Bl. Maria Franciszka Siedliska (1842-1902) was born to a noble and wealthy family in Warsaw, Poland. When a Capuchin friar prepared her for her First Holy Communion, she began to desire the religious life and made a private act of consecration to God. Her father was greatly opposed and said he would rather see her dead than lost to the cloister. Her vocation was not deterred, and she went to Rome to obtain the Pope’s blessing for founding an active apostolic Order modeled on the hidden virtues of the Holy Family. The Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth was formed in 1875, and she took the name Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd. In 1885 the Nazareth Sisters arrived in New York, eventually settling near Chicago where they made their first foundation in the U.S.A. She was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1989. Her feast day is November 21.
St. Cecilia (3rd c.) is one of the most venerated of the virgin martyrs of Rome. Her name is in the Roman Canon of the Mass. According to tradition she made a private vow of chastity to Jesus, yet her parents promised her in marriage to a suitor. On her wedding night, St. Cecilia told her husband that she had not only made a vow to remain a virgin, but that an angel guarded her purity. Her husband agreed to honor her vow and follow Christ if he could also see her guardian angel. She instructed him to first be baptized, and afterwards he was able to see her angel. Cecilia’s brother-in-law also converted, and both men were eventually martyred for their faith; but not without first converting their jailer. St. Cecilia was later arrested and also sentenced to death. An executioner struck three blows but was not successful in severing her head from her body; instead, she survived for three days preaching to those who visited her in prison until her last breath. They lovingly soaked up the blood from her wounds with clothes and sponges. Her relics, along with those of her husband, his brother, and the converted jailor, were placed in the church of St. Cecilia in Rome. Because she sang hymns to Jesus in her heart on her wedding day, St. Cecilia is the patron saint of musicians. Her feast day is celebrated on November 22nd.
|St. Clement of Rome (d. 100 A.D.), also known as Pope St. Clement I, is considered the first Apostolic Father of the Church. He is mentioned by name in the Bible by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:3. St. Clement is also said to be one of the band of seventy followers of Jesus’ ministry as described in the Gospels. Clement was a disciple of St. Peter and was ordained by him, and became the fourth Bishop of Rome. Of his life and death little is known, but he has left one definite writing: a letter to the Church in Corinth, Greece. The Basilica of St. Clement is one of the earliest parish churches of Rome and was built on the site of his home. Pope St. Clement I is the patron saint of mariners, sailors, marble-workers, stone-cutters, and sick children. His feast day is celebrated on November 23rd.|
Blessed Maria Fortunata Viti (1827–1922) was born in Italy, the eldest daughter of nine children. Her father had a gambling and alcohol addiction, and her mother died when she was 14 years old. Maria then cared for her younger siblings and worked as a housekeeper to earn money for the family as her father sunk deeper into his addiction. Maria rejected an offer for marriage, deciding instead to become a Benedictine nun at the age of 24. Sr. Maria Fortunata, illiterate her entire life, spent more than seventy years in the monastery as a housekeeper attending to the washing, sewing, and other simple tasks, which was her path to holiness. She was admired for her great simplicity of heart, and her confessor testified that she was often accosted by the devil with threats, physical attacks, and vile insults in attempts to break her virtue. She had great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and made frequent visits to the chapel tabernacle as she carried out her daily tasks. She died at the age of 95, and after her death miracles were reported at her grave. She is a patron saint against poverty, temptations, loss of parents, and mental illness. Her feast day is November 20th.
St. Barlaam of Antioch (d. 304 A.D.) was an elderly, uneducated peasant laborer from a village near Antioch. He was arrested for his Christian faith under the persecution of Roman Emperor Diocletian. He was detained for a long time in a dungeon before being brought before his judge. At his trial he was severely scourged, his bones dislocated on the rack, and tortured in other ways in an attempt to force him to renounce his faith in Christ and sacrifice to idols. Instead of crying out, there was joy in his countenance. His meekness, answers, and resolute will confounded his persecutors. The judge, determined to not be humiliated by a peasant, then devised a plan that would force Barlaam to offer sacrifice to the gods despite his constancy. He had an altar with a fire prepared, and had Barlaam’s right hand held over the fire and filled with incense and hot coals. This would force Barlaam’s burning hand to recoil, causing the incense to fall before the pagan altar, which the judge could then proclaim as a public act of sacrifice to the idols. Instead, Barlaam endured the pain in perfect stillness. He held his hand steady until it burned off completely. Irate, the judge ordered his immediate death. St. Barlaam’s feast day is November 19th.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769–1852) was born in Grenoble, France, to a wealthy and prominent family. At the age of 18 she joined the Visitation nuns against the wishes of her family, taking her religious name after St. Rose of Lima and St. Philip Neri. During the anti-religious fervor of French Revolution, the “Reign of Terror,” her convent was shut down. She then took up the work of providing care for the sick, hiding priests from the revolutionaries, and educating homeless children. When the tensions of the revolution subsided, she rented out her old convent in an attempt to revive her religious order, but the spirit was gone. She and the few remaining nuns of her convent then joined the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Since childhood St. Rose Philippine had had a strong desire to do missionary work in the New World, especially among the Native Americans. This was realized in 1818 when she and four nuns traveled across the Atlantic, a journey of eleven weeks, and another seven weeks up the Mississipi river to serve in one of the remotest outposts in the region in St. Charles, Missouri. St. Rose Philippine was a hardy pioneer woman ministering in the Midwest during its difficult frontier days. She opened several schools and served the Potawatomi Indians who gave her the name “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,” meaning, “Woman-who-prays-always.” Her feast day is November 18th.
St. Edwin (585-633 A.D.) was the son of the pagan King of Deira who reigned in present-day England. After his father was deposed from his throne, Edwin spent his childhood in exile to escape rival kings who considered his bloodline a threat to their rule. One day a stranger prophesied that Edwin would reclaim his father’s throne if he promised to obey what would later be taught to him regarding his own eternal salvation. Eventually Edwin rose to power and regained the Kingdom of Deira which expanded to encompass all of Northumbria. After the death of his first wife, he married a Catholic princess. He permitted his wife to practice her faith freely and to have their children baptized. He also welcomed St. Paulinus, Archbishop of York, into his kingdom and accepted his religious instruction. Edwin became increasingly drawn to Christianity after a series of providential events, but he did not convert until St. Paulinus revealed to Edwin that he was the same stranger who, years before, prophesied about his future. Edwin then repented of his sins, accepted baptism, and became an exemplary Catholic king who contributed to the spread of Christianity across his kingdom. St. Edwin died in battle against a pagan army and is therefore considered to be a martyr for the Faith. His feast day is October 12.
St. Edward the Confessor (1003-1066 A.D.) was a prince born to the King and Queen of England. His family was exiled from the kingdom when the Danish took control of the country in 1016 A.D. Edward spent much of his life in exile, probably in Normandy. Witnessing the folly of worldly ambition, he became attracted to the life of the Church and grew in piety. When opportunity arose he was persuaded to reclaim the throne of England, which he did in 1042 as one of its last Anglo-Saxon kings. The people supported his rule, and he gained a reputation as a just king committed to the welfare of his subjects. He thwarted invasions, ended unjust taxes, and was profoundly generous to the poor. His reign was marked by peace and prosperity throughout his kingdom. He married a beautiful woman to satisfy the people’s desire for a queen, but, having already made a vow of chastity, he obtained his wife’s agreement to live together as brother and sister. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, which he built, and after his death many miracles were ascribed to his intercession. This lead to his canonization in 1161, and in 1163 the transferral of his body to a new tomb. This was presided over by St. Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who found Edward’s body to be incorrupt. Edward was called “The Confessor” to distinguish him from St. Edward the Martyr. He is buried behind the high altar in Westminster Abbey. He is the patron of kings, difficult marriages, separated spouses, and the English royal family. His feast day is October 13th.
Pope St. Callistus I (d. 223 A.D.) was a Roman by birth and a Christian slave. He was the servant of a fellow Christian serving in the Roman imperial household. He was entrusted with the task of managing his master’s wealth, which he used to operate a bank into which many Christians invested their money. When the bank failed due to unpaid loans, Callistus fled the city in fear of retribution. He was soon caught, and in punishment was sentenced to hard slave labor in the Sardinian mines. He eventually obtained his freedom when he and the other Christian slaves working in the mines were released, or perhaps ransomed, with special pardon from the Emperor. Callistus was later recalled to Rome by Pope Zephyrinus to serve as his deacon, top adviser, and the caretaker of the important Christian cemetery along the Appian Way. This cemetary, which now bears Callistus’ name, contains the relics of many martyrs. As the Holy Father’s adviser, St. Callistus drew the ire of Tertullian and St. Hippolytus of Rome who were his constant theological opponents. When Pope Zephyrinus died, Callistus was elected to the Chair of St. Peter in 217 A.D. As pope, St. Callistus was known for his leniency and forgiveness. He upheld the teaching of the Church that grave sins could be forgiven with true contrition and due penance, which was controversial at the time. He reigned for five years and died a martyr; one account holds that he was killed by an anti-Christian mob, being thrown from his house and stoned to death. His feast day is October 14th.
Saint Luke’s Story (D. C. 84)
Luke wrote one of the major portions of the New Testament, a two-volume work comprising the third Gospel and Acts of the Apostles. In the two books he shows the parallel between the life of Christ and that of the Church. He is the only Gentile Christian among the Gospel writers. Tradition holds him to be a native of Antioch, and Paul calls him “our beloved physician.” His Gospel was probably written between 70 and 85 A.D.
Luke appears in Acts during Paul’s second journey, remains at Philippi for several years until Paul returns from his third journey, accompanies Paul to Jerusalem, and remains near him when he is imprisoned in Caesarea. During these two years, Luke had time to seek information and interview persons who had known Jesus. He accompanied Paul on the dangerous journey to Rome where he was a faithful companion.
Luke’s unique character may best be seen by the emphases of his Gospel, which has been given a number of subtitles:
1) The Gospel of Mercy
2) The Gospel of Universal Salvation
3) The Gospel of the Poor
4) The Gospel of Absolute Renunciation
5) The Gospel of Prayer and the Holy Spirit
6) The Gospel of Joy
Luke wrote as a Gentile for Gentile Christians. His Gospel and Acts of the Apostles reveal his expertise in classic Greek style as well as his knowledge of Jewish sources. There is a warmth to Luke’s writing that sets it apart from that of the other synoptic Gospels, and yet it beautifully complements those works. The treasure of the Scriptures is a true gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church.
Saint Luke is the Patron Saint of: