We’re 8 months in my overview of my favourite saints from the liturgical calendar. As always, this isn’t an exhaustive list…there are as many saints per day as in here. Still, I hope you will find this presentation (or reminder) about the great examples of Catholics that have gone before inspiring.
August is a fairly heavy month liturgically, with the month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Blessed Sacrament, and the feast of the Assumption bang in the middle (marking also the beginning of St Michael’s Lent, which will be discussed in a separate post). It is also the month when Youth2000 hold their prayer festival in Walsingham, although it falls 30 days ahead of the feast day.
St Alphonsus Maria Liguori – August 1st
Bishop, Doctor of the Church, and the founder of the Redemptorist Congregation. A number of rumours seem to be going around about him, but we mostly know him to have been a rigorous ascetic man plagued by rheumatoid arthritis to very severe degrees, and yet still determined to turn around the destiny of the small see he took as bishop after his lack of ambition led him to refuse a more prestigious one. He’s the patron saint of confessors, moral theologian and lay apostolate.
St Jean-Baptiste Vianney – August 4th
The curé d’Ars, patron saint of parish priests, he had the gift of discernment of spirits and was a capable preacher (despite not being a learned man), who still spent most of his waking hours hearing confessions and has been God’s instrument in bringing many back to the church at the height of post-revolution secularism. The shrine he built to St Philomena became a very popular site of pilgrimage in his lifetime.
St Dominic – August 8th
The founder of the Order of Preachers, commonly known as Dominicans, he was a fiery preacher and debater on a mission to convert the heretics. He travelled across areas like the South of France which were full of heretical groups fuelled by the worldly excesses of the clergy, so his order embraced a call to radical poverty like the Franciscans, although their focus was apologetics. He was appointed Master of the Sacred Palace, a position held by a Dominican since, and put in charge of reviving the female orders which had by the time become lax. He is also traditionally considered to have spread the Rosary as it was given to him by Our Lady.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (née Edith Stein) – August 9th
A Jewish phenomenologist turned Carmelite nun, she was arrested and died at Auschwitz. She was a keen thinker on matters of both philosophy and faith, since her ultimate goal was always the Truth. She is one of the favourite saints of Catholic Feminists by virtue of her extensive writings on women.
St Laurence – August 10th
Mostly known for the shooting star night, this deacon and martyr under the Emperor Valerian reminds us of just how bad things have been for the Church in the West before (in other parts of the world it still is!), and how the Holy Spirit is at work in the direst of circumstances.
St Clare – August 11th
A noblewoman from Assisi called to her religious vocation around the same time as St Francis, whom she heard preach at the age of 18. Her life changed, resulting in the eventual creation of a Franciscan order. When old and ill, she is reputed to have fended off a military attack by exposing the Blessed Sacrament on the wall where the enemy could see it.
The day is also the feast day of St Philomena, who has a growing devotion and many claims to miracles in spite of the fact everything known about her comes from someone’s vision.
St Maximilian Kobe – August 14th
I feel like he needs no introduction, as even secular history documentaries have been sharing his story of sacrifice for another prisoner at Auschwitz. He was a Franciscan friar, who was greatly devoted to Our Lady and was on a mission to create her army of prayer warriors, the Militia Immaculata, who would be dedicated to the conversion of sinners and especially Freemasons. He survived death by starvation, praying intensely during that time with the other prisoners who all died peacefully, and was then killed by lethal injection.
St Bernard of Clairvaux – August 20th
Abbot and Doctor of the Church, better known for being the preacher of the 2nd Crusade. He had also the gift of miracles, and was an advisor to the Pope who refused many offers of a bishopric in favour of founding more monasteries.
St Pope Pius X – August 21st
“I was born poor, I have lived in poverty, and I wish to die poor.” This striking sentence from his last will and testament fully encapsulates what this saintly Pope stood for. He rose to the Holy See just after the turn of the 20th century, and died before seeing the full horrors of the First World War (which had been declared less than a month prior to his death), but his papacy was greatly oriented against the evils of Modernism (the true ones, he was a contemporary of the futurists and others) and heresies. He brought back frequent communion and the study of the Scriptures and was responsible for the codification of Canon Law. Most of all, he was responsible for returning to a life of simplicity and humility centred on the folly of the Cross. A man after my own heart.
St Rose of Lima – August 23rd
A Third Order Dominican who took her religious name from a nickname given to her in virtue of her beauty, she spent most of her day in prayer, wore a crown modelled on the crown of thorns to participate in Jesus’ suffering, and was known to disfigure herself to avoid the attentions of suitors. She died at the age of 31 after predicting the day of her death. She is the patron saint of florists, people who suffer ridicule for their piety and people with family problems. I know a few of us can relate…
St Louis IX, King of France – August 25th
Having failed so far to have anyone take me seriously over the revival of the cause of the canonisation of Servant of God James VII of Scotland and II of England, St Louis remains a favourite royal saint. Patron saint of Tertiaries, his devotion while in a position that would tempt many away from the faith is inspirational. Like others called to high positions of power, he shows that lives of radical poverty are not the only way to serve the Lord: we can have less than kings and still have too much attachment to what we have. Holiness is a disposition of the heart.
St Monica – August 27th
A faithful mother who spent 40 years praying for the conversion of her son, who turned out to be St Augustine of Hippo (whose feast day follows hers). She also prayed for the conversion of her husband, who converted before his death. She is often mistakenly presented as persevering in an abusive marriage, presenting a false picture of whether women should separate from their husbands for the sake of their safety. He may have been short-tempered, and against her piety, but he respected her. She suffered no more than the difficulties of being unequally yoked.
St Augustine of Hyppo – August 28th
The aforementioned son of St Monica, he converted from a loose life to becoming one of the most influential philosophers, theologians and doctors of the Church in history, influencing not only Catholics but even Protestants in a textbook case of the words reaching beyond the author’s intended meaning to have the opposite understanding. A cautionary tale for us all…
He is also a great example of just how no one is beyond God’s grace.