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St. Gabriel the Archangel

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Along with Michael and Raphael , Gabriel is one of the three archangels mentioned by name in Holy Scripture. He is the only one featured in the Gospel stories, as it is Gabriel who shares the news with Mary that she will give birth to the Christ.  In the Eastern church, Gabriel gets two feast days dedicated solely to him (plus a third shared with the other angels). One of those is the day after the feast of the Annunciation.   Lifetime:  Eternity Region:  Heaven & Earth Patronages:  Communications; Messengers; Clerics; Diplomats Iconograpy:  Angel wings; Mirror reflecting X; Lilies; Trumpet Feast Day:  September 29 (with other Archangels) (Western); November 8 (with other Archangels) (Eastern); March 24 (Eastern); July 13 (Eastern) Since everything we know about Gabriel comes from the Gospel of Luke, I thought the best way to introduce him is to simply share those passages. Here Gabriel tells Zechariah that his wife is pregnant with John the Baptist: Now at the time of the incens

St. John Chrysostom

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St. John Chrysostom was one of the most prolific writers of the early church, and one of the most influential speakers in his time. He is widely celebrated by Christians who venerate saints, but most especially by Byzantine Christians, who recognize him as one of the three holy hierarchs and celebrate him on three separate feast days. Lifetime:  ~347 to 407 Region:  Antioch (modern Turkey) Patronages:  Education; Epilepsy; Lecturers; Constantinople Iconograpy:  Bishop vestments; Gospel book; Dove Feast Day:  September 13 (Western); November 13 (Eastern) John was born in Antioch, and while it is unknown whether his parents were Christian, his father was a high-ranking officer in the military. His father died when John was still a baby, so he was raised by his mother. Using her influence, she had John tutored by a well-known pagan tutor who specialized in rhetoric and taught John how to speak and read Greek. John eventually became a lawyer, but at some point began to embrace the Christia

St. Mamas of Caesarea

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St. Mamas (also spelled Mammes, Mammas, and Mammet) was martyred when he was only 15 years old. But his short life was riddled with miracles and bold acts of faith, though the specifics vary a bit in the different regions that venerate him. Lifetime:  ~259 to ~275 Region:  Cappadocia (modern Turkey) Patronages: Nursing babies; Broken bones; Hernias Iconograpy:  Lion; Lamb; Red cloak Feast Day:  August 17 (Western); September 2 (Eastern) Mamas was born in prison. His parents (who are also both canonized saints) were Christian, and were arrested for their faith while his mother was pregnant with him. Shortly after his birth, both his parents were killed, leaving him an orphan. He was then adopted by a rich Christian widow, who raised Mamas in the faith of his parents. Mamas was educated and took well to his studies, achieving far beyond his years. Even as a youth, Mamas converted many to his faith through personal example and discussions.  When the governor learned of all the people who

St. Dominic

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St. Dominic is most well-known for founding the Dominican order, as well as for popularizing the Rosary. The order that bears his name is one of the most active Catholic orders today, especially in education. He was also instrumental in combatting the Albigensian heresy, which he did by modeling an austere life and through rigorous theological study. Lifetime:  1170 to 1221 Region:  Spain; France; Italy Patronages: Astronomers; Dominican Republic; The falsely accused Iconograpy:  Dominican habit; Lilies; Rosary Feast Day:  August 8 When Dominic was still a baby in his mother's womb, she received a vision of a dog leaping from her belly, carrying a torch and setting the world ablaze. Not much else is known about Dominic's parents, but both are believed to have been nobility. He studied under his uncle for his primary education, then attended a university for ten years, during which he became well-known as a model student. However, Dominic was as compassionate as he was dedicated

Pope St. Victor I

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Pope St. Victor I was the 14th pope, and the first one to be born in Africa. His accomplishments include establishing that Easter would always be celebrated on Sunday, and declaring that Latin, rather than Greek, would be the official language of the church. Lifetime:  Early 100s to 199 Region:  Leptis (modern Libya) Patronages: African Christians; Latin speakers Iconograpy:  Papal vestments; Dark skin Feast Day:  July 28 Little is known about Victor's early life. Sources indicate that he was born in northern Africa, in an area that came under the control of the Roman empire during Victor's life. They also give his father's name as Felix, though there is no indication of other details about his family. Though there were several periods where the Roman empire persecuted Christians, Victor lived in a time of relative harmony between the two. In fact, one influential woman in the empire worked with Victor to create a list of all the Roman Christians who had been sent to a labo

St. Margaret of Antioch

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St. Margaret of Antioch is one of the 14 Holy Helpers , a group of saints widely venerated against disease starting in the fifteenth century. Along with Saints Catherine of Alexandria and Michael the Archangel , she spoke to St. Joan of Arc in a vision. Lifetime:  ~289 to ~304 Region:  Antioch (modern Turkey) Patronages: Pregnant women; Kidney disease; Exiles; The falsely accused Iconograpy:  Slain dragon or demon; Crucifix; Hammer Feast Day:  July 20 (Western); July 17 (Eastern) Margaret, also known as Marina, was the daughter of a pagan priest. Her mother died when Margaret was still a baby, so she was raised by a local nurse, who happened to be Christian. Margaret's foster mother had Margaret baptized and given a Christian education and she grew up modest and pious. When she returned to her father, he was very impressed with her grace and virtue, but he was upset that she would not join him in worshipping idols. She told him that she had dedicated her life to Jesus and that sh

St. Germaine Cousin

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St. Germaine Cousin was born into one of the hardest lives imaginable: disabled, sick, and abused. Yet despite all the challenges she faced, she found joy in loving God and made worshipping Him a part of her daily life. She's an excellent model of how we can find hope no matter how bad things in life can become. Lifetime:  1579 to 1609 Region:  France Patronages: Child abuse victims; Disability; Physical therapists; Illness Iconograpy: Lamb; Walking stick; Young girl in peasant clothing Feast Day:  June 15 Germaine Cousin was born to a poor family. Her father was a farmer, and her mother died when she was still a baby. Germaine was also born with disabilities and a dangerous lung infection. And while Germaine’s life started out hard, it wouldn’t be that easy for long, either. Germaine’s father remarried when Germaine was still very young, and her new stepmother was very cruel. Disgusted by Germaine’s disability and illness, she made fun of her stepdaughter and instructed her other

St. Barnabus

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St. Barnabus is an apostle featured heavily in the book of Acts and some Epistles. He was influential in the other apostles' acceptance of St. Paul, as well as in the conversion efforts among the Gentiles. After the Paul himself, Barnabas may be the most esteemed man of the first generation of Christians besides the Twelve. Lifetime:  Unknown to ~60 Region:  Roman Cyprus Patronages: Cyprus; Antioch; Against hailstorms Iconograpy:  Flame; Gospel scroll; Olive branch Feast Day:  June 11 Barnabas appears in scripture in the book of Acts, where he is introduced as a landowner who sold all he owned and laid it at the feet of the apostles. He is identified as being known as Joseph, or Joses prior to the apostles bestowing his new name upon him. Barnabus was a Levite, the tribe of Israel dedicated to religious and educational duties serving the priests and other tribes. After his conversion, he becomes an apostle in his own right, and is entrusted with several important missions. Barnabu

St. Bede the Venerable

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St. Bede the Venerable is famous for being an author, a teacher, and a scholar in the area that is now England. He was particularly interested in calendar calculations and trying to calculate the date of Easter, and is one of the main reasons that the B.C./A.D. calendar system became popular. He's also the only native of Great Britain to be declared a Doctor of the Church .  Lifetime:  ~672 to 735 Region:  England Patronages: English writers; English historians Iconograpy:  Writing a book; Feather pen; Biretta Feast Day:  May 25 (Western); May 27 (Eastern) Little is known about Bede's early life, and most of what is known is from an autobiographical chapter in one of his books. Nothing is known about his parents except that, when Bede was seven, they sent him to live and study at a monastery, a practice which was common among Irish nobility at the time, and possibly among his own people as well. When that monastery opened a sister monastery nearby, he transferred to the new one

St. Damien of Molokai

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Father Damien famously lived out his life willingly among a Hawaiian leper colony, despite it being untreatable and considered highly contagious in that time. The model he used with the people of Molokai inspired others in the US during the height of the HIV/AIDS outbreaks. Lifetime:  1840 to 1889 Region:  Belgium; Hawaii Patronages: People with leprosy; Hawaii Iconograpy:  Missionary's hat; Lei; Leprosy wounds Feast Day:  May 10 Father Damien (as he came to be known) was born Jozef, the youngest of seven children born to corn merchant parents in Belgium. He went to school when he was young, but dropped out at 13 to help his family on the farm. However, his education did resume later when his father sent him to college, but while Damien was there, he encountered a religious mission and decided to instead pursue a religious life himself. Because of his lack of education, Damien was almost prevented from becoming a priest, but he was allowed due to his fluency in Latin, which his

St. Benedict Joseph Labre

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St. Benedict Joseph Labre was an extreme ascetic, who voluntarily lived by begging alone. Though he died young, he was well known by his death because of his pilgrimages to major shrines throughout Europe and the ecstatic states he would achieve during contemplative prayer. Lifetime:  1748 to 1783 Region:  France; Rome Patronages: Married men; Mental illness; Beggars; Rejects Iconograpy:  Tattered clothing; Alms; Tricorn hat Feast Day:  April 16 Benedict was the oldest of fifteen children born to a wealthy shopkeeper family. As a child, he studied under his uncle, who was a parish priest, hoping to one day become a parish priest himself. However, he changed his mind at the age of sixteen and instead desired to become a monk. At eighteen, an epidemic struck, and Benedict and his uncle worked together to care for the victims, but near the end of the outbreak, his uncle too died of the illness. Benedict applied to join a Trappist abbey, but was turned away for being too uneducated and

St. Casilda of Toledo

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St. Casilda was a Muslim princess who later converted to Christianity. One way that she stands out from many other convert saints, is that her life was characterized by charity and miracles even before her conversion. Lifetime:  ~950 to ~1050 Region:  Toledo and Briviesca, Spain Patronages: Muslim converts; Hemorrhages; Toledo, Spain Iconograpy:  Dress holding roses; Tiara Feast Day:  April 9 Casilda was a princess, the daughter of the king of Toledo in Spain. When she was young, Casilda’s mother died of a blood-related illness. Her parents, and Casilda herself when she was young, was Muslim. Despite their religious differences, young Casilda liked to visit the Christian prisoners and was known for showing them exceptional kindness. She often smuggled bread and meat in to feed the prisoners, hidden in her skirt. One time when Casilda was on her way to feed the prisoners, the guard saw her and stopped her. He had noticed the shape in the folds of her clothing and he demanded for her

St. Enda of Aran

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St. Enda is considered the father of Irish monasticism. Even better, his feast day is also my birthday! Lifetime:  ~450 to ~530 Region:  Ireland Patronages: Aran islands; Irish monks Iconograpy:  Cloak (often green); Staff; Stone abbey Feast Day:  March 21 Enda was born an Irish prince in the county of Ulster. As he grew up, he became a fierce warrior, and eventually inherited the throne and became king of Oriel. However, Enda’s sister, St. Fanchea had become an abbess of a convent, and she was growing concerned about her brother and his violent ways. She begged him to lay down his arms and at least be a peaceful king. Enda thought about it, and made an agreement with his sister. He would put aside his sword and his taste for conquest, but only if she would find one of the sisters in her abbey who would marry him. His sister agreed, and found him a suitable bride, but when Enda arrived to receive his wife, he found the girl had died suddenly. His sister took the opportunity to make

St. Katharine Drexel

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St. Katharine Drexel is the first natural-born US citizen to be canonized as a saint. She is famous for her philanthropic efforts, especially those regarding race relations in the United States. Among many other schools and parishes, Katharine founded Xavier University of Louisiana. Lifetime:  1858 to 1955 Region:  Pennsylvania, United States Patronages: Philanthropy; Racial justice Iconograpy:  Habit; Glasses; Black and/or Native American child(ren) Feast Day:  March 3 Katharine was born into a wealthy family, the daughter of an investment banker whose mother died giving birth to her. She had one older sister, and after her father remarried, one younger sister, and all three were educated at home by private tutors. As children the sisters traveled often throughout the US and Europe, as their father wanted them to learn geography firsthand. Three times a week, the family also distributed food, money, and clothing to the needy in their neighborhoods. Katharine entered the public eye

St. Agatha of Sicily

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St. Agatha is one of the many early virgin martyrs, and one of several who is mentioned by name in the eucharistic prayer. In classic hagiographic humor, she is a patron saint of wet nurses, owing to her breasts being torn off as part of the tortures she underwent. Lifetime:  ~231 to ~251 Region:  Sicily Patronages:  Breast cancer; natural disasters; jewelers; Wet nurses Iconograpy:  Tongs; Severed breasts; Palm of martyrdom Feast Day:  February 3 Agatha was a beautiful girl, but very early in her life she consecrated herself to God, vowing that she would have no husband other than Christ. However, because of her beauty, many men continued to try to woo her despite her vows. One of these men was a high-ranking diplomat who thought that because of his political power he could force Agatha to marry him. He proposed to her many times, but Agatha always said no, and that she had dedicated herself only to God. The diplomat grew increasingly angry that his advances were rejected. Eventually

Bl Justo Takayama

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Bl. Justo Takayama was a samurai who was exiled for refusing to recant his catholic faith. He was also a daimyo, the feudal lord of a regional land in the shogunate era in Japan (fans of the Disney+ series Book of Boba Fett  may recognize the term from that show too). Lifetime:  1552 to 1615 Region:  Nara Prefecture, Japan; Manila, Philippines Patronages:  Japanese immigrants; Persecuted Christians Iconograpy:  Crucifix; Sword; Samurai armor Feast Day:  February 3 Justo Takayama is known by many names. His birth name was Hikogoro Takayama. When he was baptized, he added Justo to his name, after St. Justin Martyr . When he became an adult, he earned the name Shigetomo. He is also known as Takayama Ukon (or Ukon-dono), as well as Dom Justo Takayama, with Dom and Ukon being affectionate honorific titles. He's known by other names as well, and the Lord Takayama Jubilee Foundation  documents his many names and their meaning, purpose, and ways of writing. Justo was born the oldest son a

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