1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy

1 Peter
2 Peter

Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη

Who was Josephus?
Maps, Graphics

War, Volume 1
War, Volume 2
War, Volume 3
War, Volume 4
War, Volume 5
War, Volume 6
War, Volume 7

Ant. Jud., Bk 1
Ant. Jud., Bk 2
Ant. Jud., Bk 3
Ant. Jud., Bk 4
Ant. Jud., Bk 5
Ant. Jud., Bk 6
Ant. Jud., Bk 7
Ant. Jud., Bk 8
Ant. Jud., Bk 9
Ant. Jud., Bk 10
Ant. Jud., Bk 11
Ant. Jud., Bk 12
Ant. Jud., Bk 13
Ant. Jud., Bk 14
Ant. Jud., Bk 15
Ant. Jud., Bk 16
Ant. Jud., Bk 17
Ant. Jud., Bk 18
Ant. Jud., Bk 19
Ant. Jud., Bk 20

Apion, Bk 1
Apion, Bk 2


Gospel of--
-- Nicodemus
-- Peter
-- Ps-Matthew
-- James (Protevangelium)
-- Thomas (Infancy)
-- Thomas (Gnostic)
-- Joseph of Arimathea
-- Joseph_Carpenter
Pilate's Letter
Pilate's End

Apocalypse of --
-- Ezra
-- Moses
-- Paul
-- Pseudo-John
-- Moses
-- Enoch

Clementine Homilies
Clementine Letters
Clementine Recognitions
Dormition of Mary
Book of Jubilees
Life of Adam and Eve
Odes of Solomon
Pistis Sophia
Secrets of Enoch
Veronica's Veil
Vision of Paul
Vision of Shadrach

Acts of
Andrew & Matthias
Andrew & Peter
Paul & Perpetua
Paul & Thecla
Peter & Paul
Andrew and Peter
Thomas in India

Daily Word 2019


Sundays, 1-34, A
Sundays, 1-34, B
Sundays, 1-34, C

(Ordinary Time)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 1)
Weeks 1-11 (Year 2)

Wks 12-22 (Year 1)
Wks 12-22 (Year 2)

Wks 23-34 (Year 1)
Wks 23-34 (Year 2)

Saints Days


Clement of Rome

Ignatius of Antioch

Polycarp of Smyrna

Barnabas,(Epistle of)

Papias of Hierapolis

Justin, Martyr

The Didachë

Irenaeus of Lyons

Hermas (Pastor of)

Tatian of Syria

Theophilus of Antioch

Diognetus (letter)

Athenagoras of Alex.

Clement of Alexandria

Tertullian of Carthage

Origen of Alexandria


01-M of God
 24-de Sales


 06-Paul Miki


 (Names shortened for mobile phones. PR.)


 02-F Paola
 05-V Ferrer
 13-Martin I
 30-Pius V


 05-Edm Rice
 18-John I
 25-Ven Bede
 27-Aug Cant


 13-A Padua
 20-Ir Marts
 24-JnB Birth


 24-Sarbel M.
 30-P Chrysol


 21-Pius X


 09-P Claver
 27-V de Paul


 18-Luke Ev


 10-Leo Gt



 27-John, Ev


Saints in January

01 January

The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

At the Council of Ephesus (451), Mary, the mother of Jesus was proclaimed as Mother of God or Theotokos, acknowledging the very Godhead of her Son, Jesus Christ. Under this splendid title she is still honoured by most Christians around the world, and today's feast invites us to lay our hopes and plans for the new-starting year under her motherly care and patronage.

02 January

Ss Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops, Doctors of the Church

Basil: Born about 330 at Caesarea (Turkey); died there on 1 January 379. First a hermit, then bishop of his native city. Noted for his pioneering monastic rule, and for writings which developed the doctrines of the incarnation and of the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
Gregory: Born at Nazianzus (Turkey) in 329; died there in 389. Also a hermit before becoming bishop of Constantinople. Known as the "Theologian" because of his wisdom and acumen in maintaining orthodox doctrine against the Arians.

03 January

The Most Holy Name of Jesus

Commemorated by religious orders since the 16th century, the feast was extended to the universal Church in 1721 and celebrated in the context of the Christmas season. The monogram IHS was popular in the late medieval and baroque periods. By the Holy Name, Christians honour the person of Jesus, their Lord and Saviour. At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Ph 2:6-11)

03 January

St Munchin, Bishop, Abbot

Munchin is the patron saint of the diocese of Limerick. He is known only from Dalcassian genealogies and seems to have been born in Dal Cais, where a parish and old graveyard Cell Mainchin (Kilmanaheen) existed. In the seventh century he was granted Inis Sibtonn (Ibton) in the tidal waters of Limerick, in the region of which he founded a church and had a thriving religious community.

05 January

St Charles of Mount Argus, Priest, Religious

Charles John Houben (1821-1893), was a Dutch Passionist priest who served in Dublin in the late 19th-century. He showed extraordinary compassion for the sick and those in need of guidance. Many came asking his prayers, and in latter life his reputation for healings was such that a reference is made to him by James Joyce in Ulysses. He was canonized in 2007 and his feast day is January 5.

07 January

St Raymond of Penyafort, Priest, Religious

Born about 1175 near Barcelona (Spain); died there in extreme old age on 6 January 1275. Became a canon of the cathedral but soon after joined the Dominicans, eventually being elected their master general. Noted for his knowledge of canon law, especially in its application to the sacrament of penance, and for his scholarly apostolate to Jews and Muslims.

13 January

St Hilary of Poitiers, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Poitiers (France) about 315; died there on this day in 368. A married man with a family, he became a Christian and was elected bishop of his native city. Called the "Athanasius of the West" because of his strenuous defence of the divinity of Christ against the Arians, for which he was exiled by the emperor. Noted for his gentle, courteous and friendly nature, and for his contribution to the Western understanding of the Trinity.

15 January

St Ita, Virgin

Ita was born in County Waterford of noble and Christian parents. Early on she set her mind on serving Christ in religious life. She founded a monastery in Killeedy, County Limerick, which attracted a variety of young people. She was given the title 'foster-mother of the saints of Ireland'. She died in 570.

16 January

St Fursa, Abbot, Missionary

Fursa was born in Ireland and became one of the major monastic missionaries abroad. He went first with his brothers Foillan and Ultan to live the monastic life in East Anglia. But as large numbers continued to visit him there he left his brother Foillan as abbot, and sought refuge in France around 644. A patron gave him a hermitage at Lagny on the Marne. He died about 650 at Mezerolles while on a journey. His body was buried in Peronne, which became a centre of devotion to him.

17 January

St Anthony. Abbot

Born in 251 in upper Egypt; died in 356. At an early age he gave away his possessions and sought the austere life and solitude in the desert. Yet he remained involved in the theological controversies of his day, defending the divinity of Christ. He attracted disciples who formed communities of hermits. The account of his life by Saint Athanasius (2 May) was extremely influential in the development and spread of monasticism. Honoured as the father of western monasticism.

20 January

Saints Fabian and Sebastian, Martyrs

Fabian, bishop of Rome, died as one of the first victims of the persecution under the emperor Decius in 250. In spite of being "a layman and a stranger" (Eusebius), he became bishop of Rome in 236. Reorganised the Church in Rome. Called by his contemporary, Saint Cyprian, "a man incomparable in the holiness of his life and the glory of his witness."

Sebastian died perhaps in the late third century. Nothing of his life is known for certain. Tradition says he was a soldier who was martyred after sustaining other Christians in their trials. Venerated in Rome since the fourth century.

21 January

St Agnes, Virgin and Martyr

Agnes died at Rome, perhaps in the early fourth century. One of the most widely venerated of the Roman martyrs. According to early accounts, she gave her life to preserve her virginity consecrated to Christ. Named in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

22 January

St Vincent, Deacon, Martyr

Vincent died in 304, martyred in Valencia (Spain) during the persecution of the emperor Diocletian. A deacon of Saragossa. His cult spread rapidly through the whole Church of the West. Honoured as the first martyr of Spain.

24 January

St Francis de Sales, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Savoy (France) in 1567; died in Lyons in 1622. As a presbyter and as bishop of Geneva, he played a major part in the renewal of 17th-century French Catholicism. Seen by many as an early proponent of ecumenical dialogue. Founded the Visitation order with Saint Jane Frances de Chantal (12 December). His writings promoted a spirituality for laypeople. Honoured as a most influential preacher, writer, and spiritual director, who combined firmness with patience and gentleness.

25 January

Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

This date, first linked with the conversion of Saint Paul in the so-called Martyrdom of Jerome (c. 431), became established in the liturgy of Gaul. Celebrates the work of God's grace at a major turning point in the life of Paul himself and in the history of the infant Church.

27 January

Ss Timothy and Titus, Bishops

Both died toward the end of the first century. Disciples and associates of Saint Paul the apostle, who seem to have attended the Council of Jerusalem with him. Timothy represented Saint Paul to various communities and, according to tradition, was eventually placed in charge of the Church at Ephesus. Titus was asked to organise the Church in Crete. Honoured as the leaders to whom the pastoral letters of the New Testament are addressed.

27 January

St Angela Merici, Virgin

Angela was born in Desenzano (Italy) about 1474; died in Brescia on this day in 1540. She became a Franciscan tertiary and subsequently founded the Company of Saint Ursula (Ursulines). Her vision provided an alternative to the forms of religious life then available for women:members remained in their own homes, living as virgins and observing a rule she composed. Honoured as a woman of prayer, for her evangelical way of life, for her pilgrimages, and for her creative response to the needs of women in the Church.

28 January

St Thomas Aquinas, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born near Aquino (Italy) about 1225; died on his way to the Council of Lyons in 1274. Educated at Monte Cassino, Naples, Paris, and Cologne, he became a Dominican in 1244. Regarded as one of the greatest theologians in the history of the Church. Despite ecclesiastical opposition at the time, the substance of his life's work has endured as an authentic exposition of Christian teaching and carries unique official approval. Noted for his modesty, the prayerfulness of his personal life, and the abiding influence of his thought.

31 January

St John Bosco, Priest, Educator

Born in Piedmont (Italy) in 1815; died at Turin on this day in 1888. Grew up in extreme poverty and, after ordination, devoted his whole life to educating young people, especially the poor. Founded the Salesians, men and women who continue this work with youth throughout the world. Noted, like the order's patron, Saint Francis de Sales, for his cheerfulness and trust in the providence of God.


Saints in February

01 February

St Brigid, Abbess

Brigid is renowned for her hospitality, almsgiving and care of the sick. When she was a young girl her father wished to make a very suitable marriage for her but she insisted on consecrating her virginity to God. She received the veil and spiritual formation probably from Mel. Others followed her example and this led her to found a double monastery in Kildare with the assistance of Bishop Conleth. She died in 524 and her cult is widespread not only throughout Ireland but in a number of continental European lands.

02 February

Presentation of the Lord

Forty days ago we celebrated the joyful feast of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we recall the holy day on which he was presented in the temple, fulfilling the law of Moses and at the same time going to meet his faithful people. Led by the Spirit, Simeon and Anna came to the temple, recognised Christ as their Lord, and proclaimed him with joy. United by the Spirit, may we now go to the house of God to welcome Christ the Lord.

03 February

St Blaise, Bishop & Martyr

; died in the early fourth century, believed to have been martyred during the persecution of the emperor Licinius. Bishop in Armenia, known as a healer, venerated since the eighth century and specially invoked to intercede for protection against diseases of the throat.

03 February

St Ansgar, Bishop

Born at Amiens (France) in 801; died on this day at Bremen (Germany) in 865. A monk and then a bishop in north Germany, eloquent in his preaching and austere in his lifestyle. Noted for opposing slavery and for persevering in his evangelisation of Denmark and Sweden in the face of major setbacks.

05 February

St Agatha, Virgin, Martyr

Agatha died in Sicily, perhaps during the persecutions of the third century. Venerated in Rome as a virgin martyr on this day since the sixth century and included by name in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). Noted in legend for her faith and for remaining resolute under torture.

06 February

Ss Paul Miki and companions, Martyrs

They died on 5 February 1597, a group of twenty-six martyrs crucified at Nagasaki (Japan). Most were Japanese and most were laypeople, some still youths. The first of many martyrs in a young Church. Paul Miki, aged thirty-five years at his death, was a Jesuit scholastic from an aristocratic Japanese family. Paul Miki was a notable preacher who inspired the local Church in his own time and in the centuries that followed to be strong in faith during persecution.

08 February

St Jerome Emiliani, Priest

Born in Venice (Italy) in 1486; died of the plague on this day in 1537 near Bergamo. An army officer who, after imprisonment, began a new life of service among the sick and destitute. Noted for his care and education of orphaned and homeless children, a ministry continued by the Somaschi, an order of clergy which he founded.

08 February

St Josephine Bakhita, Religious

Born in 1869 at Oglassa (Sudan); died on this day in 1947 at Schio (Italy). Kidnapped by slave traders at the age of 9 and treated cruelly, she was eventually acquired by the Italian consul and taken to Italy. Baptised Josephine in 1890, she joined the Canossan sisters several years later. ‘Mother Moretta' (our black mother) is remembered for her gentle good nature, humble faith, and gospel charity towards the poor and suffering.

10 February

St Scholastica, Virgin

Born at Norcia (Italy) about 480; died near Monte Cassino in the 540s. Like Saint Benedict, her brother and twin, she dedicated herself to God through the monastic life. Noted for her part in establishing Benedictine monasticism.

11 February

Our Lady of Lourdes

Observed since 1907, this memorial celebrates the immaculate Virgin Mary as honoured in Lourdes (France). This site of apparitions to the young Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 has become a focus of devotion to Mary. It is a place of prayer and pilgrimage, of conversion and healing for Christians from every land.

14 February

Ss Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries

Cyril: A monk who was born about 826 in Thessalonica (Greece); died at Rome in 869.
 Methodius (his brother) : Born about 815; died in Velehrad (Czech Republic) in 885. With papal approval they preached the gospel in Moravia using their own translations of the Scriptures and the liturgy in the local language. These translations into Slavonic were based on an alphabet they invented, now called Cyrillic. The success of their preaching aroused jealous Frankish opposition. Honoured as apostles of the Slavic peoples, for their contribution to Slavic culture, their missionary inculturation of the Christian faith, and for establishing links between East and West.

17 February

St Fintan, Abbot

Fintan was born in Leinster. He received his religious formation in Terryglass, County Tipperary under the abbot Colum, and was deeply influenced by his penitential practices and the severity of the Rule. Fintan made his own foundation in Clonenagh, County Laois. He died in 603.

17 February

Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, Religious

In 1233 these prominent businessmen from Florence (Italy) withdrew to a life of solitude, prayer, and penance. They developed into an order of mendicant friars (Servants of Mary). Noted for their radical response to the demands of the gospel.

21 February

St Peter Damian, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Ravenna (Italy) in 1007; died on 22 February 1072. Became a hermit monk after a career as a professor. Ardent, energetic, and strict, an outspoken reformer of Church life and discipline. Appointed cardinal-bishop of Ostia, he became a diplomat and ecclesiastical statesman, a scholarly reformer devoted to Christ.

22 February

Chair of Peter

The chair (cathedra) of a bishop is a pre-eminent sign of his teaching authority and pastoral oversight of a local Church. This feast, observed in Rome since the fourth century, celebrates Peter, first among the apostles, as founder of the See of Rome and the focus of unity in the communion of one faith.

23 February

St Polycarp, Bishop, Martyr

Born about the year 69; died on this day about 155 at Smyrna (Turkey), where he had been the beloved and respected bishop. A disciple of Saint John the apostle, who wrote to the Philippians to strengthen their faith and to defend the Church against heresy. Noted for his fearless acknowledgment of Christ, and honoured as one of the apostolic fathers of the Church.

23 February

St Gabriel, Religious

Francesco Possenti, or Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862) was an Italian from Assisi. Born to a well-off family, he gave up all career ambitions to join the Passionists as a clerical student. Though his life in the monastery was humdrum, he was notable for his devotion to the sorrows of Mary and the Passion of Jesus. He died aged 23 (tuberculosis) in Isola del Gran Sasso, in the province of Teramo. He was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, who declared him a patron saint of Catholic youth, and of students. In 1959, he was named patron of the Abruzzi region, where he spent the last two years of his life.


Saints in March

01 March

St David, Bishop

David is the patron saint of Wales, where he was an abbot and bishop in the sixth century. He is reputed to have founded a number of monasteries, of strict regime. Several Irish saints were his pupils, and he seems to have influenced monastic development in Ireland. He died about 601, but he continued to be remembered in Ireland, and he is mentioned in the Martyrology of Oengus and in the Catalogue of the Sts of Ireland.

04 March

St Casimir of Poland

Born at Krakow (Poland) in 1458; died in Lithuania on this day in 1484. Though a young prince of Poland, he preferred peace to being a soldier. He chose celibacy over marriage and favoured prayer and penance rather than royal privilege. Noted for his generous life of austerity and devotion.

07 March

Ss Perpetua and Felicity, Martyrs

Perpetua and Felicity (believed to have died in 203 AD) were Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. Vibia Perpetua was a married noblewoman, said to have been 22 years old at the time of her death, and mother of an infant she was nursing. Felicity, a slave imprisoned with her and pregnant at the time, was martyred with her. They were put to death along with others at Carthage in the Roman province of Africa, during the reign of Septimius Severus.

08 March

St John of God, Religious

Born in Portugal in 1495; died in Granada (Spain) on this day in 1550. At the age of about forty, he directed the energies of his spiritual conversion toward hospitality for the destitute and care of the sick. Noted for this ministry, which was continued by his followers, who became the Order of Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God.

08 March

St Senan, Bishop.

Senan was born near Kilrush, County Clare. His family were prosperous farmers. His vocation seems to have resulted from an experience of danger from the sea. His early studies were mainly made at the monastery of Kilnamanagh. His principal monastic foundation was on Scattery Island, near Kilrush, in the Shannon Estuary. He was anamchara to Ciaran of Clonmacnois and Brendan, and died in 544.

09 March

St Frances of Rome, Religious

Frances was born in Rome in 1384; died there on this day in 1440. Established a community of laywomen who followed the Rule of Saint Benedict and ministered to the poor. Frances was a dedicated laywoman who, in a time of plague and civil war, worked tirelessly for the poor and the sick yet without compromising her love for her husband and family.

11 March

St Aengus, Bishop, Abbot

Aengus (Oengus) was a monk in Clonenagh, County Laois who came to the monastery of Tallaght at the end of the eighth century during the abbacy of Maelruain to spend a period under his direction. He was renowned for his devotion to both foreign and native saints, and composed two Martyrologies. He returned to Clonenagh, where he became both abbot and bishop. He died about 830.

17 March

St Patrick, Bishop, Missionary

Born in Britain probably in the early years of the fifth century, Patrick was taken captive at the age of 16 and brought to Ireland, where he worked as a slave. His captivity led him to a renewal of his spiritual life. After he escaped back home at the age of 22, it was clear to him that God was calling him to return to convert the Irish. After studies in Europe he returned to Ireland, where he made a very large number of converts. His spiritual journey is recounted in his Confessio.

18 March

St Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Jerusalem about 315; died there in 386. A bishop for over thirty-five years, he was deeply involved in debates with the Arians over the divinity of Christ and was exiled three times. Noted especially for the illuminating baptismal catechesis he gave in the new Constantinian basilica of the

19 March

St Joseph, Husband of the Virgin Mary

A carpenter, though born of the royal house of David, Joseph was an upright man who, as husband of the Virgin Mary, cared for Mary and the child Jesus. Venerated in the East after the fourth century, and his cult flowered in the West during the fifteenth century, following the development of medieval nativity plays, the Christmas crib, and increased devotion to Mary.

23 March

St Turibius of Mogrovejo, Bishop

Born in Majorca (Spain) in 1538; died on this day in 1606 at Santa (Peru). A professor of law and a judge of the Inquisition in Spain, he was still a layman when appointed archbishop of Lima, Peru. There he became an outstanding missionary reformer, built churches, hospitals, and the first seminary in the Americas. Noted for his determined opposition to ecclesiastical abuses and to colonial exploitation, for his pastoral care and evangelisation of the indigenous peoples in their own languages, and for his visitation of the vast diocese.

25 March

Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary

This feast originated in the East during the sixth century and gained universal observance in the West during the eighth century. It is a feast of the Lord, commemorating the announcement to the Virgin Mary of the Word made flesh, Mary's acceptance of God's will, and the conception of Christ nine months before Christmas. Its occurrence close to Easter links the incarnation with the whole mystery of human redemption in Christ.


Saints in April

01 April

St Ceallach (Celsus), Bishop

Ceallach (Celsus) was born in 1080. He became abbot of Armagh in 1105 and was ordained priest. He was influenced by the reform then in progress in Munster. On the death of the bishop of Armagh, Ceallach was the popular choice to succeed him. He presided at the reforming synod of Rathbreasail in 111 1. In 1129 while making one of his visitations of Munster he died at Ardpatrick and was buried in Lismore in accordance with his own request.

02 April

St Francis of Paola, Hermit

Born at Paola (Italy) in 1416; died at Tours (France) on this day in 1507. Became a hermit while still a youth. Others were quickly attracted to his way of life and came to be renowned for their charity and austerity as well as for their commitment to Franciscan ideals. Francis lived to see them recognised as the Order of Minims and is remembered as a spiritual counsellor of kings and for his political peacemaking.

04 April

St Isidore, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born about 560 in Seville (Spain); died there in 636. Archbishop of Seville for thirty-six years who laboured successfully to bring the Visigoths from Arianism to orthodox belief, who presided over several councils significant for Church life in Spain, and who codified the distinctive liturgy of the Spanish Church, which is preserved to this day. Noted for his prolific writings and as an influential educator, and highly regarded also for the pastoral care of his diocese.

05 April

St Vincent Ferrer, Priest

Born in Valencia (Spain) in 1350; died at Vannes (France) on this day in 1419. A Dominican friar who quickly distinguished himself in converting many to Christ. Noted chiefly for preaching repentance on his missions throughout France, Spain and Italy, and also for his influence in ending the schism between the Avignon and Roman papal claimants.

07 April

St John Baptist de la Salle, Priest

Born at Rheims (France) in 1651; died at Rouen on this day in 1719. Ordained to the presbyterate in 1678 after seminary studies at Saint Sulpice in Paris. Pioneered schools for poor boys and the working classes, the training of teachers, and the care of disturbed children. Despite much internal conflict and external opposition, he formed his companions into the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

11 April

St Stanislaus, Bishop, Martyr

Born at Szczepanow (Poland) about 1030; died on this day in 1079 at Krakow, murdered on the orders of the king for his outspoken condemnation of corruption. He became bishop of Krakow in 1072 and was noted for his reforms, his preaching, and his pastoral concern.

13 April

St Martin I, Pope, Martyr

Born at Todi (Italy); died in exile at Chersonesus (Crimea) on this day about 655. A deacon in Rome, he was sent as legate to Constantinople. After being elected pope in 649, he held a council at the Lateran which condemned the error that Christ did not have a human will. This and the council's censure of two related imperial edicts led to his imprisonment and exile. Noted for the many hardships he suffered and as the last pope to suffer martyrdom.

18 April

St Laserian, Bishop

Laserian (Molaise) worked in both Ireland and Scotland in the seventh century and later entered the monastery at Leighlin, where he became abbot. He adapted church discipline in accordance with the practices of Rome and introduced the Roman method of dating the celebration of Easter. He died in 639.

21 April

St Anselm, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in 1033 at Aosta (Italy); died at Canterbury (England) on this day in 1109. A monk at Bec (Normandy) where he taught theology and devoted himself to the spiritual life. Later, as archbishop of Canterbury, his bitter disputes with the king resulted in his being exiled twice. Noted for his theological learning and writings and for organising Church life in England.

23 April

St George, Martyr

George died at Lydda (Israel) around 303, martyred undered the persecution of the emperor Diocletian. His cult, which predates the legend of his slaying the dragon, spread quickly through East and West. During the crusades, George was seen to personify the ideals of Christian chivalry, and he was adopted as patron of several city?states and countries.

23 April

St Adalbert, Bishop, Martyr

Born in Bohemia (Czech Republic) about 956; died near Gdansk (Poland) on this day in 997. Baptised Wojciech, he took the name Adalbert at his confirmation. Became the first Czech bishop of Prague at about the age of twenty-six, but his efforts to further the Christian faith in Bohemia and Hungary met with vehement opposition and he withdrew to Rome in 990. Became a monk and founded the abbey of Brevnov, a spiritual and missionary centre for the western Slavs. Devoted himself to missionary work among the Prussians on the Polish coast, where he was martyred. Noted for his prayerfulness, his concern for the poor, and his courage in the face of opposition.

24 April

St Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest, Martyr

Born at Sigmaringen (Germany) in 1578; died at Seewis (Switzerland) on this day in 1622. Became a Capuchin after briefly practicing as a lawyer noted for upholding the causes of the poor and oppressed. Noted for his care of the sick and for his preaching, especially among Protestants in Switzerland, where he was martyred.

26 April

St Mark, Evangelist

Died about the year 74. Usually identified with the John Mark whose mother's house in Jerusalem was a meeting place for the apostles, and with the young man who followed Christ after his arrest (Mark 14:51). A cousin of Saint Barnabas. Accompanied Saint Paul on his first missionary journey and later followed him to Rome. A companion of Saint Peter and traditionally identified as author of the gospel which reflects Peter's teaching and memoirs. Honoured as the founder of the Church in Alexandria.

28 April

St Peter Chanel, Priest, Martyr

Born at Cuet (France) 1803; died on Futuna (South-west Pacific Ocean) on this day in 1841. A parish priest noted for his pastoral zeal, particularly his care of the sick. Joined the Society of Mary (Marists) and remembered for his missionary work in the Pacific. Evangelisation in the local language brought some success on the island of Futuna which led to his murder by a jealous chieftain. Honoured as the first martyr of the Church in Oceania.

29 April

St Catherine of Siena, Virgin, Doctor of the Church

Born at Siena (Italy) in 1347; died at Rome on this day in 1380. Committed to the practice of prayer and penance from an early age, she entered the Dominican Third Order while still an adolescent. Became an influential spiritual leader and made strenuous efforts to reconcile Church and state and to reform the Roman papacy. Noted for her holiness and determination and, though she never learned to write, for the quality of her teachings. Noted also as a mystic and a reformer of religious life.

30 April

St Pius V, Religious, Pope

Born (Michael Ghislieri) near Alessandria (Italy) in 1504; died at Rome on this day in 1572. Taught philosophy and theology as a Dominican priest and became a diocesan bishop. Elected pope in 1565. Noted for his reforming zeal and for defending Christendom against the Ottoman empire. His excommunication of Queen Elizabeth I of England hardened the split between Catholics and Protestants. A rigorist by temperament, he is remembered chiefly for implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent, including the Breviary, Missal, and Catechism.


Saints in May

01 May

St Joseph the Worker

This commemoration, instituted by Pius XII in 1955, proposes the example and intercession of Joseph as worker and provider. On this date many countries celebrate the dignity and cause of human labour.

02 May

St Athanasius, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in 295. Buried on this day in 373 at Alexandria (Egypt). Attended the first ecumenical council of Nicaea as a deacon. Later, as bishop of Alexandria, he upheld that council's doctrine in the face of opposition from Arians, including several emperors. Sent into exile a number of times. Venerated as the "Father of Orthodoxy" for championing the true and equal divinity of the incarnate Son of God.

03 May

Ss Philip and James, Apostles

Philip, from Bethsaida in Galilee, became a disciple of Jesus and one of the twelve. Recorded in the Fourth Gospel as recognising in Jesus the one foretold by Moses and the prophets (John 1:45) and as introducing Gentiles to the Lord (John 12:20-22). According to Acts 8:5, he was the first to preach the gospel to non-Jews. James, son of Alphaeus, was also one of the twelve called by Jesus (Mark 3:18ff). Known as James the Less. Venerated traditionally as the author of the letter of James and as leader of the Church in Jerusalem, where he died in the year 62.

04 May

St Conleth, Hermit, Bishop

Conleth is believed to have come from the Wicklow area. While living as a hermit he was persuaded by Brigid to act as priest for her community in Kildare. He was venerated as a saint and Cogitosus in his Life of Brigid calls him bishop and abbot of the monks of Kildare. He was buried beside Brigid in her patronal church there.

05 May

Blessed Edmund Rice, Religious

Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844) came from Callan, County Kilkenny. After his young wife's early death, he sold his possessions and dedicated his life to the education of the poor. To advance the work he gathered other like-minded men who took religious vows together to work for the Catholic education of boys. He is a model of patient and cheerful acceptance of the sufferings God sends, a true lay apostle and a deeply committed religious.
The collect is the one approvedat the time of Beatification 1997.

12 May

Ss Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs

Nereus and Achilleus died in Rome, probably under the emperor Diocletian in 304. Known as the martyrs of the Ardeatine Way, they were soldiers who became Christians and then out of conscience refused further military service.

12 May

St Pancras, Martyr

He died in Rome, probably in 304, martyred under the emperor Diocletian. By tradition a teenager. Buried on this day in the cemetery of Octavilla. Widely venerated in Rome and elsewhere.

13 May

Our Lady of Fatima

Commemoration established in 2002. Fatima (Portugal) is a pilgrimage shrine dating from the 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children. This cult of the Virgin Mary is significant for its call to conversion, the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the recitation of the rosary, and prayer for world peace.

14 May

St Matthias, Apostle

A companion of Jesus and a witness to the resurrection. Chosen by lot to take the place of Judas and so to share the apostolic ministry of the twelve (Acts 1:15-26). He is named in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

16 May

St Brendan, Abbot

Brendan was a Kerryman who was born in 486. He studied at Clonard under Finnian. His name is connected with many places in Kerry such as Ardfert and Mount Brandon. He visited Scotland and reached the Hebrides and possibly areas beyond. He founded a monastery in Clonfert in 568 and died there in 578.

18 May

St John I, Pope, Martyr

Born in Tuscany (Italy) in the late fifth century; died in captivity at Ravenna on this day in 526. He was a conciliator and peacemaker, the first bishop of Rome to visit Constantinople. John was imprisoned by Theodoric, ruler of Italy and an Arian, for excessive sympathy toward the Church of the East.

20 May

St Bernadine of Siena, Priest

Born in Tuscany (Italy) in 1380; died at Aquila on this day in 1444. A Franciscan priest, theologian, reformer, and popular preacher throughout Italy; he is honoured as a preacher, as a promoter of devotion to the Name of Jesus (see 3 January), and for his efforts toward reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches at the Council of Florence.

21 May

Ss Christopher Magallanes and companions, Martyrs

Born in 1869; died on 25 May 1927 at Colotitlan (Mexico). Parish priest, Christobal Magallanes, founder of a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, is commemorated with 21 other diocesan priests and three laymen. Martyred in Mexico, mostly in 1926-1928, during a fierce religious persecution which outlawed the celebration of the sacraments. Noted for their courageous faith, for forgiving their executioners, and for their final cry, Viva Christo Rey!

22 May

St Rita of Cascia, Religious

Born in 1381 at Rocca Porena (Italy); died on this day in 1457 at Cascia. Obedient to the will of elderly parents, she accepted an abusive husband and remained faithful for eighteen years until his violent death. When her two sons died soon after, she became an Augustinian nun. Noted for her life of penance and her suffering in union with

24 May

Mary Help of Christians

The Virgin Mary has often been invoked in times of religious strife under the title of Help of Christians. In thanksgiving for the release of Pope Pius VII from captivity in 1814, the feast was established the following year on the anniversary of his restoration. The first Australian provincial synod held in Sydney in 1844 placed the Church in Australia under Mary's patronage invoked by the title Help of Christians. The solemn feast is an occasion to seek Mary's help and protection for our Church and nation.

25 May

Venerable Bede, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born at Wearmouth (England) in 673; died at Jarrow on this day in 735. A monk, historian of the early English Church, and master of the Scriptures and of the teachings of the Church Fathers. Known for his scholarly writings. Venerated as the "light of the Church" in the period called the Dark Ages and as a forerunner of the eighth and ninth century renaissance of the Western Church.

25 May

St Gregory VII, Pope

Born about 1020 in Tuscany (Italy); died in exile at Salerno on this day in 1085. Served in important positions under several popes and briefly a monk of Cluny. Elected pope in 1073 and campaigned strenuously for the reform of the Roman Church and for its freedom from civil powers. Noted for his devotion to the Church in Rome and for the reform of clerical and monastic life and of Church organisation.

25 May

St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin

Born in Florence (Italy) in 1566; died there on this day in 1607. A Carmelite mystic and visionary. Noted for her hidden life of prayer and for her spiritual and physical suffering, borne for the Church and its renewal.

26 May

St Philip Neri, Priest

Born in Florence (Italy) in 1515; died at Rome on this day in 1595. An outstanding proponent of Church reform after the Council of Trent. Worked among the young and the poor in Rome and founded the Congregation of the Oratory. Honoured as a spiritual director, for his pastoral initiatives, and for his humour, simplicity, and charity.

27 May

St Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

Born in Italy in the sixth century; died at Canterbury (England) around 605. A prior of a Roman monastery who was sent by Saint Gregory the Great (3 September) to preach the gospel to the English. Arrived in England the following year after being ordained a bishop while in Gaul. He evangelised the kingdom of Kent. Venerated by Catholics and Anglicans alike as founder of the metropolitan see of Canterbury.

31 May

The Visitation of Mary

This feast celebrates the Virgin Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, as told in the Gospel of Luke Luke 1:39-56), and her example of faith in God's word and sensitivity to the Spirit. It was introduced into the Franciscan calendar by Saint Bonaventure in the thirteenth century and was extended in 1389 to the entire Latin Church to heal the divisions in the Western Church of the time.


Saints in June

01 June

St Justin, Martyr

Born about 100 at Nablus (Palestine); died about 165 in Rome. After lengthy study of Greek philosophies, he acknowledged Christ as the source of all truth. A lay intellectual, Christian philosopher, and apologist. Noted for his reasoned defence of Christian belief and practice and for the ultimate witness given by his martyrdom.

02 June

Ss Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs

They died in 304, beheaded at Rome under the emperor Diocletian. Reputedly members of the Roman clergy, they are held in special honour in Rome itself, as evident in the basilica built over their tombs and their mention in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

03 June

St Charles Lwanga and companions, Martyrs

They died on this day in 1886. Between 1885 and 1887, these twenty-two martyrs were among many newly baptised Catholics and Anglicans who were killed for their faith and virtue in Uganda by a debauched and brutal ruler. They included judges, catechists, soldiers, and teenage pages under the leadership of Charles Lwanga, who was burned alive. Noted for the heroic calm of their fidelity to Christ.

03 June

St Kevin, Abbot

Kevin grew up in Kilnamanagh in Leinster, where Bishop Lugaid ordained hum to the priesthood. He settled as a hermit in remote Glendalough but disciples gathered around him and eventually a monastic settlement grew up. Kevin died in 618.

05 June

St Boniface, Bishop, Martyr

Born in Devon (England) about 675; died in the Netherlands on this day in 754. A monk and teacher who went to evangelise the Germanic peoples. Was ordained bishop and given wide-ranging papal commissions throughout Germany and Gaul. Founded monasteries and established dioceses, presided at synods, and maintained close associations with various emperors. Honoured as a determined missionary and as a Church organiser and reformer whose work shaped the future of Europe. He is buried at his abbey of Fulda (near Frankfurt).

06 June

St Norbert, Bishop

Born in the Rhineland (Germany) about 1080; died at Magdeburg on this day in 1134. A cleric in minor orders, he converted from a comfortable life in 1115, was ordained to the presbyterate, and took up a life of poverty. Founded a community of canons at Prémontré (France), austere in discipline and active in pastoral ministry. Later, as archbishop of Magdeburg, he resisted the alienation of Church property. Noted for his zealous reform of clerical life and for the example of his attachment to the values of the gospel.

06 June

St Jarlath, Bishop

Very little is known of Jarlath. His first foundation was in Clonfush near Tuam. Later he founded a monastery in Tuam. He is said to have taught Brendan of Clonfert and Colman of Cloyne.

07 June

St Colman, Bishop

Colman (Mocholmoc) of Dromore, County Down, is said to have studied under Caetan of Nendrom. He was persuaded by Mac Nissi to settle at Dromore around 514. His cult is also found in Scotland and Wales.

09 June

St Ephrem, Deacon, Doctor of the Church

Born in Nisibis (Iraq) about 306; died at Edessa (Turkey) on this day in 373. A noted teacher, exegete, and theologian; a prolific poet, writer, and composer of liturgical songs. Called the "Harp of the Holy Spirit." Noted for his poetic and dogmatic works, for his holy and ascetical life, and for his devotion to the Virgin Mary.

09 June

St Columba, Abbot, Missionary

Columba, also known as Colum Cille, was born in Gartan, County Donegal in 521 and was of royal lineage. He studied under Finnian of Moville and Finnian of Clonard. He founded monasteries in Deny, Durrow, Iona and possibly Kells. From Iona, which became his principal foundation, missionaries undertook the conversion of Northumbria. Colum Cille is noted for his love for people and for all living creatures. He died in 597.

11 June

St Barnabas, Apostle

It is not known when he died, but according to Eastern and Western tradition his remains were discovered on this day sometime in the fifth century. A Jew from Cyprus and one of the first converts in Jerusalem, a leading member of the Church there, though not one of the twelve. He introduced Saint Paul to the twelve and worked with him in Antioch and on missionary work in the Mediterranean world. Championed the Gentiles at the Council of Jerusalem. Honoured as "a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith" (Acts 11:21).

13 June

St Anthony of Padua

Priest, Doctor of the Church. Born in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1195; died at Padua (Italy) on this day in 1231. At first an Augustinian priest and scholar, then became a Franciscan to do missionary work in north Africa but this was thwarted by illness. Instead, he became a teacher of theology and a brilliant popular preacher in southern France and Italy, a servant of the poor, and a worker of miracles.

14 June

St Davnet, virgin

Davnet lived in the area of Sliabh Beagh in County Monaghan, Ireland, where she made a foundation. She died at Tydavnet.

19 June

St Romuald, Abbot

Born at Ravenna (Italy) in the middle of the tenth century; died at Val di Castro on this day in 1027. Became a monk after witnessing a violent killing in his family. Promoted strict penance and solitude in the monastic life and established many monasteries and hermitages in Italy, most notably at Camaldoli in Tuscany. Noted for combining the severe life of a hermit with the Benedictine community rule.

20 June

The Irish Martyrs

Seventeen of the Irish martyrs, men and women, cleric and lay, who were put to death for the Catholic faith between 1579 and 1654 were beatified in 1992. Six Catholics of Irish birth or connection executed for the faith in England had already been beatified in 1929 and 1987.

21 June

St Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious

Born in Lombardy (Italy) in 1568; died in Rome on this day in 1591 of the plague, contracted while caring for its victims. Devout and ascetical from the time of his childhood in a family of Italian nobility. Pursued a religious vocation as a Jesuit against enormous family opposition. Noted for his youthful ideal of perfection.

22 June

Ss John Fisher and Thomas More, Martys

John Fisher: Born at Beverley (England) in 1469; died at London on this day in 1535. Chancellor at Cambridge and then Bishop at Rochester, combining diligent pastoral ministry with the defence of Catholic doctrine.
Thomas More: Born in London 1478; died there for the faith on 6 July 1535. An Oxford scholar, a noted humanist and apologist, an incorruptible judge and Lord Chancellor, a devoted husband and loving father. Drawn into conflict with Henry VIII, both were imprisoned and beheaded for treason. Noted for their wide learning, for their devotion to the Church, and for their uncompromising integrity and courage. An opportunity to celebrate all the English martyrs, Catholic and Protestant, of the Reformation era. Coming from every walk of life, people rich and poor, married and single, women and men died on the scaffold, perished in prison, or suffered harsh persecution for their faith.

23 June

St Paulinus of Nola, Bishop

Born at Bordeaux (France) about 353; died at Nola (Italy) on this day in 431. The son of the Roman prefect of Gaul who, after a classical education, had a career in the imperial administration. He and his wife were baptised after the death of their son and gave away their wealth to the poor and the Church. Ordained a presbyter in Barcelona (Spain) at the demand of the people, and later elected bishop of Nola (Italy). Noted for his charity and hospitality, for his religious poetry, and for his extensive correspondence with eminent Christians.

24 June

Birth of John the Baptist

This feast was observed on this date in the fourth century. It celebrates the holy birth of "the greatest of all the prophets, " the one who leapt for joy in his mother's womb, who prepared the way for Christ, announced his presence, and baptised him in the Jordan River.

26 June

St Josemaria Escriva, Priest

Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer y Albás (1902-1975) founded Opus Dei, an organization of laypeople and priests dedicated to the teaching that everyone is called to holiness by God and that ordinary life can result in sanctity. Canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, who counted Escriva a living witness to practical Christianity.

27 June

St Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born at Alexandria (Egypt) about 370; died there on this day in 444. An able theologian and bishop of his native city, but somewhat confrontational in attacking non-Christians and heretics. Presided at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and defended orthodox Christianity against Nestorius. The council approved the title Theotokos for Mary, thereby affirming Mary's motherhood of God. Noted for his ardent defence of orthodoxy, even at the cost of provoking condemnation and schism.

28 June

St Irenaeus, Bishop, Martyr

Born probably at Smyrna (Turkey) about 130; died at Lyons (France) about 200. A pupil of Saint Polycarp (23 February) who became a presbyter and bishop of Lyons, the principal city of Gaul. Intervened in Rome for patience and reconciliation in Church disputes. Among the first theologians of the Western Church, he refuted gnosticism and further developed the theology of the incarnation. Noted for his fidelity to apostolic tradition.

29 June

Ss Peter and Paul

Apostles; died as martyrs at Rome under Nero, between 64-67. This pre-eminent feast day of the city of Rome has been observed on this date since the mid-third century. It commemorates the martyrdoms of Peter the "chief of the apostles" and Paul the "apostle to the Gentiles." Noted for their faith, their courage, and their leadership during the difficult days of the birth of the Church.

30 June

First Martyrs of the See of Rome

Blamed by the emperor Nero for the disastrous fire which devastated Rome in 64, many Christians in addition to Saint Peter and Saint Paul were savagely killed, victims of cruel jealousy. Noted for their endurance.


Saints in July

01 July

St Oliver Plunkett, bishop and martyr

Oliver Plunkett was born in 1625 in County Meath. He went to Rome in 1647 and was ordained in 1654. He taught in the Roman College of Propaganda Fide from 1657 to 1669, when he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh. Reaching Dublin in 1670, he began his pastoral duties, held synods and visitations. When the persecution of Catholics had become more searching and severe Archbishop Plunkett was arrested in 1679. He was first imprisoned in Dublin, but eventually tried in London and condemned to death. He was hanged at Tyburn Cross, London in 1681.

03 July

St Thomas, Apostle

Thomas, called the "Twin, " was one of the twelve chosen by Jesus. Noted for his initial disbelief in the resurrection and his subsequent proclamation of faith upon seeing the resurrected Christ:"My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). An early tradition venerates him as the Apostle of India.

04 July

St Elizabeth of Portugal

Born in 1271; died at Estremoz (Portugal) on this day in 1336. A princess of Aragon and a grand-niece of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary . Upon being widowed, she gave away her wealth and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. Honoured as a peacemaker and for assisting the poor and sick.

05 July

St Anthony Zaccaria, Priest

Born at Cremona (Italy) in 1502; died there on this day in 1539. Initially a medical doctor, he was ordained to the presbyterate and went on to found an order of priests (Barnabites) and an order of women religious (Angelicals). Noted for his devotion to Saint Paul, to the eucharist, and to the crucifixion. Noted for his concern for renewal, his personal austerity, and the apostolic zeal that led to his premature death.

06 July

St Maria Goretti, Virgin, Martyr

Born at Corinaldo (Italy) in 1890; died on this day in 1902. Her death at the age of eleven, a few weeks after her first communion, resulted from knife wounds sustained during an attempted rape. Noted for her innocence and simplicity, for her devotion to God, and for forgiving her attacker on her deathbed.

06 July

St Moninne of Killeavy

St Moninne was one of Ireland's early women saints. After instruction on the religious life, she founded a community which initially consisted of eight virgins and a widow with a baby at Sliabh Gullion, Co. Armagh. They lived an eremitical (secluded) life, based on that of Elijah and St John the Baptist. Moninne died in 517 or 518.

07 July

St Maelruain (Maolruain), bishop and abbot

Maelruain founded the monastery of Tallaght, Co, Dublin, in 774 which introduced a reform. Important liturgical and spiritual writings emerged from this movement known as the Céli Dé reform. He died in 792.

08 July

St Killian, Abbot, missionary

Killian was born in the parish of Mullagh in the Diocese of Kilmore. With eleven companions he left Ireland and became known as the apostle of Thuringia and eastern Franconia. With Kolonat and Totnan he was put to death in 659. There is a strong devotion to him in Würzburg, where his remains lie, and also throughout the Bavarian countryside.

09 July

St Augustine Zhao Rong and companions, Martyrs

Diocesan priest Augustin Zhao Rong (1746-1815) is one of 120 people martyred in China between 1648 and 1930. The 87 Chinese include children and parents, catechists and seminarians, and four priests. The 33 Europeans were missionary bishops, priests and religious. Noted for their steadfast faith before cruel persecutions.

11 July

St Benedict, Abbot

Born at Norcia (Italy) about 480; died at Monte Cassino about 547. After studies in Rome he became a hermit at Subiaco, where many sought his counsel, and then founded the monastery at Monte Cassino. Noted for his widely influential monastic rule, combining work and prayer, and for his charity and moderation.

13 July

St Henry, Emperor

Born about 973; died on this day in 1024. Duke of Bavaria and then Holy Roman Emperor, the husband of Saint Kunigunde, both of whom are buried in the cathedral he built at Bamberg (Germany). Noted for combining his temporal leadership with piety and for supporting reform within the Church.

14 July

St Camillus de Lellis, Priest

Born at Bucchianico (Italy) in 1550; died at Rome on this day in 1614. A soldier and a gambler when he experienced conversion. Eventually ordained a priest after laying the foundations for the Servants of the Sick (Camillians), a religious community devoted to the care of the sick. Afflicted with lifelong ulcers. Noted for his special love for and service of the sick.

15 July

St Bonaventure, Bishop, Religious, Doctor of the Church

Born at Bagnoregio (Italy) about 1218; died at Lyons (France) on this day in 1274. He joined the Franciscans when studying in Paris and eventually became minister general of the order. Later appointed cardinal-bishop of Albano and died assisting Pope Gregory X during the Council of Lyons. Known as the "Seraphic Doctor." Honoured as a teacher, for his extensive biblical and mystical writings, and for his holiness, gentleness, and compassion.

16 July

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

The cult of Mary under this title originated in the fourteenth century and came to be observed throughout the West during the eighteenth century. Commemorates the Virgin Mary as associated with Mount Carmel (Israel), site of the prophet Elijah's altar to the one true God and of the twelfth century eremitical forerunners of the Carmelites. Mary is celebrated on this day as a model of reflection, solitude, and prayer.

20 July

St Apollonaris, Bishop, Martyr

Probably first century. Bishop of Ravenna (Italy) where a church bears his name. A fifth-century sermon identifies him as a martyr. Honoured as a link to the Apostolic age.

21 July

St Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born at Brindisi (Italy) in 1559; died at Lisbon (Portugal) on this day in 1619. A presbyter in the Capuchin order and later its minister general. A noted biblical scholar and linguist, charged with preaching to Lutherans. He organised Christian princes against the incursions of the Ottomans. Noted for his zealous teaching and promotion of the Catholic reform that followed the Council of Trent.

22 July

St Mary Magdalene, Apostle

A faithful disciple of Christ, Mary ministered to his needs after having seven devils cast out from her. Witnessed his crucifixion, was present at his burial, and was the first to see the risen Lord. Commissioned by Christ to proclaim the good news of his resurrection to the apostles (John 20:17-18). Noted in the East as the "Apostle to the Apostles."

23 July

St Bridget of Sweden

Religious. Born in Sweden about 1303; died at Rome on this day in 1373. A devoted wife and the mother of eight children, one of whom was also reputed a saint (Catherine of Sweden 1331-1381) though not canonised. After being widowed, Bridget founded a religious order (Bridgettines). Noted for her asceticism, her dedication to reform within the Church, and her lifelong mystical experience of Christ. Bridget of Sweden was canonised by Boniface IX in 1391.

24 July

St Declan of Ardmore

Declan is considered to be one of the pre-Patrician saints. He was of noble blood. Colman, a local priest, baptised him. Later he went to Europe to continue his studies where he was ordained priest and possibly bishop. He settled in Ardmore (Waterford) and evangelised the Decies territory.

24 July

St Sarbel Makhluf, Priest

Born on 8 May 1828 at Beka'Kafra (Lebanon); died on Christmas Eve 1898 at Annaya. Maronite monk, whose religious name is Sarbel or Charbel, received a good education and was ordained priest. Spent his last 23 years as a hermit. Noted for his ascetic poverty, solitary contemplation and devotion to the Eucharist.

25 July

St James

Apostle. Born at Bethsaida in Galilee, a son of Zebedee; died about 44, the first apostle to die, beheaded by Herod. A fisherman, summoned by Jesus together with his brother Saint John. They were called the "Sons of Thunder" (Mark 3:17). Honoured as a favoured apostle:with Peter and John he was present at the transfiguration, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and the agony in the garden.

26 July

Ss Joachim and Ann, Parents of Our Lady

Joachim and Ann are named as Mary's parents in a late second century tradition. Churches dedicated to Saint Ann are found in Jerusalem and Constantinople from the middle of the sixth century. The feast of Saint Ann was kept in Rome by the eighth century, that of Saint Joachim from the fifteenth century. The feast honours the parents of the Virgin Mary and grandparents of the Lord.

29 July

St Martha, Friend of Jesus

The sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. Honoured for her confession of faith in the Lord in which she beseeched him to restore life to her dead brother (John 11:27). Noted too for her hospitality to Jesus and her concern for the details of service to guests.

30 July

St Peter Chrysologus

Bishop, Doctor of the Church. Born late in the fourth century at Imola (Italy); died on 31 July about 450. Bishop of Ravenna, known as "Chrysologus" (golden-worded). Noted for his eloquent sermons, his loyalty to the bishop of Rome, and his dedication pastoral service.

31 July

St Ignatius of Loyola, Priest, Religious

Born at Loyola (Spain) in 1491; died on this day at Rome in 1556. A Spanish nobleman trained in diplomacy and the use of arms, wounded in battle against the French. The experience of conversion while convalescing led him to write the Spiritual Exercises. Then founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and became its first superior general. Noted for his loyalty to the Church and its renewal, his ministry to the marginal, his concern for education, and his dedication "to the greater glory of God, " the motto of the Jesuits.


Saints in August

01 August

St Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born at Naples (Italy) in 1696; died at Nocera on this day in 1787. A lawyer before ordination. After founding the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), he was for thirteen years bishop of Sant' Agata dei Goti, but resigned due to ill health. He coped with much internal conflict within the congregation and external opposition. Honoured as a popular preacher and devotional writer and as an influential master of moral theology.

02 August

St Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop

Born in Sardinia in the early fourth century; died at Vercelli (Italy) in 371. Educated in Rome, a lector in Vercelli, and then from 345 its first bishop. He was exiled by the emperor Constantius because of his opposition to Arianism, suffered many hardships, but was eventually restored to his diocese. Noted for his preaching, his doctrinal orthodoxy, and his defence of Saint Athanasius.

02 August

St Peter Julian Eymard, Priest, Religious

Born in La Mure d' Isère (France) in 1811; died there on 1 August 1868. A presbyter of the diocese of Grenoble who joined the Society of Mary (Marists) in 1839. Founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (Blessed Sacrament Fathers) in 1856, and in 1858, with Marguerite Guillot, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Both congregations had as their special purpose promotion of perpetual exposition and adoration of the Eucharist. Noted for his lifelong devotion to Christ's eucharistic presence and for promoting eucharistic adoration among the people.

03 August

St Dominic, Priest, Religious

Born at Calaruega (Spain) about 1170; died at Bologna (Italy) on 6 August 1221. An Augustinian canon noted for prayer, penance, and an exemplary life. In a time of violent crusades he sought the reconciliation of Albigensian heretics through instruction and prayer. Established the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) to revitalise the Church through study, teaching, preaching, and prayer. Honoured as a preacher, organiser, and patron of learning.

04 August

St John Vianney, Priest

Born near Lyons (France) in 1786; died at Ars on this day in 1859. Overcame various obstacles, including little education and lack of means, to be ordained a priest. Served in a remote parish as the Curé of Ars, where his sanctity attracted thousands of visitors. Noted for his preaching and confessional counsel and is honoured as a model for parish clergy.

05 August

Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major

This major stational church of the ancient Roman liturgy, erected in the fourth century, was rebuilt and dedicated by Sixtus III following the proclamation at the Council of Ephesus (431) of the doctrine of Mary, Mother of God. It is considered the oldest church dedicated to our Lady in the Western world.

06 August

The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus

This feast had its origin in the East in the fourth century as the commemoration of the dedication of the church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. It was observed in the West from the eighth century and extended to the entire Western Church in the fifteenth century. The feast celebrates the divine radiance shining in Christ's human flesh and God's glory shining forth in the lives of Christians.

07 August

Pope St Sixtus & Companions, Martyrs

They died on 6 August 258, martyred the year after his election as bishop of Rome during the persecution of the emperor Valerian. According to his contemporary, Saint Cyprian, he was "not so much killed as crowned, " along with four deacons, while addressing a congregation. Honoured as one of the most popular Roman martyrs, and mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

07 August

St Cajetan, Priest, Religious

Born at Vicenza (Italy) in 1480; died at Naples on this day in 1547. A distinguished theologian and lawyer before becoming a presbyter. Established confraternities of clergy and laity to work among the sick and the poor, and founded the Congregation of Clerks Regular (Theatines) to encourage reform among diocesan clergy.

08 August

St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious

Born in Melbourne (Australia) in 1842; died in Sydney on this day in 1909. Took the religious name Mary of the Cross. Responding to the isolation of colonial families, she pioneered a new form of religious life to provide education for their children. She and her sisters shared the life of the poor and the itinerant, offering special care to destitute women and children. Noted for her eagerness to discover God's will in all things, for her charity in the face of calumny, and for her abiding trust in God's providence.

09 August

St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin, Martyr

Born on 12 October 1891 in Wroclaw (Poland); died on this day in 1942 at Auschwitz/Oswiecim. Edith Stein, born of Jewish parents, became an outstanding philosopher, author and teacher, then discovered Christianity and Teresa of Avila, and so was baptised in 1922. Became a Discalced Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. When the Dutch bishops protested the Nazi persecution of the Jews, she was deported to Auschwitz along with all Dutch Catholics of Jewish extraction. Honoured as a victim of anti-Semitism, a scholar, contemplative and martyr for whom the cross is the key to spiritual understanding.

09 August

St Nathy of Achonry

Nathy is said to have been born in the barony of Leyny, Co. Sligo. He made a foundation in Achonry, where many students gathered to learn from him. He is buried in Achadh Cain.

09 August

St Felim of Kilmore

Felim was born in the sixth century in Breifne. He was a hermit near Kilmore, Co. Cavan, where he later founded a monastery. He is patron of Kilmore diocese.

10 August

St Lawrence, Deacon, Martyr

He died at Rome on this day in 258, four days after Saint Sixtus II, with whom he was closely associated. Honoured for his almsgiving. Became, after the apostles, the most celebrated martyr of the Church of Rome. His cult spread throughout the Church from the fourth century. Named in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon), and in five ancient Roman churches dedicated to him.

11 August

St Clare, Religious

Born at Assisi (Italy) in 1193 or 1194; died there on this day in 1253. From a well-to-do family, Clare embraced an evangelical way of life after hearing the preaching of Saint Francis of Assisi. Founded the order of the Poor Ladies, now the Poor Clares. Noted for her life of extreme poverty, austerity, contemplation, and charity.

12 August

St Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious

Born in Dijon (France) in 1572; died at Moulins on 13 December 1641. Married Baron Christophe de Chantal at the age of twenty, but after nine years was left a widow with four children. Her friendship with Saint Francis de Sales led to the establishment of the Congregation of the Visitation, which offered an alternative form of religious life for women, less severe in its ascetic discipline. Noted for her administrative ability and for her visits to the

12 August

St Muredach of Killala, Monk

Muredach is regarded as the founder of the church at Killala. He may also be the founder and patron of the monastery of Inishmurray off the north Sligo coast.

12 August

St Attracta of Achonry, Religious

Attracta lived in the sixth or seventh century. Local tradition remembers her amazing healing powers. Her convents were famous for hospitality and charity to the poor.

12 August

St Lelia of Thomond, Religious

Lelia (Liadain) had a church at Kileely, near Thomond Bridge. She is said to have been baptised by St Patrick.

13 August

Ss Pontian and Hippolytus, Martyrs

PONTIAN, Pope, and HIPPOLYTUS, Priest, died some time in the fourth century after mistreatment in exile and brought back to Rome for burial on this day. Honoured as seekers of the truth. Pontian: Bishop of his native Rome in 230 but exiled to Sardinia, where he abdicated the papacy during the persecution of the emperor Maximinus in 235. Hippolytus:A conservative theologian and presbyter who objected to the teaching of one pope and the election of the next and who, in 217, went into schism. Regarded as the author of the Apostolic Tradition, whose eucharistic prayer forms the basis of Eucharistic Prayer II in the Roman Missal.

13 August

St Fachtna of Roscarberry, Abbot

Fachtna (Fachanan) founder of the monastery of Ross Carbery (Ross Ailithir). He died around 600. His monastery became the principal monastery of west Cork and later had a famous Scripture school.

14 August

St Maximilian Kolbe

Priest, Martyr. Born near Lódz (Poland) in 1894; died at Auschwitz.Oswiecim on this day in 1941. A Conventual Franciscan priest. Used the printing press in Poland and in Japan to promote devotion to the Virgin Mary. Interned in Auschwitz in 1941, he endured hard labour and offered his life in place of a fellow prisoner who had a family. Condemned to death by starvation and finally killed by lethal injection. Noted for his energy and poverty, his compassionate ministry, and his self-sacrifice.

15 August

Assumption of Our Lady

This feast originated in Jerusalem before the fifth century as the "Falling-Asleep of the Mother of God." It was adopted in Rome in the mid-seventh century and was renamed the "Assumption" in the next century. It celebrates Mary's passing over, body and soul, from this world into the glory of her risen Son.

16 August

St Stephen of Hungary, King

Born in Hungary about 975; died at Szekesfehervar on 15 August 1038. As Duke of the Magyars, he established dioceses and monasteries and used state power to enforce Christianity. Crowned king of Hungary about 1000, with papal approval. Noted for making Christianity the religion of his nation and for his care for the poor and oppressed.

17 August

Our Lady of Knock

The story of Knock began on the 21st August 1879 when Our Lady, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. This miraculous apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. Knock is an internationally recognised Marian Shrine and was visited by St John Paul II, as part of his 1979 papal pilgrimage to Ireland. The date of the memorial is within the annual novena conducted at the Shrine.

19 August

St John Eudes, Priest

Born in Normandy (France) in 1601; died at Caen on this day in 1680. Originally an Oratorian, he was active in preaching missions and in caring for the sick. Founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) which is dedicated to the formation of presbyters, and helped to begin a community of women religious (now known as the Sisters of the Good Shepherd) to care for wayward women. Noted also for his promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

20 August

St Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot, Doctor of the Church

Born near Dijon (France) in 1090; died at Clairvaux on this day in 1153. Joined the impoverished, reformed abbey of Citeaux at the age of 21. Soon became the founder and abbot of Clairvaux and pioneered the reform and expansion of the Cistercian Order. A prolific writer on theology and spirituality, an eloquent preacher, and an adviser of popes and kings. Honoured as the most influential churchman of his age, for his inspirational leadership, and for his devotion to the humanity of Christ and to the Blessed Virgin.

21 August

St Pius X, Pope

Born Giuseppe Sarto at Riese (Italy) in 1835; died at Rome on 20 August 1914. Elected pope in 1903, after being bishop of Mantua and patriarch of Venice. In pursuit of his motto, "to renew all things in Christ", he initiated reforms of the liturgy and of canon law and took stern measures against "modernist" trends in theology. His efforts to avert world war were frustrated. Noted for his poverty and for his promotion of liturgical participation, especially of frequent communion, to which he admitted young children.

22 August

The Queenship of Mary

This feast was established by Pius XII in 1955 and was celebrated on 31 May. Since 1969 it has been observed on 22 August to stress its relationship to the Assumption. Taken up into glory, Mary became queen of heaven and earth.

23 August

St Rose of Lima, Virgin, Mystic

Born at Lima (Peru) in 1586; died there on 24 August 1617. Chose not to marry, joined the Dominican Third Order and modelled herself on Saint Catherine of Siena. A recluse and mystic. Noted for her radiant love of God and for the severe penance and hardships she endured during serious illness. The first saint of the Americas to be canonised (1671).

23 August

St Eugene of Tyrone

Eugene (Eoghan) lived in the sixth century and was said to have been taken by pirates to Britain. On obtaining his freedom he went to study at Candida Casa. Returning to Ireland he made a foundation at Kilnamanagh in the Wicklow hills, but his principal foundation was at Ardstraw (Ard Sratha), Co. Tyrone.

24 August

St Bartholomew, Apostle

Named in the list of apostles and generally identified with Nathaniel of Cana, the "Israelite without guile" (John 1:47) who was led to Jesus by the apostle Philip (3 May). Said to have preached the gospel in India and in Armenia, where tradition indicates he was martyred.

25 August

St Louis of France, Confessor

Born at Poissy (France) in 1214; died near Tunis (Tunisia) on this day in 1270. As Louis IX, he was a devoted husband and the father of eleven children whom he helped to raise in the Christian faith. Regarded as a model Christian king at a time of high cultural achievement, but led two disastrous crusades, on the second of which he died of typhoid. Noted for his impartial justice, for his care of the poor and the sick, and for honouring his word.

25 August

St Joseph Calasanz (Calasanctius), Priest, Religious

Born in Aragon (Spain) in 1557; died at Rome on this day in 1648. A lawyer, theologian, and presbyter who gave away much of his family fortune and devoted himself to providing free education for poor children in Rome. Founded the Clerks Regular of the Christian Schools (Piarists) and suffered many trials in later life at the hands of jealous colleagues and Church authorities. Noted especially for his patience in the midst of suffering.

27 August

St Monica, Widow

Probably born at Tagaste (Algeria) about 331; died at Ostia (Italy) in 387. Before her marriage her faith bore fruit in her recovery from a drinking problem and later helped bring her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Undertook many years of penance and prayer for her brilliant but wayward son Saint Augustine (28 August). Following his conversion and baptism in Milan, she died at the beginning of her journey home to Africa. Noted for her parental devotion, her patience, and her persistence in prayer.

28 August

St Augustine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born at Tagaste (Algeria) in 354; died at Hippo (Tunisia) in 430. Though enrolled by his mother Monica as a catechumen, he renounced the Christian faith and espoused Manicheism. Taught in Carthage, Rome, and Milan. Lived for fifteen years with a woman who remains unknown and with whom he had a son, named Adeodatus. Baptised in 387, together with his son, after a long inner struggle and under the influence of Saint Ambrose (7 December) and the prayers of his mother, Saint Monica (27 August). Bishop of Hippo for thirty-four years. Lived a communal life with his clergy and served the many needs of his people at a time of political and cultural collapse. Honoured as a model pastor and as a preacher and writer whose thought has had an enduring influence in Christian history.

29 August

Beheading of John the Baptist

The execution of John the Baptist is recorded in the gospels (Matthew 14; Mark 6) and is placed by the historian Josephus at the fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea. As early as the fifth century, a commemoration of John the Baptist was kept on this day at Jerusalem. It probably marks the anniversary of the dedication of the basilica in his honour at Sebaste (Palestine) where, according to tradition, he was buried.

30 August

St Fiacre of Meaux, Hermit

Fiacre was an Irishman who went abroad to seek a hermitage. He passed through Normandy and eventually met Faro, who was a patron of Irish pilgrims at Meaux. Fiachre was given a hermitage near Breuil and there he stayed until his death around 670.

31 August

St Aidan of Lindisfarne, Abbot

Aidan was of Irish descent and was a monk of Iona. When Oswald, the exiled King of Northumbria who had fled for refuge to Iona, returned to his throne in 634, he invited Aidan to come to reconvert his people. Aidan made his headquarters at Lindisfarne. With the aid of the king as interpreter he was very successful in his mission. He died in 651.


Saints in September

03 September

St Gregory the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church

Born about 540; died in Rome in 604. While prefect of Rome, he founded monasteries there and in Sicily and himself became a monk. Called to be a deacon of Rome by Benedict I, and then sent as papal legate to Constantinople. Elected pope in 590. Reorganised Church life and administration in a time of crisis, sponsored liturgical reform, and initiated the evangelisation of the English. Known also for his extensive writings on pastoral care, spirituality, and morals, and for his self-designation as "servant of the servants of God."

04 September

St Mac Nissi, Bishop

Oengus Mac Nissi took his name from his mother Cnes or Ness. It is claimed that Patrick baptised him and taught him the psalms. He seems to be one of the early converts. He chose the district of Connor for his hermitage, but later became bishop of his clan. He died early in the sixth century.

08 September

Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This feast originated in Jerusalem about the sixth century, a development of the feast of the dedication of the church of Saint Anne, built in Jerusalem "where Mary was born." Observed in Rome in the seventh century, it was later used to determine the date of Mary's Immaculate Conception. Because of her importance in salvation history, Mary's birthday is celebrated as well as those of her son Jesus the Lord, and of Saint John the Baptist (24 June).

09 September

St Peter Claver, Priest

Born at Verdú (Spain) in 1580; died in Cartagena (Colombia) on 8 September 1654. Jesuit who felt called to mission work in the New World. Sent to Colombia in 1610 and ordained a presbyter in 1616 in Cartagena, a major port of entry for slaves brought from Africa. For the next thirty-four years, in the face of opposition from slave owners, he met the slave ships with a band of helpers and interpreters and ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the slaves, catechising and baptising thousands; died after suffering four years of debilitating illness. Peter called himself "the slave of the slaves" and is remembered for his total devotion to their needs and dignity.

09 September

St Ciaran, Abbot

Ciaran was born in Roscommon, probably in 512. His father Beoit was a carpenter. His mother Darerca came from Kerry. He was baptised and fostered by the deacon Diarmuid. He went to Clonard in 529. He also spent periods with Ninnid, Enda and Senan, and founded Inis Aingin on Lough Ree. In January 545 he came to Clonmacnois, where he founded a monastery which was to become one of the most renowned in Europe. He died at the age of 33 while the monastery was being built.

12 September

Holy Name of Mary

The commemoration began in Spain in 1513. The feast was extended to the entire Church following the defeat of Muslim armies at Vienna on this day in 1683 by a Polish army fighting under the name of Mary. By her name, Christians refer to the person of the Virgin Mary, mother of God and mother of the Church.

12 September

St Ailbe, Bishop

Ailbe is sometimes claimed as one of the pre-Patrician saints, but the annals note his death in 528. A tradition held that he went to Rome and was ordained bishop by the Pope. He founded the monastery of Emly which became very important in Munster. A ninth-century Rule bears his name.

13 September

St John Chrysostom, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Antioch about 347; died in exile in Comana (Turkey) on 14 September 407. After some years as a hermit, he was a priest at Antioch, where his brilliant preaching and catechesis earned him the sobriquet "Chrysostom" (golden-mouthed). Appointed patriarch of Constantinople in 397. His reforms, preaching, and ascetic life led to opposition from court and clergy and eventual banishment. Noted for his simplicity of life, his care of the poor, the courage of his witness, and his effective preaching of the Scriptures.

14 September

Exaltation of the Cross

Originally this day commemorated the dedication of Constantine's Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in the fourth century; after the celebration, the wood of the cross was venerated. The feast spread in the West after the recovery of the relics of the cross from Persia in the seventh century. A feast of the Lord, it celebrates the "lifting up" of the Son of Man on the cross, into glory, and the paradox of the cross as a sign of humiliation and death, yet the source of victory for all people.

15 September

Our Lady of Sorrows

This commemoration originated in the medieval devotion to the seven sorrows of Mary. Approved for the Servite order in the seventeenth century, it was extended to the whole Western Church in 1814 by Pius VII in thanksgiving for his release from captivity under Napoleon. In the light of Simeon's prophecy about a sword piercing Mary's soul (Luke 2:35), the feast celebrates Mary, first disciple and first to share in the pain and triumph of the cross.

16 September

Ss Cornelius(Pope, Martyr) and Cyprian (Bishop, Martyr

Cornelius: Died in exile in Civitavecchia (Italy) in 253, two years after his election as bishop of Rome. Supported by Cyprian, he defended the power of the Church to reconcile those who had lapsed under persecution.

Cyprian: Born at the beginning of the third century; died in Carthage (Tunisia) on 14 September 258. A lawyer, teacher, and adult convert. Elected bishop of Carthage in 249 and led this Church in times of persecution. Took a moderate position on the reconciliation of the lapsed but, like other African bishops, demanded the rebaptism of heretics even though their baptism was recognised by the Church of Rome. Both remembered as compassionate pastors who developed the Church's teaching and practice of reconciliation. Antagonists in theological debate, they were united in sharing the crown of martyrdom and are named together in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

17 September

St Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Tuscany (Italy) in 1542; died in Rome on this day in 1621. A Jesuit priest and professor of theology at Louvain and Rome. Became a cardinal and then archbishop of Capua (Italy). Returned to Rome three years later as a theological adviser to Paul V. An outstanding theologian, he expounded Church teaching in catechisms for the faithful and defended it comprehensively against Protestant positions. Noted for his dedication to the truth, his charity in disputation, and his austerity of life.

19 September

St Januarius, Bishop, Martyr

He died in the fierce persecution under emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century, said to have been martyred near Naples (Italy). Bishop of Benevento. Known since the Middle Ages by a relic of his blood which has been specially venerated in Naples. In this day's Office of Readings, Saint Augustine (28 August) recalls that we are saved by the blood of Christ, and in this common redemption he sees the source of strength for the ministry of all believers.

20 September

Ss Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and companions, Martyrs

Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean presbyter and Paul Chong Hasang a catechist and lay apostle. After more than two centuries of lay leadership, the Church in Korea was subject to fierce persecutions between 1839 and 1867. This feast commemorates 103 of the numerous Korean martyrs, representatives from all walks of life:men and women, married and unmarried, the elderly, teenagers and children, missionary bishops and presbyters. Noted for their fearless witness in the face of torture and death.

21 September

St Matthew, Apostle

Matthew, also known as Levi, was a Jew who collected taxes for the Romans at Capernaum in Galilee. Here Jesus met him and called him to be an apostle (Luke 5:27-28). Venerated as the author of the gospel which highlights Jesus' role as Messiah and underlines the presence of the kingdom of God in the Church.

23 September

Pio of Pietrelcina, Religious

Born on 25 May 1887 in Pietrelcina (Italy); died on this day in 1968 at San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy). Raised in a deeply religious rural home, Francesco Forgione became Padre Pio when he was ordained in the Capuchin order in 1910. A mystic who received the marks of the stigmata in 1918, a renowned holy man, and a charity worker who founded a hospital (the House for the Relief of Suffering). His ascetic life of pain led to special compassion for the suffering. Honoured as an extraordinary confessor and spiritual director.

23 September

St Eunan (Adomnan), Abbot

Eunan (Adomnan) was born in Donegal around 624 and died in 704. He became a monk in Iona and was chosen as abbot there in 679. In addition to overseeing the Columban monasteries, he left important writings, one of which is the Life of Colum Cille. He was known as a good and wise man, remarkably learned in Sacred Scripture.

25 September

St Finbarr, Bishop

Finbarr was born probably at Garranes near Bandon and died in the first quarter of the seventh century. He came to live at Loch Irce (Gougane Barra), but when disciples gathered round him he moved to Cork. The monastery which he founded there became a famous centre of learning.

26 September

Ss Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs

They died probably in Syria. Widely venerated as martyrs in the fifth and sixth centuries when basilicas were dedicated to them in Constantinople and Rome and when their names were included in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). Later legend identified them as twin brothers who practiced medicine without charge to their patients.

27 September

St Vincent de Paul, Priest

Born in Gascony (France) in 1581; died in Paris on this day in 1660. A parish priest who worked for the apostolic renewal of the clergy, founding the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists) for missionary work in rural areas and for the formation of clergy. Committed above all to the oppressed and disadvantaged, he founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac to work with the needy.

28 September

St Wenceslaus, Martyr

Born about 907 in Bohemia (Czech Republic); died there about 929. Raised a Christian by his grandmother, ruled Bohemia with Christian principles, worked for the education of his people, and sought harmony with neighbouring Germanic peoples. Opposition to these policies led to his murder at the hands of his brother's followers. Honoured as the earliest Slav saint for his selflessness in promoting the Christian faith.

28 September

Ss Lawrence Ruiz and companions, Martyrs

This commemoration marks the witness of sixteen among the many martyred in Nagasaki (Japan) between 1633 and 1637. They include Lawrence Ruiz, a Filipino husband and father, together with other associates of the Dominican order, Asians and Europeans, lay women and men, religious and presbyters. Honoured as courageous missionaries who sowed abundant seeds of the Christian faith in the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan and who remained fearless in the face of death.

29 September

Ss Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels

The cult of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael began in the East. In the West, this day first marked the dedication of a fifth century church of Saint Michael in Rome. This festival of Michaelmas came to be very popular and widely celebrated in medieval Europe. Raphael and Gabriel were added to the Roman calendar in the twentieth century, and the three are now celebrated together. In the Scriptures (for example, Revelation 12:7-9, Luke 1:26-38, Tobit 3:16-25), each of the three angels is named as a messenger of God, entrusted with special divine missions on earth.

30 September

St Jerome, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born about 340 at Strido on the Adriatic coast; died in Bethlehem on this day in 420. Baptised in Rome while studying the classics, became a hermit in Syria for a time and was ordained a priest. Later retained as papal secretary by Saint Damasus (11 December). Began work on a new Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate. Finally settling in Bethlehem where he founded monasteries, he devoted himself to studying the Scriptures, writing, and teaching. Often irascible and intolerant, he is remembered for his asceticism and scholarship and, above all, for his incomparable service to the word of God.


Saints in October

01 October

St Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church

Born at Alençon (France) in 1873; died of tuberculosis at Lisieux on 30 September 1897. From a devout family, she entered a Carmelite monastery at fifteen, where she embraced the suffering of her ill-health with love and in service to the missionary spread of the gospel. Known through her popular autobiography and loved for her unaffected simplicity. Noted for her humble obedience and her fidelity to ordinary duties as the path to sanctity.

02 October

Holy Guardian Angels

This feast originated in Portugal early in the sixteenth century and has figured in the general calendar since the late seventeenth century. It is based on the belief that God assigns everyone an angel to guard body and soul, an expression of God's personal care for each individual. A similar belief is also found in Jewish and other religious thought. The feast associates the human race with the eternal song of praise in heaven (Matthew 18:10).

04 October

St Francis of Assisi, Religious

Born in Assisi (Italy) in 1181 or 1182; died nearby on 3 October 1226. The carefree son of a wealthy merchant who gave up his inheritance to embrace utter poverty. Under a simple gospel rule, he and his Friars Minor were authorised to be mendicant preachers. His "Canticle of the Sun" captures his lyrical spirit and sense of oneness with all creatures. An outstanding example of the beatitude "Blessed are the poor in spirit." At the end of his life he bore in his flesh the marks of Christ's suffering. Noted for preaching the poor and crucified Christ in both word and deed.

06 October

St Bruno, Priest

Born in Cologne (Germany) about 1032; died in Calabria (Italy) on this day in 1101. Professor at the cathedral school of Rheims, appointed chancellor of the diocese who helped to reform the clergy. Founded the Carthusian order of hermits at Chartreuse near Grenoble. Called by his former pupil Urban II to assist in Rome for a time, he subsequently established a second Charterhouse in Calabria, noted for poverty, solitude, and penance.

07 October

Our Lady of the Rosary

This commemoration was established in 1573 in thanksgiving for a Christian victory over the Ottoman forces at Lepanto. It entered the general calendar in the eighteenth century. It is a memorial of the Virgin Mary as honoured in the rosary, a form of prayer combining the salutation of the angel (Luke 1:28) with meditation on the saving mysteries of Christ. Originally the rosary was the laity's "psalter" with the Hail Marys replacing the 150 psalms.

09 October

Ss Denis and companions, Martyrs

They died in Paris in the middle of the third century. According to a sixth century account, he was sent from Rome as the first bishop of Paris, where he was subsequently beheaded together with a presbyter and a deacon. His popularity flowered in the ninth century, when he was confused with a fifth century mystical author who in turn was taken to be Dionysius the Areopagite, disciple of Saint Paul (Acts 17:34). Honoured as founder of the local Church of Paris.

09 October

St John Leonardi, Priest

Born at Lucca (Italy) about 1541; died helping the sick in Rome on this day in 1609. Active in the years immediately after the Council of Trent, publishing a catechism and establishing a confraternity of Christian doctrine. Helped form the seminary of the Propagation of the Faith in Rome and founded a local congregation of diocesan presbyters for the reform of clerical life. Noted for his vigorous encouragement of the reforms of the Council.

11 October

St John XXIII, Pope

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881-1963), born in Sotto il Monte in Lombardy, was ordained priest in 1904 and served (among other places) as nuncio in France, before becoming Patriarch of Venice. He served as pope from 1958 to 1963 and in his final year issued an urgent call for international peace with his encyclical "Pacem in Terris"(1963). He surprised many by calling the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) but did not live to see it to completion. His passion for equality is summed up in his famous statement, "We were all made in God's image, and we are all Godly alike." John XXIII was canonized on in 2014.

11 October

St Canice, Abbot

Canice was born in County Deny around 527 and died in 603. Though his people were poor he studied at Clonard under Finnian and at Glasnevin under Mobhi. A deep friendship developed between himself and Colum Cille, with whom he worked for a time in Scotland, where he set up a number of churches. In Ireland his principal foundation was in Aghaboe in Ossory, but this was replaced centuries later by his church in Kilkenny.

14 October

St Callistus I, Pope, Martyr

He died in a civil disturbance in Rome about 222 and venerated as a martyr since the fourth century. Born a slave and served a sentence as a convict. Afterwards ordained a deacon and eventually elected bishop of Rome. Rigorist opponents accused him of misunderstanding the doctrine of the incarnation and of laxity in Church discipline. Noted for encouraging the reconciliation of sinners and for his pastoral solicitude for those preparing to marry.

15 October

St Teresa of Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church

Born at Avila (Spain) in 1515; died at Alba de Tormes in 1582. Left her aristocratic family for the Carmelite monastery in Avila at the age of twenty, but only after two decades of dryness in prayer felt an inner conversion to Christ. Honoured as a spiritual writer and mystic who experienced and comprehensively described the life of prayer. Honoured as a strong, practical reformer who restored the strict Carmelite observance of poverty, solitude, and prayer.

16 October

St Hedwig, Religious

Born in Bavaria (Germany) about 1174; died at Trebnitz (Poland) on 15 October 1243. Married at a young age to Henry, Duke of Silesia, she was the mother of seven children. Noted for founding religious houses and hospitals, for her charity to the poor, and for her efforts at peacemaking. After the death of her husband, she retired to live in a Cistercian convent which she had founded.

16 October

St Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin

Born in Burgundy (France) in 1647; died on 17 October 1690 at Paray-le-Monial. After an unhappy childhood, entered a Visitation convent where she experienced several visions of Christ's love. Patiently she bore the rejection and contempt of her superiors and others, she is honoured for ardently promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

16 October

St Gall, Abbot, Missionary

Gall was a monk of Bangor and set out with Columbanus for the Continent. When Columbanus was exiled from France, Gall accompanied him to Bregenz on Lake Constance, When Columbanus crossed into Italy, Gall remained in Switzerland. He lived in a hermitage, which later became the monastery of St Gallen. He was greatly venerated in his lifetime. He died around 630.

17 October

St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop, Martyr

Born probably in Syria; died a martyr in Rome about 107. At Antioch, where he was bishop, his death has been commemorated on this day since the fourth century. Noted for seven letters written on his way to execution. They show him to be devoted to Christ and his resurrection; they urge Christians to unity in and through the Eucharist and around their local bishop. Called himself the "God-bearer."

18 October

St Luke, Evangelist, Missionary

By early Christian tradition, Luke is named as author of the Third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Almost certainly a Gentile and perhaps a companion of Saint Paul (29 June), he wrote to reassure those who had grown uncertain toward the end of the first century. In his gospel, the compassion of Christ is inclusive of all:Gentile and Jew, the poor and the rich, women and men, the outcast and the privileged.

19 October

Ss Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and companions, Martyrs

John de Brébeuf (1593-1649) and Isaac Jogues (1607-1646) are named in this group of eight North American martyrs, French Jesuits of whom two were lay assistants and six were presbyters. Against a background of conflict between French and English and between Huron, Mohawk, and Iroquois, they went as missionaries teaching the message of Christ in the local languages. Noted for the hardship they suffered for the sake of the gospel, eventually embracing even torture and death.

19 October

St Paul of the Cross, Priest

Born at Ovada (Italy) in 1694; died in Rome on 18 October 1775. After some years of uncertainty, felt called to found a new congregation, the Passionists, who combined a strict penitential discipline with intense devotion to the passion of Christ and whose work was both active and contemplative. Noted for his prophetic preaching in parish missions, for calling sinners to repentance, and for his special gifts of healing.

22 October

St John Paul II, Pope

Karol Józef Wojtyla (1920-2005) served as Pope of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005. He was the second longest-serving pope in history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years (1846-1878). He helped to end Communist rule in Poland and eventually all of Europe. Doctrinally conservative, he quelled dissent on controversial issues such as artificial contraception and the ordination of women, but strongly emphasised the universal call to holiness.. He canonised 483 saints, more than all of his predecessors combined. He was beatified in 2011 by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and canonised in 2014 by Pope Francis.

23 October

St John of Capistrano, Priest

Born in Capestrano (Italy) in 1386; died on this day in 1456 at Ilok (Croatia). Though a married man and governor of Perugia, he decided to join the Friars Minor and was released from his marriage vows. Professed as a Franciscan at the age of thirty and ordained a presbyter three years later. A successful preacher, committed Franciscan reformer, zealous inquisitor in Vienna, and spiritual leader of a victorious crusade against the Ottoman forces. Noted for his preaching and austerity of life.

24 October

St Anthony Claret, Bishop

Born in Sallent (Spain) in 1807; died in exile in France on this day in 1870. Spent more than a decade preaching missions and retreats in Catalonia, and founded a religious institute, later known as the Claretians, for this work. Was appointed archbishop of Santiago (Cuba) where he aroused opposition for his spiritual and social reforms and for championing the rights of the indigenous peoples. Finally, as chaplain to Queen Isabella II, drew the arts and sciences into his missionary endeavour. Noted for his work of religious renewal through the spoken and printed word.

27 October

St Otteran, Monk

Otteran, a descendant of Conall Gulban, is usually identified with Odhran who preceded Colum CiJle in Iona. His death is recorded in 548 and his grave was greatly revered in Iona. He was chosen by the Vikings as patron of the city of Waterford in 1096 and later patron of the diocese.

28 October

Ss Simon and Jude, Apostles

Simon "the Less" is also called "the Canaanite" and "the Zealot." Jude "(son) of James" (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) was traditionally identified as Jude, brother of James and author of the letter of Jude, but may also be the one called "Thaddeus" (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18). A tradition has Simon and Jude preaching and being martyred in Persia. Honoured among the twelve apostles, the first followers of Christ.

29 October

St Colman, Bishop

Colman hailed from Kilmacduagh, County Clare in the seventh century. After studying in Aran, where he founded two churches on Inis Mhor, he returned to become a hermit near Kinvarra. Induced later to undertake the monastic life he made a foundation at Kilmacduagh. He is said to have been its first abbot and bishop.


Saints in November

01 November

All Saints Day

This feast began in the East to commemorate all martyrs and was progressively adopted in the West. Celebrated on this day in the eighth century and soon widely observed. Honoured today are all holy men and women in glory with Christ:known or unknown, mighty or lowly, all whose lives were modelled on the Beatitudes and on the commandment of love.

02 November

All Souls Day

This day of commemoration began early in the Middle Ages with annual prayers for the dead in monastic communities. Fixed on this day, it spread more widely after the tenth century and now ranks with the principal feast days in the liturgical calendar. Commonly known as All Souls, it expresses Christian faith in the communion of saints and our need to pray for one another in the Church, especially the souls in purgatory.

03 November

St Martin de Porres, Religious

Born in Lima (Peru) in 1579, an illegitimate child of mixed race; died there on this day in 1639. Trained as a barber and infirmarian, he was accepted as a Dominican brother. Noted for his humility and holiness, his ministry to African slaves, and his dedicated service of the poor and the sick of all races.

03 November

St Malachy, Bishop

Malachy was born near Armagh in 1094 . He became vicar of Ceallach, the reforming bishop of Armagh, and he continued this work of reform as bishop of Connor and as abbot and, later, bishop of Armagh. He introduced the Cistercians and the Canons Regular into Ireland. Returning to Ireland from a visit to Rome in 1148 he revisited Clairvaux, where he caught fever and died in the arms of Bernard on 1/2 November. Both are buried together.

04 November

St Charles Borromeo, Bishop

Born in Arona (Italy) in 1538; died on this day in 1584 in Milan. Only twenty-two when he was appointed cardinal, secretary of state, and given the administration of the diocese of Milan by his uncle, Pius IV. Prominent in the final sessions of the Council of Trent during 1562—1563 and, at its end, was ordained presbyter, then bishop and became archbishop of Milan. Known for implementing the Council's reforms in liturgy, education, presbyteral formation, and diocesan organisation. Honoured as an exemplary and pastoral bishop and an ardent proponent of reform.

06 November

All the saints of Ireland

The early Irish Martyrologies and the Stowe Missal give a firm basis to devotion to the saints of Ireland. The feast celebrates the gifts and the glory of God in his saints, their sharing in the paschal mystery of Christ, our communion with them in Christ, their example and their intercession for us, the pilgrim Church, the sustaining power of the Eucharist, the hope of eternal life.

07 November

St Willibrord, Bishop and Missionary

Willibrord was born in Northumbria in 658. He entered the Benedictine order and was sent to Ireland to Rathmelsige (probably Clonmelsh in County Carlow) to study. After ordination he was sent with eleven companions to evangelize Frisia. He established a mission at Utrecht and in 695 was ordained archbishop of Utrecht by Pope Sergius I. He founded a monastery at Eichtemach in Luxembourg in 700, where he died in 739. He is remembered as the first of the renowned Anglo-Saxon missionaries who went to the Continent.

09 November

Dedication of St John Lateran

The Lateran Basilica, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome, was dedicated to Christ the Saviour in the fourth century. The anniversary has been celebrated as a feast of the Latin Church on this date since the twelfth century. It honours the local Church of Rome as a link with earliest Christian tradition and as a sign of our communion in Christ.

10 November

St Leo the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church

He died in Rome on this day in 461. Elected pope in 440. Tried to protect the city from the devastation of barbarian invasion. His surviving letters illustrate the leadership and guidance he exercised as bishop of Rome toward other Churches in the West. Noted for the clarity of his thought on the two natures of Christ, affirmed at the Council of Chalcedon, for his eloquent sermons, and for the prayers he composed for the Roman liturgy.

11 November

St Martin of Tours, Bishop

Born in Pannonia (Hungary) about 316; died in 397 and was buried on this day in Tours (France). A catechumen who was in conscience unable to continue with military service. Baptised at the age of eighteen, for a time became a hermit, and then worked to establish monasticism in the West. Bishop of Tours for twenty-five years. One of the first non-martyrs to be venerated as a saint. Widely remembered for his legendary generosity to the poor, for arguing against the persecution of heretics, and especially for his active evangelisation and pastoral care of rural areas.

12 November

St Josaphat, Bishop, Martyr

Born in Vladimir (Ukraine) in 1580; died at Vitebsk (Belarus) on this day in 1623. A Basilian monk who became archbishop of Polotsk. Worked strenuously to uphold and spread the Union of Brest-Litovsk by which Churches of the province of Kiev, with their Byzantine liturgy and customs, had entered into communion with Rome. In a complex situation of national and religious antagonism, he was killed by violent opponents. Noted for his energetic pastoral reform and courageous ecumenism.

14 November

St Laurence O'Toole, Monk, Bishop

Laurence was born in Leinster in 1123. He studied at Glendalough, becoming abbot there in 1148, and in 1162 he was chosen as the first native archbishop of Dublin. He followed the reforming methods of Ceallach and Malachy, introducing the Canons Regular to Dublin and following their Rule. He returned from Lateran HI as Papal Legate and held synods to extend reform. He died at Eu in Brittany in 1180 while on a mission to try to restore peace between the kings of Ireland and England.

15 November

St Albert the Great, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Lauingen (Germany) about 1200; died in Cologne on this day in 1280. The "Universal Doctor" was a Dominican friar and teacher, most notably in Paris and in Cologne where Saint Thomas Aquinas studied under him. Briefly bishop of Regensburg, but resigned the see to return to teaching and writing. Noted for the outstanding breadth of his learning in the natural sciences, Jewish and Arabic studies, and Greek philosophy, all of which he brought to the service of his theology.

16 November

St Margaret of Scotland

Born in Hungary about 1046 of Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian parentage; died in Edinburgh (Scotland) on this day in 1093. Found refuge from the Norman conquest of England with Malcolm III of Scotland whom she married in 1070. They had eight children. Reformed the royal court, founded monasteries, and sponsored major reforms of Church life. Noted for the happiness of her marriage, for her devotion to prayer and learning.

16 November

St Gertrude, Virgin

Born about 1256; died at Helfta (Germany) about 1302. Entrusted from five years of age to Benedictine or possibly Cistercian nuns, among whom she experienced a deep conversion at the age of twenty-five and lived a life of mystical contemplation. Found Christ in the liturgy and Scripture, and on this foundation developed her devotion to the humanity of Jesus and, together with it, a love of the heart of Jesus.

17 November

St Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious

Born in Bratislava (Slovakia) in 1207. Married at the age of fourteen, widowed at twenty, and died at twenty-four in Marburg (Germany) on this day in 1231. Mother of three children, happily married to Ludwig of Thuringia. When Ludwig died of the plague while on crusade, she continued to protect the poor and founded orphanages and hospitals, living this life of service as a Franciscan tertiary despite the hostility of her relatives and the harshness of her confessor. Noted for her good-humoured resilience in adversity and for her humility in menial service of the needy.

18 November

Dedication of the basilicas of Peter and Paul

Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and Saint Paul's Basilica, built in the nineteenth century, both replaced older buildings erected by Constantine in the fourth century over the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. The dedications of these churches have been commemorated together on this day since the twelfth century. As on 29 June, the universal Church joins the Church of Rome in honouring its apostles.

21 November

Presentation of Mary

This memorial originally marked the dedication of a sixth century church of the Virgin Mary near the Temple of Jerusalem. The East took it up as a celebration of Mary's presentation to God in the Temple at the age of three, a non-biblical story from the apocryphal gospel of James. Established in the West late in the Middle Ages, the feast was universally observed by the sixteenth century. It celebrates Mary in her grace-filled life, wholly given over to the Holy Spirit from the time of her conception.

22 November

St Cecilia

Virgin, Martyr. Though a late fourth century church in Rome was named after her, nothing is known of her life or death. Popular legends were written about her in the late fifth century, and in the sixteenth century she was named the patron of music. Honoured by the Church as a virgin, martyred for the faith, her name is included in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

23 November

St Clement I, Pope, Martyr

Clement died in New Testament times, at the end of the first century. His name is included in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). Noted for a letter written from the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth, an important witness to the emergence of ministries and authority in the Church and to the pastoral responsibility of Rome to another Church.

23 November

St Columban, Abbot, Missionary

Born in Leinster (Ireland) about 543; died on this day in 615 at Bobbio (Italy). A monk and teacher at Bangor until middle aged who left with twelve companions as "exiles for Christ" to found monasteries in Burgundy (France). Insisted, against opposition, on maintaining strict Celtic customs and usages, but was expelled for denouncing royal misconduct. Went on to extend the Irish mission through the Alps and into Italy. Author of a monastic rule and a penitential. Noted for his austerity of life, his missionary energy, and his role in the development of individual reconciliation.

24 November

Ss Andrew Dung Lac and companions, Martyrs

Andrew (1795-1839), baptised at the age of fifteen, worked first as a lay missionary and then as a diocesan presbyter before being beheaded at Hanoi (Vietnam). Listed among 117 canonised martyrs who died in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862:ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spanish Dominicans, and ten presbyters from the Paris Foreign Mission Society. Honoured as representatives of the thousands of Christians tortured and martyred in Vietnam between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries:bishops, presbyters, religious, and lay people, both children and adults.

25 November

St Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, Martyr

She died in Alexandria (Egypt) perhaps in the early 4th century. Nothing is known about her. The famous tenth-century legend depicts her as a well-educated noblewoman, confronting the Emperor, confounding the philosophers in debate, and collapsing the wheel upon which she was to be executed. Honoured as a heroine of the Middle Ages.

25 November

St Colman, Bishop

Colman mac Lenine was born around 530 probably in West Cork. A bard by profession, he is reputed to have been influenced by Brendan to become a priest. The main field of his apostolate was east Cork, where his chief foundation was in Cloyne. He died in 606.

27 November

St Fergal, bishop and missionary

Fergal (Virgil) lived first in France and then in Bavaria, where he founded the monastery of Chiemsee. He was appointed bishop of Salzburg around 754 and died in 784 leaving a reputation for learning and holiness.

30 November

St Andrew, Apostle

Born at Bethsaida (Galilee). A fisherman and perhaps a disciple of John the Baptist. Introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus and became one of the first to follow Christ. Mentioned a number of times in the gospels, for example, in introducing some Gentiles to Jesus (John 12:20ff.). Widely venerated since ancient times and remembered as one of the twelve who bore witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


Saints in December

03 December

St Francis Xavier, Priest, Missionary

Born in 1506 in Navarre (Spain); died on this day in 1552 off the coast of China. Francis Xavier met Ignatius of Loyola while both were studying in Paris and became one of the first Jesuits. At Ignatius' request, Francis went to Goa (India) as a missionary and travelled extensively through southeast Asia to Japan, winning converts and organising Christian communities. Francis Xavier was noted for the simplicity of his lifestyle and for his tireless missionary zeal.

04 December

St John Damascene, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born about 675 in Damascus (Syria); died near Jerusalem about 749. A Christian official in a Moslem government. Became a monk and later presbyter at Mar Saba monastery near Jerusalem, where he was renowned as a theologian and biblical commentator. Noted for his vigorous defence of the veneration of images against the iconoclasts, for his theological writings synthesising the thought of the Greek Fathers, and for his poetry and hymnody.

06 December

St Nicholas, Bishop

He died in the fourth century. Bishop of Myra (Turkey) but nothing more is known about his life. Since the tenth century, widely venerated and frequently claimed as a patron in both East and West. His cult in the West was further ensured when his relics were moved from Myra to Bari (Italy) in the eleventh century. His reputation for generosity led to the custom of giving children gifts on his feast day, and thus to the Christmas figure of Santa Claus.

07 December

St Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in Trier (Germany) about 340. Ordained bishop on this day in 374 and died at Milan (Italy) on Holy Saturday 397. A lawyer who became governor in Milan and who was still a catechumen when elected bishop by popular acclaim. Upheld orthodoxy against the Arians and won many Christian converts. Encouraged monasticism and defended the independence of the Church against secular authority. Honoured as an outstanding pastor through his writings on the sacraments and Christian ethics and through his homilies, instructions, and hymns.

08 December

Immaculate Conception

This feast had its origin in the East as the "Conception of Mary by Saint Anne." It spread through the West during the Middle Ages as the "Immaculate Conception" and was extended to the entire Western Church in the eighteenth century. The feast celebrates Mary, preserved from sin from the moment of conception; she is the first fruits of her Son's redemption and a prophetic model of what the Church is called to be.

11 December

St Damasus I, Pope

Born in Rome about 305, the son of a priest; died there on this day in 384. Elected bishop of Rome amid violent rivalry. Active in opposing fourth century heresies. After Christianity became the official religion of the Roman state and Latin was becoming the principal liturgical language, he commissioned Saint Jerome to prepare a new Latin translation of the Bible. Also remembered for promoting the cult of the Roman martyrs, inscribing their tombs with epitaphs in verse.

12 December

St Finnian, Bishop

Finnian studied in Idrone (County Carlow) and later in Wales, and on his return to Ireland he settled in Clonard, County Meath, around 520, where he established a famous school. His pupils, among whom were Canice, Colum Cille, and Brendan, were the initiators of the indigenous monastic expansion in Ireland. He died in 549 and is remembered as the tutor of the saints of Ireland.

13 December

St Lucy, Virgin, Martyr

Lucy died at Syracuse in Sicily, probably in the persecution of the emperor Diocletian in 304. Widely venerated from the earliest times, her memorial has long been kept on this day. Probably because her name is suggestive of light, her intercession has been sought for eyesight problems. Named in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon) and remembered as a youth, radiant with Christian faith and courage.

12 December

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The North American continent is honoured by the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe near Mexico City. On 9 Dcember 1531, the Blessed Mother appeared to a simple Amer-indian convert, Juan Diego. Her picture was miraculously impressed upon his cloak. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, showed herself as a tender and compassionate mother.

14 December

St John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born in 1542 at Fontiveros (Spain); died on this day in Ubeda. A Carmelite priest who joined Saint Teresa of Jesus in the work of Carmelite reform and, despite opposition and imprisonment, organised the discalced Carmelites. Noted for his mystical writings, which combine theology and poetry to describe the spiritual journey through darkness to union with God.

18 December

St Flannan, Bishop

Flannan lived in the seventh century and was the son of a king of Thomond. He entered Molua's monastery at Killaloe and seems to have become abbot there. He is remembered as a powerful preacher.

20 December

St Fachanan, Bishop

Although little is known with certainty about Fachanan, a strong tradition from early times links him with Kilfenora and records that he founded a church or monastery there in the sixth century. He is thought to have died in Kilfenora and to be buried there, and he is venerated as the patron of the diocese.

21 December

St Peter Canisius, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born at Nijmegen (Netherlands) in 1521; died in Fribourg (Switzerland) on this day in 1597. A Jesuit priest who spent his time writing and teaching in universities and colleges. Together with his easily understood preaching and the writing of his famous catechisms, his academic life enabled him to restore and strengthen Catholic belief in response to the Reformation. Noted for his courtesy in debate and for his use of the press in promoting the Catholic revival after the Council of Trent.

23 December

St John of Kanty, Priest

Born at Kanty (Poland) in 1390; died at Krakow on 24 December 1473. He taught philosophy, theology, and Scripture at the university in Krakow and urged his students to moderation in controversy. Admired for his excellent teaching, for the austerity of his personal life, and for the generosity of his almsgiving.

26 December

St Stephen, martyr

In light of what was to Stephen, how amazing were his final words, praying to God to pardon his killers. His "crime" was to have spoken hard truths that his audience did not want to hear. So the frenzied mob put him to death by stoning. Under the rocks crushing out his life, Stephen commended his spirit to Jesus, and with his dying breath prayed for his killers.

27 December

St John, Apostle, Evangelist

What distinguishes this disciple from the others is that he received and responded more fully to the love of Jesus than all others. He was the only male disciple present at the foot of the cross. His love brought him to the empty tomb quicker than Peter; his love gave him the insight to recognize the true meaning of the empty tomb; and ultimately to grasp and to proclaim the mystery of the Word-made-flesh:that Jesus was God-incarnate.

28 December

The Holy Innocents

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi, he became furious. He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi. Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation.

29 December

St Thomas Becket, Bishop, Martyr

Born in London (England) in 1118, Thomas a-Becket died as archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his own cathedral on this day in 1170. Already a deacon when he was appointed chancellor of England, he became a close friend of Henry II. His ordination as bishop brought an abrupt conversion of life and led him to oppose the king over the rights of the Church. Returned to his diocese after six years' refuge in a French monastery, but careless words from the king inspired four knights to assassinate him. Immediately acknowledged as a martyr. Noted for the courage of his Christian convictions.

31 December

St Sylvester I, Pope

Elected bishop of Rome in 314 and died there on this day in 335. Honoured as the bishop of Rome in the important years when the Christian Church was first tolerated and then legally recognised in the Roman empire. It was during this time that the emperor Constantine called councils at Arles and Nicaea to combat heresy and that ecclesiastical basilicas were built in Rome and throughout the empire.