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Secret Diary

Saints of the Month – November

Happy feast day! Enjoy your bacon if you’re a meat eater, and don’t forget Mass.
November is the month of the Holy Souls, kicking off with the feast of All Saints on November 1st (which in 2019 falls on a Friday, yay), followed by the feast of All Souls, which is a commemoration of the faithful departed which are not in Heaven yet.

St Charles Borromeo – November 4th
If you’ve read one of these before you know I love nothing more than to bring up obscure saints that have a family connection (or may have had one), so I’m chuffed about having an ancestor who is related to one of the key figures of the Catholic Reformation (yes, I fall in that school of history, deal with it). It’s a very distant line but I just have to consider him a family patron of sorts.

St Elizabeth – November 5th
The mother of St John the Baptist and one of the people to have the best lines in the Gospel of Luke. She had been barren until old age, and then the Lord gave her her miraculous pregnancy. A great example of patience.

St Leo the Great – November 10th
Best known as the best administrative Pope, St Leo was a tireless worker for Christian Unity, at a time of not just heresies but also of doctrinal controversies between East and West. He was also a keen pastor of people, taking the seat of St Peter as a great honour. He never shied away from working with the poor, while also tending to the more prestigious task of defending Rome from outside attacks. His contributions to the Magisterium have made him worthy of the title of Doctor of the Church, however he was so much more than just a wise theologian.

St Margaret of Scotland – November 16th
English princess turned Queen of Scotland (through, tradition says, a Providential storm at sea when her widowed mother attempted to return to the continent), she tempered King Malcom with her piety. Her life is an emblem of the domestic church, but she was also a good queen, often advising her husband on matters of state and promoting the arts in Scotland. Her impact on the nation had her nicknamed the Pearl of Scotland. She helped with the building of many churches, including the Abbey of Dunfermline, where a relic of the true cross was kept. You may know it as the ruins next to Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.

St Cecilia – November 22nd
A Roman martyr, her body was found incorrupt when exhumed in the 16th century. Her story of how she came to have a Josephite marriage and convert her husband, and through him her brother in law, as well as 400 people who heard her preach while the two brothers buried the martyrs, is beautiful. She is the patroness of music because she could hear heavenly music. Her earthly remains rest under the altar of her titular church in Trastevere, which is attached to a Benedictine convent and is just such a special place which, you guessed, the most beautiful singing.

The Dominican Martyrs of Vietnam – November 24th
Some priests and some lay Dominicans, they were martyred at the end of the 19th century in their native Vietnam (although I believe a couple of missionaries count among their numbers). A great excuse for some Vietnamese food to celebrate our universal church and the many non-Western heavenly friends she gave us, whether or not you are yourself a Dominican.

St Andrew the Apostle – November 30th
Patron saint of Scotland among others, although really it should have been Margaret. He was the elder brother of St Peter, and was martyred in Patra after evangelising the region of the Black Sea. According to an apocryphal biography, he was bound to a saltire cross, that is in the shape of an X (as you probably guessed given the flag of Scotland), because he deemed himself unworthy of dying of the same crucifixion as Jesus.

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