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St. Laurence O'Toole

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St. Laurence O'Toole recently made the news, even though he's been dead for over 800 years. Why? Because of a strange and kind of spooky caper involving the theft of his heart! But Laurence was quite well-known in his own days as well - in fact he was so respected that after his death, his canonization was speed-tracked to appease his many followers. Lifetime:  1128 to 1180 Region:  Ireland Patronages:  Archdiocese of Dublin, Ireland Iconograpy:  Basket of bread; Shield; Dublin architecture Feast Day:  November 14 Laurence O'Toole was known as Lorc├ín Ua Tuathail in Ireland (and St. Laurent in France, which he also visited, and where he died). He was born as a prince, but was the youngest of four sons, meaning he was not likely to inherit the title. When Laurence was 10, he was held hostage for two years by another king opposing his father. He was kept mostly alone and nearly starved. However, eventually the abbot of a nearby monastery intervened to secure Laurence's rel

St. Hubert of Liege

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St. Hubert is best known as the patron saint of hunters, but his hagiography, and his cult thereafter, have plenty of points of interest as well. For many years, an item called St. Hubert's Key was used to prevent rabies. And it actually worked! At the time, the cause of rabies was unknown, but the key was a small, metal nail-like object that would be heated and applied to the the bite while invoking the intercession of St. Hubert. It turns out that applying heated metal to a fresh bite wound actually cauterized the wound and sterilized the rabies virus, thus preventing the recipient from contract rabies themselves. Because of this connection to dog bites, St. Hubert has also been invoked as the patron saint of and against Werewolves. (Here I must resist the temptation to derail this post further by going into the Hounds of God, but we must save that for another day...)   Lifetime:  ~656 to ~727 Region:  Toulouse, France Patronages:  Hunters; Mathematicians; Metalworkers Iconograp

St. Denis of Paris

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A perfect hagiography for the month that includes Halloween, St. Denis of Paris is often depicted carrying his own severed head, in reference to a legend that he preached a sermon after being beheaded. Denis was the first bishop of Paris, sent to convert the Gauls to Christianity (it didn't go well). He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers , a group of saints whose intercession began to be sought collectively against the Black Death.   Lifetime:  ~200 to ~250 Region:  Montmartre, Gaul (modern Paris, France) Patronages:  Headaches; Paris; Rabies Iconograpy:  Martyr holding his own severed head; Bishop's mitre and crosier Feast Day:  October 9 Denis (called Dionysus in his time) is considered the first Bishop of Paris. Though Paris wasn't yet established as a city, he was sent to the area that is now called Paris to preach to the people of Gaul, an area where the early church had once thrived, but had since waned after persecution by the Roman emperor. Upon arriving, h

St. Francis of Assisi

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This post is a special bonus minifig - there's still another saint coming for October! As such, I'm not going to do a hagiography for St. Francis of Assisi, but I couldn't pass up the chance to get some photos of him. St. Francis is one of the most well-known Catholic saints, and even secular garden shops are likely to carry a statue of him with some animals. He's also gotten more popular in recent years, as Pope Francis took his name as his papal title upon assuming the office of pope, in part because of his connection to ecology. Because of a few legends associated with St. Francis, he is the patron saint of animals and pets, and therefore is among those saints who intercession is sought most often.   Lifetime:  1182 to 1226 Region:  Umbria, Italy Patronages:  Animals; Ecology; the Franciscan order Iconograpy:  Birds; Franciscan habit; Stigmata Feast Day:  October 4 Prayer of St. Francis (note: no longer believed to be composed by St. Francis, but still an appro

St. Therese of Lisieux

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Despite her short life, dying at the age of 24, St. Therese is one of only four women Doctors of the Church (alongside Teresa of Avila , Hildegard von Bingen , and Catherine of Siena). Her famous "Little Way" has gone on to inspire many in the century since her death. Therese also once wrote and performed in a play about Joan of Arc . During Joan's execution by burning at the stake, the set caught on fire, nearly igniting Therese's costume. I don't have anything extra to add about that, it's just a neat story I wanted to share.   Lifetime:  January 2, 1873 to September 30, 1897 Region:  France Patronages:  Missionaries; France; Florists Iconograpy:  Roses; Crucifix; Habit Feast Day:  October 1 Therese (born Marie Francois-Therese Martin) belonged to an extremely devout family. Her mother had hoped to become a nun, but was discouraged, and her father had similarly tried to join a religious order but was refused as he did not know Latin. After marrying, they we

St. Michael the Archangel

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When I first converted to the Catholic faith, I was very uncomfortable with the prayer to St. Michael. In my mind, there was something strange (or rather, even stranger) about praying for the intercession of an angel over the intercession of the saints. Initially, I refused to participate in the prayer, which at my parish is said at the end of each Mass. Eventually, though, I opted to take a childlike submission to the church's teachings for a short while, and that humility was greatly rewarded. Now, the prayer to St. Michael is one of the most commonly used tools in my arsenal against sin, and I have come to realize the power of his special place as one of the protectors of humanity.   Lifetime:  Eternity Region:  Heaven & Earth Patronages:  Grocers; Mariners; Police; Soldiers Iconograpy:  Angel with a sword; Defeating Lucifer / a dragon; Scales Feast Day:  September 29 (with other Archangels) Michael is one of only three named angels in scripture, and accordingly, along with

St. Simeon the Stylite

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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