Ordinary Time: October 21st
Wednesday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Old Calendar: St. Hilarion (Hilary), abbot; Saints Ursula and companions, virgins and martyrs
According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Hilarion, who was born of pagan parents near Gaza in Palestine toward the close of the third century. He studied at Alexandria and became a Christian at the age of 15. Following the example of St. Anthony in Egypt, Hilarion resolved to become a hermit in the desert, and Anthony himself trained the youth. He gave all his possessions to the poor, and became the father of monasticism in Palestine and Syria, famous for his miracles and sanctity. He lived to be over 80, dying on the island of Cyprus in 372.This date is also the commemoration of St. Ursula and her companions. In medieval times her legend developed into many versions; but all that may be said with certainty of these martyrs is that they suffered martyrdom at or near Cologne, and were sufficiently well known to have had a church built in their honor during the fourth century.
Sts. Ursula and Companions
According to a legend that appeared in the tenth century, Ursula was the daughter of a Christian King in Britain and was granted a three-year postponement of a marriage she did not wish to a pagan prince. With ten ladies in waiting, each attended by a thousand maidens, she embarked on a voyage across the North Sea, sailed up the Rhine to Basle, Switzerland, and then went to Rome. On their way back they were all massacred by pagan Huns at Cologne in about 451 when Ursula refused to marry their chieftain.
-Excerpted from Dictionary of Saints, John J. Delaney
The 11,000 number probably resulted from a misreading of the term "11M" which indicated 11 Martyrs, but which a copyist took for a Roman numeral. St. Ursula is the namesake for the Ursuline Order, founded for the education of young Catholic girls and women. Patron: Catholic education (especially of girls); Cologne, Germany; educators; holy death; schoolchildren; students; teachers; Ursuline order.Symbols: Large mantle lined with ermine; two arrows; three arrows; dove; book; ship; white banner charged with red cross; book and arrow; crown; pilgrim's staff; arrow and furled banner; clock; maiden shot with arrows, often accompanied by a varied number of companions who are being martyred in assorted, often creative ways.Things to Do:
- Read a more detailed account of St. Ursula and her companions in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
- Take a few minutes to view the beautiful paintings from the life of St. Ursula by Vittore Carpaccio at the Web Gallery of Art. If you are really into art you might also look at Hans Memling's Saint Ursula Shrine at the same site.
St. Hilary was born at Tabatha near Gaza, Palestine, in the year 291. His pagan parents sent him, while still a youth, to study at Alexandria. He was remarkable for his diligence and good manners, and he shortly became a convert to Christianity, making great progress in faith and charity. He was zealous in visiting churches, in fasting and prayer, in scorning all earthly joys and pleasures. Lured by the fame of St. Anthony, Egypt's illustrious hermit, he entered the desert and for two months remained his disciple. While absent, his parents died. Now Hilary gave all he had to the poor, and although hardly fifteen years old (306), he returned to the desert, built a little hut scarcely large enough to accommodate himself, and slept on the bare ground.
- Read St. Jerome's Life of St. Hilarion written in 390.