Jan 3 | Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, Bishop
Fulgentius, a member of the Gordiani senatorial family, was born in 462 at Thelepte (modern-day Medinet-el-Kedima) in Tunisia. As a young man he held the position of procurator in the Vandal administration and was responsible for the collection of taxes. Later he felt a call to the religious life and decided to become a monk after reading Saint Augustine's Exposition on Psalm 36. About the year 499 he set out to join the hermits of the Thebaid in Egypt, but upon his arrival in Sicily, was dissuaded from continuing on once he heard of the influence of monophysitism on Egyptian monasticism. He visited Rome in 500 and was elected Bishop of Ruspe in 502. He was twice exiled to Sardinia and died at Ruspe on January 1, 527.
Fulgentius was a keen student of the writings of Saint Augustine, and his form of monasticism clearly follows the mind and way of life of the saint. In fact, he was popularly known as the pocket Augustine. He loved the ideal of community life and the actual living of it, and founded several monasteries in Africa as well as while in exile. The Order has celebrated his feast since 1581.
In a certain way, Fulgentius represents the many men and women who throughout the centuries have looked to Saint Augustine and his Rule for inspiration and guidance in founding new communities and congregations of religious to meet new needs in the Church. As members of the Order we see ourselves united to all of these communities in a spiritual bond, constituting one family under our Holy Father Augustine.
Jan 23 | Blessed Josephine Mary of Benigánim, Virgin
Josephine Teresa was born into a poor family at Benigánim (Valencia), Spain, on January 9, 1625. She entered the local Augustinian convent of the discalced observance of the Order as a lay sister, taking the name Josephine Mary of Saint Agnes. This convent had been founded in 1597 by the Archbishop of Valencia, Saint John of Ribera. All of Josephine's religious life was marked by the workings of grace. While her demeanor was simple and humble and her efforts dedicated to the service of the community, she possessed a remarkable spirit of contemplation. Though her formal education was minimal, her gifts of counsel and theological understanding were very evident, to the extent that she was admitted among the choir sisters in 1663. Mother Agnes, as she was commonly known, died on January 21, 1692 and was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on February 26, 1888. Her remains are preserved in the Augustinian convent at Benigánim.
Blessed Josephine exemplifies well the Augustinian values of humility and simplicity in the service of others. These, together with her attraction toward the interior life and her contemplative spirit are characteristics which recommend her to society today, in search of remedies for anxiety and the tensions of life.