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  • Written by John J. Delaney
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Dictionary of Saints

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The preeminent resource guide for more than twenty years, this one-of-a-kind book, now available in paperback, has been updated to include those recently canonized and beatified.

Since its original publication in 1980, John J. Delaney’s Dictionary of Saints (more than 200,000 copies sold) has become the leading reference book for the scholar and general reader alike. With more than five thousand biographies of the saints—from the well known to the obscure—this new edition brings to life the inspiring accomplishments of these men and women of God. The martyrs and the monks, the mystics and the virgins, the doctors and the peasants are all contained in this essential volume. To know the saints, how they thrived in their achievements, how they lived in destitution, is to meet a fascinating company of people whose actions have influenced and enriched the history of the world.

Reset in an easy-to use-format, it contains substantial listings for the more popular saints, and thumbnail sketches for those less well known. From Aaron to Zosimus, this modern dictionary has been updated with the entries for the newly canonized, including Italian mystic Padre Pio, Mexican Nahuatl Juan Diego, Polish Franciscan Maximilian Kolbe, and Americans Katharine Drexel and Rose Philippine Duchesne. It also contains a complete listing of feast days, an index of patron saints, and several other useful appendixes.



AARON (d. c. 304). See Julius.

AARON (6th century). A native of Britain, he went to Brittany, where he became a hermit on Cesabre (St. Malo) island, attracted numerous disciples, among them St. Malo of Wales, and became their abbot. June 22.

AARON, BL. (d. 1059). Probably a monk under St. Odilo at Cluny, he went to Poland, became the first abbot of the Benedictine abbey at Tyniec, and in 1046 was named first archbishop of Cracow. October 9.

ABACHUM (d. c. 260). See Marius.

ABBAN (5th-6th centuries). The lives of several Irish saints of this name have become inextricably confused. Among them are: the nephew of St. Ibar who founded Kill-Abban Abbey in Leinster, Ireland (March 16); the hermit who lived at Abingdon, England, and was also known as Ewen (May 13); the nephew of St. Kevin who founded several monasteries in southern Ireland, notably Magh-Armuidhe (Adamstown) in Wexford (October 27); and the founder of Ros-mic-treoin (New Ross) who worked and died in Wexford (December 22).

ABBO (d. c. 860). A monk of St. Germain Monastery at Auxerre, France, he was elected abbot there and in 857 was named bishop of Auxerre but resigned two years later. December 3.

ABBO. See Goericus.

ABBO OF FLEURY (c. 945-1004). Born near Orleans, France, he studied at Paris, Rheims, and Orleans, and settled at the monastery of Fleury-sur-Loire. In about 986 he became director of the monastery school in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, England, but returned to Fleury two years later to resume his studies. He was elected abbot in a disputed election, which was not finally accepted until quite some time later through the help of Gerbert, who later became Pope Sylvester II in 999. Abbo fought for monastic independence of bishops, was mediator between the Pope and the King of France, was active in settling disputes in various monasteries, and was murdered while attempting to settle a dispute among the monks at La Reole in Gascony. He was widely known as a scholar in astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy, wrote a life of St. Edmund, and edited a collection of canons. November 13.

ABBOT, BL. HENRY (d. 1597). A resident of Howden, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, he was betrayed by a Protestant minister pretending to seek a priest so he could be reconciled to the Church, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered at York on July 4. He was beatified in 1929.

ABDECHALAS (d. 341). See Simeon Barsabae.

ABDIESUS (d. c. 342). With hundreds of others, Abdiesus, a deacon, suffered martyrdom during the persecution of Christians in Persia in 341-80 during the reign of King Sapor II. Some of the others martyred were: Azades, a eunuch who had been a favorite of the King, Acepsimas, Bicor, Mareas, and Milles, bishops; Abrosimus, a priest; Azadanes, another deacon; and Tarbula, sister of St. Simeon, who was accused of witchcraft and sawed to death on May 5. April 22.

ABDON (d. c. 303). He and his fellow Persian nobleman, Sennen, were arrested during Diocletian's persecution of the Christians, brought to Rome in chains, and when they refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, were exposed to wild beasts. When they were unharmed by the beasts, they were hacked to pieces by gladiators. July 30.

ABEL, BL. THOMAS (c. 1497-1540). After receiving his doctorate in divinity from Oxford, he was ordained, and became chaplain to Catherine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII. Sent with a letter from Catherine to Emperor Charles V to secure the brief of Pope Julius II permitting Henry to marry Catherine, he told the Emperor the Queen had been coerced into writing the letter and returned to England without the brief. Henry evidently suspected what he had done and harassed him and when he published Invicta Veritas, opposing university support of Henry's efforts to end his marriage to Catherine, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1532. Released, he was again arrested, supposedly for his implication in the Holy Maid of Kent affair in 1533, and after six years' imprisonment he was briefly released on parole by the warden. He was again brought back to prison, and the warden was sent to the Tower. Abel was attainted of high treason in 1540 for denying the ecclesiastical supremacy of the King and hanged, drawn, and quartered at Smithfield on July 30 with B. B. Edward Powell and Richard Fetherston. He was one of the fifty-four English martyrs beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo XIII. July 30.

ABELLON, BL. ANDREW (1375-1450). Born in St. Maximin, Provence, France, he became a Dominican and then prior of St. Mary Magdalen monastery there; are the monastery's reputed relics of Mary Magadalen made it a great pilgrimage center. He was active in missionary activities and had some reputation as an artist. His cult was confirmed in 1902. May 17.

ABENNER. See Josaphat.

ABERCIUS (d. c. 200). A resident of Phrygia Salutaris, Abercius Marcellus is now believed to have been bishop of Hierapolis, though an inscription on his tomb led many scholars to believe he was a priest of Cybele or some syncretistic cult. According to the inscription, when he was seventy-two he was summoned to Rome by Emperor Marcus Aurelius to rid his daughter Lucilla of a devil and did so successfully. A Greek hagiographer used this epitaph to write an exaggerated life of Abercius rife with legends from other saints' lives, adding the inscription to it. This life cast suspicion on the whole story but scholars now believe the inscription was authentic and Abercius was a real person active in conversion work. He has been venerated by the Greeks since the tenth century. October 22.

ABIBAS (1st century). The second son of Gamaliel (who was St. Paul's teacher and an important member of the Sanhedrin), he later became a Christian as had his father. August 3.

ABIBUS (d. 297). See Hipparchus.

ABIBUS (4th century). See Gurias.

ABRA (d. c. 342-c. 360). The daughter of St. Hilary of Poitiers, she was born before he became bishop. She consecrated herself to God on Hilary's advice but died when she was only eighteen. December 12.

ABRAHAM (d. 339). See Sapor.

ABRAHAM (d. c. 345). The bishop of Arbela, Assyria, he suffered martyrdom at Telman during the persecution of King Sapor II of Persia. February 12.

ABRAHAM (d. 367). Born at Menuf, Egypt, he became a disciple of St. Pachomius and then spent seventeen years living as a hermit in a cave. He is often surnamed "the Poor" or "the Child." October 27.

ABRAHAM (d. c. 480). Born in Asia Minor near the Euphrates River, he went to Egypt and was captured by bandits, who held him for five years before he escaped. He went to Gaul, became a hermit near Clermont, was ordained, and became abbot of St. Cyriacus Abbey.

ABRAHAM (6th century). Author of several theological treatises, he built monasteries in Constantinople and Jerusalem for his disciples, who became known as Abrahamites, and later was named archbishop of Ephesus. October 28.

ABRAHAM OF CARRHAE (d. c. 422). Born in Cyrrhus, Syria, he became a hermit in the desert, where he preached the gospel and became known for his attempts to convert the unbelievers in a town on Mount Lebanon. Ostracized and attacked on all sides, he persisted, and when he saved the inhabitants from debtors' jail by arranging to pay their taxes, he won them over. He returned to the desert but soon after was named bishop of Carrhae, Mesopotamia, which he also converted to Christianity. He died in Constantinople while visiting Emperor Theodosius II. February 14.

ABRAHAM KIDUNAIA (6th century). Born of wealthy parents in Edessa, Mesopotamia, he ran away from a marriage arranged by his parents to lead a celibate and eremitical life in the desert in a sealed cabin with a single opening through which he received food; on the death of his parents, he gave his inheritance to the poor. At the request of the bishop of Edessa he reluctantly left his cell to convert a colony of unbelievers at nearby Beth-Kiduna. He was ordained, went to Beth-Kiduna, preached, and destroyed the idols in the town. Beaten up and driven away by the villagers, he returned and persisted in his mission until in a few years he converted the town to Christianity, then returned to his cell, where he remained until his death at seventy. March 16.

ABRAHAM OF KRATIA (474-c. 558). Born in Emesa, Syria, he became a monk but was forced to flee to Constantinople because of raids on the community to which he belonged. He became procurator of a monastery there, and when he was twenty-six he became abbot of the monastery in Kratia. After a decade as abbot he decided to leave the monastery and went to Palestine, to seek solitude for a life of contemplation. He was forced to return by his bishop, and shortly after his return was made bishop of Kratia. He served in this office for thirteen years when he again fled to Palestine in quest of solitude and spent the rest of his life in a monastery there. December 6.

ABRAHAM OF ROSTOV (12th century). Born of heathen parents near Galich, he is reputed to have been cured of a disease as a young man when he called upon the Christian God, was baptized, and became a monk. He went to Rostov, Russia, to preach the gospel, founded a monastery of which he became abbot, built two churches there, and was extremely active and effective in conversion work. October 29.

ABRAHAM OF SMOLENSK (d. 1221). Born in Smolensk, Russia, he was early orphaned, gave his inheritance to the poor, became a priest in Bogoroditskaya monastery, and was widely known for his concern for the sick and the poor. A biblical scholar and an effective preacher, he offended the authorities by his emphasis on poverty, the need for leading an austere life, and his preaching on the Last Judgment. When forbidden to preach by his abbot he went to Holy Cross Monastery, also in Smolensk. There his preaching, learning, and popularity aroused further ire and he was charged with heresy, posing as a prophet, and immorality, and though he seems to have been cleared in two trials, he was ordered back to Bogoroditskaya by Bishop Ignatius of Smolensk and deprived of his priestly functions. A prolonged drought in the city led to a popular demand for his reinstatement, and a further examination of the case led to his complete exoneration by the bishop, who begged his forgiveness. He was appointed abbot of the small, run-down Mother of God monastery and spent the rest of his life there revered for his holiness and venerated for the humility and dignity with which he had borne the five years of unjust accusations and vilifications. August 21.

ABREAU, BL. EMMANUELLE D' (d. 1737). See Alvarez, Bl. Bartholomew.

ABROSIMUS (d. c. 342). See Abdiesus.

ABUNDANTIUS (d. c. 304). See Abundius.

ABUNDIUS (d. c. 304). A priest of Rome, he was arrested with Abundantius, a deacon, and when they refused to worship the god Hercules, were imprisoned in the Mammertine prison, tortured, and condemned to death. According to legend, on the way to where they were to be executed, they passed a Senator Marcian, whose son John had just died. Abundius asked Marcian to bring him the body; when Marcian did so Abundius prayed over it and John came to life. Marcian and John at once became Christians and they too were condemned, and all four were beheaded. September 16.

ABUNDIUS (d. 469). Born in Thessalonica, he was ordained, and was named bishop of Como, Italy. A noted theologian, he attended the Council of Constantinople in 450; he was sent on a mission to Emperor Theodosius II by Pope Leo the Great, which led to the Council of Chalcedon in 451 when he was Leo's legate; at the Council of Milan the following year, he refuted Eutychianism. April 2.

ABUNDIUS (d. 854). A priest at Ananelos near Cordova, Spain, he was beheaded at Cordova when he refused to abandon his religion when brought before the Moorish caliph there for preaching against Mohammedanism.

ACACIUS (d. c. 251). Also known as Achatius, the facts of his life are uncertain. He may have been bishop of Antioch or of Militene and may not have been a bishop at all. He was prominent in Christian circles in Antioch and when summoned to appear before the local Roman official, Martian, a dialogue on Christianity and its teachings as compared to other religions ensued, which has come down to us. Acacius refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, and when he would not supply the names of his fellow Christians was sent to prison. Supposedly when Emperor Decius received Martian's report of the trial he was so impressed by both men that he promoted Martian and pardoned Acacius. Though listed as a martyr there is no evidence he died for the faith. March 31.

ACACIUS (d. c. 303). A Cappadocian by birth, also known as Agathus, he was a centurion in the imperial army, was arrested for his faith on charges by Tribune Firmus in Perinthus, Thrace, tortured and then brought to Byzantium (Constantinople), where he was scourged and beheaded. May 8.

ACACIUS (d. c. 305). A priest at Sebaste, Armenia, during Diocletian's persecution, he was arrested and executed under the governor Maximus with seven women and Hirenarchus, who was so impressed with the devotion to their faith he became a Christian and suffered the same fate. November 27.

ACACIUS (d. 425). Bishop of Amida (Diarbekir), Mesopotamia, he sold the sacred vessels of his church to aid victims of the Persian persecution. His action so impressed King Bahram V that he is reported to have ordered an end to the persecution of the Christians. April 9.

ACARIE, BL. MARIE (c. 1566-1618). The daughter of a government official named Nicholas Aurillot and christened Barbara, she was born in Paris on February 1 and was educated at an aunt's convent at Longchamps. She was early attracted to the religious life but instead was married at seventeen to Peter Acarie, an aristocrat who was a French treasury official, and the couple had six children. Peter supported the Catholic League against Henry IV, and when Henry triumphed and became King, Peter's estates were seized, he was banished from Paris, and the family was impoverished. His wife took the matter to court, secured his innocence of charges of conspiring against the King, and was able to restore some of the family fortune. She became active in charitable affairs, had the favor of Henry and Mary of Medici for her good works, was counseled by St. Francis de Sales, and as a result of visions of Teresa of Avila was responsible for bringing the Discalced Carmelites to France by founding a Paris convent in 1604, followed by four others in the next five years. When Peter died in 1613 she joined the Carmelites at Amiens as a lay sister, taking the name Marie of the Incarnation. Throughout her life she experienced visions, ecstasies, and other supernatural gifts. She died at Pontoise, France, and was beatified in 1791. April 18.
John J. Delaney

About John J. Delaney

John J. Delaney - Dictionary of Saints
JOHN J. DELANEY, the former director of Doubleday Religious Publishing and founder of Image Books, was an active figure in the world of religious publishing for more than forty years. He also authored A Woman Clothed with the Sun, and translated The Practice of the Presence of God. ARTHUR JONES is currently an editor at large at the National Catholic Reporter, and has previously worked at Forbes and the Financial Times (London). He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Pierre Toussaint.


“A valuable reference book which ought to find a place in every Catholic publication office.”—Catholic Journalist
“A masterful compendium which proves that it is possible to be both scholarly and popular.”—U.S. Catholic
“It is remarkable how the most significant facts are recorded here, even those of a legendary character. This makes the volume ideal for ready reference.”—National Catholic Register
Dictionary of Saints has used all the latest critical investigations into the lives of the saints….We have here a fascinating company of men and women who devoted their lives to Christ in widely varied ways…not only a careful and thoughtful presentation of all the saints you would want to know about, but it is delightful reading to dip into.”—America
“The author is careful to separate legend from history, but includes as legend most of the popular stories about the saints….A “dictionary of saints” is a sine qua non of a church library’s reference collection. This one suits the purpose admirably [and] is heartily recommended to the pious amateur.”—Church & Synagogue Libraries
“Comprehensive...abounds with interesting tidbits.”—Christianity Today
“This readable, up-to-date one-volume compendium…gives more about the saints than similar dictionaries.”—Library Journal
“As a reference and resource book this volume contains all the saints the ordinary person will ever seek information about...no matter where you start reading in it, it is interesting and hard to put down. That’s a compliment to both the saints and the author of the book.”—Spiritual Book News

  • Dictionary of Saints by John J. Delaney
  • March 15, 2005
  • Religion - Christian Literature
  • Image
  • $16.99
  • 9780385515207

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