Saints to Remember

Saints to Remember, From January to December.

An incomplete list of saints’ days and festival days of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and anniversaries of important battles, that have some connection to the Carolingians and to chivalry in general.

January 3: Saint Genevieve, Virgin. Patroness of Paris, born c. 419 or 422, died 512. A nun, ascetic, and visionary. She saved Paris from Attila the Hun and his army by leading the people in fasting and prayer.

January 7: Saint Reinold of Cologne, Martyr. According to legend, Rinaldo of Montalban retired from the world to become a monk at Cologne. He worked on building the cathedral there, and was killed by his fellow masons, for working hard and making them look bad. The saint certainly existed, but that is all that is known for certain about him.

January 16: The Protomartyrs of the Franciscan Order: Berard, Peter, and Otho, priests, and Accursius and Adjutus, lay brothers, all of the Order of Friars Minor, were personally beheaded by the Emir of Morocco in 1220.

January 20, Saint Sebastian, Martyr. 286. A Roman army officer. According to legend, he encouraged his fellow Christian soldiers in the persecution under Diocletian, and was eventually condemned himself. After a failed attempt to kill him by shooting arrows, the executioners beat him to death with clubs. He is usually portrayed either holding an arrow or with one or more sticking out of him.

January 23: Saint Raymond of Peñafort, Confessor. 1175-1275. Co-founder, with St. Peter Nolasco, of the Order of Mercedarians, dedicated to ransoming Christian captives from slavery under Islam.

January 28, Blessed Charlemagne, Emperor. 748-814. The great Emperor and Eighth Worthy was canonized in 1165 by Antipope Paschal III, though never by any true Pope. Nonetheless, he remains beatified, for his efforts to preserve and spread the Holy Catholic Faith.

January 28, Saint Peter Nolasco, Confessor. c. 1189-1256. Co-founder, with St. Raymond of Peñafort, of the Order of Mercedarians, dedicated to ransoming Christian captives from slavery under Islam.

January 30, Saint Bathilde, Queen and Widow. d. c. 680. A slave woman, possibly from England, with whom Clovis II fell in love. He freed and married her. She abolished the slave trade and simony, helped institute many laudable reforms, and after her husband’s death retired to the Abbey of Chelles, living out the rest of her days in humility, labor, and prayer. A highly fictionalized version of her appears in Theseus of Cologne.

February 8, Saint John of Matha, Confessor. 1160-1213. Born to noble parents in Provence, he became a priest. At the first Mass he celebrated, God appeared to him and bade him found the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, dedicated to ransoming Christian captives from slavery under Islam.

February 21, Blessed Pepin of Landen, Confessor, c. 580-640. Mayor of the Palace of Austrasia under Dagobert I (623-629) and Sigibert III (639-640), and founder of the Carolingian line. Husband of Saint Itta of Metz, and father of Saint Begga of Andenne, Saint Bavo of Ghent, Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, and Grimoald, also Mayor of the Palace.

March 1, Saint David, Bishop and Confessor. Died 601. Patron Saint of Wales, though little is known about him with certainty. A knight errant in Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, which, like most of the book, is entirely Johnson’s invention.

March 11, Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Martyr. Executed in 640 by Amr bin al-As for baptizing Muslims who wished to convert to the True Faith.

March 17, Saint Patrick, Bishop and Confessor. A knight errant in Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, which, like most of the book, is entirely Johnson’s invention.

March 17, Saint Joseph of Arimathea, Confessor. According to the legends of the Holy Grail, Saint Joseph caught the Precious Blood of Our Lord in the Grail while He was hanging on the cross, and later took the Grail to Great Britain.

March 17, Saint Gertrude of Nivelles, Virgin and Abbess. A distant great-aunt of Charlemagne’s, who appears in King Rother.

March 28, Saint John Capistrano, Confessor. Born June 24, 1385, became a Franciscan at the age of 39. After the fall of Constantinople, Pope Callixtus III proclaimed a Crusade. Thanks largely to Saint John’s preaching, an army of 70,000 marched under Hunyadi Janos against the Turkish menace. John accompanied Hunyadi throughout the campaign, and led the left wing of the Christian army in the Battle of Belgrade.

April 13, Blessed Ida of Boulogne, Widow. Mother of Godfrey of Boulogne, the Ninth Worthy and leader of the First Crusade.

April 23, Saint George, Martyr. The historical Saint George was martyred under Diocletian. He did not become associated with the dragon-slaying legend until the 12th century. Patron of Russia, England, Castille, and many, many other places. One of Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, and the only one besides Saint James to be a knight-errant in popular tradition.

May 5, St. Pius V, Pope. Born January 17, 1504. Elected January 7, 1566; died May 1, 1572. Not only did he enforce the decrees of the Council of Trent, completely revise the Missal and the Breviary, and save millions of souls from falling into the errors of Protestantism, he also oversaw the expedition of Don John of Austria against the Turkish fleet that culminated in the glorious victory of Lepanto. When the victory was won, the Pope had it revealed to him in a vision. As attested by numerous witnesses, he suddenly sprang up, ordered a pause to the business he was engaged in, and led all present in prayerful thanksgiving for the destruction of the Turkish navy and the salvation of Christendom.

May 6, Saint Honoratus of Amiens, Bishop and Confessor. Died circa 600. According to Dieudonné of Hungary, the titular hero was venerated under the name Saint Honoré after being martyred in his hermitage by bandits. In reality, the bishop died a natural death. According to legend, his old nursemaid was baking bread when she heard that he had been elected bishop. Incredulous, she declared that she wouldn’t believe it unless her peel grew into a tree. It did so, and she believed. Consequently Honoratus is venerated in France as the patron of bakers.

May 14, Passion of Saint Reinold, see January 7.

May 28, Saint William of Gellone, Confessor. 755-812. The inspiration for William of Orange. He fought against the Saracens in Spain, retired to a monastery, and died there.

May 29. Constantine XI. On this day in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Turks, and the Roman Empire came to an end after 2,206 years. When Constantine XI, the last Emperor, saw that the walls were breached and the infidels were pouring in, he cast off his imperial regalia, donned the garb of a common soldier, and charged into the thickest fighting, never to be seen again. According to Greek legend, when the Turks poured in, the priests who were singing the final Mass in Hagia Sofia was miraculously immured behind the altar, with the Sacred Host and Chalice in hand. Someday, Constantine XI will return to reclaim the City from the barbarians, and on that day the priests will come out of the wall and finish the Mass. As he died in communion with the Holy Roman Catholic Church, he is venerated among some Eastern Rite Catholics, though his cause has never been formally accepted by any Pope.

May 30, Saint Joan of Arc, Virgin. 1412-1431. Led the armies of France against the English in the Hundred Years’ War, after Saints Michael, Catherine, and Margaret appeared to her in a vision. Persuaded Charles VI of the truth of her visions by whispering his closest secret in his ear. Reformed the army, casting out the loose women who followed it, and ending gambling and cursing. Despite popular belief, she never fought in battle, and the only person she ever struck in her life was one of the camp followers, with the flat of her sword. Was captured by the English, and condemned by a kangaroo court to be burnt at the stake for a witch. Was exonerated after her death, but not canonized until 1920.

June 13, Saint Anthony of Padua, Confessor. 1195-1231. A phenomenally gifted preacher in Italy. Patron saint of lost objects. A knight errant in Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, which, like most of the book, is entirely Johnson’s invention.

June 26, Saint Pelayo, Martyr. A Christian boy of fourteen who was murdered by the Spanish Caliph Abd-er-Rahman III for refusing his romantic advances.

June 30,  Blessed Raymond Lully, Martyr. c. 1232-1315. Prolific Catalan writer, theologian, preacher and missionary. Among his many works is The Book of the Order of Chivalry. While preaching in Tunis, he was stoned by a crowd of angry Muslims. He escaped and was carried back to Italy, where he died of his wounds on June 29, 1315.

July 4, 1187, The Battle of Hattin, when Saladin crushed the Crusader army and the doom of Outremer was sealed. Saladin, that paragon of chivalry, ordered all the Knights Templar and Hospitallers executed, and beheaded Reginald of Chatillon with his own hand after that knight refused to convert to Islam.

July 12, Saint John Gualbert, Abbot. Born in Florence around 999, he became a knight. On Good Friday he met the man who had murdered his brother. John had his men around him. The murderer was alone and unarmed, and he flung himself on John’s mercy. Touched by God’s grace, John spared him, embraced him as a brother, and became a monk. He preached against simony with such eloquence that he eradicated the vice from Italy, almost single-handedly.

July 16, The Triumph of the Holy Cross. A feast established to commemorate the battle of Las Naves de Tolosa, 1212, one of the great victories of the Reconquista. Pope Innocent III had declared a Crusade against the Muslims in Spain, and the Moors had responded in kind. The Almohad Caliph had in his army Muslim Spaniards, Berbers, Moors, Arabs, Turks, black slaves,  mujahideen from all over Islam, and a good number of Christian mercenaries and renegades. Against them stood the kings of Castille, Navarre, and Aragon, with their knights and vassals, the citizens of the free towns, the military Orders of Santiago and Calatrava, some Knights Templar, and 150 Crusader knights from various countries north of the Pyrenees. When all hope seemed lost for the Christians, one of the standard-bearers, who held a banner of Our Lady of Rocamadour, rallied the army and led them to victory. The Almohads were crushed, and their dynasty fell from power soon after.

July 25, Saint James the Greater, Apostle and Martyr. Son of Zebedee and brother of John the Evangelist. After Herod Agrippa cut his head off, his body was taken to Compostela in Spain, where he became the patron of that country, under the name of Santiago [Saint Iago=Jacopo=James]. Many legends tell how he appeared on horseback dressed as a knight to help the Christians in their fights against the Moors, whence his title Matamoros [Moorslayer], and his depiction as a knight trampling a Moor with his horse. One of Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, and the only one besides Saint George to be a knight-errant in popular tradition.

July 26, Father Jacques Hamel, Servant of God. 1930-2016. A Catholic priest of Normandy who had his throat slit in the middle of Mass by two Muslims.

July 29, Saint Olaf, King and Martyr. 995-1030

August 14, The Martyrs of Otranto. 1480. After the Muslim Turkish conquest of the Italian city of Otranto, 813 men were put to death for refusing to convert to Islam.

August 15, The Assumption of Our Lady. On this day in 778, the rearguard of Charlemagne was ambushed by Basques and possibly Moors and slaughtered as they returned to France to put down a rebellion of the Saxons. Hruodland, Marquess of Brittany, was among the casualties.

August 19, 1079. The Battle of Manzikert, a crushing loss for the Christians, that first gave the Turk a foothold in Asia Minor, crippled the Eastern Roman Empire, and served as the indirect cause of the First Crusade.

August 25, Saint Louis IX, King and Confessor. Led the Seventh Crusade and died on the Eighth. Worked tirelessly for peace in Christendom, established numerous orphanages, hospitals and safe-houses, and always heard the complaints of the poor.

August 31, Saint Raymond Nonnatus, Confessor. c. 1200-1240. Born to impovershed nobles in Catalonia, he entered the order of the Mercedarians. Sent to Algiers to ransom Christian captived from the Muslims, he freed so many and preached so eloquently that the Muslims pierced his lips with a red-hot iron and sealed them shut with a padlock. He returned to Spain, where he died a few years afterward.

September 1, Duke Joshua, fourth of the Nine Worthies.

September 3, Saints John of Perugia and Peter of Sassoferrato, Martyrs. Died 1231. Franciscan friars, martyred in Valencia by the Mohammedans.

September 5, Saint Bertin, Abbot. In reality, an abbot who lived from c. 615 to c. 709. In the Turin Genealogy and Prologue to the Lorraine Cycle, the brother of Saint Seurin, and thus a relation of Garin le Loherain.

September 12, The Holy Name of Mary. On this day in 1683, King John III Sobieski of Poland defeated the Ottoman Turks, raised the Siege of Vienna, and bought Christendom almost three hundred years respite from the Muslim hordes. (If we agree that the Iranian Revolution was the real beginning of the modern worldwide Jihad).

September 20, Saint Eustachius and Companions, Martyrs. 118. According to legend, the Roman soldier Placidus was out hunting one day when he saw a stag with a cross of light glowing between its antlers. A voice spoke to him, and he and his whole family were baptized, Placidus taking the name of Eustachius. The family were martyred under Emperor Hadrian.

September 22, Saint Maurice, Martyr. A soldier in the Roman army, and very popular among medieval knights.

September 24, Our Lady of Ransom. In 1218, Our Lady appeared to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymond of Peñafort, and King James I of Aragon, to encourage the foundation of the order of the Mercedarians, dedicated to ransoming Christian captives from slavery under Islam.

September 29, Saint Michael the Archangel. Greatest of the angels, and the one who cast Lucifer out of Heaven after his rebellion. Patron of the sick as well as of soldiers.

October 6, Saint Foi, Virgin and Martyr. According to Dieudonné of Hungary, the titular hero’s wife Supplante was venerated under this name after being martyred in her hermitage by bandits. In reality, Saint Foi, a young woman from Agen in Aquitaine, was burnt to death around 300.

October 7, Our Lady of the Rosary. On this day in 1571, Don John of Austria, after having led his troops in prayer of the Holy Rosary, defeated the Turkish navy at the battle of Lepanto, saving Christendom from the armies of the infidel. Pope Saint Pius V had the victory revealed to him in a vision at the very moment it occurred, a fact attested by numerous witnesses.

October 8, Saint Demetrius of Thessalonica, Martyr. 306. Little to nothing is known of his life, though various legends have it that he was a soldier in the Roman army. He is said to have appeared to help Christian armies on various occasions, most notably in 1207 when he is said to have killed Tsar Kaloyan of Bulgaria, who was besieging Thessalonica at the time.

October 9, Saint Denis, Bishop and Martyr. A knight errant in Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, which, like most of the book, is entirely Johnson’s invention.

October 10, 732. The Battle of Poitiers, when Charles Martel and his “northern men of robust limbs and iron hands stood like an unmovable wall of ice and cut the Arabs to pieces,” saving France and Christendom from the Muslim menace.

October 13: Saint Daniel and Companions, Martyrs. Seven Francisans: Daniel, Agnellus, Samuel, Donellus, Leo, Ugolino, and Nicholas, were beheaded by Muslims in Ceuta on October 10, 1227.

October 23, Saint Severin, Bishop. In the Turin Genealogy and Prologue to the Lorraine Cycle, Saint Severin was an ancestor of Garin le Loherain. In reality, he was Bishop of Cologne and died in 403.

November 8, Burial of Bertha, wife of Girart II of Paris. Never formally canonized, to my knowledge, but considered a saint in the romances of Girart of Roussillon.

November 9, Saint Theodore, Martyr. Died 306. Like Saint George, he was a Roman soldier. The dragon-slaying legend was originally told about him, before becoming associated with Saint George around the time of the Crusades.

November 11, Saint Martin of Tours, Confessor. c. 316-397. Officer in the Roman army, famous for his generosity to the poor. A fanciful version of his early life is told in La Belle Hélène de Constantinople.

November 14, Saint Serapion of Algiers, Martyr. 1179-1240. A Mercedarian priest from Scotland. He offered himself as a hostage for eighty Christian slaves. They were to be freed and send money back to their Muslim captors. They never paid, and so the Muslim slavers crucified Serapion and cut him to pieces, still alive.

November 17, Saint Gregory of Tours, Bishop and Confessor. c. 538-594. Elected Bishop of Tours 573. Author of the History of the Franks, the primary source of information about Merovingian Gaul. Also writer of eight books of Miracles, and other minor theological and scientific works.

November 20, Saint Felix of Valois, Confessor. Co-founder, with St. John of Matha, of the Order of the Most Holy Trinity, dedicated to ransoming Christian captives from slavery under Islam.

November 25, Saint Catherine, Virgin and Martyr. Suffered for the Faith under Maximinus around 300. Nothing is known of her with certainty beyond her existence, but that is put beyond doubt by her appearance to Saint Joan of Arc.

November 30, Saint Andrew, Apostle and Martyr. One of Richard Johnson’s Seven Champions of Christendom, which, like most of the book, is entirely Johnson’s invention.

December 2, Saint Constantien, Abbot. Hermit in the forest of Javron and preacher and evangelist to the nearby countryfolk. According to La Belle Hélène de Constantinople, he was a heathen King of Bordeaux named Robastre before his conversion and call to sanctity.

December 17, Saints Florianus, Calanicus, and Companions, Martyrs. 639. These sixty Roman soldiers were martyred by the Muslims after those heathens had conquered the Holy Land. Florianus appears to be a corruption of Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

December 29, David, King and Confessor, fifth of the Nine Worthies, author of some seventy of the Psalms.