Saint Stories- November 1-23
Vigil of SS. Simon and Jude, Apostles – October 27
SS. Simon and Jude share a common feast on account of their similar apostolate and brotherhood in martyrdom. Simon was a simple Galilean, called by our Lord to be one of the pillars of His Church. Zelotes, “the zealot,” was the surname which he bore among the disciples. Armed with this zeal he went forth to the combat against unbelief and sin, and made conquest of many souls for his divine Lord. The apostle Jude, whom the Church commemorates on the same day, was a brother of St. James the Less. They were called “brethren of the Lord,” on account of their relationship to His Blessed Mother. St. Jude preached first in Mesopotamia, as Simon did in Egypt; and finally they both met in Persia, where they won their crown together. The feasts of the apostles should remind us that nothing is more vital to the Church than the purity of her faith. This faith, in which we are baptized, has been faithfully handed down to us from the apostles; it is the link which binds us to Christ, keeping us in the truth that leads us to God
Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King – October 27
Pope Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King as a solemn affirmation of our Lord’s kingship over every human society; he is King, not only of the soul and conscience, intelligence and will of all men, but also of families and cities, peoples and states and the whole universe. In his Encyclical Letter “Quas primas” the Pope showed how laicism or secularism, organizing society without any reference to God, leads to the apostasy of the masses and the ruin of society, because it is a complete denial of Christ’s Kingship. This is one of the great heresies of our time, and the Pope considered that this annual, public, social and official assertion of Christ’s divine right of Kingship over men in the liturgy would be an effective means of combating it. That Christ is King over all creation is the theme of the whole Mass and Office of the feast. The Mass begins with the magnificent apocalyptic vision of the Lamb of God, sacrificed but henceforth glorified forever, acclaimed by the innumerable host of Angels and Saints. By its position on the last Sunday of October, towards the end of the Liturgical year and just before All Saints Day, the feast of Christ the King comes as the climax of our celebration of all Christ’s mysteries and a kind of earthly anticipation of His everlasting reign over the elect in the glory of heaven. It sums up the Christian message that by His death and Resurrection Christ has conquered sin and death and reigns in the glory of His victory among the elect who are its fruit. Christ is the creative Word; He is the Man-God, seated at the right hand of the Father; he is our Savior; these are His three titles to kingship.
Vigil of All Saints – October 31
As early as the fourth century there were churches in Rome dedicated to the chief martyrs, where the anniversaries of their death, or rather, of their birth in heaven, were annually celebrated. In addition to this, Masses were drawn up to be said in honor of martyrs whose names were not recorded and who had no special feast day. Later on, when the worship of saints who were not martyrs was introduced into the Liturgical calendar, these Masses were given a more general character; finally, in the eighth century, the Gregorian Sacramentary included among them a Mass in honor of all the Saints. In the following century this was appointed to be said on November 1st, which became the feast of All Saints; for this feast today’s vigil is a preparation. This account of its origin explains why the texts of this Mass are also to be found in the Common of Martyrs.
All Saints Day – November 1
The Church pays, day by day, a special veneration to some one of the holy men and women who have helped to establish it by their blood, develop it by their labors, or edify it by their virtues. But, in addition to those whom the Church honors by special designation, or has inscribed in her calendar, how many martyrs there are whose names are not recorded! How many humble virgins and holy penitents! How many just and holy anchorites or young children snatched away in their innocence! How many Christians who have died in grace, whose merits are known only to God, and who are themselves known only in heaven! Now should we forget those who remember us in their intercessions? Besides are they not our brethren, ancestors, friends, and fellow Christians, with whom we have lived in daily companionship – in other words, our own family? Yea it is one family; and our place is marked out in this home of eternal light and eternal love.
Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed – November 2
The Church teaches us that the souls of the just who have left this world soiled with the stain of venial sin remain for a time in a place of expiation, where they suffer such punishment as may be due to their offences. It is a matter of faith that these suffering souls are relieved by the intercession of the Saints in heaven and by the prayers of the faithful upon earth. To pray for the dead is, then, both an act of charity and of piety. We read in Holy Scripture: “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” And when our Lord inspired St. Odilo, Abbot of Cluny, towards the close of the tenth century, to establish in his Order a general commemoration of all the faithful departed, it was soon adopted by the whole Western Church, and has been continued unceasingly to our day. Let us, then, ever bear in mind the dead and offer up our prayers for them. By showing this mercy to the suffering souls in Purgatory, we shall be particularly entitled to be treated with mercy at our departure from this world, and to share more abundantly in the general suffrages of the Church, continually offered for all who have slept in Christ.
St. Andrew Avellino, Confessor – November 10
After a holy youth, Lancelot Avellino was ordained priest at Naples. At the age of 36 he entered the Theatine Order, and took the name of Andrew to show his love for the cross. For fifty years he was afflicted with a most painful rupture; yet he would never use a carriage. Once he was carrying the Viaticum, and a storm had extinguished the lamps, a heavenly light encircled him, guided his steps and sheltered him from the rain. But as a rule his sufferings were unrelieved by God or man. On the last day of his life, St. Andrew rose to say Mass. He was in his eighty-ninth year, and so weak that he could scarcely reach the altar. He began the “Judica me,” and fell forward in a fit of apoplexy. Laid on a straw mattress, his whole frame was convulsed in agony while the fiend, in visible form, advanced to seize his soul. Then, as his brethren prayed and wept, the voice of Mary was heard, bidding the Saint’s guardian angel send the tempter back to hell. A calm and holy smile settled on the features of the dying Saint, as, with a grateful salutation to the image of Mary, he breathed forth his soul to God. He died on November 10, 1608.
SS. Tryphon, Respicius, and Nympha, Martyrs – November 10
Tryphon was born in Phrygia. During the Decian persecution he was taken to Nicfa about the year 250 and put to death in a horrible manner after he had converted the heathen prefect Licius.Respicius appears as Tryphon’s companion. The relics of both were preserved together with those of a holy virgin named Nympha. Nympha was a virgin from Palermo who was put to death for the Faith at the beginning of the fourth century. According to other versions of the legend, when the Goths invaded Sicily she fled from Palermo to the Italian mainland and died in the sixth century at Savona.
St. Martin, Bishop and Confessor – November 11
When a mere boy, Martin became a Christian catechumen against his parents’ wish; and at 15 was therefore seized by his father, a pagan soldier, and enrolled in the army. One winter’s day, when stationed at Amiens, he met a beggar almost naked and frozen with cold. Having no money, he cut his cloak in two and gave him the half. That night he saw our Lord clothed in the half cloak and heard Him say to the angels: “Martin, yet a catechumen, hath wrapped me in this garment.” This decided him to be baptized, and shortly after he left the army. He succeeded in converting his mother; but being driven from his home by the Arians; he took shelter with St. Hilary, and founded near Poitiers the first monastery in France. In 372 he was made bishop of Tours. His flock, though Christian in name, was still pagan in heart. Unarmed and attended only by his monks, Martin destroyed the heathen temples and groves and completed by his preaching and miracles the conversion of the people, whence he is known as the Apostle of Gaul. His last eleven years were spent in humble toil to atone for his faults, while God made manifest by miracles the purity of his soul.
St. Mennas, Martyr – November 11
At Cotyaeum in Phrygia, during the persecution of Diocletian, the celebrated martyrdom of St. Mennas, an Egyptian soldier, who cast off the military belt and obtained the grace of serving the King of heaven secretly in the desert. Afterwards, coming out publicly and freely declaring himself a Christian, he was first subjected to severe torments; and finally kneeling in prayer, giving thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ, he was slain with the sword. After his death he became renowned for many miracles.
St. Martin I, Pope and Martyr – November 12
St. Martin I, pope from 649 to 655, was a courageous defender of the faith against heresy. He held a council at Rome which condemned the Monothelite heresy which that Christ had no human but only a divine will. The heretical emperor, Constans II, had him treacherously arrested and taken to Constantinople. After many sufferings and humiliations he was banished to the Chersonesus, where, exhausted by ill usage, he died. His body, brought back to Rome, was laid in the church already dedicated to SS. Sylvester and Martin of Tours.
St. Didacus, Confessor – November 13
St. Didacus was born in Spain, in the middle of the fifteenth century. He was remarkable from childhood for his love of solitude, and when a youth retired and led a hermit life, occupying himself with weaving mats,like the fathers of the desert. Aiming at still higher perfection, he entered the Order of St. Francis. His want of learning and his humility would not allow him to aspire to the priesthood, and he remained a lay-brother till his death, perfect in his close observance of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and mortifying his wilt and his senses in every way that he could contrive. At one time he was sent by his superiors to the Canary Islands, whither he went joyfully, hoping to win the crown of martyrdom. Such, however, was not God’s will, and after making many conversions by his example and holy words, he was recalled to Spain. There, after a long and painful illness, he finished his days, embracing the cross, which he had so dearly loved through his life. He died with the words of the hymn “Dulce lignum” on his lips.
St. Josaphat, Bishop and Martyr – November 14
St. Josaphat, a Catholic of the Ruthenian rite, was an apostle of the return of the Orthodox schismatics to the Church of Rome. At the age of twenty he became a Basilian monk, and while still young was made superior of his monastery, then archimandrite of Vilna and finally archbishop of Polotsk. The young archbishop’s zeal for the cause of the “uniates” aroused the hatred of the schismatics, and he was murdered by a mob at Vitebsk in 1623 at the age of 43. His prayer obtained the conversion of his murderers. He is one of the patrons of Poland.
St. Albert the Great, Bishop, Confessor and Doctor – November 15
Born in Swabia, St. Albert, through the advice and prayers of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, joined the Order of Preachers; he studied and taught philosophy and theology at Cologne and Paris, where he became one of the most famous masters of the university. On his return to Cologne he had St. Thomas Aquinas among his pupils. He became bishop of Ratisbon and combated the errors of William of St. Amour. He died at Cologne in 1280 and was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pius XI in 1931.
St. Gertrude, Virgin – November 16
Gertrude was born in the year 1263, of a noble Saxon family, and placed at the age of five for education in the Benedictine Abbey of Rodelsdorf. Her strong mind was carefully cultivated, and she wrote Latin with unusual elegance and force; above all, she was perfect in humility and mortification, in obedience, and in all monastic observances. Her life was crowded with wonders. She has in obedience recorded some of her visions, in which she traces in words of indescribable beauty the intimate converse of her soul, with Jesus and Mary. She was gentle to all, most gentle to sinners; filled with devotion to the saints of God, to the souls in Purgatory, and above all to the Passion of our Lord and to His Sacred Heart. She ruled her abbey with perfect wisdom and love for forty years. Her life was one of great and almost continual suffering, and her longing to be with Jesus was not granted until 1334, when she had reached her seventy-second year.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, Bishop and Confessor – November 17
St. Gregory was famous for sanctity and wisdom, but even more for the miracles which God wrought through him in such numbers that he was called “Thaumaturgus,” the wonderworker, even during his lifetime. His faith was “able to remove mountains,” and there is a legend that he indeed obtained by his prayers, that a mountain moved to leave room for the building of a church. – St. Gregory was bishop of Neocaesarea in Asia Minor and suffered greatly in the persecution of Decius and the barbarian invasion; he died in the year 270.
The Dedication of the Basilicas of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul November 18
St. Peter’s on the Vatican hill and St. Paul’s outside the Walls, both built under Constantine on the sites of the Apostles’ martyrdom, are scarcely second in importance to St. John Lateran. – St. Peter’s on the site of Nero’s circus, with the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles below its high altar, has become the center of the Christian world, although it is not the cathedral church of Rome. The fourth century building was already a remarkable one, and was later enlarged. In the sixteenth century it had to be replaced because it was falling into ruin. Julius II and Leo X called on the greater artists of the Renaissance, and Bramante and Michael Angelo both had a share in the planning of the largest and most magnificent church in the world. It was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII on November 18, 1626. – St. Paul’s basilica is situated on the opposite side of the city over the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles. It was almost wholly destroyed by fire in 1823, and was rebuilt with unparalleled magnificence by Popes Gregory XVI and Pius IX. Pius IX consecrated it on December 10, 1854; nevertheless he ordered that the commemoration of the two dedications should remain joined on the anniversary day of the first.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Widow – November 19
St. Elizabeth, daughter of King Andrew II of Hungary, was married to the Landgrave Louis IV of Thuring, and bore him three children. Her husband, who was a saint, encouraged her charity, and her inexhaustible goodness made her a mother to the poor, the sick and the lepers. At the death of her husband the new landgrave, her brother-in-law, drove her from the castle of Wartburg and left her homeless. She took the habit as a tertiary of St. Francis and died in the greatest austerity in 1231, aged scarcely 24 years.
St. Felix of Valois, Confessor – November 20
St. Felix of Valois left the royal court of France and renounced the world to embrace a solitary life. Later, with St. John of Matha, he founded the Trinitarian Order for the ransom of captives from the Mohammedans. Ready to suffer hunger and thirst and every sort of hardship to deliver their brethren, generously assisted by King Philip Augustus, they founded the monastery of Cerfroi which was the center of their order. St. Felix died in 1212.
The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – November 21
Religious parents never fail by devout prayer to consecrate their children to the divine service and love, both before and after their birth. Some amongst the Jews, not content with this general consecration of their children, offered them to God in their infancy, by the hands of the priests in the Temple, to be lodged in apartments belonging to the Temple, and brought up in attending the priests and Levites in the sacred ministry. It is an ancient tradition that the Blessed Virgin Mary was thus solemnly offered to God in the Temple in her infancy. This festival of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin the Church celebrates today. The tender soul of Mary was then adorned with the most precious graces, an object of astonishment and praise to the angels, and of the highest complacence to the adorable Trinity; the Father looking upon her as His beloved daughter, the Son as one chosen and prepared to become His mother, and the Holy Ghost as His darling spouse. Mary was the first who set up the standard of virginity; and, by consecrating it by a perpetual vow to our Lord; she opened the way to all virgins who have since followed her example.
St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr – November 22
In the evening of her wedding, with the music of the marriage ringing in her ears, Cecilia, a rich, beautiful, and noble Roman maiden, renewed the vow by which she had consecrated her virginity to God. “Pure be my heart and undefiled my flesh; for I have a spouse you know not of – an angel of my Lord.” The heart of her young husband Valerian was moved by her words; he received baptism, and within a few days he and his brother Tiburtius, who had been brought by him to knowledge of the faith, sealed their confession with their blood. Cecelia only remained. “Do you not know,” was her answer to the threats of the prefect, “that I am the bride of my Lord Jesus Christ?” The death appointed for her was suffocation, and she remained a day and a night in a hot-air bath, heated seven times its wont. But “the flames had no power over her body, neither was a hair of her head singed.” The lector sent to dispatch her struck with trembling hand the three blows allowed, and left her still alive. For two days and nights Cecilia lay with her head half severed on the pavement of her bath, fully sensible, and joyfully awaiting her crown; on the third day the agony was over, and in 177 the virgin saint gave back her pure spirit to Christ.
St. Clement I, Pope and Martyr – November 23
St. Clement is said to have been of noble birth and to have been consecrated bishop by St. Peter himself. With the words of the apostles still ringing in his ears, he began to rule the Church of God; and thus he was among the first, as he was among the most illustrious, in the long line of those who have held the place and power of St. Peter. He lived at the same time and in the same city with Domitian, the persecutor of the Church; and besides external foes he had to contend with schism and rebellion within. The Corinthian Church was torn by intestine strife, and its members set the authority of their clergy at defiance. It was then that St. Clement interfered in the plenitude of his apostolic authority and sent his famous Epistle to the Corinthians. He urged the duties of charity and, above all, submission to the clergy. He did not speak in vain; peace and order were restored. St. Clement had done his work on earth, and shortly after sealed with his blood the faith which he had learned from Peter and taught to the nations.
St. Felicitas, Martyr – November 23
At Rome, St. Felicitas, mother of seven martyred sons. After them she was beheaded for Christ by order of Emperor Marcus Antoninus.