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Secret Diary

Saints of the Month – October

Ok, this is going live in November but I had a crazy month travelling and being ill so instead of backdating it at time of writing (25th of October if you’re wondering), I thought I might as well publish it for All Saints’ like the one for November. After all, it will be around for October next year and the years after. Apologies if I’m flooding your inbox with new posts notifications on a Holy Day of Obligation. Remember to go to Mass. Now, without further ado…

St Thérèse of Lisieux – October 1st
As always she is not the only saint on this date, but have I gone all the way to Glasgow* for the relics of one of the others? No.
She is a late-comer to my group of heavenly BFFs because her nickname of the Little Flower had me misguided about her character but she is very much a kindred spirit and I have roses at my wedding in her honour. She was a strong-willed girl, and had a huge heart for the Lord. What’s not to like?

*From Edinburgh, ok, but still…

St Francis of Assisi – October 4th
The patron saint of Italy and of the current (which autocorrect changed to cutest, just saying) Pope, which by the way I have seen up close. He’s mostly loved by the 70s hippie Church for his Canticle of Creatures which praises the Lord for our brothers and sisters the elements of nature. It was fundamental in the ecological understanding of Laudato Sí, but that’s not the only reason why I like him.

St Faustina Kowalska – October 5th
I have yet to read her diaries, but I’m writing this while an icon of the Divine Mercy looks down on me from my home altar, and if I had to pick a chaplet I’d pick the Divine Mercy above everything else, so it’s only a matter of time before I get around to it. If it wasn’t clear, she is the saint who had the revelation that spread the devotion to Divine Mercy.

SAINT John Henry Cardinal Newman – October 9th
Being late writing this means that we have already been to Rome for the Canonisation and so we can use the title St instead of Blessed. He was a very clever man who sacrificed his livelihood for the sake of the truth and brought the Oratory of St Philip Neri to England. Reading a prayer he wrote in a booklet about faith and the environment when planning a service on the topic at my Anglican church has been the catalyst of the journey back to the Catholic Church

St Edward the Confessor – October 13th
He gets a really bad rep for being a weak leader because he preferred religion to politics, but he is one of a limited number of monarchs who became saints. He built the abbey church of a Benedictine monastery a few miles west of the City of London, which (you may have guessed) we know as Westminster Abbey.

St Teresa of Avila – October 15th
Mystic, writer and zealous reformer, she is a Doctor of the Church. She reformed the Carmelite order, founding the Discalced Carmelites to return the order to the poverty with which it had started. Her spiritual writings have helped generations to find inner peace even in troubling times, but to her the religious life was all about delight in the Lord and not rules (even if the rules were there, and they were strict). She had visions, a fact rendered immortal in art by one of the best statues by Bernini which is held in Santa Maria delle Vittorie in Rome. Her view of prayer, however, was not self-serving: prayer is not about making us feel good about ourselves, but springing us to action.

St Margaret Mary Alacoque – October 17th
Also the feast of St Ignatius of Antioch, one of the Early Church Fathers, but in pure Catholic Feminist fashion I’ll focus on the lady (actually, that’s not why I’m doing it). Her visions of Our Lord have popularised devotion to the Sacred Heart. I have yet to actually manage 9 First Fridays but it’s on my list of devotional goals, because together with the Divine Mercy it’s a devotion I hold very dear.

St Luke the Evangelist – October 18th
He is credited with giving us one of the two books I favour in the New Testament that was not written by St John (the Acts of the Apostles). He is believed to have been a Greek and a Gentile, which might explain why his Gospel has so much focus on evangelising the Gentiles, and also to have been a physician. The change of tone in Acts 16 from a historian’s third person to first person may point to the time of his conversion but it’s speculation.

St Philip Howard – October 19th
One of the 40 martyrs of England and Wales, he was earl of Arundel and Surrey under Elizabeth I and was imprisoned and condemned to death, but his sentence was never carried out and he died in imprisonment in the Tower, which may be a worse death than what happened to some of the others.

St Pope John Paul II – October 22nd
Does he even need an introduction? He was a prolific writer who still retained his focus on the pastoral mission of the Church as priest, bishop and Pope. He contributed significantly to the Second Vatican Council and therefore to the Church as we know it today. His influence on the world around him contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the defeat of Communism among other things.

St Fidelis of Como – October 28th
He was a martyr in Roman Como, where he was stationed as a soldier. He helped other Christians escape persecution, until he was found out and slain by his superior. He may have crossed paths with my ancestors, it’s not like Roman Como was huge and densely populated, and so he deserves a spot on this list even if nobody outside of the area has heard of him before.

The Douai Martyrs – October 29th
Yet more saints for you Reformation geeks, the Douai Martyrs is the collective name for the 158 priests who trained at the English College in Douai for the priesthood before returning to post-Reformation England and Wales. The crown saw them as spies of the papal states and so most were charged and executed for treason up until as late as 1680.


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