I cannot believe we are 3 months away from the final post in this series. I’d better start looking at what else I can do to keep learning about the faith, and drag you along on the ride. My diary is very feast-heavy this month, but aside from one of my two patrons of the year, it’s very saint-light. It’s a very Marian month though (I wonder if my late grandmother was named Maria because of that), with the Nativity of Mary just around the corner and Our Lady of Walsingham later on. It’s traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows (whose one of two feast days fall on the 15th of September).
St Anna the Prophetess – September 1st
She appears in Luke’s gospel as a widow that prays and fasts in the Temple and is known for the gift of prophecy. While she may not be the most interesting saint for this post (after all, she is in the Bible so she is famous), I find her inspirational, especially so close to coming back from Walsingham. I really need to up my fasting game, at present I feel like most I’ve given up is sleep.
St Pope Gregory the Great – September 3rd
Mostly remembered as the guy from the chants, he was a very strict monk who was on fire for mission and brought many people at his prime historical time (the late Roman Empire) to the faith. He was made pope by acclamation and accepted the burden in the spirit of service that had characterised his whole life (including in the secular sphere, as a member of the Roman ruling class). It was on his order than Augustine of Canterbury was sent to England, and he was the author of some changes to the Mass that remain to this day.
St Charbel and St Mother Teresa of Calcutta – September 5th
The former is a Maronite martyr who is the inspiration behind the religious name of the more famous St Charbel Makhlouf. Not much is known about him, but I always aim to be more intentional about saints from the Church Universal…which brings me to his fellow in the date, St Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Many people have issues with her, some going as far as declaring her a fraud that can’t possibly be authoritatively placed in Heaven. Despite the name being spelt as that of Teresa of Avila, she took her religious name after St Thérèse of Lisieux. The connection is evident upon further examination of the way she lived her life, doing small things with great love. She impacted the life of others and was much loved by people and by the Lord: she received a state funeral, and the Church has declared her to have left behind the dark night of the soul she experienced for years in her life (like her Lord when thirsting on the Cross) to experience the beatific vision in Heaven in 2016.
The Martyrs of Japan – September 6th to 12th
Apologies for the little cop-out here, but in the dates between the previous two saints and the following one, there are a large number of martyrs of Japan. Very little is known of them beyond their martyrdom and that of some of the Jesuit missionaries who went to evangelise them in the first place.
St John Chrysostom – September 13th
He became a priest when ill health made him give up the life of an anchorite, and his writings have impacted generations of theologians (he is one of the Early Church Fathers). A great devotee of St Paul, he was an eloquent speaker remembered for the promotion of asceticism and the denunciation of the abuse of authority.
Bl Roland de’ Medici – September 15th
I’m as surprised as you, but someone from this famous Italian family which often ruthlessly dominated Florentine history in the Renaissance has indeed become a saint. I was curious as to how he managed it, and the answer is by being a hermit in the forest of Parma. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, eh?
St Hildegard of Bingen – September 17th
Saint popularised by the birth of a Stewart baby(only joking), St Hildegard is a Catholic Feminist babe: Doctor of the Church, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, and German Benedictine abbess who influenced the church of her time. Modern feminism will not appreciate her belittling herself to make space for God, but those of us who share her devotion to the Holy Spirit just love her.
Sts Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang, and Companions – September 20th
Martyrs of Korea in the cruel persecutions of the 19th century.
St Matthew – September 21st
One of the 4 evangelists and the patron saint of bankers since he was a tax collector before becoming an Apostle. Tradition credits him for the conversion of parts of Africa, but very little is known of his life and death beyond the Gospel he wrote.
Martyrs of the Spanish Civil Wars – September 22nd
Just a little reminder that as late as the last century people were being martyred in the West so really we should all take a bit more notice of the persecutions outside of Europe right now and go give some money to Aid to the Church in Need.
St Padre Pio of Pietralcina – September 23rd
Almost as controversial to some as Mother Teresa (I start to think many people don’t like contemporary or near contemporary saints…), he is mostly famous for having received the stigmata and other powers of the Holy Spirit, as well as being a formidable confessor and preacher. A lesser-known fact about him, perhaps, is that despite miraculous healing of a number of illnesses, he suffered all his life with arthritis.
St Albert of Jerusalem – September 25th
My other patron saint for the year according to the Saints generator. He was a canon lawyer and is a patron of the Carmelite order after he wrote the original and very strict rule when a group of hermits gathered at Mount Carmel in the boundaries of his patriarchate (which, you can guess, was the Holy Land).
St Vincent de Paul – September 27th
Mostly remembered because of the groups helping the poor in his name, he is the patron saint of charities because of his zeal for helping the poor and mission after raising his station through his intellectual abilities and a Franciscan education. His remarkable life is a symbol of the success of the reforms of the French Church at the time.
St Gabriel, Michael and Raphael the Archangels – September 29th
If you are aware of it, the fact I am sort of observing St Michael’s Lent (a lot can be said on my failure to keep up with my own expectations) should suggest that I have a devotion or however you want to call it, to the Archangels. Obviously more serious than the characters in Supernatural, I have a fake stained glass window of the most famous St Michael slaying the dragon of evil as we pray in the traditional prayer; then St Gabriel appears a lot in images of the Annunciation (and my devotion to that is old news) and in other Biblical apparitions. For this reason, I’d like to talk a little about Raphael. He appears by name in the book of Tobit, and his name means “God heals”; that’s why he is traditionally considered to be the angel that moves the waters in the pool at Bethesda in the Gospel of John. Alongside various health-related patronages, he is the patron saint of travellers.
St Jerome – September 30th
The patron saint of archaeologists, Biblical scholars, librarians, students and translators. He had a pretty colourful life, which included 4 years as a hermit in the desert and a number of bad situations with others in the Church of his time. However, his greatest legacy is likely to be his translations of the Bible.