Category Archives: Saints

St Irenaeus

St Irenaeus was born c.130 in Smyrna, Asia Minor (today modern Izmir, Turkey) and was martyred in 202 in Lyons, France; his tomb and relics were destroyed by Calvinists in 1562 but his head rests in Saint John’s Church, Lyons, France. Today the western Church liturgically recalls Irenaeus while the Orthodox Church liturgically recalls his memory on August 23.

History tells us that St Irenaeus was a disciple of St Polycarp of Smyrna. In 177, was ordained and later was the Bishop of Lugdunum, Gaul (modern Lyons, France).

His learning and prudence (discretion) identified him as a true “lover of peace” which is what his name implies. You might say that Irenaeus’ enduring legacy speaks to the fact that he worked and wrote against Gnosticism (see his work Against Heresies), basing his arguments on the works of St John the Apostle, whose Gospel is often cited by Gnostics. He is considered the first great Western ecclesiastical writer and theologian, who emphasized the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and of Jesus Christ’s simultaneous human and divine nature, and the value of tradition. The calls Irenaeus a “Father of the Church”. He is clearly among the “greats”.

As one said, “Emerging from the turmoil of the second century, the Church is indebted to Irenaeus for its catholic self-consciousness and its awareness of unity as reflected in the emergence of the canon of Scripture, the interpretation of prophecy, and apostolic succession.”

Fisher and More

“… many stood for Christ against the State, and they were felled for it – martyred for Faith in Jesus Christ and for clinging to the Truth he taught – Truth handed on faithfully from generation to generation by Christ’s holy Church. But of the hundreds who were martyred for the Catholic Faith from 1535 onwards, two are especially eminent, and they were the first to be canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1935. St John Fisher was the saintly Bishop of Rochester, Chancellor of Cambridge University, Tutor to Henry VIII, Confessor to Lady Margaret,  mother of Henry VII. Erasmus considered him to be “incomparable for uprightness of life, for learning and for greatness of soul.” In short, he was an luminary of the Church. St Thomas More was a luminary of the State. He was Lord High Chancellor of England, a noted Humanist philosopher and lawyer, and a Scholar.

The combination of these two Saints reminds us that neither spiritual nor temporal lords could stand against the State and the will of the Crown. Nevertheless, both men remained steadfast in upholding the Truth of the Gospel, particularly concerning the indissolubility of Christian marriage. For their fidelity to Christ’s Word, they were executed in 1535, St John Fisher on this day (22 June), and St Thomas More on 6 July.

In our own time, the teaching of Christ on the permanence of Christian marriage, and thus the refusal to accept divorce, is largely seen as irrelevant or outdated. And, it appears, that some, even within the Catholic Church, regard this stance to be “rigid” and lacking in “mercy”. And yet, today’s Saints clung to the perennial teaching of Christ, and they were willing to die for this Truth. They died not simply as ‘conscientious objectors’ but, more fundamentally, as witnesses to the Truth of the Gospel. Truth is everlasting and it is not changed to suit us, but rather, we must conform to the Truth, above all, to the Person of Jesus Christ and to his teachings. Today’s Martyrs taught this with their lives.

Fr Lawrence Lew, OP
excerpt, homily for the feast of Ss. John Fisher and Thomas More, 2017

Recommended to St Joseph

“To other Saints Our Lord seems to have given power to succor us in some special necessity—but to this glorious Saint, I know by experience, He has given the power to help us in all. Our Lord would have us understand that as He was subject to St. Joseph on earth—for St. Joseph, bearing the title of father and being His guardian, could command Him—so now in Heaven Our Lord grants all his petitions. I have asked others to recommend themselves to St. Joseph, and they, too, know the same thing by experience . . .”

Saint Teresa of Avila
Autobiography, VI, 9

St Gemma Galgani

For years I have been intrigued by today’s saint, Gemma Galgani. Several of my friends have a devotion to Galgani, yet she has basically remained a name for me until now. It is an interesting event that her feast day this is not on Holy Saturday as when she died, but it is during the week we call great and holy. One striking thing is that St. Gemma was not a professed member of the Passionist Order yet she intimately linked to its spiritual patrimony.

A biographer writes, “St. Gemma Galgani (1878-1903) was born in Italy, the fifth of eight children of a prosperous pharmacist. Her mother and three siblings died of tuberculous when she was young, and when she was 18 her father died as well, leaving Gemma to help care for her younger siblings. She rejected two marriage proposals and became a housekeeper while trying to enter the religious life as a Passionist. She was rejected due to her poor heath, and later became a Tertiary member of the Order. Gemma developed spinal meningitis but was miraculously healed, which she attributed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the intercession of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. Throughout her life she united herself with the Passion of Christ and experienced great suffering as a result, but not without receiving many remarkable graces as well. She experienced many visions and was often visited by her guardian angel, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. For this she was known as a great mystic, and, according to her spiritual director, developed the stigmata at age 21. After a selfless life of love given to God for the conversion of sinners, she died on the Vigil of Easter at the age of 25.

She is the patron saint of pharmacists, loss of parents, back illnesses, temptations, and those seeking purity of heart.

Gemma Galgani was beatified in 1933, and canonized in 1940.

St Amos

14 Bible Historiale, The Call of Amos Artwork: Amos as shepherd Artist: UNKNOWN; Illustrator of Petrus Comestor’s ‘Bible Historiale’, France, 1372 Date: 1372 Technique: Miniature Location: Museum Meermanno Westreenianum, The Hague Notes: From Petrus Comestor’s “Bible Historiale” (manuscript “Den Haag, MMW, 10 B 23”). According to Museum Meermanno’s database, the picture depicts Joel. We do not know about Joel’s earlier profession, and it seems more probable that the picture depicts Amos. Subject: The Call of Amos Hosts: Museum Meermanno and Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague: Interactive Presentation of Handwritings [IMAGE]

The Novus Ordo Liturgy does not liturgically commemorate OT prophets but the older form of the Mass does, as well as the Byzantine Liturgy. The Roman Martyrology lists Amos as the first saint of the list for March 31: “At Thecua, in Palestine, the holy prophet Amos, whom the priest Amasias frequently scourged, and whose temples Ozias, that priest’s son, pierced with an iron spike. Being carried half dead to his native place, he expired there and was buried with his forefathers” (Roman Martyrology).

As you know, the Book of Amos is one of the twelve minor prophets. The name Amos means “Burden” in Hebrew. Amos’ biography says that he lived in the 700s B.C. during the reigns of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jeroboam II of Israel, that he was a contemporary of the holy prophet Jonah, and he exercised his prophetic ministry prior to God’s call of Isaiah.

The prophetic book reveals that Amos was a herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees. The Holy Prophet Amos calls for the restoration of Israel under the Messianic Dynasty of King David rejecting Israel’s grievous immorality and the warning of God’s wrath.

St Amos, pray for us as we make our way through Lent shedding sin and asking for God’s grace.

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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