Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Saint/s of the Day – 8 August – The Fourteen Holy Helpers.
A group of Saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties, are known and venerated under the name Fourteen Holy Helpers.

The Notable Martyrs Saints within the Group are:
Acacius, Barbara, Blaise, Christopher, Cyriacus, Catherine of Alexandria, Denis, Erasmus of Formia, Eustace, George, Giles, Margaret of Antioch, Pantaleon and Vitus.

Devotion to these fourteen ,as a group, spread in response to the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346 to 1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason and killed within a few hour. Many died without the last Sacraments.

Brigands roamed the streets, people suspected of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the Saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany–the Diocese of Wurzburg having been renowned for its observance.

Pope Nicholas V attached Indulgences to devotion of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in the 16th century.

Saint Christopher and Saint Giles are nvoked against the plague itself.
Saint Denis is prayed to for relief from headache, Saint Blaise for ills of the throat,
Saint Elmo for abdominal maladies,
Saint Barbara for fever and Saint Vitus against epilepsy.
Saint Pantaleon is the Patron of physicians,
Saint Cyriacus invoked against temptation on the deathbed and Saints Christopher, Barbara and Catherine, for protection against a sudden and unprovided death.
Saint Giles is prayed to for a good Confession and Saint Eustace as healer of family troubles.
Domestic animals were also attacked by the plague and so, Saints George, Elmo, Pantaleon and Vitus are invoked for the protection of these animals.
Saint Margaret of Antioch is the Patron of safe childbirth.

The legends of the Fourteen Holy Helpers are replete with the most glorious examples of heroic firmness and invincible courage in the profession of the Faith, which ought to incite us to imitate their fidelity in the performance of the Christian and social duties. If they, with the aid of God’s grace, achieved such victories, why should not we, by the same aid, be able to accomplish the very little which is desired of us? God rewarded His victorious champions with eternal bliss – the same crown is prepared for us, if we but render ourselves worthy of it. God placed the seal of miracles on the intrepid confession of His Servants and a mind imbued with the spirit of faith, sees nothing extraordinary therein because our Divine Saviour, Himself said, “Amen, amen I say to you, he that believes in Me, the works that I do, he also shall do and greater than these shall he do” (John 14:12). In all the miraculous events wrought in and by the Saints, there appears only the victorious omnipotent Power of Jesus Christ and the living faith, in which His Servants operated in virtue of this power.

The histories of the Saints are called Legends.
This word is derived from the Latin,and signifies something that is to be read, a passage the reading of which is prescribed.
Therefore, the Legends of the Saints are the lives of the holy Martyrs and Confessors of the Faith.
Some of them occur in the Roman Breviary which the Catholic Clergy is obliged to read everyday.

(The corruption of this word has occurred in modern times, giving it a meaning of either “unprovable story or celebrity.”)

A little more about the 14 Holy Helpers and a prayer to them by St Alphonsus Liguori here:


Saint of the Day – 21 June – Saint Alban of Mainz (Died c 400) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 21 June – Saint Alban of Mainz (Died c 400) Martyr, Priest, Missionary, Confessor Born in Greece or Albania (sources vary) and died in c 400 by pagan Vandals at Hanum, Germany. His body was beheaded post-mortem. Patronages – against epilepsy, of epileptics, against kidney stones, against hernia; hernia victims. Also known as – Albano di Magonza, Albinus of Mainz.

The Roman Martyrology states of him today: “St Alban. Martyr, who was made worthy of the crown of life, after long laours and severe combats.”

The oldest surviving substantial source about Alban of Mainz is the Martyrologium (c 845) of Blessed Rabanus Maurus (776-856), who had two separate entries for the Mainzer Alban and the English Alban. Concerning Alban of Mainz, he wrote:

21 June: The Martyr Alban from native Moguntia [Mainz], who during the reign of Emperor Theodosius went forward from the island of Namsia with the Saint Theonestus and Ursus and reached Mediolanum [Milan] and from there he went out and, with the help of the Lord, he arrived in the provinces of Gaul, and stayed there in the Saviour’s name, willing to suffer Martyrdom in the service of God.
But after Martyrdom took the blessed Ursus in the City of Augusta, Theonestus arrived with Alban in Moguntiacum [Mainz]; while preaching the word of God there, his pupil Alban fulfilled Martyrdom and was buried there, near the City.

— Rabanus Maurus, Martyrologium. Iunius (c. 845)

The second substantial source is the Passio sancti Albani, an incomplete hagiography written in the 1060s or 1070s by schoolmaster Gozwin, who lamented that very little evidence about Alban had survived to his day. Gozwin’s account is much longer and adds many elements not found in Rabanus’ Martyrologium, including a prologue about the First Council of Nicaea (325) which condemned Arianism, that, nevertheless, persisted until Honorius and Arcadius succeeded Theodosius (395). In that time, Alban is mentioned as one of four disciples of St Theonestus, the others being Sts Ursus, Tabraha and Tabratha. These five Catholic clerics are forced to flee from North Africa to Italy after being persecuted by Huneric, the fiercely Arian King of the Vandals, travelling to St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. The most wise Ambrose teaches Theonestus and his disciples refined theology and sends them out to convert the ‘Arian beasts’ in Gaul and Germany. They pass a City called Augusta, where Ursus is killed by Arians, and Alban is eventually beheaded in Mainz by local Arians to whom he was preaching the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity. The legend finishes by narrating, that Alban carried his head in his hands to the place where he wanted to be buried.

A Church and Monastery were built in Mainz in 804 to honour Alban. A map of Fulda from 786 seems to have already mentioned a chapel in Mainz dedicated to Alban. It became the centre of Saint Alban’s Abbey, a large Benedictine Monastery, which was renovated by Charlemagne in 806. The Monastery was devastated in 1557 and never restored.

Albert II, Count of Namur founded the collegiate Church of St Alban at Namur in 1047. When the Diocese of Namur was created in 1559, it was expanded as St Aubin’s Cathedral, which claims to possess relics of Alban of Mainz.


Saint of the Day – 7 August – Saint Donatus of Arezzo (Died 362) Bishop and Martyr

Saint of the Day – 7 August – Saint Donatus of Arezzo (Died 362) Bishop and Martyr, Confessor, Miracle-worker – born in Nicomedia (part of modern Turkey) and died on 7 August in 362.   Patronages – Arezzo, Italy, Diocese of Arezzo, Italy, Diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro, Italy, Cavriglia, Italy, epileptic, bakers, Contursi Terme, Acerno, Anzi, Castel di Ieri, Castel del Monte, Fossacesia, Guardiagrele, Pinerolo, Ranzo, San Donato di Lecce, Montesano Salentino, San Donato di Ninea, San Donato Milanese, San Donato Val di Comino, Soveria Simeri, Val della Torre, Villa Martelli, Monteforte Cilento (Salerno) all in Italy.4_yuag_leonardo_exhibit_a_miracle_of_saint_donatus_detail_da_vinci_0

A Passio of Donatus’ life was written by a Bishop of Arezzo, Severinus. He calls Donatus a Martyr, although Donatus is described as a Bishop and Confessor of the faith in ancient sources and not as a Martyr.    An early hagiography of Donatus was already known to Gregory the Great.

According to Severinus’ account, as a child Donatus came to Rome with his family from Nicomedia.   According to  Severinus’ account, Donatus was educated by a Priest named Pymenius.    His friend and companion in these religious studies, was a boy named Julian –who would later become Emperor Julian the Apostate.   Julian rose to the position of sub-deacon;   Donatus became a lector.   Saint Peter Damian would later write in his Sermones that “in the field of the Lord two sprigs, Donatus and Julian, grow together but one will become a cedar of Paradise, the other coal for the eternal flames of Hell.”img-Saint-Donatus-of-Arezzo1

On 4 February 362, Julian promulgated an edict to guarantee freedom of religion.   This edict proclaimed that all the religions were equal before the law and that the Roman Empire had to return to its original religious eclecticism, according to which the Roman State did not impose any religion on its provinces.   Christian chroniclers considered that it had as it’s purpose, the restoration of paganism at the expense of Christianity.

Catholic tradition states that Julian also persecuted individual Christians and that Donatus’ parents, as well as his teacher Pymenius, would die during these persecutions.   Donatus escaped to Arezzo and would work with a Monk named Hilarian, to preach the Christian faith, as well as perform penances and miracles.    Severinus’ Passio states that Donatus brought back to life a woman named Euphrosina;  fought and slew a dragon who had poisoned the local well;  gave sight back to a blind woman named Syriana and, exorcised a demon that had been tormenting Asterius, the son of the Roman prefect of Arezzo.576px-St_Donatus_of_Arezzo

Donatus was Ordained a Deacon and then Priest by Saint Satyrus of Arezzo, Bishop of that city and continued to preach in the city and in the surrounding region.    At the death of Satyrus, Donatus was appointed Bishop by Pope Julius I.   A man named Anthimus was Donatus’ deacon.

During a celebration of Mass, at the moment of the giving of Communion, in which a glass chalice was being administered, some pagans entered the church and shattered the chalice in question. Donatus, after intense prayer, collected all of the fragments and joined them together.   There was a piece missing from the bottom of the cup, miraculously, however, nothing spilled from the cup.   Astounded, seventy-nine pagans converted to Christianity.

Jose_de_Ribera_-The_Miracle_of_Saint_Donatus header
St Donatus and the Miracle of the Chalice by Jose de Ribera

A month after this episode, the prefect of Arezzo, Quadratian, arrested Hilarian the Monk and Donatus.    Hilarian was Martyred on 16 July 362 and Donatus was beheaded on 7 August at donato footer

In 1125, some of Donatus’ relics (and those of the alleged dragon said to have been killed by the saint) were brought to the Church of Santa Maria and San Donato on the island of Murano, near Venice.

Church of Santa Maria and San Donato on the island of Murano, near Venice.

A large silver reliquary bust of Donatus from the 13th century is now found in the National Museum at Naples.San-Donato-1-e1505122656201

The Patron Saints of Guardiagrele are Donatus of Arezzo and Saint Emidius.   Annually between 6 and 8 August, there is a festival celebrating these saints in which the effigy of Donatus is paraded around the streets of Guardiagrele.

In the Cathedral dedicated to St Donatus and where some of his relics lie together with a Shrine to him, there is a magnificent “Arch” depicting his life and miracles.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Saint of the Day – 25 July – Saint Christopher (Died c 251) Martyr

Saint of the Day – 25 July – Saint Christopher (Died c 251) Martyr and “Christ-Bearer” – Born at Canaan as Offero and Martyred in the reign of the 3rd-century Roman Emperor Decius (reigned 249–251) – Additional Memorials – 9 March (Greek calendar), 9 May (some Eastern calendars), 16 November (Cuba), 10 July (some areas of Spain).   Also known as Christobal, Christoval, Cristobal, Kester, Kitt, Kitts, Offero Patronages – against bad dreams, epileptics; against epilepsy, against floods, against hailstorms, against lightning, against pestilence, against storms, against sudden death, against toothache, Air Forces, archers, motorists, bachelors,bookbinders, bus drivers, taxi drivers, civil aeronautics, fruit dealers, fullers, gardener, of a holy death, truck drivers, mariners, sailors, market carriers, mountain climbers, porters, relief from pestilence, transportation, transportation workers, travellers, travellers in the mountains, Saint Christopher’s Island, Saint Kitts, 13 cities.Borgianni-Orazio-St-Christopher-carrying-the-infant-Christ-c1598-1602-oil-on-canvas-Museo-del-Prado-Madrid.jpg

He was a man of many names, Offero being one of them.   Born in the third century in Asia Minor, son of a king, he would grow to be a restless young man of considerable size. The early years of his life were spent in search of riches, of purpose, of a cause worthy of his allegiance.saint-christopher-carrying-the-christ-child-mateo-cerezo.jpg

As the story goes, a young Offero, looking for the strongest and boldest ruler to follow, briefly courted Satan.   When his new master cowered in fear at a holy cross on the side of a road, Offero abandoned Satan, choosing light over darkness.   During this period of transition, a holy hermit awakened the restless wanderer to Christianity, schooling and baptising him.   From then on, Offero pledged his life to Christ and vowed to serve God’s people along the banks of an untamed river.   So he built a hut and set up camp with a new purpose—to be a boatman to the christopher 5.jpg

His popularity was solidified when a small child once approached him, wanting safe passage across the water.   He hoisted the boy on his shoulders and, with his trusty staff, began the journey.   As the river deepened, the child began to grow heavier.   Waters quickly rising, the precious cargo continued to weigh the giant down.   As he reached the banks of the river, Offero said, “Child, thou hast put me in great peril, thou weighest almost as if I had all the world upon me – I might bear no greater burden.”

“Christopher,” the little boy responded, “thou hast not only borne all the world upon thee but thou hast borne Him that created and made all the world, upon thy shoulders.”

The child instructed Christopher (meaning “Christbearer”) to cross the river again and plant his staff in the ground, telling the ferryman that life would spring forth.   To Christopher’s astonishment, by morning his staff had taken root—bright flowers and fruit grew from christopher.jpg

The rest of Christopher’s life is even sketchier in detail.   One legend states that many in the immediate area converted to Christianity based on his encounter, which drew unwanted attention.   In Lycia—present-day Turkey—under Emperor Decius, he was imprisoned, shot with arrows, burned and then beheaded around 251.

st christopher and st peter
St Christopher and St Peter

Though the life of this mighty martyr was later questioned by historians, Saint Christopher’s story and his worldwide appeal have proven invulnerable.   Amen and alleluia, glory be to God!st christopher lg