Feast Day: January 21st
Patron saint of girls, chastity, virginity, and the Children of Mary.
St. Agnes was very young, very beautiful, and very devout when Christianity was against the law of the Roman Empire. In those days, girls were considered grown-up at twelve or thirteen; so when Agnes reached that age, she promised Jesus that she would belong only to Him. People reported her for being Christian, and she was arrested and treated cruelly, but she did not deny Jesus or take back her promise to Him. She died a martyr at the age of thirteen.
SAINTS FRANCISCO & JACINTA MARTO
Feast Day: February 20th
Patron saints of people with sickness and of people who are ridiculed for their piety.
They were brother and sister who lived in Fátima, Portugal. He was 8 years old and she was 7 when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared six times to them and their cousin, Lúcia. Known today as Our Lady of Fátima, she told the three children to pray the Rosary often and make many sacrifices to save sinners. People laughed at them, but Francisco, Jacinta, and Lúcia led very holy lives together for the next two years. Francisco died of an illness at the age of 10, Jacinta died of the same illness at 9, but Lúcia grew up and became a nun.
Feast Day: March 12th
Patron saint of people with disabilities
She was the most beautiful girl in town and she came from a rich family, but they lost all their money and had to live in a very small house.
At the age of nine, Saint Fina became terribly sick, and lost her beauty and her ability to walk. Completely paralyzed—that is, she could not get up or move—she lay on a hard wooden board and gazed at the crucifix. Jesus also lost the ability to get up or move when His hands and feet were nailed to the Cross, even though love for us kept Him crucified, not the nails.
For six years, Saint Fina accepted her paralysis and wooden bed like Jesus accepted His nails and His Cross . She also came to love Saint Gregory the Great, who endured great suffering too. He appeared to her in a vision and foretold that she would die in eight days, on his feast day, March 12. Saint Fina was 15 years old when she entered Paradise.
Feast Day: April 2nd
Excellent intercessor for purity and for good behavior.
Musa was not a very good little girl, until she saw a vision of Mary...
The Blessed Mother was surrounded by many other little girls, all dressed in white, and all the same age as Musa. Our Lady asked Musa if she would like to be one of her Holy Handmaidens, too. “Oh yes!” Musa answered with excitement. The Blessed Mother explained that in order to be one of her handmaidens, Musa would have to stop being selfish and childish, and stop seeking to be pleased and entertained all the time. If Musa could suffer a little for Heaven, the Blessed Mother would return for her in thirty days.
Musa changed her life completely. Her father and mother were shocked! They wondered what had happened to their daughter.
Twenty-five days later, Musa became very sick with a fever and chills. Five days after that, on the thirtieth day, Our Lady appeared to Musa once more, accompanied by all her handmaidens. She called Musa to join her servants in heaven. Musa answered, “Look, O Blessed Lady, I come! See, O Blessed Lady, I am coming!” Saint Gregory the Great wrote that “her soul departed her virgin’s body, to dwell forever with the holy virgins in Heaven.”
Feast Day: May 30th
SAINT JOAN OF ARC
Patron saint of martyrs, prisoners, soldiers, and people ridiculed for their piety.
At the age of 12, Saint Joan of Arc saw a vision of Saint Michael the Archangel, who revealed that she would lead her country’s army into battle. By the time she was 17, her vision came true. Saint Catherine of Alexandria (martyred at 18) and Saint Margaret of Antioch (martyred at 15) also appeared to her, to give her counsel and comfort.
For the next two years, Saint Joan of Arc continued to receive visions from Heaven as she brought victory in war and glory to God.
At 18, she was captured, imprisoned, and put on trial. Her enemies did not believe in her visions and her holiness, and claimed she was a witch. When they asked if she was in God’s grace, she answered, “If I am not, may God put me there. And if I am, may God keep me there.” Saint Catherine appeared once more and told Saint Joan, “Accept all things peacefully. Do not worry about your martyrdom. In the end, you will enter the Kingdom of Paradise.” Saint Joan of Arc was accused of witchcraft and heresy (not following all of the Church’s teachings) and sentenced to death.
She was burned at the stake at the age of 19. Her last words rose above the flames as a prayer to the Holy Name of Our Lord: “Jesus … Jesus … Jesus…”
Feast Day: June 3rd
Patron saint of children and primary schools.
Nearly one hundred and fifty years ago in Uganda, Africa, Saint Kizito was a personal servant to King Mwanga II. Back then, many Ugandans did not know about the love of God in Jesus Christ. But when Christians brought the Gospel, the Good News of God, forty-five Ugandans converted to Christianity. Kizito was the youngest of the group. He was baptized by their leader, Saint Charles Lwanga.
When the king discovered that he had Christians in his court, he was enraged and ordered them to deny their faith. No one would, so the king ordered them to be tortured and executed. Some were beheaded. Others were speared. Several more, including Kizito, were burned to death in a large fire. Before he stepped into the flames, Kizito recited the Our Father. His last words could be heard above the roaring blaze: “We are on the right path.” He was fourteen years old.
VENERABLE ANTONIETTA MEO
Antonietta Meo had cancer when she was only five years old. The cancer was in her right leg. At that time, the only way to stop the cancer was to amputate the leg. Amputate means to "cut off". After her surgery, she was in great pain, but she said to her father, “Pain is like cloth. The stronger it is, the more it is worth.”
When she returned home, Antonietta began writing letters to Jesus, Mary, and many other saints. (She had not learned to write yet, so she spoke them aloud them to her mother.) Most of her letters declared her great love for the Eucharist. Some letters to Jesus described how she wanted to be the red lamp burning beside the tabernacle so that she could always be with Him and tell people of His Presence. She also wrote that she wanted to be a lily on the altar as a sign of purity. Antonietta wrote 162 letters.
Less than a year later, her cancer returned, but this time, surgery would not help. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux appeared in a vision and told her that she would die soon. Antonietta asked if she could stay longer and suffer more for Jesus, but Saint Thérèse said, “It is enough.”
Antonietta died at the age of six. Her body was buried in the same church where she used to whisper to the tabernacle, “Jesus, come out and play with me!”
Feast Day: August 15TH
Patron saint of altar boys.
When he was the age of most altar boys, Tarcisius was given the great responsibility of carrying the Holy Eucharist to Christian prisoners who had been condemned to die. Jesus told us in Matthew 25:36 that this corporal work of mercy is very important: “I was in prison and you came to me.”
As Tarcisius was on his way, a mob that hated Christians attacked him. He protected the Eucharist and would not let them touch the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, even as they beat him to death. Pope Damasus compared the martyrdom of Saint Tarcisius to the stoning of the young deacon Saint Stephen, found in the Acts of the Apostles 7:54-60.
Feast Day: September 4th
Patron saint of Franciscan youth and people denied entry into religious orders.
As early as the age of 7, Rose loved to serve the poor, even though her own family was very poor, too! By the time she was 10, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Rose and told her to join the Third Order Franciscans, lay people who follow some parts of St. Francis’s way of life. She made her father’s home her own personal convent. She stayed inside for many days and spent long hours in prayer.
Jesus appeared to Rose in a vision. He was hanging on the cross and wearing His crown of thorns. She asked why He had to suffer and die. He told her that our sins nailed Him to the Cross, but His deep love for us kept Him there.
Rose went preaching in the streets that God loves us more than we understand, and that we should go to the Sacrament of Confession often because we are sinners and we need to be sorry for our sins.
Rose died not long after her 18th birthday. Her final words were, “I die joyfully because I want to be with God. Live without sin and you will not fear death. Death is nothing to fear. It is sweet and precious.”
BLESSED CHIARA BADANO
Feast Day: October 29th
Blessed Chiara is a wonderful patron for youth.
Blessed Chiara Badano grew up in a little town in Italy. (”Chiara” is pronounced “key-ar-ah”.) By the age of 4, she would give away her toys to poor children. She also began visiting children who were sick in bed. By the age of 11, she joined the Focolare Movement and went to Focolare youth meetings. She developed a deep love for Jesus forsaken. She wrote, “I discovered that Jesus forsaken is the key to unity with God, and I want to choose him as my only spouse. I want to be ready to welcome him when he comes. To prefer him above all else.”
When she was 16 years old, she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. Medical tests revealed that she had a rare and painful type of bone cancer. Blessed Chiara Badano prayed about this, remembering Jesus forsaken in the Garden of Gethsemane. She realized that she had come to her own Gethsemane Garden. She smiled and said, “Jesus, if you want it, so do I.”
For the next two years, Blessed Chiara Badano suffered this illness with virtue, offering her suffering up to God. She would visit other patients in the hospital and try to cheer them up if they were depressed.
The cancer took away her ability to walk. She accepted this, too, and said, “If I had to choose between walking again and going to heaven, I would not hesitate. I would choose heaven.”
The cancer worsened and she prepared to die. She called her funeral “a wedding.”
At the age of 18, Blessed Chiara Badano breathed her last. Her final words were: “Goodbye, Mom. Be happy because I am.”
Feast Day: November 18th
Ask him to pray for you to be brave always in your Catholic faith.
The story of a 7-year-old saint named Barulas begins with the mission, ministry, and martyrdom of Saint Romanus, who was a deacon in the Church around the year 304. Saint Romanus encouraged Catholic prisoners to never offer any sacrifices to the false gods of the Romans. The rulers of that region who worshipped false gods were so angry at Saint Romanus that they arrested him, tortured him, and planned to kill him.
Now, this is where Saint Barulas comes in. At the age of 7, he was standing in a crowd that had gathered around the arrested and torture of Saint Romanus. When Romanus saw the boy, he pointed to Barulas and said to the idolatrous rulers, “This boy is wiser that you because he knows and loves the true God.”
The rulers turned to Barulas and asked him, “What gods do you worship?”
The boy spoke confidently. “I worship the one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. But you worship demons!”
This made the idolatrous rulers so angry that they put the boy alongside the deacon, tortured them, and then martyred both Romanus and Barulas together. Saint Barulas’s mother took the body of her son and buried it, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for the Name” of Jesus our Savior (read Acts 5:41).
THE HOLY INNOCENTS
Feast Day: December 28th
Patrons of infants and children's choirs.
Matthew 2:1-18 tells the story of the Holy Innocents.
Herod I was the king of Judea when Jesus was born, but he was not a descendant of King David. Therefore, because he and his descendants were not a part of the covenant that God made with David, Herod was not a "son of David." (Read Full of Grace October 2022.) When he recognized the signs of the prophecy of the birth of the true Son of David, Jesus, the one who would sit upon David's throne forever, Herod sought to kill the newborn Jesus. To do so, he ordered his soldiers to go to the region of Bethlehem to murder every male child 2 years old or younger. God sent his angel to Saint Joseph. The angel warned him to escape to Egypt with Mary and Jesus. Herod's soldiers came to Bethlehem; they never found the Holy Family, but they carried out their orders. Many newborns, infants, and toddlers suffered martyrdom for Jesus.
The Church Father Chromatius was an early saint who called them "Holy Innocents" when he explained that "these innocents who died then on Christ's behalf became the first martyrs of Christ." Likewise, another Church Father, Saint Peter Chrysologus, referred to these martyred, holy, and innocent children as "little soldiers for Christ" when he explained how "Jesus granted that they might walk in victory before they lived. He enabled them to participate in a victory without struggle. He gave to them the gift of the crown even before their bodies had grown. It was Christ's will that they pass over vice for virtue, attain heaven before earth and share in the divine life immediately. Thus it was that Christ sent his soldiers ahead of Him."
BLESSED LAURA VICUÑA
Feast Day: January 22nd
Blessed Laura is the patron of abuse victims and those who have lost parents.
Blessed Laura Vicuña was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1891. Her father died while she was still young and her mother fled to Argentina with Laura and her sister.
From a young age, Laura wanted to give her life to God. She entered school with the Salesian Sisters and hoped to become a sister one day. When she made her First Communion, she resolved to love God with her whole heart, to make sacrifices herself, and to die rather than sin. She prayed often and accepted life’s difficulties with humility.
Laura realized her mother was in a sinful situation, so Laura decided to offer her life to God for her mother’s conversion. She prayed that her mother would come back to God. Soon after making this prayer, Laura became very sick. Before Laura died, she asked her mother to return to Jesus. Laura died peacefully when she was only twelve years old. Because of her prayers and sacrifice, her mother returned to Jesus and the Sacraments.
SERVANT OF GOD SANTOS FRANCO
Santos Franco Sánchez was born in Spain in 1942 to a devout Catholic family. He was the sixth of thirteen children.
Santos went to school with the Carmelite fathers and wanted to be a Carmelite priest when he grew up. He was an ordinary child who liked to do the things children do, but he took seriously Jesus’s call to be a peacemaker and to forgive. He was always making peace between his friends and in his family.
When he was ten years old, Santos began to suffer from bad headaches and a high fever. He had developed meningitis, which was a very serious illness and caused much suffering.
Santos offered up his suffering for the conversion of sinners. He told his mother not to be sad because it was God’s will. Toward the end of his illness, he had visions of the Child Jesus surrounded by angels and flowers. He also had a vision of the devil being chased away by a crucifix. Santos’s doctor did not believe in God, but Santos’s witness led him to become a Catholic.
Santos died on February 6, 1954. To the end, he remained cheerful and continued to pray “Thy will be done.”
“Servant of God” is the title given to someone who is on the first step to possibly being declared a Saint. The Catholic Church considers Servants of God to be heroic in virtue and excellent examples of holiness.
Nelson Rutilio Lemus Chávez was born in 1960 in the capital city of El Salvador. He was the oldest of ten children.
Nelson and his family were devout Catholics during a time in El Salvador when it was dangerous to practice the faith. The Salvadoran government used death squads and soldiers to target priests.
Despite the danger, Nelson volunteered to ring the bells at Mass and to assist his parish priest. Nelson was generous in other areas, too: he delivered firewood to his godmother, helped others read the Bible, and was a good student. He did this all while also struggling with epileptic seizures.
One Saturday evening, when he was 16 years old, Nelson, three children, and a 72-year-old layman named Manuel Solórzano got into the car of a Jesuit priest named Padre Rutilio Grande. (Padre Grande was also a very good friend of Saint Óscar Romero, who was at that time the Archbishop of San Salvador.) Padre Grande was driving Nelson, the three children, and Señor Solórzano to his hometown where he would offer the Holy Mass. Nelson was going assist as the altar boy at the Holy Mass.
But on the way, as they were still driving in the car, soldiers ambushed them. Padre Grande was their target. They fired guns at the car. Padre Grande’s finals words to his friends were, “Debemos hacer lo que Dios quiere.” (“We must do what God wants.”) No bullets hit the three young children; the soldiers let them go. But Padre Grande was killed by 18 bullets, Señor Solórzano was killed by 10 bullets, and Nelson Lemus was killed by 5 bullets.
On January 22, 2022, Pope Francis beatified Nelson Lemus, Manuel Solórzano and Padre Rutilio Grande.
SAINT PEDRO CALUNGSOD
Feast Day: April 12th
Saint Pedro Calungsod is the patron of Filipino youth, catechumens, and altar servers.
Saint Pedro Calungsod was born in the Philippines in 1654. Not much is known about his early life, but even at a young age he was passionate about teaching the faith. He was so passionate about catechizing others that when he was only 14 he was chosen to become a missionary to Guam, a small island east of the Philippines.
Saint Pedro accompanied a Jesuit Spanish priest named Diego Luis de San Vitores to preach the Christian faith to the native people. Together they founded the first Catholic Church in Guam. They called the church “Dulce Nombre de Maria” which means “the Sweet Name of Mary.”
Soon after they arrived, an exiled criminal spread rumors that the waters of baptism were poisonous. When a daughter of a chief in one of the villages was baptized, the chief was furious and threw spears at Saint Pedro and Father San Vitores. One spear struck Saint Pedro in the chest. Father San Vitores absolved Saint Pedro of sins before he was martyred, too. Then the chief threw them both in the ocean. Their bodies were never found and there is no first class relic of either.
Saint Pedro was only 17 years old.
In 2000, Pope Saint John Paul II beatified both Saint Pedro Calungsod and Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores.
In 2012, Pope Benedict canonized Saint Pedro Calungsod.
Feast Day: May 13th
Blessed Imelda Lambertini is the patron of fervent first communion.
She was born to a noble family in fourteenth-century Italy. At the age of nine, Blessed Imelda Lambertini asked her parents to let her stay in a Dominican convent so that the nuns could teach her.
Imelda had a special devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. She desired beyond all else to receive Him and would often say, “Tell me, can anyone receive Jesus into his heart and not die?”
On the Feast of the Ascension, when Imelda was eleven years old, the nuns witnessed a miracle after Mass. They saw a Sacred Host levitating above Imelda while she prayed in front of the Tabernacle. The priest then took the host and gave it to Imelda as her first Communion.
Blessed Imelda was so struck by receiving Jesus that she immediately went into rapture. Her desire to receive Jesus being fulfilled, she passed happily from this life into the next.
SAINT OLIVIA OF POLERMO
Feast Day: June 10th
Patron saint of music.
Saint Olivia was born in Palermo, Italy, about 500 years after the birth of Jesus. From an early age, she desired to live a life of holiness. She totally committed her heart to God. She gave to the poor. And she avoided wealth and special attention.
But when she was thirteen years old, a group of invaders from another country kidnapped her and forced her to become a slave. Yet not even slavery could take away her devotion or her virtue. She still practiced holy deeds, she brought comfort to other prisoners and slaves, and through her, the Lord worked many miracles. Slaves, prisoners, and even many of her guards converted to faith in Jesus Christ. But when the overlord heard that she was converting souls, he sent his soldiers to kill her. They tried many times, but each time she was miraculously protected. Finally, she surrendered her spirit when they beheaded her.
Saint Olivia was martyred for the faith after bringing the joy of the Gospel to many others.
She was fifteen years old.
OF THE ANDES
Feast Day: July 13th
Patron saint of young people and the sick.
Saint Teresa of the Andes was born to a wealthy family in Santiago, Chile, in 1900.
As a small child, Saint Teresa struggled against vanity and other faults. But, with the example of her faithful family, she wanted to be holy and overcome her sins. She had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and prayed the Rosary every day. She also attended daily Mass and said that every time she received the Eucharist, Jesus spoke with her for a long time.
After reading about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux when she was a teenager, Teresa decided to give her life entirely to God. She entered the Carmelite monastery when she was 18.
God had given Teresa the knowledge that she would die young, but she was not afraid. Only a year after entering the monastery, she died of typhus. She courageously offered up her suffering and said, “To die is to be eternally immersed in love.”
Blessed Isidore Bakanja
Feast Day: August 15th
Blessed Isidore Bakanja was born in 1887 in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Through Cistercian missionaries, Isidore encountered Christ and was baptized when he was 18. He had a special devotion to Our Lady which he lived out by wearing the Brown Scapular and praying the rosary daily.
While Isidore worked as a bricklayer on a plantation, he shared the Gospel with all around him. The superintendents of the plantation did not want their workers to be Christians. They ordered Isidore to remove his Scapular and stop sharing the faith, but he refused.
Isidore was beaten and chained in the hot sun multiple times for his steadfast faith. Even to the last, he was never ashamed of his love for the Blessed Virgin and her Son. Before he died of his wounds, he forgave those who persecuted him.
CRESCENTIUS OF ROME
Feast Day: September 14th
Saint Crescentius was born in the 290’s to a noble Roman family. When he was a child, his entire family converted and were baptized.
His family fled Rome during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian, when Christianity was illegal. After his father’s death, Crescentius was brought back to Rome. There, he faced torture and death if he did not reject Christianity.
At only eleven years old, Crescentius refused to reject Christ. He was beheaded for his faith and died a martyr.
Saint Crescentius has been venerated since the fourth century. His statue is one of the saints atop the South Colonnade Charlemagne Wing at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. He is also featured at the front of the famous Maestà by Duccio, an altarpiece crafted in the Middle Ages.