From his seventh year, Bede, a native of Northumbria in northeastern England, lived at the monastery of Wearmouth-Jarrow. "I have spent all the remainder of my life in this monastery," he later wrote, "and devoted myself entirely to the study of the Scriptures. And while I have observed the regular discipline and sung the choir offices daily in church, my chief delight has always been in study, teaching, and writing."
Indeed, but for a few brief trips, Bede lived entirely within the confines of the monastery. The manuscript treasures of Europe, collected by various abbots in their travels, were brought to him. He became learned in Scripture and the Fathers, writing commentaries that were humble and practical-Pope Benedict XVI called this Bede's "Catholic simplicity." and he collected the stories of his countrymen, which he wove into his monumental Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bede was the first person to popularize dating time from the time of Christ's death, what we know as "A.D."
Bede's final days were spent in bed, teaching his students the Gospel of John. "My soul longs to see Christ my king in all his beauty," he told them. He died on the feast of the Ascension, while chanting the Glory Be. Already in his own lifetime Bede was called "the Venerable." He was named a Doctor of the Church in 1899.
Father in Heaven, through the intercession of the Venerable Bede, plant the roots of my soul in the rich soil of your Word.
An Italian nobleman, Thomas joined the Dominican friars in Naples around the year 1244, only to be promptly kidnapped by his brothers. Thomas was willing to wait them out, and spent his imprisonment in study. Once freed, he went to study theology at the University of Paris under Saint Albert the Great. After receiving his doctorate, he taught, preached, and wrote with intense energy. His magnum opus, the Summa Theologica, remains an unparalleled synthesis of the Church's theology. At the command of Pope Urban IV, Thomas penned the liturgy for the feast of Corpus Christi, and from this we draw the Benediction hymns Tantum Ergo Sacramentum and O Salutaris Hostia. Another Eucharistic hymn, Te Adoro Devote, was originally a personal prayer written by Thomas when he attended his second Mass of the day, not as celebrant but as participant. The moving poetry of this hymn has inspired over sixteen English translations. In 1273, moved by an intense experience he had while saying Mass, Thomas left off writing. The next year, he fell gravely ill while en route to the Second Council of Lyons. He was brought Viaticum on his deathbed. "I receive thee, ransom of my soul," he declared. "For love of thee have I studied and kept vigil, toiled, preached, and taught....."
Francis was born Ascanio, the son of an Italian nobleman, a distant relative of Saint Thomas Aquinas. In his twenties, he was struck with a serious skin disease presumed by others to be leprosy. He begged God for healing, promising that he would devote his life to the Gospel. When the disease cleared suddenly, Ascanio went to Naples to minister to prisoners. A letter gone astray gave him his life's work. John Augustine Adorno of Genoa had written to another Ascanio Carraciolo to ask his help in founding an order of priests devoted to both prayer and pastoral work. The missive accidentally came to our Ascanio, who saw in it the hand of God. He went to meet Adorno and together they founded the Minor Clerks Regular, in 1588. Ascanio took the name Francis. The two men created a rule for those who joined them: regular penances, a vow to refuse appointed office, and most important to Francis, perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Houses were founded at Naples and in Spain. When Francis was named superior, he led all in pastoral work, hearing confessions, begging for the poor, preaching Christ to all. Although ill health forced him to resign, at the age of forty-four, he continued to live austerely, making a home under the stairs of a house in Naples. He died at Agnone on the vigil of Corpus Christi.
Merciful Father, through the intercession of Saint Francis Carraciolo, help me to see your fatherly care behind all that happens to me, even the accidents that befall me.
Ludovico was born Arcangelo Palmentieri, in Casoria, Italy. In his youth, he was sent to apprentice with a cabinet-maker, but by the age of eighteen, he had made his decision to enter the Friars Minor. After ordination, he was assigned to teach mathematics and philosophy in Naples. In 1847, Ludovico was praying in the church of the Sacramentine Sisters when he had a mystical experience that he later described as a "cleansing" or "rebirth." "The love of Christ wounded my heart," he said. The next day he showed up in school clad in a rough habit and sandals. "I want to be like Saint Francis," he told the students. Henceforth, his care was always for the poorest, beginning with the aged members of his own order. Numerous efforts followed, including schools for the beggar children of Naples, the attacconcelli, and a school for the blind, deaf, and mute at Assisi. Ludovico took a keen interest in children who had been ransomed from slavery in Africa, and built them their own school with the hopes that they would eventually return and preach peace to their countrymen. Ludovico established the Gray Friars of Charity, and the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, dedicated to the queen-turned-Franciscian-tertiary whom Ludovico called the "Seraphic mother." The final nine years of his life were ones of suffering, but also great joy.
June 3 is the feast day of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, the martyrs of Uganda. But another group of martyrs is also commemorated this day, headed by this saint, Lucillian. He is said to have been a pagan priest in Nicodemia who in his old age became convinced of the truth of the Christian faith. After his baptism, he devoted himself to preaching. He was arrested under the emperor Aurelian. Before the prefect Silvanus, he expressed his refusal to return to the worship of the idols. The Roman soldiers beat him mercilessly and dragged him to prison.
There, Lucillian met four young Christians: Claudius, Hypatius, Paul and Dionysius. He encouraged his companions, reminding them of the reward that was to be theirs. At length all five were brought to Constantinople. The youths remained firm as they were brought out to be beheaded. The elderly Lucillian was nailed to a cross.
The virgin Paula is also remembered with these men. She was accustomed to serving those in the prisons, bringing them food and tending their wounds. After having visited Lucillian and his young companions, she was arrested and beheaded. All were venerated in Constantinople in ancient times.
Heavenly Father, through the intercessions of Saint Lucillian, grant me the courage to remain with my friends in their time of need.
At 15, Anselm wanted to enter a monastery, but was refused acceptance because of his father's opposition. Twelve years later, after careless disinterest in religion and years of worldly living, he finally fulfilled his desire to be a monk. He entered the monastery of Bec in Normandy, three years later was elected prior and 15 years later was unanimously chosen abbot.
Considered an original and independent thinker, Anselm was admired for his patience, gentleness and teaching skill. Under his leadership, the abbey of Bec became a monastic school, influential in philosophical and theological studies.
During these years, at the community's request, Anselm began publishing his theological works, comparable to those of St. Augustine (August 28). His best-known work is the book Cur Deus Homo ("Why God Became Man").
At 60, against his will, Anselm was appointed archbishop of Canterbury in 1093. His appointment was opposed at first by England's King William Rufus and later accepted. Rufus persistently refused to cooperate with efforts to reform the Church.
Anselm finally went into voluntary exile until Rufus died in 1100. He was then recalled to England by Rufus's brother and successor, Henry I. Disagreeing fearlessly with Henry over the king's insistence on investing England's bishops, Anselm spent another three years in exile in Rome.
His care and concern extended to the very poorest people; he opposed the slave trade. Anselm obtained from the national council at Westminster the passage of a resolution prohibiting the sale of human beings.
Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.