Black Catholic Saints
St. Fulgentius, Bishop of Ruspe, Tunsia, was a follower of St. Augustine’s ideal of community life, a student of St. Augustine’s theological teachings and a Bishop in the African Church.
Born in Thelpte (now called Medinet-el-Kedima), Tunisia in 462, Fulgentius served as a young man in the government of the Vandals in northern Africa. He was named procurator, and was in charge of collecting taxes.
In 499, after reading Augustine’s exposition of Psalm 36, and feeling a call to enter religious life, he planned to join a group of hermits in Egypt. He changed his mind when he learned that Egyptian monasticism had fallen under the influence of theological errors.
Fulgentius was elected Bishop of Ruspe in 502. As a Bishop, he followed Augustine’s example of living in community with the clergy of his diocese. He founded several other monasteries in Africa, including monasteries in Sardinia where he was exiled.
Because of his devotion to the Augustinian ideal of community life and his knowledge of Augustine’s writings, especially on the topic of grace, Fulgentius was known as the Pocket Augustine. Fulgentius died in Ruspe on January 1, 527.
St. Paul the Hermit (342)
St. Paul was the first hermit (one who chooses to live a solitary life, totally apart and usually in a desert place, for the sake of Christ) and founder of monastic life in Thebes. He dwelt in the Egyptian desert in the late third and early fourth centuries, having originally taken refuge there in the persecution of Christians ordered by the Roman Emperor Decius in 250. The Egyptian desert became a favorite place for hermits, some of which grouped together, under the influence of St. Anthony of Egypt, to become semi-monasteries. In fact, St. Anthony is known as the first Abbot to cast a protective eye over the hermit. St. Paul and St. Anthony both died at an advanced age of over 100.
St. Anthony the Abbot (356)
Following the death of his parents when he was 20-years old, St. Anthony the Abbot, founder of monastic life in the desert of Egypt, insured that his sister would be able to complete her education. He sold his house, furniture and the land he owned, and gave the proceeds to the poor. St. Anthony joined the anchorites who lived nearby, and moved into an empty sepulcher. At age 35, he moved alone to the desert, living 20 years in an abandoned fort.
St. Anthony barricaded the place for solitude, but admirers broke in. He miraculously healed people, and agreed to be a spiritual counselor to others. His recommendation was to base life on the Gospel. Word spread, and many disciples arrived on the Nile where St. Anthony founded two monasteries, one at Pispir and one at Arsinoe. Many of the disciples supported themselves by making baskets and brushes, and because of this, he is patron of these trades.
St. Anthony briefly left his seclusion in 311, going to Alexandria to fight Arianism and to comfort the victims of Maximinus’ persecution. At some point in his life, he met with his sister again. She had also withdrawn from the world, and directed a community of nuns. St. Anthony the Abbot retired in the desert and lived in a cave on Mount Colzim.
St. John the Almsgiver (619)
St. John was a widower, and likely over 50 when he was appointed or acclaimed Patriarch of Alexandria. He was a wealthy man whose children had died. He sought to serve the poor through the direct giving of alms and establishing hospitals. He is said to have sat openly available in church on Wednesdays and Fridays so the poor could speak with him. John opposed Monophysitism and employed Sophronius (later Patriarch of Jerusalem) and John Moschus in his battle against the followers of Severus of Antioch. When the Persians invaded Alexandria, John returned to Cyprus, where he died peacefully.
Mother Elizabeth Clarisse Lange, OSP
Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange (1784 – February 3, 1882), the foundress of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, was a native of the Caribbean, and oral history holds that she was born in Haiti. It is also believed that her family later moved to Santiago, Cuba. She received an excellent education and in the early 1800s, left Cuba and settled in the United States. By 1813, Providence directed her to Baltimore, Maryland where a large community of French-speaking Catholics from Haiti was established. Mother Mary Lange came to Baltimore as a courageous, loving and deeply spiritual woman. She was a strong, independent thinker, and as an educated immigrant, she was of independent means, possessing monies left to her by her father. Mother Mary Lange obeyed her call to open a school in her home for impoverished children. She and her friend, Marie Magdaleine Balas (later Sr. Frances, OSP) operated the school for over 10 years.
Reverend James Hector Joubert, SS, who was encouraged by James Cardinal Whitfield, Archbishop of Baltimore, presented Mother Mary Lange with a challenge to find a religious congregation for the education of black children. Elizabeth joyously acquiesced. Father Joubert provided direction, solicited financial assistance and encouraged other "women of color" to become members of the first congregation of black religious women in the history of the Catholic Church. On July 2, 1829, Mother Mary Lange and three other women professed their vows and became the Oblate Sisters of Providence.
Elizabeth Lange, foundress and first superior of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, decided to take the name of Mary. She was superior general from 1829 – 1832 and 1835 – 1841. This congregation made great strides in educating and evangelizing Blacks. The Oblate Sisters also provided a home for orphans, educated and admitted women who had been enslaved, nursed the terminally ill during the cholera epidemic of 1832, sheltered the elderly, and even served as domestics at St. Mary's Seminary in a time of crisis.
Mother Mary Lange suffered through poverty and racial injustice. However, she never lost faith in Providence. She gave herself and her material possessions until she was empty of all but Jesus and her generosity continued through her commitment to be a witness to the love and mercy of her beloved Savior. Mother Mary Lange lived in a life of compassion and devotion to Jesus Christ until He called her home on February 3, 1882.
St. Josephine Bakhita
Bakhita (1869 – 1947), which means “fortunate” was not the name St. Josephine received at birth, it was a name given to her by kidnappers. The fright and terrible experiences she went through made her forget the name she was given by her parents.
She was later sold to an Italian Consul who took her to Italy where she eventually became free. She was baptized and later joined the Canossian sisters in Venice, Italy. St. Josephine lived an exemplary holy life. She was beatified on May 17, 1993, and was canonized on October 1, 2000.
St. Gelasius - Bishop of Rome and third African Pope (492 – 496)
St. Gelasius I was Bishop of Rome, the third African Pope and descendant of an African family. He was born in Rome and served as Archdeacon to Felix III before he was elected Pope in 492. St. Gelasius was on good terms with Theodoric, however, he had difficulties with the emperor of the East, Anastasius, because of Henoticon, the monothelitic teachings of which the Pope opposed.
St. Gelasius also opposed the celebration of the pagan feast, Lupercalia. The first Pope to be called the Vicar of Christ, St. Gelasius proposed that spiritual and temporal powers are separate trusts from God. However, the spiritual is superior to the temporal. Although the Gelasian Decrees and the Gelasian Sacramentary bear his name, modern scholars believe St. Gelasius was not connected to them. He died in 496 and was buried in St. Peter's. Modern scholars do not know where his body lies in the church.
St. Benedict the African
St. Benedict the African was born a slave near Messina, Italy. He was freed by his master and became a solitary. He eventually settled with other hermits at Mont Pellegrino. St. Benedict the African was made superior of the community. When he was about 38, Pope Pius IV disbanded communities of solitaries and St. Benedict the African became a Franciscan lay brother and the cook at St. Mary's convent near Palermo. He was appointed, against his will, superior of the convent when it opted for the reform, though he could neither read nor write. After serving as superior, he became novice master but asked to be relieved of his post and return to his former position as a cook. St. Benedict the African's holiness, reputation for miracles and his fame as a confessor brought hordes of visitors to see the obscure and humble cook. He died at the convent, was canonized in 1807 and is the patron of the African diaspora in the United States. St. Benedict the African was the first African to be canonized through the regular canonical process.
St. Zeno (371)
St. Zeno, Bishop of Verona, Italy and theological writer, was a native of Africa. St. Zeno was named bishop in 361 and proved an ardent opponent of Arianism. He promoted discipline among the clergy and in liturgical life. St. Zeno also built a cathedral and founded a convent. He wrote extensively on the birth of Christ and other theological matters. He was the subject of numerous legends.
St. Athanasius, the great champion of the Faith, was born in Alexandria, around 296. Educated under the eye of Alexander, later Bishop of his native city, he made great progress in learning and virtue. In 313, Alexander succeeded Achillas in the Patriarchal See, and two years later St. Athanasius went to the desert to spend some time in retreat with St. Anthony. In 319, he became a deacon, and even in this capacity was called upon to take an active part against the rising heresy of Arius, an ambitious priest of the Alexandrian Church who denied the Divinity of Christ. This was to be the life struggle of St. Athanasius.
Sts. Timothy & Maura
Timothy and Maura, husband and wife, were two martyrs from Antinoe (modern Egypt). Timothy was a reader in the Egyptian Church and was ordered to hand over scriptures to Roman officials. When he refused, he was arrested and condemned with his wife. They were nailed to a wall and lingered for nine terrible days during which they gave encouragement to each other.
Isidore the Martyr of Chios
Isidore the Martyr of Chios was a soldier from Alexandria. He came with the Roman fleet to Chios, where he was betrayed as a Christian to Numerian, commander of the Fleet. Because he boldly professed himself to worship Christ as God, the son, and refused to worship any other, he was tormented and beheaded in 251, during the reign of Decius.
St. Julia of Tunisia
St. Julia was a slave crucified for her faith.
St. Charles Lwanga and Companions
St. Charles and his martyrs were canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1964. The 22 young court servants were martyred for their faith by the Buganda King Mwanga in 1886. Along with them were 80 young Anglicans.
A fourth century Egyptian hermit.
St. Orsiesius (380)
Abbot of Tabennisi Monastery, Egypt.
St. Cyril of Alexandria
St. Cyril (378 – 444) was the Pope of Alexandria when the city was at the height of its influence and power within the Roman Empire. St. Cyril wrote extensively and led protagonists in the Christological controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries. He was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Archbishop of Constantinople. St. Cyril is among the patristic fathers, and the Doctors of the Church, and his reputation within the Christian world led to him acquiring the title “Seal of all the Fathers.”
Pierre Toussaint (1853)
Pierre Toussaint was born into slavery in the French colony of Saint Domingue. His slave owner, Jean Berard encouraged the young Pierre to learn to read and write. In 1787, Berard moved his new wife and several slaves, including Pierre and his younger sister Rosalie, to New York City.
As Pierre established a good reputation among New York's elite as a hairdresser, an increasing number of Haitian refugees brought reports of murder and devastation from the island. With the money he had received from the women whose hair he styled, Pierre bought his sister's freedom. He selflessly decided to remain enslaved, however, thinking he could better care for the recently widowed Madame Berard.
Eventually, Madame Berard's health deteriorated. On her deathbed, she granted Pierre his freedom. At the age of 41, Pierre was a free man. It was as a free man that he married the woman he loved, Juliette Noel, whose freedom he had purchased. Like Pierre Toussaint, Juliette had begun her life in the “new world” as a slave in Haiti. Together they continued charitable work, with Pierre helping refugees find jobs and caring for orphans. The couple opened a school to teach black children trade. When the plague struck in New York, Pierre personally cared for the victims, and when Pierre's sister died, Pierre and Juliette welcomed her daughter, Euphemia, into their home.
In 1851, when he was 85, Pierre suffered the last and greatest sorrow of his life when his beloved Juliette died. He died two years later on June 30, 1853 and was buried in a New York cemetery next to Juliette and Euphemia.
In 1968, the long process to canonize Pierre Toussaint as a saint in the Catholic Church began. In 1990, his body was moved to a crypt under the main altar of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. In view of his lifelong commitment to helping others, Pierre Toussaint is credited as a founder of Catholic charitable works in the United States.
St. Henute (450)
St. Henute was the founder of monastic life in Egypt.
St. Anaolius (282)
St. Anaolius was a philosopher and scientist of Alexandria.
St. Pantaenus (190)
St. Pantaenus was the head of Alexandrian Catechetical School and missionary to Persia (Iran).
St. Eugenius was the fifth century Archbishop of Carthage.
St. Victor (189 – 199)
St. Victor was a Bishop of Rome and first African Pope.
St. Rutilius was a fourth century African martyr mentioned by the apologist, Tertullian, in his De Fuga in Persecutione. According to this, Rutilius was a Roman African who fled to escape the persecutions under Emperor Trajanus Decius. To ensure his safety, he went so far as to pay money to obtain exemption from making sacrifices to the gods. However, he was arrested by authorities, proudly confessing the Christian faith through his death.
Blessed Isidore Bakanja
Isidore Bakanja, a convert, congolese laborer and catechist martyred for his faith, was baptized May 6, 1909 at age 18 after receiving instruction from Trappist missionaries. Rosary in hand, he used any chance he had to share his faith; though untrained, many thought of him as a catechist. He left his native village because there were no other Christians.
He worked as a domestic on a Belgian rubber plantation and was told to discard his scapular by his employer. When he refused to give up his scapular he was flogged with a whip of elephant hides with nails on the end. He managed to escape and hide in the forest. Isidore Bakanja was cared for by two missionaries who ministered the last sacraments. The missionaries urged Isidore to forgive the man who beat him. He assured them that he had already forgiven his persecutor. “I pray for him. When I am in heaven, I shall pray for him very much.” After six months of prayer and suffering, he died, rosary in hand and scapular around his neck.
Blessed Victoire Rasamanarivo (1894)
Blessed Victoire Rasamanarivo was the foundress of the Catholic Action in Madagascar and beatified in 1989.
153 Martyrs of Tica (260)
The martyrs were thrown into a pit of quicklime in Utica, Tunisia.
St. Monica (387)
St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine of Hippo and a woman of great faith, lived in North Africa. Through Monica’s influence, both her husband and mother-in-law were baptized. Monica had a son named Augustine. In his youth, Augustine led a disgraceful life. For many years Monica prayed constantly for his conversion, and her prayers were finally answered. With God’s help, Augustine turned his life around and became a great bishop, writer and teacher.
St. Poemen (400)
St. Poemen was a desert monk known for his holiness and encouragement of frequent communion. He was the leader of a group of hermits in the desert of Skete in Egypt, living in the abandoned ruins of a pagan temple at Terenuth. Noted for his strong discipline, he permitted himself and his brothers to sleep for only four hours a day, spending the rest of the day working, praying and studying.
St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine (354 – 430) was a Bishop of Hippo Regius (modern Annaba) on the coast of Algeria and doctor of the Church. Historians tell us that there is more intimate knowledge available about St. Augustine than of any other individual in the whole world of antiquity. The story of Augustine the sinner is all too well known and there is knowledge of him as a convert and author of Confessions, but little is known of him as Father of the Church and as a saint.
St. Augustine was born in the little town of Tegaste, Africa, on November 13, 354. He claimed that he learned the love of God from his mother Monica’s breast, and that her early Christian training influenced his entire life. He was highly educated, having studied at Madura, Africa, the University of Carthage and Rome. He was brilliant and used his great abilities to lead men to love God.
His thousands of letters, sermons and tracts, combined with 232 books, instructed the early Church and are relevant today. It is said that Christian scholars through the ages owe much to St. Augustine and that the full impact of his psychology and his embryonic theology will be felt in years to come. St. Augustine was truly a saint. He lived an austere life, performing great acts of mortification and penance. He wrote, “I pray to God, weeping almost daily.” Two of his most famous books are Confessions which is an autobiography and City of God.
Blessed Ghebre Mikha'el (1855)
Ethiopian priest and martyr.
St. Donatian and Companions (484)
A group of martyrs, six Bishops of the Ecclesiatical province of Byzaccne (present day Tunisia and Algeria), killed for their faith by the Arian Vandals.
St. Nemesia and Companions (257)
Nine Bishops, several deacons and lay persons who died in a marble quarry in North Africa.
St. Matthew (First Century)
St. Matthew was an apostle and evangelist. According to one ancient tradition, he was the first evangelizer of Nubia (modern Sudan).
St. Maurice and his Theban Legion (287)
A group of martyrs from Egypt who were killed in Agauno, Switzerland for refusing to sacrifice to pagan divinities.
St. Raissa (300)
St. Raissa was a virgin and martyr from Alexandria.
Sts. Aizan and Saza (360)
St Aizan and his brother St. Sazan were chieftains in Abyssinia, who were zealous to spread the Good News in their homeland. Their enthusiasm attracted the friendship of St. Athanasius (Benedictines).
St. Thais (350)
St. Thais was a wealthy woman raised in Alexandria, Egypt as a Christian. She decided to become a courtesan. Repenting of her lifestyle through the influence of St. Paphnutius, she gave up her money and entered a convent where she was locked up for three years to perform extreme penance for her dissolute habits. Finally, at the urging of St. Anthony, she was released from her spiritual incarceration and permitted to join the other women of the convent, dying a mere fifteen days after her release.
St. Cerbonius (573)
St. Cerbonius, African missionary and Bishop in Italy, was driven from Africa by the Vandals. He immigrated with St. Regulus to Tuscany and succeeded Regulus as bishop of Populonia. He was ordered to be killed by wild beasts by King Totila of the Ostrogoths during his invasion of Tuscany for hiding several Roman soldiers. St. Cerbonius was miraculously saved, but he spent his last thirty years of his life in exile on Elba.
St. Michael Aragave (Fourth Century)
St. Michael Aragave was one of the first Ethiopian monks.
St. Sarmata (357)
St. Sarmata was a martyr of Egypt. He was a disciple of St. Anthony in the deserts of Egypt, murdered by a band of Bedouins. A monastic pioneer, he was a follower of the Desert Fathers.
5,000 African martyrs and confessors of the faith (483)
African martyrs deported and killed for their faith by the Vandal King Huneric.
St. Frumentius (Abuna Salama) and Aedesius (380)
St. Frumentius was born in Tyre, Lebanon and called “Abuna” or “the father” of Ethiopia. He was sent to the land by St. Athanasius. While on a voyage in the Red Sea with St. Aedesius, possibly his brother, only Frumentius and Aedesius survived the shipwreck. Taken to the Ethiopian royal court at Aksum, they soon attained high positions. Aedesius was royal cup bearer, and Fruementius was a secretary. They introduced Christianity to the land and are considered the apostles and founders of the Church in Ethiopia. When Abreha and Asbeha inherited the Ethiopian throne from their father, Frumentius went to Alexandria, Egypt, to ask St. Athanasius to send a missionary to Ethiopia. He was consecrated a bishop and converted many more upon his return to Aksum.
St. Elesbaan (555)
St. Elesbaan was a Christian king of Ethiopia, probably a Monophysite, called Calam-Negus by the Abyssinians. He fought the Jewish usurper Dunaan, who had committed atrocities against Christians. Elesbaan was also guilty of dreadful revenges against Dunaan’s followers. He resigned, leaving the throne to his son, and ended his life as an eremite.
St. Lalibala (1255)
St. Lalibala was an Ethiopian Emperor revered for his faith.
St. Tekla Hymanot (1313)
St. Tekla Hymanot was a great Ethiopian reformer of monasticism.
St. Martin de Porres (1639)
St. Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru, on December 9, 1579. His father was a Spanish nobleman and his mother a black freed slave from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary in Lima and spent his whole life there as a barber, farm laborer, almoner and infirmarian among other things.
St. Martin had a great desire to go off on a foreign mission to earn the palm of martyrdom. However, since this was not possible, he made a martyr out of his body, devoting himself to ceaseless and severe penances. In turn, God endowed him with many graces and wondrous gifts, such as, aerial flights and bilocation.
Martin’s love was all-embracing, shown equally to humans and to animals, including vermin, and he maintained a cat and dog hospital at his sister’s house. He also possessed a spiritual wisdom, demonstrated in his solving his sister’s marriage problems, raising a dowry for his niece in three days and resolving theological problems. He was a close friend of St. Rose of Lima. He died on November 3, 1639 and was canonized on May 6, 1962.
Mother Henriette Delille
Born into a world where people were enslaved, and considered nothing more than property, Henriette Delille sacrificed a life of luxury, prosperity and security and became a servant to the poor, oppressed and forgotten for the sake of God. Henriette, a free woman of African heritage, was born 1813 in New Orleans.
Henriette rejected a life of luxury as the mistress of a European-American man, preferring to serve God and his people rather than live a life of comfort and security. As a teenager, while most of her peers were going to balls to find men and secure their futures, Henriette was aiding the sick and the old and sharing her Catholic faith with them. In fact, together, with some of her dedicated friends, she developed a deep prayer life. She had dreams of forming an order of black nuns dedicated to the enslaved. Although her first attempts in the 1820s and 1830s failed, she did not give up.
Her association with blacks was not welcomed by her family, who desired that she try to pass for white. Henriette was proud of her African heritage, and not ashamed of it. Henriette remained firm in her convictions despite the disapproval of her family and the despair of her mother. She rejected the practices of the quadroons, refusing to go to the balls, and in 1836, sold all her property in order to form a religious community which eventually failed.
Henriette’s efforts gave new dignity and meaning to the lives of many southern black slaves. She made efforts to enable sacramental Catholic marriages between black slaves, a practice which had been considered illegal because under the law slaves were not considered to be human, but property.
Eventually, in 1838, Father Rosselon was granted by the Bishop the permission to form an order of black nuns under the leadership of Henriette. Consisting of three women, the sisters of the new order lived in poverty, dedicating their lives to the education and aid of slave children. In 1847, the small order formed a partnership with a group of free, colored, lay persons of the Association of the Holy Family. As a result of this partnership, Henriette’s small order acquired the financial and moral support necessary to continue with their task of serving the poor, the sick and aged. In 1847, the Hospice of the Holy Family was dedicated for this purpose. In 1852, Henriette made he vows publicly, with the other two women of her order. The sisters were known as the Sisters of the Holy Family, and under Henriette’s direction, schools, orphanages and homes for the aged were built.
Although Henriette had always suffered from poor health, she refused to slow down as long as there were souls who needed her ministry. Finally, worn out by her work, she died on November 17, 1862. In her obituary it was written, “The crowd gathered for her funeral testified by its sorrow how keenly felt the loss of her who for the love of Christ had made herself the humble servant of slaves.”
The American bishops voted unanimously to endorse “the appropriateness and timeliness” of Mother Henriette’s cause for sainthood. After a formal biography is submitted, the Vatican will appoint historians and theologians to review it for thoroughness and accuracy. If everything is in order, then a study must be written on the virtues Henriette possessed. If the Vatican’s Congregation for the Cause of Saints and the pope approve, then she could be called “Venerable.” At least two miracles, such as a cure for a disease for which no medical explanation is possible are required. If canonized, Henriette Delille will be the first native-born Black American saint.
Today, the Sisters of the Holy Family, continue to operate in the Untied States and several South American countries. What Mother Henriette Delille started with faith and her love of Jesus Christ has become a lasting tribute to what such faith can produce.
St. Pierius (Fourth Century)
Scholar and confessor, St. Pierius was the director of the Catechetical School of Alexandria and was called “the Younger”, owing to the doctrinal errors of the elder Origen, which found their way into Pierius’ writings. St. Pierius was a priest and author of various treatises on philosophy and theology. He was a brilliant preacher and teacher praised by both Eusebius of Caesarea and St. Jerome. He died in Rome, but not from the persecution of the times.
St. Achilias (312)
St. Achilias was head of religious instruction in Alexandria.
St. Mennas (300)
St. Mennas was an Egyptian soldier in Phyrgia, who fled from persecution and became a hermit.
Sts. Valentine and Dubatitus
Sts. Valentine and Dubatitus were executed for their faith at Cartage.
St. Gelasius (496)
St. Gelasius, was a pope born in Rome in the fifth century and the son of an African named Valerius. Later, ordained a priest, he was elected Pope on March 1st, 492. Gelasius had a reputation for learning, justice, holiness, and charity. However, he was burdened with difficulties caused by a conflict with Euphemius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, over the Acacian heresy. He also protested the encroachments by Constantinople on Alexandria and Antioch.
St. Gelasius was influential in setting aside Roman pagan festivals. In opposition to the Manichaeans, he ordered reception of the Eucharist under both species. St. Gelasius is known to have composed liturgical prefaces and orations for sacramentaries, which may be part of the Leonine Sacramentary. However, he had nothing to do with the Gelasian Sacramentary or the Gelasian Decree, which have been erroneously attributed to him. He died in Rome on November 21, 496.
St. Catherine of Alexandria (Fourth Century)
St. Catherine, virgin and martyr, is believed to have been born in Alexandria of a noble family. Converted to Christianity through a vision, she denounced Maxentius for persecuting Christians. Fifty of her converts were then burned to death by Maxentius.
Maxentius offered St. Catherine a royal marriage if she would deny the faith. Her refusal landed her in prison. While in prison, and while Maxentius was away, Catherine converted Maxentius’ wife and two hundred of his soldiers. He had them all put to death.
St. Catherine was likewise condemned to death. She was put on a spiked wheel, and when the wheel broke, she was beheaded. She is venerated as the patroness of philosophers and preachers. St. Catherine was one of the voices heard by St. Joan of Arc.
Maxentius’ blind fury against St. Catherine is symbolic of the anger of the world in the face of truth and justice. When we live a life of truth and justice, we can expect the forces of evil to oppose us.
Blessed Anuarite Nengapeta Marie-Clementine (1964)
St. Anuarite was a virgin and martyr and a member of the Holy Family Sisters in Kinshasa, Zaire. Anuarite was of the Babudu tribe, born in Wamba, and passed all her religious life in Bafwabaka, the first mission in that area. At birth, she received the name of Nengapeta, which in the language of the Babudu means, “wealth is deceptive.”
When she started primary school she was registered by error with the name Anuarite, her sister’s name. In her language the name meant, “I laugh to myself about war.” The error was providential. At baptism, she received the name of Alfonsina, and in religious life, the name Marie-Clemintine. She was raped and killed by the Simba rebels on December 1, 1964.
Pope John Paul II went to Kinshasa, Zaire and celebrated the beatification ceremony on August 15, 1985. She was the first Bantu woman elevated to the altars, and like in the first centuries Christianity, a virgin consecrated to the Lord. She followed in the footsteps of great women like Saints Cecilia, Agnes, Lucy and so many others.
Anuarite’s life was a lesson of modesty, love, fidelity and valor. Through her life, one sees a wonderful example of the freedom of the children of God, freed from all manner of disagreements and impositions. She demonstrated how God chose the weak of this world to shame the strong.
St. Cassian of Tangiers (298)
St. Cassian of Tangiers was a lawyer who resigned and became a Christian, dying as a martyr. St. Cassian was mentioned in a hymn by St. Prudentius, also called Cassian of Tangiers. He was a court recorder at the trial of St. Marcellus the Centurion. Aurelius Agricola, deputy prefect in the Roman province in North Africa, conducted the trial. When the death penalty was imposed on St. Marcellus, St. Cassian threw down his pen and declared that he was a Christian. He was arrested immediately and put to death. St. Cassian is patron of modern stenographers.
St. Miltiades was one of the Church’s black popes and occupied the papacy from 311 to 314, serving four years, seven months and eight days. Miltiades decreed that none of the faithful should fast on Sunday or on the fifth day of the week, because this was the custom of the pagans. While residing in Rome, he found a Persian based religion call Manicheanism. He further decreed that consecrated offerings should be sent throughout the churches from the Pope’s consecration. This was called leaven. It was St. Miltiades who led the Church to final victory over the Roman Empire. St. Miltiades was buried on the famous Appian Way.