Catholic Encyclopedia – Venerable William Spenser

main article for Blessed William SpenserArticle

English martyr, born at Ghisburn, Yorkshire; executed at York, 24 September 1589. His maternal uncle, William Horn, who signed for the Rectory of Cornwell, Oxfordshire, in 1559, sent him in 1573 to Trinity College, Oxford, where he became Fellow in 1579 and M.A. in 1580. There, convinced of the truth of Catholicism, he used his position to influence his pupils in that direction; but he delayed his reconciliation till 1582, when, with four other Trinity men (John Appletree, B.A., already a priest; William Warford, M.A. and Fellow, afterwards a Jesuit; Anthony Shirley, M.A. and Fellow, afterwards a priest; and John Fixer, B.A., afterwards a priest), he embarked from the Isle of Wight, and landed near Cherbourg, arriving at Reims, 2 November. Received into the Church five days later, he was ordained sub-deacon and deacon at Laon by the bishop, Valentine Douglas, 7 April 1583, and priest at Reims by the Cardinal Archbishop de Guise, 24 September, and was sent on the mission 29 August, 1584. He effected the reconciliation of his parents and his uncle (the latter was living as a Catholic priest in 1593), and afterwards voluntarily immured himself in York Castle to help the prisoners there. He was condemned under 27 Elizabeth, c. 2, merely for being a priest. With him suffered a layman, Robert Hardesty, who had given him shelter.

MLA Citation

  • John Wainewright. “Venerable William Spenser”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Venerable Peter Snow

main article for Blessed Peter SnowArticle

English martyr, suffered at York, 15 June 1598. He was born at or near Ripon and arrived at the English College, Reims, 17 April 1589, receiving the first tonsure and minor orders 18 August 1590, the subdiaconate at Laon on 22 September, and the diaconate and priesthood at Soissons on 30 and 31 March, 1591. He left for England on the following 15 May. He was arrested about 1 May 1598, when on his way to York with Venerable Ralph Grimston of Nidd. Both were shortly after condemned, Snow of treason as being a priest and Grimston of felony, for having aided and assisted him, and, it is said, having attempted to prevent his apprehension.

MLA Citation

  • John Wainewright. “Venerable Peter Snow”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Sisinnius

Pope SisinniusArticle

Date of birth unknown; died 4 February 708, Successor of John VII, he was consecrated probably 15 January 708, and died after a brief pontificate of about three weeks; he was buried in Saint Peter’s. He was a Syrian by birth and the son of one John. Although he was so afflicted with gout that he was unable even to feed himself, he is nevertheless said to have been a man of strong character, and to have been able to take thought for the good of the city. He gave orders to prepare lime to repair the walls of Rome, and before he died consecrated a bishop for Corsica.

MLA Citation

  • Horace Mann. “Pope Sisinnius”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice

statue of Saint Beatrice of Rome, colonnade of Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy, c.1666, artist unknownArticle

Martyrs at Rome during the Diocletian persecution (302 or 303). The brothers Simplicius and Faustinus were cruelly tortured on account of their Christian faith, beaten with clubs, and finally beheaded; their bodies were thrown into the Tiber. According to another version of the legend a stone was tied to them and they were drowned. Their sister Beatrice had the bodies drawn out of the water and buried. Then for seven months she lived with a pious matron named Lucina, and with her aid Beatrice succoured the persecuted Christians by day and night. Finally she was discovered and arrested. Her accuser was her neighbor Lucretius who desired to obtain possession of her lands. She courageously asserted before the judge that she would never sacrifice to demons, because she was a Christian. As punishment, she was strangled in prison. Her friend Lucina buried her by her brothers in the cemetery ad Ursum Pileatum on the road to Porto. Soon after this Divine punishment overtook the accuser Lucretius. When Lucretius at a feast was making merry over the folly of the martyrs, an infant who had been brought to the entertainment by his mother, cried out, “Thou hast committed murder and hast taken unjust possession of land. Thou art a slave of the devil”. And the devil at once took possession of him and tortured him three hours and drew him down into the bottomless pit. The terror of those present was so great that they became Christians. This is the story of the legend. Trustworthy Acts concerning the history of the two brothers and sister are no longer in existence. Pope Leo II (682-683) translated their relics to a church which he had built at Rome in honour of Saint Paul. Later the greater part of the relics of the martyrs were taken to the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore.

Saint Simplicius is represented with a pennant, on the shield of which are three lilies called the crest of Simplicius; the lilies are a symbol of purity of heart. Saint Beatrice has a cord in her hand, because she was strangled. The feast of the three saints is on 29 July.

MLA Citation

  • Klemens Löffler. “Simplicius, Faustinus, and Beatrice”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger

Saint Simeon Stylites the YoungerArticle

Born at Antioch in 521, died at the same place 24 May 597. His father was a native of Edessa, his mother, named Martha was afterwards revered as a saint and a life of her, which incorporates a letter to her son written from his pillar to Thomas, the guardian of the true cross at Jerusalem, has been printed. Like his namesake, the first Stylites, Simeon seems to have been drawn very young to a life of austerity. He attached himself to a community of ascetics living within the mandra or enclosure of another pillar-hermit, named John, who acted as their spiritual director. Simeon while still only a boy had a pillar erected for himself close to that of John. It is Simeon himself who in the above-mentioned letter to Thomas states that he was living upon a pillar when he lost his first teeth. He maintained this kind of life for 68 years. In the course of this period, however, he several times moved to a new pillar, and on the occasion of the first of these exchanges the Patriarch of Antioch and the Bishop of Seleucia ordained him deacon during the short space of time he spent upon the ground. For eight years until John died, Simeon remained near his master’s column, so near that they could easily converse. During this period his austerities were kept in some sort of check by the older hermit.

After John’s death Simeon gave full rein to his ascetical practices and Evagrius declares that he lived only upon the branches of a shrub that grew near Theopolis. Simeon the younger was ordained priest and was thus able to offer the Holy Sacrifice in memory of his mother. On such occasions his disciples one after another climbed up the ladder to receive Communion at his hands. As in the case of most of the other pillar saints a large number of miracles were believed to have been worked by Simeon the Younger. In several instances the cure was effected by pictures representing him. Towards the close of his life the saint occupied a column upon a mountain-side near Antioch called from his miracles the “Hill of Wonders”, and it was here that he died. Besides the letter mentioned, several writings are attributed to the younger Simeon. A number of these small spiritual tractates were printed by Cozza-Luzi. There is also an “Apocalypse” and letters to the Emperors Justinian and Justin II. More especially Simeon was the reputed author of a certain number of liturgical hymns, “Troparis”, etc.

Simeon Stylites III, another pillar hermit, who also bore the name Simeon, is honoured by both the Greeks and the Copts. He is hence believed to have lived in the fifth century before the breach which occurred between these Churches. But it must be confessed that very little certain is known of him. He is believed to have been struck by lightning upon his pillar, built near Hegca in Cicilia.

MLA Citation

  • Herbert Thurston. “Saint Simeon Stylites the Younger”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Venerable Goncalo da Silveira

Article

Pioneer missionary of South Africa, born 23 February 1526, at Almeirim, about forty miles from Lisbon; martyred 6 March 1561. He was the tenth child of Dom Luis da Silveira, first count of Sortelha, and Dona Beatrice Coutinho, daughter of Dom Fernando Coutinho, Marshal of the Kingdom of Portugal. Losing his parents in infancy, he was brought up by his sister Philippa de Vilhena and her husband the Marquis of Tavora. He was educated by the Franciscans of the monastery of Santa Margarida until 1542 when he went to finish his studies in the University of Coimbra, but he had been there little more than a year when he was received into the Society of Jesus by Father Miron, rector of the Jesuit college at Coimbra. At the dawn of the Christian Renaissance, when Saint Ignatius, Saint Philip, and Saint Teresa were founding their institutes, even then Goncalo was recognized as a youth of more than ordinary promise. Father Goncalo was appointed provincial of India in 1555. The appointment was approved by Saint Ignatius a few months before his death. Father Goncalo’s term of government in India lasted three years. He proved a worthy successor of Saint Francis Xavier, who bad left India in 1549, and his apostolic labors and those of the hundred Jesuits under him, were crowned with much success, yet he was not considered the perfect model of a superior. He used to say that God had given him the great grace of unsuitability for government — apparently a certain want of tact in dealing with human weakness.

The new provincial Father Antonio de Quadros sent him to the unexplored mission field of south-east Africa. Landing at Sofala on 11 March 1560, Father Goncalo proceeded to Otongwe near Cape Corrientes. There, during his stay of seven weeks, he instructed and baptized the Makaranga chief, Gamba and about 450 natives of his kraal. Towards the end of the year he started up the Zambesi on his expedition to the capital of the Monomotapa which appears to have been the N’Pande kraal, close by the M’Zingesi river, a southern tributary of the Zambesi. He arrived there on 26 December, 1560, and remained until his death. During this interval he baptized the chief and a large number of his subjects. Meanwhile some Arabs from Mozambique, instigated by one of their priests, began to spread calumnies against the missionaries, and Father Silveira was strangled in his hut by order of the chief. The expedition sent to avenge his death never reached its destination, while his apostolate came to an abrupt end from a want of missionaries to carry on his work.

MLA Citation

  • James Kendal. “Venerable Goncalo da Silveira”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – The Holy Shroud of Turin

Shroud of TurinArticle

This name is primarily given to a relic now preserved at Turin, for which the claim is made that it is the actual “clean linen cloth” in which Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:59). This relic, though blackened by age, bears the faint but distinct impress of a human form both back and front. The cloth is about 13 1/2 feet long and 4 1/4 feet wide. If the marks we perceive were caused by human body, it is clear that the body (supine) was laid lengthwise along one half of the shroud while the other half was doubled back over the head to cover the whole front of the body from the face to the feet. The arrangement is well illustrated in the miniature of Giulio Clovio, which also gives a good representation of what was seen upon the shroud about the year 1540.

The cloth now at Turin can be clearly traced back to the Lirey in the Diocese of Troyes, where we first hear of it about the year 1360. In 1453 it was at Chambéry in Savoy, and there in 1532 it narrowly escaped being consumed by a fire which by charring the corners of the folds has left a uniform series of marks on either side of the image. Since 1578 it has remained at Turin where it is now only exposed for veneration at long intervals.

That the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin is taken for granted, in various pronouncements of the Holy See cannot be disputed. An Office and Mass “de Sancta Sindone” was formerly approved by Julius II in the Bull “Romanus Pontifex” of 25 April, 1506, in the course of which the Pope speaks of “that most famous Shroud (præclarissima sindone) in which our Savior was wrapped when he lay in the tomb and which is now honorably and devoutly preserved in a silver casket.” Moreover, the same Pontiff speaks of the treaties upon the precious blood. Composed by his predecessor, Sixtus IV, in which Sixtus states that in the Shroud “men may look upon the true blood and portrait of Jesus Christ himself.” A certain difficulty was caused by the existence elsewhere of other Shrouds similarly impressed with the figure of Jesus Christ and some of these cloths, notably those of Besançon, Cadouin, Champiègne, Xabregas, etc., also claimed to be the authentic linen sindon provided by Joseph of Arimathea, but until the close of the last century no great attack was made upon the genuineness of the Turin relic. In 1898 when the Shroud was solemnly exposed, permission was given to photograph it and a sensation was caused by the discovery that the image upon the linen was apparently a negative — in other words that the photographic negative taken from this offered a more recognizable picture of a human face than the cloth itself or any positive print. In the photographic negative, the lights and the shadows were natural, in the linen or the print, they were inverted. Three years afterwards, Dr. Paul Vignon read a remarkable paper before the Académie des Sciences in which he maintained that the impression upon the Shroud was a “vaporigraph” caused by the ammoniacal emanations radiating from the surface of Christ’s body after so violent a death. Such vapours, as he professed to have proved experimentally, were capable of producing a deep reddish brown stain, varying in intensity with the distance, upon a cloth impregnated with oil and aloes. The image upon the Shroud was therefore a natural negative and as such completely beyond the comprehension or the skill of any medieval forger.

Plausible as this contention appeared, a most serious historical difficulty had meanwhile been brought to light. Owing mainly to the researches of Canon Ulysse Chevalier a series of documents was discovered which clearly proved that in 1389 the Bishop of Troyes appealed to Clement VII, the Avignon Pope then recognized in France, to put a stop to the scandals connected to the Shroud preserved at Lirey. It was, the Bishop declared, the work of an artist who some years before had confessed to having painted it but it was then being exhibited by the Canons of Lirey in such a way that the populace believed that it was the authentic shroud of Jesus Christ. The pope, without absolutely prohibiting the exhibition of the Shroud, decided after full examination that in the future when it was shown to the people, the priest should declare in a loud voice that it was not the real shroud of Christ, but only a picture made to represent it. The authenticity of the documents connected with this appeal is not disputed. Moreover, the grave suspicion thus thrown upon the relic is immensely strengthened by the fact that no intelligible account, beyond wild conjecture, can be given of the previous history of the Shroud or its coming to Lirey.

An animated controversy followed and it must be admitted that though the immense preponderance of opinion among learned Catholics (see the statement by P.M. Baumgarten in the “Historiches Jahrbuch”, 1903, pp. 319-43) was adverse to the authenticity of the relic, still the violence of many of its assailants prejudiced their own cause. In particular the suggestion made of blundering or bad faith on the part of those who photographed were quite without excuse. From the scientific point of view, however, the difficulty of the “negative” impression on the cloth is not so serious as it seems. This Shroud like the others was probably painted without fraudulent intent to aid the dramatic setting of the Easter sequence:

Dic nobis Maria, quid vidisti in via
Angelicos testes, sudarium et vestes.

As the word sudarium suggested, it was painted to represent the impression made by the sweat of Christ, i.e. probably in a yellowish tint upon unbrilliant red. This yellow stain would turn brown in the course of centuries, the darkening process being aided by the effects of fire and sun. Thus, the lights of the original picture would become the shadow of Paleotto’s reproduction of the images on the shroud is printed in two colours, pale yellow and red. As for the good proportions and æsthetic effect, two things may be noted. First, that it is highly probable that the artist used a model to determine the length and position of the limbs, etc.; the representation no doubt was made exactly life size. Secondly, the impressions are only known to us in photographs so reduced, as compared with the original, that the crudenesses, aided by the softening effects of time, entirely disappear.

Lastly, the difficulty must be noticed that while the witnesses of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries speak of the image as being then so vivid that the blood seemed freshly shed, it is now darkened and hardly recognizable without minute attention. On the supposition that this is an authentic relic dating from the year A.D. 30, why should it have retained its brilliance through countless journeys and changes of climate for fifteen centuries, and then in four centuries more have become almost invisible? On the other hand if it be a fabrication of the fifteenth century this is exactly what we should expect.

MLA Citation

  • Herbert Thurston. “The Holy Shroud of Turin”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Sexburga

detail of a stained glass window of Saint Saxburgh of Ely, date and artist unknown; swiped from Santi e BeatiArticle

Died about 699. Her sisters, Saints Ethelburga and Saethrid, were both Abbesses of Faremontier in Brie, Saint Withburga was a nun at Ely, and Saint Etheldreda became Abbess of Ely. Sexburga was the daughter of Anna, King of the East Angles, and was married about 640 to Earconbert, King of Kent. She lived with her husband for twenty-four years, and by him had two sons, Egbert and Lothar, both successively Kings of Kent, and two daughters, both of whom became nuns and saints: Saint Earcongota, a nun of Faremontier, and Saint Ermenhild, who married Wulfhere, King of Mercia, and after his death took the veil and became Abbess of Ely. After the death of her husband in 664, Sexburga founded the Abbey of Minster in Sheppey; after a few years there she removed to Ely and placed herself under her sister Etheldreda, then abbess. The “Liber Eliensis” contains the farewell speech made by Sexburga to her nuns at Minster, and an account of her reception at Ely. Saint Etheldreda died, probably in 679, and Sexburga was elected abbess. She was still alive and acting as abbess in 695, when she presided at the translation of Saint Etheldreda’s relics to a new shrine she had erected for her at Ely, which included a sarcophagus of white marble from the ruined city of Grantchester. Sexburga was buried at Ely, near her sister Saint Etheldreda and her feast is kept on 6 July. There are several lives of Saint Sexburga extant. The one printed in Capgrave, “Nova, Legenda” and used by the Bollandists seems to be taken from the Cotton manuscript (Tib. E. 1) in the British Museum. There is another Latin life in the same collection (Cotton manuscript, Calig. A. 8), but it is so damaged by fire that it is useless. At Lambeth there are fragments of an Anglo-Saxon life (manuscript 427).

MLA Citation

  • Arthur Barnes. “Saint Sexburga”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Pope Severinus

Pope SeverinusArticle

The date of his birth is not known. He was consecrated seemingly on 28 May 640, and died 2 August 640. Severinus, a Roman and the son of Abienus, was elected as usual on the third day after the death of his predecessor, and envoys were at once sent to Constantinople, to obtain the confirmation of his election (October 638). But the emperor, instead of granting the confirmation, ordered Severinus to sign his Ecthesis, a Monothelite profession of faith. This the pope-elect refused to do, and the Exarch Isaac, in order to force him to compliance, plundered the Lateran Palace. All was in vain; Severinus stood firm. Meanwhile his envoys at Constantinople, though refusing to sign any heretical documents and deprecating violence in matters of faith, behaved with great tact, and finally secured the imperial confirmation. Hence, after a vacancy of over a year and seven months, the See of Peter was again filled, and its new occupant proceeded at once to declare that as in Christ there were two natures so also were there in Him two wills and two natural operations. During his brief reign he built the apse of old Saint Peter’s in which church he was buried.

MLA Citation

  • Horace Mann. “Pope Severinus”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>

Catholic Encyclopedia – Saint Sechnall

main article for Saint Secundinus of IrelandArticle

(Secundinus)

Bishop and confessor, born 372 or 373; died at Dunshaughlin, 27 November 457. Son of Restitutus, a Lomard, and Liamain, sister of Saint Patrick, he was one of nine brothers, eight of whom became bishops in Ireland. His early life and training is obscure, but he appears to have studied in Gaul, and to have accompanied Saint Patrick to Ireland in 432. The first documentary evidence we have is an entry in the Irish Annals recording the arrival of Saint Sechnall and his brother Saint Auxilius “to help Saint Patrick”. He had much experience before his coming to assist in the conversion of the Irish. In 433 he was appointed by Saint Patrick as first Bishop of Dunshaughlin (co. Meath), and so great was his reputation for learning and prudence, that he was assistant Bishop of Armagh from 434 until his death. At the commencement of his episcopal rule, the local fair (aonach) was accustomed to be held in the church enclosure, and as the people ignored the saint’s denunciation as to holding a fair on hallowed ground, we read that “the earth opened and swallowed up thirteen horses, chariots and drivers, while the remainder fled”. He died after an episcopate of fourteen years. The name of his see in the corrupt form, Dunshaughlin (correctly Domnach Sechnaille), testifies to the veneration in which he was held.

Saint Sechnall’s fame in the literary world is as the writer of the earliest Latin poem in the Irish Church, the well-known alphabetic hymn commencing “Audite omnes amantes Deum, sancta merita”. This he composed in praise of his uncle, Saint Patrick, and was rewarded with the promise that whoever would recite daily (morning and evening) the concluding three verses with proper disposition would obtain everlasting bliss in Heaven. It consists of twenty-three stanzas in the same metre as employed by Saint Hilary in his hymn “Ymnum dicat turba fratrum, Ymnum cantus personet”, and was printed by Colgan and Muratori. It was regarded as a lorica or preserver to be sung (or recited) in any great emergency, and its singing was one of the “Four honours” paid to Saint Patrick, being assigned as the hymn for the feast of the national Apostle. Another beautiful hymn by Saint Sechnall is “Sancti venite, Christi corpus sumite”, traditionally sung by angels in the church of Dunshaughlin, and adopted for use at the reception of Holy Communion.

MLA Citation

  • William Grattan-Flood. “Saint Sechnall”. Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912. CatholicSaints.Info. 10 December 2018. Web. 11 December 2018. <>