Saint Tommaso da Cori

Originally named, Francesco Antonio Placidi was born to poor parents on June 4, 1655, in Cori near Rome. As a child, he was called “the little saint”.  He was a shepherd as he grew up. Placidi was holy and learned about the Order of Friars Minor. Both his parents died around the time he turned fourteen.  He had to care for his two sisters and find them, husbands. Placidi was devoted to God.  As soon as his sisters were married, he chose to enter consecrated life. He became a friar and entered the Order of Friars Minor

In 1683, after completing his studies, he was ordained a priest.   He was appointed as the assistant master of novices in Orvieto. He learned of the hermit life which was re-emerging.  He joined a hermitage where he lived until his death except for a brief period of time in which he was the guardian of a hermitage he founded.  

Father Tommaso followed the model of hermit life that Francis of Assisi had established.  He didn’t remain enclosed within the hermitage but would preach in the small village.  He was known for his simple messages of the Gospel and was called the “Apostle of the Sublicense” He was known as a man of deep contemplation on the Gospel.  He often spent the night in the convent’s chapel in silent meditation.  Placidi died in peace in his sleep at the beginning of 1729 in Civitella

The sainthood process began July 15, 1737, when Pope Clement XII called  Placidi Servant of God.  Pope Pius VI declared the friar  Venerable on August 1, 1778, Pope John Paul II canonized the friar in Saint Peter’s Square on November 21, 1999.

Patron Saint Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit – Blessed Helena Stollenwerk

Helena Stollenwerk was born on November 28, 1852, to Hans Peter Stollenwerk and his third wife Anna Bongard She had one sister, Caroline. Her Father died with she was just seven years old.  Her mother remarried the following year to a man with three daughters from a previous marriage.  The youngest daughter became a very close friend to Helena. 

As a child, she dreamed of going on mission trips to China.  She tried to find a convent that sent missionaries around the world, but she was not able to find one.  

In 1882 she met Arnold Janssen, who was in the Netherlands at the time.  He encouraged her idea of beginning a new religious group for women.  For a time she served at Janssen’s St. Michael the Archangel Mission House.  In 1884, she was joined by Hendrina Stenmanns.

On December 8, 1889, Stollenwerk became of postulant of a women’s congregation began by Janssen, the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit.  She made her vows on March 12, 1894.  She became abbess of the congregation on August 12, 1898.

Stollenwerk helped prepare sisters that went out on missions around the world.  She sent the first missionaries to Argentina in 1895.  She other missionaries to Togo in 1897. Janssen’s asked her to resign from being Superior General.  She had been in that position for 8 years.

In the fall of 1899,  she was diagnosed with meningitis. She died in 1900.  Her final words were “Jesus: I die for You.”

Her cause for sainthood became in 1950 in Roermond, the collection of documents and interviews about her life.   The miracle required for her beatification occurred in 1962.  Her writings received approval in 1983 from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. On April 2, 1982, Stollenwerk was titled a Servant of God. Pope John Paul I confirmed her life of heroic virtue and name Stollenwerk as being Venerable on 14 May 14, 1991.  The miracle from 1962 was investigated and was approved as a medical miracle on November 26, 1993.  Pope John Paul II approved the miracle as well and on May 7, 1995, beatified Stollenwerk.  The current postulator for this cause is Sister Ortrud Stegmaier.

Patron saint of Mariners and stone cutters- Pope Saint Clement I

The Book of Popes makes a list that makes Linus the second in line of the Bishop of Rome, or Pope.  Peter was the first.  It also says that Peter ordained two bishops, Linus and Cletus, for priestly service, while he spent time praying and preaching.  It was Clement that he entrusted the Church as a whole, Saint Jerome listed Clement as “the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Cletus. A tradition that began in the 3rd and 4th century, has identified him as the Clement that Paul mentioned in Philippians, a fellow laborer in Christ.

A large congregation existed in Rome in 58 when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans.  Paul arrived in Rome c. 60 (Acts) Paul and Peter were martyred there. Nero persecuted Roman Christians after Rome burned in 64.  The congregation suffered further persecution under Domitian (81–96).

Clement was the first of early Rome’s most notable bishops The Book of Popes indicated Clement had known Peter. Clement is known for his letter to the church in Corinth, saying there is an apostolic authority of bishops as rulers of the church.  Clement writes to the troubled congregation in Corinth, where certain bishops have been replaced.  Clement calls for repentance and reinstatement of those who have been replaced, in line with order and obedience to church authority, since the apostles established the ministry of “bishops and deacons.”He mentions “offering the gifts” as one of the functions of the clergy. The epistle offers valuable insight into Church ministry at that time and into the history of the Roman Church.  It was considered important and was read in church at Corinth along with the Scriptures.

Do we then think it to be a great and marvelous thing, if the Creator of the universe shall bring about the resurrection of them that have served Him with holiness in the assurance of a good faith, seeing that He showeth to us even by a bird the magnificence of His promise?  — Clement of Rome 1885b, 1 Clem 26:1

According to a 4th-century legend, Clement was banished from Rome to the Chersonesus during the reign of Emperor Trajan and was set to work in a stone quarry. Finding on his arrival that the prisoners were suffering from a lack of water, he knelt down in prayer. Looking up, he saw a lamb on a hill, went to where the lamb had stood, and struck the ground with his pickaxe, releasing a gushing stream of clear water. This miracle resulted in the conversion of large numbers of the local pagans and their fellow prisoners to Christianity. As punishment, Clement was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown from a boat into the Black Sea. The legend recounts that every year a miraculous ebbing of the sea revealed a divinely built shrine containing his bones. The oldest sources on Clement’s life, Eusebius and Jerome, say nothing of his martyrdom. 

St. Illtud

St. Illtud was popular but there are very few sources about his actual life.  It is believed to have been born around 540.  According to some accounts, he was the disciple of Bishop Germanus of Auxerre in France. Illtud was a great scholar who had studied the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.  He had also studied philosophy, geometry, rhetoric, grammar, and arithmetic. He was an educated Briton living shortly after Rome’s departure.

It was also believed he was the son of a Breton prince and a cousin of King Arthur. His parents wanted him to be a priest or monk.  They had him educated in literature for this reason. He soon gave up his religious upbringing, deciding instead to pursue a military career. He married a wife named Trynihid and became a soldier in Wales.  First, he served King Arthur, and then King Poulentus. This is why he is called St. Illtud the Knight. One afternoon, he was with a hunting party who sent a message to the abbot.  The group demanded the abbot feed them. The abbot found them to be very rude and improper but graciously offered them a meal anyway. Before they could enjoy the meal, the ground opened up and swallowed the whole party as just punishment for their impiety. Only Illtud was spared.  He went to St. Cadog, begging forgiveness for his sins. The abbot told him to quit being selfish.  He should go back to his religious upbringing.  Illtud gave up his wife, and became a hermit.

Illtud helped pioneer the monastic life of Wales.  He founded a monastery at Llantwit Major. This became the first major Welsh monastic school.  Some students were believed to be Saint Patrick, Paul Aurelian, Taliesin, Gildas, and Samson of Dol. Saint David is also believed to have spent some time there.

Patron saint against fire – Caesarius of Arles

Caesarius of Arles was born around 468 in France to Roman parents in the last years of the Western Empire. His sister, Caesaria, to who he called his Rule for Virgins presided over the convent he founded. At the time of his birth, Germanic kings governed Burgundy with little oversight from Rome. Unlike his parents, Caesarius was born with an intense feeling for religion.  This separated him from his family for most of his time Caesarius left home at seventeen and studied under Bishop Sylvester for a few years. Afterwards, he found his way to Lérins, an island monastery, which was known to be a creative force in the Catholic Church in Gaul. After training as a monk at Lérins he read and applied the scripture to improve the quality of Christian life and serve the poor. He was unpopular at Lérins because he withheld food from monks when he felt they weren’t strict enough or weren’t denying themselves enoch.   The abbot Porcarius removed Caesarius from his job and he began starving himself.  The abbot sent him for medical care. After living at Lérins for over a decade his health declined from monastic over-exertion.  Caesarius sought out a different Catholic community in Arles.

The Catholic community he joined brought him back to health. He provided ransom for prisoners and helped the sick and the poor. Caesarius was consecrated as a bishop in 502. He was probably about 33. He asked the laity to ask about points not clear in his sermons. He brought the Divine Office into the local parishes He ordered people to study Holy Scripture at home, and treat the word of God with the same reverence as the sacraments.

As bishop, Caesarius lived in a political world. The aftermath of war in 507/508 was devastating to its citizens. Peasants had no food supply and were in danger of enslavement, exile and death. Although Caesarius saved and ransomed many citizens, He also ransomed many barbarians and enemies. stating they were human beings and had the potential to enter heaven.

Caesarius was a  faithful champion of St. Augustine of Hippo in the early middle ages. Thus Augustine’s writings are seen to have profoundly shaped Caesarius’ vision of human community,

Catholics in the late Roman and Early Medieval West were slow, inconsistent, and incomplete social and religious change. It required the building of churches, conversion of elites, and widespread adoption of Catholic identity with a system of Christian values, practices, and beliefs. The church was constantly struggling against superstitions and pagan practices that were common in communities and among common people Only with the consent and participation of local populations did often contend with pagan practices. 
Caesarius has over 250 surviving sermons. His sermons reveal him as a pastor dedicated to the formation of the clergy and the moral education of the laity. He preached on Christian beliefs, values, and practices against paganism He emphasizes the life of a Christian as well as the love of God, reading the scriptures, asceticism, love for one’s neighbor, and the judgment that would come

The most important local council over which Caesarius presided was the Council of Orange in 529. Its statements on the subject of grace and free agency have been written about  by modern historians (The following propositions are laid down in the Council of Orange’s canon 25:

“This also do we believe, in accordance with the Catholic faith, that after grace received through baptism, all the baptized are able and ought, with the aid and co-operation of Christ, to fulfill all duties needful for salvation, provided they are willing to labor faithfully. But that some men have been predestinated to evil by divine power, we not only do not believe, but if there be those who are willing to believe so evil a thing, we say to them with all abhorrence anathema. This also do we profess and believe to our soul’s health, that in every good work, it is not we who begin, and are afterwards assisted by Divine mercy, but that God Himself, with no preceding merits on our part, first inspires within us faith and love.”

Caesarius’ Regula virginum, also known as the Rule for Virgins, is the first western rule written exclusively for women. He begins his  “Rule” by saying  the virgins for which he was writing this rule were the “gems of the Church” as they, “with God’s help, evade the jaws of spiritual wolves Caesarius argues the complete containment of women in the monastery from their entry until death. Caesarius also created a strict regime for women in the monasteries to adhere to, specifying times for prayer, limits on earthly luxuries such as fine clothes and elaborate decoration, and standards of modesty and piety.  Caesarius was captured and later returned from Bordeaux. After he returned he began to build a monastery for women outside of Arles. The monastery was built for a group of ascetic women living under the spiritual direction of his sister Caesaria.  

When the Franks captured Arles in 536, Caesarius retired to St. John’s Convent. He was revered for his more than forty years of service and for presiding over Church synods and councils, including the Council of Orange in 529. He died on August 27.