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Archive for January, 2012

Feastday: January 29

Died: 598

Saint Dallan Forgaill (c.530-598), A kinsman of St. Edan of Ferns, born in Connaught and a great scholar who, through his application to study, became blind. He was an early Christian Irish poet, best known as the writer of the Amra Choluim Chille (“Eulogy of Saint Columba”) a poem he wrote in honour of St. Columba which was only published after St. Columba’s death.

He died in 598 when pirates broke into the island monastery of Inniskeel, County Donegal, where he is buried. He was reportedly beheaded and his head thrown into the sea and it is also said that God reattached his head to his body after he was martyred. He was acclaimed a saint in the early 11th century, during the reign of the High King Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill.A medieval poem entitled “On the breaking up of a School” composed by Tadhg Og O Huiginn, c.1400, refers to the death of Dallan which caused his school to break up and the students to disperse as they would accept no other master.In a list of ancient Irish authors contained in the Book of Ballymote, Dallán is called “grandson of testimony”.

He is best known for eulogies attributed to him on the subject of contemporaneous Irish saints, namely the Amra Choluim Chille on Saint Columba, Amra Senain on Saint Senan, and Amra Connaill on Saint Connall. These poems, rarely translated, were written in such obscure language that subsequent scribes included copious glosses on the poems. The best example of this is the Amra Choluim Chille wherein the glosses contain poems in themselves, some of which deal with the Fenian Cycle.He is said to have written the Amra Choluim Chille, which he completed shortly after the death of Saint Columba in 597, because Columba had successfully saved the poets from expulsion from Ireland at the assembly of Druim Cett in 575.

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Feastday: January 28

Died: 1274

Patron of all universities and of students

St. Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church was born in 1226. He was the son of Landulph, Count of Aquino, who when St. Thomas was five years old, placed him under the care of the Benedictines of Monte Casino. His teachers were surprised at the progress he made, for he surpassed all his fellow pupils in learning as well as in the practice of virtue.

When he became of age to choose his state of life, St. Thomas renounced the things of this world and resolved to enter the Order of St. Dominic in spite of the opposition of his family. In 1243, at the age of seventeen, he joined the Dominicans of Naples. Some members of his family resorted to all means over a two year period to break his constancy. They even went so far as to send an impure woman to tempt him. But all their efforts were in vain and St. Thomas persevered in his vocation. As a reward for his fidelity, God conferred upon him the gift of perfect chastity, which has merited for him the title of the “Angelic Doctor”.

After making his profession at Naples, he studied at Cologne under the celebrated St. Albert the Great. Here he was nicknamed the “dumb ox” because of his silent ways and huge size, but he was really a brilliant student. At the age of twenty-two, he was appointed to teach in the same city. At the same time, he also began to publish his first works. After four years he was sent to Paris. The saint was then a priest. At the age of thirty-one, he received his doctorate.

At Paris he was honored with the friendship of the King, St. Louis. In 1261, Urban IV called him to Rome where he was appointed to teach, but he positively declined to accept any ecclesiastical dignity. St. Thomas not only wrote but he preached often and with greatest fruit. Clement IV offered him the archbishopric of Naples which he also refused. He left the great monument of his learning, the “Summa Theologica”, unfinished, for on his way to the second Council of Lyons, ordered there by Gregory X, he fell sick and died at the Cistercian monastery of Fossa Nuova in 1274.

St. Thomas was one of the greatest and most influential theologians of all time. He was canonized in 1323 and declared Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V.

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Feast day: January 22

1795 – 1850

St. Vincent Pallottiano (1795 – 1850) (Canonized 1963) was born in Rome, April 21, 1795, the third child of ten. His parents were Peter-Paul Pallotti and his wife Maddalena. From his earliest years his devout parents took him to daily Mass and religious devotions in the many neighborhood churches of Rome. For a time Vincent had trouble with his studies until his mother sought the advice of a close friend, Father Fazzini. He advised her to make a novena to the Holy Spirit with Vincent. The Novena completed, something clicked in the boy’s head. He became the brightest student in his class. Vincent had an innate desire to do what he could to help the poor. Before he would give them a coin he would wash it in the nearby fountain. “When I give to the poor,” he would say, “I give the coin to Christ. I want it to look nice.” He felt called to do penance. He ate little.

Vincent’s first registration in a religious youth group was at his grade school of San Pantalenone, staffed by the Piarist Fathers. Vincent was quite religious and of a serious nature. St. Vincent became a member of a more advanced youth group at the Church of Santa Maria del Pianto. It met every Sunday and Holy Day for catechetical instruction, Marian devotions and recreation. It was under the direction of diocesan priests and among them was St. Gaspar del Bufalo. Vincent as a major seminarian and young priest succeeded St. Gaspar in the directorship of the group.

Vincent’s high school studies were accomplished at the world-famed Collegio Romano which had been established by St. Ignatius Loyola. Pallotti chose St. John Berchmans, a Jesuit seminarian, as his role model to imitate on the path to holiness, particularly in his love for Mary in her Immaculate Conception. Collegio Romano, as all Jesuit schools once did, had a distinctive youth organization known as the “Sodality of the Blessed Virgin.” Vincent cherished his membership in it and the group heightened his Marian devotion all the more as he practiced it in union with his peers who took their devotion to Mary very seriously.

After his entrance into the Sapienza University as a theology student, he decided upon a very bold and daring move. Despite the very negative reaction of many toward the clergy, now that he was a seminarian, he chose to wear his cassock and collar in public. For him it was a sign and defiance of the secularized world and its anti-clericalism.

Vincent Pallotti was ordained in May, 1818, at the Lateran Basilica. From Rome, Vincenzo Pallotti worked selflessly looking after the poor in the urban areas of the city for most of his life. He had an intense devotion to the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity, and to the Virgin Mary. His contemporaries, including the pope, considered him a saint during his life. He longed to send missionaries to other parts of the world and founded the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the Society of the Catholic Apostolate that became the Pious Society of Missions. He strongly believed, in the spirit of St. Paul, that God wanted to save all people, and it was his intention to start a Catholic Apostolic Society. Although his visionary desire to unite the factions in the Church and to encourage lay apostolic activity did not bear fruit within his lifetime, he did his utmost to encourage this vision in others. Pallotti was in fact deemed a patron of Vatican II for his efforts toward building unity in the Church through such practices as inviting the people of his community to worship in the Roman parishes of Eastern Catholic Churches.

St. Vincent Pallotti died in 1850 surrounded by a handful of followers which now numbers thousands of priests, brothers and sisters and an even more vast number of lay people committed to the apostolate. He was canonized in 1963 by Pope John XXIII as a model for all active priests and for encouraging the lay people to become more active in the mission of the Church.

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Feast day: January 21

Patron of the Children of Mary

Died: 304

Saint Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility born c. 291 and raised in a Christian family. She suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve or thirteen during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, on 21 January 304.

Agnes had made a promise to God never to stain her purity. Her love for the Lord was very great and she hated sin even more than death! Since she was very beautiful, many young men wished to marry Agnes, but she would always say, “Jesus Christ is my only Spouse.”

Procop, the Governor’s son, became very angry when she refused him. He had tried to win her for his wife with rich gifts and promises, but the beautiful young girl kept saying, “I am already promised to the Lord of the Universe. He is more splendid than the sun and the stars, and He has said He will never leave me!” In great anger, Procop accused her of being a Christian and brought her to his father, the Governor. The Governor promised Agnes wonderful gifts if she would only deny God, but Agnes refused. He tried to change her mind by putting her in chains, but her lovely face shone with joy. Next he sent her to a place of sin, but an Angel protected her. At last, she was condemned to death. Even the pagans cried to see such a young and beautiful girl going to death. Yet, Agnes was as happy as a bride on her wedding day. She did not pay attention to those who begged her to save herself. “I would offend my Spouse,” she said, “if I were to try to please you. He chose me first and He shall have me!” Then she prayed and bowed her head for the death-stroke of the sword.

She is also known as Saint Agnes and Saint Ines. Her memorial, which commemorates her martyrdom, is 21 January in both the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and in the General Roman Calendar of 1962. The 1962 calendar includes a second feast on 28 January which commemorates her birthday. Agnes is depicted in art with a lamb, as her name resembles the Latin word for “lamb”, agnus. The name “Agnes” is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective “hagne” meaning “chaste, pure, sacred”.

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St. Bonitus

Feast day: January 15
623-706

Today is the feast of St Bonitus. There is not much information about this saint available on the internet. Below is a short description about his life.

Saint Bonitus (623 – 706), also known as Bonet was born in Auvergne, France and held a number of important positions including being appointed governor of Marseilles. He became chancellor of Sigebert III of Austrasia, was appointed governor of Marseilles by Thierry III in 667, and was named Bishop of Clermont in 689. He began a short tenure as bishop of Clermont in 689. He resigned the See because of doubts about the validity of his election. He became a recluse after his resignation, led a life of holiness as a hermit at the Benedictine Abbey of Manglieu at Clermont, and died at Lyons while returning from his pilgrimage to Rome. His feast day is January 15th.

He was known to be an intimate friend of Sigebert III and Genesius.

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St. Sava

Feast day: January 14

Patron of Serbian schools

1174-1236

Saint Sava (1174- 14 January 1236) was a Serbian Prince and Orthodox monk, the first Archbishop of the autocephalous Serbian Church, the founder of Serbian law and literature, and a diplomat. Sava was the youngest son of Stephen I, founder of the Nemanydes dynasty, and also known as Sabas. He became a monk on Mount Athos in Greece when he was seventeen, receiving the monastic name Sava (Sabbas). With his father, who abdicated in 1196, he founded Khilandrai Monastery on Mount Athos for Serbian monks and became Abbot. He returned home in 1207 when his brothers, Stephen II and Vulkan, began to quarrel, and civil war broke out.

Sava brought many of his monks with him, and from the headquarters he established a Studenitsa Monastery. He founded several monasteries and began the reformation and education of the country, where religion and education had fallen to a low estate. Sava heavily influenced and prospered Serbian medieval literature.

In 1219 he was recognized as the first Archbishop of Serbs, by the Patriarch of Constantinople, and in the same year he authored the oldest known constitution of Serbia, thus securing full independence; both religious and political.

In 1222 crowned his brother Stephen II King of Serbia. Through his efforts, he finished the uniting of his people that had been begun by his father, translated religious works into Serbian, and gave his people a native clergy and hierarchy. He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was later sent on a second visit there on an ecclesiastical mission, and died on the way back at Tirnovo, Bulgaria, on January 14. He is the patron of Serbia.

He is widely considered as one of the most important figures of Serbian history, and was canonized and venerated by the Serbian Orthodox Church, as its founder, on January 27 [O.S. January 14]. His life and personal devotion to his people has been interpreted in many artistic works from the Middle Ages to modern times. Since the 1830s, Saint Sava has become the patron saint of Serbian schools and schoolchildren

The Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade was built in his name, on the scene where the Ottoman Turks burnt his remains in the 16th century, and is currently the largest church building in the Balkans.

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St. Thorfinn

Feastday: January 8

St. Thorfinn was born at Trondheim in Norway, and may have been a Cistercian monk before becoming Bishop of Hamar. Although he achieved a fair amount of fame as a saint, comparatively few details of his life are clearly known.

In the year 1285, he died in the Cistercian monastery at TerDoest, near Bruges. He had never attracted particular attention and was soon forgotten. But over fifty years later, in the course of some building operations, his tomb in the Church was opened and it was reported that the remains gave out a strong and pleasing spell. The Abbot made inquiries and found that one of his monks, and aged man named Walter de Muda, remembered Bishop Thorfinn staying in there monastery and the impression he had made of gentle goodness combined with strength.

Father Walter had in fact, written a poem about him after his death and hung it up over his tomb. It was then found that the parchment was still there, none the worse for the passage of time. This was taken as a direction from on high that the Bishop’s memory was to be perpetuated, and Father Walter was instructed to write down his recollections of him.

He was among those who witnessed the agreement of Tonsborg in 1277. This was an agreement between King Magnus VI and the Archbishop of Nidaros confirming certain privileges of the clergy, the freedom of episcopal elections and similar matters. Some years later, King Eric repudiated this agreement, and a fierce dispute between Church and state ensued. Eventually the King outlawed the Archbishop, John, and his two chief supporters, Bishop Andrew of Oslow and Bishop Thorfinn of Hamar. Bishop Thorfinn, after many hardships, including shipwreck, made his way to the Abbey of TerDoest in Flanders, which had a number of contacts with the Norwegian Church. It is possible that he had been there before, and there is some reason to suppose he was himself a Cistercian of the Abbey of Tautra, near Nidaros. After a visit to Rome he went to TerDoest, in bad health. Indeed, though probably still a youngish man, he saw death approaching and so made his will; he had little to leave, but what there was, he divided between his mother, his brothers and sisters, and certain monasteries, churches and charities in his dioceses. He died shortly after on January 8, 1285.

After his recall to the memory of man as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this notice, miracles were reported at his tomb and St. Thorfinn was venerated by the Cistercians and around Bruges. In our own day, his memory has been revived among the few Catholics of Norway, and his feast is observed in his episcopal city of Hamar. The tradition of Thorfinn’s holiness ultimately rests on the poem of Walter de Muda, where he appeared as a kind, patient, generous man, whose mild exterior covered a firm will against whatever he esteemed to be evil and ungodly. His feast day is January 8th.

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