January Saints

Moving Feast:
  •  Baptism of the Lord – First Sunday after January 6.  In the event that it collides with our celebration of Epiphany, Epiphany wins out in a cage match.  Commemorates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan river (Mt 3:13-17; Mk 1:9-11; Lk 3:21-22; Jn 1:29-34).  First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary.

Saints Calendar:

  • 1/1 Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – Holy Day of Obligation.  Mary was mother of Jesus, fully human, fully divine.  The precise title “Theotokos” (God-bearer) was formally defined at the Council of Ephesus (431) to refute the heresies of the day.  Check out this article on Mary: Mother of God at Catholic Answers.
  • 1/2 St. Basil the Great – (329-379) Bishop, Greek Doctor of the ChurchFather of the Church, Father of Eastern Monasticism.  His mom, dad, and four of his siblings are also canonized Saints, including St. Gregory of Nyssa (another Father of the Church).  Patron of reformers and hospital administrators.  Click here and scroll down to read some of his writings.
  • 1/2 St. Gregory Nazianzen – (330-339) Bishop, Father of the ChurchDoctor of the Church, “the Theologian”.  Friend of St. Basil the Great (see above) and monk at Basil’s desert monastery. Defender of the Church against Arianism.  Click here and scroll down to read some of his writings.
  • 1/2 St. Macarius (the Younger) – (d.c.401)  Gave up a successful business as a confectioner to become a monk.  His practice of extreme aesthetics was truly legendary.  Check out the link for some examples.  Patron of pastry chefs.
  • 1/3 Most Holy Name of Jesus – Devotion to the name is as old as Christianity (see Phil 2:9), but was made especially popular through St. Bernardine of Sienna.
  • 1/4 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton – (1774-1821)  Convert, Widow.  Started the parochial school system in America.  First native born American to be canonized.  Patron against in-law problems, death of children, death of parents, of people ridiculed for their piety and widows.
  • 1/5 St. John Nepomucene Neumann – (1811-1860)  Redemptorist, 4th bishop of Philadelphia.  Born in Bohemia, came to US in 1836.  Spoke 12 languages, established nearly 100 parochial schools and founded the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.  First American male to be canonized.
  • 1/5 St. Simeon Stylites (the Elder) – (c.390-c.459) Lived for 37 years on a small platform at the top of a pillar.  He was the first of a long line of “pillar-hermits”.
  • 1/6 The Epiphany of the Lord –The 12th day after Christmas, January 6th (someone should write a song about the 12 days, right).  In most countries (US included) the celebration is transferred to the nearest Sunday.  Commemorates Christ revealing his Divinity, particularly to the Magi, at His Baptism, and the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana.
  • 1/6 St. Andre Bessette – (1845-1937)  French-Canadian Holy Cross Brother, “the Miracle Man of Montreal”, poorly educated door-keeper.  Andre had a deep devotion to St. Joseph and kept a lamp burning in the college chapel in front of the St. Joseph altar.  He cured many by anointing them with “St Joseph’s oil” (oil from that lamp) and praying.  Eventually he built a chapel dedicated to St. Jospeh.  Click here to read the homily preached by Pope Benedict XVI at the canonization ceremony in October 2010.
  • 1/6 St. Macra – (d.287)  Virgin, Martyr.  Refusing to offer sacrifices to pagan gods, she was torutured, mutilated, and eventually martyred for her faith.  Like St. Agnes (see below on 1/21), part of her torture was cutting off her breasts.
  • 1/7 St. Raymond of Penafort – (1175-1275) Dominican Priest.  Helped organize the Church’s legal code, inspired St. Thomas Aquinas (see below, 1/28) to write the “Summa Contra Gentiles” (his shorter Summa), helped St. Peter Nolasco establish the Order of Our Lady of Mercy (Mercedarians), and served a short term as master general of the Dominicans.  Patron of lawyers and canonists (canon lawyers).
  • 1/10 St. Agatho – (c.577-681)  79th Pope.  Wonderworker.  Married for 20 years, he then became a monk and was likely over 100 years old when he became pope.  The 6th Ecumenical Council (held in Constantiople) took place during his papacy.
  • 1/11 St. Vitalis of Gaza – (d.625)  Monk, Hermit.  Worked as a day laborer then used the wages to hire a prostitute each evening.  He would spend the night evangelizing and praying with them.  He was murdered by a man who saw the monk leaving a brothel and assumed impropriety.
  • 1/13 St. Hilary of Poitiers – (315-368)  Convert, Bishop, Doctor of the ChurchFather of the Church.  Fought Arianism.  Patron of “backward children” and against snakes.  Click here and scroll down to read some of his writings.
  • 1/15 St. Paul the Hermit – (c.230-342… really, over 112 years old, no joke)  Lived most of his life as a hermit in a cave, wearing leaves or nothing and spending most of his time in prayer.  Legend has it a bird brought him bread every day and his grave was dug by desert lions.  Patron of the clothing industry.
  • 1/17 St. Anthony of Egypt – (251-356)  Abbot, Patriarch of Monks, Father of Western Monasticism.  At about 20, he sold everything he had and gave the money to the poor.  By 35 he moved to the desert.  Tried to live in solitude, but people kept seeking him out for healing and spiritual instruction.  Eventually he founded two monasteries.  Briefly left his seclusion to fight Arianism and comfort persecuted Christians.  Friend of St. Paul the Hermit (see above).  Patron of lots of things (click here and scroll down).
  • 1/18 St. Ulfrid – (d.1028)  English missionary martyred by Norse pagans for taking an ax to an idol of Thor.
  • 1/19 St. Fillan – (d.c.777) Monk, Abbot, Hermit, Miracle-Worker. Allegedly stayed up studying at night by the light of his glowing left arm.  When a wolf killed his ox, he made the wolf take the ox’s place.  His relics seem to have a calming effect on the menatlly ill.  Patron of the mentally ill.
  • 1/20 St. Fabian – (236-c.250)  20th Pope, Martyr.  Was elected Pope as an unknown layman (a farmer, no less) when a dove landed on him during the conclave.  He led the Church for 14 years and lived a saintly life, dying a martyr under Roman persecutions.
  • 1/20 St. Sebastian – (d.c.288)  Officer of the Imperial Roman Army, Martyr.  After converting fellow soldiers and being charged as a Christian, he was tied to a tree, shot by archers, and left for dead. St. Irene nursed him back to health and he went straight to Emperor Diocletian to preach.  He was beaten to death.
  • 1/21 St. Agnes – (d.254 or 304 – sources vary)  Virgin, Martyr.  Beautiful Roman 13 year old who made a vow of virginity.  The Governor’s son turned her in as a Christian when she refused to marry him.  She was tortured and martyred for her faith.  Like St. Macra (see above, 1/6), part of her torture was cutting off her breasts.  Name means lamb or pure one.  Patron of engaged couples, chastity, girls, virgins, and rape victims.
  • 1/24 St. Francis de Sales – (1567-1622)  Bishop, Doctor of the Church.  Perhaps the originator of the “Catholic tract”, he had great success distributing little pamphlets to explain true Catholic doctrine in Calvinist areas.  He wrote about the same time as Shakespeare, and while they lived, St. Francis’ writings were more well known.  His best known writing is the Introduction to the Devout  Life (to read it free, click here).  Collaborated with St. Jane Frances de Chantal to found the Sisters of the Visitation.  Patron of writers, teachers, and deaf people.
  • 1/25 The Conversion of St. Paul – Acts 9:1-2222:6-2126:12-18Gal 1:11-16.  Saul of Tarsus was one of the most zealous persecutors of the early Christian Church when the Risen Lord appeared to him and he recognized Truth.
  • 1/26 St. Timothy – (d.97)  Missionary with St. Paul the Apostle, Bishop, Martyr.  Two of St. Paul’s Epistles in the New Testament are addressed to Timothy (click here for an introduction).  Stoned to death.  Patron against intestinal disorders and stomach disease (1 Tim 5:23).
  • 1/26 St. Titus – (d.c.96) Bishop, Disciple of St. Paul the Apostle.  One of St. Paul’s Epistles is addressed to him (click here for an introduction).
  • 1/27 St. Angela Merici – (1474-1540)  Foundress of the Ursulines, established to educate young girls.  It was the first group of women religious to work outside the cloister and the first teaching order of women in the Church.  Patron of handicapped and sick people.
  • 1/28 St. Thomas Aquinas – (c.1225-1274)  Dominican Priest, Doctor of the Church (the “Angelic Doctor”), the “Great Synthesizer”, and the “Dumb Ox”.  Massive genius (in more ways than one), one of the most influential theologians of all time. Patron of philosophers, theologians, apologists, students, and, of course, pencil makers.  Click here to check out one of his masterpieces, The Summa Theologica (Compendium of Theology).
  • 1/30 St. Aldegund – (c.633-684) Benedictine Abbess, Virgin.  A member of the royal family, she was urged to marry, but apparently fled across the river (without getting wet) and became a nun.  She died of cancer.  Patron against cancer, in particular, breast cancer.
  • 1/31 St. John Bosco – (1815-1888)  aka “Don” Bosco (Don being the traditional Italian title for a priest). A juggler and street performer in his youth (to attract people to preach to)!  Dreamer of prophetic dreams.  Worked with street urchins and inner city kids, opened schools for boys.  Founded the Salesians, based on the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales (see above), and the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.  Patron of boys, youth, schoolchildren, editors and laborers.  Read here about the mysterious grey dog that protected St. John Bosco.

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