Jesus, however, deferred setting out two or three days, that his glory might be more manifested by the greater evidence of the miracle, and by the trial of the virtue and confidence of the two holy sisters. When he arrived at Bethania, Martha went first out to meet and welcome him; and then called her sister Mary. The presence of Jesus brings every blessing and comfort; and, by it, the sisters had the joy to see their brother again restored to life when he had been four days in the grave.

Christ was again at Bethania, at the house of Simon the Leper, six days before his passion. Lazarus was one of the guests. Martha waited at table; and Mary poured a box of costly ointments on our Lord’s feet, which she wiped with the hair of her head.338 Judas Iscariot complained of this waste, saying that the ointment might have been sold, and the price given to the poor. Not that he had any regard for the poor, but, bearing the common purse, he converted things sometimes to his own use, being a thief. How imperceptible a vice is covetousness, and how subtle in excuses to deceive itself! Charity interprets the actions of others in the best part; but passion hurries men into rash judgments. Judas condemned the most heroic virtue and devotion of a saint; but Jesus undertook her defence. He was pleased not with the ointment, but with the love and devotion of his fervent servant, which he suffered her to satisfy by that action, which he received as performed for the embalming of his body, his death being then at hand. He, moreover, declared that this good work which Judas condemned, should be commended to the edification of his servants over the whole world wherever his gospel should be preached.

St. Martha seems to have been one of those holy women who attended Christ during his passion, and stood under his cross. After his ascension, she came to Marseilles, and ended her life in Provence, where her body was found at Tarascon, soon after the discovery of that of St. Mary Magdalen. It lies in a magnificent subterraneous chapel of the stately collegiate church at Tarascon, which is dedicated to God in her honor. King Louis XI. gave a rich bust of gold, in which the head of the saint is kept.

We have all, like St. Martha, one only necessary affair; that for which alone God created and redeemed us; for which he has wrought so many wonderful mysteries in our favor, and upon which the dreadful alternative of sovereign and everlasting happiness or misery depends. This is, that we refer even all our worldly employments and all that we do, to glorify God, to fulfil his will, and to save our souls. In this, all our thoughts, desires, and enterprises, ought to centre: this is the circle in which we must shut ourselves up, and never think of moving out of. Every one ought sincerely to say with an ancient writer, “I have but one only affair; and I care for nothing else only lest any other thing should take off any part of my attention from this my only business.”339 What account will they be able to give to themselves or to their Judge at the last day, who make vanity, pastimes, and idle employments, the sole business of their life? or they who toil and slave much in bustling through the world, seeming to neglect nothing but their only affair.


The two brothers were cruelly tormented, and at length beheaded at Rome in the persecution of Diocletian, in the year 303. Their sister Beatrice took up their bodies out of the Tiber, and gave them burial. She lay herself concealed seven months in the house of a virtuous widow called Lucina, with whom she spent her time, night and day, in fervent prayer, and in the exercise of other good works. She was discovered and impeached by a pagan kinsman, who designed to possess himself of her estate, which was contiguous to his own; she resolutely protested to the judge that she would never adore gods of wood and stone, and was strangled by his order in prison the night following. Lucina buried her body near her brothers on the side of the highway to Porto, in the cemetery called Ad Ursum Pileatum. Pope Leo translated their relics into a church which he built to their honor in the city: they now lie in that of St. Mary Major.

With them is commemorated St. Felix, pope and martyr, whose name is found in the Martyrologies on this day.


St. William Pinchon, of an illustrious family in Brittany, was, by the innocence of his manners, his admirable meekness, humility, chastity, mortification, charity, and devotion, an accomplished model of all virtues. He received the tonsure, and some years after the holy orders of deacon and priest, at the hands of Josselin, bishop of S. Brieuc, served that church under his two successors, Peter and Sylvester, and succeeded the latter in the episcopal dignity about the year 1220. The poor were his treasurers, and not content to exhaust on them whatever he possessed, he often borrowed great stores of corn and other necessary provisions for their relief. The bare boards were usually his bed; for his domestics discovered that he never made use of the soft bed which they prepared for him. The assiduous application to all the functions of his charge was no hindrance to his nourishing within himself the spirit of recollection and holy prayer. He died about the year 1234, on the 29th of July, on which his name occurs in the Roman Martyrology. His body was deposited in his cathedral, and taken up incorrupt in 1248. He was canonized by Innocent IV. in 1253, according to Baronius. See Lobineau, Vies des SS. de Bretagne, p. 235.


He was son of Herald Grenscius, prince of Westfold in Norway, by his wife Asta, daughter of Gulbrand Kuta, governor of Gulbrand’s Dale or Valley. He delivered his country from the tyranny under which the Swedes and Danes had for some time held it, whilst Norway was divided between Sweno, king of Denmark, Olave Scot-Konung, son of Eric, king of Sweden, and Eric, son of Hacon earl of Norway. In 1013, he sailed to England, and successfully assisted king Ethelred against the Danes after the death of Sueno or Swayn their king. He afterward waged war against Olaus Scot-Konung, king of Sweden, till, making an advantageous peace, he took to wife the daughter of that king.340 These two princes about that time introduced the Romescot, a small annual tribute yearly to be paid to the apostolic see.341 St. Olave brought over from England several pious and learned priests and monks, one of whom, named Grimkele, was chosen bishop of Drontheim, his capital. The holy king did nothing without the advice of this prelate, and by his counsels published many wholesome laws, and abolished such ancient laws and customs as were contrary to the Gospel; which he did not only in Norway, but also in the isles of Orkney and of Iceland; though the entire conquest of Orkney was reserved to his son Magnus, who also subdued the isle of Man, as Camden relates from the ancient Chronicle of Man.

Our religious king having settled his dominions in peace, set himself to extirpate out of them the abominable superstitions of idolatry. He travelled in person from town to town, exhorting his subjects to open the eyes of their souls to the bright light of faith. A company of zealous preachers attended him, and he demolished in many places the idolatrous temples. The heathens rebelled, and with the assistance of Canutus the Great, defeated and expelled him. St. Olave fled into Russia, whence he soon after returned, and raised an army in order to recover his kingdom, but was slain by his rebellious and infidel subjects in a battle fought at Stichstadt, north of Drontheim, on the 29th of July, 1030, having reigned sixteen years. These rebels seem to have been in the interest of Canute the Great, who arrived from England in Norway, took possession of that kingdom, and left his nephew Hackin viceroy, but he being soon after drowned at sea, Canute made his son Sweno viceroy of Norway. Saint Olave’s body was honorably buried at Drontheim, and the year following bishop Grimkele commanded him to be honored in that church among the saints with the title of martyr. His son Magnus was called home from Russia in 1035, and restored to the throne. Sweno, who saw himself entirely abandoned, fled into Sweden. Magnus exceedingly promoted the devotion of the people to the memory of his father, the martyr, who was chosen titular saint of the cathedral of Drontheim. This church was rebuilt with such splendor and magnificence, as to have been the glory and pride of all the North. Munster has given us a minute description of it, after Lutheranism was introduced; but it was soon after burnt by lightning. The body of St. Olave was found incorrupt in 1098; and again when the Lutherans, in 1541, plundered the shrine, which was adorned with gold and jewels of an immense value, a treasure nowhere equalled in the North. The ship which carried the greatest part of this sacrilegious booty perished at sea in the road to Denmark; the rest was robbed at land, so that nothing of it came into the king of Denmark’s hands. The Lutherans treated the saint’s body with respect, and left it in the same place where the shrine had stood, in the inner wooden case, till in 1568 they decently buried it in the same cathedral. A shirt or inner garment of St. Olave’s is shown at St. Victor’s in Paris. His shrine became famous by many miracles, and he was honored with extraordinary devotion throughout all the northern kingdoms, and was titular saint of several churches in England and Scotland. He was called by our ancestors St. Olave, and more frequently St. Tooley; but in the Norway Chronicles Olaf Haraldson, and Olaf Helge or the Holy. See Saxo-Grammaticus, Hist. Dan. l. 10, fol. 94, 95, 96. Adam Brem, Hist. Eccl. l. 2, c. 43. And the Iceland historians whom Mallet regards as far more accurate, especially Torfæus, in the last century, in his Series regum Daniæ; Snorro Sturleson, &c. See also Bosch the Bollandist, t. 7, Jul. p. 87. Mallet, Hist. de Dannemarc, &c.


Was converted to the faith by St. Anscharius, and for his zeal in propagating the same, and because in the time of a great famine he could not be compelled to offer sacrifice to the idols of Upsal, was sacrificed to them by the rebellious inhabitants of Birca, at that time the usual residence of the kings of Sweden. From the ruins of Birca, Stockholm took its rise, though built at a considerable distance from it. See Puffendorf’s History of Sweden, t. 1, p. 70.



They were Persians, but coming to Rome, courageously confessed the faith of Christ in the persecution of Decius in 250. They were cruelly tormented, but the more their bodies were mangled and covered with ghastly wounds, the more were their souls adorned and beautified with divine grace, and rendered glorious in the sight of heaven. The Christians at Rome did not treat them as strangers, but as brethren united to them in the hope of the same blessed country; and after their death carefully deposited their bodies in the house of a subdeacon called Quirinus. In the reign of Constantine the Great, their relics were removed into the ancient burying place of Pontian, so called from some rich man who built it: called also, from some sign, Ad Ursum Pileatum. It afterward received its name from SS. Abdon and Sennen. It was situated near the Tiber, on the road to Porto near the gates of Rome. The images of these martyrs with Persian bonnets and crowns on their heads, and their names, are to be seen there at this day in ancient sculpture.342 SS. Abdon and Sennen are mentioned in the ancient Liberian Calendar, and in other Martyrologies; though their modern acts deserve no notice, as cardinal Noris has demonstrated.343

The martyrs preferred torments and death to sin, because the love of God above all things reigned in their breasts. “We say we are Christians,” says Tertullian;344 “we proclaim it to the whole world, even under the hands of the executioner, and in the midst of all the torments you inflict upon us to compel us to unsay it. Torn and mangled, and weltering in our blood, we cry out as loud as we are able to cry, That we are worshippers of God through Christ.” Upon which Mr. Reeves observes, that no other religion ever produced any considerable number of martyrs except the true one. Do we ever read of any generation of men so greedy of martyrdom, who thought it long till they were upon the rack, and were so patient, so cheerful and steadfast under the most intolerable torments? Socrates was the only philosopher that can be said to have died for his doctrine; and what a restless posture of mind does he betray, who was esteemed the best and the wisest of the heathens! With what misgivings, and fits of hope and fear, does he deliver himself in that most famous discourse, supposed to have been made by him a little before his death, about a future state!345 And neither Phædo, Cebes, Crito, Simmias, nor any other of his greatest friends who were present at his death, durst maintain either his innocence, or that doctrine for which he died, in the Areopagus. With what reserve did Plato himself dogmatize concerning the gods whom he worshipped in public, but denied in private! How did he dodge about, disguise himself, and say and unsay the same excellent truths! Only the Christians suffered at this rate, and they held on suffering for several hundred years together, till they had subdued the world by dying for their religion. What could engage such a number of men in such a religion, and support them in it, in defiance of death in the most shocking forms, but evident truth, and a superior grace and strength from above?


The emperor Dioclesian, by the first edicts which he issued out against the Christians in 303, declared them infamous, and debarred from all protection of the laws, and from all the privileges of citizens. By thus putting arms into the hands of every one against them, the tyrant hoped to see their very name extinguished; but he was not sensible that this divine religion then triumphs when its professors seem to be overcome by death, and that by it human weakness is made victorious over the power of the world and hell. Of this St. Julitta is an instance. She was a rich lady of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, and was possessed of many farms, cattles, goods, and slaves. A powerful man of the town, by open violence, got possession of a considerable part of her estate; and when he could not otherwise maintain his suit before the pretor, charged her with being a Christian. The judge caused fire and incense to be immediately brought into the court, and commanded her to offer sacrifice to the idols; but she courageously made him this answer, “May my estates perish, or be disposed of to strangers; may I also lose my life, and may this my body be cut in pieces rather than that by the least impious word I should offend God that made me. If you take from me a little portion of this earth, I shall gain heaven for it.” The judge was extremely exasperated at the undaunted resolution with which she spoke, and without more ado confirmed to the usurper the estates to which he unjustly laid claim, and condemned the servant of Christ to the flames. Upon hearing this sentence, a kind of heavenly joy and most amiable cheerfulness flushed her countenance, which she could not refrain from expressing by continual thanksgiving to God to her last breath. She exhorted the Christians in the most moving manner to constancy and fervor. The Pagans were amazed to see a lady of her rank, age, and fortune, possessed of all the advantages necessary to please the world, and yet in a condition to enjoy all that is in it most flattering, to contemn all this, and life itself with such an heroic constancy.

When all things were ready for the execution, Julitta laid herself cheerfully upon the pile, and there expired, being, as it seems, stifled by the smoke; for the flame, rising in an arched vault round her body, did not touch it, and the Christians took it up entire. It was afterward interred in the porch of the principal church in the city; and St. Basil, speaking of this treasure about the year 375, wrote as follows: “It enriches with blessings both the place and those who come to it.” He assures us that “the earth which received the body of this blessed woman sent forth a spring of most pleasant water, whereas all the neighboring waters are brackish and salt. This water preserves health, and relieves the sick.” Both the Greeks and Latins honor St. Julitta on this day. See St. Basil’s homily on St. Julitta, t. 2, p. 33, hom. 5: also in Ruinart’s collection, p. 515.




His life was written by F. Lewis Gonzales or Gonzalvo, who was a long time the saint’s confessor, and died at Lisbon in 1575; and again by Ribadeneira, who had intimately conversed with the saint, and died at Madrid in 1611. It is elegantly compiled in Latin by Maffei, who died at Tivoli in 1603; in Italian by Bartoli, at Rome about 1650; and in French by Bouhours, one of the ablest and most judicious of the modern French critics in polite literature, who died at Paris in 1704. Pinius the Bollandist gives the original lives, Julij, t. 7, p. 409, and adds the history of many miracles wrought by the intercession of this saint; also, Baillet.

A. D. 1556.

The conversion of many barbarous nations, several heretofore unknown to us, both in the most remote eastern and western hemisphere; the education of youth in learning and piety, the instruction of the ignorant, the improvement of all the sciences, and the reformation of the manners of a great part of Christendom, is the wonderful fruit of the zeal with which this glorious saint devoted himself to labor in exalting the glory of God, and in spreading over the whole world that fire which Christ himself came to kindle on earth. St. Ignatius was born in 1491, in the castle of Loyola, in Guipuscoa, a part of Biscay that reaches to the Pyrenean mountains. His father, Don Bertram, was lord of Ognez and Loyola, head of one of the most ancient and noble families of that country. His mother, Mary Saez de Balde, was not less illustrious by her extraction. They had three daughters and eight sons. The youngest of all these was Inigo or Ignatius; he was well shaped, and in his childhood gave proofs of a pregnant wit and discretion above his years; was affable and obliging, but of a warm or choleric disposition, and had an ardent passion for glory. He was bred in the court of Ferdinand V. in quality of page to the king, under the care and protection of Antony Manriquez, duke of Najara, grandee of Spain, who was his kinsman and patron; and who, perceiving his inclinations, led him to the army, took care to have him taught all the exercises proper to make him an accomplished officer. The love of glory and the example of his elder brothers who had signalized themselves in the wars of Naples, made him impatient till he entered the service. He behaved with great valor and conduct in the army, especially at the taking of Najara, a small town on the frontiers of Biscay; yet he generously declined taking any part of the booty in which he might have challenged the greatest share. He hated gaming as an offspring of avarice, and a source of quarrels and other evils; was dexterous in the management of affairs, and had an excellent talent in making up differences among the soldiers. He was generous, even towards enemies, but addicted to gallantry, and full of the maxims of worldly honor, vanity, and pleasures. Though he had no tincture of learning, he made tolerably good verses in Spanish, having a natural genius for poetry. A poem which he composed in praise of St. Peter was much commended.

Charles V., who had succeeded king Ferdinand, was chosen emperor, and obliged to go into Germany. Francis I., king of France, a martial prince, having been his competitor for the empire, resented his disappointment, and became an implacable enemy to the emperor and the house of Austria. He declared war against Charles, with a view to recover Navarre, of which Ferdinand had lately dispossessed John of Albert, and which Charles still held, contrary to the treaty of Noyon, by which he was obliged to restore it in six months. Francis, therefore, in 1521, sent a great army into Spain, under the command of Andrew de Foix, younger brother of the famous Lautrec, who, passing the Pyrenees, laid siege to Pampeluna, the capital of Navarre. Ignatius had been left there by the viceroy, not to command, but to encourage the garrison. He did all that lay in his power to persuade them to defend the city, but in vain. However, when he saw them open the gates to the enemy, to save his own honor, he retired into the citadel with one only soldier who had the heart to follow him. The garrison of this fortress deliberated likewise whether they should surrender, but Ignatius encouraged them to stand their ground. The French attacked the place with great fury, and with their artillery made a wide breach in the wall, and attempted to take it by assault. Ignatius appeared upon the breach, at the head of the bravest part of the garrison, and, with his sword in his hand, endeavored to drive back the enemy; but, in the heat of the combat, a shot from a cannon broke from the wall a bit of stone, which struck and bruised his left leg; and the ball itself in the rebound broke and shivered his right leg. The garrison seeing him fall, surrendered at discretion.

The French used their victory with moderation, and treated the prisoners well, especially Ignatius, in consideration of his quality and valor. They carried him to the general’s quarters, and soon after sent him, in a litter carried by two men, to the castle of Loyola, which was not far from Pampeluna. Being arrived there he felt great pain; for the bones had been ill set, as is often the case in the hurry after a battle. The surgeons therefore judged it necessary to break his leg again, which he suffered without any concern. But a violent fever followed the second setting, which was attended with dangerous symptoms, and reduced him to an extreme degree of weakness, so that the physicians declared that he could not live many days. He received the sacraments on the eve of the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, and it was believed he could not hold out till the next morning. Nevertheless God, who had great designs of mercy upon him, was pleased to restore him to his health in the following manner: Ignatius always had a singular devotion to St. Peter, and implored his intercession in his present distress with great confidence. In the night, he thought he saw in a dream that apostle touch him, and cure him. When he awaked he found himself out of danger; his pains left him, and his strength began to return, so that he ever after looked upon this recovery as miraculous; yet he still retained the spirit of the world. After the second setting of his leg, the end of a bone stuck out under his knee, which was a visible deformity. Though the surgeons told him the operation would be very painful, this protuberance he caused to be cut off, merely that his boot and stockings might sit handsomely; and he would neither be bound nor held, and scarce ever changed countenance whilst the bone was partly sawed and partly cut off, though the pain must have been excessive. Because his right leg remained shorter than the left, he would be for many days together put upon a kind of rack, and with an iron engine he violently stretched and drew out that leg; but all to little purpose, for he remained lame his whole life after.

During the cure of his knee he was confined to his bed, though otherwise in perfect health, and finding the time tedious, he called for some book of romances, for he had been always much delighted with fabulous histories of knight-errantry. None such being then found in the castle of Loyola, a book of the lives of our Saviour, and of the saints, was brought him. He read them first, only to pass away the time, but afterward began to relish them and to spend whole days in reading them. He chiefly admired in the saints their love of solitude and of the cross. He considered among the anchorets many persons of quality who buried themselves alive in caves and dens, pale with fasting, and covered with haircloth; and he said to himself, “These men were of the same frame I am of; why then should not I do what they have done?” In the fervor of his good resolutions he thought of visiting the Holy Land, and becoming a hermit. But these pious notions soon vanished; and his passion for glory, and a secret inclination for a rich lady in Castile, with a view to marriage, again filled his mind with thoughts of the world; till returning to the lives of the saints, he perceived in his own heart the emptiness of all worldly glory, and that only God could content the soul. This vicissitude and fluctuation of mind continued some time; but he observed this difference, that the thoughts which were from God filled his soul with consolation, peace, and tranquillity; whereas the others brought indeed some sensible delight, but left a certain bitterness and heaviness in the heart. This mark he lays down in his book of Spiritual Exercises, as the ground of the rules for the discernment of the Spirit of God and the world in all the motions of the soul; as does cardinal Bona, and all other writers who treat of the discernment of spirits in the interior life. Taking at last a firm resolution to imitate the saints in their heroic practice of virtue, he began to treat his body with all the rigor it was able to bear; he rose at midnight, and spent his retired hours in weeping for his sins.

One night being prostrate before an image of the Blessed Virgin, in extraordinary sentiments of fervor, he consecrated himself to the service of his Redeemer under her patronage, and vowed an inviolable fidelity. When he had ended his prayer he heard a great noise; the house shook, the windows of his chamber were broken, and a rent was made in the wall which remains to this day, says the latest writer of his life. God might by this sign testify his acceptance of his sacrifice; as a like sign happened in the place where the faithful were assembled after Christ’s ascension,346 and in the prison of Paul and Silas;347 or this might be an effect of the rage of the devil. Another night, Ignatius saw the Mother of God environed with light, holding the infant Jesus in her arms; this vision replenished his soul with spiritual delight, and made all sensual pleasure and worldly objects insipid to him ever after. The saint’s eldest brother, who was then, by the death of their father, lord of Loyola, endeavored to detain him in the world, and to persuade him not to throw away the great advantages of the honor and reputation which his valor had gained him. But Ignatius being cured of his wounds, under pretence of paying a visit to the duke of Najara, who had often come to see him during his illness, and who lived at Navarret, turned another way, and sending his two servants back from Navarret to Loyola, went to Montserrat. This was a great abbey of near three hundred Benedictin monks, of a reformed austere institute, situate on a mountain of difficult access, about four leagues in circumference and two leagues high, in the diocess of Barcelona. The monastery was first founded for nuns by the sovereign counts of Barcelona about the year 880, but was given to monks in 990. It has been much augmented by several kings of Spain, and is very famous for a miraculous image of the Blessed Virgin, and a great resort of pilgrims.

There lived at that time in this monastery a monk of great sanctity, named John Chanones, a Frenchman, who being formerly vicar-general to the bishop of Mirepoix, in the thirty-first year of his age, resigned his ecclesiastical preferments, and took the monastic habit in this place. He lived to the age of eighty-eight years, never eating any flesh, watching great part of the night in prayer, dividing his whole time between heavenly contemplation and the service of his neighbor; and giving to all Spain an example of the most perfect obedience, humility, charity, devotion, and all other virtues. To this experienced director, Ignatius addressed himself, and after his preparation, was three days in making to him a general confession, which he often interrupted by the abundance of his tears. He made a vow of perpetual chastity, and dedicated himself with great fervor to the divine service. At his first coming to this place he had bought, at the village of Montserrat, a long coat of coarse cloth, a girdle, a pair of sandals, a wallet, and a pilgrim’s staff, intending, after he had finished his devotions there, to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Disguised in this habit, he remained at the abbey. He communicated to his director a plan of the austerities he proposed to practise, and was confirmed by him in his good resolutions. He received the blessed eucharist early in the morning on the feast of the Annunciation of our Lady in 1522; and on the same day left Montserrat for fear of being discovered, having given his horse to the monastery, and hung up his sword on a pillar near the altar in testimony of his renouncing the secular warfare, and entering himself in that of Christ. He travelled with his staff in his hand, a scrip by his side, bare-headed, and with one foot bare, the other being covered because it was yet tender and swelled. He went away infinitely pleased that he had cast off the livery of the world, and put on that of Jesus Christ. He had bestowed his rich clothes on a beggar at his coming out of Montserrat; but the poor man was thrown into prison on suspicion of theft. Ignatius being sent after by the magistrates, and brought back, told the truth to release him, but would not discover his own name.

Three leagues from Montserrat is a large village called Manresa, with a convent of Dominicans, and a hospital without the walls for pilgrims and sick persons. Ignatius went to this hospital, and rejoicing to see himself received in it unknown and among the poor, began to fast on water and the bread (which he begged) the whole week, except Sundays, when he ate a few boiled herbs, but sprinkled over with ashes. He wore an iron girdle and a hair shirt; disciplined himself thrice a day, slept little, and lay on the ground. He was every day present at the whole divine office, spent seven hours on his knees at prayer, and received the sacraments every Sunday. To add humiliation to his bodily austerities, he affected a clownishness in his behavior, and went begging about the streets with his face covered with dirt, his hair rough, and his beard and nails grown out to a frightful length. The children threw stones at him, and followed him with scornful shouts in the streets. Ignatius suffered these insults without saying one word, rejoicing secretly in his heart to share in the reproaches of the cross. The more mortifying the noisomeness of the hospital and the company of beggars were, the more violence he offered to himself that he might bear them cheerfully. The story of the fine suit of clothes given to the beggar at Montserrat, and the patience and devotion of the holy man, made him soon to be reverenced as some fervent penitent in disguise. To shun this danger, he privately hid himself in a dark deep cave in a solitary valley, called The Vale of Paradise, covered with briars, half a mile from the town. Here he much increased his mortifications till he was accidentally found half dead, and carried back to Manresa and lodged in the hospital.

After enjoying peace of mind and heavenly consolations from the time of his conversion, he was here visited with the most terrible trial of fears and scruples. He found no comfort in prayer, no relief in fasting, no remedy in disciplines, no consolation from the sacraments, and his soul was overwhelmed with bitter sadness. The Dominicans, out of compassion, took him out of the hospital into their convent; but his melancholy only increased upon him. He apprehended some sin in every step he took, and seemed often on the very brink of despair; but he was in the hands of him whose trials are favors. He most earnestly implored the divine assistance, and took no sustenance for seven days, till his confessor obliged him to eat. Soon after this, his tranquillity of mind was perfectly restored, and his soul overflowed with spiritual joy. From this experience he acquired a particular talent for curing scrupulous consciences, and a singular light to discern them. His prayer was accompanied with many heavenly raptures, and he received from God a supernatural knowledge and sense of sublime divine mysteries: yet he concealed all from the eyes of men, only disclosing himself to his two confessors, the pious monk of Montserrat, and the Dominican of Manresa; however, the people began to reverence him as a living saint, which they particularly testified during a violent fever into which his austerities cast him three times.

Too nice a worldly prudence may condemn the voluntary humiliations which this saint sometimes made choice of; but the wisdom of God is above that of the world; and the Holy Ghost sometimes inspires certain heroic souls to seek perfectly to die to themselves by certain practices which are extraordinary, and which would not be advisable to others; and if affected or undertaken with obstinacy and against advice, would be pernicious and criminal. Ignatius, by perfect compunction, humility, self-denial, contempt of the world, severe interior trials, and assiduous meditation, was prepared, by the divine grace, to be raised to an extraordinary gift of supernatural prayer. He afterward assured F. Lainez that he had learned more of divine mysteries by prayer in one hour at Manresa, than all the doctors of the schools could ever have taught him. He was there favored with many raptures, and divine illustrations concerning the Trinity, of which he afterward spoke with so much light and unction, that the most learned admired him, and the ignorant were instructed. In like manner, in various wonderful ecstasies, he was enlightened concerning the beauty and order of the creation, the excess of divine love which shines forth to man in the sacrament of the altar, and many other mysteries. So imperfect was his knowledge of his duties when he first renounced the world, that hearing a certain Moresco or Mahometan speak injuriously of the holy mother of God, when he set out from Loyola to Montserrat, he deliberated whether, being an officer, he ought not to kill him, though the divine protection preserved him from so criminal an action. But at Manresa he made so good a progress in the school of virtue, as to become qualified already to be a guide to others. He stayed there almost a year, during which time he governed himself by the advice of the holy monk of Montserrat, whom he visited every week, and that of his Dominican director.

Spain, in that and the foregoing age, abounded with many learned and experienced persons in that way, endowed with an eminent spirit, and a perfect experimental knowledge of Christian piety; witness the works of St. Peter of Alcantara, John of Avila, St. Teresa, Bartholomew de Martyribus, Louis of Granada, and others. Our saint had the happiness to fall into the hands of prudent and able guides, and giving his heart to God without reserve, became himself in a short time an accomplished master; and whereas he at first only proposed to himself his own perfection, he afterward burned with an ardent desire of contributing to the salvation of others; and commiserating the blindness of sinners, and considering how much the glory of God shines in the sanctification of souls purchased with the blood of his Son, he said to himself, “It is not enough that I serve the Lord; all hearts ought to love him, and all tongues ought to praise him.” With this view, in order to be admitted more freely to converse with persons in the world, he chose a dress which, being more decent than the penitential garments which he at first wore, might not be disagreeable to others; and he moderated his excessive austerities.

He began then to exhort many to the love of virtue, and he there wrote his Spiritual Exercises, which he afterward revised, and published at Rome in 1548.348 Though the saint was at that time unacquainted with learning any further than barely to read and write, yet this book is so full of excellent maxims and instructions in the highest points of a spiritual life, that it is most clear that the Holy Ghost supplied abundantly what was yet wanting in him of human learning and study. The spirit which reigns in this book was that of all the saints. Frequent religious retirement had been practised by pious persons, in imitation of Christ and all the saints from the beginning; likewise the use and method of holy meditation were always known; but the excellent order of these meditations, prescribed by Ignatius, was new: and, though the principal rules and maxims are found in the lessons and lives of the ancient fathers of the desert, they are here judiciously chosen, methodically digested, and clearly explained. One of these is, that a person must not abridge the time, or desist from meditating, on account of spiritual dryness; another, that no one make any vow in sudden sentiments of fervor, but wait some time, and first ask advice. St. Ignatius establishes in this book the practice of a daily particular examination against a person’s predominant passion, or on the best means and endeavors to acquire some particular virtue, besides the daily general examination of conscience. He lays down this excellent maxim;349 “When God hath appointed out a way, we must faithfully follow it, and never think of another, under pretence that it is more easy and safe. It is one of the devil’s artifices to set before a soul some state, holy indeed, but impossible to her, or at least different from hers; that by this love of novelty, she may dislike or be slack in her present state, in which God hath placed her, and which is best for her. In like manner he represents to her other actions as more holy and profitable to make her conceive a disgust of her present employment.” When some pretended to find fault with this book of St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises, pope Paul III. at the request of St. Francis Borgia, by a brief in 1548, approved it, as full of the Spirit of God, and very useful for the edification and spiritual profit of the faithful.

The pestilence which raged in Italy having ceased, Ignatius, after a stay of ten months at Manresa, left that place for Barcelona, neither regarding the tears of those who sought to detain him, nor admitting any to bear him company, nor consenting to accept any money for the expenses of his journey. He took shipping at Barcelona, and in five days landed at Gaeta, whence he travelled on foot to Rome, Padua, and Venice, through villages, the towns being shut for fear of the plague. He spent the Easter at Rome, and sailed from Venice on board the admiral’s vessel, which was carrying the governor to Cyprus. The sailors were a profligate crew, and seemed entirely to neglect prayer and all duties of religion, and their discourse was often lewd and profane. Ignatius having reproved them for their licentiousness, his zeal made them conspire to leave him ashore in a desert island; but a gust of wind from the land hindered the ship from touching upon it. He arrived at Cyprus, and found in the port a vessel full of pilgrims, just ready to hoist sail. Going immediately on board, he made a good voyage, and landed at Jaffa, the ancient Joppa, on the last day of August, 1523, forty days after he had left Venice. He went on foot from thence to Jerusalem in four days. The sight of the holy places filled his soul with joy and the most ardent sentiments of devotion and compunction, and he desired to stay there to labor in the conversion of the Mahometans. The provincial of the Franciscans, by virtue of his authority from the holy see over the pilgrims, commanded him to leave Palestine. Ignatius obeyed, but slipt privately back to satisfy his devotion again in visiting twice more the print of our Saviour’s feet on mount Olivet.

He returned to Europe in winter, in extreme cold weather, poorly clad, and came to Venice at the end of January, in 1524; from whence he continued his journey by Genoa to Barcelona. Desiring to qualify himself for the functions of the altar, and for assisting spiritually his neighbor, he began at Barcelona to study grammar, and addressed himself to a famous master named Jerom Ardebal, being assisted in the meantime in his maintenance by the charities of a pious lady of that city, called Isabel Rosella. He was then thirty-three years old; and it is not hard to conceive what difficulties he must go through in learning the rudiments of grammar at that age. Moreover, he seemed, by his military employments, and after his retreat by his contemplative life, very unfit for such an undertaking. At first, his mind was so fixed only on God, that he forgot everything he read, and conjugating amo, for example, could only repeat to himself, “I love God; I am loved by God,” and the like; but resisting this as a temptation, he began to make some progress, still joining contemplation and extraordinary austerities with his studies. He bore the jeers and taunts of the little boys, his schoolfellows, with joy. Hearing that a poor man called Lasano had hanged himself on a beam in his chamber, he ran to him, cut the rope, and prayed by him till the man returned to himself, though he had before seemed perfectly dead to all the bystanders. Lasano made his confession, received the sacraments, and soon after expired. This fact was regarded in the city as miraculous.

Some persons persuaded Ignatius to read Erasmus’s Christian Soldier, an elegant book written by that master of style, at the request of an officer’s pious lady, for the use of her husband, a man of loose morals. The saint always found his heart dry after reading this or any other of that author’s works; which made him afterward caution those of his society against reading them, at least very much. Though in that writer’s paraphrase on the Lord’s prayer and other such treatises of piety, we find very pious sentiments collected from great authors, and elegantly and concisely expressed, yet a devout reader finds the language of the heart wanting. On the other side, it is well known how much St. Ignatius read daily, and recommended to all others the incomparable book, Of the Imitation of Christ, which he made frequent use of to nourish and increase the fervor of his soul. He lodged at the house of one Agnes Pascal, a devout woman. Her son, John Pascal, a pious youth, would sometimes rise in the night to observe what Ignatius did in his chamber, and saw him sometimes on his knees, sometimes prostrate on the ground, his countenance on fire, and often in tears, repeating such words as these: “O God, my love, and the delight of my soul, if men knew thee they could never offend thee! My God, how good art thou to bear with such a sinner as I am!”

The saint, after studying two years at Barcelona, went to the university of Alcala, which had been lately founded by cardinal Ximenes, where he attended at the same time to lectures in logic, physics, and divinity; by which multiplicity he only confounded his ideas, and learned nothing at all, though he studied night and day. He lodged in a chamber of an hospital, lived by begging a small subsistence, and wore a coarse grey habit, in which he was imitated by four companions. He catechised children, held assemblies of devotion in the hospital, and by his mild reprehensions converted many loose livers, and, among others, one of the richest prelates in Spain. Some accused him of sorcery, and of the heresy of certain visionaries lately condemned in Spain under the name of the Illuminati, or Men of New Light: but, upon examination, he was justified by the inquisitors. After this, for teaching the catechism, being a man without learning or authority, he was accused to the bishop’s grand vicar, who confined him to close prison two-and-forty days, but declared him innocent of any fault by a public sentence on the 1st day of June, 1527; yet forbidding him and his companions to wear any singular habit, or to give any instructions in religious matters, being illiterate persons. Ignatius rejoiced in his jail that he suffered, though innocent, but spoke with such piety that many called him another St. Paul in prison. Being enlarged, he went about the streets with a public officer to beg money to buy a scholar’s dress, in which action he rejoiced at the insults and affronts which he met with. However, he went himself to the archbishop of Toledo, Alphonsus de Fonseca, who was much pleased with him, but advised him to leave Alcala, and go to Salamanca, promising him his protection. Ignatius, in this latter place, began to draw many to virtue, and was followed by great numbers, which exposed him again to suspicions of introducing dangerous practices, and the grand-vicar of Salamanca imprisoned him; but, after two-and-twenty days, declared him innocent, and a person of sincere virtue. Ignatius looked upon prisons, sufferings, and ignominy, as the height of his ambition; and God was pleased to purge and sanctify his soul by these trials. Recovering his liberty again, he resolved to leave Spain.

He from that time began to wear shoes, and received money sent him by his friends, but in the middle of winter travelled on foot to Paris, where he arrived in the beginning of February, 1528. He spent two years in perfecting himself in the Latin tongue; then went through a course of philosophy. He lived first in Montaigue college; but, being robbed of his money, was obliged to lodge in the hospital of St. James, to beg his bread from day to day, and in the vacation time to go into Flanders, and once into England, to procure charities from the Spanish merchants settled there, from whom and from some friends at Barcelona he received abundant supplies. He studied his philosophy three years and a half in the college of St. Barbara. He had induced many of his schoolfellows to spend the Sundays and holydays in prayer, and to apply themselves more fervently to the practice of good works. Pegna, his master, thought he hindered their studies, and finding him not corrected by his admonitions, prepossessed Govea, principal of the college of St. Barbara, against him, so that he was ordered by him to undergo the greatest punishment then in use in that university, called The Hall, which was a public whipping; that this infamy might deter others from following him. The regents came all into the hall with rods in their hands, ready to lash the seditious student. Ignatius offered himself joyfully to suffer all things; yet, apprehending lest the scandal of this disgrace should make those whom he had reclaimed fall back, when they saw him condemned as a corrupter of youth, went to the principal in his chamber, and modestly laid open to him the sentiments of his soul, and the reasons of his conduct; and offered himself as much as concerned his own person, that any sacrifice should be made of his body and fame, but begged of him to consider the scandal some might receive, who were yet young and tender in virtue. Govea made him no answer, but taking him by the hand led him into the hall, where, at the ringing of the bell, the whole college stood ready assembled. When all saw the principal enter, and expected the sign for the punishment, he threw himself at the feet of Ignatius, begging his pardon for having too lightly believed such false reports; then rising, he publicly declared that Ignatius was a living saint, and had no other aim or desire than the salvation of souls, and was ready to suffer joyfully any infamous punishment. Such a reparation of honor gave the saint the highest reputation, and even the ancient and experienced doctors asked his advice in spiritual matters. Pegna himself was ever after his great admirer and friend, and appointed another scholar, who was more advanced in his studies, and a young man of great virtue and quick parts, to assist him in his exercises. This was Peter Faber, a Savoyard, a native of the diocess of Geneva, by whose help he finished his philosophy, and took the degree of master of arts with great applause, after a course of three years and a half, according to the custom of the times. After this, Ignatius began his divinity at the Dominicans.

Peter Faber had from his childhood made a vow of chastity, which he had always most faithfully kept, yet was troubled with violent temptations, from which the most rigorous fasts did not deliver him. He was also tempted to vain-glory, and labored under great anxiety and scruples about these temptations, which he at length disclosed to Ignatius his holy pupil, whose skilful and heavenly advice was a healing balsam to his soul. The saint at last prescribed him a course of his spiritual exercises, and taught him the practices of meditation, of the particular examination, and other means of perfection, conducting him through all the paths of an interior life. St. Francis Xavier, a young master of philosophy, full of the vanity of the schools, was his next conquest. St. Ignatius made him sensible that all mortal glory is emptiness; only that which is eternal deserving our regard. He converted many abandoned sinners. When a young man, engaged in a criminal commerce with a woman of the city, was proof against his exhortations, Ignatius stood in a frozen pond by the way side up to the neck, and as he passed by in the night, cried out to him, “Whither are you going? Do not you hear the thunder of divine justice over your head, ready to break upon you? Go then; satisfy your brutish passion; here I will suffer for you, to appease heaven.” The lewd young man, at first affrighted, then confounded, returned back, and changed his life. By the like pious stratagems the saint recovered many other souls from the abysses into which they were fallen. He often served the sick in the hospitals; and one day finding a repugnance to touch the ulcers of one sick of a contagious distemper, to overcome himself he not only dressed his sores, but put his hand from them to his mouth, saying, “Since thou art afraid for one part, thy whole body shall take its share.” From that time he felt no natural repugnance in such actions.

James Laynez, of Almazan, twenty-one years of age; Alphonsus Salmeron, only eighteen; and Nicholas Alphonso, surnamed Bobadilla, from the place of his birth, near Valencia, all Spaniards of great parts, at that time students in divinity at Paris, associated themselves to the saint in his pious exercises. Simon Rodriguez, a Portuguese, joined them. These fervent students, moved by the pressing instances and exhortations of Ignatius, made all together a vow to renounce the world, to go to preach the gospel in Palestine, or if they could not go thither within a year after they had finished their studies, to offer themselves to his holiness to be employed in the service of God in what manner he should judge best. They fixed for the end of all their studies the 25th day of January in 1537, and pronounced this vow aloud, in the holy subterraneous chapel at Montmartre, after they had all received the holy communion from Peter Faber, who had been lately ordained priest. This was done on the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, in 1534. Ignatius continued frequent conferences, and joint exercises, to animate his companions in their good purposes; but soon after was ordered by the physicians to try his native air, for the cure of a lingering indisposition. He left Paris in the beginning of the year 1535, and was most honorably and joyfully received in Guipuscoa by his eldest brother Garcias, and his nephews, and by all the clergy in processions. He refused to go to the castle of Loyola, taking up his quarters in the hospital of Azpetia. The sight of the places where he had led a worldly life excited in him the deepest sentiments of compunction, and he chastised his body with a rough hair shirt, iron chains, disciplines, watching and prayer. He recovered his health in a short time, and catechised and instructed the poor with incredible fruit. Ignatius, in his childhood, had with some companions robbed an orchard, for which another man had been condemned to pay the damages. In the first discourse he made he accused himself publicly of this fact, and calling the poor man, who was present, declared that he had been falsely accused, and for reparation gave him two farms which belonged to him, begging his pardon before all the people, adding that this was one of the reasons of his journey thither.

In the meantime, three others, all doctors in divinity, by the exhortations of Faber, joined the saint’s companions in Paris. Claudius le Jay, a Savoyard, John Codure, a native of Dauphiné, and Pasquier Brouet, of Picardy; so that with Ignatius they were now ten in number. The holy founder, after a tedious and dangerous journey both by sea and land, arrived at Venice about the end of the year 1536, and his nine companions from Paris met him there on the 8th of January, 1537; they employed themselves in the hospitals, but all except Ignatius went to Rome, where pope Paul III. received them graciously, and granted them an indult, that those who were not priests might receive holy orders from what bishop they pleased. They were accordingly ordained at Venice by the bishop of Arbe. Ignatius was one of this number. After their ordination they retired into a cottage near Vicenza, to prepare themselves in solitude by fasting and prayer for the holy ministry of the altar. The rest said their first masses in September and October, but Ignatius deferred his from month to month till Christmas day, overflowing in his retirement with heavenly consolations, and in danger of losing his sight through the abundance of his tears. Thus he employed a whole year in preparing himself to offer that adorable sacrifice. After this they dispersed themselves into several places about Verona and Vicenza, preaching penance to the people, and living on a little bread which they begged. The emperor and the Venetians having declared war against the Turks, their pilgrimage into Palestine was rendered impracticable. The year therefore being elapsed, Ignatius, Faber, and Laynez went to Rome, threw themselves at his Holiness’s feet and offered themselves to whatever work he should judge best to employ them in. St. Ignatius told his companions at Vicenza, that if any one asked what their institute was, they might answer, “the Society of Jesus;” because they were united to fight against heresies and vice under the standard of Christ. In his road from Vicenza to Rome, praying in a little chapel between Sienna and Rome, he, in an ecstasy, seemed to see the eternal Father, who affectionately commended him to his Son. Jesus Christ appeared at the same time also shining with an unspeakable light, but loaded with a heavy cross, and sweetly said to Ignatius,—“I will be favorable to you at Rome.”350 This St. Ignatius disclosed to F. Laynez, in a transport when he came out of the chapel; and F. Laynez, when he was general, related it to all the fathers in Rome in a domestic conference, at which F. Ribadeneira, who records it, was present. The same was attested by others to whom the saint had discovered this signal favor. Pope Paul III. accordingly received them graciously; and appointed Faber, called in French Le Fevre, to teach in the Sapienza at Rome scholastic divinity, and Laynez to explain the holy scripture; whilst Ignatius labored, by means of his spiritual exercises and instructions, to reform the manners of the people.

The holy founder, with a view to perpetuate the work of God, called to Rome all his companions, and proposed to them his design and motives of forming themselves into a religious Order. After recommending the matter to God by fasting and prayer, all agreed in the proposal, and resolved, first, besides the vows of poverty and chastity already made by them, to add a third of perpetual obedience, the more perfectly to conform themselves to the Son of God who was obedient even to death; and to establish a general whom all, by their vow, should be bound to obey, who should be perpetual, and his authority absolute, subject entirely to the pope, but not liable to be restrained by chapters. He likewise determined to prescribe a fourth vow of going wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls, and even without money, if it should so please him; also that the professed Jesuits should possess no real estates or revenues, either in particular, or in common; but that colleges might enjoy revenues and rents for the maintenance of students of the Order. In the meanwhile Govea, principal of the college of St. Barbara at Paris, had recommended the Jesuits to the king of Portugal as proper missionaries for the conversion of the Indies, and that prince asked of Ignatius six laborers for that purpose. The founder having only ten, could send him no more than two, Simon Rodriguez, who remained in Portugal, and Xavier, afterward the apostle of the Indies. The three cardinals appointed by the pope to examine the affair of this new Order, at first opposed it, thinking religious Orders already too much multiplied, but changed their opinions on a sudden, and pope Paul III. approved it under the title of “The Society of Jesus,” by a bull, dated the 27th of September, 1540. Ignatius was chosen the first general, but only acquiesced in obedience to his confessor. He entered upon his office on Easter-day, 1541, and the members all made their religious vows, according to the bull of their institution.

Ignatius then set himself to write constitutions or rules for his Society, in which he lays down its end to be, in the first place, the sanctification of their own souls by joining together the active and the contemplative life; for nothing so much qualifies a minister of God to save others as the sanctification of his own soul in the first place; secondly, to labor for the salvation and perfection of their neighbor, and this, first, by catechising the ignorant (which work is the basis and ground of religion and virtue, and though mean and humble, is the most necessary and indispensable duty of every pastor), secondly, by the instruction of youth351 in piety and learning (upon which the reformation of the world principally depends); and thirdly, by the direction of consciences, missions, and the like.352

St. Ignatius would have the office of general to be perpetual or for life, being persuaded this would better command the respect of inferiors, and more easily enable him to undertake and carry on great enterprises for the glory of God, which require a considerable time to have them well executed. Nevertheless, he often strenuously endeavored to resign that dignity, but was never able to compass it; and at length the pope forbade him any more to attempt it. He had no sooner taken that charge upon him than he went into the kitchen, and served as a scullion under the cook, and he continued for forty-six days to catechise poor children in the church of the Society. By preaching he gained such an ascendant over the hearts of the people as produced many wonderful conversions. Among the pious establishments which he made at Rome, he founded a house for the reception of Jews who should be converted, during the time of their instruction, and another for the reception and maintenance of lewd women who should be desirous to enter upon virtuous courses, yet were not called to a religious state among the Magdalens or penitents. When one told him that the conversion of such sinners is seldom sincere, he answered: “To prevent only one sin would be a great happiness, though it cost me ever so great pains.” He procured two houses to be erected at Rome for the relief of poor orphans of both sexes, and another for the maintenance of young women whose poverty might expose their virtue to danger. The heart of this blessed man so burned with charity, that he was continually thinking and speaking of what might most contribute to promote the divine honor and the sanctification of souls; and he did wonders by the zealous fathers of his Society in all parts of the globe. He was entreated by many princes and cities of Italy, Spain, Germany, and the Low-Countries to afford them some of his laborers. Under the auspicious protection of John III. king of Portugal, he sent St. Francis Xavier into the East-Indies, where he gained a new world to the faith of Christ. He sent John Nugnez and Lewis Gonzales into the kingdoms of Fez and Morocco to instruct and assist the Christian slaves; in 1547, four others to Congo in Africa; in 1555, thirteen into Abyssinia, among whom John Nugnez was nominated by pope Julius III. patriarch of Ethiopia, and two others, bishops; lastly, others into the Portuguese settlements in South America.

Pope Paul III. commissioned the fathers James Laynez and Alphonsus Salmeron to assist, in quality of his theologians, at the council of Trent. Before their departure, St. Ignatius, among other instructions, gave them a charge in all disputations to be careful above all things, to preserve modesty and humility, and to shun all confidence, contentiousness, or empty display of learning. F. Claudius Le Jay appeared in the same council as theologian of cardinal Otho, bishop of Ausberg. Many of the first disciples of St. Ignatius distinguished themselves in divers kingdoms of Europe, but none with greater reputation, both for learning and piety, than Peter Canisius, who was a native of Nimeguen, in the Low Countries, and having with wonderful success employed his zealous labors at Ingolstadt and in several other parts of Germany, and in Bohemia, died in the odor of sanctity, at Fribourg, in 1597, seventy-seven years old.353 Whilst F. Claudius Le Jay was at Trent, Ferdinand, king of the Romans, nominated him bishop of Trieste. The good father seemed ready to die of grief at this news, and wrote to St. Ignatius, humbly requesting him to put some bar to this promotion. The holy founder was himself alarmed, and by a pressing letter to the king, prevailed upon him not to do what would be an irreparable prejudice to his young Society. He urged to the pope and sacred college many reasons why he desired that all the fathers of his Society should be excluded from all ecclesiastical dignities, alleging that this would be a means more easily to preserve among them a spirit of humility and poverty, which is the very soul and perfection of their state; and that, being missionaries, it was more advantageous to the Church that they should remain such, always ready to fly from pole to pole, as the public necessities should require. The pope being satisfied with his reasons, the saint obliged all professed Jesuits to bind themselves by a simple vow never to seek prelatures, and to refuse them when offered, unless compelled by a precept of the pope to accept them.

In 1546 the Jesuits first opened their schools in Europe, in the college which St. Francis Borgia had erected for them at Gandia, with the privileges of an university.354 The seminary of Goa in Asia, which had been erected some years before for the Indian missions, was committed to the Jesuits, under the direction of St. Francis Xavier, the preceding year. King John also founded for them, in 1546, a noble college at Coïmbra, the second which they had in Europe. F. Simon Rodriguez directed this establishment, and many others in Portugal, Spain, and Brazil, and died at Lisbon in the highest reputation for sanctity and learning in 1579. Among the rules which St. Ignatius gave to the masters, he principally inculcated the lessons of humility, modesty, and devotion; he prescribed that all their scholars should hear mass every day, go to confession every month, and always begin their studies by prayer; that their masters should take every fit occasion to inspire them with the love of heavenly things; and that by daily meditation, self-examinations, pious reading, retreat, and the constant exercise of the divine presence, they should nourish in their own souls a fervent spirit of prayer, which without the utmost care is extinguished by a dry course of studies and school disputations; and with it is destroyed the very soul of a religious or spiritual life. He recommended nothing more earnestly, both to professors and scholars, than that they should dedicate all their labors, with the greatest fervor, to the greater glory of God, which intention will make studies equal to prayer. He treated very harshly all those whom learning rendered self-conceited or less devout; and removed all those masters who discovered any fondness for singular opinions. It is incredible with what attention and industry he promoted emulation and every means that could be a spur to scholars. He required that copies of some of the principal literary performances should be sent from all the colleges to Rome, where he had them examined before him, that he might better judge of the progress both of masters and scholars.

He encouraged every branch of the sciences, and would have the fathers in his Society applied to those functions, whether in teaching, preaching, or the missions, for which God seemed chiefly to qualify and destine them by their genius, talents, and particular graces; yet so that no one should neglect the duties either of assiduous prayer and an interior life, or of instructing and catechising others. He recommended to them all, especially to the masters of novices, &c., to read diligently the conferences, lives, and writings of the fathers of the desert, and other pious ascetics, in order to learn their spirit. With what success many among them did this, appears from the Practice of Christian Perfection, compiled by F. Alphonsus Rodrigues, one of the most eminent persons whom our saint had admitted into his Society. In this excellent work he gathered and digested, in a clear and easy method, the most admirable maxims and lessons of the ancient monks; and having many years trained up, according to them, the novices of his Order in Spain, died holily in the year 1616, the ninetieth of his age.355 We have other eminent instances of this holy spirit and science among the primitive disciples of St. Ignatius, in the works of F. Lewis de Ponte or Puente, who died in 1624, and whose canonization has been often desired by the kings of Spain; in those of F. Alvarez de Paz, who died in Peru in 1620; and in the writings and life of F. Baltassar Alvarez, who died in Spain in 1580, in the odor of sanctity.

St. Francis Borgia, in 1551, gave a considerable sum towards building the Roman college for the Jesuits. Pope Julius III. contributed largely to it; Paul IV., in 1555, founded it for perpetuity with great munificence; afterward Gregory XIII. much augmented its buildings and revenues. St. Ignatius, intending to make this the model of all his other colleges, neglected nothing to render it complete, and took care that it should be supplied with the ablest masters in all the sciences, and with all possible helps for the advancement of literature. He made it a strict rule in the Society, that every one should study to speak correctly the language of the country where he lives;356 for, without being perfect in the vulgar tongue, no one can be qualified to preach or perform many other functions with profit. On this account he established in the Roman college daily lessons in the Italian tongue, and he carefully studied that language, and appointed others to put him in mind of all the faults which he should commit in speaking. St. Ignatius also directed the foundation of the German college in Rome made by Julius III. but afterwards finished by Gregory XIII. He often met with violent persecutions, but overcame them by meekness and patience. When the French king Henry II. gave the Society letters patent to settle in France, the parliament of Paris made the most outrageous remonstrances, and the faculty of Sorbon, though not without opposition, passed a virulent decree against it. The other fathers at Rome thought it necessary to answer these censures; but St. Ignatius would have nothing printed or written in their defence, saying, that it was better to commit their cause to God, and that the slanders raised against them would fall of themselves; and so it happened. Indeed the storm was too violent to last. Upon other occasions the saint modestly defended his institute against slanderers.

The prudence and charity of the saint in his conduct towards his religious, won him all their hearts. His commands seemed rather entreaties. The address with which he accommodated himself to every one’s particular genius, and the mildness with which he tempered his reproofs, gave to his reprehensions a sweetness which gained the affections whilst it corrected a fault. Thus chiding one for his too little guard over his eyes, he said to him, with tenderness: “I have often admired the modesty of your deportment, yet observe that unguarded glances often escape you.” When another had fixed his eye steadfastly upon him a long time, the saint enjoined him to make the government of his eye the subject of his particular examination, and to say every day a short prayer for fifteen months. He extremely recommended a strict modesty in the whole exterior as the index of the interior, and a means absolutely necessary for the regulating of it, and the government of the senses and passions. He always showed the affection of the most tender parent towards all his brethren, especially towards the sick, for whom he was solicitous to procure every spiritual and even temporal succor and comfort, which it was his great delight to give them himself. The most perfect obedience and self-denial were the two first lessons which he inculcated to his novices, whom he told at the door as they entered, that they must leave behind them all self-will and private judgment. In his famous letter to the Portuguese Jesuits, On the Virtue of Obedience, he says, this alone bringeth forth and nourisheth all other virtues; and calls it the peculiar virtue, and distinguishing mark and characteristic of his Society, in which, if any member suffer himself to be outdone by those of other Orders in fasting or watching, that he must yield to none in obedience. He adds, true obedience must reach the understanding as well as the will, and never suffer a person even secretly to complain of, or censure the precept of a superior, whom he must always consider as vested with the authority of Jesus Christ over him. He says, it is not a less fault to break the laws of obedience in watching than in sleeping, in laboring than in doing nothing.

When F. Araos, whose spiritual labors were very successful in the court of Spain, seemed to seek the conversation of the great ones of the world, upon pretence of conciliating their favor to his ministry, St. Ignatius sent him a sharp reprimand, telling him that the necessary authority for the ministers of the word of God, is to be gained only by a spirit of recollection, and the exercises of Christian humility; for the loss of everything is to be feared in an intercourse with the great ones of the world. He used to say, that prosperity caused in him more fear than joy, that when persecution ceased he should be in apprehension lest the Society should somewhat relax in the observance of its regular discipline; that good fortune is never to be trusted, and that we have most to fear when things go according to our desires. He made a most severe regulation, that in the Society no one should ever visit women, even of the highest quality, alone; and that when they discoursed with them, or heard their confessions, this should be so ordered, that the companion might see all that passed, without hearing what ought to be secret, this being a means to prevent the possibility of evil suspicions or slanders. In the assigning the employments of those under his charge, he had usually a regard to their inclinations, though he always required that, on their parts, they should be wholly indifferent and disposed cheerfully to accept and discharge any.

Notwithstanding the fatigue and constant application which the establishment of his Order in all parts of the world, and so many other great enterprises undertaken to promote the glory of God, required, he was all on fire with an excess of charity, and a restless desire of gaining souls to God, and wearied himself out in the service of his neighbor, always laboring to extirpate vice, and to promote virtue in all, and set on foot several practices which might conduce to the divine service and the salvation of men. It is not to be believed how many and how great affairs this blessed man was able to go through, and with what courage and spirit he bore so continual a burden, and this with so weak health and infirm body. But he was assisted by the powerful hand of our Lord, that furnished him with strength for all his labors; so that he then appeared strongest and most courageous, when he was weary, sickly, and unprovided of human and natural helps; for, in his infirmity, the power of God manifested itself, and the saint seemed to support the weakness of his body with the vigor of his soul. This interior strength he chiefly maintained by an eminent spirit of prayer, and the constant and closest union of his soul with God. For he was favored with an extraordinary grace of devotion, which he, out of humility, thought God had given him out of compassion for his weakness and misery, which he said was greater than that of any other. In saying the holy mass, and reciting the divine office, the abundance of heavenly delights which God poured into his soul, was often so great, and made such showers of tears stream from his eyes, that he was obliged to stop in a manner at every word, sometimes to make a considerable interruption whilst he gave vent to his tears. It was once feared, lest his continual effusion of tears should hurt his eye-sight. At other times, though his eyes were dry at his devotion, and the sluices of his tears were shut up, yet their influence and effect was not wanting; for his spirit was still watered with heavenly dew, and the divine illustrations ceased not to flow copiously into his soul.

In matters of concern, though reasons were ever so convincing and evident, he never took any resolution before he had consulted God by prayer. He let not an hour pass in the day without recollecting himself interiorly, and examining his conscience, for this purpose banishing for a while all other thoughts. He never applied his mind so much to exterior affairs as to lose the sweet relish of interior devotion. He had God always and in all things present to his mind. Every object served him for a book, wherein he read the divine perfections, and by that means raised his heart to his Creator. He recommended this manner of prayer to every one, especially to those who are employed in spiritual functions for the help of their neighbor. Before he betook himself to public or private prayer, he prepared his soul with great fervor, and entering into the oratory of his heart, enkindled his affections, so that this appeared in his countenance, and he seemed to be all on fire, as we ourselves frequently observed, says Ribadeneira. The saint being once asked by F. Lainez what manner of prayer he used, gave this answer, that in matters concerning Almighty God he behaved himself rather passively than actively. He prayed sometimes standing, and profoundly adored the majesty of God present to his soul; he often bowed his body low, and most frequently prayed on his knees. No sooner had he recollected his mind in God, but his countenance put on an air which appeared altogether heavenly, and often streams of tears fell sweetly from his eyes.

He prescribed to the priests of his Order to be about half an hour at the altar in saying mass, to avoid on one side the least appearance of indecent hurry and precipitation in that tremendous sacrifice; and, on the other, not to be tedious to the people by unseasonably indulging their private devotion. Nevertheless, he was himself about an hour in saying mass, to excuse which he alleged the plea of necessity, being often obliged to make pauses through an irresistible tenderness of devotion. After mass he spent two hours in private prayer, during which time no one was admitted to speak to him except on some pressing necessity. F. Louis Gonzales, who for some time governed the college under him, says, “As often as I went to him at that time, which necessity frequently obliged me to do, I always saw his face shining with an air so bright and heavenly, that, quite forgetting myself, I stood astonished in contemplating him. Nor was his countenance like that of many devout men in whom I have admired a wonderful serenity at their prayers, but it breathed something quite unusual, and, as it were, divine.” On other occasions the like was remarked in him; on which account F. Lainez compared him to Moses when he came from conversing with God. Nicholas Lanoy testified, that he one day saw a fire flame on his head whilst he was saying mass. Saint Philip Neri, who often visited St. Ignatius, used to assure his friends that he had seen his face shining with bright rays of light. As F. Antony Galloni, his disciple and confidant in all his concerns, and Marcellus Vitelleschi declared they had often heard from his own mouth; of which cardinal Taurusius, archbishop of Sienna, published an authentic certificate.357 John Petronius, a famous physician in Rome, declared publicly that, when sick, he once saw his own chamber, which was then very dark, by reason of the windows being shut, filled with a dazzling light from such rays upon the blessed man’s coming into it. Isabel Rosella, John Pascal, and several other persons testified, that they had sometimes beheld his countenance at prayer sparkling with radiant beams of light, the abundant consolations which replenished his soul redounding on his body. John Pascal added, that he had seen him in prayer raised more than a foot above the ground, and heard him say at the same time, “O my God! O my Lord! O that men knew thee!” The saint was often favored, amid the tears and fervor of his devotion, with wonderful raptures, visions, and revelations; and some of these visions and other supernatural favors St. Ignatius mentioned himself in short notes which he wrote, and which were found in his own hand after his death, some of which notes are published by F. Bartoli.358 Others are mentioned by Ribadeneira, who inserted in the saint’s life, as he declares, only what himself had seen, or had heard from his mouth, or from persons of unquestionable authority, and whose life of his holy founder, by the order of Saint Francis Borgia, was carefully examined and approved by the principal persons then living who had frequently conversed with the saint, as Salmeron, Bobadilla, Polancus, who had been the saint’s secretary, Natalis, &c.

If the spirit of prayer was that virtue by which our saint was admitted to the familiar intercourse with God, was the key which unlocked to him the treasure of all other virtues and graces, and was the continual comfort, support, and light of his soul, and the constant advancement of its supernatural life in his mortal pilgrimage, this spirit was itself founded in the most perfect self-denial. The Holy Ghost never communicates himself, by the infusion of this grace, but to a heart that is entirely dead to itself and its passions, and crucified to the world. This St. Ignatius understood so well, that hearing another once say, that a certain person was endowed with a great gift of contemplation, and was eminently a man of prayer, he corrected the expression, saying, “call him rather a man of the most perfect self-denial;” because the spirit of grace and prayer requires a perfect purity and disengagement from all inordinate affections, and a heart empty of itself. This victory over himself the saint obtained by an habitual practice of the exterior mortification of his senses; and by that perfect patience, resignation, and confidence in God, and constancy with which he bore the most severe interior and exterior trials. To complete the most essential interior mortification of his will and passions, he added the practice of an unlimited obedience to his directors and superiors, and of the most profound and sincere humility. Even when broken with age and infirmities, he said, that should his Holiness command it, he would with joy go on board the first ship he could find; and if he were so ordered, though it had neither sails nor rudder, and without any warning, would immediately set out for any part of the globe. It was his perpetual lesson to his novices,—“Sacrifice your will and judgment by obedience. Whatever you do without the consent of your spiritual guide will be imputed to wilfulness, not to virtue, though you were to exhaust your bodies by labors or austerities.”

Humility is the sister virtue of obedience, the foundation of a spiritual life, and the distinguishing mark or characteristic of all the saints. This virtue St. Ignatius embraced with the utmost ardor, from his first entering upon a spiritual course of life. He went a long time in old tattered rags, and lived in hospitals, despised, affronted, and persecuted; this he desired, and in it he found his great joy and satisfaction. He ever retained this affection for humiliations, out of a sincere contempt of himself; for acknowledging himself a sinner, he was thoroughly persuaded that contempt and injuries from all creatures, as instruments of the divine justice, were his due, and that he was most unworthy of all comforts, favor, or regard. Nothing but charity and zeal to procure his neighbor’s good restrained him from doing ridiculous things on purpose to be laughed at by all; and he always practised such humiliations as were consistent with prudence and his other duties. All his actions and whatever belonged to him, breathed an air of sincere humility. His apparel was poor, though clean; his bed was very mean, and his diet coarse, and so temperate, that it was a perpetual abstinence. He employed himself often most cheerfully in the meanest offices about the house, as in making beds, and in cleansing the chambers of the sick. It was his great study to conceal his virtues, and nothing was more admirable in his life than the address with which he covered his most heroic actions under the veil of humility. Though he was superior, he frequently submitted to inferiors with wonderful meekness and humility, when he could do it without prejudice to his authority. In things of which he was not certain, he readily acquiesced in the judgment of others; and was a great enemy to all positiveness, and to the use of superlatives in discourse. He received rebukes from any one with cheerfulness and thanks. If in his presence anything was said that redounded to his praise, he showed an extreme confusion, which was usually accompanied with many tears. He was seldom heard to speak of himself, and never but on very pressing occasions. Though visions, revelations, and the like favors were frequently vouchsafed him, he scarce ever mentioned such things; but all his discourse was of humility, charity, patience, divine zeal, prayer, mortification, and other such virtues, of which we are to make the greatest account, and by which alone men become saints and friends of God. Ribadeneira heard him say, that every one in the house was to him an example of virtue, and that he was not scandalized at any one besides himself. It was his usual saying, that he did not think there was a man in the world, that on one side received from God so great and continual favors, and yet on the other side was so ungrateful, and so slothful in his service as himself. It was his desire that, after his death, his body might be thrown upon some dunghill, in punishment of the sins he had committed by pampering it. The chief reasons why he would have his Order called The Society of Jesus, were lest his name should be given it, and that his followers might be known by their love and zeal for their Redeemer. As often as he spoke of his Order, he called it, This least Society; for he would have his children to look upon themselves as the last and least of all persons in the Church.

From the perfect mortification of all his passions and inordinate affections resulted an admirable peace and evenness of mind which nothing seemed able ever to disturb or ruffle. His contempt of the world appeared by the disinterestedness with which he rejected legacies and presents whenever they might give occasion to complaints. When he looked up towards the heavens, he used feelingly to repeat, “How contemptible doth earth appear when I behold the heavens!” Charity, or the most ardent and pure love of God, was the most conspicuous, and the crown of all his other virtues. He had often in his mouth these words, which he took for his motto or device, “To the greater glory of God,” referring to this end, with all his strength, himself, his Society, and all his actions, in which he always chose that which appeared to him the most perfect. He often said to God, “Lord, what do I desire, or what can I desire besides thee?” True love is never idle; and always to labor, to promote God’s honor, or to suffer for his sake, was this saint’s greatest pleasure. He said, that no created thing can bring to a soul such solid joy and comfort as to suffer for Christ. Being asked what was the most certain and the shortest way to perfection, he answered, “To endure for the love of Christ many and grievous afflictions. Ask this grace of our Lord: on whomsoever he bestoweth it, he does him many other signal favors, that always attend this grace.” Out of this burning love of God, he most ardently desired the separation of his soul from his mortal body, when it should be God’s will; and, when he thought of death, he could not refrain from tears of joy, because he should then see his loving Redeemer; and, beholding God face to face, should love and praise him eternally, without let, abatement, or intermission.

From this same love of God sprang his ardent thirst for the salvation of men, for which he undertook so many and so great things, and to which he devoted his watchings, prayers, tears, and labors. When he dismissed any missionaries to preach the word of God, he usually said to them, “Go, brethren, inflame the world, spread about that fire which Jesus Christ came to kindle on earth.” To gain others to Christ he, with admirable address, made himself all to all, going in at their door, and coming out at his own. He received sincere penitents with the greatest sweetness and condescension, so as often to take upon himself part of their penance. When a brother, growing weary of the yoke of Christ, had determined to leave the Society, St. Ignatius by his remonstrances made such an impression upon his heart, that falling at the feet of the general, he offered to undergo whatever punishment he would impose upon him. To which the saint replied, “One part of your penance shall be, that you never repent more of having served God. For the other part, I take it upon myself, and will discharge it for you.” He endeavored to bring all his penitents to make, without reserve, the perfect sacrifice of themselves to God, telling them, that it is not to be expressed what precious treasures God reserves for, and with what effusion he communicates himself to, those who give themselves to him with their whole heart. He proposed to them for their model this prayer, which he used often to recite,—“Receive, O Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my whole will. You have given me all that I have, all that I possess, and I surrender all to your divine will, that you dispose of me. Give me only your love, and your grace. With this I am rich enough, and I have no more to ask.”

St. Ignatius was general of the Society fifteen years, three months, and nine days; but was in the end so worn out with infirmities, that he procured that the Society should choose him an assistant in that office. This was F. Jerom Nadal. After which, the saint reserved to himself only the care of the sick, and spent his time in continual prayer, and in preparing himself for death. By way of his last will and testament, he dictated certain holy maxims concerning the obligation and conditions of religious obedience, which he bequeathed to his brethren of the Society. The saint, on the day before he died, charged F. Polancus to beg his Holiness’s blessing for him at the article of death, though others at that time did not think it so near. The next morning having lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven, and pronouncing, both with his tongue and heart, the sweet name of Jesus with a serene countenance, he calmly gave up his happy soul into the hands of his Creator on the last day of July, in the year 1556, the sixty-fifth of his age, the thirty-fifth after his conversion, and the sixteenth after his confirmation of the Society. The people esteemed him a saint both living and after his death; and the opinion of his sanctity was confirmed by many miracles.359 He saw his Society in very few years divided into twelve provinces, with above one hundred colleges, and spread over almost the whole world. In 1626, it contained thirty-six provinces, and in them eight hundred houses, and fifteen thousand Jesuits, since which time it is much increased. St. Ignatius’s body was buried first in the little church of the Jesuits, dedicated in honor of the blessed Virgin in Rome. When cardinal Alexander Farnesius had built the stately church of the professed house called Il Giesu, it was translated thither in 1587; and, in 1637, was laid under the altar of the chapel, which bears his name. This church is one of the most magnificent piles of building in the world next to the Vatican, and is not less admired for the elegance of the architecture than for its riches, consisting in costly beautiful ornaments of gold, silver, jewels, exquisite paintings, statues, and carving, and a great profusion of fine marble. Among the many chapels which it contains, those of the Blessed Virgin, of the Angels, of SS. Abundius and Abundantius, martyrs, of St. Francis Borgia, and of St. Ignatius, are the admiration of travellers, especially the last; in which the remains of the holy founder lie, in a rich silver shrine under the altar, exposed to view. The other glittering rich ornaments of this place seem almost to lose their lustre when the statue of the saint is uncovered. It is somewhat bigger than the life, because raised high. Its bright shining gold, silver, and sparkling diamonds, especially in the crown of glory over the head, dazzle the eye. In the professed house are shown the pictures of St. Ignatius and St. Philip Neri, taken from the life. St. Ignatius’s chamber is now a chapel, his study is another, in which prelates, and sometimes popes, come to say mass on the saint’s festival. He was beatified by Paul V. in 1609, and canonized by Gregory XV. in 1622, though the bull was only published the year following by Urban VIII.

The example of the saints evinces that to disengage our affections from earthly things, and to converse much in heaven by the constant union of our hearts to God, is the short road to Christian perfection. Those who are employed in the active life, ought to learn the art of accompanying all their actions with a lively attention to the divine presence, as our guardian angels are faithful in discharging every duty of that external ministry which God hath committed to them, yet so as never to intermit their contemplation of the Godhead, and their incessant homages of praise and love, which are the uninterrupted employment of their happy state. Without this precaution, by the hurry of dry studies, and even the discharge of the sacred ministry itself, the spirit of piety and devotion is extinguished in the heart, and the more sacred functions are easily profaned.



He was descended of one of the most ancient and noble families of Sienna; and being chosen first magistrate of that commonwealth, acquitted himself of all the duties of that charge with integrity and honor, and to the great satisfaction of his countrymen; but he was passionate, and his heart was strongly wedded to the world, and buried under the weight and hurry of its business, vanity, and ambition, so that he scarce seemed able to find leisure to breathe, or to think of eternity. One day, after being taken up the whole morning in deciding causes in his court, he came home, much fatigued, and not finding dinner ready, flew into a violent passion. His wife put a book of the Saints’ Lives into his hands; but he threw it on the ground. The next moment, being ashamed of his passion, he took it up again, and sitting down to read, fell on the life of St. Mary of Egypt. He read it with so much pleasure that he thought no more of his dinner; and insensibly found his heart pierced with compunction and remorse for his past sins and unthinking conduct, and entirely weaned from the world.

From that moment he resolved to begin a new life; and, to expiate his offences, he embraced the most austere practices of penance. Resigning his public employs, he consecrated the greatest part of his estates to alms-deeds; and being sensible that the first sacrifice which God requires of a sinner is that of a contrite and humble heart, without which no other can be acceptable to him, he spent his time chiefly in prayers and tears. He sold his rich clothes and furniture, giving the money to the poor, that they might be intercessors in his behalf at the throne of mercy; he lay on two boards, watching great part of the night in prayer, and his house seemed converted into a hospital, so great was the number of the poor and sick that he caused to be brought thither, and attended. The whole country was astonished at so great a change, and so exemplary a penance. Francis Vincent joined him in this manner of life. They both ran the same course, and with equal paces. One day seeing a leper lying at the door of the great church, covered with blotches and ulcers, the saint carried him on his back through the public market-place; attending him both as his servant and physician, tenderly kissing his running sores one after another, till he had perfectly overcome the abhorrence which nature inspires in such actions, and continued his care of this patient till he was perfectly cured.

St. John had one son and one daughter. The former God called to himself by death, and the latter consecrated herself to his divine service in a nunnery. St. John had before this, with his wife’s consent, made a vow of chastity; and after their children were thus disposed of, he sold his estate, and gave one-third of it to a hospital, and the other two-thirds to different churches and the poor. Having thus reduced himself to a state of poverty like that of the apostles, he gave himself up to serve the poor in the hospitals, and to the exercises of devotion and the most rigorous penance. Several others, moved by his example, became his faithful imitators and companions. They were solicitous to exhort the sick and poor to the sincere dispositions of repentance, and to fervor in the divine service; and the charity and disinterestedness with which they ministered to them corporal relief and comfort, gave great force to their zealous instructions. Out of their ardent love of our Redeemer, whom they considered and served in his afflicted members, they had his holy name so often, and with so great devotion and respect in their mouths, that the people gave them the name of Jesuats. That adorable name is repeated fifteen hundred times in the few letters which St. John wrote. The number of his disciples being increased to about seventy, he formed them into a religious Order, under the rule of St. Austin, and took St. Jerom for their patron.360 He addressed himself to pope Urban V. at Viterbo, who approved and confirmed his institute in 1367, and granted to it most ample privileges. Such was the fervor of the first disciples of our saint, that almost all their names have been placed among the blessed. The holy founder fell sick soon after the approbation of his Order; and, having received the last sacraments, commending his soul into the hands of his Creator through the death of Christ, and in union with his recommendation of his divine soul to his Father on the cross, he happily expired on the 31st of July, in the year 1367, the twelfth after his conversion, only thirty-seven days after his Order had been confirmed by Pope Urban V. See F. Cuper, the Bollandist, Julij, t. 7, p. 333, and Helyot, Hist. des Ord. Rel. t. 3, p. 410.


She was a lady of quality in Westrogothia, whom Saint Sigfrid, apostle of that province in Sweden, who died in 1045, converted to the faith. She made a pilgrimage to Rome, and upon her return was martyred by her own relations about the year 1160, at her own estate of Skofde or Scœude, in Westrogothia in Sweden. She was honored on the 31st of July, with extraordinary devotion in that country, and in the isle of Seland in Denmark, especially in the church which bears her name, where her body was kept in a rich shrine, eight miles from Copenhagen, near the sea, in which place there is a famous miraculous well still resorted to by the Lutherans, and called to this day St. Lene Kild, or St. Helen’s well. She was canonized by Alexander III. in 1164, and her feast fixed on the 31st of July. See the Bollandists ad 31 Julii.


1 —

The place of St. Rumold’s death is contested. According to certain Belgic and other Martyrologies, he was of the blood royal of Scotland (as Ireland was then called) and bishop of Dublin. This opinion is ably supported by F. Hu. Ward, an Irish Franciscan, a man well skilled in the antiquities of his country, in a work entitled Dissertatio Historica de Vita et Patria S. Rumoldi, Archiepiscopi Dubliniensis, published at Louvain in 1662, in 4to. The learned pope Benedict XIV. seems to adjudge St. Rumold to Ireland, in his letter to the prelates of that kingdom dated the 1st of August, 1741, wherein are the following words: “Quod si recensere voluerimus sanctissimos viros Columbanum, Kilianum, Virgilium, Rumoldum, Gallum, aliosque plures qui ex Hibernia in alias provincias catholicam fidem invexerunt, aut illam per martyrium effuso sanguine collustrarunt.” (Hib. Dom. Suppl. p. 831.) On the other hand, Janning the Bollandist undertakes to prove that St. Rumold was an English Saxon. See Janning and J. B. Sellerii Acta S. Rumoldi, Antverp, 1718; also F. Ward, and Ware’s bishops, p. 305.

2 —

St. John Damascen. Serm. de Transfig. Dom.

3 —

Gildas, c. 8.

4 —

Bede, Hist l. 1. c. 7.

5 —

The second kingdom of Burgundy was begun in 890, by Ralph, nephew to Bozon, whom the emperor Charles the Bald, king of France, had made king of Arles in 876, giving him Provence and part of Dauphiné. This second kingdom of Burgundy comprised Provence, Savoy, the Viennois, and the county of Burgundy. The duchy of Burgundy had its duke at the same time.

6 —

It is nine leagues from Mans. Childebert in the charter says that the land had been already given to the saint by Clovis his father. (Marten. Amp. Coll. tom. 1, p. 1.) This is also attested by Nicholas, Ep. ad Episc. Gall. and is likewise insinuated by Siviard in his life of St. Calais.

7 —

Salus in the Syriac signifies foolish.

8 —

St. Tho. 2, 2.

9 —

Imit. of Chr. b. 1, c. 20.

10 —

Phil. iii. 29.

11 —

From the word joy used by the evangelist on this occasion, and from the unanimous consent of the fathers, it is manifest that the holy infant anticipated the use of reason, and that this was not a mere natural motion, as some protestants have imagined, but the result of reason, and the effect of holy joy and devotion.

12 —

Phil. iv. 20.

13 —

Nero reigned the first five years with so much clemency, that once when he was to sign an order for the death of a condemned person, he said: “I wish I could not write.” But his master Seneca and Burrhus the prefect of the prætorium, to whom this his moderation was owing, even then discovered in him a bent to cruelty, to correct which they strove to give his passion another turn. With this view Seneca wrote and inscribed to him a treatise On Clemency, which we still have. But both Seneca and Burrhus connived at an adulterous intrigue in which he was engaged in his youth: so very defective was the virtue of the best among the heathen philosophers. If the tutors imagined that by giving up a part, they might save the rest, and by indulging him in the softer passions they might check those which seemed more fatal to the commonwealth, the event showed how much they were deceived by this false human prudence, and how much more glorious it would have been to have preferred death to the least moral evil, could paganism have produced any true martyrs of virtue. The passions are not to be stilled by being soothed: whatever is allowed them is but an allurement to go farther, and soon makes their tyranny uncontrollable. Of this Nero is an instance. For, availing himself of this indulgence, he soon gave an entire loose to all his desires, especially when he began to feel the dangerous pleasure of being master of his own person and actions. He plunged himself publicly, and without shame or constraint, into the most infamous debaucheries, in which such was the perversity of his heart, that, as Suetonius tells us, he believed nobody to be less voluptuous and abandoned than himself, though he said they were more private in their crimes, and greater hypocrites: notwithstanding, at that very time, Rome abounded with most perfect examples of virtue and chastity among the Christians.

There is a degree of folly inseparable from vice. But this in Nero seemed by superlative malice to degenerate into downright phrenzy. All his projects consisted in the extravagances of a madman; and nothing so much flattered his pride as to undertake things that seemed impossible. He forgot all common rules of decency, order, or justice. It was his greatest ambition to sing or perform the part of an actor on the stage, to play on musical instruments in the theatre, or to drive a chariot in the circus. And whoever did not applaud all his performances, or had not the complaisance to let him carry the prize at every race or public diversion, his throat was sure to be cut, or he was reserved for some more barbarous death. For cruelty was the vice which above all others has rendered his name detestable. At the instigation of Poppæa, a most infamous adulteress, he caused his mother Agrippina to be slain in the year 58, and from that time it seemed to be his chief delight to glut his savage mind with the slaughter of the bravest, the most virtuous, and the most noble persons of the universe, especially of those that were nearest to him. He put to death his wife Octavia after many years ill usage, and he cut off almost all the most illustrious heads of the empire.

14 —

On account of the murder of St. Stanislas, slain by Boleslas II.

15 —

Serm. v. de Laz. t. 1, p. 765.

16 —

St. Chrys. l. 1, ad Vid. Junior. t. 1, p. 341.

17 —

According to the Registers of Landaff, quoted by Usher, St. Oudoceus was son of Budic II. prince of Cornwall, in Armorica; and was committed to the care of St. Theliau, when he removed to Armorica. But Usher is mistaken, as he dates this fact at 596. For we learn from St. Gregory of Tours that Thierri, son of Budic, was made prince of Cornwall in 577, and that his father was dead a long time before.

18 —

P. 178, ed. Combefis.

19 —

Not. ib. t. 2, p. 704, Op. St. Chrys.

20 —

T. 2, ed. Ben. p. 704.

21 —

The abbey of Kemperle is three leagues from Port-Louis and eight from Quimper.

22 —

In Latin Berti Cramnus, Bertrannus: not Bertrandus.

23 —

Lugo in Decal. See Less. l. de Valetud.

24 —

Jos. ix. 14.

25 —

See these laws in Spelman, Conc. t. 1, and Wilkins, Conc. Brit. t. 1.

26 —

Cent. 10.

27 —

Extant in Monast. Anglic. App., vol. 1.

28 —

The Welch laws of Howel Dha, that is, Howel the Good, are published by Dr. Wotton, in folio, 1735.

29 —

See Inett, History of the Church of England, t. 1.

30 —

Rosweide, Vit. Patr. l. 5, lib. 4, n. 38.

31 —

Ibid. l. 6, lib. 2, n. 14.

32 —

Cotelier, Monum. Gr. p. 675.

33 —

Cotelier, ib. p. 670, Rosweide, l. 3, p. 103.

34 —

Cotelier, ib. p. 672.

35 —

Rosweide, Vid. Patr. l. 5, lib. 15, n. 47.

36 —

Rosweide, Vit. Patr. l. 5, lib. 1, n. 17.

37 —

Rosweide, Vit. Patr. l. 5, lib. 15, n. 44.

38 —

Ibid. n. 46.

39 —

Ibid. l. 5, lib. 8, n. 15.

40 —

Ibid. l. 6, lib. 9, n. 5.

41 —

Cotelier, ibid. p. 669.

42 —

Rosweide, Vit. Patr. l. 5, lib. 4, n. 39, et l. 6, lib. 3, n. 6.

43 —

Cotelier, p. 671.

44 —

Rufin. ap. Rosw. l. 3, n. 162.

45 —

Rosweide, Vit. Patr. l. 5, lib. 16, n. 10.

46 —

Cotelier, t. 1, p. 678.

47 —

The monastery of Blangy was founded in 686. Having been destroyed during the incursions of the Normans, it was rebuilt in the eleventh century, and given to the religious of the Order of St. Benedict. It is still in being.

48 —

She was widow of Guy of Chatillon, count of St. Pol, brother to Maud.

49 —

St. Cypr. l. de Oper. et Eleem.

50 —

L. 1, de Offic. c. 30.

51 —

The abbé Ma-Geoghegan, in his history of Ireland, published in Paris in 1758, asserts that the Scots were originally Scythians, or properly Celto-Scythians, of Spanish original. Foreign writers of repute bear witness to this extraction: the native historians of Ireland have at all times been unanimous in recording it, and have adduced testimonies in support of it, which cannot be easily overthrown, as some moderns, who made the attempt, have experienced. The ancient Fileas of Ireland have indeed (like the old poets of all other European nations) shrouded real facts in a veil of pompous fables. Thus they pretended the leaders of this Spanish colony were the descendants of a celebrated Breogan, and that a grandson of this Breogan was married to an Egyptian heroine named Scota, from whom the Irish took the name of Kinea-Scuit or Scots, as they took the appellation of Clan-Breogan or Brigantes, from the former. But such inventions, acceptable to the credulity and flattering to the pride of nations, cannot discredit any fact otherwise well attested. The British Brigantes were probably descendants of the Irish Brigantes, as the Scots of Britain were certainly descendants from those of Ireland. Tacitus, in the first age of the Christian era, has thought from the difference of complexion and frame of body observable among the British tribes of his time, that some were of Spanish original; and an earlier writer, Seneca, in his satire on the emperor Claudius, makes mention of the Scuta-Brigantes, which Scaliger, by needless correction, makes Scoto-Brigantes, as the Irish wrote Scuit and Scoit indifferently. This testimony of Seneca is a proof that the name Scots or Scuits, was known to some Roman writers so early as the first century; and the Irish appellations of Kinea-Scuit and Clan-Breogan plainly point out the proper country of those Scuta-Brigantes in the time of the emperor Nero.

Mr. Geoghegan looks upon the Irish to be a mother tongue; and it may justly be so denominated, notwithstanding the adoption of some foreign terms, and some variations of construction introduced by time in all languages, before they arrive at their classical standard. Some writings of the fifth century show that this language was at its full perfection before the introduction of the gospel by Roman missionaries in the fourth and fifth centuries. The notion that this language is a dialect of the modern Biscayan is undoubtedly groundless. The latter tongue owes its original to some nation of those barbarians who settled in Guipuscoa and other parts of the Pyrenean regions, on the decline of the Roman empire, nor are the few words common in the Basque and Irish tongues any proof that the one is descended from the other. This observation will hold good relatively to the Welsh and Irish languages. They differ entirely in syntax, and show that the two nations speaking those tongues have different Celtic originals.

Bollandus says that St. Patrick taught the first alphabet to the Irish: he means the Roman alphabet, and should not forget that it was taught very near an age before, by earlier missionaries in the parts of Ireland which they converted to the faith. In the antecedent times the Fileas or ancient Irish writers, inscribed their ideas on tablets of wood, by the means of seventeen cyphers, of which their ancestors learned the use before their arrival in Ireland; nor is this fact obscured, but is rather enlightened by a fable of the Fileas, setting forth that some of those ancestors were instructed in letters by a celebrated Phenius, famous for literary knowledge in the East. Through this poetical veil we plainly discern the Phenicians, who first instructed the Europeans (the Greeks, Lybians, Italians, and Spaniards particularly) in the use of letters and other arts. Spain, according to Strabo, had the use of letters in a very early period; and that a colony from that country should import into, and cultivate also, those elements of knowledge in Ireland, is not improbable: the perfection of the Irish language before the introduction of Christianity is an incontrovertible proof of the fact.

The Scots are represented as a rude and barbarous people in the fourth and fifth ages, even by some eminent ecclesiastical writers. But these as well as other foreign historians have not, if at all, been resident long enough in Ireland to pronounce the natives barbarous, if those writers took that epithet in the worst sense it can bear. St. Jerom avers that when an adolescentulus, he saw a Scot in Gaul feeding upon human flesh, but the child, in this case, might impose upon the man, or if otherwise, a nation is not to be characterised from the barbarity of an individual, or even of a single tribe in an extensive country. That some barbarous customs prevailed in Ireland during the ages mentioned, cannot be denied; and that some prevail at this day in most of the modern states of Europe, called enlightened, is a matter of fatal experience. In the documents still preserved in the native language of the ancient Irish, we learn that after the reform made of the order of Fileas in the first century, houses and ample landed endowments were set apart for those philosophers, who, in the midst of the most furious civil wars, were by common consent to be left undisturbed; that they were to be exempt from every employment but that of improving themselves in abstract knowledge, and cultivating the principal youths of the nation in their several colleges; that in the course of their researches they discovered and exposed the corrupt doctrines of the Druids; and that an enlightened monarch called Cormac O’Quin took the lead among the Fileas in the attack upon that order of priests, and declared publicly for the unity of the Godhead against Polytheism, and for the adoration of one supreme, omnipotent, and merciful Creator of heaven and earth. The example of that monarch, and the disquisitions of the Fileas relating to religion and morality, paved the way for the reception of the gospel; and as the doctrines of our Saviour made the quickest progress among civilized nations, the conversion of Ireland in a shorter compass of time than we read of in the conversion of any other European country, brings a proof that the natives were not the rude barbarians some ancient authors have represented them to be.

52 —

Antiq. Brit. Eccl. c. 16, p. 408, 412.

53 —

Prosp. Contra Collat. c. 44.

54 —

See the note on the life of St. Patrick in this work; also Ware’s Antiq. by Harris, with his remarks on Dempster, c. 1, p. 4.

55 —

Usher, p. 418.

56 —

Certain ancient principal Scottish saints are commemorated in an ancient Scottish calendar published by Mr. Robert Keith, as follows:


  8. St. Nethalan, B. C. An. 452.

21. St. Vimin, B. An. 715.

29. St. Macwoloc, B. An. 720.

30. Saint Macglastian, B. An. 814.


  7. St. Ronan, B. C. An. 603.


  1. St. Minan, archdeacon, C. An. 879. Also St. Marnan, B. An. 655.

  4. St. Adrian, B. of St. Andrew’s, M. He was slain by the Danes in 874, and buried in the isle of Man.

  6. St. Fredoline, C. An. 500.

11. St. Constantine, king of Scotland, a monk and M. An. 556.

17. St. Kyrinus or Kyrstinus, surnamed Boniface, B. of Ross, An. 660.


  1. St. Gilbert, B. of Caithness, An. 1140.

12. St. Ternan, archbishop of the Picts, ordained by Saint Palladius, about the year 450.

16. St. Manus or Mans, M. in Orkney, An. 1104.

19. Translation of St. Margaret’s body to Dunfermline.


  6. St. Palladius, apostle of Scotland.


10. St. Blanc, B. C.

27. St. Malrube, hermit, martyred by the Danes, in Scotland, in 1040.


16. St. Minian, B. C. in 450, or according to some, a whole century later.

22. St. Lolan, B. of Whithern or Galloway.


25. St. Marnoc, B. C. died at Kilmarnock in the fourth or fifth century.


  2. Saint Maure, from whom Kilmaures is named, An. 899.

12. St. Macar, B. of Murray, M. 887.

St. Germanus, B. C. said to have been appointed bishop of the isles by St. Patrick. Under his invocation the cathedral of the isle of Man is dedicated. St. Macull or Mauchold, in Latin Macallius, bishop in the same place from 494 to 518. In his honor many churches are dedicated in Scotland, and one in the isle of Man. He is honored on the 25th of April. St. Brendan, from whom a church in the isle of Man is called Kirk-Bradan, was bishop of the isles in the ninth century.

N. B. The isle of Man has had its own bishop from the time it came into the hands of the English in the days of Edward I. of England, and David II. of Scotland. It was anciently subject to the bishop of the Isles, who always resided at Hy-columbkill till the extinction of episcopacy in Scotland, in 1688. The bishops both of the isles and of Man took the title of Episcopus Sodorensis; which Mr. Keith (p. 175) derives (not from any towns), but from the Greek word Soter or Saviour, because the cathedral of Hy-columbkill is dedicated to our Saviour. See Mr. Robert Keith, in his new Catalogue of bishops in Scotland, printed at Edinburgh, in 4to. An. 1755.

Le Neve supposes with Spotiswood that the isle of Man had its bishops after Amphibalus, who lived in the fourth age, that they were called bishops of Soder from a village of that name in the island, and that the title was transferred to the island of Hy-columbkill in the eighth age, when the two sees were united into one. But the succession of bishops in the isle of Man is not sufficiently clear.

Matthew Paris says that Wycomb was first bishop of Man, in the twelfth age, and that he was consecrated by the archbishop of York. See Le Neve. Fasti Anglic.

57 —

Hect. Boet. l. 7, fol. 128.

58 —

Sozom. l. 3, c. 14.

59 —

Rufin. b. 5, c. 10.

60 —

Socrates, in all things he said, used to add this form of speech, “By my Dæmon’s leave.” And just upon the point of expiring, he ordered a cock to be sacrificed to Esculapius (Plato’s Phædo sub finem). And in his trial we read one article of his impeachment to have been a charge of unnatural lust. Thales, the prince of naturalists, being asked by Crœsus what God was, put off that prince from time to time, saying, “I will consider on it.” But the meanest mechanic among the Christians can explain himself intelligibly on the Creator of the universe. Diogenes could not be contented in his tub without gratifying his passions. And when with his dirty feet he trod upon Plato’s costly carpets, crying that he trampled upon the pride of Plato, he did this, as Plato answered him, with greater pride. Pythagoras affected tyranny at Thurium, and Zeno at Pyrene. Lycurgus made away with himself because he was unable to bear the thought of the Lacedæmonians correcting the severity of his laws. Anaxagoras had not fidelity enough to restore to strangers the goods which they had committed to his trust. Aristotle could not sit easy till he proudly made his friend Hermias sit below him; and he was as gross a flatterer of Alexander for the sake of vanity, as Plato was of Dionysius for his belly. From Plato and Socrates the stoics derived their proud maxim, “The wise man is self-sufficient.” Epictetus himself allows “to be proud of the conquest of any vice.” Aristotle (Ethic. ad Nicom. l. 10, c. 7) and Cicero patronize revenge. See B. Cumberland of the Laws of Nature, c. 9, p. 346. Abbé Batteux demonstrates the impiety and vices of Epicurus mingled with some virtues and great moral truths. (La Morale d’Epicure, à Paris, 1758.) The like blemishes may be found in the doctrine and lives of all the other boasted philosophers of paganism. See Theodoret. De curandis Græcor. affectibus, &c.

61 —

King Ina ruled the West-Saxons thirty-seven years with great glory, from the abdication of Ceadwalla who died at Rome. Ina vanquished the Welsh, several domestic rebels, and foreign enemies; made many pious foundations, and rebuilt in a sumptuous manner the abbey of Glastenbury. Ralph or Ranulph Higden in his Polychronicon, and others say this king first established the Rome-scot or Peter-pence, which was a collection of a penny from every house in his kingdom paid yearly to the see of Rome. By considering the vanities of the world and moved by the frequent exhortations of the queen his wife, he renounced the world in 728 in the highest pitch of human felicity, and leaving his kingdom to Ethelheard his kinsman, travelled to Rome, was there shorn a monk, and grew old in that mean habit. His wife accompanied him thither, confirmed him in that course, and imitated his example: so that living not far from each other in mutual love, and in the constant exercises of penance and devotion, they departed this life at Rome not without doing divers miracles, as William of Malmesbury and H. Huntingdon write. In 696 Sebbi, the pious king of the East-Saxons, preferred also a private life to a crown, took the monastic habit with the blessing of bishop Whaldere, successor to St. Erkenwald in the see of London, after bestowing a great sum of money in charity, and soon after departed this life in the odor of sanctity. See Bede b. 4, c. 11.

62 —

Spelman Conc. Brit. t. 1.

63 —

B. 5, ch. 19.

64 —

Bede, p. 3, c. 6.

65 —

On St. Edelburga see Solier the Bollandist, ad diem 7 Julij, t. 2, p. 481. She is called in French St. Aubierge. See on her also Du Plessis, Hist. de Meaux.

66 —

Published by Dom. Martenne, Anecdot. t. 4.

67 —

Urban VIII. Constit. 58. Cum sicut. An. 1626, Bullar. Roman. t. 5, p. 120.

68 —

Grotius and others demonstrate the Greek language to have been, in the first ages of Christianity, common in Palestine; but this cannot be extended to all the country people, as this passage and other proofs clearly show. Hence Eusebius wrote his Acts of the Martyrs of Palestine in Syro-Chaldaic, but abridged the same in Greek, in the eighth book of his Church History.

69 —

The old Latin Acts write his name Flavian, and some Fabian, by mistaking the Syriac name, which is written without vowels.

70 —

Anglia Sacra, t. 1, p. 613, published by Wharton.

71 —

Ibid. p. 606.

72 —

Sozom. l. 3, c. 16.

73 —

T. 3, p. 23.

74 —

On this genuine work see Assemani, Op. t. 1, p. 119, ib. Proleg, c. 1, et t. 2, p. 37. Item Biblioth. Orient. t. 1, p. 141. The disciples of St. Ephrem committed to writing this same history, as they had often heard it from his mouth. Hence we have so many relations of it. One formerly published by Gerard Vossius, is republished by Assemani (t. 3, p. 23). But the most complete account is that given us in the saint’s confession, extant in the new Vatican edition.

75 —

See Appendix on St. Ephrem’s Works, at the end of the life.

76 —

Serm. Ascetic. 1, p. 4.

77 —

In encomio Basilij, t. 2.

78 —

From his conversing with St. Basil by an interpreter it is clear that St. Ephrem never understood the Greek language. The old vicious translation of the life of St. Basil, under the name of St. Amphilochius, pretends that St. Basil obtained for him miraculously the knowledge of the Greek tongue, and ordained him priest. But this is a double mistake, though the latter was admitted by Baillet. Saint Jerom, Palladius, and other ancients always style him deacon, never priest. Nor does Pseudo Amphilochius say, that St. Basil raised St. Ephrem, but only his disciple and companion to the priesthood, as the new translation of this piece, and an attentive inspection of the original text, demonstrate.

79 —

T. 4, b. 1, ed. Vaticanæ.

80 —

Necrosima, can. 81, p. 335, t. 6.

81 —

St. Ephrem in Testam. p. 286, 395, and St. Greg. Nyss. p. 12.

82 —

Testam. t. 2, p. 230, &c.

83 —

Greg. M. Moral. l. 23, c. 21.

84 —

Cant. ii. 12.

85 —

John Oosterwican was director to a convent of nuns of the same order in Gorcum; he was then very old, and often prayed that God would honor him with the crown of martyrdom.

The names of the eleven Franciscans were Nicholas Pick, Jerom, a native of Werden, in the county of Horn, Theodoric of Embden, native of Amorfort, Nicaise Johnson, native of Heze, Wilhade, native of Denmark, Godfrey of Merveille, Antony of the town of Werden, Antony of Hornaire, a village near Gorcum, Francis Rodes, native of Brussels. These were priests and preachers. The other two were lay-brothers, namely, Peter of Asca, a village in Brabant, and Cornelius of Dorestate, a village now called Wick, in the territory of Utrecht.—The three curates were Leonand Vechel, Nicholas Poppel, and Godfrey Dunen. This last was a native of Gorcum, who having been rector of the university of Paris, where he had studied and taught, was some time curate in Holland near the French territories, but resigned his curacy and lived at Gorcum.

The other martyrs were John Oosterwican mentioned above; John, a Dominican of the province of Cologne, curate of Hornaire; Adrian Hilvarenbeck, a Norbertin of Middleburge, who served a parish at Munster, a village near the mouth of the Meuse; James Lacop of the same order and monastery, an assistant in a neighboring parish to Munster; and Andrew Walter, a secular priest, curate of Heinort, near Dort.

86 —

Julij, t. 2, p. 823.

87 —

De Canoniz. lib. iii. cap. 12.

88 —

The reader will observe that this word is used in the Saints’ writings in the sense of elevated, and almost ecstatic, union with God, in prayer and contemplation.

89 —

Pius VI. Decree approving the virtues of the Ven. Veronica Giuliani. April, 1796.

90 —

Ceillier and some others think this emperor to have been M. Aurelius Antoninus Philosophus, who was a persecutor, and reigned with Lucius Verus; the latter was absent from Rome in the Parthian war from 162 to 166; on which account, say these authors, he did not appear in this trial. See Tillemont, t. 2, p. 326. But that these martyrs suffered under Antoninus Pius, in the thirteenth year of his reign, of Christ 150, we are assured by an old inscription in several ancient MS. copies of their acts mentioned by Ruinart. That this emperor put several Christians to death whilst he was governor of Asia before his accession to the empire, Tertullian testifies (ad Scapul.). And that towards the end of his reign, notwithstanding his former mildness towards them, he again exercised the sword and torments on them, we have an undoubted proof in the genuine epitaph of St. Alexander, martyr, produced by Aringhi, Diss. 2, l. 3, c. See Berti in Sæc. 2.

91 —

Quæ in viduitate permanens Deo suam voverat castitatem. Ruin. Act. Sincer. p. 21.

92 —

Omnes qui non confitentur Christum verum esse Deum, in ignem æternum mittentur. Ruin. p. 23.

93 —

In Cyclum Pasch. p. 268.

94 —

Nisibis was the Assyrian name of this city, which was called by the Greeks Antiochia Mygdoniæ, from the river Mygdon, on which it was situated, which gave name to the territory. The ancient name of this city was Achar or Achad, one of the seats of the empire of Nimrod. “He reigned in Arach, that is, Edessa, and in Achad, now called Nisibis,” says St. Jerom. (qu. in Gen. c. 10, n. 10). St. Ephrem had made the same observation before him. “He reigned in Arach, which is Edessa, and in Achar, which is Nisibis, and in Calanne, which is Ctesiphon, and in Rehebot, which is Adiab.” St. Ephrem, Comm. in Gen. See Sim. Assemani, Bibl. Orient. t. 2, Diss. de Monophysitis.

95 —

Philoth. seu Hist. Relig. c. 1, p. 767.

96 —

F. Cuper thinks the account of this event in Theodoret’s Religious History to be an addition inserted from other places, t. 4. Jul. in Comment. prævio ad Vitam, S. Jacobi, n. 12 et 17.

97 —

Philost. Hist. l. 3, c. 23.

98 —

Chron. Alex. p. 287, S. Hieron. In Chron. and Theophan. p. 28. See Le Beau, Hist. du Bas Empire, l. 6, n. 11, t. 2, p. 22.

99 —

Wisdom xvi. 9.

100 —

Theodoret, Hist. Relig. in vit. S. Jacobi, et in Hist. Eccl. l. 2. c. 30. Philost. l. 3, c. 32. Theophan. p. 33. Chron. Alex. Zozim. l. 3. Zonar. t. 2, p. 44. Le Reau, l. 7, p. 127, t. 2.

101 —

Tillemont, Hist. des. Emp. t. 4, p. 674, places the second siege of Nisibis to 346, and the third in 350. But the dates above mentioned are more agreeable to history, and adopted by the suffrage of most modern critics.

102 —

The two elder Assemani place the death of St. James in 338, soon after the first siege of Nisibis, of which they understand the circumstances which are usually ascribed to the second siege; for Theodoret confounds them together, as Garnier, (in hunc Theodoreti locum), Petau, (in Or. l. Juliani) Henricus Valesius, (in Hist. Eccl.). Theodoret, Ammian. Marcell. l. 18. Pagi, Tillemont, and others observe. Simon Assemani confirms this chronology by the express testimony of the authors of two Syriac Chronicles, that of Dionysius, patriarch of the Jacobits, and that of Edessa. See Simon Assemani, Biblio. Orient. t. 1, c. 5, p. 17, and Stephen Evodius Assemani in Op. S. Ephrem, t. 1. But neither of these Chronicles seems of sufficient authority to counterbalance the testimony of the Greek historians, and the circumstances that persuade us that St. James survived the second siege of Nisibis, upon which Tillemont, Ceillier, &c., place the death of St. James in 350; and Cuper the Bollandist between the years 350 and 361, in which Constantius died.

103 —

Ammian. Marcelli. l. 18, c. 7. Zonaras, t. 2, p. 20. Monsignor Antonelli in vit. St. Jacobi, p. 26.

104 —

See on him Galanus in parte 1. Historiali Concil. Armen. cum Roman. p. 239, and F. James Villotte, S. J. in serie Chronol. Patriarcharum Armeniæ, printed in the end of his Latin-Armenian Dictionary.

105 —

These are extant, addressed not to St. Gregory the apostle of Armenia, surnamed the Illuminator, as some copies have mistaken, but probably to his nephew, another St. Gregory, who, being consecrated bishop preached the faith in Albania, a province of Greater Armenia, near the Caspian sea, where he was crowned with martyrdom among the infidel barbarians in the very country where Baronius places the Martyrdom of the apostle St. Bartholomew. See Galanus, Hist. Eccl. Armenorum, c. 5, et Not. ib. Also Antonelli, not. in ep. S. Gregorii ad S. Jacobum Misib. p. 1.

106 —

These eighteen discourses of St. James are mentioned by Gennadius, who gives their titles, (t. 2, p. 901, Op. S. Hier. Veron. an. 1735,) commended by St. Athanasius (who calls them monuments of the simplicity and candor of an apostolic mind. Ep. encyclic. ad episcopos Egypti et Lybiæ) and by the Armenian writers quoted by Antonelli, who demonstrates from the discourses themselves that they are a work of the fourth century.

St. James, in the first, On Faith, demonstrates this to be the foundation of our spiritual edifice, which is raised upon it by hope and love, which render the Christian soul the house and temple of God, the ornaments of which are all good works, as fasting, prayer, chastity, and all the fruits of the Holy Ghost. He commends faith from the divine authority of Christ, who everywhere requires it, from its indispensable necessity, from the heroic virtues which it produces, the eminent saints it has formed, and the miracles it has wrought. The subject of his second discourse is Charity, or the Love of God and our Neighbor, in which the whole law of Christ is comprised, and which is the most excellent of all virtues, and the perfection of all sanctity, admirably taught by Christ both by word and example; the end of all his doctrine, mysteries, and sufferings being to plant his charity in our hearts. In the third discourse he treats on fasting, universal temperance, and self-denial, by which we subdue and govern our senses and passions, die to ourselves, and obtain all blessings of God, and the protection of the angels, who are moved to assist and fight for us, as he proves from examples and passages of holy writ (pp. 60, 61, 62). In his fourth he speaks on Prayer, on which he delivers admirable maxims, teaching that its excellence is derived from the purity, sanctity, and fervor of the heart, upon which the fire descends from heaven, and which glorifies God even by its silence. “But none,” says he, “will be cleansed unless they have been washed in the laver of baptism, and have received the body and blood of Christ. For the blood is expiated by this Blood, and the body cleansed by this Body. Be assiduous in holy prayer, and in the beginning of all prayer place that which our Lord hath taught us. When you pray, always remember your friends, and me a sinner, &c.”

His fifth discourse, On War, is chiefly an invective against pride, in vanquishing which consists our main spiritual conflict. The sixth discourse is most remarkable. The title is, On Devout Persons, that is, Ascetes. The Armenian word Ugdavor signifies one who by vow has consecrated himself to God. From this discourse it is manifest that some of these Ascetes had devoted themselves to God in a state of continency by vow, others only by a resolution. The saint most pathetically exhorts them to fervor and watchfulness, and excellently inculcates the obligation which every Christian lies under of becoming a spiritual man formed upon the image of Christ, the second Adam, in order to rise with him to glory. He inveighs against some Ascetes who kept under the same roof a woman Ascete to serve them: a practice no less severely condemned by St. Gregory Nazianzen (Carm. 3, p. 56, and Or. 43, p. 701). St. Basil (Ep. 55, p. 149). St. Chrysostom, the council of Nice, that of Ancyra, &c. St. James was himself an Ascete from his youth, St. Gregory, to whom he sends these discourses, was also one, and it is clear from many passages in St. Gregory Nazianzen, St. Basil, and others, that they were very numerous in Cappadocia, Pontus, and Armenia before St. Basil founded there the monastic life. See Antonelli’s note, ib. p. 203. Saint James, in his seventh discourse, On Penance, strongly exhorts sinners to confess speedily their crimes; to conceal which through shame is final impenitence. He adds, the priests cannot disclose such a confession (p. 237). The infidels and several heretics in the first ages of the Church denying the general resurrection of bodies, St. James proves that mystery in his eighth discourse, On the Resurrection of the Dead. His ninth, On Humility, is an excellent eulogium of that virtue, by which men are made the children of God, and brethren of Christ; and it is but justice in man, who is but dust. Its fruits are innocence, simplicity, meekness, sweetness, charity, patience, prudence, mercy, sincerity, compunction, and peace. For he who loves humility is always blessed, and enjoys constant peace; God, who dwelleth in the meek and humble, abiding in him.

The tenth discourse, On Pastors, contains excellent advice to a pastor of souls, especially on his obligation of watching over and feeding his flock. In the eleventh, On Circumcision, and in the twelfth, On the Sabbath, he shows against the Jews, that those laws no longer oblige, and that the Egyptians learned circumcision from the Jews. In the thirteenth, On the Choice of Meats, he proves none are unlawful of their own nature. In the fourteenth, On the Passover, that the Paschal solemnity of Christ’s resurrection has abolished that Jewish festival: he adds that the Christian, in honor of Christ’s crucifixion, keeps every Friday, and also, at Nisibis, the fourteenth day of every month. In the fifteenth he proves the Reprobation of the Jews. In the sixteenth the Divinity of the Son of God. In the seventeenth the Virtue of holy Virginity, which both the Ascetes and the clergy professed, and which he defends against the Jews only; for he wrote before the heretics in the fourth age calumniated the sanctity of that state. In the eighteenth he confutes the Jews, who pretended that their temple and synagogue would be again restored at Jerusalem.

The long letter to the priests of Seleucia and Ctesiphon against schisms, and dissensions, when Papas, the haughty bishop of those cities, had raised there a fatal schism, is in some MSS. ascribed to St. James; but was certainly a synodal letter sent by a council held on that occasion, nine years after the council of Nice: on which see the life of St. Miles, and the notes of the archbishop of Apamea, Evodius Assemani, ib. Act. Mart. Orient. t. 1, p. 72, and Jos. Assemani Bibl. Orient. t. 1, p. 86, &c.

Among the oriental liturgies, one in Chaldaic, formerly in use among the Syrians, bears the name of St. James of Nisibis. Gennadius mentions twenty-six books written by this holy doctor in the Syriac tongue, all on pious subjects, or on the Persian persecution. They were never translated into Greek.

The letters of St. James and St. Gregory are published by Assemani, Bibl. Orient. t. 1, p. 552, 632.

107 —

Ps. xxxiii. 16, Prov. iii. 23, Zach. ii. 8, Gen. xv. 1, Lev. xxxvi. 3.

108 —

S. Chrys. Hom. 51, in Act. Hom. 15, in Rom. et 91, in Matt.

109 —

Ose. i. 2, Zach. xi. 9, Isa. v. 5.

110 —

Amos ix. 4.

111 —

Molanus in Auctario Martytol. Menard, in Martyr. Bened. Bucelin, &c.

112 —

Some have imagined that St. Hidulph was only chorepiscopus or vicar, probably with episcopal orders, for the administration of part of the diocess. But the most judicious critics agree with the original writers of his life, that he was himself archbishop of Triers.

113 —

Sulpic. Sever. Dial. 1, c. 26, ol. 18, p. 94, ed. nov. Veron. an. 1741.

114 —

Heraclides ap. Cotel. Monum. Eccl. Gr. t. 3, p. 172. See St. Chrys. contra oppugn. vitæ monast. t. 1. S. Gr. Naz. St. Basil, &c.

115 —

Among the heathen emperors of Rome, Titus, the two Antonines, and Alexander deserved the best of their subjects, and the three last gained a great reputation for moral virtue. The Antonines were eminent for their learning, and devoted themselves to the Stoic philosophy. Arrius Antoninus, who had distinguished himself by his moderation and love of justice in several magistracies, was adopted by the emperor Adrian in 138, and upon his death in the same year ascended the imperial throne. He was truly the father of his people during a reign of twenty-two years, and died in 161, being seventy-seven years old. He obtained the surname of Pius, according to some, by his gratitude to Adrian; but, according to others, by his clemency and goodness. He had often in his mouth the celebrated saying of Scipio Africanus, that he would rather save the life of one citizen than destroy one thousand enemies. He engaged in no wars, except that by his lieutenants he restrained the Daci, Alani, and Mauri, and by the conduct of Lollius Urbicus quieted the Britons, confining the Caledonians to their mountains and forests by a new wall. Yet the pagan virtues of this prince were mixed with an alloy of superstition, vice, and weakness. When the senate refused to enrol Adrian among the gods, out of a just detestation of his cruelty and other vices, Antoninus, by tears and entreaties, extorted from it a decree by which divine honors were granted that infamous prince, and he appointed priests and a temple for his worship. He likewise caused his wife Faustina to be honored after her death as a goddess, and was reproached for the most dissolute life of his daughter Faustina the younger, whom he gave in marriage to his adopted son, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

Xiphilin writes that the Christians shared in the mildness of his government. Yet though he did not raise by fresh edicts any new persecution, it is a notorious mistake of Dodwell and some others, who pretend that no Christians suffered death for the faith during his reign, at least by his order. Tertullian informs us (l. ad Scapul. c. 4), that Arrius Antoninus, when he was only proconsul of Asia, put in execution the old unjust rescript of Trajan; and having punished some Christians with death, dismissed the rest, crying out to them, “O wretches, if you want to die, have you not halters and precipices to end your lives by?” St. Justin, in his first apology, which he addressed to Antoninus Pius, who was then emperor, testifies that Christians were tortured with the most barbarous cruelty without having been convicted of any crime. Also St. Irenæus (l. 3, c. 3), Eusebius (l. 4, c. 10), and the author of an ancient poem which is published among the works of Tertullian, are incontestible vouchers that this emperor, whom Capitolinus calls a most zealous worshipper of the gods, often shed the blood of saints. By the acts of St. Felicitas and her sons, it appears what artifices the pagan priests made use of to stir up the emperors and magistrates against the Christians. At length, however, Antoninus Pius, in the fifteenth year of his reign, of Christ 152, according to Tillemont, wrote to the states of Asia, commanding that all persons who should be impeached merely for believing in Christ, should be discharged, and their accusers punished according to the laws against informers, adding, “You do but harden them in their opinion, for you cannot oblige them more than by making them die for their religion. Thus they triumph over you by choosing rather to die than to comply with your will.” See Eusebius, l. 4, c. 26, where he also mentions a like former rescript of Adrian to Minutius Fundanus. Nevertheless, it is proved by Aringhi (Roma Subterran. l. 3, c. 22), that some were crowned with martyrdom in this reign after the aforesaid rescript, the pusillanimous prince not having courage always to protect these innocent subjects from the fury of the populace or the malice of some governors.

116 —

St. Minias was a Roman soldier who suffered martyrdom at Florence under Decius. See Mart. Rom., 13 Oct.

117 —

In Luc. l. 7, c. 13.

118 —

Though Pliny and Procopius pretend that the Vandals were of the same extraction with the Goths, the contrary is demonstrated by the learned F. Daniel Farlati (Illyrici Sacri, t. 2, p. 1308, Venetiis 1753), and by Jos. Assemani (in Calend. de Orig. Slavor. par. 2, c. 5, t. 1, p. 297). And their language, manners, and religion, were entirely different. The same arguments show that they differed also from the Slavi, Huns, and original Winidi or Venedi, this last being a Sarmatian, and the two others Scythian nations. The Vandals are placed by Jornandes and Dio (l. 55) on the German coast of the Baltic sea, in the present Prussia and Pomerania; they thence extended themselves to the sources of the Elbe, in the mountains of Silesia. They were afterward removed near the Danube, in the neighborhood of the Marcomanni, in the reigns of Antoninus, Aurelian, and Probus. In the fifth century they made an excursion into Gaul; and being there repulsed, crossed the Pyrenæan mountains with the Alani, who were the original Massagetæ from mount Caucasus, and beyond the Tanais, as Ammianus Marcellinus testifies. About the year 400, in the reign of Honorius, the Alani settled themselves in Lusitania, and the Vandals under king Gunderic, in Gallicia (which then comprised both the present Gallicia and Old Castile), and in Bætica, which from them was called Vandalitia, and corruptly Andalusia. (See St.  Isidore and Idatius, in their chronicles, Salvian, l. 7, p. 137, St. August. ep. 3, ad Victor.) The Vandals were baptized in the Catholic faith about the time when they crossed the Rhine; but were afterward drawn into Arianism, probably by some alliance with the Arian Goths, and out of hatred to the Romans. Idatius says, that common fame attributed the Arian perversion of the Vandals to king Genseric, who succeeded his brother Gunderic in 428, and was a man experienced in all the arts of policy and war. Count Boniface, lieutenant of Africa, seeing his life threatened by Aëtius (who, with the title of Magister Militiæ, governed the empire for the empress Placidia, regent for her son Valentinian), invited the Vandals out of Spain to his assistance. Genseric, with a powerful army, passed the strait which divides Africa from Spain, in May, 429, and though Boniface was then returned to his duty, the barbarian everywhere defeated the Romans, besieged Hippo during fourteen months; and though he was obliged by a famine to retire, he returned soon after and took that strong fortress. The emperor Valentinian, in 435, by treaty yielded up to him all his conquests in Africa. Genseric soon broke the truce, and in 439 took Carthage, and drove the Romans out of all Africa. In 455, being invited by the Empress Eudoxia to revenge the murder of Valentinian on Maximus, he plundered Rome during fifteen days. Though that city had been ravaged by Alaric the Goth in 400, whilst Honorius was emperor, the Vandal found and carried off an immense booty; and among other things, the gold and brass with which the capitol was inlaid, and the vessels of the Jewish temple at Jerusalem, which Titus had brought to Rome. These Justinian, when he had recovered Africa, caused to be brought to Constantinople, whence he caused them to be removed and placed in certain churches at Jerusalem, as Procopius relates. Rome was again twice plundered by Totila, in 546 and 549. The Vandals, by their transmigrations into Spain and Africa, soon after ceased to be a nation in Germany, as Jornandes and Procopius testify. Euricus, king of the Visigoths, in Languedoc, in 468, invading Spain, conquered most of the territories which the Romans still possessed there, and all the provinces which the Vandals had seized. So that by the extinction of the empire of the Vandals in Africa under Justinian, the name of that potent and furious nation was lost: though Frederic, the first king of Prussia, in 1701, was for some time very desirous rather to take the title of king of the Vandals. The cavalry of the ancient Vandals fought chiefly with the sword and lance, and were unpractised in the distant combat. Their bowmen were undisciplined, and fought on foot like the Gothic. See Procopius.

119 —

Tinuzudæ tempore quo sacramenta Dei populo porrigebantur, introeuntes cum furore (Ariani) Corpus Christi et Sanguinem pavimento sparserunt, et illud pollutis pedibus calcaverunt. St. Vict. Vitensis, l. 1, p. 17.

120 —

Qui nobis pœnitentiæ munus collaturi sunt, et reconciliationis indulgentiâ obstrictos peccatorum vinculis soluturi? A quibus divinis sacrificiis ritus est exhibendus consuetus? Vobiscum et nos libeat pergere, si liceret. S. Victor Vit. l. 2, p. 33.

121 —

Scribam ego fratribus meis ut veniant coëpiscopi mei, qui vobis nobiscum fidem communem nostram valeant demonstrare, et præcipue ecclesia Romana, quæ caput est omnium ecclesiarum. Victor Vit. l. 2, p. 38.

122 —

In it the Catholics appealed to the tradition of the universal Church. “Hæc est fides nostra; evangelicis et apostolicis traditionibus atque auctoritate firmata, et omnium quæ in mundo sunt Catholicarum ecclesiarum societate fundata, in qua nos per gratiam Dei omnipotentis permanere usque ad finem vitæ hujus confidimus.” Victor Vit. l. 3, p. 62.

123 —

L. 5, p. 76.

124 —

Æneas, Gaz. Dial. de Animarum Immortaliiate et Corporis Resurrectione, p. 415.

125 —

Procop. de Bello Vandal. l. 1, c. 8.

126 —

Hist. Franc. l. 2, p. 46.

127 —

Ruin. Hist. Persec. Vandal. part. 2, c. 8, Notit. Afric.

128 —

Hæc sunt linteamina quæ te accusabunt cum majestas venerit judicantis. Vict. Vit. l. 5, c. 78.

129 —

He closes this work by the following supplication to the angels and saints: “Succor us, O angels of my God; look down on Africa, once flourishing in its numerous churches, but now left desolate and cast away. Intercede, O patriarchs; pray, O holy prophets; succor us, O apostles, who are our advocates. You, especially, O blessed Peter, why are you silent in the necessities of your flock? You, O blessed apostle Paul, behold what the Arian Vandals do, and how your sons groan in captivity. O all you holy apostles, petition for us. Pray for us though wicked; Christ prayed even for his persecutors,” &c. Adeste angeli Dei mei, et videte Africam totam dudum tantarum ecclesiarum cuneis fultam, nunc ab omnibus desolatam, sedentem viduam et abjectam—Deprecamini patriarchæ; orate sancti prophetæ; estote apostoli suffragatores ejus. Præcipue tu Petre, quare siles pro ovibus tuis?—Tu S. Paule, gentium magister, cognosce quid Vandali faciunt Ariani, et filii tui gemunt lugendo captivi. Victor Vit. Hist. Pers. Vandal. sub finem. The history of St. Victor is written with spirit and correctness, in a plain affecting style, intermixed with an entertaining poignancy of satire, and edifying heroic sentiments and examples of piety. The author is honored in the Roman Martyrology among the holy confessors on the 23d of August, though the time and place of his death are uncertain. He flourished in the middle of the fifth century. His history of the Vandalic persecution has run through several editions: that of Beatus Rhenanus at Basil in 1535, is the first: Peter Chifflet gave one at Dijon in 1664: but that of Dom. Ruinart at Paris, in 1694, is the most complete. It was published in English in 1605. The best French translation is that of Arnau d’Andilly.

130 —

L. de. Glor. Conf. c. 13.

131 —

The Roman provinces, in Africa, soon after sunk again into barbarism and infidelity, being overrun in 668 by the Saracens from Arabia and Syria, who in 669 took also Syracusa, and established a kingdom in Sicily and part of Italy. They planted themselves in Spain in 707. Muhavia, a general of the Sultan Omar, having routed