In 1591, at Úbeda in Spain, St. John of the Cross, doctor of the church. John’s mother was a poor widow who sent him to an orphanage. He went to work as an aide in a hospital that treated venereal diseases. He was so dedicated and joyful that the director sent him to be educated as a priest. He joined he Carmelites, studied at Salamanca, and was ordained. He met St. Teresa of Avila (October 15). He was a member of the first of her reformed friaries for men; however, so great was the opposition to reform that his order imprisoned him for a year in deplorable conditions. He escaped nine months later, but all of his subsequent writings, including the famous poem Spiritual Canticle written at this time, reflect his suffering.
In 605, in Poitiers, St. Venantius Fortunatus, bishop. He was educated at Ravenna and cured of eye trouble through the intercession of St. Martin of Tours (November 11). He went on pilgrimage to Tours to give thanks at St. Martin’s shrine. He settled near St. Radegonde (August 13) at Poitiers, and became the chaplain of her convent, where the sisters treated him very kindly. He was elected bishop of Poitiers when he was sixty-nine, and died within a year. Venantius Fortunatus is known mainly for his poetry, particularly the Vexilla regis prodeunt (“The royal banners forward go”) and Pange lingua gloriosi (“Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle”), which are sung during Passiontide, and his Easter hymn, Salva festa dies (“Hail this festival day”).
In 1315, at Orvieto, Blessed Bonaventure Buonaccorsi. He was a notorious leader in Italy of the Ghibelline faction, who generally supported the emperor against the pope, whose supporters were called the Guelphs. He was converted by the preaching of St. Philip Benizi (August 22), whose Servite Order he joined. He devoted himself to preaching reconciliation and peace.
In 1858, at the monastery Kfifan, in Lebanon, St. Nimatullah (Youssef) Al-Hardini. One of five sons to become a priest or monk, Youssef became a Maronite monk in 1828 and received the name Nimatullah. He said: “A monk’s first concern, night and day, should be not to hurt or trouble his brother monks.” He was devoted to the Eucharist and the Immaculate Conception.
In 1876, in Germany, Blessed Frances Schervier. The daughter of an industrialist, she was devoted to alleviating the lot of those whom industrialization displaced or exploited. She founded a religious order, the Sisters of the Poor of St. Francis, which consisted of two “families”, one of which prayed and the other of which did works of mercy. She visited a foundation of the order in the United States and helped her sisters minister to soldiers during the American Civil War. She also did hospital work with her sisters during the Franco-Prussian War.
Our daily martyrology was written by Fr. Hugh Feiss, OSB. Copyright © 2008 by the Monastery of the Ascension, Jerome, ID 83338.