Virginia Centurione, born into a noble family in Genoa, Italy, in 1587, was forced into marriage at a young age, despite her wish to live a religious life. She had two daughters, Leila and Isabella. But her husband died when she was just 20 years old, which allowed her to devote her life to abandoned children and the needs of the elderly, the sick and the poor. Because of war in the region in 1624-25, many in her city were orphaned, hungry and unable to find work. St. Virginia was canonized in 2003 by St.
Saint of the Month
Feast Day: November 4
Born amidst the turmoil of the Protestant Reformation and troubled sixteenth-century Italy, Charles Borromeo set his sights on reform from a young age, and helped to reinvigorate the Church during the Counter-Reformation. Born into a wealthy and powerful family in northern Italy in 1538, he joined the ranks of the clergy at age 12. While preparing for a career in the Church, Charles was given the income from a rich Benedictine abbey by an uncle, and he insisted that all funds not used for his education be given to the poor.
Born Helena Kowalska in the small Polish town of Lodz, St. Faustina was one of 10 children in a family struggling to survive during World War I. Because her parents needed her to help support the family, she received only three years of education. At age 20, she answered Christ’s call and entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. While at the convent, the Lord spoke to her and told her that she was to be an apostle of his mercy. Despite her lack of schooling, she wrote several notebooks under the guidance of Christ that contained profound theological insights.
Feast day: September 23
Devoted to Christ from his childhood in Italy, where he was baptized Francesco Forgione, St. Padre Pio became a Capuchin friar at age 15. Five years after he entered the priesthood, shortly after the dawn of World War I, Padre Pio was called into military service. His service was short-lived, however, because of severe illness.
Tekakwitha, born in 1656 to a Christian Algonquin mother and Mohawk father, embraced a life of gentle service to others from an early age. She and her family contracted smallpox when she was a child; she was scarred from the disease and lost her family to it. Although her uncle took her in, he treated Tekakwitha as a slave. She found solace, however, in listening to the “blackrobes,” or Jesuit missionaries who visited her village, and would meditate often on their teachings.
Feast Day: June 22
St. Thomas More was an educated man – a lawyer, husband, and father. He was known as being a statesman with great faith and high standards. He was appointed Lord Chancellor of England in 1529 by King Henry VIII. But three years later, Thomas More resigned this high post because of his opposition to Henry’s divorce to Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. He also refused to acknowledge Henry as the supreme head of the Church of England, which would mean breaking with Rome.
Feast Day: May 10
Born into a poor, Belgian farming family in 1840, Joseph De Veuster left school at 13 to work on his parent’s farm. Six years later, Joseph joined his brother in the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, taking the name Damien.
His life of mission began in 1864, when he volunteered to take his brother’s place as a missionary on the Hawaiian Islands. For several years, Damien served on Honolulu until the Bishop asked for volunteers to serve the quarantined lepers on Molokai.
Feast Day: April 29
On the feast of the Annunciation, 1347, Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa welcomed their 25th child into the world. Saint Catherine of Siena lived in Siena, Italy, where she consecrated her life to God as a young girl. As she grew in devotion to the Church, Catherine became a Third Order Dominican, which allowed her to live in the world and serve the poor and hospitalized at the same time. She encouraged those around her to embrace God’s plan for their lives, saying, “If you are what you should be, you will set all of Italy ablaze!"
Feast Day: March 3
St. Katharine Drexel was born to a rich and charitable family in Philadelphia in 1858. She traveled often with her family, and she was moved by the need of Native Americans in the West. When she was granted an audience with Pope Leo XIII during a trip to Europe, he suggested that Katharine herself become a missionary.
Feast Day: January 7th
St. André was born Alfred Bessette in Quebec in 1845. Orphaned by the age of 12, he was a sickly child. He entered the Holy Cross Brothers, but even at the age of 25, he could not read and write. Although he was almost sent away, the bishop permitted him to stay and receive his vows. He was sent to Notre Dame College in Montreal after he took his vows to act as messenger and doorkeeper. He stayed in this post for 40 years, ministering to the sick.