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St Ita of Kileedy

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St. Ita (also spelled Ite, Ida, Eeda, and other ways) is often considered to be the second holiest person to ever live in Ireland - second only to  St. Brigid . She also was foster parent to a number of boys who became saints, including St. Brendan the Navigator , and she was visited by St. Columba for guidance. Lifetime:  480 to 570 Region:  County Limerick, Ireland Patronages:  Limerick, Ireland Iconograpy:  Holding an Irish church; Rosary; Brown cloak Feast Day:  January 15 Ita was originally called Dierdre, but her name was eventually changed, as Ita means "thirst for holiness". Dierdre was born to noble parents who wished her to marry, a common background among saints. However, Rather than defying her Christian parents, Dierdre eventually persuaded them by fasting and praying for three days, at the end of which her father received a vision from God instructing him to allow his daughter to establish a monastery. And so, at the age of 16, Dierdre became a nun and changed

St. Aelred of Rievaulx

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St. Aelred is most well known for his writing, especially the book that introduced me to him, On Spiritual Friendship. Beyond his spiritual writings, Aelred was also a historian and an advisor to kings and religious alike. Lifetime:  1110 to 1167 Region:  Rievaulx, England Patronages:  Bladder and kidney disease; Spiritual friendship Iconograpy:  Book or long scroll; White Cistercian habit Feast Day:  January 12 Aelred was the son of a married priest and spent part of his upbringing in the court of King David I of Scotland. By age 24, Aelred had advanced to the Master of the Household, a position that allowed him to advise the king. He would later go on to write the king’s biography, and even as a monk his influence on royalty would remain. Three of the history books he wrote during his time in the monastery were addressed to King Henry II of England and advised him on how to be a good king. He even helped the king to decide to support the elected pope rather than the antipope during a

St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury

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It takes a special kind of martyr to get assassinated at the orders of one king and have your tomb desecrated by another three centuries later. Even more so when you're then venerated as a saint by the very church the latter king founded! But St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury is just such a special martyr. Lifetime:  1119 to 1170 Region:  London and Canterbury, England Patronages:  Diocesan priests and deacons; London Iconograpy:  Sword in head; Archbishop vestments Feast Day: December 29 Thomas Becket was born in London on the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle. His father was a property-owning merchant, making Thomas part of the rising middle class. Thomas attended various schools as a youth, but he was no standout pupil. When his father’s wealth dried up as Thomas was a young adult, Thomas became a clerk in relative’s business, and he later moved on to a position in the Archbishop’s household. While serving the Archbishop, Thomas learned canon law and was sent to Rome several tim

St. Barbara

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St. Barbara is one of the fourteen holy helpers , a group of ancient saints who were venerated together starting in the middle ages. She is also well-known as a patron saint for anyone who works with explosives including miners, artillerymen, military engineers, and armorers.  Lifetime:  Mid to late 200s Region:  Lebanon Patronages:  Lightning; Miners; Chemical engineers; Prisoners Iconograpy:  Chalice; Tower; Lightning; Artillery; Crown Feast Day: December 4 Barbara, like many of the early saints, was the daughter of a rich pagan man. After the death of Barbara's mother, her father had her locked in a tower to keep her protected from the outside world until he could find a suitable husband for her. Sort of like Rapunzel, but without the long hair. However, while she was locked up, Barbara secretly converted to Christianity and pledged her virginity to Christ. Thus when her father did come back with men he had selected for her to marry, she rejected them all. Her father thought tha

St. Cecilia

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St. Cecilia is well known as the patron saint of musicians. They even named the cemetery in Coco after her. But beyond the fact that she was one of the early virgin martyrs, and that she loved praising God through music, not much is known about her life. Lifetime:  Early 200s Region:  Rome; Sicily Patronages:  Musicians and singers; Poets; Argentina Iconograpy:  Musical instrument; Songbird; Lilies; Palm Feast Day: November 22 While Cecilia is believed to be a historical figure, not many facts about her life are proven, including her name. However, she was widely believed to be a noble lady of Rome. According to traditional accounts, Cecilia took a vow of virginity from a young age, promising that she would never marry and would instead dedicate her life to God. Despite this, her parents arranged her in marriage to a pagan nobleman named Valerian. In submission to her parents, Cecilia talked with Valerian. She told him that an angel of the Lord watched over her, and that if Valerian c

St. Martin de Porres

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St. Martin de Porres shows that the holiest of people can come from the humblest beginnings. Because of the circumstances of his birth, Martin was prevented from ever becoming a priest, but rather than resent his station, he instead embraced his role with humility and generosity.  Lifetime:  1579 to 1639 Region:  Lima, Peru Patronages:  Mixed race people; Hair stylists; Public health workers; Poor people Iconograpy:  Broom; Animals coexisting; Scissors Feast Day: November 3 Martin was the illegitimate son of Spanish nobleman father and a freed slave mother, who herself was of mixed African and Native descent. However, his father left his family when he was young, just after the birth of his sister, leaving them all to live in extreme poverty.  As he grew up, Martin's mother wanted the best for him. She sent him to a primary school, then sent him to apprentice with a barber surgeon (at the time, surgeries were performed by barbers rather than physicians, owing to their expertise wit

St. Hedwig of Silesia

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You'd think if you buried someone in a lead coffin with their name on it and kept it in the same place they died, it would be pretty easy to keep track of. But over centuries, even such seemingly obvious things can get lost. St. Hedwig's bones are one such artifact, forgotten sometime around 1764 and rediscovered by a fluke in 2020 . Beyond the interesting history of her remains, St. Hedwig was a devout duchess, who dedicated her life (and her sizable resources) to helping the poor, the orphans, and the widows in her community.   Lifetime:  1174 to 1243 Region:  Bavaria; Poland Patronages:  Orphans; Poland; Berlin; Brandenburg Iconograpy:  Crown; Barefoot; Lay sister habit Feast Day: October 16 Hedwig was born in Bavaria as the daughter of a count. She had several siblings, and through her sister Gertrude was the aunt of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. At the age of 12, Hedwig married Henry the Bearded, duke of Silesia, though his reign was hotly contested by several other members of