Catholic Saints are ordinary people who lived extraordinary lives of heroic virtue. They influenced the church and world around them through their prayer, sacrifices, and service.
Most Catholics and many non-Catholics have one or more saints they admire or seek to emulate. Here are a few of the more popular ones: Saint Therese of Lisieux, patron saint of those with chronic illnesses; St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo; and St. Catherine of Siena.
As a general rule, Catholic saints were not ordinary people. They were martyrs, kings and queens, missionaries, parents, nuns and priests, scholars, doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses and farmers who all dedicated their lives to loving pursuit of God. The Church recognizes and celebrates these saints and their contributions to the world. They have feast days, a robust tradition of invoking their aid in overcoming hardships or difficulties and are often recognized as patron saints of certain occupations or causes.
Besides being the chief of all angels and an archenemy of Satan, St. Michael is a fierce champion of Jesus Christ and the Church. Because of this, the Church has a long-standing devotion to him and many saints have had deep devotion to him as well. The Church has four main responsibilities or offices that the saints have been charged with, and Saint Michael is one of them.
He is called upon to fight the forces of evil, escort believers at their time of death, and serve as a judge in the heavenly judgment. In Christian art he is depicted as a knight-warrior wearing armor and wielding a sword or spear. In some cases he holds a scale or Book of Life, symbols of the heavenly judgment. He is also pictured as an archangel with four wings.
This is a beautiful book about the life of this important saint. Written by Academy Award winning film director John Farrow, the story is told with a great deal of elegance and sensitivity, with a distinct lack of sensationalism for such an extraordinary life. Farrow is a natural at telling stories, with a style that conveys both a sense of the times and a familiar, intimate tone.
The story is enhanced by numerous full-color photographs and detailed drawings, including several that are full-page spreads. The reader is drawn into this amazing life by the excellent storytelling and beautiful illustrations. This book is perfect for teaching students about Catholic saints and the role they have played in the Church. It can be used as a class read aloud and as an individual reading choice for younger children. The book includes biographies of 8 different saints, which come in three different reading levels. Students can then process what they have learned by completing either of the two biography report templates included with the book.
Saint Christopher, the patron saint of travelers and a symbol of the Christian faith in general, has been seen on holy cards, medals, figurines and even inside of cars. His image is a tall, formidable man wading across an unruly river with a wooden staff in hand. This is the saint that Catholics, and people of all faiths and beliefs, ask for help when they are traveling or in need of comfort and safety. The story of Saint Christopher’s life and work, bordering on legend and legitimacy, is one that has touched the hearts of believers throughout the ages.
Despite the legends that surround his name, many questions still exist about St. Christopher’s life and death. It is believed that the Saint was a martyr who died in 251 AD, under the reign of Emperor Decius. His name was found on the Roman Martyrology and he was included in the list of 14 Holy Helpers. His feast day is celebrated on July 25, and although his status was demoted in 1969, his image remains firmly attached to Catholics everywhere.
The lowering of his status had nothing to do with denial, but rather with the fact that the calendar was getting crowded and it was important to focus on those saints who were truly universal. This was the intention of Vatican II, as stated in Sacrosanctum Concilium, which instructed the Church to “remove from the general calendar those whose celebration was only local or regional, and give priority to those who were truly universal.”
Whether or not St. Christopher existed, his story is a true one that reflects the deepest desires of human beings. It is the story of a man who was called to serve Christ and who became an embodiment of His love. His martyrdom was brutal, but he was a strong and courageous Saint who refused to let his captors break him. He was tortured with iron rods, burned by fire and shot with arrows. Before he died, however, the king of Lycia asked for his aid in a matter of his eyesight and was told to dampen one of his wounds with the Saint’s blood.
This website touts itself as the “Catholic evangelization since 1987” and gives readers a brief look at Saint Elizabeth’s life, from her early youth where she practiced mortification (defined as discipline of the body and the appetites by self-denial or self-inflicted privation), through her marriage to Louis of Thuringia, to her death at age twenty-four. It describes her pious life and work on behalf of the poor, and includes a beautiful stained glass window pane depicting her. Although the site does not go in-depth, it is a convenient tool for initial research and therefore should be utilized before moving on to more scholarly sources.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley was born in New York City on August 28, 1774, to Dr. Richard Bayley and Catherine Charlton, a wealthy family among the first settlers of the city. She was a contemplative spirit who loved nature, poetry and music. She also kept a journal in which she wrote about her religious aspirations. She married at the age of twenty-one and had five children before she moved to Emmitsburg, Maryland, upon an invitation from a priest in the Sulpician order who was in the process of establishing the first seminary in America.
While she was still a member of the royal court, she began helping the poor in her land. She embraced the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi and wore simple clothing, as well as devoted herself to charity and prayer.
She was a patron of many different occupations and causes, including bakers, beggars, brides, charitable workers, hospitals, countesses, homeless people, tertiaries, those ridiculed for their piety, and widows. She is honored as the first American-born saint beatified by the Catholic Church, and her feast day is celebrated on November 17.
After becoming ill with tuberculosis, she sold her possessions and set up a small school for young girls in Emmitsburg. She eventually founded the first order of sisters and free school in the United States, becoming known as Mother Seton. She was canonized in 1975 and is the patron saint of schools, as well as hospitals, tertiaries, and women’s apostolic works.
St. Catherine of Siena
St. Catherine of Siena was a Catholic saint and mystic. She is known as a peacemaker and a woman who could levitate while praying. She is also a great writer, and her writings have had a significant impact on the Roman Catholic Church. She is the patron saint of fire prevention, illness, miscarriage, Italy and nurses. She died on April 29, 1380. She was canonized in 1461, and declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
Catherine was born on March 25, 1347, to Lapa Piagenti and Jacopo di Benincasa in Siena, Italy. She was one of 25 children in her family, but half did not survive childhood. At an early age, she began to experience mystical visions. She took a vow of virginity before she was seven and dedicated herself to God. She lived in a state of severe austerity, and she often fasted.
In her early twenties, she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, a religious order that permitted her to live in the world rather than in a monastery. She lived a life of prayer and solitude, but she became increasingly well known for her holiness and spiritual wisdom. During her time as a Dominican, she received the stigmata, had divine visions and even experienced what she described as a mystical marriage to Christ.
She eventually decided to reenter public life in order to help the sick and poor. She traveled around Italy and taught the faith to others, gaining a large group of followers. She fought for religious freedom and worked to bring peace to her home country. She also wrote extensively and corresponded with the Pope in an effort to reform the church.
During her short life, she lived during some of the most turbulent times in Church history. She endured the Western Schism between two duly elected popes, a plague-ravaged Europe, warring Italian kingdoms and political upheaval in her native country. Her God-inspired wisdom provided a sense of stability and certainty that influenced popes, nobles and commoners alike. It is no wonder that she is regarded as one of the most important Catholic mystics and a Doctor of the Church.