The month of July is comprised of Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar, the vestments being green. The calendar includes two saints of the Americas, Junipero Serra and Kateri Tekakwitha.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF JULY
|July 1||Junipero Serra|
|July 3||Thomas, Apostle||Feast|
|July 6||Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr|
|July 11||Benedict, Abbot||Memorial|
|July 14||Kateri Tekakwitha||Memorial|
|July 15||Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor||Memorial|
|July 16||Our Lady of Mount Carmel|
|July 22||Mary Magdalene||Feast|
|July 25||James, Apostle||Feast|
|July 26||Joachim and Ann, Parents of Mary||Memorial|
|July 31||Ignatius of Loyola, Priest||Memorial|
IRISH SAINTS OF JULY
July 1 Serf, Bishop (6th century)
The life of St. Serf, or Servanus, is rather murky, due to the number of legends and reworkings of old folk tales which have found their way into it. He may have owed his consecration to Palladius. Some think him the apostle of the Orkneys, though evidence that he labored there is slight. It is likely that he evangelized the Scots around Culross, Fifeshire, where he is buried.
July 3 Rumold, Martyr (d.c. 775)
The best surmise about this saint, also known as Rombaut, is that he hailed from Britain, though he is venerated in Ireland as a native of that land. He sojourned on the Continent, evangelizing in the area later known as Brabant. He may have been consecrated bishop by the pope. He was slain and tossed into a river by two men whom he had sought to dissuade from their evil deeds.
July 7 Palladius, Bishop (d. 432)
Palladius probably came from Roman Gaul or Britain. Having served as a deacon for some years, Palladius was consecrated bishop by Pope Celestine, in 431, and sent to be the first bishop of the Irish. After a year of little progress against stiff pagan resistance, Palladius departed for the land of the Picts, and was perhaps headed ultimately back to Rome, but he died among the Picts.
July 8 Kilian and Companions, Martyrs (d.c. 689)
Kilian was an Irish monk who went with eleven companions to Franconia in Germany, witih a papal mandate to evangelize the area. At some point he was consecrated bishop. Kilian rebuked a local feudatory named Gosbert, a recent convert, for his irregular marriage. This brought about the slaying of Kilian and his companions, though accounts differ as to whether Gosbert was involved in this.
July 8 Sunniva and Companions (10th century)
Considerable doubt exists about most of the story of this group. Supposedly fleeing some sort of trouble, they were shipwrecked on an island off the Norwegian coast, where they eventually perished. Their remains were discovered by King Olaf Tryggvason, c. 995, who was at the time engaged in Christianizing his kingdom. Sunniva’s body was said to be incorruptible, and a cultus developed around her and her companions during the Middle Ages.
July 11 Drostan, Abbot of Deer (d.c. 610)
Drostan was one of many Irish monks who crossed the sea to evangelize the Scots. He was the first abbot of Deer, in Aberdeenshire. He is also said to have lived as a hermit in Angus, noted for his holiness and kindness to the poor.
July 11 Oliver Plunket, Archbishop and Martyr (1629-81)
Oliver was born in County Meath, connected on his father’s side to the earls of Fingall, and on his mother’s (a Dillon), the earls of Roscommon. During the turbulent time of the rebellion in the British Isles against Charles I and the radical Protestant ascendancy which followed his execution, Oliver began studies for the priesthood at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary’s, Dublin, under his kinsman, Patrick Plunket. In 1645, he was sent to Rome for further study, earning a scholarly reputation at the new Irish College. After further studies in canon and civil law, he was ordained in 1654. There followed a busy life in Rome for twelve years, during which Plunket taught theology and served as a counselor to the Index and procurator at Rome for the Irish bishops.
In March, 1669, the archbishop of Armagh, Edward O’Reilly, died in exile. Pope Clement IX chose Plunket to succeed him and thought the time seemed opportune to return the Primate of All Ireland to Ireland. After consecration at Ghent, Plunket journeyed to London, where he was in contact with Charles II’s Catholic queen before travelling on to Dublin.
The Irish church was in sad shape, due to the penal laws and the Protestant ascendancy, but due also to ignorance, neglect, rivalry, timidity, and the presence of schismatic and disorderly elements within the church. Fortunately, due to various causes at that time, among them the Catholic leanings of the British monarch, Charles II (married to a Portuguese Catholic princess), there was a lessening of pressure upon Catholics in Ireland, and indeed throughout the British Isles. The Protestant viceroy of Ireland, Lord Berkeley of Stratton, was a fair and moderate man. Plunket also enjoyed cordial relations with the Protestant clergy in Ireland. The archbishop always had to be wary that his efforts did not open him to prosecution under the still-enforceable laws, but during this window of a few years, Plunket worked diligently to improve the state of his flock and put things in order.
In 1673, there was a fresh outbreak of persecution. Some of the Irish hierarchy fled or were banished; Plunket and some others operated from hiding. Things got worse after the Oates Plot of 1678. Archbishop Plunket was apprehended and imprisoned in Dublin Castle, and later in London’s Newgate, charged with supporting armed insurrection. The winding trail of Plunket’s prosecution is too much to follow in detail here; but the prosecution could not get an Irish grand jury to indict, no reliable witnesses were found, measures of questionable legality were forwarded. Most shameful of all, it was the perjured testimony of renegade Irish Catholics which brought about Plunket’s condemnation. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Plunket suffered martyrdom at Tyburn, the last Catholic martyr to die there. On the scaffold, Plunket proclaimed his innocence of fomenting armed insurrection and his loyalty to the king, and prayed for the king and for the people who had brought about his condemnation. The Archbishop’s remains have done some travelling; his body is now at Downside Abbey, while his head is at St. Peter’s, Drogheda. Plunket was canonized in 1975.
July 24 Declan, Bishop 6th century
Declan was from County Wexford. Many miracles are ascribed to him, and two trips to Rome. He was said to have met St. David of Wales on one of these trips. His episcopal see was Ardmore.
In Ireland, the last Sunday of July–July 26 this year–is “Reek Sunday.” It marks the annual pilgrimage to the summit of Croagh Patrick, St. Patrick’s holy mountain, in County Mayo overlooking Clew Bay. St. Patrick is said to have spent Lent of the year 441 fasting and praying on the mountain. Due to pandemic measures, the pilgrimage is cancelled this year. Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam will celebrate a vigil Mass on July 25, 6:30 PM local time, at St. Mary’s, Westport. Mass will be livestreamed on St. Mary’s Facebook page, accessible at www.westportparish.ie. Intentions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
ISSUES OF INTEREST
–Many observers believe that the U.S. Supreme Court has just painted a bullseye on the Catholic Church. With Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kavanaugh vigorously dissenting, the Court ruled June 15 that federal civil rights legislation regarding employment discrimination applies to those identifying with one category or another of the LGBTQ persuasion. Lawsuits by individuals and activists groups are expected to proliferate as claims are made that the Church discriminates against them in hiring. Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of the USCCB, decried the ruling in a statement, and warned of the danger to religious liberty.
–More bad news from the Supreme Court. On June 29, in 5-4 decision, with the increasingly erratic Chief Justice Roberts siding with the usual pro-abortion justices, the Court struck down a Louisiana law requiring abortionists to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. Justice Thomas, in a pointed dissent, said that there is no evidence for the Roe v. Wade ruling that there is a right to abortion in the Fourteenth Amendment.
–On June 17, the UK Parliament gave final approval for the imposition upon Northern Ireland of the permissive abortion regulations standard throughout the UK. With the recent triumph of the pro-abortion movement in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland has been the last redoubt in the British Isles for meaningful restrictions on abortion. The House of Commons last year took advantage of the fact that the Assembly for Northern Ireland was in suspension to vote to adopt this measure, despite widespread opposition to abortion in Northern Ireland among Protestants and Catholics, and despite the UK’s supposed policy of “devolution,” supposedly allowing the denizens of Northern Ireland to make their own decisions. On the 15th, the House of Lords voted 355–7 to support the imposition, despite the fact that the Assembly is now back in session and has rejected their imposition. This came despite the hesitancy of the Lords’ own committee appointed to scrutinize the measure. Non of the peers for Northern Ireland were allowed to speak.
[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; priestsforlife.org.]