Tag Archives: Saints

St. Francisco Marto (1908-1919)

Feast Day: February 20
Canonization: May 13, 2017

Francisco de Jesus Marto was one of three Portuguese shepherd children of Fatima who witnessed several apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in 1917.

At the time, Francisco was eight; his sister, Jacinta, was seven; and their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, was 10. According to Lucia’s later memoirs, Francisco was placid, musically talented, and relished being alone in prayer.

Our Lady asked them to pray the rosary daily and make sacrifices for sinners’ conversion; she also showed them the reality of hell. On October 13, 1917, some 70,000 people gathered at the apparition site and saw “the Miracle of the Sun” – when it ‘danced’ in dazzling color toward earth.

Francisco and Jacinta died from the 1918 European influenza epidemic. Francisco declined hospital treatment and died at home with a glow on his face on April 4, 1919. He was almost 11. Francisco, Jacinta, and Lucia are buried at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary in Fatima. Pope Francis canonized the Marto siblings on May 13, 2017, the first centennial of the first Fatima apparition.

St. Francis De Sales (1567-1622)

Feast Day: January 24
Canonization: April 19, 1665
Patron Of Journalists, Teachers, The Deaf, Catholic Press, Catholic Writers

Centuries before Vatican II’s ‘universal call to holiness,’ St. Francis de Sales called it ‘heresy’ to say religious devotion was incompatible with the layman’s life of a soldier, tradesman, prince, or married woman.

“It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world,” he wrote in his 1609 spiritual classic The Introduction to the Devout Life.

Francis was born in 1567 to a noble family in the Kingdom of Savoy, near Geneva, Switzerland. His father envisioned a legal career for him, but Francis felt called to the Church. His father finally consented upon Francis’ heartfelt persuasiveness. He was thus ordained a priest, and later as bishop, shepherded the Diocese of Geneva.

He untiringly evangelized the Calvinist stronghold in Geneva. By preaching and distributing inspiring pamphlets on true Catholic teaching – the first known use of tracts for evangelization – it is believed the gentle-mannered Francis brought some 50,000 people back to the Catholic Church. In 1877, Pope Pius IX declared him a Doctor of the Church.

St. Stephen (1st Century AD)

Feast Day: December 26 
Canonized: Pre-Congregation
Patron Of Deacons, Altar Servers, Stonemasons, Casket Makers

The Bible indicates Stephen was a 1st-century deacon, and the first Christian martyr.

A Jew from outside Palestine, he became Christian, then headed the first seven deacons. He studied with Saul and Barnabas under Gamaliel (a Sanhedrin member opposing persecution of the Apostles). Learning Scripture to perfection, he was steeped in chastity, humility, and Divine spirit – drawing great admiration, fearing nothing in service of God.

Members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, angered that Stephen had bested them in debates, charged him with blasphemy before the Sanhedrin. Filled with the Holy Spirit during his trial, Stephen accurately detailed Israel’s history and disobedience to God, which enraged his accusers. Stephen then saw a vision of Christ and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

An incensed crowd thus rushed upon him, stoning him. Watching was Saul of Tarsus, a virulent persecutor of Christians, for whom Stephen prayed as he forgave his murderers. Thus, Saul later became the Apostle Paul after encountering Christ.

Saint Cecilia (2nd Century Ad)

Feast Day: November 22
Patroness of Musicians, Composers, and Instrument Makers

St. Cecilia was a 2nd-century young noble Christian woman in Rome, whose family promised her in marriage to the pagan nobleman, Valerius. Formerly, she had vowed to remain a virgin, and is said to have heard heavenly music in her heart during their wedding.

She then told her husband of her vow of virginity, and that an angel was protecting her. When Valerius asked to see the angel, Cecilia said he would upon traveling the Appian Way and receiving baptism. Upon doing so, Valerius indeed saw the angel at Cecilia’s side. She thus persuaded Valerius to respect her virginity. He later converted to Christianity, as did his brother Tiburtius.

Valerius, Tiburtius, and Cecilia were martyred for their faith around 177 AD, for their ‘crimes’ of burying other Christian martyrs, and refusing to renounce Christianity. Very many were being baptized, inspired by her witness and strength.

Cecilia was buried in the Catacomb of Callistus, then transferred to the Church of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere. In 1599, her body was found incorrupt.

Mary and my brace of Saints

All my life, I had the custom of writing JMJ on the top of every piece of paper I wrote on. This was a common practice in my day. I remember Bishop Fulton Sheen used to do it on the top of his chalk board on his TV show. Jesus, Mary and Joseph are certainly the three people most central to salvation history. Jesus, of course, as the second person of the Trinity is not only man, but is God. Mary, who is the Mother of God, has long been venerated as the Queen of the Angles and Saints; and St. Joseph, the foster-father of Jesus, among many other titles, is honored as the Patron of the Universal Church.

Tom Monaghan

Over time, I have added four more saints to the list. First, my patron saint, St. Thomas the Apostle. Then, being Irish, I invoke St. Patrick’s intercession; without him, I probably would not be Catholic, nor most of us who are of European descent. It is said that he was blessed with the same power as the Apostles to work miracles, even raising the dead. Recently, after learning about St. Rita of Cascia, the patron saint of the impossible, I added her to my list. Countless miracles have been attributed to her intercession. And finally is St. Sharbel, whom I learned about from the Maronite monks who serve our chapel community at Domino’s Farms. (They celebrate four Masses daily and hear about 500 confessions weekly.) St. Sharbel is the patron saint of the Maronites, and is referred to as one of the greatest saints of our time.

I am not aware of any saints who are responsible for more miracles than Saints Patrick, Rita, and Sharbel. Bing Crosby used to refer to the Mills Brothers as a “brace” of guys. I liked the sound of that and adopted it to describe my short litany of saints. I ask for the intercession of Mary and my brace of saints every time I pick up a sheet of paper to write on. I also ask for their intercession every day after I receive Communion, as I pray for humility, charity, and for whatever other intentions I have at the time.

As we start the month of November with the Feast of All Saints, I thought I would share my personal devotion to Mary, and my brace of saints. The Church encourages us to develop relationships with saints – whether it be those who share our baptismal or confirmation name or those who we have just a special devotion to. So, during this month, maybe think about coming up with your own personal litany of saints.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Feast Day: October 9
Canonization: October 13, 2019
Patron of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham

Blessed John Henry Newman — renowned convert, theologian, and poet — will be canonized on October 13.

Born in early 19th-century London, he was a devout Anglican, and studied at Oxford’s Trinity College. In June 1824, he became an Anglican deacon in Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral; a year later, an Anglican priest.

He was prominent in the Oxford Movement, which revered the Church Fathers, and sought reinstatement of ancient Christian traditions into Anglicanism.

But Newman’s research eventually led him to Catholicism, becoming convinced it was the church begun by Christ. In 1845, he became Catholic, and two years later, a Catholic priest of the Congregation of the Oratory.

A prolific writer of some 40 books, his best-known writings include Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, and his spiritual autobiography, Apologia Pro Vita Sua.

He became a cardinal in 1879, and died 11 years later. Pope Benedict XVI beatified him in 2010, and this past February, Pope Francis approved his canonization.

St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)

St. Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)
Feast Day: September 17
Canonized: June 29, 1930
Patron of Canon Lawyers, Catechists, And Catechumens

St. Robert Bellarmine, a crucial Counter-Reformation figure, was an Italian Jesuit and cardinal who wrote two catechisms and advised five popes. 

At 18, he entered the Society of Jesus. After ordination, he became the first Jesuit professor at Belgium’s University of Louvain, teaching the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. It was here he first encountered the intensifying tide of Protestantism – among his colleagues was Jansenius (of the famed Jansenism heresy). 

A gifted theologian, Bellarmine wrote strong defenses of Catholic truth against popularized attacks. He opposed John Calvin by defending the Real Presence, refuted England’s King James I by defending the papacy, and exposed the manifest heresies of Martin Luther.

When Bellarmine was sent to the Roman College (now Gregorian University), he established the first Department of Controversial Theology, to refute Protestant “reforms” to the faith. He became archbishop of Capua in 1602, and was theological adviser to Popes Sixtus V, Innocent IX, Clement VIII, Paul V, and Gregory XV.

He died in 1621, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1931.

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)

St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787) Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Feast Day: August 1
Canonized: May 26, 1839
Patron of confessors, Naples

St. Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church, was born to nobility near Naples. Though a gifted theologian and writer, he was also a poet, harpsichordist, musical composer, and artist.

A successful young lawyer, he began considering leaving law after losing an important case – realizing the futile vanity of pursuing worldly glory. At 27, he heard an interior voice: “Leave the world and give yourself to Me.” 

He was thus ordained a priest at 30. In 1732, he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists), for preaching inspiring missions. Upon hearing Alphonsus’ sermon in church one day, his father exclaimed: “My son has made God known to me!”

A prolific writer and teacher, known for penning The Glories of Mary and The Way of the Cross (still used for Lenten devotions), he vowed never to waste a moment – spending his life praying, working, and composing some 111 works. He died at 91, on Aug. 1, 1787, in Pagani, Italy. Pope Pius VII beatified him in 1816; he was canonized by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

Feast Day: July 14
Canonization: October 21, 2012
Patron of Native Americans, ecologists, the environment, people in exile.

The “Lily of the Mohawks” was born in 1656 in the Mohawk village of Ossernenon, located in present-day upstate New York. Her father was a Mohawk war chief and her mother was a Christian Algonquin Indian.

The young future saint’s parents gave her the name Tekakwitha, which means “she who puts things in order.” When Tekakwitha was 4 years old, smallpox swept through her village, killing many members of the tribe, including her parents and a brother. Tekakwitha also fell ill, but she was nursed back to health, though with weak eyes and a scarred face.

At age 20, Tekakwitha was baptized by a Jesuit missionary priest, who in his writings later said she displayed a deep understanding of the faith and an uncommon mysticism and contemplative spirituality. She experienced persecution from other Mohawk members but held fast to her Christian faith.

At age 24, she fell ill and died on Wednesday of Holy Week, April 17, 1680. Her last words were said to be Iesos konoronkwa (“Jesus, I love you”).

St. Thomas More (1478-1535)

Feast Day: June 22
Canonization: May 19, 1935

Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers and politicians, was born in London in 1478, son of a prominent attorney and judge during the reign of Edward IV.

Those connections helped his future station. In 1504, he was elected to Parliament, representing Great Yarmouth and London. In 1514, More became a Privy Counselor.

Beginning in 1517, young King Henry VIII befriended More as close confidante, promoting him to important posts, knighting him in 1521, and appointing him undertreasurer of the Exchequer. More would later be the first layman appointed Lord Chancellor.

A devout Catholic husband and father, More was known for piety and skills as theologian and writer. But his reputation did not stop King Henry VIII from imprisoning his former chancellor for refusing recognition of Henry’s “marriage” to his mistress, Anne Boleyn. More also refused an oath recognizing Henry as the head of the Church in England.

Imprisoned over a year in the Tower of London, More was convicted of treason and beheaded in July 1535. His last words were, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”