Saints of the Month -

January 2009


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St. Amandus

Amandus was born around 584 in the Aquitaine region of France. When he was 20, he left home and began traveling from monastery to monastery. He was ordained at Tours, much to his father’s dismay, who pleaded with Amandus to return home. But Amandus refused to give up his religious life and moved instead to a cell near Bourges. He lived there for 15 years taking religious instruction from the bishop of Austregisilus. After a trip to Rome, Amandus was consecrated bishop. Because he had no See, he became an itinerant preacher, traveling across what is now Flanders and northern France.

Highly principled, Amandus criticized the Frankish king Dagobert I for his indulgent and immoral lifestyle. Soon after, the king had him banished.

Years later, Dagobert repented and wanted his son to be baptized as a Christian by the holiest man in the kingdom. Dagobert asked Amandus to return, and the bishop baptized the young price Sigebert in an extravagant ceremony. Sigebert, too, would later become a saint.

Amandus gained a reputation for founding monasteries, churches and foundations for nuns. He established a monastery at Elnone near what is now called Saint Amand-les-Eaux which became the center of his religious work. He also founded the monastery of Nivelles for nuns in Belgium, and is sometimes considered the father of monasticism in that country.

Amandus died while in his nineties, after a long life of evangelizing and building a strong religious community. A powerful example of kindness and piety, his cult spread quickly throughout Belgium.

Feast day: February 6th


Reference: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives

Considered to be the father of monasticism in Belgium. Amandus built a strong community of faith throughout the country which spread around the world over the centuries.

In 1929, the Belgian abbey of St. Andre established a daughter house in China. The monastery flourished for a few decades, but in 1952, the new Communist regime banished the monks and closed down the monastery. Still dedicated to their Order, the monks from St. Andre moved to the United States and in 1955 founded St. Andrew’s abbey in Valyermo, California. In Amandus’s spirit, the monks at St, Andrew’s abbey:

• Run a Youth Retreat House for the children of southern California.

• Hold an annual fall festival to bring the community together.

• Teach at various local colleges and universities.

Carrying on the Benedictine tradition as Amandus did, the monks at St. Andrew’s “prefer nothing to the love of Christ” while they serve God and their community.


St. Adelaide of Vilich

Adelaide, or Adelheid, was born around 960. Her father, German Count Megengose of Guelder, was most likely responsible for preparing his daughter for a life dedicated to serving Christ. The count established the convent of Vilich, located on the Rhine River near Cologne, and also St. Mary’s in the city itself. Adelaide became abbess of both convents in her lifetime.

Adelaide was about 40 years old when she introduced the Rule of St. Benedict to the convent at Vilich. The Rule was based on the belief that prayer, hard work, fasting and service to the community were the basis of serving God. Adelaide was so venerated for bringing this Rule to her Order that she is most often pictured with a book representing the Rule of St. Benedict.

The pious abbess became a respected advisor to the Church in both the religious and political arenas. Heribert, the archbishop of Cologne and Imperial Chancellor, held her in such high regard he consulted with her about events in the diocese as well as political issues of the day.

Adelaide was a great leader as well as advisor. She felt it was important that her nuns be fluent in Latin so they could follow the choir offices properly, so she taught them the language. She was also praised for having made heroic efforts to help those living in poverty during a famine.

Buried in Vilich, Adelaide is still invoked against eye problems, probably because a healing spring flowed at the place where her tomb once stood. Her cult was finally confirmed in 1966.

Feast day: February 5th

Patroness of Eye Diseases

Reference: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives

Adelaide served in different roles, as both a religious leader and political adviser. Today, Major General Lorraine Potter also combines religious leadership with matters of state by serving as the chief of the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Service. Maj. Gen. Potter entered the Air Force as its first woman chaplain in 1973, and in August, 2001, she became the first female chaplain general officer in the U.S. Air Force. Some of her responsibilities include:

• Dealing with internal issues of religious and personnel diversity.

• Advising the Air Force chief of staff and senior leaders on the religious and moral welfare of Air Force members.

• Serving as senior pastor for all Air Force personnel.

Maj. Gen. Potter feels being a religious guide in the military allows her to serve her faith while helping to ensure that people in the military have the right to practice their faith freely.

Like Adelaide, she stands as a pioneer in typically male-dominated arenas.


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