What is a Saint?
In the Catholic Church, the saints are ordinary people like you and me who made it to heaven. They’ve done nothing that you and I cannot do, if we persevere in following Jesus Christ and living our lives according to His teaching.
Catholic devotion to the saints is nothing more than respect and admiration for the memory of the deceased heroes of the Church. We honor them as men and women of heroic virtue who can serve as our role models. They were no more perfect than are we; but, at the end of their lives – and hopefully, ours – they received from Our Lord his words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
We also ask the saints to intercede for us. Have you ever asked anyone to pray for you when you were having a hard time? That is how Catholics “pray to” the saints – we pray with saints, not to them. As the Letter of James says, “The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.”
Well-known saints like those below often are remembered in a special way on particular days during the year.
January – February – March – April – May – June
July – August – September – October – November – December
This Weeks Saints
Bl. Margaret Pole
Pope St. Paul VI
St. Jeanne d’Arc
Feast of the Visitation
St. Justin Martyr
Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
St. Charles Lwanga
St. Joan of Arc
“Since God had commanded it, it was necessary that I do it.”St. Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc, a national heroine of France, was born to a peasant family in Domremy, France in 1412 during the Hundred Years War. Joan was fourteen when she first heard voices that identified themselves as Saints Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch; telling her to drive out the English. At their command, she went to the Dauphin, the uncrowned French prince, at Chinon, with a bid to “save France.” After his advisers confirmed Joan’s virtues, she was given an army and sent to Orleans as a part of an effort to lift the siege of that city. Possessing remarkable mental and physical courage, she led them to victory at the age of 18, under a banner that proclaimed, “Jesus, Mary.” Several additional victories led to Charles VII’s coronation at Reims.
The next year, at the siege of Compiegne, Joan was captured while fighting a rear-guard action against the Burgundians who were allies of the English. After nine months of negotiations, she was handed over to the English, who accused her of heresy and witchcraft and put her on trial.
The trial records witness to her unswerving fidelity to the Church. Despite many attempts to confuse and demoralize her, she conducted herself astutely and with such prudence and subtlety that the court was forced to end public sessions. In fact, those who were interrogating her were stupefied by her skill in evading the many theological traps set for her. But in the end, she was convicted of being a relapsed heretic, and handed over for execution. Before Joan was burned at the stake, she addressed a Dominican priest: “I pray you, go to the nearest church, and bring me the cross, and hold it up level with my eyes until I am dead. I would have the cross on which God hung ever before my eyes while life lasts in me.”
She died just so, at the age of 19, calling on the name of Jesus. “We have burned a saint,” an onlooker proclaimed. Twenty-five years later, in 1456, a retrial was ordered by Pope Callixtus III. The court dismissed the charges against her, confirmed her innocence, and declared her a martyr. She was canonized in 1920.
Sts. Charles Lwanga and Companions
“It is as if you are pouring water on me. Please repent and become a Christian like me.”Saint Charles Lwanga to his executioner
One of 22 Ugandan Catholic martyrs, Charles Lwanga was one of the young men serving in the court of King Mwanga II in present day Uganda during the 1880’s. Mwanga was a notoriously brutal ruler and pedophile who forced himself on the young men serving as pages and attendants. When the Catholic head page Joseph Mkasa confronted Mwanga over his murder of an Anglican missionary bishop and his companions, he was in turn murdered. The position of head page fell to Charles Lwanga, who requested and received baptism that same day. Charles continued to protect his charges from the violent advances of the king.
When the pages were questioned by the ruler and his court, any who were discovered to be catechumens or baptized Christians were forced to choose between agreeing to the king’s advances or death. Charles and his fellow Catholic pages, aged 13 to 30, were imprisoned; Charles encouraged and sustained them in their decision to remain chaste and hold fast to their faith.
After being marched almost 40 miles to an execution site at Namugongo, they were tortured for a week in an effort to force them to recant. None did. Finally, the young men were wrapped tightly in reed mats and thrown onto a pyre, including Mbaga, the son of the chief executioner. In all 22 Catholic and 23 Anglican young men suffered death during this period rather than give up their faith.