Saints of the Week: Mary’s Presentation, Apostles, John Chrysostom, Noah, L. O’Toole, Albert, Gertrude, Elizabeth, & More
Happy Tuesday! Due to my sickness, my saints of the week article did not come out this past Sunday as usual, but it’s never too late to read about the great men and women who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
Today, Nov. 21, is the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Presentation in the Temple. Written and oral tradition from the earliest centuries tells us that Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, were childless until they were elderly, when they miraculously had Mary. So when she was three years old Mary was dedicated to God at the Temple, where she grew up serving the Lord and learning about Him. It was this service and education in the Temple that prepared Mary to be the Mother of Christ, the Messiah.
St. Matthew the Apostle (Nov. 16) was a tax collector called by Jesus (Matt. 9:9) and thereafter one of the 12 apostles. He wrote the first of the New Testament Gospels, in either Aramaic or Hebrew, to convince his fellow Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. He evangelized in either Persia or Ethiopia and was martyred. St. Philip the Apostle (Nov. 14, Byzantine calendar), “who like Peter and Andrew was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and had become a disciple of John the Baptist, was called by the Lord to follow him. He preached in Phrygia with John the Theologian, and Bartholomew. Philip was crucified there upside down on a tree. [ECPubs]” Some sources say Philip preached in Greece too.
St. John Chrysostom (Nov. 13, Byzantine calendar) was the “archbishop of Constantinople. Born in Antioch, he was ordained to the priesthood and found worthy of the title Chrysostom because of his golden eloquence. Chosen for the see of Constantinople, he showed himself to be the best pastor and teacher of the faith. He was forced into exile by his enemies. When he was recalled from his exile by a decree of Pope Saint Innocent I, having suffered many evils from the accompanying soldiers, he returned his soul to God on the fourteenth day of September at Comana in Pontus [d. 407 AD]. [ECPubs]”
Nov. 18 is the celebration of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul in Rome. Indeed, Nov. 18, 1626, marks the end of the construction on the current St. Peter’s Basilica. Among the principle designers were Michelangelo, Bernini, Donato Bramante, and Carlo Maderno. St. Peter’s is one of the most iconic and magnificent churches in the world, a triumph of Renaissance and Baroque architecture and art. It is built on the site of St. Peter the Apostle’s tomb, just as St. Paul’s Outside the Walls is built on the site of St. Paul’s martyrdom. St. Austin explained of the practice of naming churches after saints, “We build not churches to martyrs as to gods, but memories as to men departed this life, whose souls live with God. Nor do we erect altars to sacrifice on them to the martyrs, but to the God of the martyrs, and our God.” We ask for saints’ intercession with God, as being even closer to God than our fellow Christians whom we ask for prayers on earth (see James 5:16 and Tobit 12:12).
Noah the Patriarch (Nov. 18) is one of the most famous of the Old Testament patriarchs, whose righteousness merited the salvation of his family when the whole human race was wiped out (see Gen. 6-8). Catholicsaints.info: “Son of Lamech, and ninth patriarch of the Sethite line, who, with his family, was saved in the Ark from the Deluge, dying 350 years later at the age of 950. Father of Sem, Cham and Japhet[h].” Obadiah the Prophet, (Nov. 19) whose prophecy is in the Old Testament, was also this week.
St. Lawrence O'Toole (Nov. 14) was born in Ireland in 1125, and as a child was abused while serving as a political hostage to the King of Leinster. Lawrence was later given to the care of the bishop-abbot of Glendalough, where Lawrence eventually succeeded to the abbacy upon the bishop’s death. He became archbishop of Dublin next, and then traveled to England to negotiate with King Henry II. An insane maniac who fancied he would make Lawrence into a second St. Thomas a Becket attacked Lawrence, but after washing his own apparently deadly head wound with water the bleeding abruptly stopped and the Irish Archbishop celebrated Mass. Lawrence later made a second trip to England to effect reconciliation between King Henry and an Irish king.
St. Albert the Great (Nov. 15) was the “Son of a military nobleman. Dominican. Priest. Taught theology at Cologne, Germany, and Paris, France. Teacher of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Influential teacher, preacher, and administrator. Bishop of Regensburg, Germany. Introduced Greek and Arabic science and philosophy to medieval Europe. Known for his wide interest in what became known later as the natural sciences - botany, biology, etc. Wrote and illustrated guides to his observations, and was considered on a par with Aristotle as an authority on these matters. Theological writer. Doctor of the Church [Catholicsaints.info].”
St. Gertrude the Great (Nov. 16) “was raised in the Benedictine abbey of Saint Mary of Helfta, Eisleben, Saxony from age five. An extremely bright and dedicated student, she excelled in literature and philosophy, and when she was old enough, became a Benedictine nun. At age 26, when she had become too enamored of philosophy, she received a vision of Christ who reproached her; from then on she studied the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers. Gertrude received other visions and mystical instruction, which formed the basis of her writings. She helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her writings have been greatly praised by Saint Teresa and Saint Francis de Sales, and continue in print today [d. 1302].” St. Mechtilde of Helfta (Nov. 19), a 13th century German nun and visionary who inspired and taught St. Gertrude the Great, was also celebrated this week.
Our Lady of Quinche (Nov. 21). It is said that Jesus’s Mother Mary appeared to Oyacachi natives in the area of modern Ecuador, promising to protect their children, and that the artist Don Diego de Robles then arrived with a statue that looked just like the heavenly Lady. At first Don Diego refused to stay and build a shrine as the natives requested, but when he was rescued from a fall off his horse by praying to Mary he decided to build an altar. Shrines have been built or re-built several times for the statue, which has been adorned by the locals with beautiful garments, and many miracles—particularly healings—are associated with the image. Our Lady of Quinche’s shrine is now the national shrine of Ecuador.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary (Nov. 17/19) was a Hungarian princess married to the holy Landgrave Louis of Thuringia, with whom she had three children. Pious, charitable, humble, generous, and joyous, Elizabeth ministered to the poor but also enjoyed celebrations with her family and court. After being widowed, she became a Third Order Franciscan. You can read more about this remarkable saint in my previous article.
St. Margaret of Scotland (Nov. 16) was a princess whose family fled William the Conqueror’s onslaught on England. After they were shipwrecked in Scotland, King Malcolm was captivated by Margaret and she became queen of Scotland in 1070. Malcolm soon came to have a great respect for Margaret’s advice, and she also promoted education, the arts, and religious reform. She founded churches and was a devoted mother to her eight children. Margaret also practiced personal penance and ministered to the poor. She died soon after her husband and elder son were killed.
St. Gregory Thaumaturgus or the Wonder-Worker (Nov. 17) was a pagan law scholar converted by Origen in Caesarea, the Holy Land. Gregory became a bishop and eloquent preacher. He fought heresy, ministered to his flock during a plague, and temporarily fled from Decius’s persecution of Christians. He performed many miracles, including stopping a flood, drying up a lake, and exorcising demons from a pagan temple. Gregory saw a vision of Our Lady and St. John the Baptist.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (Nov. 18) was a French Visitation nun who survived the French Revolution to become a missionary to the U.S. territory west of the Mississippi. She founded two schools in Louisiana and orphanages, an academy, and a novitiate in Missouri. She briefly served at a Native American Indian mission in the area of modern Kansas.
St. Odo of Cluny (Nov. 18) was born in the late 800s as a French nobleman, and he studied music and theology before becoming a Benedictine monk. He was headmaster of a monastery school and then Abbot of famous Cluny. Odo was asked by the pope to reform all the monasteries in Aquitaine. He acted as a political peacemaker, wrote in a variety of styles and mediums, helped the poor, and removed monasteries from state control.
Bl. Leonardus Kimura (Nov. 18) was the grandson of St. Francis Xavier’s first Japanese convert. Kimura became a lay catechist and then a Jesuit brother, traveling with Jesuit missionaries until they were expelled from Japan. “In 1619 he was captured with a small group of Christians. He was dressed as a Japanese gentleman, and the priest hunters had no idea they’d nabbed a Jesuit. At his trial the judge offered him the usual 200 pieces of silver if he would reveal the whereabouts of a Jesuit priest. Kimura said, ‘I know one Jesuit; he is a Co-adjutor Brother and not a priest, and I am that Brother.’ This admission sent him to prison. There he continued his mission as catechist, converted jailers and prisoners, and turned the prison into a Christian community with fixed times for prayer and meditation; this work sent him to martyrdom.”
St. Edmund of East Anglia (Nov. 20) was a 9th century king of the East Angles (English) who fought against and was ultimately defeated and killed by the pagan Danes. “Edmund was captured and when he refused to give up his Christian faith, the Danes tied him to a tree, shot him full of arrows and cut off his head. Legend says that when the King’s followers found his body, they heard a cry of ‘hic, hic, hic’, Latin for ‘here, here, here’, and discovered a wolf guarding his head.” He is considered a martyr since he was killed after refusing to apostatize.
St. Josaphat Kuncevyc (Nov. 14, Latin Mass calendar): “[B]ishop of Polotsk. Josaphat Kuncewicz, bishop of the Greek Catholic Church and martyr, spurred his flock to Catholic unity by his constant effort and nurtured the Byzantine-Slavic Church by his pious love. At Vitebsk in Belarus (then under the control of Poland), he was cruelly seized by an angry mob and died for the unity of the Church and in defense of the Catholic truth [died 1623. ECPubs].”
St. Agnes of Assisi (Nov. 16) joined the order founded by her sister St. Clare, the Poor Clares, and became an abbess near Florence. St. Joseph Mukasa (Nov. 15) was the major-domo and captain of court pages for the king of Uganda; he was killed in 1885 after rebuking the king’s dissolute lifestyle, becoming the country’s first Catholic martyr. St. Felix of Valois (Nov. 20, Latin Mass calendar) was a Cistercian monk, hermit, and priest who founded the Trinitarian order to ransom Christian slaves from the Muslims (d. 1212). St. Barlaam of Antioch (Nov. 19) was martyred after he refused to abandon the faith for paganism, even allowing his hand to be burned off when it was held in the fire with incense on top. Pope St. Pontian (Nov. 19) convened a synod and reconciled with anti-pope St. Hippolytus while exiled in the Sardinian mines.
Pope St. Nicholas I (Nov. 13) was both religiously and politically active in the 9th century, fighting the divorce of Lothair of Lotharingia and backing St. Ignatius for the see of Constantinople. Pope St. Gelasius (Nov. 21) fought heresies, composed liturgical prayers, and helped phase out pagan Roman festivals. St. Ebbe of Minster-in-Thanet (Nov. 19) was born into a family of saints, married a king, and had several saintly children of her own; she obtained land for a monastery where she became abbess after her husband’s death. St. Homobonus of Cremona (Nov. 13) was a married tailor and merchant who gave generously to charity. St. Nerses the Great (Nov. 19) was a 4th century Armenian bishop, reformer, and martyr.
St. Cyprian of Calamizzi (Nov. 20) was a monk and hermit who provided both spiritual and medical aid. St. Nicholas Giustiniani (Nov. 21) was a Venetian noble who left the monastery after his brothers’ death to marry and raise a family, after which he returned to religious life. St. Francis Xavier Can Nguyen (Nov. 20) was a Vietnamese layman catechist martyred in 1837. Bl. Lucy of Narni (Nov. 15) was a married woman who became a Dominican tertiary and experienced visions and mystical phenomena. St. Brice of Tours (Nov. 13) was a wild youth, raised by St. Martin of Tours, who later became a holy bishop. Bl. John Licci (Nov. 14) was a Dominican priest and miracle-worker who lived more than 100 years. All Saints of the Augustinian, Benedictine, Dominican, Carmelite, and Premonstratensian orders were celebrated Nov. 13 and 14.
St. Hugh of Lincoln (Nov. 17) was a Carthusian abbot and then bishop in 12th century England. Bl. Ambrose of Camaldoli (Nov. 20) was a multi-talented “Renaissance man” and Camaldolese monk who worked for reunification of Western and Eastern Christians at the Council of Florence. St. Rocco Gonzalez and companions (Nov. 15) were Jesuit missionaries to Paraguay, where they opposed slave traders but were martyred. St. Leopold III (Nov. 15) was a married Austrian ruler, father of 18 children, founder of religious houses, supporter of the First Crusade, and arranger of the 1122 Concordat of Worms. St. Dubricius of Wales (Nov. 14) was a relative of the Welsh King Brychan of Brycheiniog, a hermit and archbishop. St. Abbo of Fleury (Nov. 13) was a Benedictine monk, peacemaker, and great scholar murdered by monks who resented his reforms. Bl. Gaius of Korea (Nov. 15) evangelized and was martyred in Japan.
St. Hilda of Whitby (Nov. 17) was a Benedictine abbess and patroness of learning, including of St. Caedmon the poet (d. 680). Bl. Franciszka Siedliska (Nov. 21) was Polish nun who founded a new religious order. Bl. Clelia Merloni (Nov. 21) was a 19th century Italian who founded a religious order. St. Edmund Rich (Nov. 16) was a professor at Oxford and archbishop of Canterbury, who later became a monk (d. 1240). St. Gregory of Tours (Nov. 17) was a 6th century bishop and historical writer who struggled against political persecution. Bl. Maria Fortunata Viti (Nov. 20) was an Italian Benedictine and housekeeper at her convent; miracles were reported at her grave. St. Othmar of St. Gall (Nov. 16) was an abbot in Switzerland who miraculously fed the poor. St. Rufus of Rome (Nov. 21) was mentioned by St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans (16:13).
You can also read about Florido of Città di Castello, Chillien of Aubigny, and Carl Lampert (Nov. 13); Nikola Tavelic and comrades, Maria Scrilli, Serapion of Algiers, Alberic of Utrecht, Siard, and Maria Louise Merkert (Nov. 14); Joseph Pignatelli, Raphael Kalinowski, Hélène-Marie-Philippine, John Rugg, and Findan (Nov. 15); Afan of Wales, Edward Osbaldeston, Simeon of Cava, Martyrs of Africa, and Zef Marksen (Nov. 16); Florinus of Remüs, Aignan of Orléans, Acisclus, Victoria of Cordoba, Yosafat Kotsylovskyi, and Salomea of Galicia (Nov. 17); Karoliny Kózkówny, Mawes, Andreas Murayama Tokuan and companions, Vidal Luis Gómara, Romano of Antioch, Takeya family, Barulas, and Keverne (Nov. 18); James Benefatti, Simon of Mt. Mercury, and Alexandre Planas Saurí (Nov. 19); Sylvester of Châlons-sur-Saône, Crispin of Ecija, Heraclea and Turin Martyrs, and Bernerio of Eboli (Nov. 20); and Maur of Cesena, Maurus of Porec, Agapius of Caesarea, Eoin O'Mulkern, Gelasius O'Cullenan, Digain, Hilary of Vulturno, Amelberga, Colman Iomramha, and Asta Martyrs (Nov. 21).
Have a blessed week!