Saint Frumentius of Ethiopia

Saint Frumentius was still a child when his uncle, a Christian philosopher of Tyre in Phoenicia, took him and his brother Edesius on a voyage to Ethiopia. In the course of their voyage the vessel anchored at a certain port, and the barbarians of that country slew with the sword all the crew and passengers, except the two children.

Because of their youth and beauty they were taken to the king at Axuma, who, charmed with the wit and sprightliness of the two boys, took special care of their education, and later made Edesius his cup-bearer and Frumentius, who was a little older, his treasurer and secretary of state. The king, on his deathbed, thanked them for their services and in reward gave them their liberty.

After his death the queen begged them to remain at court and assist her in the government of the state until the young prince came of age; this they did, using their influence to spread Christianity. When the young king reached his majority, Edesius desired to return to Tyre, and Frumentius accompanied him as far as Alexandria. With the blessing of Saint Athanasius, Frumentius was elevated to become Bishop of Abyssinia and he returned to that country, which had sheltered him from his childhood.

After he returned from his consecration, Saint Frumentius began to perform miracles, bringing many people to the Church. The emperor said to him, “You have lived among us for many years, yet we never saw you perform such wonders. Why is it that you do so now?” The saint replied, “This has nothing to do with me, but is due to the grace of the priesthood.” Then the emperor and many of his subjects received holy Baptism.

Having accomplished the apostolic task of converting the Abyssinian nation to Christ, Saint Frumentius zealously and fruitfully guided the Church entrusted him by God for many years. Vested with this sacred character he gained great numbers to the Faith by his discourses and miracles, and the entire nation embraced Christianity with its young king, thus fulfilling a famous prophecy of Isaiah, uttered 800 years before Christ. (Isaiah 45:14) Saint Frumentius continued to feed and defend his flock until it pleased the Supreme Pastor to call him home and reward his fidelity and labors, in about the year 383.

Saint Hedwig of Silesia

Hedwig was born in Andechs Castle in the Duchy of Bavaria, Germany, the daughter of Count Berthold IV of Andechs and his second wife Agnes of Wettin. She was the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

At the age of twelve, Hedwig was married to Duke Henry of Silesia, the head of the Polish Royal family. As soon as Henry succeeded his father in 1201, he had to struggle with his Piast relatives, at first with his uncle Duke Mieszko IV Tanglefoot who immediately seized the Upper Silesian Duchy of Opole.  In 1229 Henry was captured and arrested at Płock Castle by rivaling Duke Konrad I of Masovia. Hedwig proceeded to Płock pleading for Henry and was able to have him released.

Her actions promoted the reign of her husband: Upon the death of the Polish High Duke Władysław III Spindleshanks in 1231, Henry also became Duke of Greater Poland and the next year prevailed as High Duke at Kraków. In 1238, upon his death, Henry was buried at a Cistercian monastery of nuns, Trzebnica Abbey (Kloster Trebnitz), which he had established in 1202 at Hedwig’s request. Hedwig accepted the death of her beloved husband with faith. She said:

Would you oppose the will of God? Our lives are His.

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Saint Gerard Majella

San_Gerardo_MaiellaGerard Majella was born in the South of Italy in a small town called Muro on the sixth of April. It was in the year 1726. His father, Domenico, was a tailor. His mother, Benedetta, had already borne three daughters. Gerard was the youngest – the only son. They were an ordinary hard-working Italian family. Pious too. Donna Benedetta often brought her three youngest to Mass with her at the shrine of Our Lady of Graces at nearby Capotignano. And, like thousands of other small boys, then and now, Gerard was all eyes for the strange new things he saw. Not quite four, he was too young to know what was going on. But he did know this: he liked the “pretty lady with the baby.”

“Mama, Mama, see what I got from the little boy.” In his hand he clutched a small roll of bread. Nobody paid him a bit of attention as he chattered about a pretty lady and her baby who had given him the bread. Small boys love to make up stories! But the next day he brought back another white roll, and again the next day, and the next. His mother decided to investigate. Next morning she followed her son. Off he ran the two miles to Capotignano, making straight for the chapel. Benedetta followed. It was then she saw who his playmate was – the Christ-Child himself. The statue of Our Lady of Graces had come to life. The infant climbed down from his Mother’s arms to romp with Gerard. A bewildered Benedetta ran home to Muro. At mealtime, little Gerard came back with another roll of bread.Read More »

Saint Bruno of Cologne

Bruno was born in Cologne about the year 1030. According to tradition, he belonged to the family of Hartenfaust, or Hardebüst, one of the principal families of the city. Little is known of his early years, except that he studied theology in the present-day French city of Reims before returning to his native land.

His education completed, Bruno returned to Cologne, where he was most likely ordained a priest around 1055, and provided with a canonry at St. Cunibert’s. In 1056 Bishop Gervais recalled him to Reims, where the following year he found himself head of the episcopal school, which at the time included the direction of the schools and the oversight of all the educational establishments of the diocese.

He was then appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII in his fight against the decadence of the clergy, and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains.

He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation “in the Chartreuse”—from which comes the word Carthusians. The climate, desert, mountainous terrain, and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty, and small numbers.Read More »

Saint Wenceslaus Duke of Bohemia

Wenceslaus was the son of Vratislaus I, Duke of Bohemia from the Přemyslid dynasty. His grandfather, Bořivoj I of Bohemia, was converted to Christianity by Saints Cyril and Methodius. His mother, Drahomíra, was the daughter of a pagan tribal chief of the Havelli, but was baptized at the time of her marriage. His paternal grandmother, Ludmila of Bohemia, oversaw his education, and at an early age, Wenceslas was sent to the college at Budeč.

In 921, when Wenceslas was about thirteen, his father died and his grandmother became regent. Jealous of the influence that Ludmila wielded over Wenceslas, Drahomíra arranged to have her killed. Ludmila was at Tetín Castle near Beroun when assassins murdered her on September 15, 921. She is said to have been strangled by them with her veil. She was at first buried in the church of St. Michael at Tetín, but her remains were later removed, probably by Wenceslas, to the church of St. George in Prague, which had been built by his father.

In 924 or 925, at about the age of 18, Wenceslas assumed leadership of the government and had his mother Drahomíra exiled. He then defeated a rebellious duke of Kouřim named Radslav. He also founded a rotunda consecrated to St. Vitus at Prague Castle in Prague, which exists as present-day St. Vitus Cathedral.Read More »

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus

Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, (born c. 330, Arianzus, near Nazianzus, in Cappadocia, Asia Minor [now in Turkey]—died c. 389, Arianzus; Eastern feast day January 25 and 30; Western feast day January 2), 4th-century Church Father whose defense of the doctrine of the Trinity (God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) made him one of the greatest champions of orthodoxy against Arianism.

Gregory’s father, also named Gregory, was converted to the Christian faith from the monotheistic sect known as the Hypsistarii under the influence of his Christian wife. He was soon afterward consecrated bishop of his native city, Nazianzus in 325. Born some years later, the younger Gregory thus grew up in a Christian and clerical family. Nevertheless, he received a classical as well as religious education, studying first at Caesarea, the provincial capital, at least briefly at Alexandria, and finally at Athens (c. ad 351–356). He was a close friend of Basil, his fellow student and later bishop of Caesarea, and in his panegyric at Basil’s death in 379 he gave a vivid picture of student life of the period. Among Gregory’s other contemporaries as a student at Athens was the future Roman emperor Julian, who in his brief two-year reign would attempt to revive paganism. Soon after returning to Cappadocia, Gregory joined the monastic community that Basil had founded at Annesi in Pontus. During this time, in order to preserve the thought of the great Alexandrian theologian Origen, many of whose speculative views were under attack, the two friends collaborated in editing the Philocalia, an anthology of theological and devotional selections from the works of Origen.Read More »

Saint Lydia of Thyatira

Lydia was from Thyatira, a town in Asia Minor. The second part of her name “Purpuraria” was not really her name, but we call her this because it means “merchant of purple”, a person who traded in luxury purple dyes and fabrics for which the city of Thyatira was noted. Purple goods were part of a high value industry and were used only by royalty and rich and important people; emperors, high government officials, and priests of the pagan religions. Dealing in luxury goods, Lydia would have owned a nice big house and had the means to support the Christian cause.

Tradition relates that she and her husband may have been involved in this business. At some point Lydia and her household moved from Asia Minor to the city of Philippi in Macedonia. The reasons she moved may have been business related as Philippi was a Roman colony on the major east-west trade route, the Egnation Highway, between Rome and Asia. Also, she may have been a Jewish convert who no longer could worship in the custom of the Thyatirans.

The words of The Acts quoted below describe Lydia’s meeting with the Apostle Paul on his second missionary journey about the year 50. Paul and his companions started their journey visiting the established churches in western Asia Minor when he answered a vision in which he saw a man dressed in a Macedonian manner calling upon him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us.“Read More »