“When we touch the body of a saint, we touch the temple of the Holy Spirit;
when we touch an object that belonged to a saint, we touch a monument of the presence of grace and God’s mercy in the life of that person.”

~Msgr. Slawonir Oder, postulator of Pope John Paul II’s cause for beatification

What Are Relics?

  The word “relic” comes from a Latin word which means, “remains, leavings.” A grandfather’s shaving mug and a lock of grandmother’s hair are relics. The body itself is a relic which is why people visit a grave.

   To the extent that a relic helps to remember a holy person, it can be helpful. It can bring a fuller awareness of the “communion of saints” – the belief that the bonds of love between people are not broken by death. There is a lasting bond between the living and the dead.

   As with any good thing, relics can be misunderstood or misused. One abuse would be to treat a relic as though it were a charm, possessing magical power. Another abuse would be to try to amass great numbers of relics as though number itself is the key. Another abuse would be to sell relics (there can be a charge for the cost of the container but not for the relic) or to promote relics that are of very doubtful authenticity.

   Relics are to be venerated (honored and given respect), not worshiped. Worship is given only to God.

Relic at OLHSC

Relics at OLHSC

St. Albert the Great is a Doctor of the Church who was born in 1206 and died in 1280.  He attended the University of Padua and became a Dominican. He was a teacher of Thomas Aquinas and later a defender of his works.  His principal fame resides in the fact that he aligned the works of Aristotle to make them acceptable to Christian critics and applied Aristotelean principles and methods to the study of theology thus inaugurating the scholastic system perfected by his pupil Thomas. His feast day is celebrated on November 15.

St. Anne was the mother of the Blessed Mother Mary. Her husband was Joachim. Very little else is verifiable about their lives. Anne did promise to dedicate the child to God. Her feast day is July 26.

St. Anthony of Padua was Portuguese by nationality and a native of Lisbon where he was born in 1195. After some time as a regular canon of St. Augustine, he was accepted into the Franciscan order in1221. He was an eloquent preacher who was well versed in Scripture. This was coupled with the deep spiritual zest for souls and a magnetic personality. He died at the young age of thirty-six and was canonized the following year. Pope Pius XII declared him a Doctor of the Church in 1946. His feast is commemorated on June 13. He is patron of the poor and “finder of lost things.”

The Twelve Apostles are the chosen ones of Christ to assist him as he started his public life. Their mission was to preach and teach the message of God the Father. These men were from various walks of life. They were men of faith asked to follow Christ. They were tried and tested as they lived their vocation of pilgrimage. Their leadership was predicated on faithfulness rather than competency. All of these men left their homes and followed Christ.

St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan in 1869. By age 9, she was in the hands of slave traders who called her “Bakhita” which means fortunate. She was sold as a slave to the Italian Consul in 1883. She was treated with kindness by him and became a free person in Italy. She was baptized in 1890 and took the name Josephine. She became a member of the Canossian Daughters of Charity in Venice. She performed any and all menial tasks with cheerful enthusiasm. She was loved by all for her gentleness and compassion. She was fondly referred to as “Our Black Mother.” Her feast day is celebrated on February 8. She died in1947 and was canonized in 2000.

St. Barbara has an obscure historical personal history but all accounts agree that she was a virgin and martyr who lived in the fourth century. She was brought up as a pagan by her tyrannical father, Dioscorus. He kept her secluded in a lonely tower which was built for the sole purpose of keeping her confined. She gave herself over to prayer and study and contrived to receive instruction and Baptism in secret from a Christian priest. While in the tower, she convinced some workmen who were building two windows to add a third in honor of the Trinity. Upon learning of her conversion, Dioscorus was outraged and denounced her before the civil tribunal. Her father, merciless to the end, was the torturer and beheaded her. Her feast day is celebrated on December 4.

St. Benedict born at Nursia in Central Italy in 480. He studied in Rome but after a few years he sought to live a life of solitude. He became a monk at Subiaco and lived alone in a cave. Soon he began  to attract followers and built 12 small monasteries for those who wished to share his lifestyle.  Between 520 and 530, he and some companions founded the monastery of Monte Cassino. There he spent the rest of his life and wrote his Rule, which became the primary influence on Western religious life for the next 600 years and is still followed today. This remarkable guide reflects Benedict’s fatherly concern and charity as he adapted the austere rule of the Desert fathers for community life. He emphasized moderation, humility, obedience, prayer and manual labor as the way to holiness. He is considered the Patriarch of Western Monasticism, and was proclaimed patron of Europe in 1964.

St. Boniface was born in 974 of a noble Saxon family at Querfurt,  Germany and was baptized Bruno. In the year 1000, he went to Rome and became a Camaldolese monk with the name of Boniface. After 1003, he returned to Germany as a missionary. He was appointed missionary archbishop and did much successful preaching in the area. He eventually worked to evangelize the Prussians and on February 14, 1009, he and eighteen companions were massacred on the Russian border near Poland. He is also known as Bruno of Querfurt and is often called “the second apostle of the Prussians.”  His feast day is celebrated on June 19.

St. Casper del Bufalo was the founder of the Missionaries of the Most Precious Blood. Born in 1786 in Rome, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1808. Caspar ( also spelled Gaspar ) refused to swear allegiance to Napoleon and was exiled to Corsica, Italy. He returned in 1814 and founded his congregation at Giano, in the diocese of Spoleto, Italy. The congregation was not approved until after his death in 1837. He was canonized in 1954. His feast day is celebrated on October 21.

St. Catherine Laboure’ was born in France on May 2, 1806, into a farm family. Her given name was Zoe’ and she never attended school because her mother died and she took care of the family. In 1830 she entered the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, took the name Catherine and almost immediately began to experience visions of our Lady. In these visions, she was asked to strike a medal showing the Lady and honoring the Immaculate Conception. The first medals were minted in 1832 – the famous Miraculous Medal, the popularity of which became world-wide. She died in 1876 and was canonized in 1947. Her feast day is celebrated on November 28.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem attests to the validity of the relics of the True Cross. Mention of the True Cross relics dates back to the year 359. Other references date further back. In and around Rome many churches had these relics in their church altars during the first century. Numerous relics exist! The Church has clearly defined the type of respect  given to the Cross. The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is September 14.

St. Dominic was born in 1170 in Spain. He studied at the University of Palencia and was probably ordained while pursuing his studies. He preached against the Albigensians, helped reform the Cistercians, and  strictly followed the rule of St. Benedict. He founded an order devoted to the conversion of the Albigensians; meanwhile, his order of preachers was not approved. In 1216, the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) was founded. Dominic spent his last years organizing and founding new houses, preaching, and attracting new members. The new order was especially successful in conversion work as it applied Dominic’s concept of harmonizing the intellectual life with popular needs. He died in 1221 and was canonized in 1234. He is the patron of astronomers. His feast day is commemorated on August 8.

St. Dymphna lived in the 600’s. Legend has her as the daughter of a pagan Celtic chieftain. She fled from home after the death of her mother in order to escape the incestuous interest of her father. Her confessor, St. Gerebernus, and two companions built an oratory near Amsterdam where they lived as hermits. Tracked down by her father, all suffered martyrdom. When their bodies were discovered in the thirteenth century, many cures were reported at her tomb. She is the patroness of epileptics and those suffering from mental illness. Her feast is celebrated on May 15.

St. Edward the Confessor was born in 1003 in England. He was raised in Normandy and returned to England in 1042 when he was acclaimed King of England. His reign was peaceful and characterized by his good rule and remission of odious taxes. There were struggles caused by his inclination to favor the Normans.  Later in his tenure, he became more interested in religious affairs and built St. Peter’s Abbey at Westminster, the site of the present cathedral, where he is buried. His piety gained him the surname “the Confessor.” He died in 1066 in London and was canonized in 1161. His feast day is commemorated on October 13.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary was born in 1207. She was married in 1221 and had four children. She was known for her great charity and care for the poor.  She was widowed six years after her wedding. Having provided for her children, she became a Franciscan tertiary. She led a life of exceptional poverty and humility. She died in1231 and was canonized in 1235. Her feast day is celebrated on November 17.

St. Peter Julian Eymard was the founder of the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament. He was born in 1811 and entered the Marists at age 20.  He was haunted by the idea that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament had no religious institute to glorify His mystery of love.  By 1856, he received approval for an institute of priest adorers. In 1858, Fr. Eymard then established a religious order for women, Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, dedicated to perpetual adoration and spreading the love of our Lord. He also founded the Priests’ Eucharistic League. His order was finally approved during his lifetime and later confirmed in perpetuum in1895. We celebrate his entry into heaven on August 1. He died in 1868 and was canonized in 1962 during the Second Vatican Council.

St. Francis of Assisi was born to a merchant couple in Italy in 1181. After an extravagant life style, he felt called by God to help rebuild the faith. He devoted his life to helping the poor and the sick. He lived an austere and simple life.  In 1209 he founded the Franciscans and two years later with Saint Clare the woman’s order. He is known for his love of all God’s creatures and is the patron of ecologists and merchants. He died in 1226; was canonized in 1228; his feast day is celebrated on October 4. His prayer for peace is a favorite of many people.

St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother was born Francis in 1838 in the town of Assisi, Italy, the eleventh of thirteen children. Francis was intelligent, fun loving, happy go lucky, and the life of the party. He had a strong desire to enter the Passionist Order, but, was dissuaded by his family, especially his father, who felt that the order was too stringent for his son. Finally, he entered the order and received the name Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin. He was faithful and diligent in his spiritual development and had extraordinary devotion to Mary. He died on February 27, 1862, at the age of 24. He was beatified in 1908 and canonized in 1920.

St. Gemma Gelgani was born in Italy in 1878. This young woman, an Italian beauty, was a mystic and a lover of the cross who dedicated herself as a victim of atonement. She modeled herself on Our Lady’s answer, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” She led an austere life; considered herself gifted with the stigmata; and was plagued with sickness throughout her brief time on earth. She died from tuberculosis in 1903. The process of canonization was begun in 1917. Gemma was beatified in 1933 and canonized in 1940. Her feast day is celebrated on April 11.

St. Gerard Majella, son of a tailor, was born at Muro, Italy, in 1726. He joined the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (the Redemptorists) as a lay brother in 1748 and was professed by its founder, St. Alphonsus Liguori, in 1752. He became known for his extraordinary gifts, conversion of sinners, spiritual advice, and holiness and charity. He died of consumption on October 15, 1755. He was canonized in 1904 and is the patron of childbirth. His feast day is celebrated on October 16.

St. Gregory VII was born in Tuscany, Italy, in 1021 and baptized Hildebrand. He worked with five popes as a counselor and reformer. He labored tirelessly to promote church reform meeting always with much negative pressure and resistance. Simony, married clergy, and lay investiture were prevalent at this period in the history of the Church.  He continued to insist on these reforms when he was elected pope in 1073. His reforms marked a turning point in the history of the Church. He was successful in rejuvenating the Church after years of corruption and decadence. He died in 1085 and was canonized in 1606. His feast day is commemorated on May 25.

St. Gertrude was born January 61256, in Eisleben, ThuringiaHoly Roman Empire. Nothing is known of her family background. As a young girl, possibly as young as 5, she was entrusted to the Benedictine monastery in Helfta, under the direction of its abbess, Gertrude of Hackeborn to be educated. She dedicated herself to her studies, becoming an expert in literature and philosophy. In her teens she was asked to join the community. She later experienced a conversion to God and began to strive for perfection in her religious life. She decided to give up her literary studies and devote herself to prayer and the study of scripture. From then on, she spent many hours reading and copying texts of scripture and sometimes writing short reflections on the word of God to share with others. She felt keenly for those whose burdens involved them in distracting duties, for example those responsible for meeting the debts of the monastery.  She had various mystical experiences, including a vision of Jesus, who invited her to rest her head on his breast to hear the beating of his heart. She died at Helfta, near EislebenSaxony17 November 1302

St. Maria Goretti was born in 1890, one of six children. Maria was attacked by a young man when she was barely twelve years old. In an effort to preserve her virginity, she was killed at the hands of Alexander in 1902.  She lived long enough to forgive her murderer. At first he was unrepentent, but later, upon his release from prison, he went directly to Maria’s mother to beg her forgiveness.  Maria was beatified in 1947 and canonized three years later by Pope Pius XII. Her feast day is July 6.

St. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 of noble birth. While recovering from a war injury, he read about the life of Christ and decided to devote himself to Christ. He spent 1522-23 on retreat at Manresa where he wrote the bulk of his Spiritual Exercises. In 1534, he founded the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits. In 1540, the Society received papal approval with Ignatius as superior general. The Jesuits became renowned for their prowess in the intellectual sphere and in the field of education. He was canonized in 1622 and was proclaimed the patron of retreats and spiritual exercises. His feast day is celebrated on July 31.Back

St. John the Baptist was a relative of Jesus and baptized him. His parents were Elizabeth and Zachary. He lived as a hermit until he began his public life when he preached and called people to practice penance. He is known for calling Christ “the lamb of God.” He is known as the precursor of the Messiah and the last of the Old Testament prophets. His feast day is June 24. His beheading is commemorated on August 29.

St. Joseph was a carpenter of royal descent from the house of David. He was betrothed to Mary when she was with child. He followed the will of God because of his deep faith. He is known as a quiet and just man, humble of heart. Joseph was declared Patron of the Universal Church by Pope Pius IX in 1870; a model for fathers of families by Pope Leo XIII; a protector of working men by Pope Benedict XV; the patron of social justice by Pius XI; and in1955, Pope Pius XII established the feast of St. Joseph the Worker on May 1. His traditional  feast day is celebrated on March 19.

St. Jude was one of the twelve apostles. He was the brother of Simon and James the Less. He is not mentioned too often in the Gospel accounts but the Armenians to this day still venerate him as one of the first planters of the faith among them. He is noted for zealously preaching the word of God in the early days of the Church, especially in Mesopotamia and Libya. Saint Jude died a martyr’s death in Persia. Some say he was shot while others claim he was tied on a cross. Thaddeus is thought to be a surname. He is best known as the patron of hopeless causes as well as of hospitals. His feast is celebrated on October 28.

St. Margaret Mary was born in1647 at Janots, France. Her father was a well to do notary and the family had some connections to the aristocracy. When Margaret was eight years old her father died and she was sent to a convent school. She loved the way of life which the Urbanist Sisters lived and taught. Because of her impressive devotion to Christ, she was permitted to make her First Holy Communion at an earlier age than was the norm at that time. At age twenty, Margaret was inspired by a vision and entered the convent. When she was twenty-two, she made her profession in the Order of the Visitation founded by St. Francis de Sales. As the years passed, Margaret Mary began experiencing supernatural events and was considered delusional by her superiors. The Lord revealed to her that the love of his heart must spread and manifest itself to man and he would reveal its graces through her. One Jesuit, Father Claude de la Colombiere, believed her and when he later died at the convent, his writings revealed his belief in her and her visions. She was finally accepted and was responsible for the spread of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her “Twelve Promises of Jesus” and other revelations are cornerstones of devotion to Jesus and His Sacred Heart. She died in 1680. Her feast day is October 16.

St. Maria Faustina Kowalska was born in Poland in 1905. In her 33 years she is identified as a mystic with childlike trust in God, great simplicity, and intimacy with Jesus. When John Paul II beatified her in 1993, he called her a great apostle of divine mercy in our time. The prayer called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy was designed by her. Her message can easily be recalled by remembering ABC. A-ask for God’s mercy. B-be merciful. C-completely trust in Jesus. She was canonized in 2000.

St. Martin of Tours was born in Sabaria, Hungary, around 315. He was the son of a pagan army officer. By age 15, against he will, he was inducted into the army. About 337, while stationed at Amiens, an incident occurred in which he cut his cloak in half and gave half of it to a poorly clad beggar in the freezing cold. That night he had a vision of Christ clad in his half cloak. He became a convert to Christianity, refused to fight, and was finally discharged from active duty. He returned to Hungary where he converted his mother and others. He was an avid opposer of Arianism and eventually became a hermit. He then organized a monastic community. Despite his objections, he was appointed bishop of Tours. He worked diligently to spread the faith and convert pagans. Martin was one of the great saints of Gaul and the outstanding pioneer of western monasticism before St. Benedict.  He is one of the patron saints of France. His feast day is celebrated on November 11.

Our Blessed Virgin is Mary the mother of God. She has more celebrated feasts than anyone else in the Church Calendar. That her body was assumed into heaven is one of the oldest traditions in the church and was declared a dogma by Pius XII in 1950. The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was proclaimed by Pope Pius IX in 1854. Theology encourages us to view Mary as a model of faith, someone who says “yes” to God. The rosary is a popular devotion to Mary. In the United States, Mary is the patroness under the title of the Immaculate Conception. In recent times apparitions have encouraged us to support devotion to Mary as the Mother of God. She asks us to be people of prayer dedicated to the work of her Son.

St. Mary Magdalen lived during the first century and is mentioned in all four Gospels. She was a follower of Christ and is the classic example of a repentant sinner.  She was present at the Crucifixion and was the first to see the resurrected Christ. Her feast day is celebrated on July 22.

St. Padre Pio, born into a farm family in Pietrelcina, Italy May 25, 1887. At age 15 he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Friars. He was ordained a priest in 1910.  On September 20, 1918 the five wounds of our Lord’s passion appeared on his body, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Catholic Church. People from near and far were attracted to his confessional and many more received his saintly counsel and spiritual guidance through correspondence. Endowed with many extraordinary charisms, he never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God.  His whole life was marked by long hours of prayer, hearing confessions and mass. His letters to his spiritual directors reveal the ineffable suffering, physical and spiritual, which accompanied him all through his life. They also reveal his deep union with God, his burning love for the Blessed Eucharist and Our Blessed Mother. Over half a century of intense suffering and constant apostolic activity took its toll. In San Giovanni Rotondo, Padre Pio was called to his heavenly reward on September 23, 1968. After a public funeral, which attracted over 100,000 mourners, his body was entombed in the crypt of Our Lady of Grace Church. Pilgrims flock to his tomb from all parts of the world and many testify to the graces received.  Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio of Pietrelcina a Saint on June 16, 2002 in one of the largest attended liturgies ever in the Vatican’s history. The Pope remarked that Padre Pio’s suffering and spirituality are a valuable model for modern times. Pope John Paul II reemphasized his message at the end of the canonization liturgy by announcing Padre Pio’s feast day, September 23rd, is an “obligatory memorial” in the church’s general liturgical calendar.

St. Paul of the Cross was born in Italy on January 3, 1694. By age fifteen, he had adopted an austere lifestyle with great practices of mortification. In 1720, he had a vision of Our Lady and was told to found an religious order devoted to preaching the Passion of Christ. In 1725 he and his brother received approval to accept  novices . The brothers were ordained in 1727.  Because of the severity of the rule they lost many of the novices. In 1741, the modified rule was promulgated and the Passionists began to spread throughout Europe preaching and bringing sinners back to the faith. He is responsible for creating an institute of religious women in 1771. He died in 1775 in Rome. He was canonized in1867. His feast day is October 19.

St. Peter lived at the time of Christ having been first called Simon. He was a fisherman by trade. When his brother, Andrew, introduced him to Jesus, he gave him the name Cephas, the Aramaic equivalent of the Greek Peter (the Rock). He is mentioned more frequently in the gospels than any of the other apostles. What Christ said to him formulated statements underlying Catholic teaching that Peter was the first pope, and the whole Catholic concept of the primacy of the papacy. He designated Judas’ successor and was the first apostle to preach to the Gentiles. In about 43, he was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa but managed to escape and firmly proclaimed that Christ wanted the Good News preached to all. Tradition says he went to serve as bishop of Rome and was crucified there in the year 64 during the reign of Nero. His feast is celebrated on June 29.

St. Philomena earned the title “Powerful with God” shortly after her body was exhumed in the early 1800’s. By 1837, Pope Gregory XVI elevated her to sainthood with a feast day celebrated on August 11. She became the only person recognized by the Church as a Saint solely on the basis of her powerful intercession, since nothing historical was known of her except her name and the evidence of her martyrdom. St. Philomena has been invoked for every kind of need by those devoted to her. She was removed from the official Church calendar in 1961.

St. Pius X exuded an aura of saintliness. Born in 1835, ordained at age 23, Giuseppe Sarto was promoted to cardinal patriarch in 1892. In 1903, he was elected pope. Pius X worked tirelessly to end Modernism, as well as the interference in papal elections. He instituted the idea of frequent Communion and Communion to those who have reached the age of reason, and those who were sick. He also urged daily reading of the Scriptures, restored congregational singing of the Roman plainchant, codified canon law, and founded the Biblical Institute for scriptural studies. He died in 1914 and was canonized in 1954. His feast day is August 21.

St. Rose of Lima was born in 1586 in Lima, Peru, of Spanish extraction. She was austere in her spirituality as a young girl, trying to detract from her natural beauty. When her parents tried to induce her to marry, she took a vow of virginity, joined the third order of St. Dominic, and lived simply in a hut, almost being a recluse.  She died in 1617 and was canonized by pope Clement X in 1671, being the first canonized saint of the New World. She is patroness of America and the Philippines and is remembered on August 23.

St. Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was born to a distinguished family in 1774 in New York City. She married in 1794, had five children, and was widowed in 1803. She was drawn to Catholicism while in Italy. Her family opposed this choice but she persevered and entered the Church in1805. She welcomed an opportunity from a priest to establish a school for girls in Baltimore in 1808. She began to gather friends of like minds and formed a community of sisters around the school in 1909. In Emmitsburg, Maryland, the group adopted the rule of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. From 1812 on, they were known as the Daughters of Charity of St. Joseph. They established hospitals, orphanages, and schools. There were twenty  communities spread  across the United States. She died in 1821.Her feast day is January 4. She was canonized in 1975, the first native born North American saint. She is considered the foundress of the American parochial school system.

St. Simon Stock was born in 1165 in Aylesford, Kent , England. He became a hermit, went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and there joined the Carmelites. After being made the Superior, he greatly expanded the order throughout England, Ireland, France, Scotland and Italy. He also revised the rule. His controversial vision of Mary concerning the brown scapular led to widespread devotion to Mary and the brown scapular. He died in Bordeaux on May 16, 1265. He has always been venerated,  though, never officially canonized. The Holy See allowed the Carmelites to celebrate his feast.

St. Vincent Strambi was born on January 1, 1745 in a small town on the west coast of Italy. He was an active and vivacious youngster. His parents were generous to the poor and he inherited their thoughtfulness. He even gave the clothes he was wearing to a needy child. By the age of twelve, he was so adept in his catechism that the priest had him instruct the children in his church. He was to become a noted preacher as well as teacher. In studying for the priesthood, he had a strong desire to belong to an order. Finally, the Passionists accepted him and he received the name, Father Vincent Mary of St. Paul. He served his community in various capacities until he was named a bishop. He pleaded with Pius VII that he was not competent for such a responsibility and preferred the life of the monastery and missionary work. In 1801, he took over the diocese and initiated needed spiritual reforms. He was diligent and faithful to his calling. He died on his birthday, January 1, 1824, at the age of 79. He was canonized in 1950.

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, known as “the Lily of the Mohawk”, was born in 1656 of a captive Algonquin mother and an Iroquois chieftain. Her mother was a Christian but dared not baptize Kateri or her younger brother. When an epidemic of smallpox broke out in 1660, the little girl lost her mother and brother, it is thought also her father and she herself nearly died.

Her uncle, who adopted her, later wanted her to marry a young Iroquois her own age, but she refused, having already experienced the horror of the Iroquois brutalities. When in 1675 Father Jacques de Lamberville, Jesuit missionary, discovered on the banks of the Mohawk River this “beautiful lily”, he transplanted her to the mission of St. Francis Xavier near Montreal where she received her first Communion on Christmas day of 1676.

Three years after her first communion, on the feast of the Annunciation, with the authorization of one of the Fathers at the mission, Kateri privately pronounced a vow of perpetual chastity and consecrated herself to the Blessed Virgin. She and her rosary became inseparable. Her health had never been strong, and her penances contributed to weakening it further. It was during Holy Week of 1680 that this young Indian maiden quietly died, invoking the names of Jesus and Mary. Miracles and favors were attributed to her soon after her death.

In 1943, Pope Pius XII admitted the cause of beatification, approving the decree on the heroism of her virtues. Saint Kateri had appeared to some Polish prisoners during World War II, telling them she was named a patron of their country and brought about their release. They described to the Jesuits of their own country, the young Indian girl whom they had all seen in their vision, and learned who she was — Kateri, Lily of the Mohawk, the Canadian Indian girl who had attained sanctity very young and died at the age of 24 years. She was beatified in 1980, canonized in 1991 by Pope John Paul II. Back

St. Teresa of Avila was born in 1515. At a very young age, she and her brother were intrigued by the lives of saints. By age twenty she had entered the convent of the Incarnation of the Carmelite nuns. She took vows at the age of twenty-one and was often plagued with illness as she consistently worked  to become more  prayerful. After twenty-five years, she founded an order of Discalced Carmelites. This group was reformed and more strictly adhered to perfection in the religious life. Thirteen was the usual number for a convent. She died in 1582 after having established seventeen foundations. She is the patroness of headache sufferers.  Her feast day is observed on October 15. St. Teresa was canonized in 1622 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970.

St. Theresa of Lisieux, The Little Flower of the Child Jesus, was born in 1873. At the age of fifteen she requested to be admitted to the Carmelite Order with her older sisters. Permission was finally granted. Teresa diligently carried out the practices of the austere Carmelite rule and the duty to pray for priests. Her health was frail but she was known to possess a deep spirituality and extraordinary wisdom. Her feast day is commemorated on October 1. She died in 1897; was beatified in 1923 and declared a saint in 1925. She is the patroness of all foreign missions and of all works for Russia.

The seven blessed martyrs of Thailand were from the village of Songkhon, the only Catholic village in Thailand. In the winter of 1940, the usually tolerant Thais began a religious persecution. These brave servants of God chose to die rather than give up their religious faith. Six of the seven were under 33 years in age. One was 59 years old. Their bravery was an inspiration to the entire village. Four years  after their death, their cause was presented in Rome. They were beatified in 1989.

St. Thomas Aquinas was born in 1225 and by age 15 he was attracted to and studying Aristotle’s philosophy. In 1243, he joined the Dominicans and finished his studies with Albert the Great in Cologne. His greatest contribution to the Catholic Church is his writings. The Summa Theologiae deals with the whole of Catholic theology. He viewed the whole natural order as coming from God the Creator, and saw reason as a divine gift to be highly cherished. We can look to Thomas Aquinas as a towering example of Catholicism in the sense of broadness, universality and inclusiveness. He died on March 7, 1274. His feast is celebrated on January 28. He was canonized in 1323, declared a Doctor of the Church in 1567, and named patron of schools in 1880.

St. John Mary Vianney was born of devout farming people on May 8, 1786 in France. His boyhood was spent doing farm chores and thus he did not have much formal schooling. At the age of nineteen, he left home to begin his studies to become a priest. Due to the lack of formal education, he found the studies to be quite difficult. After imploring God’s help and working hard to complete his course in theology, he was finally judged fit to be ordained on August 13, 1815. Two and a half years later he became pastor of the parish at Ars. For forty-one years he worked to bring his people to the faith. He spent endless hours in the confessional and people travelled from afar to see him. Worn out by his labors, he died in 1859. He was canonized in 1925 and declared heavenly patron of all parish priests by Pope Pius XI in 1929. His feast day is August 4.

St. Richard de Wyche was born in 1197 in England. After being orphaned at a young age, he studied at Oxford where he received a M.A. He then earned his doctorate in Canon Law at Bologna and remained there for seven years. Later he taught at the Dominican house of studies at Orlèans and was ordained there in 1243. After a time as a parish priest, he became chancellor. He was consecrated bishop in 1245. He spent his final eight years ministering to his flock. He denounced nepotism, insisted on strict clerical discipline, and was ever generous to the poor and needy. He died in a house for poor priests while preaching a crusade in the year 1253. He was canonized in 1262. His feast is celebrated on April 3.