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St. John Cantius

Name: St. John Cantius
Date: 20 October

Saint John was born at Kenty in Poland in 1403. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Cracow with great intelligence, industry, and success, while his modesty and virtue drew all hearts to him. After earning his degrees, he was appointed to the Chair of Theology at the university. He inflamed his hearers with the desire of every kind of piety, no less by his deeds than by his words. He was ordained a priest and was for a short time in charge of a parish, where he manifested great concern for the poor, at his own expense. At the University’s request, he resumed the professor’s Chair and taught there until his holy death.

He found a poor man on the snow one day, dying of hunger and cold; he clothed him in his own frock and took him to the rectory, to eat at his table. Afterwards, for many years, every professor of the College of Varsovie was obliged, once every year, to invite a poor man to dine with him.

He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, preaching along the way to the Turks, and hoping for the grace of martyrdom. He went four times to Rome to visit the tombs of the Apostles and pay honor to the Holy See, desiring thereby to be spared the pains of purgatory. He always traveled on foot, carrying his own effects. Robbed one day by bandits, he forgot he had a few gold pieces sewn into his cloak; he soon remembered and called them back to give them to his benefactors. They were so astonished they refused to accept the offering, and even returned to him what they had taken.

Saint John Cantius wrote on the walls of his residence some verses which showed the horror he had for the vice of backbiting or detraction, talking without cause of our neighbor’s faults. He slept very little and often spent entire nights praying before a crucifix. After his classes he went to pray before the Blessed Sacrament in a church. Before his death, he gave absolutely everything he still had to the poor. He died in 1473, at the age of seventy-six years. The purple robe which he had worn as a Doctor was religiously conserved and always given to the venerable Head of the School of Philosophy on the day of his reception; and a promise was required of the teachers there, to imitate the virtues of this beloved Saint. He is a patron of both Poland and Lithuania; Clement XIII canonized him in 1767.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris,

St. Ursula and her companions

Name: St. Ursula and her companions
Date: 21 October

Saint Ursula was born in Great Britain of Christian parents; her father, Maurus, was king of Cornubia in Scotland. Ursula was sought in marriage by a young pagan prince, but had already vowed her life and her heart to Jesus Christ.

In the year 383 she was boarded onto a boat with a large number of young girls and Christian women whom a Roman conqueror wished to give as wives to his soldiers, after havingendowed them with rich terrains. But during the crossing of the Channel a storm arose, and theships, instead of reaching western Gaul, were driven towards the mouth of the Rhine. The Hunswho at that time were ravaging Europe saw the ships, and were making ready to pillage them andinflict on these virgins and women a dishonor more dreaded by them than death. Commanded byUrsula, they resisted heroically and so well that suddenly the sentiments of the barbarianschanged. They took up their arms to be rid of this peaceful army. Soon the victims fell under the blows of the executioners, and their souls winged their way to heaven.

The prince of the Huns, struck by Ursula’s beauty, spared her at first; he tried to consoleher for the death of her companions and promised to marry her. When she did not assent he shother with an arrow, and this consecrated virgin fell with the others. She was considered the leader of the eleven thousand brought by the Romans from Great Britain. Many churches have relics of this army of martyrs, but no region is more richly endowed than that of Cologne, since it is to that city that the Christians of the region devotedly carried the mortal remains of the martyrs.

In the seventh century a magnificent church rose over their tomb, whose walls itself served as reliquaries. This holy cemetery has been rendered illustrious by many miracles. Pilgrims and especially young girls have come from all over Europe, to beg protection for their virginity fromSaint Ursula and her companions. The very arrow which pierced Saint Ursula is still conservedthere. A religious, who had great devotion to these martyrs, had fallen dangerously ill; a virginappeared to him and said: “I am one of the virgins whom you honor. To reward you for theeleven thousand Our Father’s you recited to honor us, you will have our assistance at the hour of death.” And soon the glorious troop came to escort his soul. Saint Ursula is the patron of young teachers, and many congregations of nuns, dedicated to education, bear her name.

Source: Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l’année, by Abbé L. Jaud (Mame: Tours, 1950).

St. Hilarion

Name: St. Hilarion
Date: 22 October

Saint Hilarion was born of pagan parents near Gaza, and was converted while studying grammar in Alexandria. He renounced games, the theater and all the vain amusements of young people, to attend the reunions of his fellow Christians. He desired to see the great Saint Anthony in the desert and went to Egypt, where he remained near him for two months. He carefullyobserved everything in his life and conduct — his affability, his gentleness towards others and his severity towards himself, then returned to Palestine with a few solitaries to settle his affairs. His father and mother had both died, and he kept nothing of his heritage for himself. At this time he was only fifteen years old.

Despite his youth and delicate health, he retired to a desert; he practiced severe mortification, tempted continually by the demons expending all their efforts to make him abandon this life of total renouncement. He redoubled his austerities, tilled the ground and, following the example of the Egyptian monks, made baskets of reeds and willow branches. He lived first in a cabin of reeds, then in one of clay, so low and narrow that it seemed more like a tomb than a lodging for a young man. He learned all of Holy Scripture by heart and repeated it with admirable devotion. When thieves approached him one day he told them he did not fear them, because he had nothing to lose, and death did not alarm him since he was ready to die. They were so touched by his answers they promised him to abandon their life of pillage.

He soon began to work miracles by his prayers, and visitors made their way to his former solitude. Several remained nearby to become his disciples, and thus gave rise to the monastic lifein Palestine, of which Hilarion is regarded as the founder. Saint Anthony esteemed him highly,sometimes wrote him letters, and sent to him the sick persons who came to him from Syria, tellingthem they had no need to make so long a journey. Saint Hilarion was a master exorcist and healerof all illnesses, but he refused all remuneration for his assistance, saying to his visitors from the city that they were better placed than he to distribute in alms the money they were offering him. Frequently the scattered solitaries of Palestine came to him to listen to his instructions, and he alsovisited them. The pagans too gathered around him. His exhortations to abandon idolatry were sopowerful that on one occasion a group of Saracens promised to convert, asking him to send thema priest to baptize them and establish a church. One day, accompanied by three thousand personswho were following him, he blessed the vine of a solitary who received him. The vine furnished atriple harvest and all in the crowd were well nourished.

Saint Hilarion found his solitude transformed into a city, and decided at the age of sixty-five to go elsewhere. His Palestinian disciples attempted to change his mind without success, and taking with him only forty monks, he set out for Egypt on foot. Saint Anthony had recently died, and he wished to visit the places where he had dwelt. After spending some time in Egypt, he went with only two religious to a village a few days’ distance from Babylon. He remained only a short time there also, afterwards going elsewhere, and everywhere assisting those who had recourse to his prayers. In Sicily he delivered a demoniac, and then a crowd came to surround him once again. In Dalmatia he worked still more miracles, and saved a city from being engulfed by tidal waves raised by an earthquake. These traditions are still alive in the regions where he passed. He tried many times to live unknown but never could succeed.

Saint Hilarion died in 372 on the island of Cyprus, at the age of seventy years. His last words were: “Go forth, my soul; why dost thou doubt? Nigh seventy years hast thou served God, and dost thou fear death?” His body was found incorrupt some time afterwards, and was transported to Palestine to his original monastery. Saint Jerome was his original biographer.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12.

St. Mello

Name: St. Mello
Date: 22 October

Saint Mello was born at Cardiff in Great Britain, immersed in idolatry, but converted whensent on a diplomatic mission to Rome. He heard a discourse by Pope Saint Steven and immediately afterwards expressed his desire for Baptism. Later the same Pope ordained him to thepriesthood, having witnessed his zeal for the Faith. He was designated miraculously by God to goto Rouen as its Bishop, when the Pope, as well as Saint Mello himself, saw an Angel beside thealtar while he was saying Mass. This heavenly Messenger presented him with a pastoral staff andtold him he was destined to take the Gospel to the city of Rouen in Neustria, which is nowNormandy. Saint Steven sent him there after consecrating him bishop.

In Auxerre he cured the injured foot of a carpenter by touching his pastoral staff to it, andthe artisan himself and all the witnesses to this cure were converted. Then blind persons andparalytics were brought to him, and he cured them by his prayers, offered in the name of JesusChrist. Several of his converts would later shed their blood for their faith.

Saint Mello preached in Rouen to a crowd, and a young man who had gone up on a roof to hear him, fell and was killed by the fall. The apostle resurrected him at once, and several thousand persons became Christians, including the young man in question, who was afterwards ordained a priest and became a great preacher in his turn. It was there that Saint Mello decided to build a church in honor of the Most Holy Trinity and the Blessed Virgin; it is believed that the present Cathedral stands at the same site. At what is now Saint Lo he cast out a demon from an idol, in the presence of a crowd, and nearly the entire village asked for Baptism. He purified the temple by the exorcisms of the Church and placed there an altar to the true God. This sanctified site is today the Church of Saint Lo. The holy bishop continued to bring souls to the truth during a long episcopate; he died in peace, an octogenarian, in the year 311, having governed the see of Rouen for forty years. A spring at Hericourt where the Saint once baptized, is still visited by parents with sick children, who plunge them into the water of this Fountain of Saint Mello.

Source: Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 12.

St. Anthony-Mary Claret

Name: St. Anthony-Mary Claret
Date: 23 October

Saint Anthony Mary Claret is the Founder of the Claretian Fathers, or the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Born in 1807 in Spain, he was a very pious child. He later wrote that, already at the age of five, “my little heart trembled at the thought of hell, and I said to myself: Will those who fall into hell never stop suffering? No, never. Will they always suffer? Yes, always. This thought remained profoundly engraved in my mind, and I can say that it is ever present to me. That is what has animated me to work for the conversion of sinners. Why? Because I received [from God] so tender a heart that I cannot see a misfortune without assisting it.” The young Anthony practiced his father’s trade, the weaving of fabrics, in which he excelled, until one day in church, “All the efforts I made not to voluntarily entertain thoughts ofmy trade were in vain; I was like a wheel turning with great speed, which cannot be stopped all atonce... There were more machines running in my head than there are Saints on the altars.” He entered the local seminary in the same year, 1829.

As a young priest he went to Rome to place himself at the disposition of the Congregation of the Propaganda; there the director of a retreat counseled him to enter the Society of Jesus. He did so but was obliged to leave it soon afterwards because of poor health. He returned to Spain, and for nine years preached everywhere the word of God and promoted the Catholic Press. In 1848 he founded a publishing house at Barcelona, and soon afterwards established his Claretian congregation of priests. The six priests of this Congregation had just received the formal approbation of the bishop of Vich, and completed a retreat at the Seminary in July of 1848, with the Exercises of Saint Ignatius; on August 11th, while their new Superior was preaching a mission to the clergy of the diocese, he received a royal decree nominating him Archbishop of Santiago, in Cuba. He was inclined to refuse it categorically and attempted to do so, but was not heard; he asked his five companions to pray for light for several days, then to advise him as to their reply — should he or not accept the nomination? They were unanimous in saying they believed he should accept, and he did.

For six years he dedicated himself to the organization and evangelization of his diocese. In Cuba he founded another new congregation, the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, dedicated to the instruction of the young. A School of Arts and Trades was opened there, and Latin America saw established its first common funds resources. Abuses vanished under his strict and persevering disciplinary measures. In Cuba an attempt was made on his life; he received a severe wound of the head which limited his preaching capacity for a time, and he was recalled to Spain, summoned by Queen Isabella II to replace her deceased confessor. He continued to travel to various places on the peninsula, preaching everywhere in Andalusia and elsewhere. In 1862, from September 12th until October 29th, during one royal visitation, one of the Queen’s servants counted thesermons he had given — two hundred and five: 16 to the clergy, nine to the seminarians; 95 to the various groups of Sisters; thirty-five to the poor in the various houses of charity; and twenty-two others to the people in general in the churches. He created the Academy of Saint Michael for the Catholic intellectuals, called to sustain the influence of the Church; he founded popular libraries and saw to the diffusion of good literature; he accompanied the exiled Queen to Rome and took part in the First Vatican Council, 1869. Finally he settled in France, where he died in 1870.

He was commanded to write his life by his spiritual director; this he did, beginning in 1861. We are fortunate to possess this autobiography of an extraordinary soul, bothcontemplative and active in the love and service of God. It serves for the formation ofmissionaries, since his director told him it should be conceived with that purpose. In this book he wrote a paragraph which has become classic, to describe what an apostle of the Gospel should be. In it the paths he followed himself are made articulate:

“A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man who is consumed with love and who sets on fire everything in his path. He is a man who unceasingly expends himself to light the fire of divine love in the world. Nothing stops him; he places his joy in privations, heundertakes all works for the glory of God; he embraces willingly every sacrifice, he ishappy in the midst of calumnies; he exults in torments. He can think of but one thing —working, suffering, and seeking at all times the greater glory of God and the salvation ofsouls, to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Source: Saint Antoine-Marie Claret: Autobiography. Translation from the Spanish by Rev. Léonor-Alban, F.S.C. Preface by Jean-Marie Lozano, C.M.F. (Les Éditions du soleil levant: Namur, 1961). Available in

Other Highlights
»The Eternal Father
»The Circumcision of Our Lord
»St. William Berruyer
»St. Theodosius
»St. Alfred or Aelred
»St. Margaret Bourgeois
»St. Veronica of Milan
»The Baptism of Our Lord
»St. Hilary of Poitiers
»St. Paul the First Hermit
»St. Honoratus
»St. Marcellus, Pope
»Blessed Stephanie Quinzani
»St. Anthony Abbott
»St. Peters' Chair at Rome
»St. Canutus
»St. Fulgentius
»St. Macarius
»St. Fabien
»St. Sebastian
»St. Agnes
»St. Vincent, martyr
»St. Raymond of Pennafort
»St. Timothy
»St. Paul, The Conversion of
»St. Polycarp
»St. John Chrysostom
»St. Peter Nolasco
»St. Francis de Sales
»St. Genevieve
»St. Martina
»St. John Bosco
»St. Gregory, Bishop of Langres
»St. Angela of Foligno
»St. Simeon Stylites
»The Epiphany of Our Lord
»St. Lucian
»St. Claude Apollinaire
»St. Julian the Hospitalarian
»St. Basilissa
»St. Remi or Remigius
»St. Francis Borgia
»St. Tarachus
»The Divine Maternity of Mary
»St. Wilfrid
»Bl. Jane Leber
»St. Edward
»St. Callistus I
»St. Teresa of Avila
»St. Gall

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