Saint of the Day

May 25

Saint Bede the Venerable

A teacher of great repute, Bede is the only English Doctor of the Church. Born in the north of England about 673, he was sent to a Benedictine monastery at the age of 7, and was educated in a neighbouring monastery, where he remained for the rest of his life. At 19, he became a deacon and at 30, a priest.

Bede was considered the most learned man of his time and a gifted writer. Though he excelled in biblical commentary and history, he also wrote extensively in other areas, including poetry, biography, and chronology. His most famous work is the authoritative Historia ecclesiastica (Ecclesiastical History of the English People), the only source for much early Anglo-Saxon history.

His particular gift seems to have been his ability to recognize, with precision and clarity, the needs of his contemporaries and to judge accurately the historical significance of the events he and they were living through. His wisdom and learning earned him the respectful title of "Venerable," which the Church formalized in 853. He died on this day in 735.

Saint Gregory VII

Born in Tuscany about 1023, Hildebrand (later Pope Gregory VII) was sent to a monastery to be educated under John Gratian. When Gratian was elected pope, Hildebrand became his personal secretary. He also served Pope Leo IX as counsellor and treasurer of the Church's finances. After serving as chief counsellor for the next four popes and gaining an international reputation as papal representative to several courts, Hildebrand himself was acclaimed pope in 1073.

As Gregory VII, he began an extensive reform of the Church and of its relations with civil authorities, provoking conflict and intrigue. The Duke of Normandy came to Gregory's aid, but when Norman troops sacked Rome, even the Romans turned against the pope. In defending the Church against the threat of secular domination, Gregory made many enemies. He died in exile in 1085.

Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi

Catherine was born into a prominent family in Florence in 1566. Rejecting her parents' proposed suitors, she convinced her family of her religious vocation and at 17 became a Carmelite nun. Her biography, compiled by her confessor, gives a detailed account of her intense spiritual journey with its periods of desolation and ecstasy. Mary Magdalen had the gifts of prophecy and healing. She died in 1607 and her uncorrupted body is enshrined in the convent church.

©2011 Living with Christ, Novalis - Bayard Press Canada Inc., http://www.livingwithchrist.ca/. Reprinted with permission.