One of the projects I've been working on at one of my parishes is a plan to include some paintings of saints in St. Boniface Church. We have a nice spot picked out for six images of saints, and for the last two months, parishioners were asked to nominate a saint or blessed to be considered. We also planned for one of the saints to be chosen by the young people of the parish--that is, under 18. So the children in the religious education program, the junior and senior high groups, and Piqua Catholic School have all been working on this as well.
The deadline--naturally enough--was All Saints Day, November 1. We received about 100 nominations from all parishioners, young and old. A committee of pastoral council members took the adults' nominations and came up with a list of 16; the principal and coordinator of religious education came up with a list of six--three of whom, interestingly, were also chosen by the adults, for a total of 19.
This weekend the adults will all vote on their top 5; the children will be voting either at Mass this weekend, at school on Monday, or one group will vote next Sunday (because they meet every other week).
I thought you might like to see who they nominated. Here they are, with some brief bios on each one. Of course, I'll let you know who the final six turn out to be.
FYI, church law allows either a saint or a blessed to be depicted in artwork in a church for the veneration of the faithful. Alas, Pope John Paul II has not yet been named a blessed, so he could not be considered as one of those to be depicted.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (Feast: Jan. 4), b. Aug. 28, 1774 in New York City to wealthy Episcopalian family. Her husband’s business failed; then he died. She became Catholic; her family disowned her. She founded first parish school, initiating Catholic school system. Founded Sisters of Charity, who serve in Piqua presently. Died Jan. 4, 1821; canonized 1975, first American-born saint. Patroness for: in-law problems; death of children and of parents; Apostleship of the Sea; opposition of church authorities; people ridiculed for piety; widows.
St. Patrick (Feast: March 17) As a boy of 14, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave. He learned the language of the Druids and Pagans who held him captive. He turned to God in prayer. When he was twenty, he had a dream telling him to escape by way of the coast so he left in the night. He was picked up by some sailors who took him home to Britain and reunited him with his family. He studied to be a priest and was later ordained a Bishop and was sent back to Ireland to spread the Gospel. He worked for 40 years converting almost all of Ireland and building many churches. One of his most notable attributes is that he used a shamrock to explain the Trinity – three persons in one God.
Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio (April 1—along with 8 companions). At the age of 14, Jose joined a rebel military force formed to fight against the Mexican government who was persecuting the Catholic Church. He was captured in January of 1928 by government forces who ordered him to renounce his Faith in Christ. He refused. They cut his feet with machetes and forced him to walk to the town cemetery. At times they stopped him and said, “If you shout ‘Death to Christ the King’, we will spare your life.” He refused and shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long live Christ the King!). When they reached the place of execution, they bayoneted him, but he only shouted, “Viva Cristo Rey!” louder. This angered the commander so he and the rest of the group shot Jose with their guns. Before Jose died, he made the sign of the cross on the ground with his blood and kissed it.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla (Feast: April 28), b. Oct. 4, 1922, Milan, Italy, 10th of 13 children. Active in St. Vincent de Paul Society; became surgeon. When pregnant with 4th child, doctor discovered cyst, urged abortion. Knowing the risks, she chose to bear her child, although it cost her own life; she died April 28, 1962. Canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004. Patroness of opposition to abortion and for pregnant mothers.
St. Peregrine Laziosi (Feast: May 1), b. 1260, Forli Italy. Born wealthy, involved in politics, anti-Catholic. Received a vision of Our Lady, who sent him to join the Servite Order, became priest. Remained mostly silent and worked without sitting down for 30 years as penance for earlier life. Healed of cancer in his foot after a night of prayer. Died May 1, 1345. Canonized 1726. Patron of AIDS and cancer patients, particularly breast cancer; for those with open sores and skin diseases and all the sick.
St. Angelo (Feast: May 5), b. 1145 in Jerusalem to Jewish converts to Christianity. With his twin brother, founded first Carmelite house. Sent to evangelize Sicily, won many conversions, was martyred (stabbed to death) by a man whose incestuous relationship he denounced in 1220.
St. Joan of Arc (Feast: May 30), b. Jan. 6, 1412 in Lorraine, France. From age 13 she received visions from Saint Margaret of Antioch, Saint Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Michael the Archangel. Most of France was ruled by the English; Joan’s visions told her to find the true king and help him regain his throne. She resisted at first, but finally obeyed. She led troops and won several battles, till Charles VII was crowned. She was captured, declared a heretic in an illegal trial by a corrupt bishop; executed May 30, 1431 at Rouen. In 1456 the pope reviewed and reversed the illegal “trial.” Canonized 1920. Patroness of: France; those imprisoned; martyrs; opposition of church authorities; those ridiculed for piety; rape victims; soldiers, particularly women in the military.
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (Feast: July 14), b. 1656 near present-day Auriesville, New York. Daughter of a Algonquin Christian, captured by Iroquois and was married a non-Christian Mohawk chief. Smallpox left her face scarred with impaired eyesight. Baptized in 1676 by a Jesuit missionary; shunned by her family; she traveled 200 miles to Sault Sainte Marie; there took vow of chastity. Miracles associated with her and even her grave. Died April 17, 1680; called “Lily of the Mohawks.” Beatified 1980 by Pope John Paul II. Patroness of ecology and environment; exiles; loss of parents; those ridiculed for piety.
St. Anne (Feast: July 26). Mother of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Early tradition holds that she and her husband Joachim were unable to conceive until their older years, and Mary was their only child. While Mary was conceived in the normal fashion, God protected her from the stain of Original Sin (i.e., the Immaculate Conception.) In gratitude for a child, Joachim and Anne consecrated Mary in the temple to the Lord as a child; Joseph later became her guardian. Patroness for poverty, sterility and childless people; expectant mothers; broom- and cabinet-makers; carpenters; grandparents; homemakers; horse-riders and keepers; lace-makers; lost articles; miners; old-clothes dealers; seamstresses.
St. John Marie Vianney (Feast: August 4), b. May 8, 1786 in Lyons, France. Born to a farm family, taught other family members their catechism; he struggled in his studies for the priesthood. Assigned in 1818 to a tiny parish in Ars (hence the “Cure d’Ars”), where the faith was lax. He visited parishioners, did penance for them and spent many hours hearing confessions. By 1855 there were 20,000 pilgrims each year to hear him. Died Aug. 4, 1859. Canonized 1925. Patron of priests, especially those who hear confessions.
Blessed (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta (Feast: Sep. 5), b. Aug. 26, 1910 in Skopje, Macedonia to an Albanian family. Baptized Agnes; youngest of three children; active in her parish youth group; drawn to mission work. Joined Sisters of Loretto, took name of Theresa after the Little Flower, went to India to teach. Heeded God’s call to form Missionaries of Charity to serve the poorest of the poor, caring for many lying in the streets of Calcutta. She—and her order—traveled the globe. She died Sep. 5, 1997 in Calcutta. Declared blessed 2003. Patroness of World Youth Day.
Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina (Feast: Sep. 23), b. May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy, baptized Francesco, son of a shepherd. Joined Capuchin Franciscans at 19; ordained a priest in 1910. While praying before the crucifix in 1918, Padre Pio received the “stigmata” (i.e., wounds of Christ in his hands), which remained till he died. Heard many confessions and read souls of those who held back. Died Sep. 23, 1968; canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002.
St. Theresa of Child Jesus (Feast: Oct. 1), b. Jan. 1, 1873 to a middle-class family in Normandy, France. Her parents, Louis and Marie-Azelie Martin are both “blesseds”; all her sisters became nuns. Just before her 14th birthday, received vision of the child Jesus. Sought to join Carmelite order but was too young. Traveled to Rome to meet Pope Leo XIII and asked permission to join early! Made final vows at 17 at convent in Lisieux. Her “little way” of spirituality gave rise to her name, “Little Flower.” Died Sep. 30, 1897 of tuberculosis. Canonized 1925; named Doctor of the Church in 1997 and patroness of Australia, France, Russia; foreign, particularly African missions; parish missions; bodily ills, and illness; tuberculosis; AIDS patients; air crews and pilots; florists and flower-growers; loss of parents.
St. Francis of Assisi (Feast: Oct. 4), b. 1181, Assisi, Italy, to a wealthy merchant. Street brawler and sometime soldier, had conversion while a prisoner of war. He began living poverty and preaching; his family disowned him but he attracted others. In 1210, he began the Order of Friars Minor (“little brothers”), better known as Franciscans. In 1219, went to Egypt and preached to the Muslim Sultan, who allowed him to preach the Gospel there and to visit Jerusalem. Later received the wounds of Christ. Died Oct. 4, 1226. Canonized 1228. Patron against dying alone and fire; for animal welfare; birds; ecology and the environment; families; lace-, needle- and tapestry-workers; zoos. Patron of Italy.
St. Mary Faustina Kowalska (Feast: Oct. 5), Aug. 25, 1905, in Glogowiec, Poland, 3rd of ten children. Attended only 3 years of school; as a teenager worked as a maid. Entered Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Warsaw. Served the other sisters; received visions and stigmata; wrote her visions in her diary despite being nearly illiterate. In the 1930s she received the message from Christ as Divine Mercy; an image known worldwide was painted from her account. Died Oct. 5, 1938; canonized 2000.
St. Jude the Apostle (Feast: Oct. 28). His background is uncertain but he is frequently identified also as Thaddeus, son of Cleophas, and a relative of Jesus. He is believed to have preached the Faith around the Holy Land, and as far as Libya, and to have been martyred about AD 65 in Beirut, Lebanon, together with the Apostle Simon. Patron of desperate situations and forgotten causes, hospitals and hospital workers.
St. Cecilia (Feast: Nov. 22), martyred in the persecutions of the 2nd or 3rd century; thus very little is known about her; but her grave in the catacombs near Rome was venerated from ancient times and her name is recalled in the First Eucharistic Prayer. Many believe she was a noblewoman who died rather than marry against her will around 230; but evidence exists to show she was martyred in Sicily around 180. The story was told she sang praises to God while being killed—hence she is the patroness of music composers and performers, makers of musical instruments, poets, martyrs.
St. Nicholas (Feast: Dec. 6) Nicholas’ parents died when he was young and left him with a wealthy inheritance. He was determined to use it to serve his community by performing works of charity. There was a man in his town that lost all of his money. He still had to support his three daughters who could not get married because of their poverty. The man felt forced into give his daughters over to be slaves. Nicholas heard this and to protect their purity, he took a bag of gold and under the cover of darkness threw it into the open window of the man’s house. It was enough for the oldest girl to get married. Nicholas did the same for the second and the third. The father recognized him the third time and gave him great thanks. St. Nicholas was a Bishop and is a celebrated figure throughout the world by both Christians and non-Christians.
St. Juan Diego (Feast: Dec. 9), b. 1474 a poor but free man in a very class-conscious society in Tlayacac, near present-day Mexico City. Baptized Juan Diego (Spanish for John James) at 50. On Dec. 9, 1531, Mary appeared to him on the hill of Tepayac; she sent him to bring to the bishop Castilian roses that mysteriously appeared on the hill to convince the bishop; when Juan opened his cloak, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was on his cloak, and the bishop fell to his knees. These events led to the spread of Christianity throughout Central and South America; and the miraculous image can still be viewed in Mexico City, where he was canonized in 2002. Our Lady of Guadalupe is Patroness of all the Americas.