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St. Helena of Constantinople

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St. Helena is famous for many things, one of the premier of which is being the mother of Emperor Constantine I, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity and in many ways the progenitor of the so-called "Holy Roman Empire".  However, St. Helena's accolades go much further than being a mother to one of the most influential figures in history. She is also credited with discovering the relic of the True Cross on which Jesus was executed, as well as (according to various accounts) several other relics including the nails of the crucifixion, the holy tunic, and the rope that tied Christ to the cross. Helena was instrumental in founding churches at several holy sites, including the believed sites of the Nativity, the Ascension, and the Crucifixion of Jesus as well as the Burning Bush where Moses spoke to God. And for lovers of cats, according to tradition Helena imported hundreds of cats to Cyprus to solve a local snake problem, and is the reason for the Cyprus cat br

St. Lawrence

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St. Lawrence is one of the most well-known deacon saints, notably for his method of martyrdom (being burned alive on a gridiron), and for the waterway bearing in name in the US and Canada. The Gulf of St. Lawrence was so named because the French explorer Jacques Cartier first arrived there on St. Lawrence's feast day in 1535. Lifetime:  225 to 258 Region:  Rome Patronages:  Comedians; Firefighters; Librarians Iconograpy:  Gridiron; Deacon robes; Censer Feast Day: August 10 Lawrence was born in a region of what is now Spain, which was at the time a Roman province. According to church tradition, both of Lawrence's parents, Saints Orentius and Patientia, were also martyred for their faith. Before his famous martyrdom, however, Lawrence was a layperson who happened to meet a wise teacher in his home town. That teacher would go on to become Pope Sixtus II (the same Sixtus that is referenced in the Communicantes  of the Roman Canon during Mass alongside Lawrence himself). Both left S

Bl. Solanus Casey

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I was blessed to be able to attend Father Solanus Casey's beatification in Detroit in 2017, though I had not yet joined the Church. It was lauded in the media as the "Catholic equivalent of the Super Bowl", and an estimated 60,000 pilgrims were in attendance. And no, that isn't a Tardis, I just happened to have blue Lego doors laying around. Though if they chose to base the next Doctor on a beatified Franciscan priest noted for his humility, I surely wouldn't complain. Lifetime:  1870 to 1957 Region:  Detroit, Michigan Patronages:  Porters; Failure and setbacks; Skin conditions; Detroit Iconograpy:  Door; Red glasses; Franciscan habit Feast Day: July 30 Solanus Casey was born Bernard "Barney" Francis Casey and was one of sixteen children. When he was seven, he contracted an illness that permanently damaged his voice and killed two of his siblings. Because his family moved several times when he was young, Barney never completed an education. He started wo

St. Mark Ji Tianxiang

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The opium epidemic in China, spurred on by British trade, plagued the country for over 100 years, leading to countless lives ruined or outright lost, and two actual wars. But amidst that, St. Mark Ji Tianxiang, an addict for 30 years of his life, found a way to love God deeply despite being denied Eucharist due to his addiction. Lifetime:  1834 to 1900 Region:  Hengshui, Hebei, China Patronages:  Drug addicts Iconograpy:  Opium pipe; Long mustache; Palm of martyrdom Feast Day: June 9 Before he became addicted to opium, Mark Ji was a doctor. Born to a Christian family and raised Christian himself, he wanted to help where he could, and even treated poor people in his clinic for free. Sadly, when Mark Ji was in his mid 30s, he contracted a serious illness, and prescribed himself opium as a treatment. At the time, the effects of opium were not yet known, and it was a common medicine for many illnesses. As was the case for many, he became addicted to the drug. Through the rest of his life,

St. Columba of Iona

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Along with Saints Patrick  and Brigid , Columba is one of the patron saints of Ireland. Because of his relocation to the island of Iona, and his subsequent evangelization in Scotland, he also has patronage over that country, as well as the Irish city of Derry. He's also considered one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. Lifetime:  521 to 597 Region:  Ireland; Scotland Patronages:  Floods; Bookbinders; Ireland; Scotland Iconograpy:  Celtic tonsure; Dove or seabird; Coastline Feast Day: June 9 Columba was called Colmcille in his native tongue, though he may have had a different name at birth. In Irish, Colmcille means "church dove". He was descended from a legendary high king of ancient Ireland, and was therefore raised as a sort of minor royalty, though he joined a monastery at a young age.  Legends around Columba's life abound, and it's impossible to know for sure what is true about his life, but his impact as an evangelist in Scotland, among the Picts, and in his

St. Charles Lwanga

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Charles Lwanga, or Kaloli Lwanga in his native Luganda, was executed by the king he served for refusing to abandon the Christian faith which he converted to just a year earlier. He was only 26 when he was burned at the stake. Lifetime:  1860 to 1886 Region:  Buganda, Uganda Patronages:  Converts; Torture victims; African Catholic Youth Action Iconograpy:  Flame; White robe; Palm Feast Day: June 3 Little is known about Kaloli's early life. When he was first encountered by the White Fathers, African missionaries from a French colony in Algeria, Kaloli was already working in the home of his king, first as chief of the pages, and later as the majordomo of the king's house. The king was a cruel man who abused the boys and young men who served his house. Around Kaloli's own conversion, the king killed a group of missionaries. A steward of the house, who had been close friends with the king, and had recently converted to Christianity himself, scolded the king for his action. The k

St. Christopher Magallanes

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Known in his life as Cristóbal Magallanes Jara, St. Christopher Magallanes was arrested on his way to celebrate Mass and killed shortly after without trial on May 25, 1927. He and the other Saints of the Cristero War were canonized for facing death after continuing their ministry during the Mexican government's suppression of religion via anticlerical laws such as outlawing wearing priest's garments in public or priests speaking out against the government. 25 martyrs of the Cristero war were canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000, all sharing the same feast day of May 21. Pope Benedict XVI declared several more Blessed in 2005, with the shared feast day of November 20, the anniversary of the start of the Mexican Revolution. Pope Francis canonized one more, José Sánchez del Río in 2016, a boy of 14 who was tortured and killed by his government for refusing to deny his faith. His feast day is February 10. Lifetime:  1869 to 1927 Region:  Jalisco, Mexico Patronages:  Cancer Iconog