Caesarius of Nazianzus

Caesarius of Nazianzus was born in 331.  He was the younger son of Gregory the Elder, the bishop of Nazianzus, and his wife Nonna.  His older brother was Saint Gregory of Nazianzus.   He probably studied at Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia.  He was preparing to attend an elite school in Alexandria, Egypt.  He studied geometry and astronomy, but he excelled in medicine where he was at the top of his class.
In 355, he went to the capital, Constantinople with a great reputation for his medical skills.  His brother Gregory was there returning from a trip to Athens. Caesarius gave up a lucrative and honorable post to return home with Gregory.  However, he missed Constantinople too much and he returned as a physician to the court of Constantius II.  His family was not happy about this because he returned to paganism.  Caesarius decided his faith was more important than the favor of the emperor.  

When Valens became the emperor, Caesarius was put in charge of the treasury and tax collection. Gregory having just survived an earthquake in Nicaea, wrote to Caesarius, pleading for him to leave his political position and withdraw to the religious life.  In 368, Caesarius was suddenly killed by the widespread plague which followed the earthquake.  Like many of his time he had only recently received baptism After his death, his very considerable estate was rapidly pillaged by servants and creditors. Gregory insisted that what remained of the estate be distributed to the poor and to surviving relatives.

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.

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.

Patron Saint of purse makers – Saint Brioc

Saint Brioc died was a 5th-century Welsh holy man who became the first abbot of Saint-Brieuc in Brittany. He is one of the seven founder saints of Brittany.
He came from Ceredigion where the church was dedicated to him. He received his education in Ireland and he spent time in Scotland. He most likely returned to France early in 431, accompanied by Saint Illtud. 

In 480, he founded a monastery at Landebaeron. He then established an oratory at St Brieuc-des-Vaux, where he became the abbot.

He likely died in 502, in his own monastery at St. Brieuc-des-Vaux.  He is considered the patron saint of purse makers.