St. Wulfram, March 20

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Kathy Rabenstein

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Mar 20, 1997, 3:00:00 AM3/20/97
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+ Wulfram of Fontenelle, OSB B (RM)
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Died at Fontenelle c. 703. The story of St. Wulfram takes us back to the
days of the Franks and the dark gods of the north, and of the wild
Teutonic tribes and old Norse sagas, when a handful of devoted men
sailed into the northern night with the Cross at their prow and challenged
the power of Odin and Thor.

Wulfram came of a gentler race, born and bred in a civilized land,
nurtured in a wealthy home, finding his first employment in the French
court, and afterwards being rewarded with the archbishopric of Sens in
place of its rightful bishop, St. Amatus (f.d. September 13). But,
strangely moved by God's Spirit and by the challenge of the pagan lands,
within three years he laid aside his high employments, gave his property
to the Church, and after a period of retirement and preparation at
Fontenelle, set sail for Scandinavia with a small group of followers.

Longfellow in his poem, _The Saga of King Olaf_, vividly describes how
during the voyage Wulfram, surrounded by his choristers chanting into
the night, held service on deck:

To the ship's bow he ascended,
By his choristers attended,
Round him were the tapers lighted,
And the sacred incense rose.

On the bow stood Bishop Sigurd,
In his robes as one transfigured,
And the Crucifix he planted

In Friesland he confronted the pagan King Radbod, who declared: "I will
go to hell with my ancestors rather than be in heaven without them."
Wulfram, however, was allowed to settle and to preach the Gospel.

It was a hard and evil time, and only with great difficulty did his
enterprise make headway. He found that children were sacrificed to
appease their heathen gods, hung on roadside gibbets, or fastened to
posts on the shore and left to drown with the tide. In vain he appealed to
Radbod to prohibit such inhuman practices, but the king replied that it
was the custom of the country and he could not alter it. He even
cynically challenged Wulfram to rescue the victims if he could,
whereupon Wulfram, taking him at his word, strode into the raging sea to
save two children who were helpless and almost submerged.

At other times he cut down the bodies of those who were nearly dead
from the gallows to which they were tied and restored them. These
incidents so impressed the inhabitants that, filled with fear and wonder,
they renounced their false gods and were baptized, and even Radbod
himself was converted.

For twenty years Wulfram continued his arduous missionary activity until
failing health compelled him to return to France; but always he is
remembered as the captain of a Christian crew, who "bore the White
Christ" through the vapors of the northern night (Benedictines,
Encyclopedia, Gill).

St. Wulfram is depicted in art as baptizing a young king. Sometimes (1)
the young king is near him; (2) he is shown arriving by ship with monks
and baptizing the king; or (3) he is shown baptizing the son of Duke
Radbode (Roeder).

Wulfram is venerated at Fontenelle, Frisia, and Sens (Roeder).


Other Saints Honored March 20
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+ = celebrated liturgically

+ Martin of Braga B (AC)
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Born in Pannonia (Hungary) c. 515; died at Braga, Spain, 580. While his
origin and early history are uncertain, around 550 St. Martin introduced
communal monasticism to Galicia (northwestern part of the Iberian
peninsula) which he may have learned as a monk in Palestine. His
principal foundation was the abbey of Dumium (Mondonedo) of which he
became bishop before his appointment to the see of Braga. He also
travelled widely to evangelize the pagans and Arian Suevians
(converting their king). St. Martin was a writer of some importance. His
works include a sermon which gives interesting particulars about the
rural superstitions he encountered (Attwater, Benedictines,
Encyclopedia).


+ Martyrs of Mar Sabas (AC)
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Died 796. The entry in the R.M. is for John, Sergius, and companions--a
group of 20 monks of the _laura_ of St. Sabas near Jerusalem, who
were killed in one of the anti-Christian Arab raids. Many more were
wounded, and a few escaped. One of the last category, Stephen the
poet, has left a detailed account of the event (Benedictines).


Blessed Maurice Csaky, OP (PC)
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Died 1336. Maurice, Prince of Hungary, was persecuted by his
father-in-law for his desire to remain in the Dominican Order. He was
born into the royal house of Hungary. There had been many heavenly
signs before his birth that he was to be an unusual favorite of God, but
for the first few years of his life he was so sickly that no one believed
he would survive. By the time he was five, he was a delicate, dreamy
child who played at saying Mass and leading family prayers. The little
chapel in his father's castle was his favorite haunt, and he was always
to be found there between sessions in the schoolroom.

When he was still quite small, an old Dominican came one day to visit his
parents, and took a great fancy to the handsome little boy. He told the
child the story of St. Alexis (f.d. July 17), which greatly impressed him.
When Maurice knelt to ask the old priest's blessing, the Dominican said
prophetically, "This child will one day enter our holy Order and will be
one of its joys."

In spite of the several indications that God had designs on Maurice,
circumstances conspired against him. His parents died when he was
still quite young, leaving him immensely wealthy and solely in charge of
his father's estates. A brother, who had entered the Dominican novitiate,
died very young. Relatives prevailed upon Maurice to marry. Against all
his wishes, he did so.

However, he and his young wife, the daughter of the Count of Palatine,
made a vow of chastity, and both resolved to became Dominicans as
soon as it was possible to dispose of the estates. When his wife fled to
the Isle of Margaret in the Danube, and took the veil in St. Margaret's
convent, her father was furious. He went in search of the young
husband and found that he, too, had gone to the Dominicans. He settled
the matter in the forthright fashion of the times by kidnapping Maurice and
locking him in a tower. Here, like another Thomas Aquinas, the young
novice settled down to wait until someone tired of the arrangement.

After three months of unfruitful punishment, Maurice was released as
incorrigible, and his relatives devoted their attention to getting hold of his
estates instead. He went happily off to Bologna to complete his studies,
where he remained for three years.

For 32 years, Maurice ignored the throne and the luxuries of the world to
live in obscurity and poverty. The picture of him left us by the
chroniclers is an engaging one: an earnest, pious priest who made no
effort to capitalize on his birth or social graces; a zealous addict of
poverty, who managed, by a series of sagacious trades, to have the
oldest habit in the house and the dreariest cell. He is said to have said
the whole Psalter daily, plus the Penitential Psalms, and the Litany of the
Saints.

A number of curious stories are told about him. Once, when he was
staying with a Benedictine friend, the friend noticed that he went in and
out of locked doors with no trouble at all, and that the rooms lighted up by
themselves when he entered. Maurice is supposed to have had the gift
of prophecy. A relative of his had cheated the sisters out of some
property that Maurice had left them. Maurice told him that the goods
would be taken away from him, and that another man, more generous,
would give it back to the sisters. The man died shortly thereafter, and
the prophecy was fulfilled.

After Maurice's death at least two miracles of healing were reported at
his grave: one was a cure from fever, another from blindness. Butler's
_Lives of the Saints_ lists him as "Blessed Maurice" and he is still
venerated in Hungary, although his cultus has never been formally
approved (Benedictines, Dorcy).


Nicetas of Bithynia B (RM)
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Died c. 735. Nicetas was the bishop of Apollonias in Bithynia. He was
persecuted by the iconoclastic emperor Leo III and died in exile in
Anatolia (now Turkey) (Benedictines).


Paul, Cyril, Eugene & Companions MM (RM)
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Date unknown. A group of seven martyrs who suffered in Syria
(Benedictines).


Blessed Remigius of Strassburg, OSB B (AC)
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Died 783. Sometimes styled either a saint or a beati, Remigius was a son
of Duke Hugh of Alsace and a nephew of St. Ottilien. He was educated
at, and became abbot of, Muenster near Colmar, and in 776 was raised
to the see of Strasburg. Pope Leo IX authorized his feast for the abbey
of Muenster (Benedictines).


Tetricus of Langres B (AC)
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Died 572. Son of Bishop St. Gregory of Langres (f.d. January 4) and
uncle of St. Gregory of Tours (f.d. November 17), Tetricus succeeded
his father in the see of Langres about the year 540 (Benedictines).


Urbitius of Metz B (AC)
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Died c. 420. As bishop of Metz, St. Urbitius built a church in honor of St.
Felix of Nola, which became the abbey church of the monastery of St.
Clement (Benedictines).


William of Penacorada, OSB Hermit (AC)
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Died c. 1042. William was a monk of the Benedictine (Cluniac) monastery
of Satagun, Leon, Spain. In 998, he fled with the other monks from the
Saracens and settled in the solitude of Penacorada, where he eventually
built the monastery of Santa Maria de los Valles, later named after him
San Guillermo de Penacorada (Benedictines).


Sources:
========

Attwater, D. (1983). The penguin dictionary of saints, NY:
Penguin Books.

Bede. _De Vita et Miraculis S. Cudberti_, c. 5; 9, 10; 17, 19,
20. (Pat. Ecc. Ang. Bede, IV.) in H. Waddell (tr.), Beasts
and saints. NY: Henry Holt and Co., 1934.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1947). The
book of saints: A dictionary of servants of God canonized
by the Catholic Church extracted from the Roman and other
martyrologies. NY: Macmillan.

Benedictine Monks of St. Augustine Abbey, Ramsgate. (1966). The
book of saints: A dictionary of persons canonized or
beatified by the Catholic Church. NY: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Colgrave, B. (tr.). (1940). Two lives of St. Cuthbert.

Colgrave, H. (1955). St. Cuthbert of Durham.

Delaney, J. J. (1983). Pocket dictionary of saints, NY:
Doubleday Image.

Dorcy, M. J., OP. (1964). Saint Dominic's family: Lives
and legends. Dubuque, IA: Priory Press.

Encyclopedia of Catholic saints, March. (1966).
Philadelphia: Chilton Books.

Gill, F. C. (1958). The glorious company: Lives of great
Christians for daily devotion, vol. I. London:
Epworth Press.

Roeder, H. (1956). Saints and their attributes, Chicago: Henry
Regnery.

Webb, J. F. (1983). The age of Bede.

White, K. E. (1992). Guide to the saints, NY: Ivy Books.
-----
Kathy R.
krab...@ana.org

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