Saint Blaise: Very little is known about Blaise, except that he was the bishop of Sivas (Armenia) in the fourth century; he is associated with the healing of throats.
Saint Ansgar: the missionary of Scandinavia: Ansgar set out in 826 to preach the gospel in Denmark; despite great difficulties, he persevered in his mission, until he died in 865.
Saint Agatha: was martyred in Sicily in the persecution under Emperor Decius (240-251). Devotion to her was strong from the earliest times: a homily written about her says: “’Good’ is the force and meaning of her name, Agatha in Greek, for she has been granted us, given as a gift, by God himself, the very fount of goodness.”
Saints Paul Miki and Companions: the Japanese martyrs. Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the Emperor Hideyoshi began a persecution of the Catholic Church in Japan; among those arrested were Paul Miki, a young Jesuit, and twenty-five others, some as young as 13; they were taken to Nagasaki where they were crucified in 1597.
Saint Jerome Emiliani: like other saints, Jerome started adult life as a soldier, but after capture and imprisonment he left his military career and began to serve the poor; in 1532 he founded the ‘Order of Clerks Regular of Somaschi’ to serve the poor and needy. He died in 1537.
Saint Josephine Bakhita: born in Sudan in 1869, she was kidnapped, sold as a slave and taken to Italy. There she became a Catholic, and entered the Institute of Saint Mary Magdalene of Canossa, where she took part in the community life of prayer, cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. Her humility, her simplicity and her constant smile won the hearts of all the citizens. She died on February 8, 1947
Saint Scholastica: the sister of Saint Benedict, born in Umbria, Italy around 480; like her brother, she dedicated her life to God, founding a community of contemplative religious, and ending her days at Monte Cassino in the year 547.
Our Lady of Lourdes: In 1858 the Immaculate Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous near Lourdes in France, in the grotto of Massabielle. Through the poor child, Mary called sinners to penance, and thereby there arose in the Church a marvellous spirit of prayer and charity, especially in helping the poor and the sick.
Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius: brothers and missionaries, who carried the Gospel into the Slavonic countries: they translated the liturgical books into the Slavonic language (inventing a new script, Cyrillic, to do so). Cyril died in 869, Methodius in 885.
The Seven Holy Founders of the Servite Order: born in Florence, these seven men lived the life of hermits, before founding the Servite Order in 1304; on this day Saint Alexis Falconieri, one of the seven, died in 1310.
Saint Peter Damien: born in 1007, Peter became a hermit before taking part in a great reform of the Church; in 1057 he was made bishop of Ostia, and on his death in 1072 was immediately venerated as a saint.
The Chair of Saint Peter: this feast of the See of Rome has been kept from the fourth century. It celebrates the unity of the Church gathered around Peter, the Prince of the Apostles.
Saint Polycarp: Polycarp was one of the “second-generation” Christians - a disciple of the Apostles. He became bishop of Smyrna, but was arrested in Rome and burned to death for his faith; the account of his martyrdom emphasises that his death, like his life, was a fragrant offering to God.