Pre-Schism Orthodox Western Saints

11th February (NS) — 29th January (OS)

by | Orthodox Western Saints

29th January O.S.

AQUILINUS, a Bavarian priest who was offered the Bishopric of Cologne, but declined it so that he might wander preaching against Arianism. St. Aquilinus first went to Paris, and then to Lombardy where he was martyred by the Arians in 650 for preaching against their heresy.

BLATH (FLORA), there are several Saints by the name of Blath (Latinised as Flora) listed in the Irish Martyrologies. While there is little information extant about them, we know of this nun, a humble woman of great sanctity, who fulfilled the obedience of cook at St. Brigid’s (1st February) monastery in Kildare. According to the Martyrology of Donegal she reposed 523.

CAESARIUS, a first century deacon in Angoulême, Aquitaine. Many sources state St. Caesarius served under St. Ausonius (22nd May), the first Bishop of Angoulême. However, this is problematic as the diocese was not founded until the third century, and the same sources which list St. Caesarius as flourishing in the first century, also list St. Ausonius as flourishing in the third century as well.

CONSTANTIUS and COMPANIONS, St. Constantius, the first Bishop of Perugia, is said to have been martyred along with a large number of his flock circa 170. Unfortunately, the extant Acts of St. Constantius are of doubtful credibility.

DALLAN FORGAILL (of CLUAIN DALLAIN), (Also known as Dallán Forchella; Dallán of Cluain Dalláin; born Eochaid Forchella.) born in Connaught and a relative of St. Áedan of Ferns (31st January), he was a renowned scholar who went blind from his work (Dallán means “little blind one”). St. Dallán was the author of a poem in honour of St. Columba of Iona (9th June), called Amra Choluim Chille ('The wonders of Colum Cille'), published after St. Columba’s repose. There is a legend that upon publication of the poem St. Dallán’s sight was miraculously restored. St. Dallán was martyred by pirates at Inis-coel circa 597, who threw his severed head into the sea. According to legend, it was recovered and miraculously reunited with his body.

GILDAS the WISE, a disciple of St. Illtyd (6th November), who towards the end of his life went to Brittany and lived as a hermit on the island of Rhuys until his repose circa 570. St. Gildas is famous for a work on the dire state of affairs in sub-Roman Britain, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae.

PAPIAS and MAURUS, two Roman soldiers who were martyred (circa 303) during the Diocletianic Persecution.

SABINIAN (SAVINIEN), having travelled from his native Samos in Greece to Troyes, St. Sabinian was converted to Christianity by St. Patroclus (21st January). He was the brother of St. Sabina (29th August), both of whom were martyred circa 275 near Troyes.

SULPICIUS (I), Bishop of Bourges from 584 until his repose in 591. St. Suplicus is often confused with the priest and ecclesiastical historian Sulpicius Severus (†c.420) who was the author of a popular work on the Life of St. Martin of Tours (11th November).

VALERIUS, according to the Roman Martyrology St. Valerius was a disciple of St. Peter the Apostle (29th June) and a Bishop of Trier. Most sources state St. Valerius flourished in the early fourth century which would make a relationship with St. Peter impossible, whilst there are those that place him in the first century.

VOLOC, a saint in Scotland of possible Irish birth or parentage. Nothing certain is known about this saint, and some authorities believe he may the same as Fáelchú mac Dorbbéni, who served as Abbot of Iona 713–722 (reposing in 724), and who introduced the Roman tonsure into that Celtic monastery.

11th February N.S.

BENEDICT of ANIANE, often called the second Benedict and the second father of monasticism in the West. St. Benedict was a courtier of Kings Pepin (r. 751–768) and Charlemagne (r. 768–814) when he was called to a life of service to the Church. St. Benedict then received monastic tonsure at the Abbey of St. Seine in present-day Saint-Seine-l'Abbaye in the Côte-d'Or, France. In time he was selected to serve as Abbot of St. Seine, an honour he did not wish for, and in response St. Benedict left the abbey for his home of Languedoc. There he built a cell at Aniane, which in time grew to become the Aniane Abbey. St. Benedict's success there was noticed and King Louis the Pious (r. 781–840) charged him with supervising the monastic reforms which were being instituted within Louis' kingdom. Ultimately, St. Benedict's remit was extended to serving as the de facto abbot of all monasteries in the kingdom. St. Benedict reposed at Kornelimünster Abbey (later known as the Abbey of the Abbot Saint Benedict of Aniane and Pope Cornelius) 11th February, 821.

CÆDMON, a Northumbrian, who is author of the first recorded poem in English, he is known as the Father of English Poetry.

The only source of original information about St. Cædmon is from St. Bede the Venerable’s (25th May) Historia ecclesiastica, in which he relates that St. Cædmon was a lay brother who worked and cared for the animals at Whitby Abbey. One evening, while the monks were feasting, singing, and playing a harp, St. Cædmon left early to sleep with the animals because he knew no songs. St. Bede the Venerable implies that St. Cædmon felt he lacked the knowledge needed to compose the words to songs. While sleeping, St. Cædmon had a dream in which “someone” (quidam) approached him and asked him to sing principium creaturarum (the beginning of created things). After first refusing to sing, Cædmon subsequently produced a short eulogistic poem praising God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

Upon awakening the next morning, Cædmon not only remembered everything he had sung in his dream but added additional lines to his poem. After telling his foreman about this dream, he was taken immediately to see the abbess, believed to be St. Hilda (17th November), who closely questioned St. Cædmon about his dream. Satisfied that it was a gift from God, the abbess gave him a new commission as a test; this time for a poem based on “a passage of sacred history or doctrine”. Upon returning the next morning with the requested poem, St. Cædmon was ordered to take monastic vows. The abbess then ordered her scholars to teach St. Cædmon sacred history and doctrine, which after a night of reflection; St. Cædmon would turn into the most beautiful poetry. According to St. Bede the Venerable, St. Cædmon was responsible for a considerable number of splendid vernacular poetic texts on a variety of Christian topics.

After a long and zealously pious life, St. Cædmon, having received a premonition of death, asked to be moved to the abbey’s hospice where, having gathered his friends around him, he expired, after receiving the Holy Eucharist circa 680.

CÆDMON’S HYMN of CREATION


Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard

metudæs maecti end his modgidanc

uerc uuldurfadur sue he uundra gihuaes

eci dryctin or astelidæ

he aerist scop aelda barnum

heben til hrofe haleg scepen

tha middungeard moncynnæs uard

eci dryctin æfter tiadæ

firum foldu frea allmectig

Now we should praise the heaven-kingdom’s guardian,

the measurer’s might and his mind-conception,

work of the glorious father, as we each wonder,

eternal Lord, instilled at the origin.

He first created for men’s sons

heaven as a roof, holy creator;

then, middle-earth, mankind’s guardian,

eternal Lord, afterward made

the earth for men, father almighty.

CALOCERUS, a disciple of St. Apollinaris (23rd July) first Bishop of Ravenna. St. Calocerus ably assisted St. Apollinaris in attending to the See for many years, and upon St. Apollinaris' repose St. Calocerus was consecrated second Bishop of Ravenna. St. Calocerus reposed circa 130.

DESIDERIUS (DIDIER) , educated in Vienne, and a noted scholar, St. Desiderius served as an Archdeacon, and circa 590, was consecrated 13th Archbishop of Vienne. Conflict with Queen Brunehaut (r. [as Regent] 575–583, 595–599, and 613) over the moral depravity of the Court, led the Queen to exile him, as well as having him deposed. She relented four years later and allowed St. Desiderius to return to his See. However, the saint continued his reproach of the Court's depravity, leading to Queen Brunehaut to have St. Desiderius assassinated at present-day Saint-Didier-sur-Chalaronne circa 608. St. Desiderius' relics were later enshrined at Vienne.

GOBNATA (GOBNET), according to legend, an angel appeared to St. Gobnata one day and told her to leave her home, and to keep walking until she found nine white deer. She saw three white deer at Clondrohid, Co. Cork, and decided to follow them. Then, at Ballymakeera, she saw six white deer. Finally, at Ballyvourney she came upon nine white deer grazing in a wood. There she was given land for a women’s monastery by her spiritual father, St. Abban of Kill-Abban, Co. Laois (16th March), and he installed her as abbess. A holy well still exists there named for St. Gobnata. The patron saint of Ballyvourney, she is venerated throughout southern Ireland; there are churches dedicated to her in Waterford and Kerry. She is also revered in Scotland. The exact year of her repose is unknown, though it was most probably in the sixth century.

Troparion of St. Gobnata — (Tone III)

As a spiritual child of the God-inspired Abban,

Thou didst worthily guide many into monastic virtue, most holy Gobnata

Wherefore we entreat thee to intercede for us

that we may be guided aright

and be found worthy of the great mercy of Christ our God.

Kontakion of St. Gobnata — (Tone V)

Praise and honour are thy due

O physician of bodies and souls,

Most Pious Gobnata.

As thou, being blessed with the gift of healing,

Didst bring to many the wholeness and peace of Christ,

Pray now for us that our tormented souls

May come to know the joy of godly healing.

GREGORY II, elected 89th Pope of Rome in 715, St. Gregory stopped heresy and restored discipline amongst monastics and clerics. He also consecrated SS. Boniface (5th June) and Corbinian (8th September) missionary bishops and despatched them to evangelise the tribes of Germany. St. Gregory reposed in 731.

LAZARUS of MILAN, consecrated the (eighteenth?) Archbishop of Milan circa 439. St. Lazarus' episcopacy was occupied with supporting his flock during the Ostrogoths invasion. St. Lazarus reposed circa 450.

MARTYRS of NORTH-WEST AFRICA, martyrs in Numidia during the Diocletianic Persecution, circa 303. They are known as the Guardians of the Holy Scriptures — as they chose martyrdom over surrendering their sacred books to be burnt.

SATURNINUS, DATIVUS, FELIX, AMPELIUS, VICTORIA, and COMPANIONS, a group of upwards of fifty, who were arrested, tortured, and then martyred during the Diocletianic Persecution, circa 304.

SEVERINUS, an Abbot of Abbey of St. Maurice, Agaunum in Valais (the location of the martyrdom of the Theban Legion). St. Severinus was a wonderworker, Clovis, King of the Franks was witness to several of the saint's miracles. St. Severinus reposed circa 507.

Prior to the Schism the Patriarchate of Rome was Orthodox, and fully in communion with the Orthodox Church. As Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco +1966 said “The West was Orthodox for a thousand years, and her venerable Liturgy is far older than any of her heresies”.