Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

St Peter Damian

The famous Benedictine ascetic monk, bishop, cardinal, reformer and Doctor of the Church, St. Peter Damian (1007-1072), is honored today in the sacred Liturgy. He was noble-born in Ravenna, Italy, the youngest of a large family. His family was a bit dysfunctional and cruel to Peter; it is recorded that his mother refused to nurse him and a brother adopted him and neglected him treating him like a slave. One would wonder how Peter survived so well! It was a brother, a priest, who provided formation and an education. At 25 Peter was renowned for this theological reflection and ability in Canon Law. University work was not too attractive to him and he left public life to be a Benedictine monk taking up asceticism.

St. Peter Damian is known today more as a church reformer than anything else because of the controversies he was drawn into. Noteworthy are the reforms he advocated in the realm of ecclesiastical office and consecrated life.

Today, we need his strength and determination to follow Christ as closely as a possible, leaving aside ambition and power and fame. Quoting the Rule of Benedict, let us not “put nothing before Christ.” Crucially, we need St Peter Damian’s influence in the renewal of Benedictine life given that so many monasteries are dying.

St Hilda of Whitby

Today, we recall at the Divine Office and Holy Mass the venerable monastic mother, St. Hilda (AD 614-680), abbess of the double monastery at Whitby. The Church historian Venerable Bede writes, “All who knew her, called her mother, because of her outstanding devotion and grace.”

Hilda is former princess of Northumbria received her monastic training in France but in 657 returned to England to found a monastery. Later known as Whitby, this monastery housed both monks and nuns. In 663 a Synod of the English Church met there where it was agreed to accept the Roman liturgical usage over the indigenous Celtic rite. Abbess Hilda supported the Celtic party. After its destruction by the Danes in the 9th century, the monastery was refounded by Benedictines. It flourished until its suppression in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation.

Grateful for the work of Bede in recording the life of Hilda we learn:

So great was her prudence that not only ordinary folk, but kings and princes used to come and ask her advice in their difficulties and take it.  Those under her direction were required to make a thorough study of the Scriptures and occupy themselves in good works, to such effect that many were found fitted for Holy Orders and the service of God’s altar.” Bede also says of Hilda, she urged her community “to preserve the gospel peace amongst themselves and towards all others,” then, “in the words of our Lord, she passed from death to life”. The place of her burial is unknown.

“Mother Hilda was the advisor of rulers and ordinary folk as well; she insisted on the study of Holy Scripture and on the proper preparation for the priesthood; the influence of her example of peace and charity extended well beyond the walls of her monastery.

The Catholic Church honors the memory of St Hilda today, while Orthodox Church liturgically recalls Hilda on July 14th.

(ht NS)

Blessed Herman the Crippled

Today is the feast day of Blessed Herman the Cripple (also known as Hermannus Contractus, or Herman of Reichenau, 1013-1054), monk, 11th century scholar, composer, musical theorist, mathematician, and astronomer.

Blessed Herman composed the Marian prayers Alma Redemptoris Mater, and the Salve Regina (also known as the “Hail Holy Queen”) which we pray each time we pray the Holy Rosary. Despite significant physical limitations and suffering, the bright and contemplative mind of Blessed Herman advanced not only our understanding of the physical world, but furthered our devotion to Our Blessed Mother. His contributions to both science and faith remind us that regardless of appearance or apparent physical abilities, we each possess immense God-given gifts and talents! He was called “The Wonder of His Age.”

A hundred years after Blessed Herman died, Saint Bernard added the O Clemens, O Pia, O Dulcis Virgo Maria to the Salve Regina, genuflecting three times as he processed to the altar in the cathedral of Speyers in 1146 on a mission from Pope Eugene III as his legate to Emperor Conrad III in Germany.

(DG sourced)

St. Gerard Sagredo

O God, who were pleased to give light to your Church by adorning blessed Gerard with the victory of martyrdom, graciously grant that, as he imitated the Lord’s Passion, so we may, by following in his footsteps, be worthy to attain eternal joys. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

St. Gerard Sagredo was an 11th century Italian Benedictine monk and abbot of the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. On pilgrimage in Holy Land, he met St. Stephen, the king of Hungary, who inited him to stay in that country as tutor to his son.

The king appointed Gerard as bishop –likely under pressure– of the newly formed diocese of Csanad. Bishop Gerard evangelized the remote areas of his diocese: he lived Matthew 25. Ora, labora et lectio was the paradigm of his ministry. Gerard was a scholar of sacred Scripture and wrote several treatises, now lost. He was known for his devotion to the Mother of God and one his homilies is the first recorded text of a Marian devotion in Hungary.

In 1046, Gerard was martyr by infidels who wanted his body destroyed by throwing it into the Danube River. The people of Hungary revered Gerard as a martyr and entombed his relics with those of King Stephen and his son, Prince Emeric, in the cathedral in Buda. Canonized in 1083, Gerard was raised to the altar along with St. Stephen and St. Emeric. By 1313, the majority of his relics were transferred to Venice, where they are honored in the church of Our Lady of Murano. St. Gerard Sagredo is celebrated as the proto-martyr of Venice and the Apostle of Hungary and is remembered as the patron saint of tutors.

St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Fire of the Spirit, life of the lives of creatures,
spiral of sanctity, bond of all natures,
glow of charity, lights of clarity, taste
of sweetness to sinners, be with us and hear us.

Composer of all things, light of all the risen,
key of salvation, release from the dark prison,
hope of all unions, scope of chastities, joy
in the glory, strong honour, be with us and hear us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT, follows the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, and is an Oblate of Saint Benedict, works as a monastery farmer and a keeper of honey bees. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
coat of arms