May 23rd

St William of Rochester

Saint Of The Day

This 12th century saint was a Scottish fisherman from Perth. As a young man he experienced a conversion and devoted himself to caring for orphans and the poor. One child in his care had been abandoned as a baby on a church doorstep.

In 1201 he set off on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, but only reached Rochester in Kent, when he was set upon by thieves and murdered. His body was found by a madwoman. She covered him in honeysuckle and was apparently cured. William was buried in Rochester Cathedral where many other miracles soon began to occur.

In 1256 bishop Laurence obtained permission from the Pope to set up an official shrine. Offerings there contributed to the rebuilding work of the cathedral.

There were many bequests made at the shrine including gifts from King Edward I in 1300, and Queen Philippa in 1352.

St William's Hospital, on the road to Maidstone, marks the place of his death.

May 22nd

St Rita of Cascia

Saint Of The Day

Augustinian nun. Patron of desperate cases and difficult marriages. St Rita was born in 1377 at Roccaporena in Umbria. She was to become a nun but her parents made her marry. Her husband was violent and unfaithful. They had two sons. She endured the marriage for 18 years, until one day her husband was killed in a vendetta.

In 1407 Rita became a nun. She prayed and meditated on the Passion of Christ with such intensity that wounds of the crown of thorns appeared on her forehead. Rita devoted herself to caring for the sick. She was also known as a good listener and people would go to her with their problems. She had a reputation for great holiness and many miracles were attributed to her.

Rita died of tuberculosis in 1447. She was beatified in 1626 and canonised in 1900. A basilica with a hospital, school and children's home was built by her shrine in 1946.

She was very popular in many Latin communities around the world. More recently in Italy she is now considered, like St Jude, to be a patron of hopeless cases and difficult marriages. At Cascia and Roccaporena, roses are blessed in her honour on this day.

May 24th

St David of Scotland

Saint Of The Day

Scotland's greatest king was the sixth and youngest son of St Margaret of Scotland and Malcolm III, born in 1085. He married Matilda daughter of Waldef, the Anglo-Saxon Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon which gave him a claim to the earldom Northumberland.

For many years he waged a long and unsuccessful war against England, but after being crowned king of Scotland in 1124, around the age of 40, he devoted his life to peaceful activities and became known as a kind, just and liberal king.

Historians say he was responsible for making Scotland into a modern nation, by reforming the legal system and public administration and encouraging trade and the foundation of towns. He also encouraged the Scottish church to establish a system of dioceses. Under his rule many monasteries, hospitals and almshouses were founded.

David prayed the Divine Office daily, received Communion each week and gave generous alms to the poor - often in person as his mother had done. He died on this day in 1153 and was buried at Dunfermline. His shrine was a popular place of pilgrimage until the Reformation. One of the patron saints of Scotland, many churches are named after him.