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 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.
Saint of the Week
St. John Paul II
Born in Wadowice, Poland, in 1920 Karol Jozef Wojtyla felt his call to the priesthood early in life. He attended the University of Krakow, but when it was closed by the Nazis in 1939, he became a laborer in a stone quarry. In 1942, he shifted his education to secretly preparing for the priesthood. He studied theology in Rome after the war and returned to Poland as a teacher. Communist officials, judging him a harmless intellectual, permitted his elevation as a bishop. Always an outdoorsman, he learned of this while kayaking!
He was elected as pope, and was invested on October 22, 1978; at 58, the youngest in 150 years, and the first non-Italian in 455 years. John Paul II was the most traveled pope in history, having visited nearly every country in the world which would receive him. As the Vicar of Christ, he consecrated each place that he visited the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was an outspoken opponent of apartheid, abortion, capital punishment, and the Iraq war. He promoted ecumenical and interfaith initiatives. One of the most well-remembered photos of John Paul II’s pontificate was his one-on-one conversation in 1983, with Mehmet Ali Agca, who had attempted to assassinate him two years earlier.
In the last years of his life, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and osteoarthritis, finally succumbing in 2005.