The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints - January, February, March
by Alban Butler
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confession to two Jesuits of the convent, in that town, and being fastened to crosses by cords and chains, about their arms and legs, and an iron collar about their necks, were raised into the air, the foot of each cross falling into a hole prepared for it in the ground. The crosses were planted in a row, about four feet asunder, and each martyr had an executioner near him with a spear ready to pierce his side, for such is the Japanese manner of crucifixion. As soon as all the crosses were planted, the executioners lifted up their lances, and at a signal given, all pierced the martyrs almost in the same instant; upon which they expired and went to receive the reward of their sufferings. Their blood and garments were procured by Christians, and miracles were wrought by them. Urban VIII. ranked them among the martyrs, and they are honored on the 5th of February, the day of their triumph. The rest of the missionaries were put on board a vessel, and carried out of the dominions, except twenty-eight priests, who stayed behind in disguise. Tagcosama dying, ordered his body should not be burned, as was the custom in Japan, but preserved enshrined in his palace of Fuximi, that he might be worshipped among the gods under the title of the new god of war. The most stately temple in the empire was built to him, and his body deposited in it. The Jesuits returned soon after, and though the missionaries were only a hundred in number, they converted, in 1599, forty thousand, and in 1600, above thirty thousand, and built fifty churches; for the people were highly scandalized to see him worshipped as a god, whom they had remembered a most covetous, proud, and vicious tyrant. But in 1602, Cubosama renewed the bloody persecution, and many Japanese converts were beheaded, crucified, or burned. In 1614, new cruelties were exercised to overcome their constancy, as by bruising their feet between certain pieces of wood, cutting off or squeezing their limbs one after another, applying red-hot irons or slow fires, flaying off the skin of the fingers, putting burning coals to their hands, tearing off the flesh with pincers, or thrusting reeds into all parts of their bodies, and turning them about to tear their flesh, till they should say they would forsake their faith: all which, innumerable persons, even children, bore with invincible constancy till death. In 1616, Xogun succeeding his father Cubosama in the empire, surpassed him in cruelty. The most illustrious of these religious heroes was F. Charles Spinola. He was of a noble Genoese family, and entered the Society at Nola, while his uncle cardinal Spinola was bishop of that city. Out of zeal and a desire of martyrdom, he begged to be sent on the Japanese mission. He arrived there in 1602; labored many years in that mission, gained many to Christ, by his mildness, and lived in great austerity, for his usual food was only a little rice and {361} herbs. He suffered four years a most cruel imprisonment, during which, in burning fevers, he was not able to obtain of his keepers a drop of cold water out of meals: yet he wrote from his dungeon: "Father, how sweet and delightful is it to suffer for Jesus Christ! I have learned this better by experience than I am able to express, especially since we are in these dungeons where we fast continually. The strength of my body fails me, but my joy increases as I see death draw nearer. O what a happiness for me, if next Easter I shall sing the heavenly Alleluia in the company of the blessed!" In a long letter to his cousin Maximilian Spinola, he said: "O, if you had tasted the delights with which God tills the souls of those who serve him, and suffer for him, how would you contemn all that the world can promise! I now begin to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, since for his love I am in prison, where I suffer much. But I assure you, that when I am fainting with hunger, God hath fortified me by his sweet consolations, so that I have looked upon myself as well recompensed for his service. And though I were yet to pass many years in prison, the time would appear short, through the extreme desire which I feel of suffering for him, who even here so well repays our labors. Besides other sickness, I have been afflicted with a continual fever a hundred days without any remedies or proper nourishment. All this time my heart was so full of joy, that it seemed to me too narrow to contain it. I have never felt any equal to it, and I thought myself at the gates of paradise." His joy was excessive at the news that he was condemned to be burnt alive, and he never ceased to thank God for so great a mercy, of which he owned himself unworthy. He was conducted from his last prison at Omura to Nangasaqui, where fifty martyrs suffered together on a hill within sight of that city-nine Jesuits, four Franciscans, and six Dominicans, the rest seculars: twenty-five were burned, the rest beheaded. The twenty-five stakes were fixed all in a row, and the martyrs tied to them. Fire was set to the end of the pile of wood twenty-five feet from the martyrs, and gradually approached them, two hours before it reached them. F. Spinola stood unmoved, with his eyes lifted up towards heaven, till the cords which tied him being burnt, he fell into the flames, and was consumed, on the 2d of September, in 1622, being fifty-eight years old. Many others, especially Jesuits, suffered variously, being either burnt at slow fires, crucified, beheaded, or thrown into a burning mountain, or hung with their heads downward in pits, which cruel torment usually put an end to their lives in three or four days. In 1639, the Portuguese and all other Europeans, except the Dutch, were forbid to enter Japan, even for trade; the very ambassadors which the Portuguese sent thither were beheaded. In 1642, five Jesuits landed secretly in Japan, but were soon discovered, and after cruel tortures were hung in pits till they expired. Thus hath Japan encouraged the church militant, and filled the triumphant with glorious martyrs: though only the first-mentioned have as yet been publicly declared such by the holy See, who are mentioned in the new edition of the Roman Martyrology published by Benedict XIV. in 1749.





THE devil set all his engines to work, that he might detain in his captivity those great nations, which, by the inscrutable judgments of God, lay yet buried in the night of infidelity, and by their vicious habits and prejudices had almost extinguished the law written in their breast by their Creator. The pure light of the gospel sufficed to dispel the dark clouds of idolatry by its own brightness; but the passions of men were not to be subdued but by the omnipotent hand of Him who promised that his holy faith and salvation should be propagated throughout all nations. All the machinations of hell were not able to defeat the divine mercy, not even by the scandal of those false Christians, whom jealousy, covetousness, and the spirit of the world blinded and seared to every feeling, not only of religion, but even of humanity. Religious missionaries, filled with the spirit of the apostles, and armed with the power of God, baffled obstacles which seemed insurmountable to flesh and blood; and by their zeal, charity, patience, humility, meekness, mortification, and invincible courage, triumphantly planted the standard of the cross in a world heretofore unknown to us, and but lately discovered, not by blind chance, but for these great purposes of divine providence.

It appears from the Chinese annals, in F. Du Halde's History of China, that this vast empire is the most ancient in the world. Mr. Shuckford (B. 1, 2, 6) thinks, that their first, king, Fo-hi, was Noah himself, whom he imagines to have settled here soon after the deluge. Mr. Swinton, in the twentieth tome of the Universal History, justly censures this conjecture, and rejects the first dynasty of the Chinese history; which Mr. Jackson in his chronology, with others, vindicates. We must own that the Chinese annals are unanimous in asserting this first dynasty, whatever some have, by mistake, wrote against it; and this antiquity agrees very well with the chronology of the Septuagint, or that of the Samaritan Pentateuch, one of which several learned men seem at present much inclined to embrace. As for this notion that the Chinese are originally an Egyptian colony, and that their first dynasty is borrowed from the latter; notwithstanding my great personal respect for the worthy author of that system, it stands in need of proofs founded in facts, not in conjectures. A little acquaintance with languages shows, that we frequently find in certain words and circumstances a surprising analogy, in some things, between several words or customs of the most disparate languages and manners of very distant countries: several Persian words are the same in English, and it would be as plausible a system to advance that one of these nations was a colony of the other. From such circumstances it only results, that all nations have one common original. Allowing therefore the Chinese an antiquity of which they are infinitely jealous, Fo-hi was perhaps either Sem himself, or one that lived very soon after the flood, from whom this empire derives its origin. Confucius was the great philosopher of this people, who drew up the plan of their laws and religion. He is thought to have flourished about the time of king Solomon, or not much later. He was of royal extraction, and a man of severe morals. His writings contain many sublime moral truths, and show him to have been the greatest philosopher that ever lived. As he came nearer to the patriarchs in time, and received a more perfect tradition from them, he surpassed, in the excellency of his moral precepts, Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. He taught men to obey, honor, and fear the Lord of Heaven, to love their neighbor as themselves, to subdue irregular inclinations, and to be guided in all things by reason; that God is the original and ultimate end of all things, which he produced and preserves, himself eternal, infinite, and immutable; one, supremely holy, supremely intelligent, and invisible. He often mentioned the expectation of a Messias to come, a perfect guide and teacher of virtue; calling him the holy man, and the holy person, who is expected to come on earth. It is a tradition in China, that he was often heard to say, "That in the West the Holy One will appear." This he delivered from the patriarchal tradition; but he not only mentions heavenly spirits, the ministers of God, but he also ordains the worship of these spirits by religious rites and sacrifices, and concurs with the idolatry which was established in his time. St. Francis Xavier had made the conversion of China the object of his zealous wishes; but died, like another Moses, in sight of it. His religious brethren long attempted in vain to gain admittance into that country; but the jealousy of the inhabitants refused entrance to all strangers. However, God was pleased, at the repeated prayers of his servants, to crown them with success. The Portuguese made a settlement at Macao. an island within sight of China, and obtained leave to go thither {363} twice a year for to trade at the fairs of Canton. F. Matthew Ricci, a Roman Jesuit, a good mathematician, and a disciple of Clavius, being settled a missionary at Macao, went over with them several times into China, and in 1593, obtained leave of the governor to reside there with two other Jesuits. A little catechism which he published, and a map of the world, in which he placed the first meridian in China, to make it the middle of the world, according to the Chinese notion, gained him many friends and admirers. In 1595, he established a second residence of Jesuits, at Nanquin; and made himself admired them by teaching the true figure of the earth, the cause of lunar eclipses, &c. He also built an observatory, and converted many to the faith. In 1600, he went to Pekin, and carried with him a clock, a watch, and many other presents to the emperor, who granted him a residence in that capital. He converted many, and among these several officers of the court, one of whom was Paul Siu, afterwards prime minister, under whose protection a flourishing Church was established in his country, Xankai, (in the province of Nanquin,) in which were forty thousand Christians when the late persecution began. Francis Martinez, a Chinese Jesuit, having converted a famous doctor, was beaten several times, and at length expired under the torment. Ricci died in 1617, having lived in favor with the emperor Vanlie.

F. Adam Schall, a Jesuit from Cologn, by his mathematics, became known to the emperor Zonchi: but in 1636, that prince laid violent hands upon himself, that he might not fall into the hands of two rebels who had taken Pekin. The Chinese called in Xuute, king of a frontier nation of the Tartars, to their assistance, who recovered Pekin, but demanded the empire for the prize of his victory: and his son Chunchi obtained quiet possession of it in 1650. From that time the Tartars have been emperors of China, but they govern it by its own religion and laws. They frequently visit their original territories, but rather treat them as the conquered country. Chunchi esteemed F. Schall, called him father, and wag favorable to the Christians. After his death the four regents pat to death five Christian mandarins for their faith, and condemned F. Schall, but granted him a reprieve; during which he died. The young emperor Camhi coming of age, put a stop to the persecution, and employed F. Verbiest, a Jesuit, to publish the yearly Chinese calendar, declared him president of the mathematics in his palace, and consequently a mandarin. The first year he opened the Christian churches, which was in 1671, above twenty thousand souls were baptized: and in the year following, an uncle of the emperor, one of the eight perpetual generals of the Tartar troops, and several other persons of distinction. The succeeding emperors were no less favorable to the Christians, and permitted them to build a most sumptuous church within the enclosures of their own palace, which in many respects surpassed all the other buildings of the empire. It was finished in 1702. The Dominican friars, according to Touron, (Hommes Illustr. t. 6,) entered China in 1556, converted many to the faith, and, in 1631, laid the foundation of the most numerous church of Fokieu, great part of which province they converted to the faith. Four priests of this order received the crown of martyrdom in 1647, and a fifth, named Francis de Capillas, from the convent of Valladolid, the apostle of the town of Fogau, was cruelly beaten, and soon after beheaded, on the 15th of January, 1648; "because," as his sentence imported, "he contemned the spirits and gods of the country." Relations hereof were transmitted to the Congregation de Propaganda Fide, under pope Urban VIII.

Upwards of a hundred thousand souls zealously professed the faith, and they had above two hundred churches. But a debate arose whether certain honors paid by the Chinese to Confucius and their deceased ancestors, with certain oblations made, either solemnly, by the mandarins and doctors at the equinoxes, and at the now and full moons, or privately, in their own houses or temples, were superstitious and idolatrous. Pope Clement XI., in 1704, condemned those rites as superstitious, utpote superstitione imbutos, the execution of which decree he committed to the patriarch of Antioch, afterwards cardinal Tournon, whom he sent as his commissary into that kingdom. Benedict XIV. confirmed the same more amply and severely by his constitution, ex quo singulari, in 1742, in which he declares, that the faithful ought to express God, in the Chinese language, by the name Thien Chu, i.e. the Lord of heaven: and that the words Tien, the heaven, and Xang Ti, the Supreme Ruler, are not to be used, because they signify the supreme god of the idolaters, a kind of fifth essence, or intelligent nature, in the heaven itself: that the inscription, King Tien, worship thou the heaven, cannot be allowed. The obedience of those who had formerly defended these rites to be merely political and civil honors, not sacred, was such, that from that time they have taken every occasion of testifying it to the world. By a like submission end victory over himself, Fenelon was truly greater than by all his other illustrious virtues and actions.

The emperor Kang-hi protected the Christian religion in the most favorable manner. Whereas his successor, Yongtching, banished the missionaries out of the chief cities, but kept those religious in his palace who were employed by him in painting, mathematics, and other liberal arts, and who continued mandarins of the court. Kien-long, the next emperor, carried the persecution to the greatest rigors of cruelty. The tragedy was begun by the viceroy of Fokieu, who stirred up the emperor himself. A great number of Christians of {364} all ages and sexes were banished, beaten, and tortured divers ways, especially by being buffeted on the face with a terrible kind of armed ferula, one blow of which would knock the teeth out, and make the head swell exceedingly. All which torments even the young converts bore with incredible constancy, rather than discover where the priest lay hid, or deliver up the crosses, relics, or sacred books, or do any thing contrary to the law of God. Many priests and others died of their torments, or of the hardships of their dungeons. One bishop and six priests received the crown of martyrdom. Peter Martyr Sanz, a Spanish Dominican friar, arrived in China in 1715, where he had labored fifteen years, when he was named by the congregation bishop of Mauricastre, and ordained by the bishop of Nanquin, assisted by the bishops of Pekin and Macao, and appointed Apostolic Vicar for the province of Fokieu. In 1732, the emperor, by an edict, banished all the missionaries. Peter Sauz retired to Macao, but returned to Fokieu, in 1738, and founded several new churches for his numerous converts, and received the vows of several virgins who consecrated themselves to God. The viceroy, provoked at this, caused him to be apprehended, amidst the tears of his dear flock, with four Dominican friars, his fellow-laborers. They were beaten with clubs, buffeted on the face with gauntlets made of several pieces of leather, and at length condemned to lose their heads. The bishop was beheaded on the same day, the 26th of May, 1747. The Chinese superstitiously imagine, that the soul of one that is put to death seizes the first person it meets, and therefore all the spectators run away as soon as they see the stroke of death given; but none of them did so at the death of this blessed martyr. On the contrary, admiring the joy with which he died, and esteeming his holy soul happy, they thought it a blessing to come the nearest to him, and to touch his blood; which they did as respectfully as Christians could have done, for whom a pagan gathered the blood, because they durst not appear. The other four Dominican friars, who were also Spaniards, suffered much during twenty-eight months' cruel imprisonment, and were strangled privately in their dungeons on the 28th of October, 1748. Pope Benedict XIV. made a discourse to the cardinals on the precious death of this holy bishop, September 16, 1748. See Touron, t. 6, p. 729.

These four fellow-martyrs of the Order of St. Dominic, were, Francis Serranus, fifty-two years old, who had labored nineteen years in the Chinese mission, and during his last imprisonment was nominated by pope Benedict XIV., bishop of Tipasa: Joachim Roio, fifty-six years old, who had preached in that empire thirty-three years: John Alcober, forty-two years old, who had spent eighteen years in that mission: and Francis Diaz, thirty-three years old, of which he had employed nine in the same vineyard. During their imprisonment, a report that their lives would be spared, filled them not with joy, but with grief, to the great admiration of the infidels, as pope Benedict XIV. mentions in his discourse to the consistory of cardinals, on their death, delivered in 1752: in which he qualifies them crowned, but not declared martyrs: martyres consummatos, nondum martyres vindicatos. In the same persecution, two Jesuits, F. Joseph of Attemis, an Italian, and F. Antony Joseph Heuriquez, a Portuguese, were apprehended in December, 1747, and tortured several times, to compel them to renounce their religion. They were at length condemned to death by the mandarins, and the sentence, according to custom, being sent to the emperor, was confirmed by him, and the two priests were strangled in prison on the 12th of September, 1748. On these martyrs see F. Touron, Hommes Illustres de l'Ordre de S. Domin., t. 6, and the letters of the Jesuit missionaries. On the history of China, F. Du Halde's Description of China, in four vols. fol. Mullerus de Chataia, Navarrete, Tratados Historicos de la China, an. 1676. Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses des Missionaires, vols. 27, 28. Jackson's Chronology, &c.

In Tonquin, a kingdom southwest of China, in which the king and mandarins follow the Chinese religion, though various sects of idolatry and superstition reign among the people, a persecution was raised against the Christians in 1713. In this storm one hundred and fifty churches were demolished, many converts were beaten with a hammer on their knees, and tortured various other ways; and two Spanish missionary priests of the order of St. Dominick suffered martyrdom for the faith, F. Francis Gil de Federich, and F. Matthew Alfonso Leziniana. F. Gil arrived there in 1735, and found above twenty thousand Christians in the west of the kingdom, who had been baptized by priests of his order. This vineyard he began assiduously to cultivate; but was apprehended by a neighboring Bonza, in 1737, and condemned to die the year following. The Touquinese usually execute condemned persons only in the last moon of the year, and a rejoicing or other accidents often cause much longer delays. The confessor was often allowed the liberty of saying mass in the prison: and was pressed to save his life, by saying that he came into Tonquin as a merchant; but this would have been a lie, and he would not suffer any other to give in such an answer for him. Father Matthew, a priest of the same order, after having preached ten years in Tonquin, was seized while he was saying mass; and because he refused to trample on a crucifix, was condemned to die in 1743; and in May, 1744, was brought into the same prison with F. Gil. The idolaters were so astonished to see their ardor to die, and the sorrow of the latter upon an offer of his life, that they cried out: "Others desire to live, but {365} these men to die." They were both beheaded together on the 22d of January, 1744. See Touron, t. 6, and Lettres Edif. of Curieuses des Missionaires.

Many other vast countries, both in the eastern and western parts of the world, received the light of the gospel in the sixteenth century; in which great work several apostolic men were raised by God, and some were honored with the crown of martyrdom. Among the zealous missionaries who converted to the faith the savage inhabitants of Brazil, in America, of which the Portuguese took possession in 1500, under king John II., F. Joseph Anchieta is highly celebrated. He was a native of the Canary islands, but took the Jesuit's habit at Coimbra; died in Brazil, on the 9th of June, 1597, of his age sixty-four; having labored in cultivating that vineyard forty-seven years. He was a man of apostolic humility, patience, meekness, prayer, zeal, and charity. The fruit of his labors was not less wonderful than the example of his virtues. See his life by F. Peter Roterigius, and by F. Sebastian Beretarius. The sanctity of the venerable F. Peter Claver, who labored in the same vineyard, was so heroic, that a process has been commenced for his canonization.

F. Peter Claver was nobly born in Catalonia, and entered himself in the Society at Tarragon, in 1602, when about twenty years old. From his infancy he looked upon nothing small in which the service of God was concerned; for the least action or circumstance which is referred to his honor is great and precious, and requires our utmost application: in this spirit of fervor he considered God in every neighbor and superior; and upon motives of religion was humble and meek towards all, and ever ready to obey and serve every one. From the time of his religious profession, he applied himself with the greatest ardor to seek nothing in the world, but what Jesus Christ sought in his mortal life, that is, the kingdom of his grace: for the only aim of this servant of God was, the sanctification of his own soul, and the salvation of others. He was thoroughly instructed that a man's spiritual progress depends very much upon the fervor of his beginning; and he omitted nothing both to lay a solid foundation, and continually to raise upon it the structure of all virtues; and he sought and found God in all things. The progress which he made was very great, because he set out by the most perfect exterior and interior renunciation of the world and himself. Being sent to Majorca, to study philosophy and divinity, he contracted a particular friendship with a lay-brother, Alphonsus Rodriguez, then porter of the college, an eminent contemplative, and perfect servant of God: nor is it to be expressed how much the fervent disciple improved himself in the school of this humble master, in the maxims of Christian perfection. His first lessons were, to speak little with men, and much with God: to direct every action in the beginning with great fervor, to the most perfect glory of God, in union with the holy actions of Christ: to have God always present in his heart; and to pray continually for the grace never to offend God: never to speak of any thing that belongs to clothing, lodging, and such conveniences, especially eating or drinking: to meditate often on the sufferings of Christ, and on the virtues of his calling. F. Claver, in 1610, was, at his earnest request, sent with other missionaries to preach the faith to the infidels at Carthagena, and the neighboring country in America. At the first sight of the poor negro slaves, he was moved with the strongest sentiments of compassion, tenderness, and zeal, which never forsook him; and it was his constant study to afford them all the temporal comfort and assistance in his power. In the first place he was indefatigable in instructing and baptizing them, and in giving them every spiritual succor: the title in which he gloried was that of the Slave of the Slaves, or of the Negroes; and incredible were the fatigues which he underwent night and day with them, and the many heroic acts of all virtues which he exercised in serving them. The Mahometans, the Pagans, and the very Catholics, whose scandalous lives were a reproach to their holy religion; the hospitals and the prisons, were other theatres where he exercised his zeal. The history of his life furnishes us with most edifying instances, and gives all account of two persons raised to life by him, and of other miracles; though his assiduous prayer, and his extraordinary humility, mortification of his senses, and perfect self-denial, might be called the greatest of his miracles. In the same rank we may place the wonderful conversions of many obstinate sinners, and the heroic sanctity of many great servants of God, who were by him formed to perfect virtue. Among his maxims of humility, he used especially to inculcate, that he who is sincerely humble desires to be contemned; he seeks not to appear humble, but worthy to be humbled, is subject to all in his heart, and ready to obey the whole world. By the holy hatred of ourselves, we must secretly rejoice in our hearts when we meet with contempt end affronts; but must take care, said this holy man, that no one think we rejoice at them, but rather believe that we are confounded and grieved at the ill-treatment which we receive. F. Claver died on the 8th of September, 1651, being about seventy-two years old; having spent in the Society fifty-five years, in the same uniform crucified life, and in the constant round of the same uninterrupted labors, which perhaps requires a courage more heroic than martyrdom. In the process for his canonization, the scrutiny relating to his life and virtues is happily finished; and Benedict XIV. confirmed the decree of the Congregation of Rites, in 1747, by which it is declared, that the proofs of the heroic degree of the Christian virtues which he practised, are competent and sufficient. See his life by F. Fleuriau.


MANY Martyrs in Pontus, under Dioclesian. Some were tortured with melted lead poured upon them, others with sharp reeds thrust under their nails, and such like inventions, several times repeated: at length they various ways completed their martyrdom. See Eusebius, Hist. l. 8, c. 12, p. 306.


ST. ALCIMUS ECDITIUS AVITUS was of a senatorian Roman family, but born in Auvergne. His father, Isychius, was chosen archbishop of Vienne upon the death of St. Mammertus, and was succeeded in that dignity by our saint, in 490. Ennodius, in his life of St. Epiphanius of Pavia, says of him, that he was a treasure of learning and piety; and adds, that when the Burgundians had crossed the Alps, and carried home many captives out of Liguria, this holy prelate ransomed a great number. Clovis, king of France, while yet a pagan, and Gondebald, king of Burgundy, though an Arian, held him in great veneration. This latter, for fear of giving offence to his subjects, durst not embrace the Catholic faith, yet gave sufficient proofs that he was convinced of the truth by our saint, who, in a public conference, reduced the Arian bishops to silence in his presence, at Lyons. Gondebald died in 516. His son and successor, Sigismund, was brought over by St. Avitus to the Catholic faith. In 517, our saint presided in the famous council of Epaone, (now called Yenne,) upon the Rhone, in which forty canons of discipline were framed. When king Sigismund had imbrued his hands in the blood of his son Sigeric, upon a false charge brought against him by a stepmother, St. Avitus inspired him with so great a horror of his crime, that he rebuilt the abbey of Agaunum, or St. Maurice, became a monk, and died a saint. Most of the works of St. Avitus are lost: we have yet his poem on the praises of virginity, to his sister Fuscina, a nun, and some others; several epistles; two homilies On the Rogation days; and a third on the same, lately published by Dom Martenne;[1] fragments of eight other homilies; his conference against the Arians is given us in the Spicilege.[2] St. Avitus died in 525, and is commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on the 5th of February; and in the collegiate church of our Lady at Vienne, where he was buried, on the 20th of August. Ennodius, and other writers of that age, extol his learning, his extensive charity to the poor, and his other virtues. See St. Gregory of Tours, Hist. l. 2. His works, and his life in Henschenius;[3] and Gallia Christ. Nova, t. 2, p. 242.

Footnotes: 1. Martenne Thesaur. Anecdot. t. 5, p. 49. 2. Spicil. t. 5. 3. F. Sirmond published the works of St. Avitus, with judicious short notes, in 8vo., 1643. See them in Sirmond's works, t. 2, and Bibl. Patr. His close manner of confuting the Arians in some of his letters, makes us regret the loss of many other works, which he wrote against them.


SHE was daughter of Megendose, count of Guelders, and governed the nunnery of Bellich on the Rhine, near Bonn, (now a church of canonesses,) but died in 1015, abbess of our Lady's in Cologne, both monasteries having been founded by her father. Her festival, with an octave, is kept at Bellich, or Vilich, where the nunnery which she instituted, of the order of St. Bennet, is now converted into a church of canonesses. See her life in Surius and Bollandus; also Miraeus, in Fastis Belgicis, &c.



THIS city, after the fall of Ninive, was long the capital of Adiabene, in Assyria, and was one bishopric with Hazza, anciently called Adiab. Arbeta, now called Irbil, was famous for the victory of Alexander; but received far greater lustre from the martyrdom of St. Abraamius, its bishop, who sealed his faith with his blood, after having suffered horrible torments, which were inflicted by order of an arch magian, in the fifth year of king Sapor's persecution, that is, of Christ 348. See Sozomen, l. 2, c. 12 and the Greek Menaea and Synaxary.



See S. Aldhelm, Ado, Usuard, &c., in Bollandus, p. 771.

ST. ALDHELM relates from her acts,[1] that Fabritius, the governor of Caesarea, in Cappadocia, inflicted on her most cruel torments, because she refused to marry, or to adore idols: that she converted two apostate women sent to seduce her: and that being condemned to be beheaded, she converted one Theophilus, by sending him certain fruits and flowers miraculously obtained of her heavenly spouse. She seems to have suffered under Dioclesian. Her body is kept in the celebrated church which bears her name, beyond the Tiber, in Rome. She is mentioned on this day in the ancient Martyrology under the name of St. Jerom. There was another holy virgin, whom Rufin calls Dorothy, a rich and noble lady of the city of Alexandria, who suffered torments and a voluntary banishment, to preserve her faith and chastity against the brutish lust and tyranny of the emperor Maximinus, in the year 308, as is recorded by Eusebius[2] and Rufinus:[3] but many take this latter, whose name is not mentioned by Eusebius, to be the famous St. Catharine of Alexandria.

* * * * *

The blood of the martyrs flourished in its hundred-fold increase, as St. Justin has well observed: "We are slain with the sword, but we increase and multiply: the more we are persecuted and destroyed, the more are added to our numbers. As a vine, by being pruned and cut close, shoots forth new suckers, and bears a greater abundance of fruit; so is it with us."[4] Among other false reflections, the baron of Montesquieu, an author too much admired by many, writes:[5] "It is hardly possible that Christianity should ever be established in China. Vows of virginity, the assembling of women in the churches, their necessary intercourse with the ministers of religion, their participation of the sacraments, auricular confession, the marrying but one wife; all this oversets the manners and customs, and strikes at the religion and laws of the country." Could he forget that the gospel overcame {368} all these impediments where it was first established, in spite of the most inveterate prejudices, and of all worldly opposition from the great and the learned; whereas philosophy, though patronized by princes, could never in any age introduce its rules even into one city. In vain did the philosopher Plotinus solicit the emperor Gallienus to rebuild a ruined city in Campania, that he and his disciples might establish in it the republic of Plato: a system, in some points, flattering the passions of men, almost as Mahometism fell in with the prejudices and passions of the nations where it prevailed. So visibly is the church the work of God.

Footnotes: 1. L. de Laud. Virgin. c. 25. 2. L. 8, c. 14. 3. L. 1, c. 17. 4. Apol. 2, ol. 1. 5. L'Esprit des Loix, b. xix. 18.


From a very short life of his, written soon after his death, and another longer, corrected by Alcuin, both published by Henschenius, with remarks, p. 782, t. 1. Febr. See Alcuin's Letter ad Monachos Vedastinos, in Martenne, Ampl. Collectio, t. l, p. 50. Gallia Christ. Nova, t. 3, p. 3.

A.D. 539.

ST. VEDAST left his own country very young, (which seems to have been in the west of France,) and led a holy life concealed from the world in the diocese of Toul, where the bishop, charmed with his virtue, promoted him to the priesthood. Clovis I., king of France, returning from his victory over the Alemanni, hastening to Rheims to receive baptism, desired at Toul some priest who might instruct and prepare him for that holy sacrament on the road. Vedast was presented to his majesty for this purpose. While he accompanied the king at the passage of the river Aisne, a blind man begging on the bridge besought the servant of God to restore him to his sight: the saint, divinely inspired, prayed, and made the sign of the cross on his eyes, and he immediately recovered it. The miracle confirmed the king in the faith, and moved several of his courtiers to embrace it. St. Vedast assisted St. Remigius in converting the French, till that prelate consecrated him bishop of Arras, that he might re-establish the faith in that country. As he was entering that city in 499, he restored sight to a blind man, and cured one that was lame. These miracles excited the attention, and disposed the hearts of many infidels to a favorable reception of the gospel, which had been received here when the Romans were masters of the country: but the ravages of the Vandals and the Alans having either dispersed or destroyed the Christians, Vedast could not discover the least footsteps of Christianity, save only in the memory of some old people, who showed him without the walls a poor ruinous church, where Christians used to hold their religious assemblies. He sighed to see the Lord's field so overgrown with bushes and brambles, and become the haunt of wild beasts; whereupon he made it his most earnest supplication to God, that he would in his mercy vouchsafe to restore his worship in that country. A national faith is so great a blessing, that we seldom find it granted a second time to those, who, by imitating the ingratitude of the Jews, have drawn upon themselves the like terrible chastisement. St. Vedast found the infidels stupid and obstinate; yet persevered, till by his patience, meekness, charity, and prayers, he triumphed over bigoted superstition and lust, and planted throughout that country the faith and holy maxims of Christ. The great diocese of Cambray, which was extended beyond Brussels, was also committed to the care of this holy pastor, by St. Remigius, in 510, and the two sees remained a long time united. St. Vedast continued his labors almost forty years, and left his church flourishing in sanctity at his decease, on the 6th of February, in 539. He was buried in the cathedral, which is dedicated to God, under the patronage {369} of the Blessed Virgin; but a hundred and twenty-eight years after, St. Aubertus, the seventh bishop, changed a little chapel which St. Vedast had built in honor of St. Peter, without the walls, into an abbey, and removed the relics of St. Vedast into this new church, leaving a small portion of them in the cathedral. The great abbey of St. Vedast was finished by St. Vindicianus, successor to St. Aubertus, and most munificently endowed by king Theodoric or Thierry, who lies buried in the church with his wife Doda. Our ancestors had a particular devotion to St. Vedast, whom they called St. Foster, whence descends the family name of Foster, as Camden takes notice in his Remains. Alcuin has left us a standing monument of his extraordinary devotion to St. Vedast, not only by writing his life, but also by compiling an office and mass in his honor, for the use of his monastery at Arras, and by a letter to the monks of that house, in 769, in which he calls this saint his protector. See this letter in Martenne, Ampliss. Collect. t. 1, p. 50.


HE was born near Nantes, of pious parents, lords of that territory. At twenty years of age, he retired into a small monastery in the little isle of Oye, near that of Rhe. He had not been there above a year, when his father found him out, and made use of every persuasive argument in his power to prevail with him to quit that state of life. To his threats of disinheriting him, the saint cheerfully answered: " Christ is my only inheritance." The saint went to Tours, and a year after to Bourges, where he lived near fifteen years under the direction of St. Austregisilus, the bishop, in a cell near the cathedral. His clothing was a single sackcloth, and his sustenance barley-bread and water. After a pilgrimage to Rome, he was ordained in France a missionary bishop, without any fixed see, in 628, and commissioned to preach the faith to infidels. He preached the gospel in Flanders, and among the Sclavi in Carinthia and other provinces near the Danube:[1] but being banished by king Dagobert, whom he had boldly reproved for his scandalous crimes, he preached to the pagans of Gascony and Navarre. Dagobert soon recalled him, threw himself at his feet to beg his pardon, and caused him to baptize his new-born sort, St. Sigebert, afterwards king. The idolatrous people about Ghent were so savage, that no preacher durst venture himself among them. This moved the saint to choose that mission; during the course of which he was often beaten, and sometimes thrown into the river: he continued preaching, though for a long time he saw no fruit, and supported himself by his labor. The miracle of his raising a dead man to life, at last opened the eyes of the barbarians, and the country came in crowds to receive baptism, destroying the temples of their idols with their own hands. In 633 the saint having built them several churches, founded two great monasteries in Ghent, both under the patronage of St. Peter; one was named Blandinberg, from the hill Blandin on which it stands, now the rich abbey of St. Peter's; the other took the name of St. Bavo, from him who gave his estate for its foundation; this became the cathedral in 1559, when the city was created a bishop's see. Besides many pious foundations, both in France and Flanders, in 639, he built the great abbey three leagues from Tourney, called Elnon, from the river on which it stands; but it has long since taken the name of St. Amand, with its town and warm mineral baths. In 649 he was chosen bishop of Maestricht; but three years after he resigned that see to St. Remaclus, and returned to his missions, to which his compassion for the blindness of infidels always inclined {370} his heart. He continued his labors among them till the age of eighty-six, when, broken with infirmities, he retired to Orion, which house he governed as abbot four years more, spending that time in preparing his soul for his passage to eternity, which happened in 675. His body is honorably kept in that abbey. The Sarum Breviary honored St. Amandus and St. Vedast with an office of nine lessons. See Buzelin, Gallo-Flandria, and Henschenius, 6 Feb. p. 815, who has published five different lives of this saint.

Footnotes: 1. See Henschenius. p. 828.


HAVING renounced the world, he passed some years in the monastery of St. Seridon, near Gaza in Palestine, in the happy company of that holy abbot, John the prophet, the blessed Dorotheus, and St. Dositheus. That he might live in the constant exercise of heavenly contemplation, the sweetness of which he had begun to relish, he left the monastery about the year 540, and in a remote cell led a life rather angelical than human. He wrote a treatise against the Origenist monks, which Montfaucon has published in his Bibl. Coislin. The Greeks held this saint in so great veneration, that his picture was placed in the sanctuary of the church of Sancta Sophia in Constantinople, with those of St. Antony and St. Ephrem, as we are informed by the Studite monk who wrote the preface to the Instructions of St. Dorotheus, translated into French by abbot Rance of la Trappe. The relics of St. Barsanuphius were brought in the ninth century to Oria, near Siponto in Italy, where he is honored as principal patron, on the 7th of February. The Greek Synaxaries have his office on the 6th of this month. Baronius placed his name in the Roman Martyrology on the 11th of April. See on him Evagrius, (who finished his history in 593,) l. 4, c. 33. Pagi ad an. 548, n. 10. Bulteau, Hist. Mon. d'Orient. l. 4, c. 9, p. 695.




From his life, written by St. Peter Damian, fifteen years after his death. See also Magnotii, Eremi Camaldol. descriptio, Romae, an. 1570. Historarium Camaldulensium, libri 3. anth. Aug. Florentino, in 4to. Florentiae, 1575. Earumdem pans posterior, in 4to. Venetiis, 1579. Dissertationes Camaldulenses, in quibus agitui de institutione Ordinis, aetate St. Romualdi, &c. auth. Guidone Grando, ej. Ord. Lucae, 1707. The Lives of the Saints of this Order, in Italian, by Razzi, 1600, and in Latin, by F. Thomas de Minis, in two vols. in 4to. an. 1605, 1606. Annales Camaldulenses Ordinis St. Benedicti, auctoribus Jo. Ben. Mittarelli, abbate, et Ans. Costadoni, presbyteris et monachis e Cong. Camald. Venetiis, in four vols fol., of which the fourth is dedicated to pope Clement XIII., in 1760.

A.D. 1027.

ST. ROMUALD, of the family of the dukes of Ravenna, called Honesti, was born in that capital about the year 956. Being brought up in the maxims of the world, in softness and the love of pleasure, he grew every day more and more enslaved to his passions: yet he often made a resolution of undertaking something remarkable for the honor of God; and when he went a hunting, if he found an agreeable solitary place in the woods, he would stop in it to pray, and would cry out: "How happy were the ancient hermits, who had {371} such habitations! With what tranquillity could they serve God, free from the tumult of the world!" His father, whose name was Sergius, a worldly man, agreed to decide a dispute he had with a relation about an estate by a duel. Romuald was shocked at the criminal design; but by threats of being disinherited if he refused, was engaged by his father to be present as a spectator: Sergius slew his adversary. Romuald, then twenty years of age, struck with horror at the crime that had been perpetrated, though he had concurred to it no further than by his presence, thought himself, however, obliged to expiate it by a severe course of penance for forty days in the neighboring Benedictine monastery of Classis, within four miles of Ravenna. He performed great austerities, and prayed and wept almost without intermission. His compunction and fervor made all these exercises seem easy and sweet to him: and the young nobleman became every day more and more penetrated with the fear and love of God. The good example which he saw, and the discourses of a pious lay-brother, who waited on him, concerning eternity and the contempt of the world, wrought so powerfully upon him, that he petitioned in full chapter to be admitted as a penitent to the religious habit. After some demurs, through their apprehensions of his father's resentment, whose next heir the saint was, his request was granted. He passed seven years in this house in so great fervor and austerity, that his example became odious to certain tepid monks, who could not bear such a continual reproach of their sloth. They were more exasperated when his fervor prompted him to reprove their conduct, insomuch, that some of the most abandoned formed a design upon his life, the execution of which he prevented by leaving that monastery, with the abbot's consent, and retiring into the neighborhood of Venice, where he put himself under the direction of Marinus, a holy hermit, who there led an austere ascetic life. Under this master, Romuald made great progress in every virtue belonging to a religious state of life.

Peter Urseoli was then doge of Venice. He had been unjustly raised to that dignity two years before by a faction which had assassinated his predecessor Peter Candiano; in which conspiracy he is said by some to have been an accomplice: though this is denied by the best Venetian historians.[1] This murder, however, paved the way for his advancement to the sovereignty, which the stings of his conscience would not suffer him quietly to enjoy. This put him upon consulting St. Guarinus, a holy abbot of Catalonia, then at Venice, about what he was to do to be saved. The advice of St. Marinus and St. Romuald was also desired. These three unanimously agreed in proposing a monastic state, as affording the best opportunities for expiating his crimes. Urseoli acquiesced, and, under pretence of joining with his family at their villa, where he had ordered a great entertainment, set out privately with St. Guarinus, St. Romuald, and John Gradenigo, a Venetian nobleman of singular piety, and his son-in-law John Moresini, for St. Guarinus's monastery of St. Michael of Cusan, in that part of Catalonia which was then subject to France. Here Urseoli and Gradenigo made their monastic profession: Marinus and Romuald, leaving them under the conduct of Guarinus, retired into a desert near Cusan, and there led an eremitical life. Many flocked to them, and Romuald being made superior, first practised himself what he taught others, joining rigorous fasts, solitude, and continual prayer, with hard manual labor. He had an extraordinary ardor {372} for prayer, which he exceedingly recommended to his disciples, in whom he could not bear to see the least sloth or tepidity with regard to the discharge of this duty; saying, they had better recite one psalm with fervor; than a hundred with less devotion. His own fasts and mortifications were extremely rigorous, but he was more indulgent to others, and in particular to Urseoli, who had exchanged his monastery for St. Romuald's desert, where he lived under his conduct; who, persevering in his penitential state, made a most holy end, and is honored in Venice as a saint, with an office, on the 14th of January: and in the Roman Martyrology, published by Benedict XIV., on the 10th of that month.

Romuald, in the beginning of his conversion and retreat from the world, was molested with various temptations. The devil sometimes directly solicited him to vice; at other times he represented to him what he had forsaken, and that he had left it to ungrateful relations. He would sometimes suggest that what he did could not be agreeable to God; at other times, that his labors and difficulties were too heavy for man to bear. These and the like attempts of the devil he defeated by watching and prayer, in which he passed the whole night; and the devil strove in vain to divert him from this holy exercise by shaking his whole cell, and threatening to bury him in the ruins. Five years of grievous interior conflicts and buffetings of the enemy, wrought in him a great purity of heart, and prepared him for most extraordinary heavenly communications. The conversion of count Oliver, or Oliban, lord of that territory, added to his spiritual joy. That count, from a voluptuous worldling, and profligate liver, became a sincere penitent, and embraced the order of St. Benedict. He carried great treasures with him to mount Cassino, but left his estate to his son. The example of Romuald had also such an influence on Sergius, his father, that, to make atonement for his past sins and enormities, he had entered the monastery of St. Severus, near Ravenna; but after some time spent there, he yielded so far to the devil's temptations, as to meditate a return into the world. This was a sore affliction to our saint, and determined him to return to Italy, to dissuade his father from leaving his monastery. But the inhabitants of the country where he lived, had such an opinion of his sanctity, that they were resolved not to let him go. They therefore formed a brutish extravagant design to kill him, that they might keep at least his body among them, imagining it would be their protection and safeguard on perilous occasions. The saint being informed of their design, had recourse to David's stratagem, and feigned himself mad upon which the people, losing their high opinion of him, guarded him no longer. Being thus at liberty to execute his design, he set out on his journey to Ravenna, through the south of France. He arrived there in 994, and made use of all the authority his superiority in religion gave him over his father; and by his exhortations, tears, and prayers, brought him to such an extraordinary degree of compunction and sorrow, as to prevail with him to lay aside all thoughts of leaving his monastery, where he spent the remainder of his days in great fervor, and died with the reputation of sanctity.

Romuald, having acquitted himself of his duty towards his father, retired into the marsh of Classis, and lived in a cell, remote from all mankind. The devil pursued him here with his former malice; he sometimes overwhelmed his imagination with melancholy, and once scourged him cruelly in his cell. Romuald at length cried out: "Sweetest Jesus, dearest Jesus, why hast thou forsaken me? hast thou entirely delivered me over to my enemies?" At that sweet name the wicked spirits betook themselves to flight, and such an excess of divine sweetness and compunction filled the breast of Romuald, that he melted into tears, and his heart seemed quite dissolved. {373} He sometimes insulted his spiritual enemies, and cried out: "Are all your forces spent? have you no more engines against a poor despicable servant of God?" Not long after, the monks of Classis chose Romuald for their abbot. The emperor, Otho III. who was then at Ravenna, made use of his authority to engage the saint to accept the charge, and went in person to visit him in his cell, where he passed the night lying on the saint's poor bed. But nothing could make Romuald consent, till a synod of bishops then assembled at Ravenna, compelled him to it by threats of excommunication. The saint's inflexible zeal for the punctual observance of monastic discipline, soon made these monks repent of their choice, which they manifested by their irregular and mutinous behavior. The saint being of a mild disposition, bore with it for some time, in hopes of bringing them to a right sense of their duty. At length, finding all his endeavors to reform them ineffectual, he came to a resolution of leaving them, and went to the emperor, then besieging Tivoli, to acquaint him of it; whom, when he could not prevail upon to accept of his resignation, the saint, in the presence of the archbishop of Ravenna, threw down his crosier at his feet. This interview proved very happy for Tivoli; for the emperor, though he had condemned that city to plunder, the inhabitants having rebelled and killed duke Matholin, their governor, spared it at the intercession of St. Romuald. Otho having also, contrary to his solemn promise upon oath, put one Crescentius, a Roman senator, to death, who had been the leader in the rebellion of Tivoli, and made his widow his concubine; he not only performed a severe public penance enjoined him by the saint, as his confessor, but promised, by St. Romuald's advice, to abdicate his crown and retire into a convent during life; but this he did not live to perform. The saint's remonstrances had a like salutary effect on Thamn, the emperor's favorite, prime minister and accomplice in the treachery before mentioned, who, with several other courtiers, received the religious habit at the hands of St. Romuald, and spent the remainder of his days in retirement and penance. It was a very edifying sight to behold several young princes and noblemen, who a little before had been remarkable for their splendid appearance and sumptuous living, now leading an obscure, solitary, penitential life in humility, penance, fasting, cold, and labor. They prayed, sung psalms, and worked. They all had their several employments: some spun, others knit, others tilled the ground, gaining their poor livelihood by the sweat of their brow. St. Boniface surpassed all the rest in fervor and mortification. He was the emperor's near relation, and so dear to him, that he never called him by any other name than, My soul! he excelled in music, and in all the liberal arts and sciences, and after having spent many years under the discipline of St. Romuald, was ordained bishop, and commissioned by the pope to preach to the infidels of Russia, whose king he converted by his miracles, but was beheaded by the king's brothers, who were themselves afterwards converted on seeing the miracles wrought on occasion of the martyr's death. Several other monks of St. Romuald's monastery met with the same cruel treatment in Sclavonia, whither they were sent by the pope to preach the gospel.

St. Romuald built many other monasteries, and continued three years at one he founded near Parenzo, one year in the community to settle it, and two in a neighboring cell. Here he labored some time under a spiritual dryness, not being able to shed one tear; but he ceased not to continue his devotions with greater fervor. At last being in his cell, at those words of the psalmist; I will give thee understanding, and will instruct thee, he was suddenly visited by God with an extraordinary light and spirit of compunction, which from that time never left him. By a supernatural light, the fruit of prayer, he understood the holy scriptures, and wrote an exposition of the {374} psalms full of admirable unction. He often foretold things to come, and gave directions full of heavenly wisdom to all who came to consult him, especially to his religious, who frequently came to ask his advice how to advance in virtue, and how to resist temptations; he always sent them back to their cells full of an extraordinary cheerfulness. Through his continual weeping he thought others had a like gift, and often said to his monks: "Do not weep too much; for it prejudices the sight and the head." It was his desire, whenever he could conveniently avoid it, not to say mass before a number of people, because he could not refrain from tears in offering that august sacrifice. The contemplation of the Divinity often transported him out of himself; melting in tears, and burning with love, he would cry out: "Dear Jesus! my dear Jesus! my unspeakable desire! my joy! joy of the angels! sweetness of the saints!" and the like, which he was heard to speak with a jubilation which cannot be expressed. To propagate the honor of God, he resolved, by the advice of the bishop of Pola and others, to exchange his remote desert, for one where he could better advance his holy institute. The bishop of Paienzo forbade any boat to carry him off, desiring earnestly to detain him; but the bishop of Pola sent one to fetch him. He miraculously calmed a storm at sea, and landed safe at Capreola. Coming to Bifurcum, he found the monks' cells too magnificent, and would lodge in none but that of one Peter, a man of extraordinary austerity, who never would live in a cell larger than four cubits. This Peter admired the saint's spirit of compunction, and said, that when he recited the psalms alternately with him, the holy man used to go out thirty times in a night as if for some necessity, but he saw it was to abandon himself a few moments to spiritual consolation, with which he overflowed at prayer, or to sighs and tears which he was not able to contain. Romuald sent to the counts of the province of Marino, to beg a little ground whereon to build a monastery. They hearing Romuald's name, offered him with joy whatever mountains, woods, or fields he would choose among them. He found the valley of Castro most proper. Exceeding great was the fruit of the blessed man's endeavors, and many put themselves with great fervor under his direction. Sinners, who did not forsake the world entirely, were by him in great multitudes moved to penance, and to distribute great part of their possessions liberally among the poor. The holy man seemed in the midst of them as a seraph incarnate, burning with heavenly ardors of divine love, and inflaming those who heard him speak. If he travelled, he rode or walked at a distance behind his brethren, reciting psalms, and watering his cheeks almost without ceasing with tears that flowed in great abundance.

The saint had always burned with an ardent desire of martyrdom, which was much increased by the glorious crowns of some of his disciples, especially of St. Boniface. At last, not able to contain the ardor of his charity and desire to give his life for his Redeemer, he obtained the pope's license, and set out to preach the gospel in Hungary, in which mission some of his disciples accompanied him. He had procured two of them to be consecrated archbishops by the pope, declining himself the episcopal dignity; but a violent illness which seized him on his entering Hungary, and returned as often as he attempted to proceed on his intended design, was a plain indication of the will of God in this matter; so he returned home with seven of his associates. The rest, with the two archbishops, went forward, and preached the faith under the holy king, St. Stephen, suffering much for Christ, but none obtained the crown of martyrdom. Romuald in his return built some monasteries in Germany, and labored to reform others; but this drew on him many persecutions. Yet all, even the great ones of the world, trembled in his presence. He refused to accept either water or wood, without {375} paying for it, from Raynerius; marquis of Tuscia, because that prince had married the wife of a relation whom he had killed. Raynerius, though a sovereign, used to say, that neither the emperor nor any mortal on earth could strike him with so much awe as Romuald's presence did. So powerful was the impression which the Holy Ghost, dwelling in his breast, made on the most haughty sinners. Hearing that a certain Venetian had by simony obtained the abbey of Classis, he hastened thither. The unworthy abbot strove to kill him, to preserve his unjust dignity. He often met with the like plots and assaults from several of his own disciples, which procured him the repeated merit, though not the crown, of martyrdom. The pope having called him to Rome, he wrought there several miracles, built some monasteries in its neighborhood, and converted innumerable souls to God. Returning from Rome, he made a long stay at Mount Sitria. A young nobleman addicted to impurity, being exasperated at this saint's severe remonstrances, had the impudence to accuse him of a scandalous crime. The monks, by a surprising levity, believed the calumny, enjoined him a most severe penance, forbid him to say mass, and excommunicated him. He bore all with patience and in silence, as if really he had been guilty, and refrained from going to the altar for six months. In the seventh month he was admonished by God to obey no longer so unjust and irregular a sentence pronounced without any authority and without grounds. He accordingly said mass again, and with such raptures of devotion, as obliged him to continue long absorbed in ecstasy. He passed seven years in Sitria, in his cell, in strict silence, but his example did the office of his tongue and moved many to penance. In bis old age, instead of relaxing, he increased his austerities and fasts. He had three hair-shirts which he now and then changed. He never would admit of the least thing to give a savor to the herbs or meal-gruel on which he supported himself. If any thing was brought him better dressed, he, for the greater self-denial, applied it to his nostrils, and said: "O gluttony, gluttony, thou shalt never taste this; perpetual war is declared against thee." His disciples also were remarkable for their austere lives, went always barefoot, and looked excessive pale with continual fasting. No other drink was known among them but water, except in sickness. St. Romuald wrought in this place many miraculous cures of the sick. At last, having settled his disciples here in a monastery which he had built for them, he departed for Bifurcum.

The holy emperor St. Henry II., who had succeeded Otho III., coming into Italy, and being desirous to see the saint, sent an honorable embassy to him to induce him to come to court. At the earnest request of his disciples he complied, but not without great reluctance on his side. The emperor received him with the greatest marks of honor and esteem, and rising out of his chair, said to him: "I wish my soul was like yours." The saint observed a strict silence the whole time the interview lasted, to the great astonishment of the court. The emperor being convinced that this did not proceed from pride or disdain, but from humility and a desire of being despised, was so far from being offended at it, that it occasioned his conceiving a higher esteem and veneration for him. The next day he received from him wholesome advice in his closet. The German noblemen showed him the greatest respect as he passed through the court, and plucked the very hairs out of his garments for relics, at which he was so much grieved, that he would have immediately gone back if he had not been stopped. The emperor gave him a monastery on Mount Amiatus.

The most famous of all his monasteries is that of Camaldoli, near Arezzo, in Tuscany, on the frontiers of the ecclesiastical state, thirty miles east from Florence, founded by him about the year 1009. It lies beyond a mountain, {376} very difficult to pass over, the descent from which, on the opposite side, is almost a direct precipice looking down upon a pleasant large valley, which then belonged to a lord called Maldoli, who gave it the saint, and from him it retained the name Camaldoli.[2] In this place St. Romuald built a monastery, and by the several observances he added to St. Benedict's rule, gave birth to that new order called Camaldoli, in which he united the cenobitic and eremitical life. After seeing in a vision his monks mounting up a ladder to heaven all in white, he changed their habit from black to white. The hermitage is two short miles distant from the monastery. It is a mountain quite overshaded by a dark wood of fir-trees. In it are seven clear springs of water. The very sight of this solitude in the midst of the forest helps to fill the mind with compunction, and a love of heavenly contemplation. On entering it, we meet with a chapel of St. Antony for travellers to pray in before they advance any further. Next are the cells and lodgings for the porters. Somewhat further is the church, which is large, well built, and richly adorned. Over the door is a clock, which strikes so loud that it may be heard all over the desert. On the left side of the church is the cell in which St. Romuald lived, when he first established these hermits. Their cells, built of stone, have each a little garden walled round. A constant fire is allowed to be kept in every cell, on account of the coldness of the air throughout the year: each cell has also a chapel in which they may say mass: they call their superior, major. The whole hermitage is now enclosed with a wall: none are allowed to go out of it; but they may walk in the woods and alleys within the enclosure at discretion. Every thing is sent them from the monastery in the valley: their food is every day brought to each cell; and all are supplied with wood and necessaries, that they may have no dissipation or hinderance in their contemplation. Many hours of the day are allotted to particular exercises; and no rain or snow stops any one from meeting in the church to assist at the divine office. They are obliged to strict silence in all public common places; and everywhere during their Lents, also on Sundays, Holydays, Fridays, and other days of abstinence, and always from Complin till prime the next day.

For a severer solitude, St. Romuald added a third kind of life; that of a recluse. After a holy life in the hermitage, the superior grants leave to any that ask it, and seem called by God, to live forever shut up in their cells, never speaking to any one but to the superior when he visits them, and to the brother who brings them necessaries. Their prayers and austerities are doubled, and their fasts more severe and more frequent. St. Romuald condemned himself to this kind of life for several years; and fervent imitators have never since failed in this solitude.

St. Romuald died in his monastery in the valley of Castro, in the marquisate of Ancona. As he was born about the year 956, he must have died seventy years and some months old, not a hundred and twenty, as the present copies of his life have it. The day of his death was the 19th of June; but his principal feast is appointed by Clement VIII. on the 7th of February, the day of his translation. His body was found entire and uncorrupt five years after his death, and again in 1466. But his tomb being sacrilegiously opened, and his body stolen in 1480, it fell to dust, in which state it was translated to Fabriano, and there deposited in the great church, all but the remains of one arm, sent to Camaldoli. God has honored his relics with many miracles. The order of Camaldoli is now divided into five congregations, under so many generals or majors. The life of the hermits is very severe, though something mitigated since the time of St. Romuald. The {377} Cenobites are more like Benedictines, and perhaps were not directly established by St. Romuald, says F. Helyot.

* * * * *

If we are not called to practise the extraordinary austerities of many saints, we cannot but confess that we lie under an indispensable necessity of leading mortified lives, both in order to fulfil our obligation of doing penance, and to subdue our passions and keep our senses and interior faculties under due command. The appetites of the body are only to be reduced by universal temperance, and assiduous mortification and watchfulness over all the senses. The interior powers of the soul must be restrained, as the imagination, memory, and understanding: their proneness to distraction, and the itching curiosity of the mind, must be curbed, and their repugnance to attend to spiritual things corrected by habits of recollection, holy meditation, and prayer. Above all, the will must be rendered supple and pliant by frequent self-denial, which must reach and keep in subjection all its most trifling sallies and inclinations. If any of these, how insignificant soever they may seem, are not restrained and vanquished, they will prove sufficient often to disturb the quiet of the mind, and betray one into considerable inconveniences, faults, and follies. Great weaknesses are sometimes fed by temptations which seem almost of too little moment to deserve notice. And though these infirmities should not arise to any great height, they always fetter the soul, and are an absolute impediment to her progress towards perfection.

Footnotes: 1. Sanuti tells us, that St. Peter Urseoli, from his cradle, devoted himself with his whole heart to the divine service, and proposed to himself in all his actions the holy will and the greater glory of God. He built in the church of St. Mark a chapel, in which the body of that evangelist was secretly laid, the place being known by very few. Being chosen doge, he refused that dignity for a long time with great obstinacy, but at length suffered himself to be overcome by the importunity of the people. He had held it only two years and eight months, when he retired. Sanuti. Vite de Duchi di Venezia, c. 976. Maramri, Rerum Italicar. Scriptores, t. 22, p. 564. 2. Contracted from Campo Maldoli.


THIS saint was an English prince, in the kingdom of the West-Saxons, and was perhaps deprived of his inheritance by some revolution in the state or he renounced it to be more at liberty to dedicate himself to the pursuit of Christian perfection. His three children, Winebald, Willibald, and Warburga, are all honored as saints. Taking with him his two sons, he undertook a pilgrimage of penance and devotion, and sailing from Hamble-haven, landed in Neustria on the western coasts of France. He made a considerable stay at Rouen, and made his devotions in the most holy places that lay in his way through France. Being arrived at Lucca in Italy, in his road to Rome, he there died suddenly, about the year 722, and was buried in St. Fridian's church there. His relics are venerated to this day in the same place, and his festival kept at Lucca with singular devotion. St. Richard, when living, obtained by his prayers the recovery of his younger son Willibald, whom he laid at the foot of a great crucifix erected in a public place in England, when the child's life was despaired of in a grievous sickness and since his death, many have experienced the miraculous power of his intercession with God, especially where his relics invite the devotion of the faithful. His festival is kept at Lucca, and his name honored in the Roman Martyrology on the 7th of February. See the Life of St. Willibald by his cousin, a nun of Heidenhelm, to Canisius's Lectiones Antiquae, with the notes of Basnage. Henschenius, Feb. t. 2, p. 70.


AMONG those holy martyrs whom the Greeks honor with the title of Megalomartyrs, (i.e. great martyrs,) as St. George, St. Pantaleon, &c., four are {378} distinguished by them above the rest as principal patrons, namely, St. Theodorus of Heraclea, surnamed Stratilates, (i.e. general of the army,) St. Theodorus of Amasea, surnamed Tyro, St. Procopius, and St. Demetrius. The first was general of the forces of Licinius, and governor of the country of the Mariandyni, who occupied part of Bithynia, Pontus, and Paphlagonia, whose capital at that time was Heraclea of Pontus, though originally a city of Greeks, being founded by a colony from Megara. This was the place of our saint's residence, and here he glorified God by martyrdom, being beheaded for his faith by an order of the emperor Licinius, the 7th of February, on a Saturday, in 319, as the Greek Menaea and Menologies all agree: for the Greek Acts of his martyrdom, under the name of Augarus, are of no authority. It appears from a Novella of the emperor Manuel Comnenus, and from Balsamon's Scholia on the Nomocanon of Photius,[1] that the Greeks kept as semi-festivals, that is, as holydays till noon, both the 7th of February, which was the day of his martyrdom, and that of the translation of his relics, the 8th of June, when they were conveyed soon after his death, according to his own appointment, to Euchaia, or Euchaitae, where was the burial-place of his ancestors, a day's journey from Amasea, the capital of all Pontus. This town became so famous for his shrine, that the name of Theodoropolis was given it; and out of devotion to this saint, pilgrims resorted thither from all parts of the east, as appears from the Spiritual Meadow,[2] Zonaras,[3] and Cedrenus.[4] The two latter historians relate, that the emperor John I., surnamed Zemisces, about the year 970, ascribed a great victory which he gained over the Saracens, to the patronage of this martyr: and in thanksgiving rebuilt in a stately manner the church where his relics were deposited at Euchaitae.[5] The republic of Venice has a singular veneration for the memory of St. Theodorus of Heraclea, who, as Bernard Justiniani proves,[6] was titular patron of the church of St. Mark in that city, before the body of that evangelist was translated into it from another part of the city. A famous statue of this St. Theodorus is placed upon one of the two fine pillars which stand in the square of St. Mark. The relics of this glorious martyr are honored in the magnificent church of St. Saviour at Venice, whither they were brought by Mark Dandolo in 1260, from Constantinople; James Dandolo having sent them to that capital from Mesembria, an archiepiscopal maritime town in Romania, or the coast of Thrace, when in 1256 he scoured the Euxine sea with a fleet of galleys of the republic, as the Venetian historians inform us.[7] See archbishop Falconius, Not. in Tabulis Cappon. and Jos. Assemani in Calend. Univ. on the 8th and 17th of February, and the 8th of June;[8] also Lubin. Not. in Martyr. Rom. p. 283, and the Greek Synaxary.

Footnotes: 1. Tit. 7, c. 1, Thomassin, l. 1, c. 7, n. 3. 2. Prat. Spir. c. 180. 3. Zonar. 3, parte Annal. 4. Ced. in Joanne Zemisce Imp. 5. See Baronius in his notes on the Martyrology, (ad 9 Nov.,) who justly censures those who confound this saint with St. Theodoras Tyro, as Fabricius has since done. (t. 9, Bibl. Graecae, p. 147.) Yet himself falsely places Tyro's shrine at Euchaitae, and ascribes to him these pilgrimages and miracles which certainly belong to St. Theodorus Stratilates, or of Heraclea. 6. De Rebus Venetis, l. 6. 7. Sansovin, l. 13, Hist. &c. 8. The modern Greeks have transferred his feast from the 7th to the 8th of February.


He was a holy Irish priest, who, having left his own country, preached with great zeal in France, and died curate of Mareuil upon the Marne, in the sixth century. His relics are held in great veneration at Avenay in Champagne. See his life in Colgan and Bollandus.



HIS name occurs with the title of bishop in all the manuscript copies of the ancient Western Martyrology, which bears the name of St. Jerom. That of the abbey of Esternach, which is very old, and several others, style him martyr. He probably received that crown soon after St. Alban. All martyrologies place him in Britain, and at Augusta, which name was given to London, as Amm. Marcellinus mentions; never to York, for which Henschenius would have it to be taken in this place, because it was at that time the capital of Britain. In the ancient copy of Bede's martyrology, which was used at St. Agnan's at Orleans, he is called St. Augustus; in some others St. Augurius. The French call him St. Aule. Chatelain thinks him to be the same saint who is famous in some parts of Normandy under the name of St. Ouil.




From several bulls of Innocent III. and the many authors of his life, especially that compiled by Robert Gagnin, the learned general of this Order, in 1490, collected by Baillet, and the Hist. des Ordres Relig. by F. Helyot. See also Annales Ordinis SS. Trinitatis, auctore Bon. Baro, Ord. Minor. Romae. 1684, and Regula et Statuta Ord. SS. Trinitatis, in 12mo. 1570.

A.D. 1213.

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

Being returned home, he begged his father's leave to continue the pious exercises he had begun, and retired to a little hermitage not far from Faucon, with the view of living at a distance from the world, and united to God alone by mortification and prayer. But finding his solitude interrupted by the frequent visits of his friends, he desired his father's consent to go to Paris to study divinity, which he easily obtained. He went through these more sublime studies with extraordinary success, and proceeded doctor of divinity with uncommon applause, though his modesty gave him a reluctancy in that honor. He was soon after ordained priest, and said his first mass in the bishop of Paris's chapel, at which the bishop himself, Maurice de Sully, the abbots of St. Victor and of St. Genevieve. and the rector of the {380} university, assisted; admiring the graces of heaven in him, which appeared in his extraordinary devotion on this occasion, as well as at his ordination.

On the day he said his first mass, by a particular inspiration from God, he came to a resolution of devoting himself to the occupation of ransoming Christian slaves from the captivity they groaned under among the infidels: considering it as one of the highest acts of charity with respect both to their souls and bodies. But before he entered upon so important a work, he thought it needful to spend some time in retirement, prayer, and mortification. And having heard of a holy hermit, St. Felix Valois, living in a great wood near Gandelu, in the diocese of Meux, he repaired to him and begged he would admit him into his solitude, and instruct him in the practice of perfection. Felix soon discovered him to be no novice, and would not treat him as a disciple, but as a companion. It is incredible what progress these two holy solitaries made in the paths of virtue, by perpetual prayer, contemplation, fasting, and watching.

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

The two founders having obtained the pope's blessing and certain indults or privileges, returned to France, and presented themselves to the king, Philip Augustus, who authorized the establishment of their Order in his kingdom, and favored it with his liberalities. Gaucher III., lord of Chatillon, gave them land whereon to build a convent. Their number increasing, the same lord, seconded by the king, gave them Cerfroid, the place in which St. John and St. Felix concerted the first plan of their institute. It is situated in Brie, on the confines of Valois. This house of Cerfroid, or De Cervo frigido, is the chief of the order. The two saints founded many other convents in France, and sent several of their religious to accompany the counts of Flanders and Blois, and other lords, to the holy war. Pope Innocent III. wrote to recommend these religious to Miramolin, king of Morocco; and St. John sent thither two of his religions in 1201, who redeemed one hundred and eighty-six Christian slaves the first voyage. The year following, St. John went himself to Tunis, where he purchased the liberty of one hundred and ten more. He returned into Provence, and there received great charities, which he carried into Spain, and redeemed many in captivity {381} under the Moors. On his return he collected large alms among the Christians towards this charitable undertaking. His example produced a second order of Mercy, instituted by St. Peter Nolasco, in 1235.

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