Auguste Chapdelaine

Auguste Chapdelaine was born in France on February 6, 1814.  When he was twenty he entered the seminary.  He was ordained a priest in 1843, and in 1851 he joined the Paris Foreign Missions in Paris.  In April 1852, he joined the Catholic mission to China.  The Taiping Rebellion made the Chinese government suspicious of Christians.  Foreigners were forbidden to enter the area. 

By December 8, 1854, he was able to celebrate Mass with about 300 local people in the Guangxi province.  He was arrested and thrown in prison ten days after he arrived, and released after about two weeks.  He was personally threatened.  He went back in early 1855, and again in December.  He was denounced on February 22, 1856.  He was arrested again with other Chinese Catholics.  He was accused of stirring up insurrection.  He was condemned to decapitation and was severely beaten, and locked in a small cage, hung at the gate of the jail.    He was had already died when he was decapitated.  His head was hung from a tree.   He died that same day. 

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows

Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was born March 1, 1838, to a well-to-do family.  He was the eleventh of thirteen children in his family. They lived in the town of Assisi where Sante worked for the local government. Gabriel was baptized in the same baptismal font that Francis of Assisi had been baptized.  His family moved following his father’s job when he was very young.  His mother died when he was four years old.  He was taught by Jesuits.  He was well-liked and known for his piety.  He also did well in school, especially in Latin.  He believed when he was called to the religious life.  He wanted to join the Jesuits but was refused because he was not 17 yet.  After his sister died from cholera, he wanted to enter the religious life even more.  His father didn’t give his permission for him to become a Passionist.  He was accepted into the Passionist congregation, on September 19, 1856.   He lived an ordinary life in the monastery, following the rules of the congregation.  He was again an excellent student and made great progress in his spiritual life. He was known for his great devotion to the sorrows of Mary. 

He died from tuberculosis at the age of 23 in Isola del Gran Sasso, Italy. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Porphyrius of Gaza

Gaza was known to be a place hostile to early Christians. Several had suffered martyrdom there in the persecution of Diocletian and Julian.  The Christian Basilica had been burned and Christians had been put to death. The people of Gaza were so hostile to Christians the church had to be built safely away from the city, outside the city walls.  Christian bishops were called bishops of the churches near Gaza. There were about 280 Christians in the Gaza community.
Saint Porphyrius was born around 345 in Thessalonica, Greece.   His parents were wealthy. Saint Porphyrius received a great education. He was interested in living a monastic life.  He left Greece for Egypt.  He lived under the guidance of Saint Macarius the Great.  He also met Saint Jerome, who was then visiting the Egyptian monasteries. He went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places.  Then he moved into a cave in the Jordanian wilderness for prayer and ascetic deeds.

After five years, Saint Porphyrius became ill.  He decided to go to the holy places of Jerusalem to pray for healing. As he lay half-conscious at the foot of Golgotha, Saint Porphyrius fell into a sort of trance. He saw Jesus Christ descending from the Cross and saying to him, “Take this Wood and preserve it.”

Coming out of his trance, he found himself healthy and free from pain. Then he gave away all his money to the poor and to several churches.  He then worked as a shoemaker for a while. 
St. Porphyry was appointed bishop at the age of 45. He safely arrived in Gaza.  The next year a drought followed.  The people of the city said a pagan god said the feet of Porphyry had brought bad luck to the city.   Concerned, St. Porphyry sent Marcus, his deacon to Constantinople in 398 to get permission to close the pagan temples of Gaza. Hilarious, an official arrived with soldiers to close the temples.  However, the Marneion remained open because Hilarius was bribed with a large sum of money.  There was not much change in the people.  Christians were refused politically appointed jobs and were treated as slaves.  

Then St. Porphyry then went to Constantinople during the winter of 401–402, to convinced the Empress, Eudoxia, to ask the Emperor to destroy the pagan temples at Gaza. In May, 402, eight temples to Aphrodite, Hecate, the Sun, Apollo, Kore (Persephone), Tyche (Tychaion), the shrine of a hero (Heroeion), and even the Marneion, were destroyed.  There were many other idols and private libraries of magic books in the houses and in the villages were also destroyed.  The upper classes who had those things fled from the city. Paganism officially ceased to exist in Gaza.

A large church called the Eudoxiana was built in her honor and dedicated on April 14, 407.  

Saint Porphyrius defended Christianity in Gaza to the very end of his life. Through the prayers of the saint, numerous miracles and healings occurred. The bishop guided his flock for more than twenty-five years.  He died in 420 at 73 years old.

Æthelberht of Kent

Æthelberht was born around 550.  He was the son of King Eormenric. When Æthelberht was around 15, he became king after his father died.  When he was 20, he married Bertha, the Christian daughter of Charibert I, king of the Franks.  Bertha, brought a bishop, Liudhard, with her across the Channel, and for whom Æthelberht built a chapel, St Martin’s.

The Britons converted to Christianity under Roman rule. The invasions by the Anglo-Saxons separated the British church from European Christianity for centuries.  The church in Rome had no presence or authority in Britain.  Rome knew so little about the British church that it was unaware of any schism in customs.

Marrying Bertha may have influenced. Pope Gregory I, sent Augustine of Canterbury as a missionary from Rome. Gregory the Great wrote urging  Æthelberht to spread Christianity among those kings and peoples subject to him   In 597, a group of nearly forty monks, led by Augustine, landed in Kent. Æthelberht was distrustful of the newcomers.  He insisted on meeting them under the open sky, to prevent them from performing sorcery. The monks impressed Æthelberht, but he was not converted immediately. He agreed to allow the mission to settle in Canterbury and permitted them to preach. Shortly after, Æthelberht converted to Christianity, churches were established, and wide-scale conversion to Christianity began in the kingdom. Æthelberht gave his new church land in Canterbury. Through Æthelberht’s influence Sæberht, king of Essex, also was converted,  but there were limits to his effectiveness. The entire Kentish court did not convert: Augustine also was unsuccessful in gaining the allegiance of the British clergy.

After the arrival of Augustine’s mission, around 602 or 603, Æthelberht issued a set of laws, in ninety sections. These laws are the earliest surviving code and were among the first documents written in Anglo-Saxon. Æthelberht’s code talks about the church in the very first item.  It talks about the pay required for the property of a bishop, a deacon, a priest, and so on.  The laws are concerned with setting and enforcing the penalties for transgressions at all levels of society; the severity of the fine depended on the social rank of the victim. The king had a financial interest in enforcement.  

Some clauses define how much of the household goods a woman could keep, depending on whether she keeps custody of the children, in a divorce.

It may have been during Æthelberht’s reign that the first coins were minted in England since Romans left. These early coins were gold, and probably were shillings mentioned in Æthelberht’s laws.

Æthelberht died on February 24, 616.  He was succeeded by his son, Eadbald, who was not a Christian.  He had converted but went back to his pagan faith. He outraged the church by marrying his stepmother, which was contrary to Church law, and by refusing to accept baptism. His feast day was originally February 24 but was changed to February 25.

Adela of Normandy

Adela of Normandy, of Blois, or of England (c. 1067 – 8 March 1137),[1] also known as Saint Adela in Roman Catholicism,[2] was a daughter of William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders who later became the countess of Blois, Chartres, and Meaux by marriage to Stephen II of Blois. Her husband greatly benefited from the increased social status and prestige that came with such a marriage. She brought with her not only her bloodline but a dowry of money and other movable goods from the prodigious store of Anglo-Norman wealth. She was regent of Blois during the absence of her spouse in 1096–1100 and 1101–02, and during the minority of her son from 1102 until 1120.[3] Adela was the mother of King Stephen of England and Bishop Henry of Winchester.

Adela was born after her father became the English King. It is generally believed she was born in 1067.  She was the favorite sister of King Henry I of England. They were probably the youngest of the Conqueror’s children. Adela was a high-spirited and educated woman,  She had a knowledge of Latin.  She had three older brothers and one younger.  She knew she would not inherit the leadership of England, but having children with her would be a valuable asset to any suitor

Adela married Stephen Henry, son, and heir to the count of Blois, between 1080 and 1083. She was 15.  Stephen was twenty years older than she was.  Stephen inherited Blois, Chartres, and Meaux upon his father’s death in 1089, including land in Berry and Burgundy. This became the county of Champagne.
Adela and her husband had a relationship based on trust, respect, and affection.  She made decisions along with Stephen. She promised with her husband to protect the bishop of Chartres, then in a dispute with the king of France.

Stephen-Henry joined the First Crusade in 1096, along with his brother-in-law Robert Curthose. Stephen’s letters to Adela give insight into the experiences of the Crusade’s leaders.  They show he trusted Adela to rule as regent while he was on crusade and during his second expedition in 1101. This included granting monks the right to build new churches and other charters. Adela also worked with Ivo of Chartres, exchanging letters throughout her regency to discuss the control of misbehaving nuns and disputes about sworn oaths. While her husband was away, Adela would continue to tour their lands, settling disputes, promoting economic growth, and commanding knights to go to battle with the king. 

When her husband returned to France in 1100, he brought several cartloads of maps, jewels, and other treasures, He abandoned the First Crusade returning to France in embarrassment.   Adela berated him, urging him to return to the Holy Land. He made a promise to the pope.  He returned to Antioch to participate in the crusade of 1101. He was ultimately killed in a last stand after the Battle of Ramla in 1102.
Adela continued to act as regent after her husband’s death for her son.  Thibaud’s early rule until her retirement in 1120. Even after Thibaud came of age and no longer needed a regent, Adela continued to issue charters and act as co-ruler of many parts of their land. Adela did not secure a marriage alliance for Thibaud, who did not get married until after Adela’s retirement, which helped to maintain her power and influence over both her son and her lands.

Adela was a devout Benedictine sympathizer.  She hired several Benedictine tutors to educate her children. When Henry was two, he was pledged to the Church at Cluny Abbey. He was dedicated to the service of God.  Henry went on to be appointed Abbot of Glastonbury and Bishop of Winchester. He sponsored hundreds of constructions including bridges, canals, palaces, forts, castles, and whole villages. Bishop Henry built dozens of abbeys and chapels and sponsored books.

Adela retired to Marcigny Convent in 1120. She continued to interact and communicate with her children and church leaders of lands that she had once ruled

Later that same year, her daughter Lucia-Mahaut drowned in the wreck of the White Ship alongside her husband. Adela lived long enough to see her son Stephen as the King of England.  She died on March 8, 1137.