The month of August falls entirely within the cycle of Ordinary Time. The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, August 15, is a holy day of obligation.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF AUGUST
|August 1||Alphonsus Ligouri||Memorial|
|August 4||John Vianney||Memorial|
|August 6||Transfiguration of the Lord||Feast|
|August 13||Our Lady of Knock|
|August 14||Maximilian Kolbe||Memorial|
|August 15||Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary||Solemnity|
|August 21||Pius X||Memorial|
|August 24||Bartholomew, Apostle||Feast|
IRISH SAINTS OF AUGUST
August 4 Molua, Abbot (d. 608)
Also known as Lughaidh or Lugaid, this saint was a boy of Limerick herding livestock who earned a reputation for sanctity and was sent to the monasterey at Bangor, where he was under the tutelage of St. Comgall. After ordination to the priesthood, he was tasked by his abbot with making other monastic foundations, the most important being what came to be called Kyle, in the Slievebloom Mountains. Molua may have made a trip to Rome, where he submitted the monastic rule which he had drawn up to Pope Gregory the Great. Some of the things said about him may result from confusion with another man.
August 5 Abel of Reims, Bishop and Abbot (d.c. 751)
Abel appears to have been one of the many Irish missionaries who aided St. Boniface in evangelizing the Germanic peoples of continental Europe. He was appointed bishop of Reims by Boniface, but was never able to claim the see due to its occupation by a rival claimant. He ended his days as abbot of Lobbes, in modern-day Belgium.
August 9 Nathy and Felim (6th century?)
Though not closely associated in life, these two men have come to be commemorated on the same day. Felim came from a family of saints. He is traditionally considered the first bishop of Kilmore. Nathy was a priest from Sligo.
August 11 Blaan, Bishop (d.c. 590?)
Blaan, also known as Blane, was a Scot, but spent seven years in Ireland under the tutelage of Sts. Comgall and Canice. He then returned to his native land, where he became a bishop.
August 11 Attracta, Virgin (6th century?)
The chronology of this saint is uncertain, but if dates assigning her to the 6th century are trustworthy, then she could not have been associated with St. Patrick, as some sources suggest. Attracta, or Araght, was of noble birth. When her father refused to allow her to consecrate her life to God, she fled from home. She founded a hospice for travellers on Lough Gara, which was in operation till 1539. There are many fanciful stories about her, at least one suggesting that she was not always able to conquer an urge to hold grudges. She is the patroness of the diocese of Achonry.
August 11 Lelia, Virgin (6th century?)
Little is known of Lelia. She may with probability be identified with Liadhain, great-grand-daughter of the prince Cairthenn baptized by St. Patrick. She gave her name to Killeely, near Limerick.
August 12 Murtagh, Bishop (6th century?)
Also known as Muredach, this is another saint who is not likely to have been a companion of St. Patrick, as some accounts allege. He is reputed to have been the first bishop of Killala.
August 14 Fachanan, Bishop (6th century)
Fachanan is the patron of the diocese of Ross, of which he was the first bishop. He was born at Tulachteann, was a pupil of St. Ita, and founded the monastery of Molana on the Blackwater River. Most significant of all, he founded what came to be the famous monastic school of Rosscarbery in Cork.
August 19 Mochta, Abbot (d.c. 535)
Mochta is mentioned in the lives of St. Patrick, whose disciple he was. Like Patrick, he was a Briton by birth, though his coming to Ireland was under different circumstances, Mochta’s parents having brought him there as a child. An interesting story has him being rebuked by St. Patrick for questioning the literal truth of the ages of the patriarchs as recorded in the Old Testament.
August 23 Eoghan, Bishop (6th century)
This saint’s name is often Anglicized as “Eugene,” though “Owen” is more correct. His life relates that he was one of three boys carried off from their home in Ireland, first to Britain, then to Brittany, where they were enslaved to work at grinding grain. When their master returned one day to find the three reading while angels worked the mill, he ordered their release. They found their way back to Ireland, and Eoghan became a monk with St. Kevin at Kilnamanach in Wicklow. Later, he aided St. Tigernach in the founding of the monastery at Clones, and finally settled with some followers at Ardstraw in Tyrone, where he became the first bishop.
August 31 Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne (d. 651)
Aidan’s birthplace was Ireland, though we know virtually nothing of his early life there. We are fortunate in having some account of his later life from the English monk, Bede, who was a careful historian. Aidan was a monk of Iona when one of his brethren returned from an unsuccessful mission to the kingdom of Northumbria in northern England. Northumbria had been Christianized earlier from the south, but the interlude of a hostile pagan dynasty had virtually wiped the Faith out there. The sainted King Oswald had requested a monk of Iona to re-evangelize his people, but the chosen monk’s extremely rigorist approach bore little fruit. When Aidan suggested that a different approach was needed, his brothers responded by appointing him to the mission. Oswald established him as bishop on the isle of Lindisfarne, and Aidan also established a monastery there, under the rule of St. Columcille. This grew to be one of the greatest monastic establishments in the British Isles. Aidan and his disciples meanwhile succeeded in bringing Northumbria back into the Christian fold. Bede describes him as a man who, though a leader of his society, always remained humble and compassionate. He devoted considerable time to the plight of slaves and unfortunate children.
OUR LADY OF KNOCK
On the evening of August 21, 1879, in the village of Knock, County Mayo, the housekeeper of the local parish church saw the south outside wall of the church bathed in a light of unknown origin. Going to fetch a friend, she and her companion came back to witness an apparition of the Virgin Mary, with two others figures, who were understood to be St. Joseph and John the Evangelist. In addition, there was an altar, with a cross and a lamb on it. Others gathered and likewise saw the figures. A notable feature of this Marian apparition is that Mary was silent. Acceptance of authenticity was slow–some local ecclesiastical authorities suspected a hoax by the local Protestant constable! Today Knock is the site of a large basilica and a dedicated place of pilgrimage. Once celebrated on August 21 in the Roman calendar, the feast has been moved to August 13 to make way for Pope St. Pius X.
NEWS OF INTEREST
–The incidents are growing too numerous to detail here: part of the current wave of lawlessness and mob actions seems directed at Catholic churches and images, with reports of arson, vandalism, and assault coming from around the nation.
–President Trump’s June 2 visit to the John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, timed to coincide with that Pope’s first visit to Poland as Pope (June 2, 1979) and with the issuance of an executive order strengthening measures to defend religious liberty worldwide, turned into a public relations debacle. However, Church leaders throughout the Middle East and Nigeria reacted positively to the President’s order.
–In late June, the Navy Department placed a ban on naval personnel attending off-base religious services, as a pandemic measure. On July 7, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Archbishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, issued a strongly-worded statement against the policy, pointing out the importance of the Mass to Catholics, the fact that many naval facilities lack a Catholic chaplain, and the fact that local dioceses are conforming to recommended local health measures. In response, the Navy Department changed the policy, so that attendance is not prohibited if “conditions are met locally.”
–In contrast to the outcome of its Bostock decision, mentioned here last month, the Supreme Court’s decisions in three other recent cases have raised the hopes of religious freedom advocates.
In Espinoza v. Montana, decided June 30, the Court ruled (5-4) that the State of Montana may not prohibit students from receiving tax-favored, privately-funded scholarships for private schools simply because they choose to attend a religious school. The controversy arose over the efforts of the state’s revenue authorities to enforce a so-called Blaine Amendment which prohibits the use of state funds for religious education. Blaine Amendments are still on the books in 37 states, date from the late 19th century, and are blatantly anti-Catholic in intent.
On July 7, a 7-2 decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru held that the First Amendment protects Catholic schools’ right to decide who may be employed to impart the faith to the students, without government second guessing of their decisions. Activists have sought to compel Catholic institutions, on the basis of complaints of discriminatory behavior, to hire employees who do not adhere to Catholic teachings. The decision brought some relief to those concerned that the recent Bostock decision will open the gate to LGBTQ lawsuits against the Church.
Finally, in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Pennsylvania, the Court held July 8 (7-2) that the Trump Administration’s acted within its authority in rules exempting many religious organizations and nonprofits from the abortion, contraception, sterilization mandates of The Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare). The Sisters have been repeatedly dragged into court over their exemption, this time by the attorneys general of several states. President Trump praised the decision, while Joe Biden criticized it.
[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.]
Patrick J. Lally