Saint Romuald, whose aim was to restore the primitive rule to the Order of Saint Benedict, succeeded in founding some hundred monasteries in both Italy and France, and he filled the solitudes with hermitages. The principal monastery was that at Camaldoli, a wild, deserted region, where he built a church, surrounded by a number of separate cells for the solitaries who lived under his rule; his disciples were thus called Camaldolese. For five years the fervent founder was tormented by furious attacks by the demon. He repulsed him, saying, “O enemy! Driven out of heaven, you come to the desert? Depart, ugly serpent, already you have what is due you.” And the shamed adversary would leave him. Saint Romuald’s father, Sergius, was moved by the examples of his son, and entered religion near Ravenna; there he, too, was attacked by hell and thought of abandoning his design. Romuald went to visit him; he showed him the error of the devil’s ruses, and his father died in the monastery, in the odor of sanctity.
The Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ (as it is often called today), goes back to the 13th century, but it celebrates something far older: the institution of the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the Last Supper. While Holy Thursday is also a celebration of this mystery, the solemn nature of Holy Week, and the focus on Christ's Passion on Good Friday, overshadows that aspect of Holy Thursday.
Saint John Francis Regis (31 January 1597 – 30 December 1640) was a French priest of the Society of Jesus. Father Regis especially made himself available to the poor. Many mornings were spent in the confessional or at the altar celebrating Mass; afternoons were reserved for visits to prisons and hospitals.
Born in 1579 of humble parents at Pibrac, a village about ten miles from Toulouse; died in her native place in 1601. From her birth she seemed marked out for suffering; she came into the world with a deformed hand and the disease of scrofula, and, while yet an infant, lost her mother. Her father soon married again, but his second wife treated Germaine with much cruelty.
St. Joseph the Hymnographer was the most prolific of the Greek hymn writers. St. Joseph is credited with the composition of about one thousand canons. A native of Sicily, he was forced to leave his island in 830 in the wake of an invasion by the Arabs, journeying to Thessalonica and then to Constantinople. He abandoned the Byzantine capital in 841 to escape the severe Iconoclast per secution, but on his way to Rome he was captured by pirates and held for several years in Crete as a slave.
According to a pious legend, St. Olivia was described as a ravishing beauty of 13 years when Saracens captured her at Palermo, Sicily in the 9th century. She was deported to Tunis where she began to perform miracles and convert Muslims to Christianity. Exasperated Muslim authorities arrested, tortured, and beheaded her. At the moment of her death, her soul was seen to fly to heaven in the form of a dove.