In the early part of January, we are still within the Christmas season. The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God (Jan. 1) is a holy day of obligation, at least in normal times. At the Baptism of the Lord (January 10) , we pass from the Christmas season to a segment of Ordinary Time prior to the Lenten season, from the liturgical color white to green. In the month of January, two American saints are commemorated, Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 4) and John Neumann (January 5). In the United States, January 22 is a day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, in recognition of the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF JANUARY
|January 1||Mary, the Mother of God||Solemnity|
|January 2||Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors||Memorial|
|January 3||Epiphany of the Lord||Solemnity|
|January 4||Elizabeth Ann Seton||Memorial|
|January 5||John Neumann, Bishop||Memorial|
|January 10||Baptism of the Lord||Feast|
|January 13||Hilary, Bishop and Doctor||Memorial|
|January 21||Agnes, Virgin and Martyr||Memorial|
|January 25||Conversion of Paul, Apostle||Feast|
|January 26||Timothy and Titus, Bishops||Memorial|
|January 28||Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor||Memorial|
IRISH SAINTS OF JANUARY
January 2 Munchin (7th century)
Munchin , called The Wise, is the patron saint of Limerick, and probably came from County Clare. He is also known as Maincin (Little Monk). Tradition avers that he was a bishop, but scholars doubt this.
January 15 Ita (d.c. 570)
Ita was supposedly of royal lineage and was born in one of the baronies of Decies, Waterford, Ireland. After refusing to marry, she secured her father’s permission to embrace perpetual virginity. At Killeedy, Limerick, she founded a religious community of women and also a school for boys, among the graduates of which may have been St. Brendan. Many extravagant miracles are attributed to her. She is also known as Deirdre, Ida, or Mida.
January 16 Fursey (d.c. 648)
Fursey stands out among early Irish saints in having biographical details fairly abundant and in reliable sources. He was probably born on Inisquin in Lough Corri, of an aristocratic family. He built a monastery, probably at Killursa, to which many disciples came. Fursey often fell into trance-like or ecstatic states, in which he experienced terrifying visions of demonic influences upon sinful men. After about twelve years of preaching throughout Ireland, he travelled to East Anglia in Britain with his brothers Foillan and Ultan. There, they founded a monastery at Burgh Castle near Yarmouth, under the patronage of King Sigebert. Fursey later sojourned in Neustria on the continent, where he was welcomed by King Clovis II, founded a monastery at Lagny, and died shortly thereafter.
January 18 Deicolus (c. 530-c. 625)
Deicolus, also known as Desle, may have been the elder brother of St. Gall, born in Leinster, and was one of the twelve disciples of Columban who accompanied him to Gaul in 576. He worked with Columban in Austrasia and Burgundy. Age prevented him from accompanying Columban when he was expelled in 610. Deicolus founded a monastery at Lure and lived as a hermit in his later years. Columban is supposed to have asked Deicolus once why he was always smiling, receiving the reply: “Because no one can take God from me.”
January 19 Albert of Cashel (7th or 8th century)
A great deal of confusion surrounds the life of this saint. Albert was a priest from among the Angles , who sojourned in Ireland and in Bavaria on the continent. He has been associated with the see of Cashel, but the story that he was its bishop cannot be true, since the bishopric did not exist at the time of his alleged reign there. The story of his friendship with St. Erhard is also problematic, since they may not have been contemporaries. He is said to have died in Regensberg, Germany, on his way home from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
January 19 Fillan, Abbot (8th century)
Fillan, also known as Foelan, was the son of Feriach and St. Kentigerna. He took monastic vows at a young age. He accompanied his royal Leinster mother to Scotland, living as a hermit near St. Andrew’s for years, before being elected abbot. Later, he resigned the abbacy and resumed his eremetic life in Perthshire. Extravagant miracles are attributed to him. One story relates that after a wolf had killed an ox he was using to haul materials to his church, his prayers induced the wolf to take the place of the ox.
January 20 Fechin, Abbot (d.665)
Fechin was probably born at Luighne (Leyney), Connaught. He was the founding abbot of Fobhar (Fore), Westmeath, and perished during a plague which swept Ireland in 665.
January 23 Miambod (d.c. 880)
Also known as Mainboeuf, he was an Irish missionary on the continent, slain in Alsace by hostile pagans.
January 31 Aidan, Bishop (d. 626)
Unreliable legends cloud our knowledge of this saint, also known as Maedoc. He was born in Connaught. After a stay in Leinster, he travelled to St. David’s in Wales, where he studied Scripture. He is said to have miraculously repelled several Saxon attacks there. Later he returned to Ireland, founded a monasterey at Ferns, Wexford, and eventually was consecrated bishop there. He was known as a man of great kindness to man and animal alike. He is represented in art as a stag; this stems from a story that he once rendered a stag invisible to save it from hounds.
January 31 Adamnan of Coldingham (d.c. 680)
Not to be confused with the better known Adamnan, who was abbot of Iona, this Adamnan was an Irish monk of Coldingham, off the southeast coast of Scotland. He was known for his austerity and his gift of prophecy.
NEWS AND ISSUES
–On December 3, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a Ninth Circuit ruling against an appeal by several California churches who have challenged Governor Gavin Newsom’s ban on indoor services in some areas. The ruling stemmed from the Court’s December 3 ruling in Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo that the State of New York’s standards were discriminatory against religious services. In effect, a federal district court will have to reconsider its initial ruling in favor of the State of California. Meanwhile, the Ninth Circuit itself vacated a lower court ruling against a Protestant congregation in Chula Vista, sending the case back to the lower court. San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has been a vocal opponent of the state’s measures.
–The Supreme Court’s Brooklyn decision, an unsigned decision concurred in by Alito, Barrett, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Thomas, contains at least one memorable line: “… even in a pandemic, the Constitution cannot be put away and forgotten.”
–The National March for Life will take place January 29, in Washington, D.C. There are many local observances scheduled throughout the country.
[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; catholicnewsagency.com; usccb.org.]
Patrick J. Lally