Ordinary Time: June 9th
Optional Memorial of St. Ephrem, deacon and doctor
Old Calendar: Saints Primus and Felician, martyrs; St. Columba
St. Ephrem, called "the Harp of the Holy Spirit," is the great classic Doctor of the Syrian church. As deacon at Edessa, he vigorously combated the heresies of his time, and to do so more effectively wrote poems and hymns about the mysteries of Christ, the Blessed Virgin and the saints. He had a great devotion to Our Lady. He was a commentator on Scripture and a preacher as well as a poet, and has left a considerable number of works, which were translated into other Eastern languages as well as into Greek and Latin. He died in 373. Benedict XV proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church in 1920.According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of Sts. Primus and Felician as well as St. Columba. St. Ephrem's feast is celebrated on June 18.Primus and Felician are two Roman martyrs of the via Nomentana. Their relics, transferred in the seventh century within the city, are at present in the church of St. Stephen on the Coelian Hill.St. Columba, or Columkill, apostle of the Picts, was of illustrious Irish descent. He was brought up in the company of many saints at the school of St. Finian of Clonard. Being an ordained priest, and having founded many churches in Ireland, he went to Scotland with twelve companions, and there converted many of the northern Picts to the faith of Christ. He founded the monastery of Iona which became the nursery of saints and apostles. He also evangelized the northern English. He died on June 9, 597 at the foot of the altar at Iona while blessing his people, and was buried, like St. Brigid, beside St. Patrick at Downpatrick in Ulster.
Ephrem was of Syrian descent and son of a citizen of Nisibis. While yet a young man be betook himself to the holy bishop James, by whom he was baptized, and he soon made such progress in holiness and learning as to be appointed master in the school of Nisibis in Mesopotamia. After the death of the bishop James, Nisibis was captured by the Persians, and Ephrem went to Edessa, where he settled first among the monks in the mountains. Later, to avoid the company of those who flocked to him, he adopted the eremitical life. He was made deacon of the church of Edessa, but refused the priesthood out of humility. He was rich in all virtues and strove to acquire piety and religion by the following of true wisdom. He placed all his hope in God, despised all human and transitory things, and was ever filled with the earnest desire of those which are divine and eternal.
Often portrayed: In monastic habit; lying on a funeral slab; with a scroll and vine, as a deacon.Things to Do:
- Learn more about St. Ephrem here.
- Read some of the writings of St. Ephrem.
- Read Pope Benedict XV's Encyclical on St. Ephrem.
Sts. Primus and Felician
At an advanced age the brothers Primus and Felician were beheaded at Nomentum (or Mentana). According to the legendary Acts of their martyrdom, they were thrown into prison by Diocletian. Felician was separated from his brother and subjected to cruel tortures. Then the magistrate called for Primus. "See," he said, "your brother has acted much more wisely than you; he listened to the emperor's wishes and now enjoys the greatest honor with him. If you follow his example, like consideration and favor will be shown you." Primus retorted: "What has happened to my brother, an angel has told me. Oh, that I, even as I am one in mind and heart with him, may not be separated from him in death!"
- Read The Lives of Saints Prime and Felician from the Golden Legend.
St. Columba of Iona, Abbot
St. Columba is a saint who still, after fourteen hundred years, exerts an appeal upon our imaginations. Born in Ireland, in Donegal in the year 521, he was of the blood royal, and might indeed have become High King of Ireland had he not chosen to be a priest. His vital, vigorous personality has given rise to many legends, and it is a little hard to sift fact from what is more probably fiction. We do know that he was a man of tremendous energy, probably somewhat headstrong in his youth, but with his tendency to violence curbed by a gentle magnanimity.
In Iona of my heart, Iona of my love,
Instead of monks' voices shall be lowing of cattle,
But ere the world come to an end
Iona shall be as it was.
When Dr Samuel Johnson visited the island in 1773 he observed, 'That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon, or whose piety would not grow warmer among the ruins of Iona!'Columba was a poet as well as a man of action. Some of his poems in both Latin and Gaelic have come down to us, and they reveal him as a man very sensitive to the beauty of his surroundings, as well as always, in St Adamnan's phrase, 'gladdened in his inmost heart by the joy of the Holy Spirit.' He died in the year 597. Courtesy of the Catholic Information NetworkPatron: Against floods; bookbinders; floods; Ireland; poets; Scotland.Symbols: Coracle; white horse; Celtic cross; devils fleeing.Things to Do:
- Read a longer life of St. Columba or read St. Adamnan's life of St. Columba.
- In traditional lore, in Scotland on June 9, the feast of St. Columba is one of the luckiest days of the year when it falls on Thursday. The saying goes:
Day of Colum Cille the belovedThe healing herb, St. John's Wort, which flowers around summer solstice, is his herb. In Norway, this is considered the day the salmon start leaping.
Day to put the loom to use
Day to put sheep to pasture
Day to put coracle on the seas
Day to bear, day to die
Day to make prayer efficacious
Day of my beloved, the Thursday. (Carmina Gadelica)