Saint Brendan the Elder

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Saint Brendan the Elder, Abbot in Ireland.

[Abbot of Cluain-fearta, or Clonfert, upon the river Shannon.] HE was son of Findloga, and a disciple of St. Finian at Clonard. Passing afterwards into Wales he lived some time under the discipline of St. Gildas, also several years in the abbey of Llan-carven, in Glamorganshire. He built in Britain the monastery of Ailech, and another church in a territory called Heth. Returning into Ireland he founded there several schools and monasteries, the chief of which was that of Cluain-fearta. 1 He wrote a monastic rule which was long famous in Ireland, taught some time at Ros-carbre, and died at Enachduin, a monastery which he had built for his sister Briga, in Connaught. He is named in the Roman Martyrology on the 16th of May, on which he passed to bliss, in the year 578, in the ninety-fourth year of his age. His life extant in MS. in the Cottonian Library is filled with apochryphal relations of miracles; see Usher’s Antiq. p. 271, 471, 494; Smith’s Natural and Civil History of Kerry, p. 412, and 68.

May 16. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints.

St. John Nepomucen

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St. John Nepomucen, Martyr

St. John, whom, in our time, God has honored with many miracles, received his surname from Nepomuc, a small town two miles from Prague, where he was born. His parents were plain people and had lived many years without issue. After having made a vow, however, in honor of the blessed Virgin, whose miraculous picture is kept in a Cistercian convent not far from Nepomuc, St. John was born to them. At the time of his birth, several stars were seen which floated down from heaven and rested upon the house of his parents. This event was interpreted and admired as a prophecy of his future holiness. In his infancy, he fell dangerously sick, but recovered after his parents had consecrated him to God in the above-named place of pilgrimage. As he grew up, his greatest delight was to assist the priests at Mass, and he passed the whole forenoon in that sacred occupation in the Cistercian Church. In his studies he made such rapid progress that he became Doctor of Divinity and Canon Law. After being ordained priest, he retired one month from all intercourse with men, and prepared himself, by prayers, penances and purifying his soul, for the first holy Mass. Soon after, he was commissioned to preach at Prague in the Church of our Lady, in the suburb; and he did this with such eminent success, that the Archbishop raised him to the dignity of Canon and preacher of the Cathedral, which functions he discharged until his death.  Continue reading

St. Dympna

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St. Dympna, Virgin and Martyr

“In Brabant, the memory of the holy virgin and martyr Dympna, the daughter of an Irish king, who was beheaded by order of her father for having confessed the Christian faith and preserving her virginity.” This notice is today in the Roman Martyrology. St. Dympna was a royal princess, her father was a pagan, but her mother a Christian; she was baptized without the knowledge of the father as soon as she had become old enough to understand the truth of the Christian faith. From that hour she renounced all worldiy pleasures, honors and riches, and aspired only after heavenly treasures. Soon after she also consecrated her virginity to God by vow in consideration of the priceless worth of virginal chastity. After her mother’s death her father desired to marry again as he, however, believed that there was not a more beautiful princess than Dympna, he conceived the unheard-of thought of marrying his own daughter. Dympna was horrified at such an incestuous demand, and reproving her father for his design, said that such godlessness had not been heard of since the world was created. Her father, however, persisted and pursued her with flatteries, caresses and promises and finally with menaces.  Continue reading

Saint Ubaldus

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Saint 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.

May 16. Rev. Alban Butler. 1866. Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints

Saint John Baptist de LaSalle

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Saint John Baptist de LaSalle

Founder
(1651-1719)

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