The Saints

In Chapter Five the reader meets a clergyman who lives in New York's sewer system and names his flock of rats after saints. The following passages are from Omer Englebert's The Lives of the Saints (David McKay and Company, Inc., New York 1951). In cases where the name the good Father gives a rat corresponds to several saints, all corresponding canonized individuals are identified.


St. Ignatius (1st century)

Feb. 1. Under Trajan, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, was dragged from his episcopal throne and taken to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts. In the course of a journey lasting many months he addressed seven letters to the churches which had shown their sympathy.

He himself tells us of his treatment. "From Syria," he writes, "by land and sea, day and night, I have already fought with beasts, chained as I was to ten leopards: I am speaking of the soldiers who guarded me„the more kindness one showed to them, the worse they became."

From Smyrna he wrote to the churches in Magnesia, Tralles, and Ephesus: "In your prayers remember me, that I may come to God; I have need of your charity and of the divine mercy, having more than ever to fear. I desire to suffer; but know not if I am worthy of it. Even though in chains, and knowing the ranks of angels and principalities, am I for that a true disciple of Christ? ... Pray also for the Syrian Church, which has from henceforth God alone for a shepherd. I salute you in the Father and in Christ Jesus, our common hope." He was afire to shed his blood for Christ, and begged the faithful of the Roman Church to do nothing to prevent this. "I fear that your charity many harm me ... never will so fine an opportunity be given me to go on to God, and you cannot do better than to keep quiet. The only thing I ask of you is to allow me to offer the libation of my blood to God. I am the wheat of the Lord; may I be milled by the teeth of the beasts to become the immaculate bread of Christ? Cares then, these beasts, that they may be my tomb; and let nothing be left of my body; thus my funeral will be a burden to none."

They arrived in Rome for the last day of the public games. Eighty thousand spectators crowded on to the steps of the Coliseum when Ignatius underwent martyrdom. It was brief. Two lions threw themselves upon him and devoured him in a moment, leaving on the sand only the largest of his bones.

St. Ignatius Loyola (d. 1556)

July 31. Native of the province of Guipuzcoa, in the Spanish Basque country, youngest of a noble family of twelve children, Ignatius received a military education and led, it seems, a youth that was far from edifying. Defending Pampeluna against the French, he was struck on May 20th, 1521, by a bullet which broke his leg and put his life in danger. On June 24th, at the castle of Loyola where he had been taken, the last sacraments were administered to him; then a turn for the better took place. Many months of convalescence were to follow; he asked for novels to pass the time; the only books that could be found for him were The Golden Legend and The Life of Christ by Ludolph the Carthusian. These books transformed him and he resolved to imitate the saints. After being restored to health, he pronounced the vow of chastity, hung his sword before the altar of the Virgin at Montserrat, bought a pilgrim's outfit, and prepared to depart for the Holy Land. He passed the last months of 1522 lodged in the hospital at Manresa and retiring during the daytime to a cave. From his meditations, prayers, scruples, revelations, visions, graces, trials, and spiritual experiences an Manresa came the works which, together with the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, have won St. Ignatius his fame as a psychologist and trainer of men. This little book, approved by Paul III in 1548, and so highly recommended by Pius XI, is entitled The Spiritual Exercises. After a pilgrimage to the holy places (1523), sojourns in Spain (1524-1527), in Paris (1528-1535), in Venice (1535-1537), and journeys to England, Flanders and elsewhere, Ignatius arrived in Rome about the end of 1537. He lived there until his death, directing the institution which he had formed eight years before. The Society of Jesus received the pontifical approbation by the bull Regimini Ecclesiae militantis of September 27th, 1540. At the founder's death it comprised twelve provinces and seventy-seven houses. Suppressed by Clement XIV in 1773, it was re-established in the kingdom of Naples in 1804 and in the entire world in 1814. Today it possess more than five hundred universities and colleges, gives instruction to more than 200,000 pupils, and has nearly 30,000 members.

St. Ignatius of Constantinople (797-887)

Oct. 23. Son and grandson of emperors, he became a monk and then patriarch of Constantinople. He was supplanted by Photius, who completed the secession of the Greek Church and made his rival undergo harsh persecution.


Blessed Bartholomew of Savigliano

April 21. Dominican inquisitor, put to death by heretics at Cervere in 1466.

St. Bartholomew

June 24. Missionary in Norway, monk of Durham, and at the end of his life, a hermit on Farne Island on the coast of Northumbria (d. about 1190).

St. Bartholomew (1st century)

Aug. 24. In the list of apostles given in the Synoptic Gospels and the Acts, the name of Bartholomew is always joined with that of Phillip; from this it is has been concluded that the two were old friends. But apart from his title of "apostle," no other details about St. Bartholomew are given us in these passages of the Scripture.

St. John does not mention him in listing albeit incompletely, the apostolic college. Twice, however, he speaks of a friend of Phillip called Nathanael, who was "of the disciples"of the Savior.

Had Bartholomew two names? Is he the same person as Nathanael? In this case the following passages from the fourth Gospel tells us the circumstances in which he became a member of the apostolic college:

We are at the banks of the Jordan where on seeing Jesus St. John the Baptist cries: "Look, this is the Lamb of God; look, this is he who takes away the sins of the world." Three of his own disciples, John, Andrew, and Simon, leave him to join Our Lord from then on. "He was to remove into Galilee next day; and now he found Phillip; to him Jesus said, Follow me ... And Phillip found Nathanael, and told him, We have discovered who it was Moses wrote of in his law, and the prophets too; it is Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth. When Nathanael asked him, Can anything that is good come from Nazareth? Phillip said, Come and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, and said of him, Here comes one who belongs to the true Israel; there is no falsehood in him. How dost thou know me? Nathanael asked; and Jesus answered him, I saw thee when thou wast under the fig-tree, before Phillip called thee. Then Nathanael answered him, Thou, Master, art the Son of God, thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered, What, believe because I told thee that I saw thee under the fig-tree? Thou shalt see greater things than that. And he said to him, Believe me when I tell you this; you will see heaven opening, and the angels of God going up and coming down upon the Son of Man" (John i, 29-51).

St. John again mentions Nathanael in the passage where he shows the risen Jesus appearing on the shore of the Lake of Tiberias, eating a repast of Bread and fish with His disciples (John xxi, 1-15).

Towards the end of the 4th century, Rufinius affirms that Bartholomew had preached the Gospel "in nearer India," but this is a late and vague indication; and we have no other on the life which St. Bartholomew led after the dispersal of the apostolic college.

Blessed Bartholomew (d. 1300)

Dec. 13. A Franciscan tertiary and a priest, who died a leper after twenty years of severe suffering. He has been nicknamed "the Job of Tuscany."


St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

Oct. 15. St. Teresa was born at Avila of a noble family, on March 28th, 1515. Her parents brought nine children into the world; her father, Alonzo Sanchez de Cepeda, had three by a first marriage. Teresa. Teresa was in her twelfth year when she lost her mother. At the age of seven she ran away to join the Moors who, she thought, would consent to cut off her head. Cheated of martyrdom, for a time she imitated the anchorites by building hermitages in a garden. Then these holy aspirations were counteracted by what she later called her great sins, that is to say: reading novels, flirtations, and frivolous chatter.

At sixteen she was boarded at an Augustinian convent in her native town and remained there eighteen months. She then spent a few days at the house of an uncle whose pious conversation caused her to become a nun.

At the Carmel of Avila, where she took her vows in 1534, the nuns could receive visits in the parlour and even in their cells. For some twenty years Teresa tried to enjoy both the delights of prayer and the pleasures of secular conversation. Very unhappy, she finally understood that she owed God the gift of her whole self. From that time her life consisted in prayer, apparitions of Christ, sufferings, and ecstasies.

In 1562 Teresa set about the reform of the Carmelite order. At the cost of innumerable persecutions and difficulties, she established poor and austere convents at Avila, Toledo, Valladolid, Salamanca, Alba, and elsewhere. At Toledo she had only three ducats to begin her buildings. "Teresa and three ducats," she said, "are nothing; but God, Teresa, and three ducats are sufficient to make a success of everything." St. John of the Cross and Father Jerome Gratian helped her extend her reform to all branches of the Carmelite order.

St Teresa is one of the most universally admired of women. Her intelligence and charm, her chivalrous spirit, her talent as a writer, and her experience of supernatural ways have won a privileged place for her among the saints of the Church. She died in ecstasy at the convent of Alba, her head supported by Mother Anne of St. Bartholomew, her eyes fixed on the crucifix, on the night of October 4-5th, 1582.


Blessed Augustine Webster

May 4th. Carthusian; put to death in London on Cromwell's Order in 1535.

St. Augustine of Canterbury (d. 605 or 606)

May 28. Began in 597 the conversion of England.

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Aug. 28. Aurelius Augustine was born at Tagaste in Numidia on November 13th, 354. His father, Patricius, a pagan of moderate means, was baptized on his deathbed; his mother was St. Monica... She had her son inscribed among the catechumens and instructed him in the elements of Christianity. But Augustine lost his faith in the course of the studies he pursued from 365 to 369 at Madurus, and from 370 to 374 at Carthage. From the age of sixteen he was given to sensuality, and about 372 formed a liaison with the woman who for a dozen years he regarded as his wife, and by whom he had a son named Adeodatus.

From 375 to 383 Augustine taught rhetoric at Carthage, and from 383 to 385 at Milan. There he broke with the Manichaeans, who for nine years had considered him as one of themselves. He found his faith again in 386 and was baptized with Adoedatus by St. Ambrose at the end of Lent the following year.

In the autumn of 387 Augustine was at Ostia, ready to return to Africa with his mother, but she dies unexpectedly; he stayed at Rome for a year and only went back to Tagaste at the end of 388. He at once distributed his goods to the poor and founded a monastery in one of his former estates. Moreover, until his death he himself led the monastic life.

Augustine became a priest of the church of Hippo at the beginning of 391, and he was at first charged with the preaching ministry. In 395, Bishop Valerius took him as coadjutor and the following year Augustine replaced him. He died on August 28th, 430, while the Vandals were besieging his episcopal city, in the midst of the fall of the Roman Empire.

St. Augustine in generally held to be the greatest doctor of Christianity. Of his ninety-six works the grater part are held as authoritative by all the Christian churches; certain, like the Confessions and the City of God, are known to all educated people. Some of his writings are refutations of Manichaeism, Donatism, Pelagianism, and other heresies of his time; others deal with spirituality, philosophy, history, exegesis, and morals. He preached innumerable sermons, of which more than four hundred have come down to us. We also have extant two hundred and seventeen of his letters.


St. Veronica of Binasco (1455-1497)

Jan. 13. Born in a very poor family, Veronica enjoyed from childhood the gift of contemplation. Having become an Augustinian nun at Milan, she was favoured with innumerable ecstasies and visions. On Our Lord's behalf, she brought a secret message to Alexander VI, who received it with respect. The Revelations which Veronica left are of the same kind as those of Catherine Emmerich and Maria d'Agreda.

St. Veronica or Berenice

Feb. 4. Wiped the Saviour's face on the road to Calvary with the veil with which she covered her head.

St. Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727)

July 9. Poor Clare at Città di Castello; she was favoured with extraordinary graces and received the stigmata.

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