23 February • yesterday
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Optional Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr

Saint Polycarp of Smyrna

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Associate of, converted by, and disciple of Saint John the Apostle. Friend of Saint Ignatius of Antioch and Saint Papias; spiritual teacher of Saint Irenaeus of Lyon. Fought Gnosticism. Bishop of Smyrna (modern Izmir, Turkey). Revered Christian leader during the first half of the second century. The Asia Minor churches recognized Polycarp's leadership and chose him representative to Pope Anicetus on the question the date of the Easter celebration. Only one of the many letters written by Polycarp has survived, the one he wrote to the Church of Philippi, Macedonia. At 86, Polycarp was to be burned alive in a stadium in Smyrna; the flames did not harm him and he was finally killed by a dagger, and his body burned. The Acts of Polycarp's martyrdom are the earliest preserved reliable account of a Christian martyr's death. Apostolic Father.

Born

c.69

Died

• stabbed to death c.155 at Smyrna
• body burned

Patronage

• against dysentery
• against earache

Storefront

medals and pendants

Video

YouTube PlayList

Readings

Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, 'firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,' helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man. - Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians

When the pyre was ready, Polycarp took off all his outer clothes and loosened his under-garments. There and then he was surrounded by the material for the pyre. Whey they tried to fasten him also with nails, he said, "Leave me as I am. The one who gives me the strength to endure the fire will also give me strength to stay quite still on the pyre, even without the precaution of your nails." So they did not fix him to the pyre with nails, but only fastened him instead.

Looking up to heaven, he said, "Lord, almighty God, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom have come to the knowledge of yourself, God of angels, of powers, of all creation, of all the race of saints who live in your sight, I bless you for judging me worthy of this day, this hour, so that in the company of the martyrs I may share the cup of Christ, your anointed one, and so rise again to eternal life in soul and body through the power of the Holy Spirit.

"I praise you for all things, I bless you, I glorify you through the eternal priest of heaven, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son. Through him by glory to you, together with him and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen."

When he had said, "Amen" and finished the prayer, the officials at the pyre lit it. But, when a great flame burst out, those of us privileged to see it witnessed a strange and wonderful thing. Like a ship's sail swelling in the wind, the flame became as it were a dome encircling the martyr's body. Surrounded by the fire, his body was like bread that is baked, or gold and silver white-hot in a furnace, not like flesh that has been burnt. So sweet a fragrance came to us that it was like that of burning incense or some other costly and sweet-smelling gum. - from a letter by the Church of Smyrna on the martyrdom of Saint Polycarp

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-polycarp-of-smyrna/


Saint Serenus the Gardener

Also known as

• Serenus of Billom
• Cerneuf, Serenusa, Sireno, Sinero, Sirenatus

Additional Memorial

10 May (in Billum, France)

Profile

Serenus abandoned his home and people to live as a hermit in Sirmiun, Pannonia (modern Hungary) where he directed his thought to prayer, his labour to working a garden of fruit and herbs.

One day he found a woman and her daughters walking in the garden around noon. He recommended they withdraw, and return in the cool of the evening, but the way he said it led her to believe he was simply chasing them out. The woman's husband was an imperial guard, and he convinced Emperor Maximian to avenge this imagined insult. Serenus was arrested and brought to trial, but simply repeated what he had said, and was immediately acquitted. However, his demeanor led the judge to suspect that Serenus was a Christian, which was illegal. When questioned about it, Serenus admitted his faith. He was ordered to sacrifice to pagan gods; he refused, and was sentenced to death.

His story was very popular in times past due to his being a simple man brought to ruin not through any fault of his own, but as a result of the arrogance of the ruling class, a theme which has resonated in many an age, and because many writers and preachers liked to use the metaphor of the garden as an example of a proper Christian life.

Born

Greece

Died

beheaded 23 February 303 at Sirmiun, Pannonia (modern Hungary)

Patronage

• bachelors
• falsely accused people
• gardeners

Readings

It has pleased God to reserve me for this present time. It seemed awhile ago as if he rejected me as a stone unfit to enter his building, but he has the goodness to take me now to be placed in it; I am ready to suffer all things for his name, that I may have a part in his kingdom with his saints. - Serenus at his trial

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-serenus-the-gardener/


Saint Giovanni Theristi

Additional Memorial

24 February (monastery of Bivongi, Italy)

Also known as

• Giovanni Terestes
• Giovanni Theristus
• John the Reaper

Profile

When his mother was pregnant with Giovanni, she was enslaved and taken to Palermo, Sicily by Saracen raiders; his father was killed in the same attack. At age 14, Giovanni returned to his parent’s home town of Stilo, Italy and was baptized by his bishop, Giovanni, at one of the old monasteries around the town. The area Christians, including the bishop, were surprised and suspicious that a young man dressed as an Arab wanted to become a Christian. As an adult, Giovanni was drawn to religious life, and became an Eastern style monk. He would help reapers in the field and then give all he had earned to the poor. A miracle worker, he once prayed for help to save a harvest that was about to be destroyed by a storm; an angel appeared and instantly harvested the crop, saving the peasants from starving. Founded the monastery at Bivongi, Italy; the house was later re-named in his hounour.

Born

c.995 in Palermo, Italy

Died

• c.1050 in Stilo, Calabria, Italy of natural causes
• relics in the church of San Giovanni Theristi in Stilo, Italy

Patronage

Stilo, Italy

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-giovanni-theristi/


Saint Willigis of Mainz

Profile

Son of a wheelwright. Well educated. Priest. Canon at Hildesheim, Germany. Noted speaker. Chaplain to Emperor Otto II. Chancellor of Germany in 971. Archbishop of Mainz, Germany in 973. Archchancellor of the Holy Roman Empire in 975. Vicar apostolic to Germany in 975, ordained by Pope Benedict VII. He crowned the infant Otto III as Holy Roman Emperor in 983, and served in the regencies of Empress Theophano and Empress Adelaide. Assisted at the consecration of Pope Gregory V in 996. Participated in the synod in 996, and spoke for the return of Saint Adalbert of Prague, whom he had consecrated as bishop, to his diocese. Worked to insure the choice of Emperor Henry II in 1002, and consecrated the the emperor. Presided at the Synod of Frankfort in 1007. He sent missionaries to Scandinavia, founded churches, built roads and bridges, supported artists and monasteries, and rebuilt the cathedral of Mainz. Though he was known as a brilliant statesman and politician, he was a Church man first, and was also known for the care he took in educating priests, and choosing them for their assignments.

Born

at Schoningen, Germany

Died

• 23 February 1011 of natural causes
• interred in the Church of Saint Stephen

Representation

bishop with a wheel, a symbol of his father's trade, and an emblem he had chosen for his coat of arms

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-willigis-of-mainz/


Blessed Josephine Vannini

Also known as

• Giuditta Vannini
• Giuseppina Vannini

Profile

Orphaned as a small child. Raised in the Torlonia Conservatory on Via Sant' Onofrio, under the guidance of the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. Entered the Daughters' novitiate in Siena, Italy, but was forced to leave due to poor health.

On retreat in 1891 she met Blessed Louis Tezza, procurator general of the Camillians. He had been thinking of founding a women's community for the care of the sick. He invited Josephine to help establish the new community, she prayed over it, and decided "yes." In 1892 she and two companions received the scapular of Camillian tertiaries, and a year later professed private vows, adding service to the sick, even at risk of their lives. They took their perpetual vows in 1895, and Josephine was elected Superior General. Blessed Louis was sent to Lima, Peru in 1900, responsibility for the new congregation rested with Mother Vannini, and under her leadership the congregation spread to France, Belgium and Argentina.

Born

7 July 1859 at Rome, Italy

Died

23 February 1911 in Rome, Italy of natural causes

Beatified

16 October 1994 by Pope John Paul II

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-josephine-vannini/


Saint Alexander Akimetes

Also known as

Alexandros

Profile

Born to the nobility. Studied in Constantinople. Soldier and officer in the imperial army for four years. Adult convert to Christianity who read himself into the faith, and took his example from the words of Christ to the young rich man - he sold all his goods and became a hermit in Syria for several years. At one point he came back to the city; there he burned a pagan temple, and was imprisoned; he spent his time there bringing his jailers to Christianity. Released, he returned to the life of a hermit for several years, but felt called missionary work, and worked in Antioch, but with no success. Founded monasteries in Mesopotamia, Constantinople and Gomon, and at one point led 400 monks. Converted Rabulas, bishop of Edessa. Alexander began the liturgical service in which his monks sang the Divine Office continuously day and night.

Born

4th century on one of the Aegean Islands of Greece

Died

403 in Gomon of natural causes

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-alexander-akimetes/


Saint Romana

Profile

Daughter of an imperial Roman official, Romana was drawn to Christianity. Around age 16, to avoid marriage, she fled her family home. With the help of an angel, she made it to the cave on Mount Soracte where Pope Saint Sylvester was hiding from the persecutions of Diocletian. She explained to him her desire for Christian religious life; he baptized her and left, leaving her the cave as a home. Her reputation for holiness soon spread, and she attracted so many students that they founded a community around her cave.

While such a saint may well have lived in the cave, and such people certainly attracted would-be students and followers, the tales that grew up around her are likely pious fiction that was later mistaken for history.

Born

c.308

Died

• c.324 in her cave on Mount Soracte near Rome, Italy of natural causes
• her parents were brought to the cave, and buried her there

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-romana/


Blessed Stefan Wincenty Frelichowski

Profile

Ordained on 13 March 1937. Arrested by the Gestapo in 1939, Stefan was shuttled through the concentration camps Fort Seven, Stutthof, Grenzdorf, Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen and finally Dachau. Spiritual leader of other prisoners wherever he was imprisoned. He contracted typhus while working with fellow prisoners dying of the disease, and is thus considered a martyr of charity.

Born

22 January 1913 in Chelmza, Poland

Died

23 February 1945 of typhus at the Dachau concentration camp, Germany

Beatified

7 June 1999 by Pope John Paul II at Torun, Poland

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-stefan-wincenty-frelichowski/


Saint Milburga

Also known as

Milburg, Milburge, Mildburg, Mildburga, Milburgh

Additional Memorial

25 June (translation of relics)

Profile

Daughter of Merewalh, King of Mercia, and Saint Ermenburga. Sister of Saint Mildred and Saint Mildgytha. Took the veil from archbishop Saint Theodore. Benedictine nun. Founded Much Wenlock abbey in Shropshire, England, and was abbess there. Miracle worker. Had a mysterious power over birds; they would avoid damaging the local crops when she asked them to.

Born

7th century England

Died

• 715 at the Much Wenlock Abbey, Shropshire, England of natural causes
• relics re-discovered in 1101 and enshrined in the nearby priory church

Patronage

birds

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-milburga/


Blessed Nicolas Tabouillot

Profile

Priest in the diocese of Verdun, France. Imprisoned on a ship in the harbor of Rochefort, France and left to die during the anti-Catholic persecutions of the French Revolution. One of the Martyrs of the Hulks of Rochefort.

Born

16 February 1745 in Bar-le-Duc, Meuse, France

Died

23 February 1795 of unspecified disease aboard the prison ship Washington, in Rochefort, Charente-Maritime, France

Beatified

1 October 1995 by Pope John Paul II

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-nicolas-tabouillot/


Blessed Rafaela Ybarra Arambarri de Villalonga

Profile

Born to a wealthy family. Married to Joseph Vilallong at age 18. Mother and grand-mother. Widow. Founded the Institute of the Sisters of Guardian Angels to work with abandoned and neglected children.

Born

16 January 1843 in Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

Died

23 February 1900 in Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain

Beatified

30 September 1984 by Pope John Paul II

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-rafaela-ybarra-arambarri-de-villalonga/


Blessed Ludwik Mzyk

Also known as

• Ludivico Mzyk
• Ludvig Mzyk

Additional Memorial

12 June as one of the 108 Polish Martyrs

Profile

Priest in the Society of the Divine Word. Martyred in the Nazi persecutions of Catholics.

Born

22 April 1905 in Chorzów, Slaskie, Poland

Died

23 February 1942 in Poznan, Wielkopolskie, Poland

Beatified

13 June 1999 by Pope John Paul II

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-ludwik-mzyk/


Blessed Giovannina Franchi

Profile

Born to a wealthy family, she grew up wanting and working to help the poor. Nun in the diocese of Como, Italy. Founded the Nursing Sisters of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Born

24 June 1807 in Como, Italy

Died

23 February 1872 in Como, Italy of smallpox

Beatified

20 September 2014 by Pope Francis

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-giovannina-franchi/


Saint Boswell

Also known as

Boisil

Profile

Spiritual student of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne. Monk. Abbot at the abbey of Melrose, Scotland. Teacher and spiritual director of Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne and Saint Eghert. Bible scholar. Had the gift of prophecy. Noted preacher.

Born

Northumbrian (in modern England)

Died

• 661 of the yellow plague
• relics at Durham, England

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-boswell/


Blessed Juan Lucas Manzanares

Also known as

Braulio Carlos

Profile

Professed religious in the Brothers of the Christian Schools (De La Salle Brothers). Martyred in the Spanish Civil War.

Born

10 December 1913 in Cortiji-Lorca, Murcia, Spain

Died

23 February 1937 in Madrid, Spain

Beatified

13 October 2013 by Pope Francis

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-juan-lucas-manzanares/


Saint Martha of Astorga

Profile

Virgin martyr in the persecutions of Decius.

Died

• beheaded in 250 at Astorga, Spain
• relics enshrined in the abbey of Ribas de Sil and at Ters

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-martha-of-astorga/


Saint Zebinus of Syria

Profile

Hermit in Syria. Spiritual teacher of many monks, including Saint Maro and Saint Polychronius.

Died

5th century of natural causes

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-zebinus-of-syria/


Saint Medrald

Also known as

Merald, Merault, Meraut

Profile

Benedictine monk at Saint-Evroult, Ouche, France. Abbot of Vendome, France.

Died

850 of natural causes

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-medrald/


Saint Felix of Brescia

Profile

Bishop of Brescia, Italy for 40 years. Fierce opponent of Arianism.

Born

6th century

Died

650

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-felix-of-brescia/


Saint Polycarp of Rome

Profile

Priest in Rome, Italy who was known for his ministry to people imprisoned for their faith.

Died

c.300

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-polycarp-of-rome/


Saint Dositheus of Egypt

Profile

Sixth-century desert hermit whose deep prayer life led to deep personal holiness.

Born

Egypt

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-dositheus-of-egypt/


Blessed John of Hungary

Profile

Born

French

Died

1287 of natural causes

http://catholicsaints.info/blessed-john-of-hungary/


Saint Ordonius

Profile

Benedictine monk in Sahagun, Leon, Spain. Bishop of Astorga, Spain in 1062.

Died

1066 of natural causes

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-ordonius/


Saint Florentius of Seville

Profile

Martyr.

Died

c.485 in Seville, Spain

http://catholicsaints.info/saint-florentius-of-seville/


Martyrs of Syrmium

Profile

73 Christians who were martyred together in the persecutions of Diocletian. We know no details about them, and only six of their names - Antigonus, Libius, Rogatianus, Rutilus, Senerotas and Syncrotas.

Died

c.303 at Syrmium, Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia)

http://catholicsaints.info/martyrs-of-syrmium-23-february/


Also celebrated but no entry yet

• Alerino Rembaudi
• Elizabeth of France
• Milo of Benevento
• Primianus of Ancona


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