February this year is a transitional month as far as the Church year is concerned. After two Sundays of Ordinary Time, the season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on Feb. 17. The liturgical color transitions from green to the penitential violet. As the season of Lent in preparation for Easter approaches, check with your diocese or parish for fast and abstinence regulations, as well as other opportunities for penance.
MAJOR SAINTS AND FEAST DAYS OF JANUARY
|February 2||The Presentation of the Lord||Feast|
|February 3||Blaise, Bishop and Martyr||Optional|
|February 5||Agatha, Virgin and Martyr||Memorial|
|February 17||Ash Wednesday|
|February 22||Chair of Peter, Apostle||Feast|
IRISH SAINTS OF FEBRUARY
February 1 Brigid, Abbess (c. 450-525)
Brigid’s name is also spelled Bridget and Bride. She was born near Dundalk, Louth. By legend, her father was Dubhthach, a chieftain of Leinster, and her mother Brocca, a slave. Her parents were baptized by St. Patrick. Even as a child, Brigid aspired to the consecrated life. Besides Patrick himself, with whom she always held a close friendship, Brigid was mentored in her early religious life by St. Macaille of Croghan and St. Mel of Armagh. After earlier establishments under the mentorship of the latter two saints, she founded a double monastery at Kildare about 470, the first in Ireland, and was abbess of the female convent. This foundation developed a reputation for scholarship and sanctity and was the kernel of the cathedral city of Kildare. Brigid’s learning and sanctity are reflected in the numerous legends that have grown up around her. She was the inspiration of the many consecrated virgins of the Irish Church. The “Mary of the Gael,” her tomb is at Downpatrick, with Sts. Columba and Patrick, with the latter of whom she shares the title of patron of Ireland.
February 3 Ia, Virgin (6th century)
Little reliable evidence exists regarding St. Ia. She is reported to have been a hermitess who lived in Cornwall, having been miraculously transported there from Ireland after missing travel connections with her companions.
February 5 Indractus and Dominica, Martyrs (c. 710)
Little is known of these saints, who were brother and sister. They were reportedly murdered by Saxons near Glastonbury, England, on their way to or from Rome. Their relics were venerated at Glastonbury Abbey during the Middle Ages.
February 5 Vodalus (d.c. 720)
This saint, also known as Voel, was either an Irishman or a Scot, who went to Gaul to preach and lived as a hermit near Soissons.
February 6 Mel and Melchu, Bishops (5th Century)
An unreliable legend makes these two brothers nephews of St. Patrick who accompanied him on his return to Ireland. The two were said to be bishops, though of what sees is not certain. Mel was cleared by St. Patrick of a rumored scandalous relationship with an aunt, though Patrick ordered them to live apart.
February 9 Alto, Abbot (d.c. 760)
Alto was probably an Irishman. He took up the life of a hermit near Augsburg, in Germany, in about 743. Impressed by his holiness, the local Germanic king gave him a parcel of land near Altomunster, Bavaria, where he constructed a monastery.
February 9 Marianus Scotus (d. 1088)
Marianus, or Muiredach mac Robartaigh, seems to have been born in Donegal. After assuming monastic garb and being ordained a priest, he and some companions departed for the Continent, apparently intending a pilgrimage to Rome. What started as a temporary stop in the diocese of Regensburg ended up being a lifelong commitment, when this band of Irish pilgrims took up residency in a double monastic community there. Marianus came into his own there as a skilled copyist and calligrapher, and a poet and theologian as well.
February 12 Ludan (d. 1202?)
Ludan was either a Scot or an Irishman. He used an ample inheritance to construct a hostel for travelers and the infirm, and then set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. On his way home, passing through Alsace, he received an intimation of his imminent death, which was itself heralded by miraculous events. His relics were venerated in the area till they were evidently destroyed during the Thirty Years War.
February 13 Modomnoc (6th century)
Modomnoc was an Irish monk who went to Wales, where he studied under St. David and also served as beekeeper for the saint’s monastic community. According to legend, he introduced bees to Ireland, when a swarm followed him there upon his return. He settled at Tibraghny, Kilkenny, and reportedly was later bishop of Ossory.
February 15 Tanco, Abbot and Bishop (d. 808)
Also known as Tatto, this man was an Irish monk who went to Amalbarich Abbey in Saxony, where he eventually became the abbot. He evangelized in Cleves and Flanders and was eventually a bishop in Saxony. Tanco was martyred, though accounts differ as to the circumstances of his martyrdom.
February 17 Loman, Bishop (7th century?)
Unreliable legends identify Loman as a relative of St. Patrick who accompanied him to Ireland. It is more likely that he is a 7th century bishop of Trim, about whom little is known.
February 17 Fintan, Abbot (d. 603)
One of a number of sainted Fintans, this man was a monk trained by St. Columba. He led an eremetical life at Cloneenagh, eventually becoming abbot of the community which grew up around him. He was known for his gifts of prophecy and clairvoyance and had many miracles attributed to him.
February 17 Finan, Bishop (d. 661)
Finan was an Irish monk of Iona. He succeeded St. Aidan as second bishop of Lindisfarne, a diocese which at the time encompassed all of Northumbria, Durham, and York. Finan opposed the adoption of Roman liturgical practices to replace the Celtic usages. He was a friend of King Oswy of Northumbria, and did much to evangelize the kingdoms which lay to the south as well.
February 18 Colman, Bishop (d. 676)
There are a number of sainted Colmans, but this one was an Irishman and the third bishop of Lindisfarne. He reigned only three years, but his reign was a momentous one, since during it the controversy between the Celtic and Roman usages, especially over the date of Easter, came to a head in the British Isles. Reportedly, King Oswy of Northumbria sought a solution when he found, to his consternation, that members of the royal household did not agree on when to celebrate Easter. The English monastic historian Bede relates the debates at the ensuing Synod of Whitby (663), the winning argument being that the pope, as successor of Peter, had received the power of the keys, whereas the followers of St. Columba had not. Colman found that he could not accept the Roman usage, resigned his bishopric, and returned to Ireland, where he founded a monastery on Inishbofin. Rome chose not to press the issue of Easter with many of the Irish congregations, reasoning (correctly) that time would bring a resolution.
NEWS OF INTEREST:
PRO-LIFE, CONSCIENCE RIGHTS, RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
–On December 3, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated a Ninth Circuit ruling which had upheld California’s pandemic restrictions on indoor worship. The order sends the matter back to the lower courts. And on December 28, the Second Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, ordered that New York’s caps on numbers at religious worship must be suspended while the suits brought against the caps are pending. One of the suits was brought by the Diocese of Brooklyn. These cases follow a decision November 25 by the Supreme Court sending the Brooklyn case back to the lower courts, after a finding that the caps are discriminatory against religious worship. Other cases from throughout the nation are pending.
–A line from Justice Neil Gorsuch in the November rulings: “…there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues and mosques.”
–More court news: on January 11, the Supreme Court gave Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak (D) eight days in which to respond to a Protestant congregation which is arguing that pandemic restrictions in place are discriminatory against religious worship. On the same day, however, the Court declined to hear an appeal against Pittsburgh’s restrictions on pro-life presence outside abortion clinics. Pittsburgh mandates a “buffer zone” between pro-life groups and abortion clinics.
–In a January 5 op-ed in the New York Post, Cardinal Dolan of New York denounced the recent vandalism at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and spoke of the positive role that the Cathedral and the Church at large play in our society. Perhaps of interest to Hibernians, the Cardinal made reference to the Know-Nothing era of the mid-nineteenth century and to John Hughes, the first Archbishop of New York, who was openly and vocally defiant of the Know Nothings. One modern historian has written that Hughes was taken seriously, due to the fact that he had “a substantial body of Irishmen at his back.”
–Many pro-life and religious liberty advocates are concerned over President-elect Biden’s choice of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Besides being an activist lawyer and not possessing any background in medicine or public health, Becerra has a troubling record in regard to these issues. Becerra continued the prosecution of David Daleiden (begun by his predecessor, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris) for his expose of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in fetal body parts. Along with some other state AG’s, he has dragged the Little Sisters of the Poor back into court over their battle to gain exemption from mandated support of abortion, sterilization, and artificial contraception. He fought all the way to the Supreme Court (and lost) to uphold California’s FACT Law, which required pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise for abortion clinics. He has been defying the HHS Office of Civil Rights over a state requirement that employers cover abortion despite objections of conscience. Since many of the Trump administration’s measures to protect conscience rights in the health field are based upon HHS rules and regulations, they can easily be reversed by a new regime at the agency.
[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.]
Patrick J. Lally