Saint Brendan the Navigator

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Saint Brendan the Navigator

Abbot of Clonfert

Saint Brendan was born in County Kerry, Ireland, in the year 484. His education was confided to Saint Ita, called the Bridget of Munster, and later to Saint Erc; the latter ordained him a priest in 512. Between the years 512 and 530 he built monastic cells at Ardfert and Shanakeel, at the foot of Brandon Hill. From the latter colony he set out on his famous voyage of seven years, accompanied by a number of monks, according to the account of Saint Aengus at the close of the eighth century. When Saint Brendan’s narration of the trip was transcribed and read after his return, crowds of pilgrims and students came to Ardfert, and it was necessary to found many religious houses at various sites for those who wished to live under the Saint’s direction. He established the See of Ardfert, then founded a monastery in County Clare in about 550.

He journeyed afterwards to Wales and Iona. After a three years’ mission in Britain, he returned to Ireland and concerned himself with charitable works in the region of Leinster. He founded another see at Annaghdown, and at least four churches in different counties of Ireland. The monastery of Clonfert was founded in 557, and there Saint Brendan died, in an advanced old age.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908). 

St. Ubaldus

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St. Ubaldus, Bishop of Gubio

HE was born of a noble family at Gubio, a city of the Ecclesiastical State, near the marquisate of Ancona. He had his education in the seminary of SS. Marian and James, and made great progress in his studies both profane and sacred; but the holy scriptures, those springs of living waters, were his chief delight. Many honourable matches were proposed to him by his friends; but he rejected all such offers, and made a vow of celibacy. His ardour in the perfect practice of virtue strengthened him against the bad example of many tepid companions. However, not approving certain irregularities which he saw tolerated among them, he exchanged this house for the seminary of St. Secundus, where he finished his studies. The bishop of Gubio made him prior of his cathedral that he might reform several abuses in the behaviour of the canons. Ubaldus prepared himself for this important work by fasting, prayers, and tears, by which he hoped to engage the divine assistance. He easily prevailed on three of his canons who were the best disposed, to join with him in his exercises and rules of life; and their example soon began to work upon the rest. The saint visited a community of regular canons, esteemed for their regularity and sanctity, which had been established by Peter de Honestis, a person of singular piety, in the territory of Ravenna. He staid there three months in order to take an exact view of the discipline of the house; and he carried its rule back with him to Gubio, and in a short time got it received by the whole chapter to render their reformation complete. After some years, their house and cloister being burnt down, Ubaldus looked upon this as a favourable opportunity of leaving his post, and retiring into some desert. In this view he made his way to that of Font-Avellano, where he found Peter of Rimini, to whom he communicated his design of quitting the world. That great servant of God opposed the motion as a dangerous temptation, and exhorted him to return to his former vocation, in which God had fixed him for the good of others. The saint, therefore, returned to Gubio, rebuilt the cloisters, and rendered his chapter more flourishing than it had ever been, to the great edification of the whole country. In 1126, St. Ubaldus was unanimously chosen bishop of Perugia; but he hid himself in the country, so that the deputies of that city were not able to find him; and when they were departed, he went to Rome, threw himself at the feet of Pope Honorius II. and with many tears begged that he might be excused; employing all the interest he had in the world to obtain the favour he desired. Honorius granted his request; but the see of Gubio becoming vacant two years after, the pope directed the clergy of that city to proceed to his election according to the forms prescribed by the canons: in consequence of which his holiness consecrated him with his own hands in the beginning of the year 1129. The new bishop made it his whole business to adorn the dignity of his station with all the virtues of a true successor of the apostles. He practised a perpetual mortification of all his senses, and lived dead to all the enjoyments of the world: he was indefatigable both in the exercise of penance, and in the labours of his ministry; frugal, humble, sincere, and full of compassion for all the world. But mildness and patience, by which he appeared insensible to injuries and affronts, was one of the brightest parts of his character. Once it happened, that in repairing the wall of the city, the workmen encroached upon his vineyard. The bishop mildly put them in mind of it, and desired them to forbear. The overseer of the work moved with brutish fury, scornfully pushed him into a great heap of mortar. The good bishop got up all covered with lime and dirt, without making the least expostulation. The people demanded that the overseer, in punishment for the offence, should be banished, and his goods confiscated. The saint endeavoured to make it pass for an accident; but when that could not satisfy the people, who knew how it happened, he being desirous to deliver the man out of the hands of the magistrates, maintained that the cognizance of the misdemeanour belonging to his own court, he would take care to do himself justice. The workman, stung with remorse, proffered to accept of any punishment the bishop should think proper to inflict on him, even though his life was to pay for the offence. The holy prelate, rising from his chair, went up to him, and told him with a smiling countenance, that by way of satisfaction for the injury received, he insisted on his giving him a kiss of peace, as a token of a perfect reconciliation, and that he begged of God to pardon him that and all other offences. After which he saluted him. 1

The saint often defended his flock in public dangers. Hearing one day that a sedition was raised in one of the streets, wherein some were wounded, others killed, he ran out, and venturing himself between the combatants, fell down amidst their naked swords. The mutineers thinking him dead, all threw away their weapons, running to take him up, and every one condemned himself as the murderer of their holy bishop. Then the saint, thanking God that the tumult was appeased, dispelled their fears by assuring them that he had received no hurt. The Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, in his cruel wars in Italy, having taken and plundered Spoleto, threatened to do the like by Gubio. Ubaldus, moved by a more than fatherly tenderness for his flock, met the emperor on the road, and on his first interview softened the heart of that tyrant to compassion, and obtained of him the safety of his people. The two last years of his life he laboured under a complication of painful distempers, which he bore with the patience of a saint. On Easter-day, in 1160, his devotion to the glorious mystery of that festival made him forget his infirm condition, get up, say mass, and give the people a discourse on eternal life. From the cathedral he would be carried to the church of St. Laurence, near which he had an apartment. He continued there till the feast of the ascension in retirement, to prepare himself for death. After that he was removed into his own house, where he repeated his last instructions to his clergy and people, who came to visit him and beg his last blessing. Having received the rites of the church, he expired on the 16th of May, 1160. The people from all the neighbouring provinces attended his funeral in crowds, and were eye-witnesses of the many miracles God performed at his tomb. So tender was the devotion which this spectacle excited in every one, that animosities and dissensions over the whole country were extinguished, and a most wonderful spirit of charity was infused into all hearts. Injuries were forgotten, and cities which had been long at variance, renewed the most sincere league of friendship. St. Ubaldus had been favoured with the miraculous gift of curing diseases in his lifetime, which he performed by the sign of the cross and prayer; yet, when a certain blind man addressed himself to him to be cured, the bishop told him that his corporal sight would be prejudicial to his soul, and that his temporal blindness would be recompensed with the clear vision of God in heaven for all eternity: at which the good man was so well satisfied, that he no longer desired to be cured. St. Ubaldus was canonized by Pope Celestine III. in 1192. See his accurate life written by Tebald, his successor, in the Acta Sanctorum.

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume V: May.The Lives of the Saints. 1866.


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The Church’s Year
Rev. Fr. Leonard Goffine

This Sunday and the whole week should serve as a preparation for the festival of Pentecost, that we may be enabled by good works and pious devotional exercises, to receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost. At the Introit the Church sings:


Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to thee, allel. My heart bath said to thee: I have sought thy face, thy face, O Lord, I will seek: turn not away thy face from me, allel. allel. The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? (Ps. XXVI. 7-9.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Almighty, everlasting God, grant us ever to have a will devoted to Thee, and to serve Thy majesty with a sincere heart. Through .etc.

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Saint John Nepomucene

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Saint John Nepomucene

Priest and Martyr

Saint John Nepomucene was born in 1330, in answer to the prayer of his parents, who were poor folk of Nepomuc in Bohemia. In gratitude they consecrated him to God. His holy life as a priest led to his appointment as chaplain to the court of the Emperor Wenceslaus, where he converted many by his preaching and example.

Among those who sought his advice was the virtuous empress, who suffered much from her husband’s unfounded jealousy. Saint John taught her to bear her cross with joy; but her piety only incensed the emperor, and he tried to extort an account of her confessions from the Saint. He threw Saint John into a dungeon but gained nothing; then, inviting him to his palace, he promised him riches if he would yield, and threatened death if he refused. The Saint was silent. He was racked and burnt with torches; but no words except the holy names of Jesus and Mary fell from his lips. At last set free, he spent time in preaching and preparing for the death he knew to be near.

On Ascension Eve, May 16th, Wenceslaus, after a final and fruitless attempt to alter the constancy of the faithful priest, ordered him to be cast into the river. That night the martyr’s hands and feet were bound, and he was thrown from the bridge of Prague into the Moldau River. Heavenly lights shining on the water and from under it, revealed the whereabouts of the body, which was soon buried with the honors due to a Saint.

A few years later, Wenceslaus was deposed by his own subjects, and died an impenitent and miserable death. In 1618 the Calvinist and Hussite soldiers of the Elector Frederick tried repeatedly to demolish the shrine of Saint John in Prague. Each attempt was miraculously frustrated, and once the persons engaged in the sacrilege died suddenly on the spot. During a battle in 1620 the imperial troops recovered the city by a victory which was ascribed to the Saint’s intercession, since he was seen on the eve of the conflict, radiant with glory, guarding the cathedral. When his shrine was opened three hundred and thirty years after his decease, the flesh had disappeared, and one member alone remained incorrupt, the tongue, which thus, still in silence, gave glory to God.

Reflection. Saint John Nepomucene, who by his invincible sacramental silence won his crown, teaches us to prefer torture and death to offending the Creator with our tongue. How many times each day do we forfeit grace and strength by sins of speech!

Sources: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 5; Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894). 

Saint John Baptist de LaSalle

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Saint John Baptist de LaSalle


Complete dedication to what he saw as God’s will for him, dominates the life of John Baptist de LaSalle. Founder of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, or Christian Brothers, he was canonized in 1900. In 1950 Pope Pius XII named him patron of schoolteachers.

Saint John Baptist was born of the nobility of Rheims in 1651, and after a very pious youth was ordained a priest at the age of 27, becoming at once a Canon of the Cathedral there. It was said that to see him at the altar was sufficient to give an unbeliever faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord. The people would wait for him to come from the church to consult him. His life was marked by a rule he set for himself, to maintain perfect regularity in all his duties.

He became interested in the creation of gratuitous schools for poor and abandoned children. He himself was invited to help in their education; and after directing the teachers for four years, decided to join them. In this he was opposed by most of the city, for whom such a life was very humiliating for a Canon of the Cathedral. His spiritual director, a virtuous Franciscan Minim priest, encouraged him, saying that for teachers, whose vocation is to aid the poor to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, the only suitable inheritance is the poverty of the Saviour.

Saint John Baptist divested himself of the patrimonial wealth he still controlled, then took religious vows with his co-workers. His tender and paternal charity soon sanctified the house and the labors; peace reigned, and the members of the new society loved one another sincerely. The Institute developed and spread amid a thousand difficulties and persecutions; these, by humiliating its members, brought down graces on them and made the Providence of the Lord more evident.

The blessed Founder died in 1719; a religious superior said of him that his humility was universal; he never acted without taking counsel, and the opinion of others always seemed better to him than his own. He listened to others in conversation, and was never heard to say any word tending to his own advantage… Indeed it is God who elevates those who take the last place for themselves, to place them among the first.

Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 15; Saint of the Day, edited by Leonard Foley, O.F.M. (Saint Anthony Messenger Press: Cincinnati, 1974), Vol. I