Seven Founders of the Order of Servites

These seven men were born in Florence, Italy and led lives as hermits on Monte Senario. They had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.On Friday, April 13, 1240, the hermits received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand a black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading “Servants of Mary.”Mary told them:”You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.They…

St. Onesimus

St. Onesimus was a slave to Philemon, an influential man who had been converted by St. Paul. Onesimus offended Philemon and fled in order to escape any sort of retribution. He then met St. Paul while Paul was in a Roman prison. Shortly after, Onesimus was baptized. Paul then sent a letter to Philemon asking for Onesimus’ freedom, so Onesimus could become one of his own assistants. This letter is the Epistle to Philemon and entreats Philemon to accept Onesimus “no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me.â€� Philemon pardoned Onesimus and…

St. Claude de la Colombière

On Feb. 15 the Catholic Church honors Saint Claude la Colombiere, the 17th century French Jesuit who authenticated and wrote about Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque’s visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When he canonized St. Claude in 1992, Blessed John Paul II upheld him as a model Jesuit, recalling how the saint “gave himself completely to the Sacred Heart, ‘ever burning with love.’ Even in trials he practiced forgetfulness of self in order to attain purity of love and to raise the world to God.â€� Born in the south of France during 1641, Claude la Colombiere belonged to a…

Sts. Cyril and Methodius

On Feb. 14, the universal Church honors two brothers, Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are called the “Apostles of the Slavsâ€� for their tireless work in spreading the Gospel throughout Eastern Europe in the ninth century. Such was their influence in Church history, through their evangelization efforts, that the late Pope John Paul II named the two brothers the patron saints of Europe along with fifth century monastic leader St. Benedict. Born into a prestigious senatorial family in Thessalonica, in 815 and 826 respectively, Sts. Cyril and Methodius renounced their wealth and status. They chose instead to become priests. Both…

St. Catherine de Ricci

The Ricci are an ancient family in Tuscany. Catherine was born at Florence in 1522, and called at her baptism Alexandrina, but she took the name of Catherine at her religious profession. Having lost her mother in her infancy, her father placed her in the Convent of Monticelli, near the gates of Florence, where her aunt, Louisa de Ricci, was a nun when she was between the age of six and seven. To her, this place was a paradise, but after some years her father took her home. Attracted to the religious life, and with the consent of her father, …

St. Julian the Hospitaller

St. Julian the Hospitaller, or “the Poor Man,” came from a wealthy, noble family in the early 4th century and is a popular saint in Western Europe. According to a legend, while Julian was a baby, he was cursed to one-day kill his own parents. His father wanted him killed, but his mother kept him alive. When he was old enough to learn of the curse, he left his family to preserve their safety. While he was hunting, his mother and father made an unexpected visit to his castle. His wife gave them one of the best rooms. He received…

Our Lady of Lourdes

On Feb. 11, the Catholic Church celebrates the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, recalling a series of 18 appearances that the Blessed Virgin Mary made to a 14-year-old French peasant girl, Saint Bernadette Soubirous. The Marian apparitions began Feb. 11, 1858, ended July 16 that year and received the local bishop’s approval after a four-year inquiry. Coming soon after the 1854 dogmatic definition of her Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mary’s appearances at Lourdes turned the town into a popular travel destination. Thousands of people say their medical conditions have been cured through pilgrimage, prayer and the water flowing…

St. Scholastica

On Feb. 10, the Catholic Church remembers St. Scholastica, a nun who was the twin sister of St. Benedict, the “father of monasticism” in Western Europe. The siblings were born around 480 to a Roman noble family in Nursia, Italy. Scholastica seems to have devoted herself to God from her earliest youth, as the account of Benedict’s life by Pope Gregory the Great mentions that his sister was “dedicated from her infancy to Our Lord.” The twins’ mother died at their birth. When Benedict was old enough he left home to study in Rome leaving Scholastica with her father to…

St. Apollonia of Alexandria

St. Apollonia was a holy virgin who suffered martyrdom in Alexandria during a local uprising against the Christians in the early 3rd century. During festivities commemorating the founding of the Roman Empire, a mob began attacking Christians. The great Dionysius, then Bishop of Alexandria (247-265), related the sufferings of Apollonia: Men seized her and, by repeated blows, broke all of her teeth. Then they erected a pile of sticks outside the city and threatened to burn her alive if she refused to repeat impious words after them (either a blasphemy against Christ, or an invocation of the heathen gods). When…