The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints - January, February, March
by Alban Butler
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Footnotes: 1. See Bellarmin, de Arte moriendi. Iuenin, de Sacram. t. 2, et Hist. des Sacr. t. 7. 2. See Chatelain. Not. p. 161, Brev. Paris. 3. Gallia Christ. Nov. t. 2, p. 63{?}. 4. Ib. p. 69. 5. Martenne Anecdot. t. 3, p. 1927.


AGATHO, a Sicilian by birth, was remarkable for his charity and benevolence, a profound humility, and an engaging sweetness of temper. Having been several years treasurer of the church of Rome, he succeeded Domnus in the pontificate in 679. He presided by his three legates in the sixth general council, and third of Constantinople, in 680, in the reign of the pious emperor Constantine Pogonatus, against the Monothelite heresy, which he confuted in a learned letter to that emperor, by the tradition of the apostolic church of Rome: "Acknowledged," says he, "by the whole Catholic church, to be the mother and mistress of all other churches, and to derive her superior authority from St. Peter, the prince of the apostles, to whom Christ committed his whole flock, with a promise that his faith should never fail." This epistle was approved as a rule of faith by the same council, which declared, that Peter spoke by Agatho. This pope restored St. Wilfrid to the see of York, and was a great benefactor to the Roman clergy and to the churches. Anastatius says, that the number of his miracles procured him the title of Thaumaturgus. He died in 682, having held the pontificate {123} two years and a half. His feast is kept both by the Latins and Greeks. See Anastatius published by Bianchini; also Muratori and Labbe, Conc. t. 6, p. 1109.

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The style of this pope's letters is inferior to that both of his predecessors and successors. The reason he alleges in excusing the legates whom he sent to Constantinople for their want of eloquence, because the graces of speech could not be cultivated amidst the incursions of barbarians, while with much difficulty they earned Thor daily subsistence by manual labor; "But we preserve," said he, with simplicity of heart, "the faith, which our fathers have handed down to us." The bishops, his legates, say the same thing: "Our countries are harassed by the fury of barbarous nations. We live in the midst of battles, inroads, and devastations; our lives pass in continual alarms and anxiety, and we subsist by the labor of our hands."



WAS born at Constantinople, though of a Roman family related to the imperial house of the Theodosiuses. From his childhood he served God in continual watching, fasting, and prayer, in imitation of St. John the Baptist; and for the relief of the necessitous he gave away immense occult alms. The time which was not employed in these charities, he spent in holy retirement and prayer. In the reign of the emperor Marcian, Anatolius the archbishop, offering violence to the saint's humility, ordained him priest. In this new state the saint saw himself under a stricter obligation than before of laboring to attain to the summit of Christian perfection; and while he made the instruction of the poor his principal and favorite employment, he redoubled his earnestness in providing for their corporal necessities, and was careful never to relax any part of his austerities. The severity of his morals was made a handle, by those who feared the example of his virtue, as a tacit censure of their sloth, avarice, and irregularities, to fasten upon him a suspicion of Novatianism; but his meekness and silence at length triumphed over the slander. This persecution served more and more to purify his soul, and exceedingly improve his virtue. This shone forth with greater lustre than ever, when the cloud was dispersed; and the patriarch Gennadius, with the great applause of the whole body of the clergy and people, conferred on him the dignity of treasurer, which was the second in that church. St. Marcian built or repaired in a stately manner a great number of churches in Constantinople, confounded the Arians and other heretics, and was famous for miracles both before and after his happy death, which happened towards the end of the fifth century. He is honored both in the Greek Menaea, and Roman Martyrology, on the 10th of January. See his ancient anonymous life in Surius, and Bollandus; also Cedrenus, Sozomen, and Theodorus Lector, l. 1. Codinus Orig. Constant. p. 60. See Tillemont, t. 16, p. 161.




From his life by Theodorus, bishop of Petra, some time his disciple, in Surius and Bollandus, and commended by Fleury, Baillet, &c.

A.D. 529.

ST. THEODOSIUS was born at Mogariassus, called in latter ages Marissa, in Cappadocia, in 423. He imbibed the first tincture of virtue from the fervent example and pious instructions of his virtuous parents. He was ordained reader, but some time after being moved by Abraham's example to quit his country and friends, he resolved to put this motion in execution. He accordingly set out for Jerusalem, but went purposely out of his road, to visit the famous St. Simeon Stylites on his pillar, who foretold him several circumstances of his life, and gave him proper instructions for his behavior in each. Having satisfied his devotion in visiting the holy places in Jerusalem, he began to consider in what manner he should dedicate himself to God in a religious state. The dangers of living without a guide, made him prefer a monastery to a hermitage; and he therefore put himself under the direction of a holy man named Longinus, to whom his virtue soon endeared him in a very particular manner. A pious lady having built a church under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin, on the high road to Bethlehem, Longinus could not well refuse her request, that his pupil should undertake the charge of it; but Theodosius, who loved only to obey, could not be induced by any entreaties to consent to this proposal: absolute commands were necessary to force him to a compliance. Nor did he govern long; for dreading the poison of vanity from the esteem of men, he retired into a cave at the top of a neighboring desert mountain, and employed his time in fasting, watching, prayers, and tears, which almost continually flowed from his eyes. His food was coarse pulse and wild herbs: for thirty years he never tasted so much as a morsel of bread. Many desired to serve God under his direction: he at first determined only to admit six or seven, but was soon obliged to receive a greater number, and at length came to a resolution, which charity extorted from him, never to reject any that presented themselves with dispositions that seemed sincere. The first lesson which he taught his monks was, that the continual remembrance of death is the foundation of religious perfection; to imprint this more deeply in their minds, he caused a great grave or pit to be dug, which might serve for the common burial-place of the whole community, that by the presence of this memorial of death, and by continually meditating on that object, they might more perfectly learn to die daily. The burial-place being made, the abbot one day, when he had led his monks to it, said, "The grave is made, who will first perform the dedication?" Basil, a priest, who was one of the number, falling on his knees, said to St. Theodosius, "I am the person, be pleased to give me your blessing." The abbot ordered the prayers of the church for the dead to be offered up for him, and on the fortieth day, Basil wonderfully departed to our Lord in peace, without any apparent sickness. When the holy company of disciples were twelve in number, it happened that at the great feast of Easter they had nothing to eat; they had not even bread for the sacrifice: some murmured; the saint bid them trust {125} in God and he would provide: which was soon remarkably verified, by the arrival of certain mules loaded with provisions. The lustre of the sanctity and miracles of St. Theodosius, drawing great numbers to him who desired to serve God under his direction, his cave was too little for their reception; therefore, having consulted heaven by prayer, he, by its particular direction, built a spacious monastery at a place called Cathismus, not far from Bethlehem, at a small distance from his cave, and it was soon filled with holy monks. To this monastery were annexed three infirmaries; one for the sick, the gift of a pious lady in that neighborhood; the two others St. Theodosius built himself, one for the aged and feeble, the other for such as had been punished with the loss of their senses, or by falling under the power of the devil, for rashly engaging in a religious state through pride, and without a due dependence on the grace of God to carry them through it. All succors, spiritual and temporal, were afforded in these infirmaries, with admirable order, care, and affection. He erected also several buildings for the reception of strangers, in which he exercised an unbounded hospitality, entertaining all that came, for whose use there were one day above a hundred tables served with provisions: these, when insufficient for the number of guests, were more than once miraculously multiplied by his prayers. The monastery itself was like a city of saints in the midst of a desert, and in it reigned regularity, silence, charity, and peace. There were four churches belonging to it, one for each of the three several nations of which his community was chiefly composed, each speaking a different language; the fourth was for the use of such as were in a state of penance, which those that recovered from their lunatic or possessed condition before, mentioned, were put into, and detained till they had expiated their fault. The nations into which his community was divided, were the Greeks, which were far the most numerous, and consisted of all those that came from any provinces of the empire; the Armenians, with whom were joined the Arabians and Persians; and, thirdly, the Bessi, who comprehended all the northern nations below Thrace, or all who used the Runic or Sclavonian tongue. Each nation sung the first part of the mass to the end of the gospel, in their own church, but after the gospel, all met in the church of the Greeks, where they celebrated the essential part of the sacrifice in Greek and communicated all together.[1]

The monks passed a considerable part of the day and night at their devotions in the church, and at the times not set apart for public prayer and necessary rest, every one was obliged to apply himself to some trade, of manual labor, not incompatible with recollection, that the house might be supplied with conveniences. Sallust, bishop of Jerusalem, appointed St. Sabas superior general of the hermits, and our saint of the Cenobites, or religious men living in community throughout all Palestine, whence he was styled the Cenobiarch. These two great servants of God lived in strict friendship, and had frequent spiritual conferences together; they were also united in their zeal and sufferings for the church.

The emperor Anastasius patronized the Eutychian heresy, and used all possible means to engage our saint in his party. In 513 he deposed Elias, patriarch of Jerusalem, as he had banished Flavian II., patriarch of Antioch, and intruded Severus, an impious heretic, into that see, commanding the Syrians to obey and hold communion with him. SS. Theodosius and Sabas maintained boldly the right of Elias, and of John his successor; whereupon the imperial officers thought it most advisable to connive at their proceedings, considering the great authority they had acquired by {126} their sanctity. Soon after, the emperor sent Theodosius a considerable sum of money, for charitable uses in appearance, but in reality to engage him in his interest. The saint accepted of it, and distributed it all among the poor. Anastasius now persuading himself that he was as good as gained over to his cause, sent him an heretical profession of faith, in which the divine and human natures in Christ were confounded into one, and desired him to sign it. The saint wrote him an answer full of apostolic spirit; in which, besides solidly confuting the Eutychian error, he added, that he was ready to lay down his life for the faith of the church. The emperor admired his courage and the strength of his reasoning, and returning him a respectful answer, highly commended his generous zeal, made some apology for his own inconsiderateness, and protested that he only desired the peace of the church. But it was not long ere he relapsed into his former impiety and renewed his bloody edicts against the orthodox, dispatching troops everywhere to have them put in execution. On the first intelligence of this, Theodosius went over all the deserts and country of Palestine, exhorting every one to be firm in the faith of the four general councils. At Jerusalem, having assembled the people together, he from the pulpit cried out with a loud voice: "If any one receives not the four general councils as the four gospels, let him be anathema." So bold an action in a man of his years, inspired with courage those whom the edicts had terrified. His discourses had a wonderful effect on the people, and God gave a sanction up his zeal by miracles: one of these was, that on his going out of the church at Jerusalem, a woman was healed of a cancer on the spot, by only touching his garments. The emperor sent an order for his banishment, which was executed; but dying soon after, Theodosius was recalled by his Catholic successor, Justin; who, from a common soldier, had gradually ascended the imperial throne.

Our saint survived his return eleven years, never admitting the least relaxation in his former austerities. Such was his humility, that seeing two monks at variance with each other, he threw himself at their feet, and could not rise till they were perfectly reconciled; and once having excommunicated one of his subjects for a crime, who contumaciously pretended to excommunicate him in his turn, the saint behaved as if he had been really excommunicated, to gain the sinner's soul by this unprecedented example of submission, which had the desired effect. During the last year of his life he was afflicted with a painful distemper, in which he gave proof of an heroic patience, and an entire submission to the will of God; for being advised by one that was an eye-witness of his great sufferings, to pray that God would be pleased to grant him some ease, he would give no ear to it, alleging that such thoughts were impatience, and would rob him of his crown. Perceiving the hour of his dissolution at hand, he gave his last exhortation to his disciples, and foretold many things, which accordingly came to pass after his death: this happened in the one hundred and fifth year of his age, and of our Lord 529. Peter, patriarch of Jerusalem, and the whole country, assisted with the deepest sentiments of respect at the solemnity of his interment, which was honored by miracles. He was buried in his first cell, called the cave of the magi, because the wise men, who came to adore Christ soon after his birth, were said to have lodged in it. A certain count being on his march against the Persians, begged the hair shirt which the saint used to wear next his skin, and believed that he owed the victory which he obtained over them, to the saint's protection through the pledge of that relic. Both the Roman and Greek calendars mention his festival on the 11th of January.


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The examples of the Nazarites and Essenes among the Jews, and of many excellent and holy persons among the Christians through every age, demonstrate that many are called by God to serve him in a retired contemplative life; nay, it is the opinion of St. Gregory the Great, that the world is to some persons so full of ambushes and snares, or dangerous occasions of sin, that they cannot be saved but by choosing a safe retreat. Those who from experience are conscious of their own weakness, and find themselves to be no match for the world, unable to countermine its policies, and oppose its power, ought to retire as from the face of too potent an enemy; and prefer a contemplative state to a busy and active life: not to indulge sloth, or to decline the service of God and his neighbor, but to consult his own security, and to fly from dangers of sin and vanity. Yet there are some who find the greatest dangers in solitude itself; so that it is necessary for every one to sound his own heart, take a survey of his own forces and abilities, and consult God, that he may best he able to learn the designs of his providence with regard to his soul; in doing which, a great purity of intention is the first requisite. Ease and enjoyment must not be the end of Christian retirement, but penance, labor, and assiduous contemplation; without great fervor and constancy in which, close solitude is the road to perdition. If greater safety, or an unfitness for a public station, or a life of much business (in which several are only public nuisances) may be just motives to some for embracing a life of retirement, the means of more easily attaining to perfect virtue may be such to many. Nor do true contemplatives bury their talents, or cease either to be members of the republic of mankind, or to throw in their mite towards its welfare. From the prayers and thanksgivings which they daily offer to God for the peace of the world, the preservation of the church, the conversion of sinners, and the salvation of all men, doubtless more valuable benefits often accrue to mankind, than from the alms of the rich, or the labors of the learned. Nor is it to be imagined, how far and how powerfully their spirit, and the example of their innocence and perfect virtue, often spread their influence; and how serviceable persons who lead a holy and sequestered life may be to the good of the world; nor how great glory redounds to God, by the perfect purity of heart and charity to which many souls are thus raised.

Footnotes: 1. See Le Brun, Explic. des Ceremonies de la Messe, t. 4, pp. 234-235, dissert. l. 4, art. 2.


HE was placed in the chair of St. Peter after the martyrdom of St. Telesphorus, in the year 139. Eusebius informs us,[1] that he sat four years. The church then enjoyed some sort of calm, under the mild reign of the emperor Antoninus Pius; though several martyrs suffered in his time by the fury of the populace, or the cruelty of certain magistrates. The emperor himself never consented to such proceedings; and when informed of them by the governors of Asia, Athens, Thessalonica, and Larissea, he wrote to them in favor of the Christians, as is recorded by St. Justin and Eusebius.[2]

But the devil had recourse to other arts to disturb the peace of God's church. Cerdo, a wolf in sheep's clothing, in the year 140, came from Syria to Rome, and began to teach the false principles which Marcion adopted afterward with more success. He impiously affirmed that there were two Gods; the one rigorous and severe, the author of the Old Testament; the other merciful and good, the author of the New, and the father of Christ, sent by him to redeem man from the tyranny of the former; and that Christ was not really born of the Virgin Mary, or true man, but such {128} in shadow only and appearance. Our holy pope, by his pastoral vigilance detected that monster, and cut him off from the communion of the church. The heresiarch, imposing upon him by a false repentance, was again received; but the zealous pastor having discovered that he secretly preached this old opinions, excommunicated him a second time.[3]

Another minister of Satan was Valentine, who being a Platonic philosopher, puffed up with the vain opinion of his learning, and full of resentment for another's being preferred to him in an election to a certain bishopric in Egypt, as Tertullian relates,[4] revived the errors of Simon Magus, and added to them many other absurd fictions, as of thirty AEones or ages, a kind of inferior deities, with whimsical histories of their several pedigrees. Having broached these opinions at Alexandria, he left Egypt for Rome. At first he dissembled his heresies, but by degrees his extravagant doctrines came to light. Hyginus, being the mildest of men, endeavored to reclaim him without proceeding to extremities; so that Valentine was not excommunicated before the first year of St. Pius his immediate successor.

St. Hyginus did not sit quite four years, dying in 142. We do not find that he ended his life by martyrdom, yet he is styled a martyr in some ancient calendars, as well as in the present Roman Martyrology; undoubtedly on account of the various persecutions which he suffered, and to which his high station in the church exposed him in those perilous times. See Tillemont, t. 2, p. 252.

Footnotes: 1. Eus. l. 4, c. 11. 2. Eus. l. 4, c. 30. 3. St. Epiph. hom. 41; Iren. l. 3, c. 4; Euseb. &c. 4. Tertull. l. contra Valent. c. 4.


HE was of the royal blood of the Mercian kings, devoted himself to the divine service in his youth, and succeeded O{}or in the episcopal see of Worcester, in 692. by his zeal and severity in reproving vice, he stirred up some of his own flock to persecute him, which gave him an opportunity of performing a penitential pilgrimage Rome. Some legends tell us, that setting out he put on his legs iron shackles, and threw the key into the river Severn, others say the Avon; but found it in the belly of a fish, some say at Rome, others in his passage from France to England. After his return, with the assistance of Coenred or Kenred, king of Mercia, he founded the famous abbey of Evesham, under the invocation of the Blessed Virgin. After this he undertook a second journey to Rome, in the company of Coenred, king of the Mercians, and of Offa, of the East Saxons, who gave up their temporal principalities to labor with greater earnestness to secure an eternal crown. St. Egwin died on the 30th of December, in 717, and was buried in the monastery of Evesham. His body was translated to a more honorable place in 1183, probably on the 11th of January, on which day many English Martyrologies mark his festival. See his life in Capgrave, the Annals of Worcester, in Wharton's Anglia Sacra; Malmesbury, l. 4, de Pontif. Ang. Harpsfield. Saec. 8, c. 15, 18, and Dr. Thomas in his History the Cathedral of Worcester. Monast. Anglic. vol. 1, p. 144, and vol. 2, p. 851. Leland's Collections, vol. 1, pp. 240 and 298; vol. 3, p. 160. Dr. Brown Willis, History of Abbeys, t. 1, p. 90.


FAMOUS for miracles, succeeded Ado in 672, and flourished in the reign of Theodoric III. His relics rest at Montreuil, in Picardy, in the Benedictin {129} Abbey which bears his name, whither they were translated from the cathedral of Amiens, several years after his death, as is related in his anonymous life, a piece of uncertain authority with regard to his actions. A relic of this saint was formerly kept with great veneration in the cathedral of Canterbury, mentioned in the history of that church, &c. This saint must not be confounded with St. Salvius of Alby, nor with the martyr of this name in Africa, on whose festival St. Austin made a sermon. See his anonymous life in Bollandus; also Baillet. Gall. Christ. Nova, t. 10, p. 1154. This seems the day of his translation, and the 28th of October that of his death.



From his ancient acts, much esteemed by Baronius, and inserted by Ruinart in his authentic collection. St. Zeno of Verona made use of them in his forty-ninth sermon on this martyr. See Tillemont. t. 5 p. 557.

THE time of this saint's martyrdom is not mentioned in his acts; some place it under Valerian, others under Dioclesian: he seems to have suffered in some city of Mauritania, probably the capital, Caesarea. The fury of the tyrants raged violently, and the devil had instigated his soldiers to wage, like so many wolves, a bloody war against the servants of Jesus. Upon the least suspicion they broke into houses, made rigorous searches, and if they found a Christian, they treated him upon the spot with the greatest cruelty, their impatience not suffering them to wait the bringing him before a judge. Every day new sacrileges were committed; the faithful were compelled to assist at superstitious sacrifices, to lead victims crowned with flowers through the streets, to burn incense before idols, and to celebrate the enthusiastic feasts of Bacchus. Arcadius, seeing his city in great confusion, left his estate and withdrew to a solitary place in the neighboring country, serving Jesus Christ in watching, prayer, and other exercises of a penitential life. His flight could not be long a secret; for his not appearing at the public sacrifices made the governor send soldiers to his house; who surrounded it, forced open the doors, and finding one of his relations in it, who said all he could to justify his kinsman's absence; they seized him, and the governor ordered him to be kept in close custody till Arcadius should be taken. The martyr, informed of his friend's danger, and burning with a desire to suffer for Christ, went into the city, and presenting himself to the judge, said: "If on my account you detain my innocent relation in chains, release him; I, Arcadius, am come in person to give an account of myself, and to declare to you, that he knew not where I was." "I am willing," answered the judge, "to pardon not only him, but you also, on condition that you will sacrifice to the gods." Arcadius replied, "How can you propose to me such a thing? Do you not know the Christians, or do you believe that the fear of death will ever make me swerve from my duty? Jesus Christ is my life, and death is my gain. Invent what torments you please; but know that nothing shall make me a traitor to my God." The governor, in a rage, paused to devise some unheard-of torment for him. Iron hooks seemed too easy; neither plummets of lead, nor cudgels could satisfy his fury; the very rack he thought by much too gentle. At last {130} imagining he had found a manner of death suitable to his purpose, he said to the ministers of his cruelty, "Take him, and let him see and desire death, without being able to obtain it. Cut off his limbs joint by joint, and execute this so slowly, that the wretch may know what it is to abandon the gods of his ancestors for an unknown deity." The executioners dragged Arcadius to the place, where many other victims of Christ had already suffered; a place dear and sweet to all who sigh after eternal life. Here the martyr lifts up his eyes to heaven, and implores strength from above; then stretches out his neck, expecting to have his head cut off; but the executioner bid him hold out his hand, and joint after joint chopped off his fingers, arms, and shoulders. Laying the saint afterward on his back, he in the same barbarous manner cut off his toes, feet, legs, and thighs. The holy martyr held out his limbs and joints, one after another, with invincible patience and courage, repeating these words, "Lord, teach me thy wisdom:" for the tyrants had forgot to cut out his tongue. After so many martyrdoms, his body lay a mere trunk weltering in its own blood. The executioners themselves, as well as the multitude, were moved to tears and admiration at this spectacle, and at such an heroic patience. But Arcadius, with a joyful countenance, surveying his scattered limbs all around him, and offering them to God, said, "Happy members, now dear to me, as you at last truly belong to God, being all made a sacrifice to him!" Then turning to the people, he said, "You who have been present at this bloody tragedy, learn that all torments seem as nothing to one who has an everlasting crown before his eyes. Your gods are not gods; renounce their worship. He alone for whom I suffer and die, is the true God. He comforts and upholds me in the condition you see me. To die for him is to live; to suffer for him is to enjoy the greatest delights." Discoursing in this manner to those about him, he expired on the 12th of January, the pagans being struck with astonishment at such a miracle of patience. The Christians gathered together his scattered limbs, and laid them in one tomb. The Roman and other Martyrologies make honorable mention of him on this day.

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We belong to God by numberless essential titles of interest, gratitude, and justice, and are bound to be altogether his, and every moment to live to him alone, with all our powers and all our strength: whatever it may cost us to make this sacrifice perfect and complete, if we truly love him, we shall embrace it with joy and inexpressible ardor. In these sentiments we ought, by frequent express acts, and by the uninterrupted habitual disposition of our souls, to give all we are and have to God, all the powers of our souls, all the senses and organs of our bodies, all our actions, thoughts, and affections. This oblation we may excellently comprise in any of the first petitions of our Lord's prayer: the following is a form of an oblation to our divine Redeemer, which St. Ignatius of Loyola drew up and used to repeat: "O sovereign king, and absolute Lord of all things, though I am most unworthy to serve you, nevertheless, relying on your grace and boundless mercy, I offer myself up entire to you, and subject whatever belongs to me to your most holy will; and I protest, in presence of your infinite goodness, and in presence of the glorious Virgin your mother, and your whole heavenly court, that it is my most earnest desire, and unshaken resolution, to follow and imitate you the nearest I am able, in bearing all injuries and crosses with meekness and patience, and in laboring to die to the world and myself in a perfect spirit of humility and poverty, that I may be wholly yours and you may reign in me in time and eternity."




HE was nobly descended, and one of the great officers of the court of Oswi, the religious king of the Northumbers: he was very dear to his prince, and was beholden to his bounty for many fair estates, and great honors; but neither the favors of so good and gracious a king, nor the allurements of power, riches, and pleasures, were of force to captivate his heart, who could see nothing in them but dangers, and snares so much the more to be dreaded, as fraught with the power of charming. At the age therefore of twenty-five, an age that affords the greatest relish for pleasure, he bid adieu to the world, made a journey of devotion to Rome, and at his return devoted him wholly to the studies of the scriptures and other holy exercises. Some time after his return to England, Alcfrid, son of king Oswi, being desirous to make a pilgrimage to the shrines of the apostles, engaged Biscop to bear him company to Rome. The king prevented his son's journey; nevertheless our saint travelled thither a second time, burning with an earnest desire of improving himself in the knowledge of divine things, and in the love of God. From Rome he went to the great monastery of Lerins, then renowned for its regular discipline; there he took the monastic habit, and spent two years in the most exact observance of the rule, and penetrated in every exercise with its true spirit: after this he returned to Rome, where he received an order of pope Vitalian to accompany St. Theodorus, archbishop of Canterbury, and St. Adrian, to England. When he arrived at Canterbury, St. Theodorus committed to him the care of the monastery of SS. Peter and Paul, near that city, which abbacy he resigned to St. Adrian upon his arrival in England. St. Bennet stayed about two years in Kent, giving himself up to religious exercises and sacred studies, under the discipline of those two excellent persons. Then he took a fourth journey to Rome, with a view of perfecting himself in ecclesiastical discipline, and the rules and practice of a monastic life; for which purpose he made a considerable stay at Rome and other places: he brought home with him a choice library, relics and pictures of Christ, the Blessed Virgin, and other saints. When he returned to Northumberland, king Egfrid (in whose father's court St. Bennet had formerly lived) bestowed on him seventy ploughs or families of land for building a monastery;[1] this the saint founded on the mouth of the river Were, whence it was called Weremouth. When the monastery was built, St. Bennet went over to France, and brought back with him skilful masons, who built the church for this monastery of stone, and after the Roman fashion; for till that time stone buildings were very rare in Britain, even the church of Lindisfarne was of wood, and covered over with a thatch of straw and reeds, till bishop Eadbert procured both the roof and the walls to be covered with sheets of lead, as Bede mentions.[2] St. Bennet also brought over glaziers from France, for the art of making glass was then unknown in Britain. In a fifth journey to Rome, St. Bennet furnished himself with a larger stock of good books, especially the writings of the fathers, also of relics and holy pictures, with which he enriched his own country.

His first monastery of Weremouth was entitled from Saint Peter, prince of the apostles; and such was the edification which it gave, that the same {132} king added to the saint a second donation of lands, consisting of forty ploughs; on which Biscop built another monastery, at a place called Girwy, now Jarrow, on the Tine, six miles distant from the former, and this latter was called St. Paul's; these two monasteries were almost looked upon as one; and St. Bennet governed them both, though he placed in each a superior or abbot, who continued subject to him, his long journey to Rome and other avocations making this substitution necessary.[3] In the church of St. Peter at Weremouth he placed the pictures of the Blessed Virgin, the twelve apostles, the history of the gospel, and the visions in the revelation of St. John: that of St. Paul's at Jarrow, he adorned with other pictures, disposed in such manner as to represent the harmony between the Old and New Testament, and the conformity of the figures in one to the reality in the other. Thus Isaac carrying the wood which was to be employed in the sacrifice of himself, was explained by Jesus Christ carrying his cross, on which he was to finish his sacrifice; and the brazen serpent was illustrated by our Saviour's crucifixion. With these pictures, and many books and relics, St. Bennet brought from Rome in his last voyage, John, abbot of St. Martin's, precentor in St. Peter's church, whom he prevailed with pope Agatho to send with him, and whom he placed at Weremouth to instruct perfectly his monks in the Gregorian notes, and Roman ceremonies for singing the divine office. Easterwin, a kinsman of St. Bennet, and formerly an officer in the king's court, before he became a monk, was chosen abbot before our saint set out for Rome, and in that station behaved always as the meanest person in the house; for though he was eminently adorned with all virtues, humility, mildness, and devotion seemed always the most eminent part of his character. This holy man died on the 6th of March, when he was but thirty-six years old, and had been four years abbot, while St. Bennet was absent in the last journey to Rome. The monks chose in his place St. Sigfrid, a deacon, a man of equal gravity and meekness, who soon after fell into a lingering decay, under which he suffered violent pains in his lungs and bowels. He died four months before our saint. With his advice, two months before his death, St. Bennet appointed St. Ceolfrid abbot of both his monasteries, being himself struck with a dead palsy, by which all the lower parts of his body were without life; he lay sick of this distemper three years, and for a considerable time was entirely confined to his bed. During this long illness, not being able to raise his voice to the usual course of singing the divine office, at every canonical hour he sent for some of his monks and while they, being divided into two choirs, sung the psalms proper for the hour of the day or night, he endeavored as well as he could to join not only his heart, but also his voice, with theirs. His attention to God he seemed never to relax, and frequently and earnestly exhorted his monks to a constant observance of the rule he had given them. "You must not think," said he, "that the constitutions which you have received from me were my own invention, for, having in my frequent journeys visited seventeen well-ordered monasteries, I informed myself of all their laws and rules, and picking out the best among them, these I have recommended to you." The saint expired soon after, having received the viaticum on the 12th of January, in 690. His relics, according to Malmesbury,[4] were translated to Thorney abbey, in 970, but the monks of Glastenbury thought themselves possessed at least of part of that treasure.[5] The true name of our saint was Biscop {133} Baducing, as appears from Eddius-Stephen, in his life of St. Wilfrid. The English Benedictins honor him as one of the patrons of their congregation, and he is mentioned in the Roman Martyrology on this day. See his life in Bede's history of the first abbots of Weremouth, published by Sir James Ware, at Dublin, in 1664.

Footnotes: 1. A plough, or family of land, was as much as one plough, or one yoke of oxen could throw up in a year, or as sufficed for the maintenance of a family. 2. Hist. l. 3, c. 25. 3. The abbeys of Weremouth and Jarrow were destroyed by the Danes. Both were rebuilt in part, and from the year 1083 were small priories or cells dependent on the abbey of Durham, till their dissolution {}th of Henry VIII. 4. Malmes. l. 4, de Pontif. 5. See Monast. Ang. t. 1, p. 4, and John of Glastenbury, Hist. Glasten.


WHO was scourged, tormented with the disjointing of his bones, stripped of all his goods, and sent into banishment; and EUTROPIUS, lector, and precentor of the church of Constantinople, who died in prison of his torments, having been scourged, his cheeks torn with iron hooks, and his sides burnt with torches; are honored in the Roman Martyrology with the title of martyrs on the 12th of January.



HE was of noble descent, and was born in the north of England, in 1109. Being educated in learning and piety, he was invited by David, the pious king of Scotland, to his court, made master of his household, and highly esteemed both by him and the courtiers. His virtue shone with bright lustre in the world, particularly his meekness, which Christ declared to be his favorite virtue, and the distinguishing mark of his true disciples. The following is a memorable instance to what a degree he possessed this virtue: a certain person of quality having insulted and reproached him in the presence of the king, Aelred heard him out with patience, and thanked him for his charity and sincerity, in telling him his faults. This behavior had such an influence on his adversary as made him ask his pardon on the spot. Another time, while he was speaking on a certain matter, one interrupted him with very harsh, reviling expressions: the servant of God heard him with tranquillity, and afterwards resumed his discourse with the same calmness and presence of mind as before. His desires were ardent to devote himself entirely to God, by forsaking the world; but the charms of friendship detained him some time longer in it, and were fetters to his soul; reflecting, notwithstanding, that he must sooner or later be separated by death from those he loved most, he condemned his own cowardice, and broke at once those bands of friendship, which were more agreeable to him than all other sweets of life. He describes the situation of his soul under this struggle, and says, "Those who saw me, judging by the gaudy show which surrounded me, and not knowing what passed within my soul, said, speaking of me: Oh, how well is it with him! how happy is he! But they knew not the anguish of my mind; for the deep wound in my heart gave me a thousand tortures, and I was not able to bear the intolerable stench of my sins." But after he had taken his resolution, he says, "I began then to know, by a little experience, what immense pleasure is found in thy service, and how sweet that peace is, which is its inseparable companion."[1] To relinquish entirely all his worldly engagements, he left Scotland, and embraced the austere Cistercian order, at Rieval, in a valley upon the hanks of the Rie, in Yorkshire, where a noble lord, called Walter {134} Especke, had founded a monastery in 1122. At the age of twenty-four, in 1133, he became a monk under the first abbot, William, a disciple of St. Bernard. Fervor adding strength to his tender delicate body, he set himself cheerfully about practising the greatest austerities, and employed much of his time in prayer and the reading of pious books. He converted his heart with great ardor to the love of God, and by this means finding all his mortifications sweet and light, he cried out,[2] "That yoke doth not oppress, but raiseth the soul; that burden hath-wings, not weight." He speaks of divine charity always in raptures, and by his frequent ejaculations on the subject, it seems to have been the most agreeable occupation of his soul. "May thy voice (says he) sound in my ears, O good Jesus, that my heart may learn how to love thee, that my mind may love thee, that the interior powers, and, as it were, bowels of my soul, and very marrow of my heart, may love thee, and that my affections may embrace thee, my only true good, my sweet and delightful joy! What is love? my God! If I mistake not, it is the wonderful delight of the soul, so much the more sweet as more pure, so much the more overflowing and inebriating as more ardent. He who loves thee, possesses thee; and he possesses thee in proportion as he loves, because thou art love. This is that abundance with which thy beloved are inebriated, melting away from themselves, that they may pass into thee, by loving thee."[3] He had been much delighted in his youth with reading Tully; but after his conversion, found that author, and all other reading, tedious and bitter, which was not sweetened with the honey of the holy name of Jesus, and seasoned with the word of God, as he says in the preface to his book, On spiritual friendship. He was much edified with the very looks of a holy monk, called Simon, who had despised high birth, an ample fortune, and all the advantages of mind and body, to serve God in that penitential state. This monk went and came as one deaf and dumb, always recollected in God; and was such a lover of silence, that he would scarce speak a few words to the prior on necessary occasions. His silence, however, was sweet, agreeable, and full of edification. Our saint says of him, "The very sight of his humility stifled my pride, and made me blush at the immortification of my looks. The law of silence practised among us, prevented my ever speaking to him deliberately; but, one day, on my speaking a word to him inadvertently, his displeasure appeared in his looks for my infraction of the rule of silence; and he suffered me to lie some time prostrate before him to expiate my fault; for which I grieved bitterly, and which I never could forgive myself."[4] This holy monk, having served God eight years in perfect fidelity, died in 1142, in wonderful peace, repeating with his last breath, "I will sing eternally, O Lord, thy mercy, thy mercy, thy mercy!"

St. Aelred, much against his inclination, was made abbot of a new monastery of his order, founded by William, Earl of Lincoln, at Revesby, in Lincolnshire, in 1142, and of Rieval, over three hundred monks, in 1143. Describing their life, he says, that they drank nothing but water; ate little, and that coarse; labored hard, slept little, and on hard boards; never spoke, except to their superiors on necessary occasions; carried the burdens that were laid on them without refusing any; went wherever they were led; had not a moment for sloth, or amusements of any kind, and never had any lawsuit or dispute.[5] St. Aelred also mentions their mutual charity and peace in the most affecting manner, and is not able to find words to express the joy he felt at the sight of every one of them. His humility and love of solitude made him constantly refuse many bishoprics which were pressed {135} upon him. Pious reading and prayer were his delight. Even in times of spiritual dryness, if he opened the divine books, he suddenly found his soul pierced with the light of the Holy Ghost. His eyes, though before as dry as marble, flowed with tears, and his heart abandoned itself to sighs accompanied with a heavenly pleasure, by which he was ravished in God. He died in 1166, and the fifty-seventh of his age, having been twenty-two years abbot. See his works published at Douay in 1625, and in Bibl. Cisterc. t. 5, particularly his Mirrour of Charity; Hearne's Notes on Gulielmus Neubrigensis, who dedicated to our saint the first book of his history, t. 3, p. 1: likewise his life in Capgrave, and the annals of his order. The general chapter held at Citeaux in 1250, declared him to be ranked among the saints of their order; as Henriquez and the additions to the Cistercian Martyrology testify. In the new Martyrology published by Benedict XIV. for the use of this order, the feast of St. Aelred is marked on the 2d of March,[6] with a great eulogium of his learning, innocence of life, wonderful humility, patience, heavenly conversation, gift of prophecy, and miracles.

Footnotes: 1. Spec. {} 1, c. 28. 2. Spec. l. 1, c. 5. 3. Ibid. l. 1, c. 1. 4. Ibid. l. 1, c. ult. 5. L. 2, c. 2. 6. P. 304



From her life, in Bollandus, t. 1, p. 890.

A.D. 1497.

ALL states furnish abundant means for attaining to sanctity and Christian perfection, and it is only, owing to our sloth and tepidity that we neglect to make use of them. This saint could boast of no worldly advantages either by birth or fortune.[1] Her parents maintained their family by hard labor in a village near Milan, and were both very pious; her father never sold a horse, or any thing else he dealt in, without being more careful to acquaint the purchaser with all that was secretly faulty in it, than to recommend its good qualities. His narrow circumstances prevented his giving his daughter any schooling, so that she never learned to read; but his own, and his devout wife's example, and fervent though simple instructions, filled her tender heart from the cradle with lively sentiments of virtue. The pious {136} maid from her infancy applied herself to continual prayer, was very attentive to the instructions given in the catechism; and the uninterrupted consideration of the holy mysteries, and the important truths of religion, engrossed her whole soul to themselves. She was, notwithstanding, of all others, the most diligent and indefatigable in labor; and so obedient to her parents and masters, even in the smallest trifles, so humble and submissive to her equals, that she seemed to have no will of her own. Her food was coarse and very sparing, and her drink the same which the poorer sort of people used in that country, water, except sometimes whey, or a little milk. At her work she continually conversed in her heart with God; insomuch that in company she seemed deaf to their discourses, mirth, and music. When she was weeding, reaping, or at any other labor in the fields, she strove to work at a distance from her companions, to entertain herself the more freely with her heavenly spouse. The rest admired her love of solitude, and on coming to her, always found her countenance cheerful, yet often bathed in tears, which they sometimes perceived to flow in great abundance; though they did not know the source to be devotion: so carefully did Veronica conceal what passed in her soul between her and God.

Through a divine call to a religious and conventual state of life, she conceived a great desire to become a nun, in the poor, austere, and edifying convent of St. Martha, of the order of St. Austin in Milan. To qualify herself for this state, being busied the whole day at work, she sat up at night to learn to read and write, which the want of an instructor made a great fatigue to her. One day being in great anxiety about her learning, the Mother of God, to whom she had always recommended herself, in a comfortable vision bade her banish that anxiety; for it was enough if she knew three letters: The first, purity of the affections, by placing her whole heart on God alone, loving no creature, but in him and for him; the second, never to murmur, or be impatient at the sins, or any behavior of others, but to bear them with interior peace and patience, and humbly to pray for them; the third, to set apart some time every day to meditate on the passion of Christ. After three years' preparation, she was admitted to the religious habit in St. Martha's. Her life was entirely uniform, perfect, and fervent in every action, no other than a living copy of her rule, which consisted in the practice of evangelical perfection reduced to certain holy exercises. Every moment of her life she studied to accomplish it to the least tittle, and was no less exact in obeying the order or direction of any superior's will. When she could not obtain leave to watch in the church so long as she desired, by readily complying, she deserved to hear from Christ, that obedience was a sacrifice the most dear to him, who, to obey his Father's will, came down from heaven, becoming obedient even unto death.[2]

She lay three years under a lingering illness, all which time she would never be exempted from any duty of the house, or part of her work, or make use of the least indulgence, though she had leave; her answer always was, "I must work while I can, while I have time." It was her delight to help and serve every one. She always sought with admirable humility the last place, and the greatest drudgery. It was her desire to live always on bread and water. Her silence was a sign of her recollection and continual prayer, in which her gift of abundant and almost continual tears was most wonderful. She nourished them by constant meditation on her own miseries, on the love of God, the joys of heaven, and the sacred passion of Christ. She always spoke of her own sinful life, as she called it, though it was most innocent, with the most feeling sentiments of compunction. She was favored by God with many extraordinary visits and {137} comforts. By moving exhortations to virtue, she softened and converted several obdurate sinners. She died at the hour which she had foretold, in the year 1497, and the fifty-second of her age. Her sanctity was confirmed by miracles. Pope Leo X., by a bull in 1517, permitted her to be honored in her monastery in the same manner as if she had been beatified according to the usual form. The bull may be seen in Bollandus.[3] Her name is inserted on this day in the Roman Martyrology, published by Benedict XIV., in the year 1749; but on the 28th of this month, in that of the Austin friars, approved by the same pope.

* * * * *

Christian perfection consists very much in the performance of our ordinary actions, and the particular duties of our respective stations. God, as the good father and great master of the family of the world, allots to every one his proper place and office in it; and it is in this variety of states by which it subsists; and in their mutual dependence upon each other, that its good order and beauty consist. It is the most holy and wise appointment of providence and the order of nature, that the different stations in the world be filled. Kings and subjects, rich and poor, reciprocally depend upon each other; and it is the command of God that every one perform well the part which is assigned him. It is, then, by the constant attendance on all the duties of his state, that a person is to be sanctified. By this all his ordinary actions will be agreeable sacrifices to God, and his whole life a continued chain of good works. It is not only in great actions, or by fits and starts, but in all that we do, and in every moment, that we are bound to live to God. The regulation of this point is of essential importance in a virtuous life, that every action may be performed with regularity, exactitude in all its circumstances, and the utmost fervor, and by the most pure motive, referred solely to divine honor, in union with the most holy actions and infinite merits of Christ. Hence St. Hilary says,[4] "When the just man performs all his actions, with a pure and simple view to the divine honor and glory, as the apostle admonishes us,[5] his whole life becomes an uninterrupted prayer; and as he passes his days and nights in the accomplishment of the divine will, it is true to say, that the whole course of a holy life is a constant meditation on the law of God." Nevertheless this axiom, that the best devotion is the constant practice of a person's ordinary duties, is abused by some, to excuse a life of dissipation. Every one is bound to live to himself in the first place, and to reserve leisure for frequent exercises of devotion; and it is only by a spirit of perfect self-denial, humility, compunction, and prayer, and by an assiduous attention of the soul to God, that our exterior ordinary actions will be animated by the motives of divine faith and charity, and the spirit of true piety nourished in our breasts; in this consists the secret of a Christian life in all states.

Footnotes: 1. The print of the holy face of our Saviour on a linen cloth, is kept in Saint Peter's church at Rome, with singular veneration. It is mentioned in an ancient ceremonial of that church, dedicated to Celestin II. in 1143, published by Mabillon, (Museum Ital. t 2 p. 122;) also in Matthew of Westminster, Flores Hist. under Innocent III. who died in 1216; and in a Bull of Nicholas IV. in 1290. It was called Veronica, or true image of our Lord's face, from Vera and Iconica, a word used by St. Gregory of Tours. (Vit. Patr. c, 12.) for an image, from the Greek word Icon. Some moderns imagine that it served at the burial of out Lord; others say, that a devout woman wiped his face with it, when he was fainting under the load of his cross, going to mount Calvary. In some particular missals, as in that of Mentz in 1493, among the votive masses, is one "de Sancta Veronica sei vultu Domini," in the same manner as there is a mass, "On the cross." Such devotions are directed to honor our Lord, with a remembrance of this relic, memorial, or pledge. From this office of the Veronica is taken an Anthem and Prayer which are said in some private churches, as a commemoration of the holy face of Lucca, which is a very ancient and miraculous crucifix, in the chapel of the Holy Cross, in the cathedral dedicated to St. Martin at Lucca. A copy of the true Veronica is kept in the Cistercian nunnery at Montreuil, a present of Urban IV. to this house, his sister being a nun there. See his letter to them in Chiffleter, "de Linteis sepulchralibus Domini." This letter was dated in 1249, when the author was archdeacon and chaplain to Innocent IV. Some private writers and churches have given the name of St. Veronica to the devout woman who is said to have presented this linen cloth to our divine Redeemer; but without sufficient warrant. See Rapebroch Matt. t. 7, p. 356, n. 126, and Chatelain. Notes on the Martyr, on Jan. 13, pp. 201, 222. 2. Phil. ii. 8. 3. T. 1, p. 889. 4. S. Hilar. in Ps. i. p. 20. 5. 1 Cor. x. 31.



THIS eminent saint of the ancient church of North Britain, was of royal blood among the Picts, or original inhabitants of that country, and born about the year 516. He was placed very young under the discipline of St. Servanus, bishop and abbot of Culros, a monastery, situated upon the frith which divides Lothian from Fife. By this holy prelate he was trained up in the perfect spirit of Christian meekness and piety. For his innocence and great virtues he was beloved by his master, and all who were acquainted {138} with that religious family, above all his fellow-disciples, for which reason he was called Munghu, or Mungho, which in the language of that country signified "one dearly beloved;" and this is the name which the Scots usually give him to this day. When he was grown up, by the direction of St. Servanus, he retired to a place called Glasghu, where he led a solitary life in great abstinence, till the clergy and people earnestly demanded him for their bishop. He was consecrated by an Irish bishop, invited over for that purpose, and fixed his see at Glasghu, or Glasco, where he assembled a numerous company of religious brethren, who formed their rule of life upon the model of the primitive Christians at Jerusalem. The saint's diocese was of vast extent, reaching from sea to sea, and being wild and uncultivated, afforded continual exercise for his zeal and patience; he travelled always on foot, sparing no pains to spread the light of the gospel among the unbelievers, of whom he converted and baptized great numbers. The Pelagian heresy having taken deep root among the Christians in those parts, he so vigorously opposed that fatal, growing evil, as entirely to banish that hydra out of the church of the Picts. Besides the recital of the whole Psalter, he performed every day several other exercises of devotion; lived in a constant union of his soul with God, and by perpetual abstinence, rigorous fasts, and other extraordinary austerities, he made his whole life an uninterrupted course of penance. Every Lent he retired from the sight and conversation of men, into some desert, to hold a close communication with God in solitude. As both in his virtues and labors he imitated the apostles, so God was pleased to authorize his preaching, by conferring on him an apostolic grace of the miraculous powers. Out of his monks and disciples, he sent many missionaries to preach the faith in the north of Scotland, in the isles of Orkney, in Norway, and Iceland.

The form of government among the Straith-Cluid Britons and the Cumbrians, the latter inhabiting the country from the Picts' wall, to the Ribble in Lancashire, was in part aristocratical; for many petty lords or princes enjoyed so great authority in their respective territories, as often to wage war among themselves: yet they all obeyed one monarch, who usually resided at Alcluyd, or Dunbritton. Besides the feuds and quarrels of particular chieftains and their clans, there happened about that time several revolutions in the monarchy. We learn from the book entitled the Triades, that when St. Kentigern was made bishop of Glasco, Gurthmel Wledig was king of the North Britons, and contemporary with Arthur. He was succeeded by Rydderch, surnamed Hael, i.e. The Liberal, who vanquished his enemies and rivals in war, especially by the great victory of Arderyth, in 577.[1] He was a religious and deserving prince, and his magnificence, generosity, and other virtues, are extolled by the ancient author of the Triades, by Merlin, Taliessin, the old laws of the Britons, and the authors of the lives of St. Kentigern and St. Asaph. This prince, however, was afterwards obliged by rebellious subjects, under Morcant Mawr, and Aeddon, surnamed Uraydog, or The Treacherous, to fly into Ireland. The impious Morcant (as he is styled in the fragment of St. Asaph's life, extant in Coch-Asaph) usurped the throne of the Straith-Cluid Britons; but the Cumbrians, who dwelt on the south side of the wall, were protected by Urien, lord of Rheged, a nobleman who had lived at the court of king Arthur, and whose great qualities are celebrated by the pens of Lhowarch-Hen, (his cousin-german,) Taliessin, and the author of the Triades. In the beginning of the usurpation of Morcant Mawr, St. Kentigern was obliged to fly into Wales, where he stayed some time with St. David, at Menevia, {139} till Cathwallain, (uncle to king Maelgun Gwynedh,[2]) a religious prince of part of Denbighshire, bestowed on him the land at the meeting of the rivers Elwy and Cluid, on which he built a famous monastery and school, called from the river Elwy, Llan-Elwy, or absolutely Elgwy, where a great number of disciples and scholars soon put themselves under his direction. St. Kentigern was here when St. David died, in 546, or rather in 544, when the first of March fell on a Tuesday.[3] After the death of the usurper Morcant, Rydderch returned from Ireland, and recovered his crown, and St. Kentigern, leaving his school to the care of St. Asaph, (whose name the town, which was raised at Elgwy, bears to this day,) went back to Glasco, taking with him several hundreds of his scholars; their number having probably been much increased after the death of Daniel, bishop of Bangor, which happened between the years 542 and 545. The return of St. Kentigern to his see, is generally placed about the year 560, nor can it be placed later, since in 565 he had a conference with St. Columbo, when that holy man came over to Scotland, in order to convert the northern Picts, to whom St. Kentigern had already sent missionaries.[4] Wharton therefore justly places the residence of St. Kentigern in Wales, from the year 543 to 560.[5] King Rydderch powerfully seconded the zeal of our saint in all his undertakings, being his constant friend and protector; as were the two princes who afterward succeeded him, Guallauc, (who seems to have been his son,) and Morcant Mwynfawn, (who was certainly his brother.) The valor of Rydderch, and these two successors, which is highly commended by an ancient author in Nennius, and other British historians, was the bulwark of their dominions against the inroads of the Saxons. St. Kentigern employed his zeal all this time, with wonderful success, in correcting abuses, reforming the manners of his flock, and propagating the faith; was favored with a wonderful gift of miracles, and died in 601, aged eighty-five years. His tomb, in his titular church at Glasco, was famous for miracles, and his name was always most illustrious in the Scottish calendars. See his ancient life, Leland de Scriptor. Usher, Ant. c. 15. Hector Boetius, Leslie, &c.

Footnotes: 1. Vaughn's Dissert. on the British Chron. Carte. t. 1, p. 211. 2. See Notes on St. Gildas and St. David. 3. Usher, Ant. Brit. c. 14. 4. Vit. S. Kentigerni. Usher, Antiqu. c. 15, p. 358. 5. Wharton de Episcopis Asaphensibus, pp. 300, 302.

This is also the Octave of the Epiphany.[1] The principal object of the devotion of the church on this day is the baptism of our Saviour by St. John in the Jordan. We learn from the great council of Oxford, in 1222,[2] that it was then kept a holyday of the third class; on which all were obliged to hear mass, though they might work afterwards. In France and Germany all servile work was forbidden on it, by the capitulars of Lewis le Debonnaire.[3] The emperor Theodosius II. forbids all civil courts and transactions during eight days before the festival of the Epiphany, and as many after it.

Footnotes: 1. The church prolongs more solemn festivals during eight days, with a daily continuation of the sacred office proper to each such festival. This term is called its octave, and the eighth day is called the octave-day. 2. Can. 8. 3. L. 2, de feriis.




From his own writings, and the histories of that age, which furnish the most authentic memoirs of his life. See what Dom Coutant, the Benedictin monk, has recorded of him in his excellent edition of his works; as also Tillemont, t. 7, Ceillier, t. 5, and Rivet, Hiss. Lit. t. 1, part 2, p. 139. The two books, the one of his life, the other of his miracles, by Fortunatus of Poictiers, 600, are inaccurate. Both the Fortunatases were from Italy; and probably one was the author of the first, and the other of the second book.

A.D. 368.

ST. AUSTIN, who often urges the authority of St. Hilary against the Pelagians, styles him the illustrious doctor of the churches.[1] St. Jerom says[2] that he was a most eloquent man, and the trumpet of the Latins against the Arians; and in another place, that in St. Cyprian and St. Hilary, God had transplanted two fair cedars out of the world into his church.[3]

St. Hilary was born at Poictiers, and his family one of the most illustrious in Gaul.[4] He spent his youth in the study of eloquence. He himself testifies that he was brought up in idolatry, and gives us a particular account of the steps by which God conducted him to the knowledge of his saving faith.[5] He considered by the glimmering or faint light of reason, that man, who is created a moral and free agent, is placed in this world for the exercise of patience, temperance, and other virtues, which he saw must receive from God a recompense after this life. He ardently set about learning what God is; and after some researches into the nature of the Supreme Being, quickly discovered the absurdity of polytheism, or a plurality of gods; and was convinced that there can be only one God, and that the same is eternal, unchangeable, all-powerful, the first cause and author of all things. Full of these reflections, he met with the holy scriptures, and was wonderfully affected with that just and sublime description Moses gives of God in those words, so expressive of his self-existence,[6] I AM WHO AM: and was no less struck with the idea of his immensity and supreme dominion, illustrated by the most lively images in the inspired language of the prophets. The reading of the New Testament put an end to, and completed his inquiries; and he learned from the first chapter of St. John, that the Divine Word, God the Son, is coeternal and consubstantial with the Father. Here he checked his natural curiosity, avoided subtilties, and submitted his understanding to divine revelation, resolving what seemed incomprehensible into the veracity and power of God; and not presuming to measure divine mysteries by his shallow capacity. Being thus brought to the knowledge of faith, he received the heavenly regeneration by baptism. From that time forth he so squared his whole life by the rules of piety, and so zealous were his endeavors to confirm others in the faith of the holy Trinity, and to encourage all to virtue, that he seemed, though a layman, already to possess the grace of the priesthood.

He was married before his conversion to the faith; and his wife, by whom he had a daughter named Apra, or Abram, was yet living, when he was chosen bishop of Poictiers, about the year 353; but from the time of {141} his ordination he lived in perpetual continency.[7] He omitted no endeavors to escape this promotion: but his humility only made the people the more earnest to see him vested with that dignity; and indeed their expectations were not frustrated in him, for his eminent virtue and capacity shone forth with such a lustre, as soon drew upon him the attention, not only of all Gaul, but of the whole church. Soon after he was raised to the episcopal dignity, he composed, before his exile, elegant comments on the gospel of Saint Matthew, which are still extant. Those on the Psalms he compiled after his banishment.[8] Of these comments on the Psalms, and on St. Matthew, we are chiefly to understand St. Jerom, when he recommends, in a particular manner, the reading of the works of St. Hilary to virgins and devout persons.[9] From that time the Arian controversy chiefly employed his pen. He was an excellent orator and poet. His style is lofty and noble, beautified with rhetorical ornaments and figures, but somewhat studied; and the length of his periods renders him sometimes obscure to the unlearned,[10] as St. Jerom takes notice.[11] It is observed by Dr. Cave, that all his writings breathe an extraordinary vein of piety. Saint Hilary solemnly appeals to God,[12] that he held it as the great work of his life, to employ all his faculties to announce God to the world, and to excite all men to the love of him. He earnestly recommends the practice of beginning every action and discourse by prayer,[13] and some act of divine praise;[14] as also to meditate on {142} the law of God day and night, to pray without ceasing, by performing all our actions with a view to God their ultimate end, and to his glory.[15] He breathes a sincere and ardent desire of martyrdom, and discovers a soul {143} fearless of death and torments. He had the greatest veneration for truth, sparing no pains in its pursuit, and dreading no dangers in its defence. The emperor Constantius, having labored for several years to compel the eastern churches to embrace Arianism, came into the West: and after the overthrow of the tyrant Magnentius, made some stay at Arles, while his Arian bishops held a council there, in which they engaged Saturninus, the impious bishop of that city, in their party, in 353. A bolder Arian council at Milan, in 355, held during the residence of the emperor in that city, required all to sign the condemnation of St. Athanasius. Such as refused to comply were banished; among whom were St. Eusebius of Vercelli, Lucifer of Cagliari, and St. Dionysius of Milan, into whose see Auxentius, the Arian, was intruded. St. Hilary wrote on that occasion his first book to Constantius, in which he mildly entreated him to restore peace to the church. He separated himself from the three Arian bishops in the West, Ursacius, Valens, and Saturninus, and exhibited an accusation against the last in a synod at Beziers. But the emperor, who had information of the matter from Saturninus, sent an order to Julian, then Caesar, and surnamed afterwards the Apostate, who at that time commanded in Gaul, for St. Hilary's immediate banishment into Phrygia, together with St. Rhodanius, bishop of Toulouse. The bishops in Gaul being almost all orthodox, remained in communion with St. Hilary, and would not suffer the intrusion of any one into his see, which in his absence he continued to govern by his priests. The saint went into banishment about the middle of the year 356, with as great alacrity as another would take a journey of pleasure, and never entertained the least disquieting thought of hardships, dangers, or enemies, having a soul above both the smiles and frowns of the world, and fixed only on God. He remained in exile somewhat upwards of three years, which time he employed in composing several learned works. The principal and most esteemed of these is that On the Trinity, against the Arians, in twelve {144} books. In them he proves the consubstantiality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He teaches that the church is one, out of which all heresies spring; not that by this she is distinguished, as standing always one, always alone against them all, and confounding them all: whereas they by perpetual divisions tear each other in pieces, and so become the subject of her triumph.[16] He proves that Arianism cannot be the faith of Christ, because not revealed to St. Peter, upon whom the church was built and secured forever; for whose faith Christ prayed, that it might never fail; who received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whose judiciary sentence on earth is that of heaven:[17] all which arguments he frequently urges.[18] He proves the divinity of Christ by the miracles wrought at the sepulchres of the apostles and martyrs, and by their relics: for the devils themselves confess Christ's godhead, and roar and flee at the presence of the venerable bones of his servants,[19] which he also mentions and urges in his invective against Constantius.[20] In 358, he wrote his book On Synods, or On the Faith of the Orientals, to explain the terms and variation of the eastern Arians in their synods.

In his exile he was informed that his daughter Apra, whom he had left in Gaul, had thoughts of embracing the married state; upon which he implored Christ, with many tears, to bestow on her the precious jewel of virginity. He sent her a letter that is still extant, in which he acquaints her, that if she contemned all earthly things, spouse, sumptuous garments, and riches, Christ had prepared for her, and had shown unto him, at his prayers and tears, an inestimable never-falling diamond, infinitely more precious than she was able to frame to herself an idea of. He conjures her by the God of heaven, and entreats her not to make void his anxiety for her, nor to deprive herself of so incomparable a good. Fortunatus assures us that the original letter was kept with veneration in the church of Poictiers, in the sixth century, when he wrote, and that Apra followed his advice, and died happily at his feet after his return.[21] St. Hilary sent to her with this letter two hymns, composed by himself; one for the evening, which does not seem to have reached our times; the other for the morning, which is the hymn Lucis largitor splendide.

The emperor, by an unjust usurpation in the affairs of the Church, assembled a council of Arians at Seleucia, in Isauria, to undermine the great council of Nice. St. Hilary, who had then passed four years in banishment, in Phrygia, was invited thither by the Semi-Arians, who hoped from his lenity that he would be useful to their party in crushing the staunch Arians, that is, those who adhered strictly to the doctrine of Arius. But no human considerations could daunt his courage. He boldly defended the decrees of Nice, till at last, tired out with hearing the blasphemies of the heretics, he withdrew to Constantinople. The weak emperor was the dupe sometimes of the Arians, and at other times of the Semi-Arians. These last prevailed at Seleucia, in September, 359, as the former did in a council held at Constantinople in the following year, 360, where having the advantage, they procured the banishment of the Semi-Arians, less wicked than themselves. St. Hilary, who had withdrawn from Seleucia to Constantinople, presented to the emperor a request, called his second book to Constantius, begging the liberty of holding a public disputation about religion with {145} Saturninus, the author of his banishment. He presses him to receive the unchangeable apostolic faith, injured by the late innovations, and smartly rallies the fickle humor of the heretics, who were perpetually making new creeds, and condemning their old ones, having made four within the compass of the foregoing year; so that faith was become that of the times, not that of the gospels, and that there were as many faiths as men, as great a variety of doctrine as of manners, as many blasphemies as vices.[22] He complains that they had their yearly and monthly faiths; that they made creeds to condemn and repent of them; and that they formed new ones to anathematize those that adhered to their old ones. He adds, that every one had scripture texts, and the words Apostolic Faith, in their mouths, for no other end than to impose on weak minds: for by attempting to change faith, which is unchangeable, faith is lost; they correct and amend, till weary of all, they condemn all. He therefore exhorts them to return to the haven from which the gusts of their party spirit and prejudice had driven them, as the only means to be delivered out of their tempestuous and perilous confusion. The issue of this challenge was, that the Arians, dreading such a trial, persuaded the emperor to rid the East of a man that never ceased to disturb its peace, by sending him back into Gaul; which he did, but without reversing the sentence of his banishment, in 360.

St. Hilary returned through Illyricum and Italy to confirm the weak. He was received at Poictiers with the greatest demonstrations of joy and triumph, where his old disciple, St. Martin, rejoined him, to pursue the exercises of piety under his direction. A synod in Gaul, convoked at the instance of St. Hilary, condemned that of Rimini, which, in 359, had omitted the word Consubstantial. Saturninus, proving obstinate, was excommunicated and deposed for his heresy and other crimes. Scandals were removed, discipline, peace, and purity of faith were restored, and piety flourished. The death of Constantius put an end to the Arian persecution. St. Hilary was the mildest of men, full of condescension and affability to all: yet seeing this behavior ineffectual, he composed an invective against Constantius, in which he employed severity, and the harshest terms; and for which undoubtedly he had reasons that are unknown to us. This piece did not appear abroad till after the death of that emperor. Our saint undertook a journey to Milan, in 364, against Auxentius, the Arian usurper of that see, and in a public disputation obliged him to confess Christ to be true God, of the same substance and divinity with the Father. St. Hilary indeed saw through his hypocrisy; but this dissembling heretic imposed so far on the emperor Valentinian, as to pass for orthodox. Our saint died at Poictiers, in the year 368, on the thirteenth of January, or on the first of November, for his name occurs in very ancient Martyrologies on both these days. In the Roman breviary his office is celebrated on the fourteenth of January. The one is probably that of some translation of his relics. The first was made at Poictiers in the reign of Clovis I., on which see Cointe.[23] From St. Gregory of Tours, it appears that before his time some part of St. Hilary's relics was honored in a church in Limousin.[24] Alcuin mentions the veneration of the same at Poictiers;[25] and it is related that his relics were burned by the Huguenots at Poictiers.[26] But this we must understand of some small portion, or of the dust remaining in his tomb. For his remains were translated from Poictiers to the abbey of St. Denys, near Paris, as is proved by the tradition of that abbey, a writer of the abbey of Richenow, in {146} the ninth century,[27] and other monuments.[28] Many miracles performed by St. Hilary are related by Venantius Fortunatus, bishop of Poictiers, and are the subject of a whole book added to his life, which seems to have been written by another Fortunatus. St. Gregory of Tours, Flodoard, and others, have mentioned several wrought at his tomb. Dom Coutant, the most judicious and learned Maurist monk, has given an accurate edition of his works, in one volume in folio, at Paris, in 1693, which was reprinted at Verona by the Marquis Scipio Maffei, in 1730, together with additional comments on several Psalms.

* * * * *

St. Hilary observes, that singleness of heart is the most necessary condition of faith and true virtue, "For Christ teaches that only those who become again as it were little children, and by the simplicity of that age cut off the inordinate affections of vice, can enter the kingdom of heaven. These follow and obey their father, love their mother; are strangers to covetousness, ill-will, hatred, arrogance, and lying, and are inclined easily to believe what they hear. This disposition of affections opens the way to heaven. We must therefore return to the simplicity of little children, in which we shall bear some resemblance to our Lord's humility."[29] This, in the language of the Holy Ghost, is called the foolishness of the cross of Christ,[30] in which consists true wisdom. That prudence of the flesh and worldly wisdom, which is the mother of self-sufficiency, pride, avarice, and vicious curiosity, the source of infidelity, and the declared enemy of the spirit of Christ, is banished by this holy simplicity; and in its stead are obtained true wisdom, which can only be found in a heart freed from the clouds of the passions, perfect prudence, which, as St. Thomas shows, is the fruit of the assemblage of all virtues, and a divine light which grace fails not to infuse. This simplicity, which is the mother of Christian discretion, is a stranger to all artifice, design, and dissimulation, to all views or desires of self-interest, and to all undue respect or consideration of creatures. All its desires and views are reduced to this alone, of attaining to the perfect union with God. Unfeignedly to desire this one thing, to belong to God alone, to arrive at his pure love, and to do his will in all things, is that simplicity or singleness of heart of which we speak, and which banishes all inordinate affections of the heart, from which arise the most dangerous errors of the understanding. This is the essential disposition of every one who sincerely desires to live by the spirit of Christ. That divine spouse of souls, loves to communicate himself to such.[31] His conversation (or as another version has it, his secret) is with the simple.[32] His delight is in those who walk with simplicity.[33] This is the characteristic of all the saints:[34] whence the Holy Ghost cries out, Approach him not with a double heart.[35] That worldly wisdom is not subject to the law of God, neither can it be.[36] Its intoxication blinds men, and shuts their eyes to the light of divine revelation. They arrogate to themselves the exclusive privilege of learning and clear understanding: but the skepticism, the pitiful inconsistencies, and monstrous extravagances, which characterize their writings and discourses, make us blush to see so strong an alliance of ignorance and presumption; and lament that the human mind should be capable of falling into a state of so deplorable degeneracy. Among the fathers of the church we admire men the most learned of their age, the most penetrating and most judicious, and at the same time {147} the most holy and sincere; who, being endowed with true simplicity of heart, discovered in the mysteries of the cross the secrets of infinite wisdom, which they made their study, and the rule of their actions.

Footnotes: 1. L. 2, adv. Julian, c. 8. 2. L. 2, adv. Rufin. p. 415. 3. In Isa. c. 60. 4. S. Hieron. in Catal. 5. L. 1, de Trin. p. 1-10. 6. Exod. iii. 14. 7. The contrary is certainly a mistake in Dr. Cave; for St. Jerom, writing against Jovinian, says, in {} p. 175, that though the church was sometimes obliged to make choice of married men for the priesthood, because virgins, or unmarried, could not always be found, they notwithstanding lived ever after continent. Certe confiteris, non posse esse episcopum qui in episcopatu filios faciat: alioqui si deprehensus fuerit non quasi vir tenebitur, sed quasi adulter condemnabitur, ib. And in his book against Vigilantius, p. 28, he observes, that in the churches of the East, in Egypt, and in the apostolic see of Rome, those only were made clergymen, who were virgins, or single; or if they were married, they ceased to live as husbands. Aut virgines clericos accipiunt, aut contintes; aut si uxores habuerint, mariti esse desinunt, p. 281.

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