Holy Days in August
French parish priest, popularly known as the Cure d'Ars, born Dardilly, near Lyons. He came of poor, peasant stock and received scant education until, as a youth, he struggled through the seminary. As a young curate he was sent to the little village of Ars. Vianney found that the people there had lost their faith, and he vowed to make the community "the property of God." He beautified the church, lived like the poorest of the poor, and fasted and prayed for the people. His skill as a confessor drew people from outside his parish, and neighbouring priests complained and sought to have him removed. Vianney himself signed their petitions. He began an orphanage for girls that served as a model throughout France. Many miracles were attributed to him during his lifetime, and in his last years thousands from all over France came annually to his confessional. He was canonized in 1925. In 1929 he was made universal patron of parish priests.
Oswald (5th August)
Born in 604, Oswald was the son of Ethelfrith King of Northumbria. His father, however, was deposed and killed by his uncle, Edwin, in 616. Oswald then fled to Scotland. Whilst there he was converted to Christianity at St Columba's great Celtic monastery on the Scottish island of Iona. Following the death of Edwin in battle in 633, Oswald returned to Northumbria and was crowned king of Northumbria. In 635, he defeated and killed Cadwallon, King of the Welsh, at the battle of Heavenfield just north of Hexham. Oswald persuaded St Aidan, one of St Columba's disciples, to move down from Iona in order to found a monastery at Lindisfarne -
The Transfiguration of Our Lord (6th August)
John Mason Neale (7th August)
John Mason Neale was born in London in 1818, studied at Cambridge, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1842. He was offered a parish, but chronic ill health, which was to continue throughout his life, prevented him from taking it. In 1846 he was made warden of Sackville College, a position he held for the rest of his life. Sackville College was not an educational institution, but an almshouse, a charitable residence for the poor. In 1854 Neale co-
Dominic (8th August)
Born of wealthy Spanish nobility. His mother was Blessed Joan of Aza who, when pregnant, had a vision that her unborn child was a dog who would set the world on fire with a torch it carried in its mouth; a dog bearing a torch in its mouth became a symbol for the Dominicans. At his baptism, his mother saw a star shining from his chest. Studied theology at Palencia. Canon of the church of Osma. Priest. Augustinian. Lifelong apostolate among heretics, especially Albigensians, and especially in France; worked with Blessed Peter of Castelnau. Founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215, a group who live a simple, austere life, and an order of nuns dedicated to the care of young girls. Visionary. Friend of Saint Amata of Assisi. At one point Dominic became discouraged at the progress of his mission; the heresies remained. He received a vision who showed him a wreath of roses, and told him to say the rosary daily, and teach it to all who would listen. Eventually the true faith won out. Dominic is often credited with the invention of the rosary, but it predates him. He is also reported to have raised four people from the dead. Legend says that Dominic receiveda vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith. Dominic met the beggar the next day. He embraced him and said, "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi.
Mary Sumner (9th August)
Born Mary Heywood in 1828 near Manchester, Mary Sumner grew up in the beautiful surroundings of Hope End, in Herefordshire. The Christian atmosphere of her family home meant daily scripture and prayers formed the basis for her life in service to others. She met and fell in love with George Sumner, the youngest son of the bishop of Winchester when they met in Rome where she was completing her musical education and they married in July 1848. In 1876, when she became a grandmother, she decided that a new organisation was needed in the parish and the first branch of the Mothers’ Union was begun. She believed that motherhood involved more than providing for the physical needs of children. The primary responsibility of mothers was to raise their children in the love of God with their lives firmly rooted in prayer. A historic decision was made by Bishop Ernest Wilberforce of Newcastle in 1885 when he called on Mary to speak at the Portsmouth Church Congress. The meeting responded to her passion and conviction with a rousing ovation and so was born the diocesan organisation we know today.
Laurence (10th August)
Laurence (or Lawrence) was chief of the seven deacons of the congregation at Rome. The seven men who were in charge of administering the church budget, particularly with regard to the care of the poor. In 257, the Emperor Valerian began a persecution aimed chiefly at the clergy and the laity of the upper classes. All Church property was confiscated and meetings of Christians were forbidden. The bishop of Rome, Sixtus II, and most of his clergy were executed on 7 August 258, and Laurence on the 10th. The accounts recorded about a century later by Ambrose and the poet Prudentius report that the Roman prefect, knowing that Laurence was the principal financial officer, promised to set him free if he would surrender the wealth of the Church. Laurence agreed, but said that it would take him three days to gather it. During those three days, he placed all the money at his disposal in the hands of trustworthy stewards, and then assembled the sick, the aged, and the poor, the widows and orphans of the congregation, presented them to the prefect, and said, "These are the treasures of the Church." The enraged prefect ordered him to be roasted alive on a gridiron. Laurence bore the torture with great calmness, saying to his executioners at one time, "You may turn me over; I am done on this side." The spectacle of his courage made a great impression on the people of Rome, and made many converts. Laurence's emblem in art is (naturally) a gridiron.
Clare (11th August)
Daughters of a count and countess. Her father died young. After hearing Saint Francis of Assisi preach in the streets, she confided to him her desire to live for God, the two became close friends. On Palm Sunday 1212 the bishop presented her with a palm, which she apparently took as a sign. Clare and her cousin Pacifica ran away from her mother's palace during the night. She eventually took the veil of religious profession from Francis at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels in Assisi. Founded the Order of Poor Ladies (Poor Clares) at San Damiano, and led it for 40 years. Everywhere the Franciscans established themselves throughout Europe, there also went the Poor Clares, depending solely on alms, forced to have complete faith on God to provide through people; a lack of land-
John Henry Newman (11th August)
John Henry Newman was born in London, February 21, 1801. Going up to Oxford at sixteen, he gained a scholarship at Trinity College, and after graduation became fellow and tutor at Oriel, then the most alive, intellectually, of the Oxford colleges. He took orders, and in 1828 was appointed vicar of St. Mary's, the university church. In 1832 he had to resign his tutorship on account of a difference of opinion with the head of the college as to his duties and responsibilities, Newman regarding his function as one of a "substantially religious nature." Returning to Oxford the next year from a journey on the Continent, he began, in co-
Jeremy Taylor (13th August)
Jeremy Taylor, a native of Cambridge, was educated at the Perse School and the College of Gonville and Caius. He caught the attention of Archbishop Laud, who presented him to the living of Uppingham in 1637. Today, Jeremy Taylor is known throughout the Anglican world, famous for his devotional writings and especially for the two works Holy Living and Holy Dying, which quickly established themselves as classics of Anglican spirituality as well as being amongst the finest examples of English prose. Indeed, Jeremy Taylor is known as the 'English Chrysostom'. At Uppingham Taylor married and settled down to the work of a country priest; but such was his reputation as a spiritual guide and director that people came to him from far a field for advice and counsel. Whilst in Rutland, Taylor completed his work 'Episcopy Asserted', for which Charles I awarded him a doctorate of divinity 'by royal command'. He left Uppingham to join the King as a Chaplain the Crown, an act which resulted in his property being forfeit, his wife and children ejected from the Rectory and the church plate being sequestered and the living forfeited with the defeat of the King. On the death of the King, Taylor retreated to Golden Grove, the country estate of the Earl of Carberry in West Wales where he stayed until moving to Ireland to become chaplain to Lord Conway and, at the Restoration, Bishop of Dromore.
Florence Nightingale (13th August)
Florence Nightingale is most remembered as a pioneer of nursing and a reformer of hospital sanitation methods. For most of her ninety years Nightingale pushed for reform of the British military health-
Octavia Hill (13th August)
In 1864 Octavia Hill was able to interest John Ruskin (artist and art critic) in her schemes to improve dwellings for the poor. One of her very first schemes, started in 1864 at the age of 26, was the collection of rents in Paradise Place which was one of London's most notorious slums. John Ruskin also advised Octavia Hill that if she could run her schemes on a business footing providing a rate of return of 5 per cent on Capital, then she should never be short of funds. This proved to be the case and she was never short of funds for expansion. She proved that it was possible to provide adequate living conditions for the disadvantaged poor whilst maintaining a reasonable rate of return to the owners of the property, a situation that was advantageous to everyone. The Ovtavia Hill Trust's current operation can be traced back to 1899 when Octavia Hill was invited by a vicar in Notting Hill to take over five houses in St Katherine's Road in what was then the notorious neighbourhood known as the Notting Dale Special Area. By the year of her death, 1912, Octavia Hill was managing about 100 houses in Notting Hill. This number proved to be sufficient to allow the organisation to survive and over the years the total number of properties owned has grown until now the Octavia Hill Housing Trust now manages about 1,500 properties
Maximilian Kolbe (14th August)
St. Maximilian was born Raymond Kolbe in Poland, January 8, 1894. In 1910, he entered the Franciscan Order. He was sent to study in Rome where he was ordained a priest in 1918. Father Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919 and began spreading his Militia of the Immaculata movement of Marian consecration, which he founded on October 16, 1917. In 1927, he established an evangelisation centre near Warsaw called Niepokalanow, the "City of the Immaculata." By 1939, the City had expanded from eighteen friars to an incredible 650, making it the largest Catholic religious house in the world. To better "win the world for the Immaculata," the friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques. This enabled them to publish countless catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. Maximilian started a short-
The Blessed Virgin Mary (15th August)
Bernard (20th August)
French nobility. At age 22, fearing the ways of the world, he, four of his brothers, and 25 friends joined the abbey of Citeaux; his father and another brother joined soon after. Benedictine. Founded and led the monastery at Clairvaux which soon had over 700 monks and 160 daughter houses. Revised and reformed the Cistercians. Advisor to, and admonisher of, King Louis the Fat and King Louis the Young. Attended Second Lateran Council. Fought Albigensianism. Helped end the schism of anti-
William and Catherine Booth (20th August)
William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, devoted their lives to serving the industrial urban poor of London. In 1864, William began a mission in one of London's worst districts which became a tightly knit, selfless, zealous military organization. Their unconventional methods -
Bartholomew the Apostle (24th August)
Monica (27th August)
Mother of Saint Augustine of Hippo, whose writings about her are the primary source of our information. A Christian from birth, she was given in marriage to a bad-
Augustine (28th August)
His father was a pagan who converted on his death bed; his mother was Saint Monica, a devout Christian. Trained in Christianity, he lost his faith in youth and led a wild life. Lived with a Carthaginian woman from the age of 15 until he was 30. Fathered a son whom he named Adeotadus, which means 'the gift of God'. Taught rhetoric at Carthage and Milan. After investigating and experimenting with several philosophies, he became a Manichaean for several years; this taught of a great struggle between good and evil, and featured a lax moral code. A summation of his thinking at the time comes from his Confessions: "God, give me chastity and continence -
The Beheading of John the Baptist (29th August)
John Bunyan (30th August)
Bunyan was born in 1628 near Bedford, in the agricultural midlands of England. He was the son of a tinker (a maker and mender of metal pots). He had little schooling. During the English Civil War, he served in the Parliamentary Army. He underwent a period of acute spiritual anxiety, and finally found peace in a Baptist congregation. He became a lay preacher, while earning his living as a tinker. After the Restoration in 1660, Bunyan (under suspicion for having fought on the anti-
Aiden (31st August)
Monk at Iona, Ireland. Studied under Saint Senan at Inish Cathay. Bishop of Clogher by Ware and Lynch. Resigned the see to became a monk at Iona c.630. Evangelising bishop in Northumbria at the behest of his friend the king, Saint Oswald of Northumbria. Once when pagans attacked Oswald's forces at Bambrough, they piled wood around the city walls to burn it; Saint Aidan prayed for help, and a change in wind blew the smoke and flames over the pagan army. Known for his knowledge of the Bible, his eloquent preaching, his personal holiness, simple life, scholarship, and charity. Miracle worker. Trained Saint Boswell. Founded the Lindesfarne monastery that became not only a religious standard bearer, but a great storehouse of European literature and learning during the dark ages. The Venerable Bede is lavish in his praise of the episcopal rule of Aidan.