August 5 Saint of the Day St. Emygdius Patron: Against earthquakes. Emygdius was born in Treves [Germany] of a noble Frank family. In his twenty-third year he embraced the faith of Christ in spite of opposition of his parents who were idolaters, and this faith he steadfastly professed. He lived with three disciples, Euplus, Germanus and Valentinus. He scorned human pleasures, and thus he applied himself the more entirely to divine things. Fired with a burning love of the neighbor, he journeyed to Rome in order to bring about the salvation to many souls, and he was there received as a guest, in the Island of the Tiber, where he cured, by baptism, the daughter of his host, who had been ill for five years of an incurable disease. A little later he opened the eyes of a blind man, in the presence of the people by the sign of the Cross. Thereupon the crowd, thinking that he was the son of Apollo, carried him off by force to the Temple of Aesculapius. he there declared himself the servant of Christ, and by calling upon Christ's name he restored to health a great number of sick persons, who were vainly beseeching the help of the idol. Emygdius tore down the altars, and having broken in pieces the statue of Aesculapius, he cast it into the Tiber. These acts, and the conversion of thirteen hundred of the heathen, which followed, together with that of the priests of Aesculapius, enraged Posthumius Titanus, the Prefect of City. Emygdius, by the counsel of an angel, escaped from his threats, and betook himself to the Pontiff, Saint Marcellus, by whom he was consecrated Bishop, and sent to Ascoli. On his way thither Emygdius converted a multitude of persons to Christ by the many miracles which he wrought. The demons, whose wailing issued from the idols and filled the temples upon his arrival at Ascoli, declared a traveler to be the cause of their distress. The people were aroused, and sought to slay him, whereupon Polymius, the Governor, who was brought out by the tumult, called Emygdius to him, and in a long fruitless discourse he urged him to worship Jupiter and the goddess Angaria, the patroness of Ascoli. He even promised him as a reward the hand of his daughter Polisia, whom Emygdius converted to Christ and baptized on the spot. Her baptism was followed by that of sixteen hundred men, the Saint having drawn, by a miracle, an abundance of water from the rock. Thrown into fury by these events, Polymius cut off the head of the holy Bishop, whereupon the body, wonderful to relate, stood erect, and bearing in its hands the head which had been cast upon the ground, carried it to the Oratory, a distance of three hundred feet. it was removed thence to the principal church, where it is honored by the people of Ascoli, as well as by a multitude of people from other parts of [Italy]. The blessed death of Emygdius took place during the persecution of Diocletian. Excerpted from Saints of Carmel - Proper Offices of the Saints Granted to the Barefoot Carmelites' 1896 edition, Carmelite Spirituality Blog
August 4 Saint of the Day! St. John Vianney Patron: priests; confessors; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; diocese of Kansas City, Kansas. During the French Revolution a small band of Ursuline nuns was imprisoned in the Bastille. To cheer her disconsolate companions, one of the group passed wheaten discs of bread, cut from the loaf of the daily rations, to memorialize the happy days when they were free and could receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. At that time all religious schools and churches were closed, and those who harbored priests were imprisoned. At the Vianney farmhouse near Dardilly, France, fugitive priests were offered a refuge. Here their son was prepared in his tenth year for the reception of Holy Communion by a hunted priest. While tending his father's sheep, John Vianney fashioned a small statue of Our Lady out of clay. He hid it in the hollow of an old tree with this petition: "Dear Lady Mary, I love you very much; you must bring Jesus back to His tabernacles very soon!" On a visit to his aunt at Ecully, John listened to her praises of Father Balley, the parish priest, and he sought the Father's advice regarding his vocation to the priesthood. The pastor appraised the overgrown, awkward youth of faltering speech and devoid of general education. Though John was unable to answer the questions pertaining to earthly science which Father asked him, yet, when the priest put to him the questions of the catechism, his face became luminous with lively interest. He answered every question correctly, and in a manner beyond his years. The amazed pastor took this evidence as a sign from heaven, prophesying, "You will become a priest!" The ensuing years brought many trials to John. He was conscripted; his mother died; he failed often in his studies. Ordained as a Mass priest, August 12, 1815, he remarked to Our Lady, Queen of the Clergy: "Here is your priest, O Blessed Mother! Stay close to me. Help me to be a good priest!" As a curate and as a pastor, St. John Vianney's daily instruction on the catechism found an inspired audience, among whom were noted orators such as Père Lacordaire, O.P., the famed preacher of Notre Dame. The saintly pastor performed many miracles, but the greatest was his own manner of Eucharistic living. It was his Lord, living in Father Vianney, who made him "spend and be spent" in ceaseless service for both sinner and saint in the sacred tribunal of penance. — Rev. Vincent F. Kienberg
August 3 Saint of the Day! St. Lydia PURPURARIA Saint Lydia was born during the first century in Thyatira, a town famous for its dye works in Asia Minor, famous for its dye works, (hence, her name which means purple seller). She was a seller of purple dye and was St. Paul's first convert at Philippi. The following is from the Acts of the Apostles: And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one that worshipped God, did hear: whose heart the Lord opened to attend to those things which were said by Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying: If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us (Acts 16:14-15). She was baptized with her household. Thereafter, Paul made his home with her while in Philippi. Lydia was a woman of hospitality, a woman of faith. As a successful businesswoman she most likely had a home spacious enough to welcome guests and to use her home as a Christian center, where others would gather for the Holy Mass and prayer. After Paul and Silas were released from prison, they went immediately to Lydia’s house to see and encourage the believers gathered there. Lydia served the Lord through her gift of hospitality by welcoming others into her home.
August 2 Blessed Jane of Aza Mother of Saint Dominic and Blessed Mannes, Blessed Jane was born of the prominent d’Aza family and married Felix de Guzman. Three of their children spent their lives in the service of the Church: Anthony, Mannes and Dominic. An early source describes her as “virtuous, chaste, prudent, and full of compassion for the poor and the afflicted; among all the women of the region she was outstanding for her good reputation.” According to tradition, Jane had a dream before her son’s conception in which she saw a hound racing through the world igniting everything with a flaming torch. Troubled by this dream, she went to pray at the Benedictine abbey of San Domingo de Silos, located in a pleasant valley about twenty miles north of Caleruega. This dream was indeed prophetic. Dominic did ignite the world with sacred truth through preaching and teaching born from a life of dedicated prayer, love for the Word of God, and a burning desire to gain souls for Christ. It is widely believed that Dominic’s keen sensitivity to the sufferings of others, which he displayed from childhood on, was acquired from his mother, who, although from a noble family, was known for her compassion toward the poor and needy. From her Dominic also acquired the habit of prayer. “Vision of Blessed Joanna” Stained Glass Window from St. Dominic’s Church in Washington, D.C. Photo: Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P. Article: by Fr. Gabriel Gillen, OP
August 1 St. Alphonsus Liguori Patron: Confessors; final perseverance; theologians; vocations. Alphonsus Liguori, born in 1696, was the son of an ancient Neapolitan family. His father was an officer in the Royal Navy. At the age of sixteen, Alphonsus received his doctorate in both canon and civil law and for nearly ten years practiced at the bar. When he found that one of the legal cases he was defending was not based on justice but on political intrigue, he gave up the practice of law and dedicated his life to God. Ordained to the priesthood in 1726, St. Alphonsus Liguori joined a group of secular priests dedicated to missionary activities. He involved himself in many kinds of pastoral activities, giving missions and organizing workers, and had a part in the founding of an order of contemplative nuns. In 1732, he founded the Redemptorists, a congregation of priests and brothers, to work especially among the country people of Italy who often lacked the opportunity for missions, religious instruction, and spiritual retreats. Strangely, his first companions deserted him; but Alphonsus stood firm, and soon vocations multiplied and the congregation grew. The Redemptorists were approved by Pope Benedict XIV in 1749, and Alphonsus was elected superior general. In 1762, he was appointed bishop of Sant' Agata dei God and as bishop he corrected abuses, restored churches, reformed seminaries, and promoted missions throughout his diocese. During the famine of 1763-64, his charity and generosity were boundless, and he also carried on a huge campaign of religious writing. In 1768, he was stricken with a painful illness and resigned his bishopric. During the last years of his life, problems in his congregation caused him much sorrow and when he died on August 1, 1787, at Pagani, near Salerno, the Redemptorists were a divided society. He was beatified in 1816, canonized in 1839, and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1871. Excerpted from the The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens
July 31 St. Ignatius of Loyola St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was born at the castle of Loyola in Basque country, Spain, the youngest of thirteen children. In keeping with the young aristocrats of his day, Ignatius sought after military prowess, vainglory, and fame, and became a knight at the age of seventeen. He was known as a fancy dresser, an expert dancer, a womanizer, sensitive to insult, and involved in criminal behavior. During a period of convalescence after being wounded in battle, he read a collection of saint biographies and a Life of Christ. These books profoundly affected him, and he experienced a conversion of heart. He desired to pattern his life after the great saints, and ceremoniously hung up his military garments before an image of the Virgin Mary. After experiencing a vision of the Blessed Mother with the Infant Jesus, he lived for a time as an ascetic in a cave. It was during this time that he formulated his famous Spiritual Exercises, the spiritual centerpiece of the religious order he would later establish. He then went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and studied theology for many years. During his studies he gathered a group of six like-minded men and founded the Society of Jesus, today known as the Jesuits. They went as missionaries all over the world to spread the Gospel, especially focusing on education. Today the Jesuits have over 30,000 members, 500 universities, and teach over 200,000 students a year.
July 30 Saint of the Day! St. Peter Chrysologus In the fifth century, Ravenna, not Rome, was the capital of the Roman Empire in the West, and Ravenna itself became a metropolitan see. St. Peter Chrysologus was one of the most distinguished archbishops of that see. Peter was born in Imola about the year 400 and studied under Cornelius, bishop of that city, who ordained him deacon. In 433, the archbishop of Ravenna died, and when a successor had been chosen by the clergy and people of Ravenna, they asked Bishop Cornelius to obtain confirmation of their choice from Pope Sixtus III. On his trip to Rome, Cornelius took his deacon, Peter, as his companion; upon seeing Peter, the pope chose him for the see of Ravenna instead of the one selected by the clergy and people of Ravenna. Peter was consecrated and was accepted somewhat grudgingly at first by both the clergy and the people. Peter, however, soon became the favorite of Emperor Valentinian III, who resided at Ravenna and was also highly regarded by Pope St. Leo the Great, the successor of Pope Sixtus. There were still traces of paganism in Peter's diocese, and his first effort was to establish the Catholic faith everywhere, rooting out abuses and carrying on a campaign of preaching and special care of the poor. Many of his sermons still survive, and it is on the basis of these that he came to be known as "the golden word." In his concern for the unity of the Church, Peter Chrysologus opposed the teaching of Eutyches, condemned in the East, who asked for his support. Peter also received St. Germanus of Auxerre to his diocese and officiated at his funeral. Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to his own city of Imola and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died at Imola about the year 450 and was buried in the church of St. Cassian. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. — The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens Familiar is his dictum: "If you jest with the devil, you cannot rejoice with Christ." Some of his sermons are read in the Breviary. Ravenna, his episcopal city, still harbors treasures of ancient Christian liturgical art dating to his day.