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In Christian legend, a military saint in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. Patron of Flemish brewers. Feast, 8 September.
The life of St. Adrian is found in The Golden Legend, a collection of saints’ lives written in the 13th century by Jacobus de Voragine. Adrian was a pagan officer at the imperial Roman court at Nicomedia. When some Christians were arrested he witnessed their strength and was converted, saying he was to be accounted with them. When the emperor heard this he had Adrian thrown into prison. His wife, Natalie, who secretly was a Christian, ran to prison and “kissed the chains that her husband was bound with,” according to The Golden Legend. She often visited her husband in prison, urging him on to martyrdom. When the emperor heard that women were entering the prison, he ordered the practice stopped. But “when Natalie heard that, she shaved her head and took the habit of a man, and served the saints in prison and made the other women do so.”
This state of affairs, however, could not continue. The saint was eventually martyred in the most gruesome way. The prison guards “hewed off his legs and thighs, and Natalie prayed them that they would smite off his hands, and that he should be like to the other saints that had suffered more than he, and when they had hewn them off he gave up his spirit to God.” Natalie took her husband’s remains and fled the city, settling in Argyropolis, where she died in peace, though she is included among Christian martyrs in the Roman church calendar of saints.
In Christian art St. Adrian is portrayed with an anvil in his hand or at his feet. Sometimes a sword or ax is beside him. His sword was kept as a relic at Walbeck in Saxony, Germany. Emperor Henry II used it when preparing to go against the Turks and Hungarians.
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Saint Malachy, best known for his prophecies concerning the lineage of popes and their end in the present time, was a Roman Catholic bishop. He was born in Armagh and ordained to the priesthood in 1119. Five years later he was named bishop of Connor. He became head of the Irish church as archbishop of Armagh in 1132. He had an interesting and historical episcopate, quite apart from his prophecies, though these need not concern us here. Early in 1139 he visited Rome, during which time he asked for special favors for the dioceses of Armagh and Chashel. He again headed for Rome in 1148, but he became ill on the journey and died before reaching his goal.
It was during his first visit to Rome that he reputedly compiled his most famous prophecies concerning the popes. Reportedly, the prophecies came in a vision of the future in which a long list of the pontiffs from the twelfth century to the end of time were presented to him. The list included some 112 individuals, beginning with Celestine II (elected in 1130). Each individual is designated by a short phrase or mystical title that must be interpreted. Those who follow the prophecies explain these titles as referring to trait, historical fact, or other reference to the particular pope so designated. For example, the title assigned to the person who became Urban VIII was Lilium et Rosa ("the lily and the rose"). Some have suggested the title refers to the coat of arms of Florence, which includes a fleur-de-lis, and his escutcheon, which has three bees (insects who gather honey from lilies and roses).
Of particular interest in the twenty-first century, Pope John Paul II would be the pope #110 on Malachy’s list. thus, following him would be one more pope and then the last pope, of whom it is said, "In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End."
Reputedly, Malachy gave his manuscript to Innocent II, the pope who reigned at the time of his visit, and that the document containing the prophecies passed to the church’s archives where they were lost for four centuries. they were rediscovered in 1590 and published a few years later by Benedictine monk Arnold de Wyon.
Apart from the prophecies, a number of miracles were reported of Malachy. He was canonized a half-century after his death 1199. But what of his prophecies? Soon after their publication, critics question their authenticity. The basis of the critique has been the 400 years between their supposed origin and the time of their revelation. There is no mention during Malachy’s lifetime that such a document existed. there has been some hint that their publication was an attempt to affect the upcoming election of a new pope. More recent critiques have centered on the often torturous process to find some fact about each pope to make them fit Malachy’s list. That being said, Malachy’s prophecies have retained considerable support both outside and inside the Catholic Church.
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1347 – 1380, Italy
Caterina Benincasa was born in 1347, the twenty-fifth child of an Italian family of modest means. Enjoying sublime visions and practicing extreme austerities from a tender age. Catherine consecrated her virginity to Christ at the age of seven. When her parents attempted to betroth her at sixteen, she incurred their wrath by cutting off her hair. In turn, they deprived her of a private prayer space, dismissed the maid, and placed Catherine in charge of the household work. Imagining her father to be Jesus, her mother the blessed Mary, and the rest of the family to be the disciples of Jesus, she toiled blissfully. It was when her father witnessed a white dove hovering above her head as she prayed that he finally recognized his daughter’s destiny as a nun.
At sixteen, Catherine joined the Third Order of Saint Dominic in Siena, and shortly after, experienced several years of celestial visitations, intimate conversations with Christ, and what she considered to be her marriage to Jesus. Three years later, after rejoining her family, Catherine became known for her remarkable gift of contemplation and her loving devotion to the plague-stricken and the destitute. Austerities were an integral part of Catherine’s practice, inspired perhaps by the example of Mary Magdalene, who spent thirty-three years (the age at which Catherine died) rapt in contemplation in her cave retreat, taking little or nor food. Just as Mary Magdalene was said to have been lifted by the angels seven times daily, so enraptured was Catherine in the mysteries of god that her body was frequently lifted into the air, her soul in ecstatic communion with her Beloved. Oblivious to physical suffering, material needs, and persecution by friars and sisters of her own order, Catherine attracted a following of disciples drawn by her radiance and simplicity.
Catherine spent much of her time in sublime contemplation of her Lord, the angels, and the heavens. Once, while engaged in fervent prayer, Catherine begged Him to purify her spirit by removing her heart and will. So thoroughly convinced was she that her Heavenly Bridegroom had granted her wish that she insisted that she was living without a heart. Days later, upon emerging from profound contemplation, she beheld herself embraced in light. There appeared her Lord holding in His holy hands a bright red glistening, human heart. Just as he had taken away her own heart, he now offered her His own forever. As proof of the miracle, a scar remained in the flesh of her chest.
Dedicated tirelessly to the reformation of the church, and continuing to serve the poor and afflicted, Catherine’s strength was quickly depicted. Following a three-month period of mysterious agony and ecstacy. Catherine succumbed at the age of thirty-three. Several weeks before her death, while praying fervently in St. Peter’s Basilica, she had a vision of St. Peter’s fishing boat. It came out of a mosaic and landed on her shoulder, crushing her to the floor. She became nearly paralyzed until her untimely death at such a tender age. In the year of her death, 1380, the church reconciled its differences, the goal for which Catherine had so tirelessly devoted herself. Canonized in 1461, Saint Catherine’s feast day is April 29.
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