Category Archives: Saints

Saint Barnabas

St BarnabasWe read that in the first days of the Church, the multitude of believers had but one heart and one soul; and none said that anything which he possessed was his own. (Acts 4:32) Amid this fervent company of Christians who practiced evangelical poverty, one only is singled out by name, Joseph, a rich Levite from Cyprus. He, having land, sold it, and bringing the price, laid it at the feet of the Apostles. They then gave him a new name, Barnabas, son of consolation. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and was soon chosen for an important mission, the rapidly growing Church of Antioch. Here he perceived the great work which was waiting to be done among the Greeks, and therefore he hastened to seek out and bring Saint Paul to Antioch, from his retirement at Tarsus.

When the prophet Agabus at Antioch foretold a great universal famine, Barnabas and Paul were selected by the faithful, to take to the Church of Jerusalem their generous offerings for the poor of that city. It was also at Antioch that the two Saints were named for the apostolate of the Gentiles; and they sailed together for Cyprus and then to the cities of Asia Minor. Their preaching struck men with amazement, and some cried out, The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men! calling Paul Mercury, and Barnabas Jupiter. The Saints traveled together once again, to the Council of Jerusalem, and told of the signs and wonders which God had wrought among the Gentiles during their missionary journey. Shortly after this they separated; Barnabas with John Mark went to Cyprus, while Paul with Silas returned to Asia Minor.

The tradition of Milan, Italy, reveals that Saint Barnabas went from Cyprus to Italy, and in Milan founded its church; he is still honored there as its first bishop. After seven years he consecrated Saint Anathalon to replace him, and returned to Cyprus to visit the churches. He crisscrossed the island several times to bring to every city and village the Holy Name of the Son of God. In Salamis, some of the recalcitrants plotted together to kill him. He was aware of the conspiracy; nonetheless, after foretelling to John Mark that he would die that same day, he went to the synagogue to preach as usual. It was there that he was stoned as a blasphemer, in the year 61 of our era. Saint John Mark succeeded in burying him near Salamis.

Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints, and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894); Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 6

Saint Norbert

St Norbert with Eucharist and olive branch

This hymn text by J. Michael Thompson was published before, but it bears repeating again because as a prayer, it names the desires of the heart and puts us in right-relation to the Lord through the life of Saint Norbert.

“I myself shall lead my sheep,
Guarding them from danger;
They shall hear and follow me,
Not go with a stranger.
Into pastures rich and green—
God the Lord has spoken—
I shall bring my Israel,
With my love as token.”

Norbert, father of his flock,
Took to heart this warning,
And in all his works and words
Toiled from night to morning.
Guiding all within his cure,
He took time to nourish
With the love of Christ most fair,
Causing souls to flourish.

Father of the canon’s life,
Bishop of his city,
Prayed before the Eucharist,
Served the poor with pity.
Crowned a sacrificial life
With a death of glory;
Now we join with saints above
To retell his story!

Glory to the Father give,
Source of ev’ry blessing,
Glory to the Son we sing,
Who, our wrongs addressing,
Came to us as one of us!
To the Spirit, praises!
Hear the songs of thankfulness
Each believer raises!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
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Saint Jeremiah

Holy Prophet Jeremiah.jpg

The Catholic Church places the Old Testament prophets, like Jeremiah, for example, as saints. The Roman Martyrology is the Church’s official book listing the saints (the entry is below); typically the OT prophets are not commemorated at the altar.


Saint Jeremiah’s Prayer for Protection

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my boast. Behold they say to me,”Where is the word of the Lord? Let it come.” But I have not grown weary in following after You, nor have I desired the day of man. You know the words of my lips are before Your face. Do not be as a stranger to me, and spare me in the evil day. Let those who persecute me be put to shame, but I may not be ashamed. May they , but not I, be terrified. Bring upon them an evil day and crush them with a double destruction.


From the Roman Martyrology (2005), we read, 


Commemoratio sancti Ieremiae, prophetae, qui, tempore Ioachim et Sedeciae, regum Iudae, Civitatis Sanctae eversionem populique deportationem monens, multas persecutiones passus est, quam ob rem Ecclesia eum habuit ut Christi patientis figuram.  Novum aeternumque insuper Testamentum in ipso Christo Iesu consummandum praenuntiavit, quo Pater omnipotens legem suam in imo filiorum Israel corde scriberet, ut esset ipse iis in Deum et essent illi ei in populum.


A translation:

The Commemmoration of Saint Jeremiah the prophet, who in the days of Joachim and Zedekiah, Kings of Judah, warned of the sack of the Holy City and the expulsion of its people. He suffered such persecution that the Church holds him as a figure of the suffering Christ. He, moreover, prophesied the the new and everlasting testament would be perfected in Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the almighty Father would write His law in the very hearts of the sons of Israel, that He might be their God and they His people.

Saints John XXIII and John Paul II

Gaudet Mater EcclesiaToday, Sunday, 27 April 2014, Pope Francis recognized as saints Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. Also present was Benedict XVI, pope emeritus, concelebrating Holy Mass. He say among the cardinals. More than 90 heads of state, other secular leaders among with more than a thousand bishops and 150 cardinals were present with more than a million people.

At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.

He had already shown those wounds when he first appeared to the Apostles on the very evening of that day following the Sabbath, the day of the resurrection. But, as we heard, Thomas was not there that evening, and when the others told him that they had seen the Lord, he replied that unless he himself saw and touched those wounds, he would not believe. A week later, Jesus appeared once more to the disciples gathered in the Upper Room, and Thomas was present; Jesus turned to him and told him to touch his wounds. Whereupon that man, so straightforward and accustomed to testing everything personally, knelt before Jesus with the words: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).

The wounds of Jesus are a scandal, a stumbling block for faith, yet they are also the test of faith. That is why on the body of the risen Christ the wounds never pass away: they remain, for those wounds are the enduring sign of God’s love for us. They are essential for believing in God. Not for believing that God exists, but for believing that God is love, mercy and faithfulness. Saint Peter, quoting Isaiah, writes to Christians: “by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Pet 2:24, cf. Is 53:5).

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.

They were priests, bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

In these two men, who looked upon the wounds of Christ and bore witness to his mercy, there dwelt a living hope and an indescribable and glorious joy (1 Pet 1:3,8). The hope and the joy which the risen Christ bestows on his disciples, the hope and the joy which nothing and no one can take from them. The hope and joy of Easter, forged in the crucible of self-denial, self-emptying, utter identification with sinners, even to the point of disgust at the bitterness of that chalice. Such were the hope and the joy which these two holy popes had received as a gift from the risen Lord and which they in turn bestowed in abundance upon the People of God, meriting our eternal gratitude.

faithful on 27 April 2014This hope and this joy were palpable in the earliest community of believers, in Jerusalem, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:42-47), as we heard in the second reading. It was a community which lived the heart of the Gospel, love and mercy, in simplicity and fraternity.

This is also the image of the Church which the Second Vatican Council set before us. John XXIII and John Paul II cooperated with the Holy Spirit in renewing and updating the Church in keeping with her pristine features, those features which the saints have given her throughout the centuries. Let us not forget that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church. In convening the Council, John XXIII showed an exquisite openness to the Holy Spirit. He let himself be led and he was for the Church a pastor, a servant-leader, led by the Spirit. This was his great service to the Church; he was the pope of openness [NB: from editor docility] to the Spirit.

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

May these two new saints and shepherds of God’s people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves.

St John Baptist de la Salle

John Baptist de la SalleThe seventeenth-century Frenchman John Baptist de la Salle was drawn to what he discerned as God’s will for him be abandoning all earthly things. He was capable, from a noble family, good looking and yet the entitlements of society were insufficient for his heart. John was ordained at 27 and was offered place among the canons at Rheims which he later gave up.

We believe that Divine Providence shows us the path to walk by putting people and circumstances in our way as pointers to serve Him and Him alone. The events of his era led John Baptist and others to take seriously the work of mercy educating young men, especially the poor.

The charism of educating the poor was so attractive that men who desired to serve the Lord and the Church a brothers and not priests gave way to the founding of a community of religious men called the Brothers of the Christian School (Christian Brothers, or De La Salle Brothers and sometimes the French Christian Brothers). Over time the work was more defined by educating boys of poor families, training teachers and setting up homes and schools for delinquents of the wealthy. It was John’s desire that the men in his care would be become a good Christian men.

De La Salle had lived his final years with chronic asthma and the painful rheumatism giving himself totally to God on Good Friday. He was 68. The Church canonized Father John Baptist de la Salle in 1900 and in 1950, Pope Pius XII named de la Salle patron of schoolteachers.

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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