Saints of the Day Saints and biographies from the Catholic calendar. This site is copyright © 2018 Universalis Publishing Limited. Universalis Publishing Ltd http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml http://universalis.com/static/bin/icon80.png 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180518.0 2018-05-17T19:00:00Z 2018-05-17T19:00:00Z Pope St John I (- 526)
Celebrated: 18 May (worldwide)
He was born in Tuscany and elected pope in 523. It was a time of high political and religious tension. Theodoric the Ostrogoth, the ruler of Italy, was an Arian, while many of his subjects were Catholics. Initially tolerant, he became increasingly suspicious of the Catholics’ influence and political allegiance – above all, because they naturally had strong links with the Catholicism of the surviving eastern Roman Empire in Constantinople. Moreover, Arians in the eastern Roman Empire were being persecuted by the Catholic emperor, Justin, and they appealed to Theodoric for help.
Pope John I was sent on an embassy to the emperor, to ask for better treatment for the Arians. In this he succeeded; but the enthusiasm with which he was greeted in Constantinople excited Theodoric’s suspicions, and when he returned to Italy Theodoric had him imprisoned and he died from ill-treatment there a few days later.
Pope John I’s career reminds us what tolerance is and is not. Arianism was a dangerous heresy (by making the Son subordinate to the Father it made the Atonement virtually pointless) and there could be no compromise with it – but this did not mean that Arians themselves were to be persecuted for their beliefs. Then, as so often now, it was the state and not the Church that tried to use force to impose uniformity. See the articles in Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180518.1 2018-05-17T19:00:00Z 2018-05-17T19:00:00Z "When you were young you walked where you liked"
“When you were young
you walked where you liked;
but when you grow old
you will stretch out your hands,
and somebody else will take you where you would rather not go” (John 21:18)

Christ’s prophecy in today’s Gospel might seem to be speaking merely of Peter’s martyrdom, but it has an additional message for us today.
In the bad old days people died young and they died, on the whole, quickly. Practically always, they died among the people they had lived with. In today’s kind world such things are receding into the past. Now we are deprived, one by one, of our faculties and all the achievements that made us adult and made us human. We are taken into hospitals or put into homes and imprisoned there by our weakness. If we are unlucky, we are subjected to systematic humiliation and daily petty cruelty from those who ought to be caring for us. If we are lucky, the kindness we receive is still a reminder that we are not the proud, independent beings we once were.
Let us pray for the weak and old and helpless. Let us pray for their carers (ourselves included), that they may lay their frustrations before Jesus and, by his grace, not take them out on those they should be caring for. Let us pray to St Peter that God may allow us to embrace death, like him, before our endurance fails.
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180519.0 2018-05-18T19:00:00Z 2018-05-18T19:00:00Z St Dunstan (909 - 988)
Celebrated: 19 May (Ordinariate, England)
17 May (Portsmouth)
20 May (Shrewsbury)

Dunstan was a Benedictine monk, reformer and Archbishop of Canterbury. He was born near Glastonbury and educated at the abbey. He joined the king’s household, but was soon expelled from court, accused of being a magician. Later he was ordained priest at Winchester. He returned to Glastonbury briefly but was soon recalled to court. King Edmund took a great interest in Glastonbury, and when the abbacy fell vacant he appointed Dunstan as abbot. Dunstan set about restoring monastic life, which had been almost extinguished under Danish invasions, and this is considered to be one of his greatest achievements.
In 995 his fortunes changed again, and through intrigue at court he was exiled to Mont Blandin (Ghent), and he saw for the first time a reformed monastery of the continent. Recalled by King Edgar, he became successively Bishop of Worcester, Bishop of London and Archbishop of Canterbury. He composed the Coronation Rite for King Edgar at Bath, which is the basis of the Coronation Rite still in use. So began the fruitful collaboration between King and Archbishop which reformed the Church in England, largely through the monastic orders, and was regarded after the Conquest as a ‘golden age’. The promulgation of Regularis Concordia in about 970 marked the success of the movement Dunstan had started in Glastonbury years before. He collaborated with the king in making laws, administering justice and reforming the Church, and remained active until he died, at Canterbury, on 19 May 988. After his death his cult grew rapidly, and under Anselm’s rule it became nationwide. He was one of the most popular Anglo-Saxon saints, and many legends have grown up around him.
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180519.1 2018-05-18T19:00:00Z 2018-05-18T19:00:00Z St Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury
Celebrated: 19 May (Ordinariate, England)
17 May (Portsmouth)
20 May (Shrewsbury)

It has been said that St Dunstan was one of the three makers of England before the Norman Conquest: the others being King Alfred and King Athelstan. Dunstan himself was connected with the royal family of Wessex. Born in about the year 909, Dunstan received his schooling at Glastonbury, and as a youth was a member of King Athelstan’s court, which was itself a rich source of education, for there were many contacts there with the Continent, Wales and Scotland. Dunstan was a serious young man, avid for books and learning, but also fascinated by the arts, especially music and the illumination of manuscripts, and furthermore skilled in many kinds of handicraft. He is the patron of goldsmiths and workers in metals. Perhaps as a result of all these talents, he frequently aroused opposition among his peers. At the age of 26 he was dismissed the Court, and went to stay with the Bishop of Winchester, Ælfheah, who deserves the credit for starting Dunstan on his life’s work. Bishop Ælfheah dreamed of a revival of Benedictine monasticism in England, then at a very low ebb, and saw in Dunstan the man to do this. Dunstan however was not so sure. He preferred his life of reflection, study and artistic work – and was also considering getting married. But a severe illness brought him to a point of decision, and on his recovery he joined the monastery at Glastonbury. Bishop Ælfheah clothed him with the habit and later ordained him priest.
Three years later, in 939, King Athelstan died, and was succeeded by his half-brother Edmund, a youth of eighteen, who immediately recalled Dunstan to act as his special adviser. A second time he provoked jealousy, and the King was forced to dismiss him; but Edmund had a change of heart following a narrow escape from death while out hunting in Cheddar, and finding the courage of his convictions straightaway appointed Dunstan abbot of Glastonbury.
This has rightly been seen as a turning point in the religious history of England. Dunstan was about thirty, and he was abbot for at least thirteen years. He began by adding to and improving the Abbey buildings, and included the provision of workshops for arts and crafts. More vital, he set about reintroducing the Rule of St Benedict, with its disciplined way of life for monks, and its insistence on stability, prayer (especially in choir), study and manual work. He was seeking to restore the ancient English tradition of Bede, Cuthbert and Aldhelm.
While at Glastonbury, Dunstan was still in touch with public affairs. In 946 King Edmund was murdered; Dunstan went on to be counsellor to the next king, Eadred. But in 955 Eadred died, and his successor Eadwig, a mere youth, was indifferent to good advice, to say the least. He disgraced himself at his coronation feast by leaving his guests and going to amuse himself with the young lady whom he eventually married. Dunstan had to bring him back to the feast by main force. Once again he had made enemies, and for the third time he was banished from Court. This time he went to Flanders for a year or so, where he had first-hand experience of the work of monastic reform being achieved in Ghent.
Eadwig’s indifference to his responsibilities brought about his downfall. Mercia and Northumbria were in revolt, and elected his brother Edgar as King in the Midlands and North. Edgar immediately called Dunstan to his side, and there began a partnership between King and Bishop which was to be highly significant for the development of the Church in England. That same year (957) Dunstan became Bishop of Worcester, and two years later he was transferred to London. Then Eadwig died, and Edgar was undisputed King of the whole country. In 960 he appointed Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury.
The new archbishop was not only the King’s principal adviser; the work of monastic renewal could now go on apace. Dunstan was the controlling spirit, the King gave constant support, other bishops, particularly Oswald of Worcester and Æthelwold of Winchester, were active in reform. The most significant development was the drawing up of the Regularis Concordia, a document prescribing a uniform rule of observance of Benedictine life, to be adopted by all monasteries in England.
Dunstan still kept in touch with Glastonbury, which produced many pastors, abbots and bishops imbued with the ideals of renewal. One such was Æthelgar, successively Abbot of Winchester, Bishop of Selsey, and finally Archbishop of Canterbury on Dunstan’s death.
Throughout the reign of Edgar, known as “the Peaceful”, Dunstan was at the king’s side. Elements of Edgar’s Coronation Service, devised by Dunstan, have endured right down to the present day. Edgar died in 975, and again there were rival claimants to the throne, the half-brothers Edward and Ethelred. Dunstan supported the claim of the elder brother Edward, but in 978 the unfortunate young man was murdered at Corfe Castle, and Ethelred (“the Unready”) succeeded. From then on Dunstan withdrew more and more from affairs of state, and for the last ten years of his life he devoted himself to the care of his diocese. He died on 19th May 988, and was immediately acclaimed as a Saint. His last words were a quotation from Psalm 110, sung at Sunday Vespers: “The merciful and gracious Lord hath made remembrance of his wonderful works; he hath given food to them that fear him.”
Dunstan had made many of the wonderful works of God a reality for the English people. The quality of English life, religious, political, cultural and artistic, was the richer because of him. At Mayfield, where he had established a hospice for travellers, he built a wooden church. The story is told that when he came to dedicate it he found it incorrectly orientated; but a slight pressure of his shoulder brought the building into line. Be that as it may, one thing is very clear: amid all the activity of an immensely busy life, Dunstan was always first and foremost a man of prayer. “One thing at least of my own knowledge I can declare”, wrote his earliest biographer, “although he had spent his years here below under the veil of flesh, yet in spirit, whether awake or asleep, he lived always above this world, for ‘his homeland was in heaven’.”
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180519.2 2018-05-18T19:00:00Z 2018-05-18T19:00:00Z Saint Milburga (-c.715)
Celebrated: 19 May (Shrewsbury)
St Milburga, virgin and elder sister of St Mildred, founded the nunnery of Wenlock in Shropshire (now known as Much Wenlock), assisted by endowments from her uncle, Wulfhere, the King of Mercia, and by her father, Merewald.
Installed as abbess by St Theodore, the saint’s monastery is said to have flourished like a paradise under her rule, partly because of the virtues she cultivated and the spiritual gifts with which she was blessed. The saint, who was educated in France, was noted for her humility, and was endowed with the gift of healing and restored sight to the blind, according to popular stories. Through the strength of her exhortations she was also reputed to bring sinners to repentance. She organised the evangelisation and pastoral care of south Shropshire.
Fantastic stories surround the saint. One tells of how she overslept and woke to find the sun shining on her. Her veil slipped but instead of falling to the ground was suspended on a sunbeam until she collected it. Another story relates how she was surrounded by “fire from heaven” as she knelt in prayer beside the body of a dead child and when the flames abated she returned the child back alive to its mother.
St Milburga was credited with having power over birds and after her death was invoked for the protection of crops against their ravages.
In her final years, St Milburga was afflicted by a painful and lingering disease which she bore with serenity. Her last words were: “Blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers.”
Her tomb was long venerated until her abbey was destroyed by invading Danes. After the Norman conquest Cluniac monks built a monastery on the site – the ruins at Much Wenlock are those of the later house – and during the excavations St Milburga’s bones were discovered.
Butler’s Lives of the Saints notes that “while many native saints of more historical importance are little noticed in our English calendars, Milburga’s name appears in quite a number of them, beginning with the Bosworth Psalter”, written in about 950. Her extensive cult owed much to the testimony of St Boniface and of a Medieval papal legate who witnessed miraculous cures at her tomb.
St Milburga was a grand-daughter of the pagan King Penda of Mercia, who slew St Oswald at Oswestry, Shropshire. A third sister of the family was also recognised as a saint but all that is known of St Mildgytha was that she was a nun and that “miraculous powers were often exhibited” at her tomb in Northumbria.

Butler

http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180520.0 2018-05-19T19:00:00Z 2018-05-19T19:00:00Z The fiftieth day
Celebrated: 20 May (worldwide)
The name “Pentecost” comes from the Greek word meaning “fiftieth.” Like Easter, it is tied to a Jewish feast. 49 days (7 weeks, or “a week of weeks”) after the second day of Passover, the Jews celebrated the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot).
Passover celebrates the freeing of the Jews from slavery; Shavuot celebrates their becoming God’s holy people by the gift and acceptance of the Law; and the counting of the days to Shavuot symbolises their yearning for the Law.
From a strictly practical point of view, Shavuot was a very good time for the Holy Spirit to come down and inspire the Apostles to preach to all nations because, being a pilgrimage festival, it was an occasion when Jerusalem was filled with pilgrims from many countries.
Symbolically, the parallel with the Jews is exact. We are freed from the slavery of death and sin by Easter; with the Apostles, we spend some time as toddlers under the tutelage of the risen Jesus; and when he has left, the Spirit comes down on us and we become a Church.
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180520.1 2018-05-19T19:00:00Z 2018-05-19T19:00:00Z In other years: Saint Bernardino of Siena (1380 - 1444)
Celebrated: 20 May (worldwide)
Bernardino (“Little Bernard”) was born in Tuscany. His parents died when he was a child. While still a student at the University of Siena he took charge of the hospital there when an epidemic killed most of the staff. Later he looked after a bedridden aunt until her death; and then, at the age of 22, he became a Franciscan.
Inspired by St Vincent Ferrer, he was an energetic and popular preacher and spent years travelling on foot through Italy preaching to enormous audiences. He denounced usury, promoted peace among the warring Italian cities, and worked hard for the reform and discipline of the Franciscan order, and for church unity.
Bernardino’s achievements before he became a Franciscan show what the young can achieve if given the chance. Let us try not to confirm them in a culture of enforced irresponsibility, but to encourage each of them to give to others whatever they have been called into this world to give.
See the articles in Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopaedia.
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180521.0 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
Celebrated: 21 May (worldwide)
The Blessed Virgin Mary has been given the title of Mother of the Church since she gave birth to Christ, the Head of the Church, and she became the Mother of the redeemed people before her Son had given up the spirit on the Cross. Blessed Pope Paul VI solemnly confirmed the title in an address to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council on 21 November 1964 and decreed that the whole Christian people should, by the use of this beautiful title, give still greater honour to the Mother of God.
‘The joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman (cf. Gal 4:4), the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. In some ways this was already present in the mind of the Church from the premonitory words of Saint Augustine and Saint Leo the Great. In fact the former says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church’ (Decree of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship).
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180521.1 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z In other years: Saint Christopher Magallanes and his Companions
Celebrated: 21 May (worldwide)
Cristóbal Magallanes Jara was born in the state of Jalisco in Mexico in 1869. He was ordained priest at the age of 30 and became parish priest of his home town of Totatiche. He took a special interest in the evangelization of the local indigenous Huichol people and founded a mission for them. When government persecution of the Catholic Church began and the seminaries were closed, he opened a small local “auxiliary seminary.” He wrote and preached against armed rebellion but was falsely accused of promoting the Cristero rebellion. He was arrested on 21 May 1927 while on the way to celebrate Mass at a farm. He was executed without a trial, but not before giving his remaining possessions to his executioners and giving them absolution.
With him are celebrated 24 other Mexican martyrs of the early 20th century.
See the article in Wikipedia.
http://universalis.com/atomabout.xml#20180521.2 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z 2018-05-20T19:00:00Z St Eugène de Mazenod (1782 - 1861)
Celebrated: 21 May (Canada)
He was born at Aix-en-Provence in the south of France and had to flee together with his family when the French Revolution broke out. He returned in 1802 in a penniless and uncertain state, but after a period of depression he began to develop a concern for the French Church, which had been attacked and half destroyed by the Revolution. He discerned a vocation to the priesthood and was ordained in 1811.
He returned to Aix-en-Provence and lived as a wandering priest with no parish church. He and the companions he gathered round him went from village to village, preaching in Provençal, the language of the people. Facing opposition from the local clergy, Eugène went straight to the Pope and obtained official recognition of the “Oblates of Mary Immaculate,” of which he was then elected Superior General. He continued to guide the order until his death.
He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Marseilles in 1832, provoking a furious and debilitating five-year diplomatic row with the French government. At length he became Bishop of Marseilles in 1837, on the retirement of his predecessor. He continued to rebuild the strength of the French Church, and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were persuaded to send missionaries to other parts of the world, so that they are now active in 68 countries.
See the biography on the Vatican web site.