Saint of the Day: Thomas More, John Fisher, et al.

science | Jun 22, 2011 | By Speroforum

Paulinus of Nola, Bishop
John Fisher, Bishop Martyr
Thomas More, Martyr
(Optional Memorials)
June 22

Aaron of Brittany, Abbot (AC)
Died after 552. The Briton Saint Aaron crossed into Armorica (Brittany) and lived as a hermit on the island of Cesambre, called Saint Aaron until 1150 and now Saint Malo. The island was separated from Aleth by an arm of the sea, which the tide at low water left dry twice daily. Eventually Aaron was joined by a group of disciples and became their abbot. Among the disciples was Saint Malo, who arrived from Wales about the middle of the 6th century and was warmly welcomed. A parish church in the diocese of Saint Brieuc bears Aaron's name (Benedictines, Husenbeth). 

Acacius (Achatius) and Companions MM (RM)
The story of a martyrdom of Saint Acacius and 10,000 Roman soldiers under his command on Mount Ararat, which had great popularity in the later Middle Ages, is now discarded as pure romance. The cultus seems to have arisen in Armenia in the 12th century and their popularity from the time of the crusades. Their acta closely follow that of Saint Maurice and the Theban Legion. The story includes a scene in which Acacius prays to God just before their death by crucifixion that anyone who venerates their memory would enjoy health of mind and body; for this reason Acacius was included among the popular Fourteen Holy Helpers. Relics are claimed by Cologne and Prague (Benedictines, Farmer, Sheppard). In art, Saint Acacius is depicted as a warrior carrying a large cross. He may also be shown (1) crucified with his legionaries on Mount Ararat, (2) impaled on trees or thorns (Roeder), or wearing a crown of thorns (Sheppard). The story is captured in several notable works of art from the 13th to the 16th centuries, including a 15th- century stained-glass window in Berne, which provides a complete pictorial record of the martyrdom (Farmer). Acacius is greatly venerated in Germany (Roeder) and Switzerland (Farmer), and invoked against headache (Sheppard).

Alban of Great Britain M (RM)
3rd or 4th century. There were probably already Christians in the British Isles in the first century. In fact, by the end of the second century a great many of the inhabitants of southern England were Christians. However, Alban is the first recorded Christian martyr of the island. The traditional date of his death is 304, during the persecution under the Emperor Diocletian; but many scholars now date it as early as 209, during the persecution under the Emperor Septimus Severus. This date was derived from a study of the Turin manuscript of a Passio Albani.

The first known reference to him, outside the Turin manuscript, is in the 5th century life of Saint Germanus of Auxerre. Gildas, writing c. 540, gives the core of the tradition. Saint Bede gives an amplified account, which includes a lively description of the beheading and more details of signs from heaven.

Alban was a pagan, supposed to have been a Roman soldier, who, during the persecution of Diocletian, took pity on a fleeing Christian priest and sheltered him in his own home. When he saw that the priest spent day and night in prayer, he was moved by the grace of God. They spent several days talking together and Alban was so impressed by the priest's sanctity and devotion that he became a Christian and wanted to imitate the piety and faith of his guest. Encouraged and instructed by the priest, Alban renounced his idol worship and embraced Christ with his whole heart.

He was a leading citizen in the old Roman city of Verulamium (Verulam), Hertfordshire, England, now called Saint Albans. The town was originally a collection of huts of wattle and daub that stretched along Watling Street, and later destroyed by the army of Boadicea, the warrior queen.

The story continues that the Roman governor of the city, hearing a rumor that a priest was hiding in the house of Alban, sent a search party of soldiers to find him. Seeing them approach, Alban took the priest's cloak and put it over his own head and shoulders, and helped him to escape. Thus disguised, Alban opened the door to the soldiers and was arrested in mistake for the priest. He was bound in fetters and brought before the governor, who was attending a sacrifice to the pagan gods. When the cloak was removed and his true identity was discovered, the governor was furious. He then declared himself to be a Christian, whereupon the governor angrily ordered him to be taken before the altar. He was threatened with all the tortures that had been prepared for the priest if he did not recant.

Alban faced his anger calmly and, ignoring his threats, declared that he could not sacrifice to the gods. Upon Alban's refusal to deny his faith, the governor enquired of what family and race he was. "How can it concern you to know of what stock I am?" answered Alban. "If you want to know my religion, I will tell you--I am a Christian, and am bound by Christian obligations." When asked his name, he replied: "I am called Alban by my parents, and I worship and adore the true and living God, who created all things." He was then commanded to sacrifice to the Roman gods, but he refused and was cruelly scourged. Alban bore the punishment with resignation, even joy. When it was seen that he could not be prevailed upon to retract, he was sentenced to decapitation.

On the way to his execution on Holmhurst Hill, the crowds that gathered to honor his heroism were so great that his passage was delayed because they could not reach the bridge over the river. Alban, who seemed to fear that any delay might deprive him of the martyr's crown, decided to cross at another point, and going down to the water's edge he prayed to God and stepped into the river which he then forded without difficulty. Both Gildas and Bede have accepted the tradition that this was a miracle and that the waters dried up completely in answer to the saint's prayer.

They add that a thousand other people crossed over with him, while the waters piled up on either side, and that this miracle converted the appointed executioner. Still accompanied by a huge throng of people, Alban climbed the hill to the place of execution. But, on his arrival there, the executioner threw down his sword and refused to perform his office. He said that if he were not allowed to take Alban's place then he would share his martyrdom. Confessing himself to be a Christian, the soldier was replaced by another. Then he took his stand beside Alban, and they faced death together. Alban was beheaded first, then the soldier was baptized in his own blood to share the glory of martyrdom. The third martyr was the priest, who when he learned that Alban had been arrested in his place, hurried to the court in the hope of saving Alban by turning himself in.

According to Bede, the governor was so impressed by the miracles that followed Alban's martyrdom that he immediately ended the persecutions, and Bede states that these miracles were still occurring in his lifetime at the intercession of England's protomartyr.

On the hill where these martyrdoms took place a church was later erected, and, 400 years later, Offa, the king of Mercia, founded on the same site the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Albans. According to Constantius of Lyons, Saint Germanus of Auxerre, at the end of a mission to England to combat the Pelagian heresy, chose the Church of Saint Alban as the place in which to thank God for the success of his mission. He brought back from England a handful of earth from the place where Alban, the soldier, and the priest were martyred (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney, Encyclopedia, Gill, Morris).

The Proto-Martyr of England is portrayed in art as a warrior with a cross and shield. He may be depicted (1) crowned with laurel; (2) with a peer's coronet, holding a crossing; (3) with his head cut off; (4) with his head in a holly bush; (5) spreading his cloak under the sun; or (6) as his executioner's eye drops out (Roeder). Alban is especially venerated in Saint Albans and Angers (Roeder). 

Consortia V (RM)
Died 570? Saint Consortia is said to have been the foundress of a convent generously endowed by King Clotaire out of gratitude for her having miraculously healed his dying daughter. She was venerated at Cluny, but nothing certain is known about her (Benedictines). 

Eberhard (Everard) of Salzburg, OSB B (AC)
Born at Nuremberg, Germany, 1085; died in Salzburg, Austria, June 11, 1164. Saint Eberhard was educated by the monks of Michelberg at Bamberg. He obtained a canonry at Bamberg, which, however, he gave up in order to become a Benedictine at Prüfening in 1125. In 1133, he was made abbot of Biburg, and in 1147 consecrated bishop of Salzburg. Eberhard was the greatest supporter of the pope in Germany during the investiture controversy. In the early Middle Ages, an emperor or other lay prince invested an abbot or bishop-elect with the ring and staff and received homage before consecration. Pope Nicholas II condemned the practice in 1059. In 1075, all lay investiture was forbidden by Pope Gregory VII (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). In art, Saint Eberhard serves the poor at table with his miter and crozier at his feet. He is venerated in Bamberg and Salzburg (Roeder).

Flavius Clemens M (RM)
Died c. 96. Saint Flavius Clemens was the brother of Emperor Vespasian and uncle of Titus and Domitian, whose niece, Flavia Domitilla, he married. In 95 AD, he held the consular office together with Domitian. The following year Domitian had him beheaded as a Christian (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). 

Blessed Innocent V, OP Pope (RM)
Born in Tarentaise-en-Forez, Burgundy, France, in 1245; died in Rome, June 22, 1277; cultus confirmed by Pope Leo XIII in 1898. Peter of Tarentaise was barely 10 years old when he was admitted to the Dominican Order by Blessed Jordan of Saxony as a boy-novice and sent to Paris to study. Like Saint Thomas Aquinas, Blessed Ambrose of Siena, and other luminaries of the 13th century, he fell under the masterly tutelage of Saint Albert the Great.

He received his master's degree in theology in 1259, then he taught for some years in Paris, where he contributed a great deal to the order's reputation for learning. He wrote a number of commentaries on Scripture and the Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, but he devoted most of his time to the classroom. He soon became famous as a preacher and theologian, and in 1259, with a committee including his friend Thomas Aquinas, composed a plan of study that is still the basis of Dominican teaching.

At age 37, Peter began the long years of responsibility in the various offices he was to hold in his lifetime as prior provincial of France. He visited on foot all Dominican houses under his care, and was then sent to Paris to replace Thomas Aquinas at the University of Paris. Twice provincial, he was chosen archbishop of Lyons in 1272 and administered the affairs of the diocese for some time, though he was never actually consecrated for that see.

The next year Peter was appointed cardinal-archbishop of Ostia, Italy, while still administering the see of Lyons. With the great Franciscan, Saint Bonaventure, assumed much of the labor of the Council of Lyons to which Saint Thomas was hastening at the time of his death. To the problems of clerical reform and the healing of the Greek schism the two gifted friars devoted their finest talents. Before the council was over, Bonaventure died, and Peter of Tarentaise preached the funeral panegyric.

In January 1276, Peter was with Blessed Pope Gregory X when the latter died at Arezzo. The conclave was held in the following month. On January 21, 1276, Peter of Tarentaise received every vote except his own. With a sad heart, he left the seclusion of his religious home to ascend the Fisherman's Throne as Pope Innocent V.

The reign of the new pope, which promised so much to a harassed people, was to be very brief. But, imbued with the spirit of the early apostles, he crowded a lifetime into the short space given him.

He instigated a new crusade against the Saracens and began reforms in the matter of regular observance. He actually succeeded in solving many of the questions of the Greek schism and in establishing a short-lived truce. He struggled to reconcile the Guelphs and Ghibellines, restored peace between Pisa and Lucca, and acted as mediator between Rudolph of Hapsburg and Charles of Anjou. He restored the custom of personally assisting at choral functions with the canons of the Lateran, and he inspired all with the love that animated his heart.

Had the measures begun by Innocent V had time to be fully realized, he might have accomplished great good for the Church; he did at least open the way for those who were to follow him. Death stopped the hand of the zealous pope when he had reigned only five months. Like his friends Saint Thomas and Saint Bonaventure, he was untouched by the honors and dignity with which he had been favored, and death found him exactly what he had been for more than 40 years--a simple, humble friar (Benedictines, Delaney, Dorcy).

John I of Naples B (RM)
5th century. Saint John was the bishop of Naples who translated the body of Saint Januarius from Puteoli to Naples, "whom blessed Paulinus, bishop of Nola, called to the heavenly kingdom" according to the Roman Martyrology (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). 

John IV of Naples B (AC)
Died 835. Locally known as San Giovanni d'Acquarola, or "the Peacemaker," Saint John was the bishop of Naples, where he is now venerated as one of the patrons of the city (Benedictines, Encyclopedia). 

John Fisher of Rochester BM (RM)
Born at Beverley, Yorkshire, England, 1469; died on Tower Hill, London, on June 22, 1535; canonized in 1935; feast day formerly on June 13 (Roman calendar) and July 9 (locally).

"Had you but tasted one drop of the sweetness which inebriates the souls of those religious from their worship of this Sacrament, you would never have written as you have, nor have apostatized from the faith that you formerly professed. --John Fisher, writing to the bishop of Winchester The son of a textile merchant who died while John was still a boy, Saint John Fisher was a Catholic of high ideals. He was equally distinguished as a humanistic scholar, a fosterer of sound learning in others, and a faithful bishop. Educated at Michaelhouse at Cambridge (since merged into Trinity) from age 14, forever afterwards he was connected with the life of the university. Fisher was ordained a priest under a special dispensation at the age of 22. He became a doctor of divinity, master of Michaelhouse, and vice chancellor.

In 1502, he resigned his mastership to become the chaplain of the king's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and Derby. Under his direction, Lady Margaret founded Christ's College and Saint John's College at Cambridge, and established there and at Oxford a Lady Margaret divinity chair. Because of this and other princely gifts, she has come to be regarded as Cambridge's greatest benefactress.

Fisher's contributions have not been as readily recognized. He was the first to fill the divinity chair at Cambridge. But more important than that, he himself endowed scholarships, provided for Greek and Hebrew in the curriculum, and engaged his friend, the famous humanist, Erasmus as a professor of divinity and Greek at a time was the school's scholarship was at its lowest ebb. Before that no Greek or Hebrew was taught, and the library had been reduced to 300 volumes. In 1504, Fisher was elected chancellor of the university. As such he did much to further the growth and progress of his alma mater, of which he may justly be considered the second founder.

John Fisher lived in the last days of Catholic England and reached high office under Henry VII. After serving as chaplain to his patron Margaret Beaufort, he was appointed bishop of Rochester in 1504. He was only 35 years old, young to be a bishop. He accepted the office warily, as it added greatly to his responsibilities (he was still university chancellor until his death). It was the smallest and poorest diocese in England, but so great was his love for it that, later, he refused the richer sees of Ely and Lincoln, saying he "would not leave his poor old wife for the richest widow in England." The climate was so damp and the state of his palace so ruinous that Erasmus, when staying with him, was appalled; yet for 30 years Fisher chose to remain there and was one of the most faithful of the English bishops of the period.

Fisher was a zealous and thorough pastor. He regularly made visitations, administered confirmation, disciplined his clergy, visited the sick poor, and distributed alms with his own hands. His personal life was strict and simple. "He kept a good table for every one but himself." He was such an articulate preacher that when King Henry VII died in 1509, he preached the funeral sermon, as he did for Lady Margaret in her turn.

He discharged his public offices with dignity and courage. His reputation both at home and abroad was that of a great and distinguished figure. In the words of Erasmus: "There is not in the nation a more learned man nor a holier bishop." Henry VIII, before Fisher had roused his vindictive rage, openly gloried "that no other prince or kingdom had so distinguished a prelate."

During this time, he continued to write books and pursue his own studies, beginning to learn Greek at age 48, and Hebrew at 51. Fisher lived austerely, sleeping and eating little, and he kept a skull in front of him at meals to remind himself of his mortality. He formed one of the most exceptional libraries in Europe with the intention of bequeathing it to the university.

Fisher fully realized the urgent need of reform in the church, from popes and bishops downwards, but was opposed to Lutheran ideas of reform and wrote four weighty volumes against them. He preached at Paul's Cross in defense of Christian doctrine when Luther's books were banned and burned. Yet he preferred prayer and example before controversy.

With the utmost boldness and not without justification, Fisher censured the clergy at a synod in the presence of Cardinal Wolsey himself for their corruption, vanity, laxity, and love of gain. Most of the higher clergy had won their preferments through secular service to the state or by private interest. As a member of the House of Lords, Fisher vigorously opposed the government's policy of war and criticized the measures against the clergy that were being forced through the Commons. He uttered another great protest in convocation when that assembly was called upon to agree that Henry VIII was the head of the Church of England. He did suggest adding to the oath the words, "So far as the law of Christ allows" which smoothed the path of many who signed. But boldest of all was his uncompromising attitude to the scandalous divorce of Catherine of Aragon by Henry.

As Queen Catherine's confessor, he appeared on her behalf before the commissioners at Blackfriars in 1529 and also spoke and wrote vigorously against it. This infuriated the king and when, later, Fisher refused to take the Oath of Supremacy acknowledging the king to be head of the English Church, he was deprived of his bishopric and committed to the Tower.

The warnings of friends and the threats of his enemies were not necessary to bring home to Fisher the danger he now ran by his opposition to the ruling powers. Despite being imprisoned for two short periods, and being the object of poisoning and a shooting attempt, Fisher persisted in espousing his views. Thomas Cromwell unsuccessfully tried to link him with Elizabeth Barton, the 'Holy Maid of Kent,' a nun who had trances and made personal attacks upon Henry for trying to divorce the queen.

He was summoned to Lambeth, despite being so ill that he fainted on the road between Rochester and London, to sign the oath of the bill of succession. He refused, because it was in essence an oath of supremacy. He was at Rochester at the time he was arrested, and from the country round people flocked into the city to bid him farewell. After settling his affairs and making gifts to the poor, he rode bareheaded through the streets giving his blessing to the crowd.

On his arrival in London, when confronted with the Oath he replied: "My answer is that forasmuch as mine own conscience cannot be satisfied, I do absolutely refuse the Oath. I do not condemn any other men's consciences. Their consciences may save them, and mine must save me." In April 1534, the 66-year-old prelate began a 15- month imprisonment in the Tower of London, his property was confiscated, and he was stripped of his offices. A confidential messenger from Henry asked him to declare, for the king's ears alone, his opinion on royal supremacy. His negative opinion sealed his conviction.

During this time Pope Paul III named him a cardinal. King Henry was furious, and within a month Fisher was brought to trial in Westminster Hall, charged with treason in that he had denied the king's ecclesiastical supremacy and found guilty. Some of the judges cried as "the most holy and learned prelate in Christendom" was sentenced to death on June 17, 1535.

On a June morning a few days later, John was awakened at 5:00 a.m. and told that he was to be executed that day. He asked to rest a little longer and slept for two hours. So frail and emaciated by illness that he could barely stand, Fisher was carried in a chair from the Tower to the place of execution.

He courteously thanked his guards for their attentive trouble and pains. Saying that he was dying for he faith, he asked the people to pray that he might have courage. He carried his little New Testament, and at Tower Gate opened it at the words: "This is life eternal, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. I have glorified Thee upon the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do" (John 17:3- 5).

Closing the book, he said: "Here is learning enough for me to my life's end." As he mounted the scaffold, facing the morning sun, he lifted his hands and cried: "They had an eye unto Him, and were lightened; and their faces were not ashamed." Then kneeling in prayer, he repeated Psalm 31, In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust (others say that he died with the words of the Te Deum on his lips), and was beheaded with an axe.

His friend Thomas More wrote of Saint John of Rochester: "I reckon in this realm no one man, in wisdom, learning, and long approved virtue together, meet to be matched and compared with him."

John Fisher was buried in the churchyard of All Hallows, Barking, without rites or a shroud. His head was exhibited on London Bridge for two weeks, then was thrown into the Thames (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Gill, Hughes, Reynolds, Surtz, Walsh, White).

In art, Saint John Fisher is shown robed as a cardinal, with haggard ascetic features, or with an axe or his hat at his feet (White.) 

Blessed Lambert Saint-Bertin, OSB Abbot (AC)
Died 1125. From childhood Lambert was trained in the monastic life at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Bertin, of which he eventually became the 40th abbot. He finished the abbey church and introduced the Cluniac observances (Benedictines). 

Nicetas of Remesiana B (RM)
Born c. 335; died c. 414; feast day formerly on January 7. Saint Nicetas was a close friend of my hero, Saint Paulinus of Nola. He was made bishop of Remesiana (Bela Palanka in Serbia) in Dacia c. 370. Little is known about him except that he was noted for his successful missionary activities, especially among the Goths, Dacians, and Bessi, which Paulinus commemorates in a poem. Nicetas twice visited Paulinus in Italy. Paulinus writes highly of him as a poet and evangelist among the rude inhabitants of a frozen land.

Nicetas wrote an important exposition on the Apostles' Creed, dissertations on faith, the Trinity, and the value of psalm- singing. He makes some excellent remarks about the people's singing in church: "Sing wisely, that is, understandingly, thinking of what you are singing. . . . Tunes should be in keeping with the sacredness of religion . . ., not savoring of the theater. . . . Sing together, and do not show off"; and he adds, "Neither must we give thought to what people like, for everything in our worship must be done in God's sight, not to please men." Nicetas is believed by some scholars to be the author or redactor of the Te Deum (Attwater, Benedictines, Delaney).

Paulinus of Nola B (RM)
Born in Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France, c. 354; died 431. Saint Paulinus of Nola (and Thomas More below) is one of the few male saints with whom I feel an absolute affinity, even though there are others that I admire. Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus, was the son of a Roman patrician who was the praetorian prefect in Gaul at the time of Paulinus's birth. The family owned extensive lands in both Aquitaine and Italy. He was taught by the poet Ausonius until he was 15, when he went to the University of Bordeaux to study Roman law, poetry, eloquence, science, and Platonic philosophy. He became a successful and prominent lawyer.

He was not attracted to the pious life. His father died when Paulinus was 24, but he continued to live a restrained life even though he inherited great wealth. At age 25, Emperor Gratian nominated him a Roman senator to fill an unexpired term as a consul of Rome. At age 26, he was made governor of Campania and took up residence in Nola in the mountains east of Naples. Paulinus was apparently devoid of vanity and cared little for honors.

His first year in Nola was decisive. On the Feast of Saint Felix, patron of Campania, he saw several sick people healed at the tomb of the saint--disturbing to a pagan philosopher. This was the time of his initial conversion to Christianity. He sacrificed his first beard to Saint Felix, resigned his post as governor, and returned to his awaiting mother.

He travelled to Spain and brought back his strong-willed wife Teresa, who was almost as wealthy as he. At age 36, the rich, erudite pagan philosopher was baptized by Saint Delphinus, bishop of Bordeaux, after the witness of his wife Theresa's life. (His brother was baptized at the same time.) He later wrote that by marrying her, God gained two souls, ". . . by the merits of the woman, Thou didst compensate for the hesitations of the man."

Many men, who afterwards became saints, were the instruments through which the grace of God operated on him: Martin of Tours, Ambrose, Augustine, Victricius of Rouen, Jerome, Amadeus of Bordeaux, and Sulpicius Severus.

Saint Martin of Tours miraculously cured his eye affliction. He had religious talks with Saint Victricius and Saint Amadeus, and with his friend Sulpicius Severus, who converted at about the same time. Above all, Saint Ambrose's sermons finally led him to place himself under instruction. Possibly Augustine's conversion and baptism two years before his own helped move his stubborn will. His wife Theresa's prayers and merits were also not without effect.

Paulinus and Theresa sold their estates in Gaul and divided the money among the poor and their slaves. His ancient tutor tried to dissuade him from doing this. His pagan friends saw it as a desertion of the Empire at a critical time. Theresa approved and showed it by selling her own lands when they got to Spain and using the proceeds to redeem captives and free debtors.

Then they had a son who died soon after baptism at 8 days old. Paulinus thought this might be because of Theresa's physical condition and that it would be an act of charity to relinquish his rights as a husband. They both took vows of chastity and lived together as siblings for the rest of their lives.

Three years after his baptism, the populace of Barcelona physically carried him off to the bishop and begged that he be ordained to the priesthood, to which the bishop and Paulinus--under the condition that he not be tied to a parish or diocese--agreed.

The year following his ordination they were the guests of Saint Ambrose, who instructed Paulinus in priestly duties. Then they visited Rome, where they received a cold reception. (Eight years previously, in a letter to Bishop Himerius of Taragona, Pope Siricius laid down seven regulations against married priests (cf. Denzinger's Enchiridion Symbolorum, page 89).) From Rome they retired to Nola to live a severely ascetic life near the tomb of his beloved Saint Felix.

In 394, Saint Augustine wrote to them with admiration for the example of Theresa. Saint Ambrose, in his 30th Epistle to Sabinus, wrote in praise of their actions.

Paulinus could see the Empire was falling apart from within and without, and that the Catholic Church was the only institution that possessed any vitality. He chose to attach himself to the invincible kingdom of Christ. Paulinus and Theresa made their home at Nola in a hospice for the poor and sick, which they had founded when they sold their estates. Theresa lived on the first floor and acted as matron. The second floor was a monastery, where Paulinus and other hermits established one of the first monastic centers in the West--a century before Saint Benedict.

The monastery had strict rules of silence and fasting, a diet consisting mostly of vegetables, shaved heads, wore hair-cloth with a rope girdle, slept on the floor, and self-mortification. Paulinus often ill, but philosophically said "the weakness of the body is advantageous to the spirit, which rejoices in the losses of the flesh." Paulinus lived 78 years. He found that to live according to faith required much more than avoiding sin.

Saint Paulinus was an active apostle for justice and charity through his oral teaching and letters. He ransomed many captives and fed those left without possessions during the invasions of Alaric the Goth. In 410, shortly before Theresa's death, the people of Nola chose him for their bishop.

He proved to be one of the best prelates of his time. Paulinus continued to live in the monastery. He built an aqueduct for Nola, basilicas at Fondi and Nola. Msgr. Baudrillart, a modern biographer, said, "to instruct one another, to edify, to assist in the exercise of charity--such were in his eyes the true fruits of Christian friendship." He was a friend of both Saint Jerome and Saint Rufinus, but would not take sides in their dispute.

Paulinus integrated head and heart. His letters show humility, an affectionate disposition, cheerful humor, charity, self-discipline, and contemplation. Most of his poems and a number of his letters still exist. They show him to have been a Christian poet of distinction as well as a fluent writer of prose. Some of his poetry can be found in Medieval Latin Lyrics translated by Helen Waddell (Benedictines, S. Delany, Encyclopedia).

In art, Saint Paulinus is a bishop, with a shovel (his emblem), giving alms. He may also be shown preaching to the poor or writing (Roeder). 

Rotrudis of Saint-Omer V (AC)

Died c. 869. The relics of Saint Rotrudis were enshrined at the Benedictine abbey of Saint-Bertin at Saint-Omer. According to popular belief she was a daughter or sister of Blessed Charlemagne (Benedictines). 

Thomas More M (RM)
Born in London, England, 1478; died there in 1535; canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935 as the "Martyr of the Papacy"; feast day formerly on July 6.

"If I am distracted, Holy Communion helps me become recollected. If opportunities are offered by each day to offend my God, I arm myself anew each day for the combat by reception of the Eucharist. If I am in need of special light and prudence in order to discharge my burdensome duties, I draw nigh to my Savior and seek counsel and light from Him." --Saint Thomas More

"These things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us Thy grace to labor for." --Saint Thomas More.

"It is a shorter thing and sooner done, to write heresies, than to answer them." --Saint Thomas More.

Thomas More studied at Canterbury Hall, Oxford, and read law at the Inns of Court, being called to the bar in 1501. Thomas was happiest in the bosom of his family--three generations living under one roof in Chelsea, and the congenial group of poets, scientists, and humanists that often gathered in his home, rather than at court.

Henry VIII was a man of rare personal magnetism; even Sir Thomas yielded to his charm. Thomas's daughter Margaret married Roper, who writes of More's friendship with Henry VIII: when the king had finished his devotions on holy days, he would talk to More about diverse matters, often far into the night. More often dined with the king and queen. Thomas would try to get two days per month to spend with his family, but he would be recalled to court. So Thomas tried to change his disposition before the king to be less likable, until the king started to come to Chelsea with Thomas and to be merry there. He recognized early that Henry's whims might prove dangerous to Thomas's health and life.

More had considered the priesthood in his youth, and of joining the Franciscans, but his confessor advised against it. In 1505, he married Jane Colt, though it is said he preferred her younger sister. She bore him four children: Margaret (married Roper); Elizabeth, Cecily, and John. In the evening, Jane would study for an hour or two because Thomas wished her to be a scholar, or she would sing or play the clavichord. Jane died in 1510.

Soon after Jane's death, he married Alice Middleton, an older woman. Margaret, the eldest child, was five. Alice was unlearned, but had a great sense of humor. Thomas scolded her for her vanity and she reproached him for his lack of ambition.

More cared strongly for his children and their education, especially for Margaret. His home was a menagerie of birds, monkeys, foxes, ferrets, weasels, etc.

More rose rapidly in public life despite his lack of ambition. He was a renowned lawyer and elected to Parliament in 1504 (at age 22). In 1510, he was appointed Undersheriff of London; 1518, Secretary to Henry VIII; 1521, he was knighted; 1523, chosen Speaker of Parliament; 1529, Lord Chancellor in succession to Cardinal Wolsey. Nevertheless, he continued to read, study, and write, and is known more as a scholar than as a jurist. Yet he was realistic and wrote in Utopia (1516), "philosophy had no place among is not possible for all things to be well, unless all men were good, which I think will not be this good many years."

He had a horror of luxury and worldly pomp. He found the lies and flatteries of court nauseating. It wearied him to be constantly at the King's command. He felt the scholars life was conducive to a virtuous life of piety toward God and service of his neighbor.

Virtue and religion were the supreme concerns of his life. He considered pride the chief danger of education. Education should inculcate a spirit of detachment from riches and earthly possessions, along with a spirit of gentleness.

During Henry's reign, 12,000 people were put to death for theft. Thomas as Chancellor was hesitant to apply the death penalty to heretics.

More was a leader of the humanists, champion of the study of Greek and Latin classics, sympathetic to the Renaissance, and an advocate of needed Church reform; yet he was grounded in the Catholic tradition of the Middle Ages. He was also a friend of Erasmus. In 1527, Erasmus wrote in a letter, "I wrote the Praise of Folly in times of peace; I should never have written it if I had foreseen this tempest" of the Reformation.

Again, Erasmus in a letter to a monk about to leave his monastery, "...I see no one becoming better, every one becoming worse, so that I am deeply grieved that in my writings I once preached the liberty of the spirit....What I desired then was that the abatement of external ceremonies might much redound to the increase of true piety. But as it is, the ceremonies have been so destroyed that in place of them we have not the liberty of the spirit but the unbridled license of the flesh....What liberty is that which forbids us to say our prayers, and forbids us the sacrifice of the Mass?"

Thomas More did not think his Utopia, which is written in Latin, could be safely read by the multitude.

Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower, because he would not help Henry VIII put away Catherine of Aragon and supplant the Pope as the head of the Church of England. Thomas More did not wish to die. "I am not so holy that I dare rush upon death," he declared; "were I so presumptuous, God might suffer me to fall." But he could not accept that Henry VIII was supreme head of the church. He resigned rather than be seen to support the king's divorce.

Thomas More and John Fisher, two of the noblest men England ever produced, were both sent to the Tower in 1534 for refusing to take the Oath of Succession, which would obligate them to recognize Anne Boleyn's children as heirs to the Crown. Both said they would swear allegiance to any heir the king and Parliament would agree upon, but this was not satisfactory to Boleyn.

Next Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, which made it high treason to refuse to accept the king as the only head on earth of the Church of England. More was brought to trial on the perjured testimony of Richard Rich and defended himself against the inferred act of treason. He was convicted of high treason, and martyred for his steadfast defense of the indissolubility of marriage and the supremacy of the pope. After the sentence was issued, he broke his silence. On the scaffold, he said simply, "I have been ever the king's good and loyal servant, but God's first" (Benedictines, Bentley, S. Delany)

In art, Saint Thomas wears a scholar's cap, furred gown, and the chain of the Chancellor of England. A chalice, Host, and papal insignia may be near him. (There is an unusual picture of him by Antoine Caron in the Museum at Blois in which he is represented as an old man with a long beard, surrounded by Roman (sic) soldiers, embraced by his daughter on his way to execution (Roeder).

The Writings of Saint Thomas

"Doubtless Christ could have caused the apostles not to sleep at all, but to stay awake, if that had been what He wished in an absolute and unqualified sense. But actually His wish was qualified by a condition -- namely that they themselves wish to do so, and wish it so effectually that each of them do his very best to comply with the outward command Christ Himself gave and to cooperate with the promptings of His inward assistance. In this way He also wishes for all men to be saved and for no one to suffer eternal torment, that is, always provided that we conform to His most loving will and do not set ourselves against it through our own willful malice. If someone stubbornly insists on doing this, God does not want to waft him off to heaven against his will, as if He were in need of our services there and could not continue His glorious reign without our support. Indeed, if He could not reign without us, He would immediately punish many offenses which now, out of consideration for us, He tolerates and overlooks for a long time to see if His kindness and patience will bring us to repent. But we meanwhile abuse this great mercy of His by adding sins to sins, thus heaping up for ourselves (as the apostle says) a treasure of wrath on the day of wrath (Rom 2:5).

"Nevertheless, such is God's kindness that even when we are negligent and slumbering on the pillow of our sins, He disturbs us from time to time, shakes us, strikes us, and does His best to wake us up by means of tribulations. But still, even though He thus proves Himself to be most loving even in His anger, most of us in our gross human stupidity misinterpret His action and imagine that such a great benefit is an injury, whereas actually (if we have any sense) we should feel bound to pray frequently and fervently that whenever we wander away from Him He may use blows to drive us back to the right way, even though we are unwilling and struggle against Him.

"Thus we must first pray that we may see the way and with the Church we must say to God, "From blindness of heart, deliver us, O Lord." And with the prophet we must say, "Teach me to do your will" and "Show me your ways and teach me your paths." Then we must intensely desire to run after you eagerly, O God, in the odor of your ointments, in the most sweet scent of your Spirit. But if we grow weary along the way (as we almost always do) and lag so far behind that we barely manage to follow at a distance, let us immediately say to God, "Take my right hand" and "Lead me along your path." "Then if we are so overcome by weariness that we no longer have the heart to go on, if we are so soft and lazy that we are about to stop altogether, let us beg God to drag us along even as we struggle not to go. Finally, if we resist when He draws on us gently, and are stiff-necked against the will of God, against our own salvation, utterly irrational like horses and mules which have no intellects, we ought to beseech God humbly in the most fitting words of the prophet: "Hold my jaws hard, O God, with a bridle and bit when I do not draw near to you" (Ps 32:9)."

--Saint Thomas More in The Sadness of Christ





Remains of WW2 pilot found on the bottom of Pacific Ocean

U.S. Navy personnel have discovered the remains of an American aviator who was shot down in combat over the Pacific Ocean in 1944. A team aboard USNS ...


Short Link

Do you like what you just read?

Back our investigations with an immediate financial contribution. Spero News operates on the financial support from you and people like you who believe in media independence and free speech.