Ordinary Time: July 10th
Saturday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Other Commemorations: St. Canute, Martyr (RM); Saint Felicity and her Seven Sons, Martyrs (RM); Sts. Rufina and Secunda, Virgins and Martyrs, Religious (RM); St Amalberge of Mauberge (RM)
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According to the 1962 Missal of St. John XXIII for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Seven Brothers and Sts. Rufina and Secunda.
The Roman widow Felicitas and her seven sons were martyred in about the year 162. Pope Gregory the Great said of this widow, "She was more than a martyr, for seeing her seven children martyred before her eyes, she was in some sort a martyr in each of them." A century later, Rufina and Secunda, daughters of a wealthy Roman, refused to marry two suitors who had apostatized from the Christian religion. They were scourged and beheaded. They are all listed in the Roman Martyrology.
The feast of St. Amalberge of Mauberge a Seventh century relative of Saint Pepin of Landen is listed in the Roman Martyrolgy. She married young to Count Witger. She was the mother of Saint Gudula of Brussels, Saint Emebert, and Saint Reineldis, all of whom she taught herself, including religion. When the youngest was grown, both Amalburga and her husband retired to Benedictine houses, the Count to Lobbes, Belgium, Amalburga to Maubeuge Abbey where she embraced a life of asceticism and prayer. She received the veil from Saint Willibrord of Echternach.
St. Canute (or Knud)
St. Canute, king of Denmark, was murdered in St. Alban's Church, Odense, July 10, 1086. The Martyrology confuses him with his nephew, St. Canute the Duke, who died on January 7, 1131, and was canonized November 8, 1169, by Pope Alexander III. St. Canute is also called Canute the holy, or Danish Knut, or Knud, Den Hellige, or Sankt Knut, or Knud.
The son of King Sweyn II Estrithson of Denmark, Canute succeeded his brother Harold Hen as king of Denmark. Canute opposed the aristocracy and kept a close association with the church in an attempt to create a powerful and centralized monarchy.
In ecclesiastical matters, Canute generously patronized several churches, including the Cathedral of Lund, Denmark's archbishopric; established a Benedictine abbey at Odense; and supported apostolic preaching throughout Denmark. In temporal matters, he attempted an administrative reform, particularly an enforced levying of tithes that incurred the wrath of the rural aristocracy. In 1085 he reasserted the Danish claims to England and, with the count of Flanders and King Olaf III of Norway, prepared a massive invasion fleet that alarmed the Norman-English king William I the Conqueror.
Canute's plan, however, had to be abandoned suddenly, for those aristocrats who opposed his tax policy revolted as he was preparing to embark for England. He fled from the rebels, led by his brother Prince Olaf, to St. Alban's Church, Odense, which he had founded, and was assassinated there with the entire royal party.
Canute was buried in St. Alban's, renamed c. 1300 St. Canute's Cathedral. Miracles were recorded at his tomb, and, at the request (1099) of King Erik III Evergood of Denmark, he was canonized (1101) by Pope Paschal II.
Symbols and Representation: Knight with a wreath, lance, and ciborium; Nordic king with royal insignia; dagger, lance or arrow; barefoot king with his hair in a fillet; with Saint Charles Borromeo; being murdered at the altar
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Canute:
- St. Canute is buried in St. Canute's Cathedral.
Seven Holy Brothers
Although there are passed down stories about the Seven Holy Brothers and their mother, the current Roman Martyrology only mentions the brothers by name (Felix, Philip, Vitalis, Martialis, Alexander, Silanus, and Januarius) and where they were buried. Older Acts include the mother named Felicitas or Felicity as also a martyr. We are including the older version of their martyrdom here:
Saint Felicity was a noble Roman matron, distinguished above all for her virtue. This mother of seven children raised her sons in the fear of the Lord, and after the death of her husband, served God in continence, concerning herself only with good works. Her good examples and those of her children brought a number of pagans to renounce their superstitions, and also encouraged the Christians to show themselves worthy of their vocation. The pagan priests, furious at seeing their gods abandoned, denounced her. She appeared with her pious sons before the prefect of Rome, who exhorted her to sacrifice to idols, but in reply heard a generous confession of faith.
Wretched woman, he said to her, how can you be so barbarous as to expose your children to torments and death? Have pity on these tender creatures, who are in the flower of their age and can aspire to the highest positions in the Empire! Felicity replied, My children will live eternally with Jesus Christ, if they are faithful; they will have only eternal torments to await, if they sacrifice to idols. Your apparent pity is but a cruel impiety. Then, turning to her children, she said: Look towards heaven, where Jesus Christ is waiting for you with His Saints! Be faithful in His love, and fight courageously for your souls.
The Judge, taking the children one by one, tried to overcome their constancy. He began with Januarius, but received for his answer: What you advise me to do is contrary to reason; Jesus, the Saviour, will preserve me, I hope, from such impiety. Felix, the second, was then brought in. When they urged him to sacrifice, he answered: There is only one God, and it is to Him that we must offer the sacrifice of our hearts. Use all artifices, every refinement of cruelty, you will not make us betray our faith! The other brothers, when questioned, answered with the same firmness. Martial, the youngest, who spoke last, said: All those who do not confess that Jesus Christ is the true God, will be cast into a fire which will never be extinguished.
When the interrogation was finished, the Saints underwent the penalty of the lash and then were taken to prison. Soon they completed their sacrifice in various ways: Januarius was beaten until he died by leather straps capped with lead; Felix and Philip were killed with bludgeons; Sylvanus was thrown headfirst from a cliff; Alexander, Vitalis and Martial were beheaded. Felicity, the mother of these new Maccabees, was the last to suffer martyrdom.
—Excerpted from Lives of the Saints
Patronage: Abbey of Badia di Cava, Italy,
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Learn more about the Seven Holy Brothers:
Sts. Rufina and Secunda
Rufina and Secunda were sisters and virgins of Rome. Their parents had betrothed them to Armentarius and Verinus, but they refused to marry, saying that they had consecrated their virginity to Jesus Christ. They were, therefore, apprehended during the reign of the Emperors Valerian and Gallienus. When Junius, the prefect, saw he could not shake their resolution either by promises or by threats, he first ordered Rufina to be beaten with rods. While she was being scourged, Secunda thus addressed the judge: "Why do you treat my sister thus honorably, but me dishonorably? Order us both to be scourged, since we both confess Christ to be God." Enraged by these words, the judge ordered them both to be cast into a dark and fetid dungeon; immediately a bright light and a most sweet odor filled the prison. They were then shut up in a bath, the floor of which was made red-hot; but from this also they emerged unhurt. Next they were thrown into the Tiber with stones laid to their necks, but an angel saved them from the water, and they were finally beheaded ten miles out of the city on the Aurelian Way. Their bodies were buried by a matron named Plautilla, on her estate, and were afterwards translated into Rome, where they now repose in the Basilica of Constantine near the baptistery.
—Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
Symbols and Representation: Broken images or pottery.
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Learn more about Sts. Rufina and Secunda:
- See the two Roman Churches dedicated to Sts. Rufina and Secunda: in Trastevere and in Porcareccina.
St. Amalberga, otherwise Amelia, was born at Brabantrelated, and was in some way related to Pepin of Landen. Whether she was a sister or niece, the Bollandists are not sure. She was married to Witger and became the mother of three saints: Gudila, Reinelda, and Emembertus.
The Norman chroniclers speak of her as having been married twice, which seems to be erroneous. Nor are Pharailda and Ermelende admitted by the Bollandists to have been her children. She and her husband ultimately withdrew from the world; he becoming a monk, and she a nun. There is very great confusion in the records of this saint, and of a virgin who came a century after. To add to the difficulty a third St. Amalberga, also a virgin, appears in the twelfth century. The first two are celebrated simultaneously on July 10.
She died in 690 and is buried beside her husband at the Lobbes monastery. Her relics have been in Saint Peter's abbey church in Ghent, Belgium since 1073. She is known to protect people against arm pain, bruises, and fever.
—Excerpted from Catholic News Agency
Symbols and Representation: In art she is represented holding a palm and open book with a crown at her feet, standing on a giant sturgeon or other fish; crown; fish; geese; sieve; woman holding a palm and open book
Patronage: against arm pain; against bruises; against fever; farmers; fever victims; Ghent, Belgium
Highlights and Things to Do:
- Read more about St. Amalberga of Mauberge:
- Amelia is another version of Amalberga's name.
- Legend tells that she once crossed a lake by riding on the back of a giant sturgeon, which led to her representation on or with a fish.