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St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen. Advertise Now





"Jesus' Baptism"

Why did Jesus, the sinless one sent from the Father in heaven, submit himself to John's baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the "baptism" of Jesus bloody death upon the cross. Jesus' baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God's suffering Servant (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father's will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God? Read More »


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St. Giles was born in Athens, Greece, in early times. When his parents died, he used the large fortune they left him to help the poor. For this reason and especially because he worked many miracles, Giles found himself a greatly admired young man. He did not want this praise and fame at all. So, to be able to serve God in a hidden life, he left Greece and sailed to France.

There he went to live alone in a dark forest. He made his home in a rough cave behind a thick thorn bush. Giles lived there contented, safe from the danger of becoming conceited at hearing himself praised. But one day, a certain king and his men went hunting the forest. They chased the deer that often came to Giles' cave. The deer lost them by going into Giles' cave, which was hidden behind the large thorn bush. One of the men shot an arrow into the thorn bush, hoping to hit the deer. When they forced their way in, they discovered Giles sitting wounded by the arrow.

"Who are you and what are you doing here?" demanded the king. St. Giles told them the story of his life. When they heard it, they asked his forgiveness. The king sent his doctors to take care of the saint's wound. Although Giles begged to be left alone, the king felt such respect for him that he came often to see him. Giles never would accept the king's gifts. Finally, however, he agreed to let the king build a large monastery there. Giles became its first abbot. This monastery became so famous that a whole town grew up there. When the saint died, his grave at the monastery became a great shrine where many people came on pilgrimage.



Blessed John was the archbishop of Arles, France. He and his companions are celebrated today because they died heroic martyrs' deaths during the French Revolution. The new constitution of 1790 was against the Church. The people were being forced to sign their agreement with an oath. If they did not, they were punished. By 1792, the punishment was more than a prison term. Now it meant death.

Many brave bishops, priests, religious and lay people would not sign the oath supporting the French constitution. They knew they would be betraying God and his Church. Pope Pius VI told them that they were right. It was a sad time for the people of France. On September 2, 1792, a crowd of several hundred people rioted and broke into a former monastery. It was now a prison for priests and religious. The mob approached several priests and told them to sign the oath. Each priest definitely refused. Each was slain on the spot.

Among the martyrs was Blessed Alexander Lenfant, a Jesuit. Just a few minutes before he died, he had been hearing the confession of a fellow priest. Both were killed moments later. The rioters then went to the Carmelite church which was also being used as a prison. Blessed John, archbishop of Arles, and other bishops and priests were being held there. All refused to take the oath and all were murdered. On September 3, the same mob went to the Lazarist seminary. It was also a temporary prison, with ninety priests and religious. Only four escaped death.

By the time the terrible Revolution had ended, 1,500 Catholics had been killed. Several were bishops, priests and religious. The martyrs we celebrate today number 191. They were proclaimed "blessed" in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.



St. Gregory was born in 540 in Rome. His father was a senator. His mother is a saint, St. Celia. Gregory studied philosophy and while still young, became governor of Rome. When his father died, Gregory turned his large house into a monastery. For several years he lived as a good and holy monk. Then Pope Pelagius made him one of the seven deacons of Rome. When the pope died, Gregory was chosen to take his place. He did not want that honor at all. He was so holy and wise, however, that everyone knew he would be a good pope. Gregory even disguised himself and hid in a cave, but he was found and made pope anyway.

For fourteen years he ruled the Church. Even though he was always sick, Gregory was one of the greatest popes the Church has ever had. He wrote many books and was a wonderful preacher. He cared for people all over the world. In fact, he considered himself the servant of all. He was the first pope to use the title "servant of the servants of God." All the popes since have used this title.

St. Gregory took special, loving care of poor people and strangers. Every day he used to feed them a good dinner. He was also very sensitive to the injustices people suffered. Once, when he was still a monk, he saw some blond boys up for sale in the slave market of Rome. He asked where they were from and was told that they were from England. The saint felt a great desire to go to England to bring the love of Jesus to those pagans. When he became pope, one of the first things he did was to send some of his best monks to convert the English to Christ. The last years of this holy pope's life were filled with great sufferings, yet he continued working for his beloved Church until the very end. St. Gregory died on March 12, 604



St. Rose was born in 1235 in Viterbo, Italy. She lived at the time when Emperor Frederick had conquered land that belonged to the Church. Rose's special mission was to make the people of her own city and nearby cities remain faithful to the Holy Father. And this she did when she was just a teenager. In fact, Rose was only eight years old when our Blessed Mother told her while she was sick that she was to wear the habit of St. Francis. Our Lady also told Rose to give good example by her words and actions. Slowly the girl gained her health. She began to think more and more about how much Jesus suffered for us and how much sinners hurt him. She prayed and made sacrifices to show Jesus how much she loved him.

Later on, this daring girl began to preach in the streets of the city. She told people to stand up to the emperor who had taken land from the Church. So many people listened to the saint that Rose's father became frightened. He told her he would beat her if she did not stop preaching. She was only about thirteen, but she answered gently, "If Jesus could be beaten for me, I can be beaten for him. I do what Jesus has told me to do, and I must not disobey him."

Two years more Rose preached with such success that the enemies of the pope wanted her killed. In the end, the ruler sent Rose and her parents out of the city. But she said that the emperor was going to die soon and that is just what happened. Back in Viterbo, the saint was not permitted to become a nun, so she returned to her own home. There she died in 1252, when she was only seventeen. Her body is still preserved and venerated in Viterbo.



St. Lawrence Justinian was born in Venice, Italy, in 1381. His mother sometimes thought her son was aiming too high. He always told her that he wanted to become a saint. When he was nineteen, he felt he should serve God in a special way. He asked the advice of his uncle, a holy priest of the community of St. George. "Do you have the courage to turn down the delights of the world and to live a life of penance?" asked his uncle. Lawrence was quiet a long time. Then he looked up at a crucifix and said, "You, O Lord, are my hope. In this cross there is comfort and strength."

His mother wanted him to marry, but Lawrence joined the community of St. George. His first assignment was to go out among the people of his city and seek donations for the support of the order. Lawrence was not ashamed to beg. He realized that the offerings of money or goods would help God's work. He even went in front of his own home and asked charity. His mother would try to fill up his sack with food, so that he could go back to the monastery early. But Lawrence would only accept two loaves of bread and then would be off to the next house. In this way, he learned how to make little acts of self-denial and grew very dear to God.

One day a friend of his came to try to persuade Lawrence to leave the monastery. Instead, the saint spoke of how short life is and how wise it is to live for heaven. His friend was very impressed and was persuaded to become a religious himself.

Later, Lawrence was made a bishop, even though he was not happy about it. His people soon learned what a kind and holy man their bishop was. Crowds came to him for help every day. When he was dying, he would not lay on a soft bed. "That shall not be!" he exclaimed humbly. "My Lord was stretched out on a hard and painful tree." St. Lawrence Justinian died in 1455.



Blessed Bertrand lived in the last half of the twelfth and first part of the thirteenth centuries. His country, France, was troubled by religious wars. There was great confusion about Church teaching. Bertrand's parents managed to live a peaceful life and they taught the true faith to their son. In 1200, the Cistercian monasteries were attacked by an army led by Raymond of Toulouse. He believed in a heresy called Albigensianism. He attacked people who did not believe as he did. He especially persecuted the Cistercian monks. They were trying very hard to help people know about the true Catholic faith.

Bertrand became a Cistercian and a priest. Around 1208, he met St. Dominic. This was God's invitation to him to begin a very important ministry. He was one of the six men who joined Dominic in 1215 to form a new religious congregation, the Order of Preachers. They are often called "Dominicans" after their founder. Blessed Bertrand was sent to Paris to start the order there. After a short while, St. Dominic called for Friar Bertrand to go to Bologna to establish the order there. Bertrand obeyed happily. Meanwhile, the Order of Preachers was growing. They preached the Gospel message in the towns and countryside. They wanted people to know and love their Catholic faith. In 1219, Blessed Bertrand accompanied St. Dominic on a trip to Paris. He loved and admired St. Dominic very much.

The Dominicans had a big meeting in 1221, called a General Chapter. Bertrand was there. The order was divided into eight provinces so that the religious and their ministries could be more effective. Bertrand was made the superior or provincial of southern France. He spent the rest of his life preaching and helping people grow closer to God. He died in 1230 and was proclaimed "blessed" by Pope Leo XIII in 1881.



Blessed James Duckett studied at the English college of Douay and became a priest in 1639. He studied for three more years in Paris, and spent several hours each day in prayer. Before being sent back to his persecuted England, he spent two months with the Cistercian monks, devoting that time to prayer and retreat. The young priest labored for a year in England. He was caught with holy oils and a book of rites. When his captors threatened harm to his family and friends if he did not confess his identity, he admitted that he was a priest. He was brought to prison in London. There he met a fellow priest, Ralph Corby, a Jesuit. Father Corby had been laboring in England for twelve years before he was caught celebrating Mass. The Jesuit order tried feverishly to save Father Corby. When the "reprieve" came, he insisted that Father John Duckett who was younger, use it. But Father John would not allow himself to walk away and leave his friend.

Actually, neither priest would have been allowed to take advantage of the reprieve. The judges ignored it and condemned both priests to death. On September 7, 1644, at ten o'clock, the two men mounted the cart that would take them to Tyburn, the scene of execution. Their heads were shaved and they wore their cassocks. Each made a short speech, then embraced each other. They would meet again in the presence of the Lord of glory.



We do not usually celebrate the birthdays of the saints. Instead we celebrate the day they died, because that is the day they were born into the joys of heaven.
But the birthday of Mary, our Blessed Mother, is an exception. We do celebrate her birthday because she came into this world full of grace and because she was to be the Mother of Jesus.

The birth of Our Lady was like a dawn. When the sky starts to turn a rosy pink early in the morning, we know the sun will soon come up. In the same way, when Mary was born, she brought great happiness to the world. Her birth meant that soon Jesus, the Sun of justice, would appear. Mary was the wonderful human being whose privilege it was to bring the Lord Jesus to all people. Even today, if we have Mary, we have Jesus. Whoever is very devoted to her is very close to the heart of Jesus.



St. Peter Claver, the Spanish priest of the Society of Jesus was born in 1580. He is known as the "apostle of the slaves." While he was still studying to become a Jesuit, he felt a burning desire to go to South America as a missionary. He volunteered and was sent to the seaport of Cartagena. There great shiploads of African slaves were brought to be sold.

At the sight of those poor people all crowded together, sick and suffering, Peter felt great pity. He made up his mind to help them and to convert them. As soon as a shipload arrived, he would go among the hundreds of sick slaves. He gave them food and medicine. He baptized the dying and the little babies. He nursed the ill. It was hard work in terrible heat. One man who went once with St. Peter could never face the heart-breaking sight again. Yet Peter did it for forty years. He baptized some three hundred thousand people. He was there when the ships came in. He cared for and loved those who were treated so unjustly by society.

Although the slave owners tried to stop Father Claver, he taught the faith to the slaves anyway. It was slow, discouraging work. Many people criticized him, saying it was all a waste of time. They thought the slaves would never keep the faith. But St. Peter was patient and he trusted that God would bless his people. He also went to visit his converts after they left Cartagena. The priest never stopped urging the slave owners to take care of the souls of their slaves and to be better Christians themselves.
During the last four years of his life, Father Claver was so sick that he had to stay in his room, He could not even celebrate Mass. Most everyone forgot about him, but he never complained. Then suddenly at his death on September 8, 1654, it was like the whole city woke up. They realized that they had lost a saint. From then on he was never forgotten again. Pope Leo XIII proclaimed him a saint in 1888.



St. Nicholas was born in 1245 in Ancona, Italy. His parents had waited long and anxiously for a child. Nicholas was the answer to prayer and a pilgrimage the couple had made to the shrine of St. Nicholas of Bari. The couple was so grateful to the saint that they named their baby after him. When the boy grew up, he talked about becoming a priest. He was prayerful and wanted to live close to God. Friends of his family wanted him to be a priest in a wealthy parish where Nicholas would be promoted. Nicholas didn't say much, but he quietly searched and prayed. One day he slipped into a church. A fervent Augustinian priest was preaching a sermon. He said: "Don't love the world or the things of this world because this world is passing away." Nicholas thought about this. He went away with the words dancing in his head. He realized how God had used that preacher to touch his own life. He became convinced of the importance of preaching God's Word. He made up his mind to ask to join the same order to which that priest belonged.

The order was the Augustinian Friars and the priest was Father Reginald who became his novice master. Friar Nicholas professed his vows when he was eighteen. Then he began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained around 1270. Father Nicholas performed his preaching ministry with love in various parishes. Then while praying in church one day, he seemed to hear a voice saying: "To Tolentino, to Tolentino. Stay there." Shortly afterward, he was assigned to the town of Tolentino. He spent the remaining thirty years of his life there. There was great political unrest in those times. Many people did not come to church to hear the Word and to worship the Lord. The friars of St. Augustine decided that street-preaching was necessary. St. Nicholas was chosen to be part of this initiative. He preached outside and in gathering places willingly. People listened and many repented of their sins and lack of caring. They led better lives. Father Nicholas spent hours in the slum areas of Tolentino. He visited the lonely. He brought the sacraments to the sick and dying. He took care of the needs of children and visited prisoners. Miracles were reported while St. Nicholas was still alive. He touched a diseased child and said, "May the good God make you well," and the child was cured.

St. Nicholas of Tolentino was sick for about a year before he died on September 10, 1305. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Eugene IV in 1446.



Blessed Loius, the German prince, lived during the last part of the twelfth and first part of the thirteenth centuries. He married St. Elizabeth of Hungary when he was twenty-one and she was just fourteen. The marriage had been arranged by their parents. This was the custom. But they both loved God, and he gave them great love for each other. So it was that they were very happy together. Their joy increased when God sent them their three children. The youngest was Blessed Gertrude.

Louis helped his wife in her many works of charity for the poor. He also joined her in devout prayer. Time after time, the people saw their handsome prince and his lovely wife helping the poor. It is said that once Elizabeth brought a leper into their castle and nursed him in their bed. For a moment, when Louis saw that, he was angry. Then, suddenly, instead of the leper, he saw our crucified Lord lying there. After that proof of how much Jesus appreciated Elizabeth's charity, Louis had a hospital for lepers built.
One long, bitter cold winter, Louis had to be away from his land. When he returned, Elizabeth was overjoyed. The next year Louis left on a Crusade to free the Holy Land from the Muslims. But on the way, he caught malaria, and soon was dying.

Because he had always lived in close union with Jesus, the brave ruler felt no fear of death. He received the Last Sacraments and died peacefully in 1227.



St. John Chrysostom was born in Antioch around 344. His father died when he was a baby. His mother chose not to marry again. She gave all her attention to bringing up her son and daughter. She made many sacrifices so that John could have the best teachers. He was very intelligent and could have become a great man in the world. When he gave speeches everyone loved to listen to him. In fact, his name, Chrysostom, means "Golden-mouthed." Yet John wanted to give himself to God. He became a priest and later was made bishop of the great city of Constantinople.
St. John was a wonderful bishop. Although he was always sick, he accomplished a tremendous amount of good. He preached once or twice every day, fed the poor and took care of orphans. He corrected sinful customs and stopped bad plays from being performed. He loved everyone, but he was not afraid to tell even the empress when she did wrong.

Because he fought sin, St. John had enemies- even the empress herself. She had him sent away from Constantinople. On the trip he suffered greatly from fever, from lack of food and sleep. Yet, he was happy to suffer for Jesus. Just before he died, he cried out, "Glory be to God!"

St. John died in Turkey on September 14, 407. A terrible hailstorm fell on Constantinople when he died. Four days later, the evil empress died too. Her son honored St. John's body and showed how sorry he was for what his mother had done.



Our Lady had many great joys as the mother of Jesus, but she had much to suffer, too. Her great love for her divine Son caused Mary to suffer when she saw Jesus treated cruelly by his enemies. Mary is the queen of martyrs because she went through spiritual torments greater than the bodily agonies of the martyrs. Her heart was like an altar when on Calvary she offered up her beloved Jesus to save us. What a terrible suffering it was for so loving a mother to see her Son die on the cross.

There are seven times of great suffering in Mary's life. The first was when she took Baby Jesus to the temple. There the prophet Simeon told her that a sword of suffering would pierce her heart. This would be when Jesus would be put to death. Her second sorrow was when she and St. Joseph had to flee to Egypt with Jesus. Herod's soldiers were trying to kill him. The third suffering came when Mary searched three days in Jerusalem for Jesus. She finally found him in the temple. Our Lady's fourth sorrow was when Jesus was whipped and crowned with thorns. Her fifth great pain was caused by his being lifted on the cross, where he died after three hours of agony. Mary's sixth sorrow was the moment when Our Lord's sacred body was placed in her arms. And her seventh suffering came when he was buried in the tomb.

Mary did not pity herself or complain because she had to suffer so much during her life. Instead, she offered her sorrows to God for our sakes. She is our Mother. Because she loves us dearly, she was happy to suffer that we might some day share her joy with Jesus in heaven.



St. Cornelius, a holy priest of Rome, was elected Pope in 251. He accepted because he loved Christ. He would serve the Church as pope even if his ministry would cost him his life. That is why Pope Cornelius was so greatly admired throughout the world. The bishops of Africa were especially outspoken in their love and loyalty to the pope. Bishop Cyprian of Carthage sent him letters of encouragement and support. Cyprian had been a convert at the age of twenty-five. He had astonished the Christians of Carthage by pledging a vow of perpetual chastity right before his baptism. He had eventually become a priest and in 249 a bishop.

Bishop Cyprian greatly encouraged Pope Cornelius by reminding him that during the present persecution in Rome not a single Christian had given up the faith. St. Cyprian's writings explain the love that Christians should have for the whole Church. This love should be for the pope as well as for the local diocese and parish. Cyprian wrote a scholarly work on the unity of the Church. This remains an important topic for all times, including our own.

Pope St. Cornelius died in exile at the port of Rome in September, 253. Because he suffered so much as pope, he is considered a martyr. St. Cyprian died five years later during the persecution of Valerian. He was beheaded at Carthage on September 14, 258. Together they share a feast day to remind us of the unity that the Church should always enjoy. This unity is a mark of the presence of Jesus who is the Center.



St. Robert Bellarmine was born in Italy in 1542. As a boy, he was not interested in playing games. He liked to spend his time repeating to his younger brothers and sisters the sermons he had heard. He also liked to explain the lessons of the catechism to the little farm children of the neighborhood. Once he had made his first Holy Communion, he used to receive Jesus every Sunday.

Robert's father hoped to make a famous gentleman out of his son. For this reason, he wanted him to study many subjects and music and art, too. Whenever a song had words that were not nice, Robert would make up decent words of his own. It was his great desire to become a Jesuit priest, but his father had different plans for him. For a whole year, Robert worked to persuade his father. At last, when he was eighteen, he was permitted to join the Jesuits. As a young Jesuit, he did very well in his studies. He was sent to preach even before he became a priest. When one good woman first saw such a young man, not even a priest yet, going up into the pulpit to preach, she knelt down to pray. She asked the Lord to help him not become frightened and stop in the middle. When he finished his sermon, she stayed kneeling. This time, however, she was thanking God for the magnificent sermon.

St. Robert Bellarmine became a famous writer, preacher and teacher. He wrote thirty-one important books. He spent three hours every day in prayer. He had a deep knowledge of sacred matters. Yet even when he had become a cardinal, he considered the catechism so important, that he himself taught it to his household and to the people. Cardinal Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. He was proclaimed a saint in 1930 by Pope Pius XI. In 1931, the same pope declared St. Robert Bellarmine a Doctor of the Church.



St. Joseph was born on June 17, 1603, in a small Italian village to poor parents. He was very unhappy as a boy and a teenager. His mother considered him a nuisance and treated him harshly.

Joseph soon became very slow and absent-minded. He would wander around as if he were going nowhere. But he had a temper, too, and so he was not very popular. He tried to learn the trade of shoe-making, but failed. He asked to become a Franciscan, but they would not accept him. Next, he joined the Capuchin order, but eight months later he was advised to leave. He could not seem to do anything right. He dropped piles of dishes and kept forgetting to do what he was told. His mother was not at all pleased to have the eighteen-year-old Joseph back home again. She finally got him accepted as a helper at the Franciscan monastery. He was given the Franciscan habit to wear and was assigned to care for the horses.

About this time, Joseph began to change. He grew more humble and gentle. He became more careful and successful at his work. He also began to do more penance. It was decided that he could become a member of the order and could start studying to become a priest. Although he was very good, he still had a hard time with studies. But Joseph trusted in God's help and he was ordained a priest. God began to work miracles through Father Joseph. Over seventy times people saw him rise from the ground while saying Mass or praying. He would be suspended near the ceiling like a star at the top of a Christmas tree. Often he went into ecstasy and would be completely wrapped up in talking with God. He became very holy. Everything he saw made him think of God. Father Joseph became so famous for his miracles that he was kept hidden. This made him happy for the chance to be alone with his beloved Lord. Jesus never left him alone and one day came to bring him to heaven. Joseph died in 1663 at the age of sixty. He was proclaimed a saint in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.



St. Januarius lived in the fourth century. He was born either in Benevento or Naples, Italy. He was the bishop of Benevento when Diocletian's persecution began. The people of Naples have claimed a special love for and devotion to Bishop Januarius. He is popularly called "San Gennaro." According to common belief, San Gennaro learned that some Christian deacons had been put in prison for their faith. The bishop was a gentle, compassionate man. He truly cared about his people and went to the prison to visit them. The jailer reported him to the governor who sent soldiers to find San Gennaro. The bishop was arrested along with a deacon and a lector. They joined the other prisoners.

San Gennaro and the six others were martyred for their faith. Their deaths took place near Naples in 305. The people of Naples have claimed a special love for and devotion to "San Gennaro." In fact, he is considered their patron saint.

The people of Naples remember San Gennaro for another special reason: his martyr's blood was preserved centuries ago in a vile. The blood has become dark and dry. But at certain times of the year, the blood liquifies. It becomes red, sometimes bright red. At times, it even bubbles. The special case containing the vile of blood is honored publicly on the first Saturday of May, on September 19 (the feast of San Gennaro), within the octave (or eight days after the feast), and at times on December 16. The liquified blood has been seen and honored since the thirteenth century.



St. Andrew Kim Taegon was a priest and St. Paul Chong Hasang was a lay person. These two martyrs represent 113 Catholics who died for their faith in Korea. They were proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Korea in 1984.

Christianity reached Korea in the seventeenth century. It was brought there by lay people. The believers nourished their faith on the Word of God. They quietly grew and flourished. Missionary priests came from France. The Korean people were introduced to the sacramental life of the Church. Government persecutions took place, off and on, throughout the nineteenth century. A total of 103 Koreans were killed between 1839 and 1867. Ten members of the Foreign Mission Society of Paris were martyred, too, three bishops and seven priests. This brought the total to 113.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon and St. Paul Chong Hasang represent the glorious and courageous Korean Catholics who paid the price for their love for Christ. St. Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean priest. He was martyred on September 16, 1846, just a year after his ordination. Andrew's father had been martyred in 1821. St. Paul Chong Hasang was a heroic lay catechist. He was martyred on September 22, 1846.
Today the Church is growing rapidly in Korea. The gift of faith is being received because of the sacrifice of the martyrs who paved the way.



St. Matthew was a tax collector in the city of Capernaum, where Jesus was living. He was a Jew but he was working for the Romans, who had conquered the Jews. For this reason, his countrymen disliked him. They would not have anything to do with these "public sinners," as tax collectors like Matthew were called.

But Jesus did not feel that way about Matthew. One day, Jesus saw Matthew sitting in his office and he said, "Follow me." At once, Matthew left his money and his position to follow Jesus. He seemed so holy and king-like. Matthew gave a big supper for Jesus. He invited other friends like himself to meet Jesus and listen to him teach. Some people found fault with Jesus for sharing a meal with those whom they considered sinners. However, Jesus had a ready answer. "They who are well do not need a doctor; the sick do. I have not come to call the just, but sinners to repentance."

When Jesus went back to heaven, St. Matthew stayed in Palestine. He remained there for some time to preach about the Lord. We are familiar with the Gospel of Matthew, which is the story of Jesus and what he taught. St. Matthew presents Jesus to his own people. The Lord is the Messiah whom the prophets had said would come to save us. After preaching the Gospel to many people, St. Matthew ended his life as a glorious martyr for the faith.



St. Thomas was born in Spain in 1488. From his kind parents, he learned to be very charitable with the poor. He did well in school and became a teacher of philosophy when he finished his studies. Next he joined the Augustinian order. After he became a priest, he was given many important responsibilities. Finally, he was made archbishop of the city of Valencia.

His priests tried to convince him to change his old, mended habit for more dignified robes. However, St. Thomas told them his old clothes had nothing to do with his duty. He would take good care of the spiritual needs of his people. Every day he fed hundreds of poor people. When he received a large sum of money to buy furniture for his house, he gave it to a hospital, saying, "What does a poor monk like me want with furniture?" No wonder he was called the "father of the poor"!

St. Thomas was very gentle with sinners at a time when most people were not. Once when he tried to encourage one man to change his sinful ways, the man angrily insulted him and stormed out of the room. "It was my fault," said the humble archbishop. "I told him a little too roughly." Never would he permit anyone to criticize someone who wasn't there. "He may have had a good reason for doing what he did," the saint would say. "I, for one, believe he did." Before he died, St. Thomas of Villanova gave to the poor everything he had. He even directed that his bed be sent to the jail for prisoners to use. St. Thomas died in 1555. He was proclaimed a saint by Pope Alexander VII in 1658.



St. Pacificus, a little Italian boy born in 1653 was named Charles Anthony. He was just five years old when his loving parents died. He was sent to live with his uncle. This uncle was a cross, mean man. He treated Charles worse than a servant. Yet the boy took this hard treatment quietly and patiently. When he was seventeen, Charles entered a monastery. He chose the name Pacificus, which means "peaceful." After he became a priest, he was made a teacher, but his great desire was to become a preacher. How happy he was when his superior sent him on a preaching mission to many little towns and villages.

St. Pacificus was very popular with people in the country because his talks were simple and gentle. Besides that, he had the marvelous gift of reading consciences. Once, he reminded a man in confession that he had been unkind to his mother. He had also kept impure thoughts in his mind. What Father Pacificus said was true. The man was very sorry for his sins. Everywhere the priest went to preach and hear confessions, he did much good.

But when he had been preaching only about six years, Pacificus had to give it up because of ill health. He became blind, deaf and crippled. He spent his time praying and doing penance in his monastery. He helped others in any way he could. God was always very close to him. He gave him the gift of prophecy. St. Pacificus foretold the great victory of the Christian armies over the Turks at Belgrade. He also said to a bishop, "Your Excellency-heaven! Heaven! And I will follow you soon!" About two weeks later, the bishop died. Not long after, just as he had said, St. Pacificus died, too. It was the year 1721. Many miracles took place at his grave. Father Pacificus was proclaimed a saint by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839. St. Pacificus had a sad childhood. He could have let himself become an angry, frustrated adult. Instead, he prayed to Jesus for a forgiving, patient heart. His hard times were turned into moments of growing in his love for God and people. Because he had suffered, he could sympathize with the hurts of others and help them to find God in their lives.



St. Serguis, the famous Russian saint lived in the fourteenth century. He was given the name of Bartholomew when he was baptized. He was not as bright as his two brothers, but he did learn to read and write. This made him very happy because he greatly desired to read the Bible. Bartholomew's parents were nobles. While he was still a boy, the family had to flee from enemies. They had to go to work as peasants. After his parents died, Sergius and his brother Stephen went off to live as hermits. They built a little church from trees they had cut down. The church was dedicated to the Most Holy Trinity.

When his brother went to Moscow to enter a monastery, Bartholomew lived alone. He wore the habit of a monk and took the name Sergius. He was a tall, husky young man. He was strong enough to stand the biting cold and fierce winds of his forest home. He was happy praying to God and loving him with all his heart. He called fire and light his companions, and even made friends with bears.

Before too long, other young men came to share St. Sergius's holy life. They asked him to be their abbot and he did. He was ordained a priest and ruled his monastery very wisely. Once when some of the monks together with his own brother Stephen-who had come back-disagreed with Sergius, he went away so as to keep peace. Four years later, he was asked to return. The monks were so happy to see him that they kissed his hands, his feet and even his robe. Powerful rulers often went to ask St. Sergius for advice. He became so famous that he was asked to become bishop of the greatest Russian diocese. But he was too humble to accept. The prince of Moscow was not sure if he should try to fight the terrible pagan Tartars. St. Sergius said, "Do not fear, sir. Go forward with faith against the foe. God will be with you." And the Russians were victorious. It was not great learning that made people trust and love St. Sergius. It was his confidence in God and his desire to help everybody. St. Sergius died in 1392.



St. Vincent de Paul, the son of poor French peasants, was born in 1581. When he grew up and became famous, he loved to tell people how he had taken care of his father's pigs. Because he was intelligent, his father sent him to school. And after finishing his studies, Vincent became a priest.

At first, he was given an important position as the teacher of rich children, and he lived rather comfortably. Then one day, he was called to the side of a dying peasant. In front of many people, this man declared that all his past confessions had been bad ones. Suddenly Father Vincent realized how badly the poor people of France needed spiritual help. When he began to preach to them, crowds went to confession. He finally decided to start a congregation of priests to work especially among the poor.
The charities of St. Vincent de Paul were so many that it seems impossible for one person to have begun so much. He took care of criminals who worked on the sailing ships. He started the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity with St. Louise de Marillac. He opened hospitals and homes for orphans and old people. He collected large sums of money for poor areas, sent missionaries to many countries, and bought back prisoners from the Mohammedans. Even though he was such a charitable man, however, he humbly admitted that he was not so by nature. "I would have been hard, rough and ill-tempered," he said "were it not for God's grace." Vincent de Paul died in Paris on September 27, 1660. He was proclaimed a saint in 1737 by Pope Clement XII.



St. Lawrence Ruiz, and his fifteen companions were killed for their faith in 1637, in Nagasaki, Japan. Born in Manila, St. Lorenzo was the father of a family. He joined the Dominican priests, brothers and lay volunteers who were going to Japan to preach the Gospel. The group was made up of nine Dominican priests, two brothers, two single lay women, and three other lay persons. All were associated with the Dominican order and all died rather than give up their faith in Jesus. They were missionaries who had originally come from five nations-France, Italy, Japan, the Philippines and Spain. What a wonderful reminder they are that the Church reaches out to the whole world.
These martyrs suffered greatly before they died, but they would not give up their Catholic religion. It is recorded that St. Lawrence Ruiz told his judges that if he had a thousand lives to give for Christ, he would.

This group of heroes was proclaimed saints by Pope John Paul II on October 18, 1987.



Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are called "saints" because they are holy. But they are different from the rest of the saints because they were not human. They are angels. They are protectors of human beings and we know something about each of them from the Bible.

Michael's name means "who is like God?" Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We can ask St. Michael to make us strong in our love for Jesus and in our practice of the Catholic religion.

Gabriel's name means "the power of God." He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke's Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our Savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We can ask him to help us be good communicators as he was.

Raphael's name means "God has healed." We read the touching story of Raphael's role in the Bible's book of Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God's throne. We can ask St. Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to school. We can also ask him to help when illness strikes us or someone we love.



St. Jerome was a Roman Christian who lived in the fourth century. His father taught him his religion well, but sent him to a famous pagan school. There Jerome grew to love pagan writings and lost some of his love for God. Yet, in the company of a group of holy Christians, with whom he became great friends, his heart was turned completely to God. Later, this brilliant young man decided to live alone in a wild desert. He was afraid that his love for pagan writings would lead him away from the love of God. He welcomed the hard penance and the scorching hot desert. Yet even there, he suffered terrible temptations. The immoral entertainment held in Rome seemed fresh in his imagination and memory. Jerome did not give in, however. He increased his acts of penance and wept for his sins. He also went to study Hebrew with a monk as his teacher. This he did to get rid of the bad thoughts that kept attacking his mind. He became such a great scholar of Hebrew that he could later translate the Bible into Latin. Many more people were then able to read and enjoy it.

St. Jerome spent long years of his life in a little cave at Bethlehem, where Jesus had been born. There he prayed, studied the Bible, and taught many people how to serve God. He wrote a great many letters and even books to defend the faith from heretics.
St. Jerome had a bad temper, and his sharp tongue made him many enemies. Yet he was a very holy man who spent his life trying to serve Jesus in the best way he could. And so, despite his temper, he became a great saint. He died in 419 or 420.

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