Category Archives: Saints

Brother Santiago named a Martyr for the Faith

Yesterday, 7 November 2018, Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, where it was decided that James Alfred Miller was a martyr for the faith.

James Alfred Miller – in religion he was Leo William and known also as Brother Santiago. He was a professed member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Miller was a native of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Brother Santiago was a missionary in several Central America countries and over the years his life was threatened. The Brothers of the Christian Schools sent to him to teach agricultural studies and give witness to Jesus Christ. On February 13, 1982, Brother Santiago’s life was sacrificed for the faith as he was shot several times by three hooded men and he died instantly. Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints recognized that Brother Santiago was indeed a martyr.

You may read a brief biography of Brother Santiago here.

St Denys of Paris



Saint Denys, first bishop of Paris, and a 3rd century martyr. Since 1568, Denys has been on the Roman liturgical calendar for today.

Saint Denys is one of two patron saints of Paris. He is commonly thought to be one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and is regularly invoked to intercede with God for those who live with headaches.

Saint Denys, pray for us.

Martyrdom of the Baptist

Today is the feast of the beheading of St. John the Forerunner and Baptist.

Sacred Scripture reveals that John the Baptist was a cousin of Our Lord whose mission was to preach repentance to Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. The famous rebuke of King Herod for his unlawful marriage to Herodias, his brother’s wife, landed John in prison and on the wrong end of Herodias’ admiration. Concluding Salome’s dance for the King’s birthday he promised to give her whatever she asked for, even up to half his kingdom. Salome asked for the head of John the Baptist on a platter. Herod ordered the execution. We honor St. John the Baptist as the last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets.

The Kondakion (in the Byzantine Liturgy) reads:

The beheading of the forerunner was indeed a dreadful crime, somehow fitting into the plan of God, for John thereby became the herald of the savior’s visit to those in hades. As for you, Herodias, cry your eyes out, bewail your deed, for you preferred murder to the law of God, rejecting eternal, everlasting life, for a false and passing one.

St Jane Frances de Chantal

St. Jane Frances de Chantal (1572–1641) is honored today on the liturgical calendar. She was born in Dijon, France, and the daughter of the president of parliament.

By 21 she married a baron and had six children. Jane was a refined, cheerful, and beautiful woman, committed to Catholic faith, and widow after 7 years of marriage.  A daily Mass go-er she also gave alms to the poor, and was a good administrator.

At 32 she met St. Francis de Sales after a mystical vision while praying for a spiritual director. On love for Christ she made a private vow of chastity to which she added obedience to his direction, while continuing to provide for her children. By 45 all of her family obligations were met and with Bishop Francis de Sales founded a religious institute for women, the Order of the Visitation, giving witness to the virtues of the Virgin Mary at the time of the Visitation.

The Visitation sisters accepted women who were rejected from other religious orders due to age or illness, and were notable for their active charitable works. Jane’s counsel was sought by all people, high and low in society. She also traveled extensively to found new Visitation houses, leaving 86 at the time of her death, and 164 at the time of her canonization.

St. Christina the Astonishing

This is my first introduction to St. Christina of Bolsena. Her hagiographer does, in fact, give some astonishing points of her life. For me, it is good know what her patronage is: those with mental illness and disorders, mental health workers, psychiatrists, and therapists.

St. Christina of Bolsena (1150-1224) was born to a peasant family in Belgium. She was orphaned as a child and raised by her two older sisters. When she was 21 she had what was believed to be a severe seizure, and was pronounced dead. At her funeral she suddenly revived and levitated before the bewildered congregation. She said that during her coma she had been to heaven, hell, and purgatory and had been given the option to either die and enter heaven, or return to earth to suffer and pray for the holy souls in purgatory.

Christina chose the greater act of charity. From then on she lived in extreme poverty: wearing rags, sleeping on rocks, and begging for her food. She is called “Astonishing” because she did the most bizarre things and suffered the pains of inhuman feats without being physically harmed by them. She would roll in fire and hide in hot ovens; she would stand in freezing water for hours in the dead of winter; she allowed herself to be dragged under water by a mill wheel; she spent much time in graveyards. She would also climb trees to escape the strong odor of sin in those she met.

Many thought her to be possessed by demons or insane, but many devout people recognized and vouched for her sincerity, obedience, and sanctity. They believed that she was a living witness to the pains that souls experience in purgatory, willingly suffering with them and for them. Christina the Astonishing is the patron of those with mental illness and disorders, mental health workers, psychiatrists, and therapists.

(Thanks to DG for alerting me to this saint.)

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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