Saint Therese of Lisieux
Feast Day: October 1
Patron of the Missions
She felt an early call to religious life, and overcoming various obstacles, in 1888 at the early age of 15, became a nun and joined two of her older sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux,Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, having fulfilled various offices such as sacristanand assistant to the novice mistress, and having spent the last eighteen months in Carmel in a night of faith, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. The impact of The Story of a Soul, a collection of her autobiographical manuscripts, printed and distributed a year after her death to an initially very limited audience, was great, and she rapidly became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century.Pope Pius XI made her the “star of his pontificate”. She was beatified in 1923, and canonized in 1925. The speed of this process may be seen by comparison with that applied to a great heroine of Thérèse,Joan of Arc, who died in 1431 but was not canonized until 1920. Thérèse was declared co-patron of the missions with Francis Xavier in 1927, and named co-patron of France with Joan of Arc in 1944. On 19 October 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church, the youngest person, and only the third woman, to be so honored. Devotion to Thérèse has developed around the world.
Thérèse lived a hidden life and “wanted to be unknown,” yet became popular after her death through her spiritual autobiography – she left also letters, poems, religious plays, prayers, and her last conversations were recorded by her sisters. Paintings and photographs – mostly the work of her sister Céline – further led to her being recognised by millions of men and women. According to one of her biographers, Guy Gaucher, after her death, “Thérèse fell victim to an excess of sentimental devotion which betrayed her. She was victim also to her language, which was that of the late nineteenth century and flowed from the religiosity of her age.” Thérèse herself said on her death-bed, “I only love simplicity. I have a horror of pretence”, and she spoke out against some of the Lives of saints written in her day,” We should not say improbable things, or things we do not know. We must see their real, and not their imagined lives.”
The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, “my way is all confidence and love,” has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. “I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus.” The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness.
The Basilica of Lisieux is the second largest place of pilgrimage in France after Lourdes.
St. Francis of Assisi
Feastday: October 4
Patron of Animals, Merchants & Ecology
Named as Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone and was born on October 3, 1226. He was an Italian, Catholic Friar and Preacher. He founded the men’s Franciscan Order, the women’s Order of St. Claire and the lay Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant in Assisi, and he lived the high-spirited life typical of a wealthy young man, even fighting as a soldier for his home town.While going off to war in 1204, Francis had a vision that directed him back to Assisi, where he lost his taste for his worldly life.On a pilgrimage to Rome, Francis begged with the beggars at St. Peter’s Square. The experience moved him to live in poverty.Francis returned home, began preaching on the streets, and soon amassed a following. His order was endorsed by Pope Innocent III in 1210. He then founded the Order of Poor Clares, which was an enclosed order for women, as well as the Third Order of Brothers and Sisters of Penance. In 1219, he went to Egypt in an attempt to convert the Sultan. By this point, the Franciscan Order had grown to such an extent that its primitive organizational structure was no longer sufficient. He returned to Italy to organize the order. Once his organization was endorsed by the Pope, he withdrew increasingly from external affairs. In 1223, Francis arranged for the first Christmas manger scene.In 1224, he received the stigmata, making him the first person to bear the wounds of Christ’s Passion.He died in 1226 while preaching Psalm 141.
On July 16, 1228, he was pronounced a saint by Pope Gregory IX. He is known as one of the two patrons of Italy (with Catherine of Siena), and it is customary for Catholic and Anglican churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October.
St. Faustina Kowalska
Feastday: October 5
Maria Faustina Kowalska, commonly known as Saint Faustina, born Helenka Kowalska (August 25, 1905, near Lodz, Poland then in the Russian Empire – Died October 5, 1938, Kraków, Poland) was a Polish nun, mystic and visionary. She is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as a saint, and is known as the Apostle of Divine Mercy.
Throughout her life, she reported a number of visions of Jesus and conversations with him, which she wrote about in her diary, later published as the book Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul. Her Vatican biography quotes some of these conversations regarding the Divine Mercy devotion.
At age 20 she joined a convent in Warsaw and was later transferred to Plock, and then to Vilnius, where she met her confessor Michael Sopocko who supported her devotion to Divine Mercy. Faustina and Sopocko directed an artist to paint the first Divine Mercy image, based on Faustina’s reported vision of Jesus. Sopocko used the image to celebrate the first Mass on the first Sunday after Easter – which later became known as Divine Mercy Sunday.
In her diary Faustina predicted that her work would be suppressed for some time, then accepted again. Two decades after her death the Divine Mercy devotion was banned by the Vatican, but was approved again in 1978 and she was declared the first saint of the 21st century in April 2000.The Divine Mercy devotion is now followed by over 100 million Catholics.
St. Francis Borgia
Feastday: October 10
Patron against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota, Mariana
He was born Francesco Borgia de Candia d’Aragon within the Duchy of Gandia, Valencia on 28 October 1510. Although as a child he was very pious and wished to become a monk, his family sent him instead to the court of the Holy Roman Emperor. He distinguished himself there, accompanying the Emperor on several campaigns. In September 1526 at age 16, he married a Portuguese noblewoman in Madrid, Eleanor de Castro Melo e Menezes. They had eight children: Carlos in 1530, Isabel in 1532, Juan in 1533, Álvaro circa 1535, Juana also circa 1535, Fernando in 1537, Dorotea in 1538, and Alfonso in 1539.
In 1539, he convoyed the corpse of Isabella of Protugal, Philip II of Spain ‘s mother, to her burial place in Granada. It is said that, when he saw the effect of death on the beautiful empress, he decided to “never again serve a mortal master.”
In 1543 upon the death of his father, the 3rd Duke of Gandía, Francis became the 4th Duke of Gandia. By then 33 years old he had retired to his native place and led, with his wife, Eleanor de Castro Melo e Menezes and their family, a life devoted entirely to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
But in 1546 his wife Eleanor died and then Francis was determined to enter the newly formed Society of Jesus making previously adequate provisions for the future of their children.
He put his affairs in order circa 1550, renounced his titles in favour of his eldest son Carlos de Borja-Aragon y de Castro-Melo, and became a Jesuit priest. Because of his high birth, great abilities and Europe-wide fame, he was immediately offered a cardinal’s hat. This, however, he refused, preferring the life of an itinerant preacher. In time, however, his friends persuaded him to accept the leadership role that nature and circumstances had destined him for: in 1554, he became the Jesuits’ commissary-general in Spain; and, in 1565, the third Father General or Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
St. Teresa of Avila
Feastday: October 15
Patron of Headache sufferers, Spanish Catholic Writers
Saint Teresa of Ávila, also called Saint Teresa of Jesus, baptized as Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada, (March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582) was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun, and writer of the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be, along with John of the Cross, a founder of the Discalced Carmelites.
In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and in 1970 named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her books, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus, and her seminal work, El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), are an integral part of the Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices as she entails in her other important work Camino de Perfección (The Way of Perfection).
Feastday: October 18
Patron Physicians and Surgeons
Luke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St. Paul’s “Luke, the beloved physician” (Colossians 4:14). We know few other facts about Luke’s life from Scripture and from early Church historians.
It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In Colossians 10-14 speaks of those friends who are with him. He first mentions all those “of the circumcision” — in other words, Jews — and he does not include Luke in this group. Luke’s gospel shows special sensitivity to evangelizing Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian (Lk.4:25-27), and that we hear the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan (Lk.17:11-19). According to the early Church historian Eusebius Luke was born at Antioch in Syria. In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician. Not only do we have Paul’s word, but Eusebius, St. Jerome and Saint Irenaeus and Caius, a second-century writer, all refer to Luke as a physician. He is venerated as Saint Luke, patron saint of artists, physicians, surgeons, students, and butchers.
Bl. John Paul II
Feastday: October 22
Patron of World Youth Day (Co- Patron)
Blessed Pope John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła 18 May 1920, reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at 84 years and 319 days of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted 26 years and 168 days; only Pope Pius IX (1846–1878) who served 31 years, has reigned longer. Pope John Paul II is the only Slavic or Polish pope to date and was the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI (1522–1523).
John Paul II has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. Conversely, he denounced the excesses of capitalism. John Paul II is widely said to have significantly improved the Catholic Church’s relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and theAnglican Communion. Though criticised by progressives for upholding the Church’s teachings against artificial contraception and the ordination of women, he was also criticised by traditionalists for his support of the Church’s Second Vatican Council and its reform of the Liturgy as well as his ecumenical efforts.
He was one of the most-travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. He spoke Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Croatian, and Latin as well as his native Polish. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonised 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on 1 May 2011.
St. Jude Thaddaeus
Feastday: October 28
Patron of Desperate Cases
St. Jude, known as Thaddaeus, was a brother of St. James the Less, and a relative of Our Saviour. St. Jude was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.
Ancient writers tell us that he preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Lybia. According to Eusebius, he returned to Jerusalem in the year 62, and assisted at the election of his brother, St. Simeon, as Bishop of Jerusalem.
He is an author of an epistle (letter) to the Churches of the East, particularly the Jewish converts, directed against the heresies of the Simonians, Nicolaites, and Gnostics. This Apostle is said to have suffered martyrdom in Armenia, which was then subject to Persia. The final conversion of the Armenian nation to Christianity did not take place until the third century of our era.
Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper why He would not manifest Himself to the whole world after His resurrection. Little else is known of his life. Legend claims that he visited Beirut and Edessa; possibly martyred with St. Simon in Persia.
Jude is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases and his feast day is October 28. Saint Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot who betrayed Our Lord and despaired because of his great sin and lack of trust in God’s mercy.