In November, we conclude Ordinary time for the liturgical year with the Feast of Christ the King on the last Sunday of the month (Nov. 25). November is a month to remember the departed, especially on All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2). The Solemnity of All Saints (Nov. 1) is a holy day of obligation. Thanksgiving Day falls on November 22.
NOTABLE SAINTS, SOLEMNITIES, AND FEAST DAYS
|November 1||All Saints||Solemnity|
|November 9||Dedication of Saint John Lateran||Feast|
|November 10||Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor||Memorial|
|November 15||Albert the Great, Bishop and Doctor|
|November 17||Elizabeth of Hungary||Memorial|
|November 21||Presentation of Mary||Memorial|
|November 22||Cecelia, Virgin and Martyr||Memorial|
|November 23||Columban, Abbot|
|November 30||Andrew the Apostle||Feast|
IRISH SAINTS OF NOVEMBER
November 3 – Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh (1095-1148)
Malachy was born and raised in Armagh, the son of a learned man. After his parents’ death, he became the disciple of Eimar, a hermit, and was ordained at age 25. He studied under St. Malchus at Lismore and was appointed abbot of Bangor Abbey, which was in a sad state at the time. In fact, much of the Church in Ireland was in bad shape due to the ravages of the Vikings, and much of Malachy’s effort throughout his life was dedicated to restoration. A few years after his appointment as abbot, he was chosen bishop of Connor, based at Bangor. His leadership of a local revival of the faith ended abruptly when he and his monks were forced to flee to Lismore to escape Viking raiders. Appointed metropolitan of Armagh in 1129, he was unable to occupy the see peacefully for many years, due to a rival claimant–the see had become hereditary in a family of clerics. Malachy eventually prevailed, in the process recovering from his rival a book (probably the Book of Armagh) and a crozier reputedly belonging to St. Patrick. Later, Malachy resigned the see and returned to Connor (1137). He divided the diocese into two, Connor and Down, became bishop of the latter, and refounded the ruined abbey at Bangor. On a trip through Europe to Rome, he met St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and the two became life-long friends. So impressed was Malachy by Bernard and the Cistercians, that he attempted to resign his see and join the order. The Pope refused his request and instead named him papal legate in Ireland. Malachy left four companions behind him at Clairvaux; in 1142, they returned to Ireland and founded the Cistercian abbey of Mellifont. In 1148, while journeying to Rome on official business, Malachy stopped at Clairvaux to visit his friend, and died there rather suddenly. Bernard proclaimed him a saint, and his action was confirmed by Pope Clement III, in 1190, making him the first Irish saint officially canonized by a pope.
Malachy was a truly great saint of Ireland. He helped instill in the Irish church the spirit of reform that was sweeping the church on the Continent, and was a man of great virtue himself. He is familiar to many today because of the so-called Prophecies of Malachy, which are almost certainly not written by him and are most likely forgeries of the 16th century.
November 9 – Benen, Bishop (d. 467)
Also known as Benignus, he was the son of a Meath chieftain who had been converted by St. Patrick. Benen was close to Patrick from childhood, serving him during life as disciple, friend, and right-hand man, and succeeding him as chief bishop of Ireland. He is credited with evangelizing Clare, Connaught, and Kerry. Many extravagant miracles are reported of him. There is also a fanciful story of Benen travelling to Glastonbury in Britain toward the end of his life, and finding St. Patrick there.
November 10 – Aedh Mac Bricc, BIshop (d. 589)
The accounts of this saint are filled with miraculous tales. A son of Brecc of the Hy Neill, he was not originally destined for the clerical state. Supposedly, Sts. Brendan and Canice once helped him find some pigs which had strayed. Aedh kidnapped a girl from the housegold of one of his brothers, in an ill-advised attempt to force his brothers to give him his rightful share of their patrimony. Bishop Illathan of Rathlihen, County Offaly, persuaded him to renounce his share and return the girl. Aedh then became a disciple of Illathan and eventually was sent to found a monastery in Cill-air, Westmeath, at length becoming its bishop. Stemming from his reputed curing of St. Brigid (or someone else) of a headache, he is often called upon for relief from this malady.
November 12 – Machar, Bishop (6th century)
Also known as Mochumma, he accompanied St. Columba to Scotland and evangelized the island of Mull, where he became bishop, and the Picts of Aberdeenshire.
November 12 – Cumian, Abbot (c. 590-c. 665)
The son of a king of West Munster, Cumian became a monk and ran the school at Clonfert. Founder and abbot of the Abbey of Kilcummin, he was noted for his learning and for his defense of Roman liturgical uses, which he undertook in the still-extant Paschal Epistle. He was surnamed Fota or Fada, “the Tall.”
November 13 – Kilian (7th century)
One of a number of Kilians, this Kilian was a relative of St. Fiacre and carried out misson work in Artois in Gaul.
November 14 – Lawrence O’Toole, Archbishop of Dublin (1128-80)
Son of Murtagh, chief of the Murrays, he was born in Kildare, and as a youth was carried off and held as a hostage for two years by King Dermot McMurrogh of Leinster. Lawrence’s father finally compelled Dermot to surrender the boy to the bishop of Glendalough. He became a monk of Glendalough, and later was abbot (1153), known for his strict reign. His prudence and virtue were demonstrated when famine struck the area, and Lawrence was able to supply the local people with grain from monastic stores. Although earlier resistng efforts to elevate him to the episopate, Lawrence accepted election to the archbishopric of Dublin in 1161. The new archbishop embarked on a reform of his clergy, forming a community of strict canons regular at the cathedral. Lawrence became embroiled in the dynastic struggle which resulted in the intervention of England’s Henry II and which is too complicated to outline here. In 1172, a synod convened by Lawrence at Cashel confirmed a bull of Pope Adrian IV imposing English liturgical forms upon Ireland, and Lawrence supported Pope Alexander III’s confirmation of these measures. In 1175, while in England trying to arrange a peace between Henry II and Rory O’Conor, a probably-deranged man tried to murder him at Becket’s shrine. He attended the Lateran Council of 1179 and after explaining the state of the Irish Church to the pope found himself appointed papal legate in Ireland. His efforts there began to worry Henry II, who may have suspected another Becket in the making, and when Lawrence travelled to England in 1180 in the course of negotiations on behalf of Rory O’Conor, Henry prevented him from returning to Ireland. Lawrence did eventually receive permission to return, but died in Normandy before he could.
November 15 – Fintan of Rheinau (d.879)
One of a number of Irish saints with this name, this Fintan was born in Leinster, was taken to the Orkneys by Viking raiders, escaped, stayed with a bishop in Scotland for two years, and then went on a pilgrimage to Rome. Returning through the Black Forest of Germany, he encountered some hermits there, at Rheinau, and elected to remain.
November 18 – Mawes, Abbot (6th century)
Also known as Maudez, he is believed to have been an Irish monk who lived as a hermit in Cornwall, and then settled on the island of Modez off the coast of France. He preached throughout Armorica (Brittany) and probably founded several churches and monasteries there and in Cornwall.
November 23 – Columban, Abbot (c.540-615)
Columban was born in West Leinster and well educated as a youth. In the advice of a holy hermitess to flee the local environs to avoid sin, Columban saw a call to the religious life. Despite his mother’s opposition, he departed for an island in Lough Erne, where he was under the tutelage of a monk named Sinell. He later became a monk of Bangor. In 585, with the blessing of St. Comgall, he went as a missionary to Gaul with 12 other monks. He himself built several monasteries–Annegray, Luxeuil, and Fontaine–and his followers built others throughout France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Columban’s institutions followed his very strict monastic rule. He aroused opposition among the Frankish bishops due to his advocacy of Celtic usages and his refusal to acknowledge their authority. In 610, King Theodoric II of Burgundy, angered by Columban’s denunciations of his marital irregularities, banished all Irish monks from his kingdom. After being shipwrecked attempting to return to Ireland, Columban was offered refuge by King Theodebert II of Neustria and embarked on a mission journey which ultimately led him to the Alemanni around Lake Constance. However, when the hostile Burgundians overran Neustria, Columban fled to Italy and was welcomed by King Agilulf of the Lombards, although the king was an Arian heretic. Columban strove against the Arian heresy. He also became embroiled in the controversy over the Three Chapters then roiling the Church, an issue on which he was ill-informed; his words during this controversy led him to later write apologetically to the pope. Columban founded the monastery at Bobbio on land given to him by Agilulf; it was to have a distinguished history. It is at Bobbio that the saint died. Besides sermons and poems, Columban wrote his monastic rule and treatises against Arianism.
November 24 – Colman of Cloyne, Bishop (530-606)
Colman was born in Munster and spent most of his life as a pagan poet and royal bard at Cashel before being baptized by St. Brendan around age 50. He was later ordained and supposedly was a teacher of St. Columba. Colman was the first bishop of Cloyne and its patron. He is one of a number of sainted Colmans.
November 27 – Secundinus (c.375-447), BIshop
Though not a native Irishman, Secundinus, also known as Sechnall or Seachnall, ought to qualify as an Irish saint on grounds similar to those of St. Patrick himself. A native of Gaul, he was sent to Ireland in 439 to assist Patrick. He was the first bishop of Dunslaughlin in Meath and then auxiliary bishop of Armagh. Secundinus wrote several hymns, one of which is thought to be the first Latin hymn written in Ireland.
November 27 – Fergus, Bishop (8th century)
An Irish bishop, possibly of Downpatrick, he was known as “the Pict.” He served the missions among the Picts and Scots and founded several churches there.
–A federal judge, on September 30, struck down a 2017 St. Louis city ordinance which, on grounds of preventing discrimination, prohibited pro-life organizations from refusing to hire abortion proponents and which required non-religious employers to cover or pay for abortions through their health plans. The judge ruled that the ordinance violated state law and the federal constitution. Archbishop Carlson of St. Louis has spoken out strongly against the ordinance and praised the decision of the court.
–On October 1, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to a pro-life amendment to the Tennessee state constitution. The amendment, passed after the state supreme court had struck down a number of abortion restrictions, excludes abortion rights from the state constitution.
–Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have required public universities in the state to offer abortion-inducing contraceptives through campus student health centers. Governor Brown, a Catholic not normally friendly to the pro-life cause, said the bill was “not necessary,” since abortion services are already widely available off campus.
–We are approaching a general election in November. As Catholics, we need to make our decisions in the light of Catholic teaching. Two good sources of information on the national level are www.priestsforlife.org and the website of National Right to Life, www.nrlc.org.
–Many faithful Catholics are finding it difficult to get full and reliable information about the emerging reports of misconduct by certain members of the hierarchy. Two websites which are covering the news well are ewtn.com and catholicnewsagency.com.
[Sources consulted for this report include: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, complete edition, ed. and rev. by Herbert Thurston and Donald Attwater; 4 vols. (New York, 1956); The Liturgy of the Hours According to the Roman Rite (New York, 1975); The National Catholic Register; ewtn.com; catholic.org; www.priestsforlife.org; catholicnewsagency.com.]
Patrick J. Lally