Saint Oliver Plunkett: Oliver Plunkett was born in County Meath (Ireland) in 1625, and died at Tyburn in 1681. Ordained in Rome he was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1669. He held synods and visitations and promoted the reforms initiated by the Council of Trent. Imprisoned in Dublin in 1679, he was tried, condemned and executed in London, the final victim of the ‘Popish Plot’ and the last person to be executed for the faith in England.
Saint Thomas: unfairly remembered as “Doubting Thomas”, his profession of faith, “My Lord and my God” is the climax of one of the Easter stories. Tradition has it that Thomas then preached in India, and was martyred there.
Saint Elizabeth of Portugal: born into the Royal family of Aragon in 1271, Elizabeth is known for her care for the poor; after the death of her husband, she gave away her worldly goods and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. She died in 1336.
Saint Anthony Zaccaria: born in Italy in 1502; Anthony was ordained priest and founded the Congregation of Clerics of Saint Paul, also known as the Barnabites, to imitate the work of Paul and Barnabas in preaching. His work of stirring preaching and encouragement ended with his death, aged 36, in 1539.
Saint Maria Goretti: Maria was born into a poor family in Ancona, Italy in 1890. She spent her childhood at Nettuno, helping her mother in the domestic chores. She was a religious girl, much given to prayer. In the year 1902, while defending her chastity against a neighbour trying to rape her, she preferred to die rather than give way, and was fatally stabbed. She forgave her attacker before she died, the following day.
Saint Augustine Zhao Rong: This feast also celebrates the 119 Chinese Martyrs who died between 1648 – 1930. Augustine was a Chinese diocesan priest. Having first been a soldier who accompanied a priest to Beijing, he was moved by his patience and had asked to be baptised; he was sent to the seminary and ordained a priest. Arrested, he suffered the most cruel tortures and then died in 1815.
Saint Benedict: the “Father of Western Monasticism". Born at Norcia in 480, he gathered followers in Subiaco before moving south to Monte Cassino in 529; here he founded his most famous monastery, and composed his Rule, still the indispensable guide of the Benedictine Order. He died in 547, on the 21st March. Today's feast is the anniversary of the translation of his relics.
Saint Henry: Henry was born in 973; after succeeding his father as Duke of Bavaria, he was elected Holy Roman Emperor at the age of 41; as Emperor he concentrated on the good of his people, building monasteries and helping the poor. He was also dedicated to fostering missionary activity. He died in 1024.
Saint Camillus de Lellis: another saint who began life as a soldier: Camillus was born in Italy in 1550, but underwent a conversion and began a life dedicated to ministering to the sick. He was ordained, and founded the congregation of the Servants of the Sick, which set up hospitals, especially for the poor. He died in 1614, and is the patron of all health care workers.
Saint Bonaventure: born in Italy in 1218, he entered the Franciscan Order, and gained a Master’s degree in Philosophy in Paris; he eventually became Minister General of the Order and Cardinal Bishop of Albano near Rome. He is remembered for his spiritual works and teaching. He died in 1274.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel: the Sacred Scriptures speak of the beauty of Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elijah defended the faith of the people of Israel in the living God. In 1156 a group of hermits settled there and afterwards set up the Carmelite Order to lead a contemplative life under the patronage of the Mother of God.
Saint John Plessington: The Plessington family originated at Pleasington, near Blackburn in the north of the Diocese. John was born in 1634 or 1637, and studied for the priesthood in Valladolid, being ordained in 1662. He worked first at Holywell, in North Wales, before moving to Cheshire. He was arrested and tried and executed in Chester in 1679.
Saint Apollinaris: He was thought to be a disciple of Saint Peter, and the first Bishop of Ravenna (Italy), dying near the end of the first century.
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi: born in 1559, he entered the Capuchin Order, where he taught theology to the students and engaged in many of the works of the Order. As a renowned preacher he travelled throughout Europe and wrote many works to explain the Catholic faith. He died at Lisbon in 1619.
Saint Mary Magdalene: she was one of Christ's disciples and was present at his death. On the morning of Easter day she was the first to whom the risen Redeemer appeared, according to Saint Mark's Gospel.
Saint Bridget of Sweden: born in 1303; after the death of her husband (with whom she had had eight children) she founded the Bridgettine Order. She wrote works describing the mystical experiences she had on a penitential pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She died in Rome in 1373.
Saint Sharbel Makhluf: he was born in Lebanon, the son of a mule driver, and was raised by an uncle who opposed his youthful piety. Aged 23 he joined the monastery of Saint Maron where he took the name Sharbel in memory of a 2nd century martyr. He was ordained in 1859; after which he lived as a model monk, but became a hermit in 1875, until his death 23 years later. He gained a reputation for holiness, and was much sought for counsel and blessing. He had a great personal devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Saint James: born at Bethsaida, son of Zebedee and brother of John; he was killed by Herod in Jerusalem in about 42, and is especially venerated at Compostella in Spain.
Saints Joachim and Ann: an old tradition going back to the second century gives these as the names of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Martha: the sister of Mary and Lazarus. She received the Lord into her house and provided for his needs with great care. At her request the Lord raised her brother from the dead.
Saint Peter Chrysologus: Bishop of Ravenna in the early fifth century; he used short homilies as a way of instructing the faithful, as well as writing theological and dogmatic texts. He died in 450
Saint Ignatius of Loyola: born in 1491. After life in the army, he converted to a deep spiritual life. He studied in Paris, and gathered companions around himself, who later became the Society of Jesus. They were effective in teaching and evangelising. He died in 1556.