Saints for the Lenten Season

As you observe Lent this year, take time to learn about and reflect on the lives of these saints whose feast days fall within the season.

February 21: St. Peter Damian

Did you know St. Peter Damian was the most prolific writer of the eleventh century?  Check out what Pope Benedict XVI said about him on his feast day in 2007- the one-thousandth anniversary of his birth. 

March 3: St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel, belle of the ball and heiress of millions, asked the Pope for more missionaries… and he told her to become one!  She left her life of privilege and founded a religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.  She dedicated her life to becoming a servant of the poor and establishing schools for Native and African American children.  Learn more about her order here.

March 7: Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

One of the proofs of a really close friendship is when you can't say one person's name without thinking of the other. This shows up in history, with names like Lewis and Clark. It's in story books, with names like Hansel and Gretel, or Jack and Jill. When it comes to saints, there are many examples, but one of the most prominent duos is Perpetua and Felicity. Perpetua was a young Christian noblewoman and Felicity was a young Christian slave. The two were arrested for their belief in Christ, during the persecution of Emperor Septimius Severus: at this time, Perpetua was a new mother, and Felicity was eight months pregnant. Together, the two women helped each other through the heat, darkness and brutality of the guards in the prison. Two days before their scheduled death, Felicity gave birth to her daughter in the prison, and the child was adopted by a Christian woman. Perpetua and Felicity were sent out to face the arena together, and after being exposed to the beasts, were killed by having their throats cut. These last days of the women were recorded by Perpetua, whose diary became one of the most famous accounts in the early church of the suffering of the martyrs. 

March 9: St. Dominic Savio

When his cause first came up for canonization, people complained that this saint was too young to be a saint. Thankfully, Pope Pius X wisely announced that no one is too young to be a saint. St. Dominic Savio was only fifteen-years-old when he died, but those short fifteen years were enough to inspire all those who knew him. Born in 1842 in Riva, Italy, Dominic became a student of St. John Bosco when he was 12-years-old. As a child, he founded a group called the Company of the Immaculate Conception, devoted to prayer and to helping the mission of St. John: All of the members of this group, save Dominic, would later become priests.  His health kept him from big endeavors, and because of this, he often said, "I can't do big things. But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God." He died on March 9, 1857, with the words, "What beautiful things I see!" He is the patron saint of boys, children's choirs and falsely-accused people.  Read more about St. Dominic Savio here.

March 17: St. Patrick

St. Patrick, the apostle to Ireland, once wrote: "Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me." He was captured and sold into slavery in Ireland as a teenager. He escaped, but he dreamed Ireland's children were calling to him, and returned to Ireland as a missionary.  As Patrick once did, Pope John Paul II challenged the youth of Ireland.

March 19: Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Silence is golden… St. Joseph, the model of humility, and one of the world's greatest saints, is often mentioned as being silent. This silence speaks volumes. In it, the Church realizes his faithfulness, his love and his acceptance of the Holy Will of God. St. Joseph was not a man of many words: he was a man of action. We have only one direct statement about his personality: in Matthew's Gospel, he is described as "a righteous man" (Matthew 1:19). His actions alone reveal everything else we know about him. He brings Mary and the Child she bears into his home when, in the sight of the world, he would be justified in divorcing her. He leads the expectant Mary into Bethlehem, and flees with her and her Child into Egypt. When it is safe, he returns with the two into Galilee. He does all of this, because God asks it of him. He never hesitates. Each time we read that the angel spoke to Joseph, the following sentence begins with the action St. Joseph took. "Joseph awoke," "Joseph rose," "He went." Each time he received a summons, his reaction was to follow the call immediately. Never once did he hesitate. Read more about the poignant silence of Joseph.  

March 25: Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

"Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as 'full of grace' (cf. Luke 1:28).  To the heavenly messenger she replies: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word' (Luke 1:38).Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus.  Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God's saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God" (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church/ LG, 56).