Saint of the Day – 7 April – Saint Hermann Joseph O.Praem (c1150-1241) Priest

Saint of the Day – 7 April – Saint Hermann Joseph O.Praem (c1150-1241) Priest, Friar of the Order of of Canons Regular of Prémontré (the Norbertines or White Canons), Mystic, a prolific writer on spiritual subjects and the Sacred Scriptures, known as “The Boy who Played with Angels.” From childhood, Hermann had an intense devotion to Our Bless Mother Mary, who herself, assisted him in many ways and throughout his life. This beautiful painting below by Sir Antony van Dyck, shows Mother Mary receiving an apple from Hermann, to give to Baby Jesus. Born im c1150 as Hermann von Steinfeld in Cologne, Germany and died on 7 April 1241 in Hoven, Germany of natural causes. Additional Memorials – 24 May (translation of relics) and 21 May (Diocese of Cologne) and the the Sixth Sunday after Easter at Steinfeld in Cologne. In 1958 Hermann’s status as a Saint of the Church was formally recognised by Pope Pius XII. Patronages – watch and clockmakers, children and young students, Altar boys, Acolytes, Sextons and Sacristans, expectant mothers and safe childbirth. Also known as St Hermann Josef.

Hermann was born in Cologne, the son of Count Lothair of Meer and his wife Blessed Hildegund O.Praem (c1130-1185). His sister was Blessed Hadewych of Meer, also a Norbertine Nun. Although of the nobility, the family was not overly wealthy.

According to the biography by Razo Bonvisinus, a contemporary and Prior of Steinfeld Abbey, at the age of seven, Hermann attended school and very early was known for devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At every available moment he could be found at the Church of St Maria im Kapitol, where he would kneel rapt in prayer to Mary. Bonvisinus says that the boy once presented an apple, saved from his own lunch, to a statue of Jesus Who accepted it. On another occasion, when on a cold day he made his appearance with bare feet, Mary procured him the means of obtaining shoes.

At the age of twelve, he entered the Abbey of the Premonstratensian at Steinfeld. As he was too young to be accepted into the Order, he was sent to study, probably in the Netherlands. Upon his return, he made his vows and was given the Habit and later, the additional name “Joseph.”

As a Novice, he was initially entrusted with the service of the Refectory and later, of the Sacristy. After his Ordination, Hermann was sometimes sent out to perform pastoral duties and was also in frequent demand for the making and repairing of clock – a talent and skill which he enjoyed as a recreation. Hermann became noted for the devotion with which he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Indeed, he fell into an ecstasy of prayer so often at Mass that his Masses went on “forever.”

As a Monk, Father Hermann retained all the blameless innocence of spirit which had characterised him as a child. He was much loved for his readiness to assist anyone in need and anyone who asked. But while he had practical skills (he was an able mechanic and clock-maker), he was essentially a contemplative.

His confreres jokingly called him “Joseph” for his attention to the Madonna and Child. Typically, he declared himself unworthy to be called after the father of the Holy Family. But Our Lady took a fancy to the name and in a vision, put upon his finger a wedding ring to confirm that he was her spiritual spouse. On the basis of this vision, Hermann added “Joseph” to his other name.

The Mystical Marriage of St Hermann Joseph by Jean-Guillaume Carlier

He was also active in pastoral care outside the Monastery, especially in the female monasteries in the region, as both his mother (after her widowhood) and his sister had become Norbertine Nuns.

Hermann was characterised by his child-like devotion to Mary. Late in his life, he had, under his charge, the spiritual welfare of the Cistercian Nuns at Hoven whom he served as Chaplain. There he died and was buried in their cloister.

Countless miracles were reported at his tomb – the blind were cured, physical ailments were cured and even demons fled those who were possessed and were brought to Herman’s tomb. Hermann Joseph received visits from expectant women who asked his intercession for a safe delivery. The patronage of expectant mothers has been handed down since the 17th century in the use of “touch relics”, such as brooches and clasps, which were left on the Reliquary or tomb and retrieved later and then fastened to their clothing, in the hope of a happy and safe childbirth, through the intercession of the Saint. We presume that Hermann’s prayers, both during life and after, had proved efficacious in these matters.

His body was later transferred back to Steinfeld Monastery, where his marble tomb and large picture may be seen to the present day. By custom apples are left at his tomb – in the image below the large picture (as posted above by Sir Antony van Dyck) as well as an apple, can be seen. Portions of his Relics are at Cologne and at Antwerp. His grave in Steinfeld is a pilgrimage destination – in the Middle Ages, especially by mothers, in modern times, by children and students. The Hermann Joseph Festival is held at Steinfeld on the Sixth Sunday after Easter, every year.


Saint of the Day – 21 January – St Anastasius the Persian (Died 628) Martyr, Monk

Saint of the Day – 21 January – St Anastasius the Persian (Died 628) Martyr, Monk. Born in Persia as Magundat and died by strangulation and beheading in 628 in Persia. Patronages – against headaches, of goldsmiths.

The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Rome, at Aquiae, Salviae, St Anastasius, a Persian Monk, who, after suffering much at Caesarea in Palestine, from imprisonment, stripes and fetters, had to bear many afflictions from Chosroes, King of Persia, who caused him to be beheaded. He had sent before him, to Martyrdom, seventy of his companions, who were precipitated into rivers. His head was brought to Rome, together with his venerable likeness, by the sight of which, the demons are expelled and diseases cured, as is attested by the Acts of the Second Council of Nicacea.

Anastasius was born in the City of Ray. He was the son of a Magian named Bau. He had a brother whose name is unknown. He was a cavalryman in the army of Khosrow II (590–628) and participated in the capture of the True Cross in Jerusalem which was carried to the Sasanian capital.

The occasion prompted him to ask for information about the Christian religion. He then experienced a conversion of faith, left the army, became a Christian and then a Monk at the Monastery of Saint Savvas (Mar Saba) in Jerusalem.

Anastasius was baptised by St Modestus, the Bishop of Jerusalem, receiving the Christian name Anastasius to honour the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (anástasis” in Greek meaning resurrection).

After seven years of the monastic observance, he was moved by the Holy Ghost to go in quest of Martyrdom and went to Caesarea, then subject to the Sasanians. There he interrupted and ridiculed the pagan priests for their religion and was, as a result, arrested by the local governor, taken prisoner, cruelly tortured to make him deny Christ and finally carried down near the Euphrates river, where his tortures was continued, while at the same time, the highest honours in the service of King Khosrow II, as a Magi, were promised him, if he would renounce Christianity.

Finally, after refusing to renounce Christ, with seventy others, he was strangled to death and decapitated on 22 January 628. His body, which was thrown to the dogs but was left untouched by them, was carried from there to Palestine, then to Constantinople and finally, to Rome, where the relics were venerated at the Tre Fontane Abbey.

A Passio written in Greek, was devoted to the Saint. An adapted Latin translation, possibly by Archbishop Theodore of Canterbury, was available to the Anglo-Saxon Historian, the Venerable St Bede, who criticised the result and took it upon himself to improve it. There are sadly, no surviving manuscripts of St Bede’s revision, although one copy did survive to the 15th Century.

Reliquary of St Anastasios the Persian

Saint of the Day – 1 December – “Good St Eligius” – St Eligius of Noyon (c 588-660)

Saint of the Day – 1 December – “Good St Eligius”- St Eligius of Noyon (c 588-660) Bishop, Goldsmith, Royal Courtier and adviser to the King, peace-maker, servant of the poor and of slaves. He founded Monasteries and donated his own property for the founding of the first female Monastery in the area. Born in c 588 at at Catelat, near Limoges, France and died on 1 December 660 at Noyon, France of high fever, Also known as – Alar, Elaere, Elar, Elard, Eler, Eloi, Eloy, Eloye, Iler, Loie, Loije, Loy, Additional Memorials – 24 June (translation of relics, and blessing of horses), 8 November as one of the Saints of the Diocese of Evry. Patronages – carpenters, cartwrights, clock/watch makers, coin collectors, craftsmen of all kinds, cutlers, gilders, goldsmiths, harness makers, horses especially sick horses, jewelers; jockeys; knife makers; labourers, locksmiths, metalworkers in general, miners, minters, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, saddlers, tool makers, Veterinarians, against boils, against epidemics, against equine diseases, against poverty, against ulcers, agricultural workers, basket makers, Eloois-Vijve, Belgium, Sint-Eloois-Winkel, Belgium,
Schinveld, Netherlands.

The Roman Martyrology states: “In Noyon in Neustria, now in France, Saint Eligius, Bishop, who, goldsmith and adviser to King Dagobert, after having contributed to the foundation of many Monasteries and built Sepulchral buildings of outstanding art and beauty in honour of the Saints, was raised to the See of Noyon and Tournai, where he zealously evangelised.”

The Legend of Saint Eligius and Saint Godeberta, by Petrus Christus.

Eligius was born around 588, originally from Chaptelat in Limousin. He belonged to a wealthy rural family who worked their own land, unlike many landowners who left the cultivation to slaves. He left the care of the family farm to one of his brothers and entered trade as a Goldsmith apprentice in a shop in which the Royal Coin was hammered, according to ancient Roman methods. He saved some of the income from his family and gave it in charity to the poor and to slaves. He was as clever in enamel as in gold chiselling. These professional qualities went hand-in-hand with a scrupulous honesty. When they asked him to make a golden throne for King Clothair II (613-629), he made a second with the extra gold he did not want to hold for himself.

This gesture, extraordinary at the time, earned him the trust of the King, who asked him to reside in Paris as the Royal Goldsmith, a Royal Court Officer and Court Counselor. Named coinmaster in Marseilles, he would redeem many of the slaves sold at the Port. When Dagobert became King in 629, he was summoned to Paris where he directed the shops of the Frankish kingdom in which coin was minted, which were in Paris on the Quai des Orfèvres at the present-day Rue de la Monnaie. Among others, he had the task of embellishing the tombs of Saint Genevieve and Saint Denis.

He made Reliquaries for Saint Germain, Saint Severinus, Saint Martin and Saint Columba and numerous Liturgical objects for the new Abbey of Saint Denis. Thanks to his honesty, his frankness and his capacity for peaceable judgement, he came so far into the King’s trust, that the latter called him to himself, and entrusted him with a peace mission to the Breton king, King Judicael.

St Eligius Consecrated Bishop of Novon

Great was the piety and prayer life of this layman, who often attended monastic offices. In 632 he founded the Solignac Monastery south of Limoges. While Eligius still lived, the Monastery had grown to count more than 150 Monks under the two rules of St Benedict and St Colomba: – the Monastery was under the protection of the King and not under the authority of the Bishop. The religious fervour and the ardour of the Monks, made it one of the most illustrious Monasteries of the time. One year after the foundation of Solignac, Eligius founded, in his Ile de la Cité home, the first Monastic house for women religious in Paris, whose direction he entrusted to Saint Aurea.

A year after the death of King Dagobert, whom he had seen in the last moments of his life, Eligius left the Court together with Saint Audenus, who had served as adviser and Chancellor under Dagobert . Like Audenus, Eligius also entered formation and was Ordained Priest. On the same day, 13 May 641, they received the Episcopate: Saint Audenus to the See of Rouen; Eligius to that of Noyon and Tournai. Eligius put all his zeal into apostolic mission.

He died in 660, on the eve of his departure for Cahors. Holy Queen Bathilde travelled to greet him but she arrived too late.

There is a wonderful legend of St Eligius – the devil appeared to him dressed as a woman and he, Eligius, quickly grabbed him by the nose with his pincers. This colourful legend is depicted in two French Cathedrals (Angers and Le Mans) and in the Milan Cathedral, with the stained glass window by Niccolò da Varallo, a gift from the Milanese Goldsmiths in the fifteenth century. Ungfortunately, I cannot find any of these artworks.

In Paris, a Church was dedicated to him in the quarter of the blacksmiths, locksmiths and cabinet-makers. The Church of Saint Eligius was rebuilt in 1967. A church destroyed in 1793 was dedicated to him in the Rue des Orfèvres near the Hôtel de la Monnaie (the mint). In Notre Dame Cathedral, in the Chapel of Saint Ann, once home to the jewellers’ and goldsmiths’ confraternity, the jewellers and goldsmiths of Paris have placed his Statue and restored his Altar.

These are the Representations of this our little-known but o so holy and worthy Saint:
• anvil
• Bishop with a Crosier in his right hand, on the open palm of his left a miniature Church of chased gold
• Bishop with a hammer, anvil and horseshoe
• Bishop with a horse
• Courtier
• Goldsmith
• hammer
• horseshoe
• man grasping a devil’s nose with pincers
• man holding a Chalice and Goldsmith’s hammer
• man holding a horse’s leg, which he detached from the horse in order to shoe it more easily
• man shoeing a horse
• man with hammer and crown near a smithy
• man with hammer, anvil and Saint Anthony
• pincers
• man with Saint Godebertha of Noyon
• man giving a ring to Saint Godebertha
• man working as a Goldsmith.

St Eligius at the feet of the Virgin and Child by Gerard Seghers

Saint of the Day – 17 March – St Patrick (c 386–461) “The Apostle of Ireland,”

Saint of the Day – 17 March – St Patrick (c 386–461) “The Apostle of Ireland,” P riest, Bishop, Missionary. Patronages – against fear of snakes or ophidiophobia. ophidiophobics, against snake bites, against snakes, of barbers, hairdressers, barrel makers; coopers, blacksmiths, cattle, engineers, excluded people, miners, Ireland, Nigeria (1961), Loiza, Puerto Rico, 29 Diocese.

Although we think of Ireland when we talk about St. Patrick, he wasn’t actually born in Ireland.   He was born probably in Scotland.   His father was a deacon and his grandfather had been a priest.   But Patrick didn’t think too much about God.   We don’t really know why this was.   He probably thought he didn’t need God.   He probably thought other things could bring him as much happiness as God could.   God just wasn’t on Patrick’s mind as he roamed the fields of his homeland, tending animals and learning how to be a man.


But his happy, carefree life ended one day when crowds of strangers appeared on the horizon.   They looked dangerous and frightening and they were.   They were pirates and thieves, on their way to capture slaves to take back to Ireland.   Patrick was one of those hundreds of captives.   He was snatched from his family and his home.   He was taken from all of his future hopes and dreams.   Patrick was thrown on a ship, bound in chains and taken over the sea to Ireland.   He was sixteen years old.   For six years, Patrick was a slave in Ireland.   He was put to work watching sheep and cattle.   Patrick had just enough food to live on and when he wasn’t working, he tried to rest in tiny huts that were damp and cold.

But something strange and wonderful happened in Ireland.   All alone, frightened for his life and among people who worshiped trees and stones, Patrick opened his heart to God. That happens to a lot of us, doesn’t it?   When everything’s going great, we don’t have any time for God.   But then something awful and painful happens and there we are, back at God’s feet.

During those years, Patrick started to pray.   He thought about God all the time and it gave him peace of mind.   He knew that no matter how much he was suffering, God loved him.

Eventually, Patrick escaped from slavery and travelled to France, which in those days was called Gaul.   We’re not sure exactly how much time Patrick spent in Gaul.   But it was enough time for him to draw closer to God, as he prayed and studied in a Monastery.   One night, deep in a dreamy vision, Patrick heard voices.   He heard many voices, joined together, pleading with him.   “Come back,” the voices cried, “come back and walk once more among us.”   Patrick knew it was the Irish people calling him.

Strengthened by the courage that only God can give, Patrick went back.   He returned to the very people who had stolen him from his family, worked him mercilessly as a slave and knew little, if anything, about the love of the true God.

Before he left Gaul, Patrick was made the Bishop of Ireland.   He then travelled across the sea to teach Ireland about Jesus Christ.   It wasn’t easy. The people of Ireland practiced pagan religions.   They worshiped nature,and they practiced magic.   They feared the spirits, they believed lived in the woods.   The Irish people believed they could bring evil spirits down on those they wanted to harm.

Patrick had a big job ahead of him. He had to show a country full of students that there was no point in worshiping nature.   Trees can’t forgive your sins or teach you how to love.   The sun, as powerful as it is, could not have created the world.   Patrick explained things using simple examples that people could easily understand.   For example, he used the three-leaf clover to show people how there could be three persons in one God.   Patrick preached to huge crowds and small villages.   He preached to kings and princes.   He preached in the open air and he preached in huts.   Patrick never stopped preaching and he never stopped teaching.   He couldn’t stop—the whole country of Ireland was his classroom and he couldn’t afford to miss even one student!

Soon, Patrick had help.   Men became Priests and Monks.   Women became Nuns. Wherever they lived, those Monks and Nuns settled in Monasteries and set up schools. More students were being reached every day. But, of course, the greatest help Patrick had was from God.

When he was young, Patrick had forgotten God but that would never happen again.   He knew that God supported him in every step he took.   God gave Patrick the courage to speak, even when Patrick was in danger of being hurt by pagan priests who didn’t want to lose their power over the people.

Patrick’s most famous prayer (excerpt below) shows us how close he was to God. It’s called “St. Patrick’s Breastplate.”   A breastplate is the piece of armour that protects a soldier’s heart from harm.   We have this prayer and his own story in one of the few certainly authentic writings of Patrick – his Confessio, which is above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ within me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ at my right, Christ at my left.


Patrick banishes all snakes from Ireland
The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all been banished by St. Patrick chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.    This hagiographic theme draws on the Biblical account of the staff of the prophet Moses.   In Exodus 7:8–7:13, Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their struggle with Pharaoh’s sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into snakes. Aaron’s snake-staff prevails by consuming the other snakes.

 Patrick’s walking stick grows into a living tree
Some Irish legends involve the Oilliphéist, the Caoránach and the Copóg Phádraig.   During his evangelising journey back to Ireland from his parent’s home at Birdoswald, he is understood to have carried with him an ash wood walking stick or staff.   He thrust this stick into the ground wherever he was evangelising and at the place now known as Aspatria (ash of Patrick) the message of the dogma took so long to get through to the people there that the stick had taken root by the time he was ready to move on.

St Patrick died between 461 and 464 at Saul, County Down, Ireland of natural causes