St. John

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St. John, Pope and Martyr

A.D. 526.

POPE JOHN was by birth a Tuscan. He distinguished himself from his youth in the Roman clergy, of which he became the oracle and the model. He was archdeacon when, after the death of Hormisdas in 523, he was chosen pope. Theodoric the Arian king of the Goths held Italy in subjection, and though endowed with some great qualities, did not divest himself of that disposition to cruelty and jealousy, which is always an ingredient in the character of an ambitious tyrant and a barbarian. It happened that the Emperor Justin published an edict, ordering the Arians to deliver up all the churches they were possessed of to the Catholic bishops, by whom they were to be consecrated anew. Theodoric, who was the patron of that sect, took this law very ill; and in revenge threatened, that if it were not repealed in the East, he would not only treat the Catholics in his dominions in the same manner, but would fill Rome with blood and slaughter. Being, however, in some awe of the emperor, he resolved to try what he could do by negotiation; and sent the pope at the head of an embassy of five bishops and four senators, of which three had been consuls, to Constantinople on that errand. John used all manner of entreaties to decline such a commission, but was compelled by the king to take it upon him. He was received in the East with the greatest honours possible; and the whole city of Constantinople went out twelve miles to meet him, carrying wax tapers and crosses.  Continue reading

Saint Bede the Venerable

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Saint Bede the Venerable

Father of the Church

Saint Bede, the illustrious ornament of the Anglo-Saxon Church and its first English historian, was consecrated to God in 680 at the age of seven, and entrusted to the care of Saint Benedict Biscop at Weremouth. He became a monk in the sister-house of Jarrow, which he would never leave, and there he trained no fewer than six hundred scholars, whom his piety, learning, and sweet disposition had gathered around him.
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St. Eleutherius

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St. Eleutherius, Pope and Martyr

HE was by birth a Grecian, and deacon of the church of Rome under Pope Anicetus. He succeeded St. Soter in the pontificate in 176, and governed the church whilst it was beaten with violent storms. Montanus, an ambitious vain man of Mœsia on the confines of Phrygia, sought to raise himself among men by pretending that the Holy Ghost spoke by his mouth, and published forged revelations. His followers afterwards advanced that he was himself the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete Spirit sent by Christ according to his promises to perfect his law. They seem at first only to have been schismatics and enthusiasts; but soon after added heresy and blasphemy, calling Montanus the Holy Ghost in the same manner that Christ is God the Son. They affected an excessive rigour, had many fasts, kept three Lents in the year, refused the communion and absolution to persons who had fallen into any sin of impurity, condemned second marriages as adulteries, and taught that it is unlawful to flee from persecution. Priscilla and Maximilla, two women of the town of Pepuza in Phrygia, vaunted their pretended prophecies, and were the oracles of their deluded votaries. The devil uses all sorts of baits to destroy souls. If many perish by those of pleasure, others fall by pride, which is gratified by a love of singularity, and by an affected austerity. Some who braved the racks and gridirons of the persecutors, and despised the allurements of pleasure, had the misfortune to become the dupes of this wretched enthusiast, and martyrs of the devil. Continue reading

Saint Philip Neri

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Saint Philip Neri


Saint Philip, one of the glories of Florence, was born of an illustrious Christian family in that city of Tuscany, in 1515. His parents lived in the fear of God and the observance of His commandments, and raised their son to be obedient and respectful. Already when he was five years old, he was called good little Philip. He lost his mother while still very young, and it seemed he should have died himself when he was about eight or nine years old. He fell, along with a horse, onto a pavement from a certain height. Though the horse landed on top of him, he was entirely uninjured. He attributed his preservation to a special intervention of God, destined to permit him to dedicate his life to the service of God.
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St. Urban

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St. Urban, Pope and Martyr

HE succeeded St. Calixtus in the year 223, the third of the emperor Alexander, and sat seven years. Though the church enjoyed peace under that mild reign, this was frequently disturbed by local persecutions raised by the people or governors. In the acts of St. Cecily this zealous pope is said to have encouraged the martyrs, and converted many idolaters. He is styled a martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, in the Martyrology of St. Jerom published by Florentinius, and in the Greek liturgy. It appears from Fortunatus and several ancient missals, that the festival of St. Urban was celebrated in France with particular devotion in the sixth age. A very old church stood on the Appian road dedicated to God in honour of this saint, near the place where he was first interred, in the cemetery of Prætextatus. His body was there found together with those of SS. Cecily, Tiburtius, and Valerian in 821, and translated by Pope Paschal into the church of St. Cecily. Papebroke shows that it is the body of another martyr of the same name, famous in ancient records, which Nicholas I. sent in 862 to the monks of St. Germanus of Auxerre, and which now adorns the monastery of Saint Urban in the diocess of Challons on the Marne, near Joinville. It is exposed in a silver shrine. See Tillemont, t. 3. p. 258. 1

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. May 25.