Category Archives: Saints

Saints Peter and Paul

Ss Peter and PaulWe honor the great apostles of the Church, Saints Peter and Paul. Across the Christian community they are celebrated today. The Gospel reveal the wonderful words to Jesus, such as “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” and “Lord you know that I love you.”

Peter and Paul set the standard: they sometimes get relationship wrong, as in the denials (and persecution) of Christ. Both reject the Jesus at first but the Lord has the final say. Both show their willingness to be open to grace which I find striking and inviting. My patron, Paul, on the other hand, gives us sublime spiritual theology about Jesus Christ, the Church, grace, generativity, and much more for the Christian life.

The dual feast today gives us a clear example of how to live in a profound complementarity with Christians so that our witness can deeply nourish the spiritual life of the Church and generate the hundredfold Christ promised us.

Let us pray for the unity of the Church!

Saint Barnabas

St BarnabasWhen he converted to Christ from being a Cypriot Jew, Joseph changed his name to Barnabas, a name that means “son of encouragement.” Barnabas seems to be the cousin of John Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark.

Barnabas’ conversion was total:  all of his money and property were given to the Church (Acts 4:32); he completely and unreservedly gave his life to Jesus. Like Paul, Barnabas was an apostle without being part of the 12. The Lord sent (the meaning of the word ‘apostle’) him as a powerful missionary and preacher; he worked with Saint Paul. Barnabas’ concern was to advocate that pagans (unbelievers) could be baptized as Christians without being circumcised. “The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch…for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11).

The Episcopal and Lutheran liturgical calendars note Barnabas as an Apostle and a martyr. Biblically, Barnabas is mentioned 27 times in the New Testament. He exhorted the Antioch community: “With steadfast purpose of heart remain with the Lord.” Good advice for all Christians.

Some will say that Barnabas was the first bishop of Milan and is credited with bringing Clement to Christian faith (who later became the 4th bishop of Rome). Saint Barnabas was martyred by stoning.

Blessed Anna Marie Taigi

Blessed Anna Marie TaigiToday’s saint was unknown to me until now: Blessed Anna Marie Taigi (1769-1837). She was known as a mystic, wife, mother, and  penitent.  She was a tertiary member of the Trinitarian order.

The beatus’ remains are interred in the Church of Saint Crisogono,  Trastevere, Rome, Italy, the neighborhood where she lived. Until about 1920 Taigi’s body was incorrupt but since then a wax face and hands have been in-place to cover for what nature destines us.

Anne was married on 7 January 1789 to Dominico Taigi, a butler to the noble family of Chigi. Together they were married for 48 years, and the parents of seven, two of whom died very young. Marriage was a crown she bore.

Blessed Anna Marie was fortunate to have found holy spiritual directors who directed her spiritual life that ultimately put her on the path to real sanctity. She was a woman of Matthew 25: gave all she could to the poor, visited the sick, and counselled many of the patients at the hospital of San Giacomo of the Incurables;  worked hard to evangelize her own family, changing her husband’s demeanor, and they all regularly assembled in a small personal chapel to pray together.

Anne Marie devoted herself to a life of prayer as a lay woman and God richly blessed her with mystical gifts, particularly the gifts of prophecy and clairvoyance. One ought not to underestimate the power of asking the Holy Spirit for gifts necessary to do the Father’s will: you may just get what you ask for.  It is recorded that she went into ecstacies, and received heavenly and prophetic visions. The gift of counsel allowed her to be a counsellor to cardinals, royalty and to three popes.

As a person in-touch with the need for forgiveness, Blessed Anna Marie is especially important for those who think their past sins cannot be forgiven!

The charismatic gifts, and her lack of concern about worldly matters, Anne was often the topic of gossip and sander, but she was the recipient of public veneration soon after her death, and her Cause for sainthood began in 1863.

The recorded acts that has encouraged the Church to study the life of Anna Marie has now given us Blessed Anna Marie Taigi, a woman who had a simple presence and a powerful effect on many –she was instrumental with many conversions. It was Pope Benedict XV on May 30, 1920, who declared Anna Marie a blessed of the Church. More of her life can be read here.

Saint Norbert

St Norbert detailBrian Fitzgerald’s 2014 essay, “Teaching by Word and Example: St Norbert of Xanten”(Crisis Magazine online) gives an insightful glimpse into a man we in the USA don’t know too much about but who continues to impact the way we live our common Catholic faith in communio. In some ways, the 11th century Norbert was a new “St Paul.” His contemporary Saint Bernard of Clairvaulx called Norbert “heavenly water pipe” yet no word of his survives these centuries. Norbert founded a community of canons who followed the Rule of St Augustine which adhered to the idea: “docere verbo et exemplo” (to teach by word and example).

Several things that we ought to clue-in on from Norbert:

1. the centrality of preaching and Liturgy to the apostolic life;
2. the unity of the active and contemplative lives, the “mixed life”
3. Christians are to be “imitators of Christ’s disciples”
4. the Christian faith makes sense only in the communal aspect.

Saint Norbert, pray for us.

Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs of Uganda

The group of saints we have today are commonly called the Martyrs of Uganda, led by Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions. They met their destiny in 1886. In this era of ours we tend to look for witnesses that are coherent in their Christian following. The story of Saint Charles is the story of so many people today. Attend to the narrative:

King Mwanga of the Baganda in Uganda was a cruel and capricious ruler. One of his first acts, after becoming king at the age of eighteen, was to order the murder of James Hannington, the newly appointed Anglican bishop. The Christian missionaries, he believed, were the advance guard of encroaching European powers; they were tempting his people to abandon their traditional ways and thus posed a threat to his own rule. What is more, they also reproached him for demanding sexual favors from the young men who served as his pages.

In May 1886 Mwanga summoned all his pages and ordered the Christians among them to step forward. Fifteen of them approached, including the eldest, twenty-four-year-old catechist Charles Lwanga, as well as the youngest, a boy of thirteen whom Charles had baptized only the night before. After declaring that they were Christians and intended to remain so, the king ordered them put to death.

The group was marched to an execution spot on Lake Victoria, more than sixteen miles away. There they were wrapped in reeds, stacked on a pyre, and set aflame. The martyrs offered no protest, but simply murmured their prayers. Lwanga’s last words were “My God.”

Reports of these deaths, and many more in succeeding weeks, spread quickly, resulting in many conversions. The martyrs were canonized in 1964 by Pope Paul VI, who made a pilgrimage to their shrine.

St. Charles Lwanga said, “Poor, foolish man . . . you are burning me, but it is as if you were pouring water on my body.”

Credit: Give us our daily bread

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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