Jolly Old St. Nicholas evokes a cheerful image of an elderly, bearded man, kindly handing out gifts to children. This St. Nick, or Santa Claus, is a model of generosity for those who see the celebration of our Savior’s birth at Christmas as a time for performing acts of charity and goodwill. While the original Saint Nicholas was known and honored for his concern for the poor, the Church also remembers him as a fierce defender of the faith against the Arian heresy at the first Church council in Nicaea.
Saint of the Month
A man of peace. A pastoral pope and a preacher. A staunch defender of doctrine. Pope St. Leo the Great managed to fill these disparate roles ably and with unshakeable faith.
In the fifth century, Italy was besieged by waves of barbarian invasions, imperial rulers were losing power, and arguments were erupting between bishops in the Eastern and Western Churches. The times called for a strong leader in Rome – and the Church got one in Pope Leo I, who was pope from 440-461 A.D.
Feast day: Oct. 4
Born into a life of privilege in the 12th century, Francis spent his youth pursuing leisure. But then, one day, something changed. Some say it was because of a serious illness. Others say it was the experience of being imprisoned for a year as part of a military expedition. But change he did.
Feast Day: Aug. 21
When St. Pius X was named pope in 1903, he used the words of St. Paul to state his most fervent desire: “to restore all things in Christ.” (Eph 1:10) How was this to be achieved? Through education – by teaching Christian doctrine to the young and the old, to the rich and the poor. He felt religious devotion was devoid of meaning unless people understood their faith.
Feast Day: June 24
Saint Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, known as Mother Lupita, embraced a life of poverty while serving the poor and sick during a dangerous time in Mexico’s history.
Feast Day: May 30
Thanks to movies, books and popular legend, St. Joan of Arc seems more familiar than many saints because we have seen her depicted as a male soldier, wearing military armor. But did you know that this courageous peasant girl from the 15th century, who helped drive the English from French territory during their long-running war, never had any military training? Did you know she never learned how to read or write? And in spite of no formal religious training, Joan of Arc was able to speak eloquently about theology and her faith at her trial.
Feast Day: April 21
Feast Day - March 20
Saint María Josefa felt called to religious life at a young age growing up in nineteenth-century Spain, initially believing she was called to join a monastery and live a contemplative life. But when she was just 18, María realized she had a vocation to a more active religious calling. She originally joined the Institute of the Servants of Mary, but soon discovered her call was more specific, and she needed to focus on the sick in both hospitals and in their homes.
Feast Day: February 23
As the bishop of Smyrna in the second century, St. Polycarp (69-155) was one of the most important leaders of the early Church. Smyrna was an important city in Asia Minor because Christianity had taken root there very early on.
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.