The Honesty of St Eligius

Most of France has traditionally kept December 1st as the feast of St Eligius (“Éloi” in French), who was born near Limoges in about 590, and died on this day in 660 after serving as bishop of Noyon for 19 years. In youth, he was trained as a goldsmith, and he has long been honored […]

A Natural Disaster in Medieval London

On October 17, 1091, a very unusual natural disaster occurred in England; the city of London was hit by a tornado. From the accounts of it given by the monastic chroniclers William of Malmesbury and Florentius of Worcester, both active in the early 12th century, modern scientists estimate it to have reached an 8 out […]

The Feast of St Lawrence

Today is the feast of one of Rome’s most famous Saints, the deacon Lawrence, who was martyred by being roasted alive on a grill during the persecution of the Emperor Valerian in the mid-3rd century. The Roman church has long honored this native son as one of her chief Patrons, alongside Ss Peter and Peter; […]

The Birth of St Dominic

The Church traditionally celebrates the feasts of the Saints on what it has from time immemorial called their “dies natalis”, Latin for “birthday.” This is a specifically Christian technical use of the term, in that it really means the day of their death, which is to say, the day on which they are born into […]

The Dogs of August

One of the strangest aspects of ancient Roman religion was an annual sacrifice known as the “supplicia canum – the punishments of the dogs”, which an early Byzantine writer, John the Lydian (ca. 495-565), says took place on August 3rd. (Earlier sources give no specific date for it.) This consisted of suspending live dogs on […]

Blessed Hermann of Reichenau

On this day in the year 1013 was born one of the greatest scholars of the Middle Ages, the Benedictine monk now known as the Blessed Herman. In English, he is usually called “Hermann the Cripple” or “the Lame”, but his Latin appellation “contractus – the deformed” (literally ‘the contracted one’) is really more accurate, […]

“Their Sound Is Gone Out” – The Division of the Apostles

July 15th is the traditional date of a feast known as the “Divisio Apostolorum – the Division (or ‘Dispersion’) of the Apostles.” This feast is first attested in a hymn written by a German monk named Godeschalk, who died in 1098. It was very popular in the Middle Ages, and continued into the Tridentine period on many […]

A Miracle of St Benedict

St Benedict died on March 21 in the year 543 or 547, and this is the date on which his principal feast is traditionally kept throughout the Roman Rite, and is still kept by Benedictine houses. On the calendars of their liturgical books, it is sometimes called his “Transitus – Passing.” A second feast to […]

The Latin Names of the Notes of the Scale

The Church recently celebrated the feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist, although because of its concurrence with the feast of the Sacred Heart this year, in most places, it was transferred from its very ancient date, June 24th. The traditional hymn for this feast in the Divine Office was composed in the […]

St Thomas Aquinas and the Feast of Corpus Christi

Yesterday, we looked at the origin of the feast of Corpus Christi, and a legend about its origin which is edifying, but rests on very weak historical foundations. There is another legend, one which makes for a great story, but is certainly untrue, concerning the composition of the liturgical texts for the feast. The story […]