St. Simeon the Stylite

St. Simeon the Stylite demonstrates a dedication to reliance on God to the extreme -- he spent most of his life atop a pillar, without shelter from the elements or any possessions. His unusual approach to asceticism was so inspiring that it kicked off a centuries-long trend of "pillar saints" following in his footsteps.
Lifetime: 390-459
Region: Syria
Patronages: Shepherds; Those who have left the church
Iconograpy: Atop a pillar; Habit; Long unkempt hair and beard
Feast Day: September 1 (Eastern Catholic & Orthodox) / January 5 (Roman Catholic) Young Simeon became enamored with the Christian faith when he was 13, after hearing a gospel reading of the Beatitudes ("Blessed are the meek", etc.). He joined a monastery before he was 16 and began pursuing an ascetic life immediately, giving away everything he could and restricting his niceties far beyond that which his fellow monks required -- or even found appropriate. It wasn't long before Simeon was asked to leave …

St. Moses the Strong

Moses the Strong, also called Moses the Black and Moses the Ethiopian, is a story of one of the greatest conversions of heart. Moses turning from his life of murder and robbery to an advocate for non-violence and humility shows that no matter what our struggles, there is hope for us all.
Lifetime: 330-405
Region: Ethiopia; Egypt
Patronages: Africa; Nonviolence
Iconograpy: Walking stick; parable scroll; leaking sack of sand
Feast Day: August 28 Little is known about Moses' early life, but he is believed to have been born in Ethiopia. In his youth, he became a slave or servant of an Egyptian governmental official, where his notoriety began. Moses' master found Moses too dishonest and violent, and after Moses was accused of murder, he was thrown out and exiled.Moses quickly turned his violent energy and large body to crime, joining a band of robbers. As a bandit, Moses regularly assaulted travelers, stole their belongings, and may well have committed additional murders and other wicked…

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Maxmilian Kolbe is one of the most inspirational modern saints. He was referred to by Pope St. John Paul II as "the patron saint of our difficult century" in reference to the 1900s. Often, many of us wonder what we would do if we faced a difficult situation, such as taking on risk for declaring our faith, or offering our own life for another's. Maxmilian Kolbe faced the Nazi threat in his occupied country of Poland and stood up for what is right, at the cost of his own life.
Lifetime: January 8, 1894 - August 14, 1941
Region: Poland
Patronages: Prisoners; Journalists; Families
Iconograpy: Franciscan robes; Nazi concentration camp prisoner uniform; Blue Knight of The Immaculate magazine
Feast Day: August 14
Born Rajmund Kolbe in the Kingdom of Poland, Maximilian received his better-known religious name upon joining the Minorite branch of the Franciscan order.In his monastery, Maximilian founded an evangelization movement which is now a global organization known as the Militia …

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

St. Kateri Tekakwitha was the first Native American canonized by the church. Her life was tragically short and filled with suffering, but the Lily of the Mohawks, as she is sometimes called, brought devotion that astounded those around her.

Lifetime: 1656-1680
Region: New York, USA; Kahnawake (near Montreal), Canada
Patronages: The environment; Native Americans; People in exile
Iconograpy: Lily; Turtle; Wooden cross
Feast Day: July 14
When Kateri was only 4, both her parents and her brother were killed by smallpox. Kateri herself also suffered from the disease, but survived, though her face bore permanent scars from it and her vision was damaged. She was sent to live with her aunt and uncle in another Mohawk village. 
Kateri was ostracized in her new village for her scars, and though her new family took care of her and helped her learn the skills expected of women in their village, Kateri had few friends and spent much of her time alone.
At 10, Kateri's new village was attacked by French …

St. Benedict of Nursia

When I was joining the Catholic church, I was torn between choosing as my confirmation saint either Benedict or Brigid. Each appealed to a different side of me: Brigid to hospitality, creativity, and love of nature, and Benedict to scholarship, work, and my desire for clear rules. I ended up choosing Brigid, but Saint Benedict is still very special to me. 

Lifetime: 480-543
Region: Roman empire (modern Italy)
Patronages: Students; Europe; Against poison
Iconograpy: Black robes; Book of the Rule; Raven
Feast Day: July 11
Like many saints, especially those in the early church, Benedict grew up wealthy and learned young that the things of the world couldn't bring lasting fulfillment. According to tradition, Benedict also had a twin sister, Saint Scholastica, though there is some debate as to whether they were actual twins or it was used more abstractly, as in "spiritual twins". 
While studying in the Roman equivalent of college, Benedict began to see the error of the ways he was b…

Ven. Augustus Tolton

In light of recent events, I wanted to add an extra bonus minifig this month. July 9 will be, if he becomes canonized, the feast day of Venerable Augustus Tolton, the first Black American to become a Catholic priest.

Lifetime: 1851-1897
Region: Chicago, Illinois
Patronages (presumed): Black Americans; Against racism; Freed slaves
Iconograpy: Broken chain; Cassock; Biretta
Feast Day: July 9
Augustus Tolton grew up a slave in Missouri. During the Civil War, his family escaped across the Mississippi River, making them all free people. However, that did not mean their lives would be free of the effects of racism. Quite the contrary; his entire life would be plagued by injustice because of the color of his skin. 

As Augustus grew up in Illinois, he joined the Catholic church through the school he attended. During his time in school, Augustus discerned a call to the priesthood. However, he was met with a huge barrier: no seminary in the United States would admit him because of his race. 
Instead, A…

St. Peter and St. Paul

Honestly, what could I say about saints Peter and Paul to fit in a blog post? Libraries already exist about each of them, and I'm nowhere near qualified to contribute anything noteworthy to that canon. 
Instead, I'd like to share Pope Francis' homily from today, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. (Translation by Catholic News Agency)

Lifetime: First century
Region: Rome, Roman empire
Patronages: Fishers; Gentiles; Theologians; The Papacy
Iconograpy: Peter: keys to the kingdom; Paul: book or scroll of epistles; Together: lifting up a church building
Feast Day: June 29

On the feast of the two Apostles of this city, I would like to share with you two key words: unity and prophecy.

Unity. We celebrate together two very different individuals: Peter, a fisherman who spent his days amid boats and nets, and Paul, a learned Pharisee who taught in synagogues. When they went forth on mission, Peter spoke to Jews, and Paul to pagans. And when their paths crossed, they could argue heatedl…