St. John of the Cross (1542-1591)
Baptismal Name: John de Yepes
Birth: June 24, 1542, Fontiveros, Spain
Feast Day: December 14th
Title in the Church: Doctor of Mystical Theology
Known for: reforming the male branch of the Discalced Carmelites,
Relationship to a saint: spiritual son of and spiritual director to St. Teresa of Avila
Main works: The Ascent of Mt. Carmel, The Dark Night, The Living Flame of Love, The Spiritual Canticle
Patron Saint of: contemplative life, mystical theology, mystics and Spanish poets
Imitate the saint: Reach union of God through prayer, don't settle for mediocrity, cling to God in the face of persecution and never back down, turn every suffering into an opportunity to grow in holiness, don't be afraid of the tasks entrusted to you, trust in the guidance of Our Blessed Mother.
Did you know? St. John of the Cross was taken prisoner by his own brothers in the very order he was working to reform in December 4, 1577. He was taken to an ancient monastery in Toledo where he kept silent under the false accusations, deprived of celebrating Mass, tortured and beaten by his fellow friars. At the night of August 16, 1578, by the inspiration and guidance of Our Blessed Mother, he made an incredible escape from the monastery and found refuge in the convent of St. Teresa of Avila.
St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
Baptismal Name: Inigo
Name change: Changed his name to Ignatius, after St. Ignatius of Antioch who had a love for martyrdom and the Holy See.
Birth: December 14, 1491; the great castle of Loyola in Guipuzcoa, in the Basque country (northwest Spain)
Feast Day: July 31st
Founder of: the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits)
Known for: his deep understanding of the spiritual life and discernment of the spirits, his humility and intelligence, starting universities and his apostolic zeal.
Relationship to a saint: St. Ignatius of Loyola had a fundamental role in the conversion of St. Francis Xavier, who later became one of the first Jesuits
Main works: Spiritual Exercises
Patron Saint of: Jesuits, retreats, and soldiers.
Imitate the saint: Work hard and do your best, strive to be humble and do everything for the greater glory of God, seek out solid spiritual formation, courageously defend the truth, resist temptations of the world and urge others, by word and example, to live a truly Christian life.
Did you know? St. Ignatius became bed-ridden after a cannon ball injury incurred during the French besiege of the citadel of Pamplona. Where he was being cared for, there were no novels on chivalry, which he loved to read. So instead, Ignatius read a book on the lives of the saints and Life of Christ, which inspired his conversion.
St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552)
Birth: April 7, 1506; Xavier Castle, Navarre, Spain
Feast Day: December 3rd
Title in the Church: Apostle of the Far East
Known for: being a giant in the history of missions, baptizing over 50,000 people of all different races and ages, from children to university students, from poor lepers to wealthy kings.
Relationship to a saint: converted by St. Ignatius of Loyola; he also became one of the first Jesuits
Evangelized in: all over Asia, Africa, the East Indies, Portugal, Italy.
Patron Saint of: foreign missions, missionaries, navigators, parish missions, Australia, China, India, Japan, and New Zealand.
Imitate the saint: Allow God to use you preach the Gospel and serve humanity wherever he wants, don't let your studies take priority over your spiritual life, and work tirelessly to build up the Kingdom of God on earth even when you are under the difficult circumstances.
Did you know? St. Francis Xavier studied with St. Ignatius of Loyola at the University of Paris. St. Francis was living a worldly life and converted when St. Ignatius spoke these words to him from the Gospel: "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and loose his soul" (Mark 8:26).
St. Isidore the Worker (1080-1172)
Birth: 1080, Madrid, Spain
Feast Day: May 15th
Occupation: field laborer
Known for: simplicity, humility, obedience, honesty, hard-working, sympathy and generosity toward the poor, life of prayer, spirit of penance
Relationship to a saint: Married to St. Maria de la Cabeza
Patron Saint of: farmers
Imitate the Saint: Go to Mass each day if you have the opportunity, pray while you work, don´t waste time, be faithful in the small things, always share what you have with those in need
Did you know? Saint Isidore would begin every day by going to Mass early in the morning. He depended totally on God and the help of the angels for his work and at times, would produce the amount of work as three laborers put together. One day, his master saw another plow drawn by white oxen next to the plow of Saint Isidore. He ran towards it, but as he drew near, they disappeared out of his master's sight. When he asked Saint Isidore about it, he responded by saying Sir, I work alone and know of none save God to whom I look for strength. Then St. Isidore's sanctity became known as such that the angels would help him even when he would plow the fields.
St. Maria of the Head (exact years unknown)
Birth: Uceda, Guadalajara, Spain; then lived in Torrelaguna, where she met St. Isidore
Feast Day: September 9th and celebrated on May 15th (with her husband)
Occupation: housewife. She would also constantly help her husband with tasks, such as building wells; and help in the community, such as cleaning the local chapel, etc.
Known for: simplicity, austerity, charity, living united to husband, spirit of service, purity, modesty, devotion to God
Relationship to a saint: Married to St. Isidore the Worker
Patron Saint of: intercessory tool for headaches
Imitate the saint: seek out the humble tasks, do the small things with great love, develop a pure and disinterested love in your relationships,
Did you know? Saint Maria last name is actually Toribia. The title "of the Head" came about because her head is a well-revered relic, venerated for centuries. Her body and head used to be kept in a Franciscan convent in Torrelaguna. In 1645, St. Maria was moved to St. Andrew's Church in Madrid, to be venerated along with the body of her husband, St. Isidore.
St. Rafael Arnaiz (1911-1938)
Birth: April 9, 1911; Burgos, Spain
Feast Day: April 26th
Known for: humility, surrender to the will of God, artistic talent and sensitivity, joy, good sense of humor, desire to live in order to love Jesus, Mary, the Cross, and his Trappist monastery
Imitate the saint: Respond to the call of the Lord immediately, abandon yourself into the hands of God, embrace suffering with joy, and let your happiness be in God.
Did you know? After studying to become an architect in Madrid, Rafael experienced the call of God to consecrate himself in the monastic life, and after asking permission to enter, he entered into the Trappist monastery on April 15, 1934. God wished to test him mysteriously with a painful sickness -acute diabetes- that forced him to leave the monastery three times, but always he returned with a generous and faithful response to what he experienced to be the call of God.
St. John of Avila (1500-1569)
Birth: January 6, 1500; Almodóvar del Campo, near Toledo, Spain
Feast Day: May 10th
Known for: celebrating Mass with great devotion, tremendous gift of preaching, encouraging frequent communion, efforts to reform the lay state and the clergy, apostolic and social works, wise spiritual council, charity, prudence and discretion.
Patron Saint of: Spanish secular clergy
Relationship to a saint: St. Teresa of Avila, Saint John of God, Saint Francis Borgia, Venerable Louis of Granada were among the disciples attracted by his preaching and saintly reputation.
Main works: Audi Fili and Spiritual Letters
Imitate the saint: cultivate a profound love for Jesus in the Eucharist, be a reformer of your day where there is a need, take your spiritual formation seriously, preach and live the truth even though you may be persecuted for it.
Did you know? In Salamanca, St. John became very close with the Society of Jesus. He guided many of the Jesuits, studied with them, wanted to transfer schools, and helped the order when it was experiencing many difficulties in Salamanca. Seeing the union between St. John and the Jesuits, St. Ignatius desired that he join the order. Though God's providence and St. John's sickness prevented this from happening, he continued to help the Jesuits tremendously. Much of the Jesuit expansion in Spain is attributed to St. John.
St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)
Baptismal Name: Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada
Birth: March 28th, 1515; Avila, Spain
Feast Day: October 15th
Title in the Church: Doctor of Prayer (first woman proclaimed as a Doctor of the Church)
Known for: Her reform of the Carmelite order, founding 15 monasteries of Discalced Carmelites; lived an intense mystical life
Patron Saint of: writers
Relationship to a saint: spiritually directed by St. John of the Cross, who continued her reform in the male branch.
Main works: Her autobiography, The Interior Castle, The Way of Perfection
Imitate the saint: Center your life on prayer, give your heart to the Lord, live humility by standing in the truth about yourself, strive to practice the virtues in every moment
Did you know? When she was young, her and her brother Rodrigo liked to read the lives of the saints. They were fascinated by the fact that they would go directly to heaven after they died. It seemed to them that "they paid a really cheap price for going to rejoice in God". In this way, they decided to go to the land of the Moors (the mortal enemies of the Christians) in order to become martyrs.
St. Rose of Lima (1586-1617)
Baptismal Name: Isabel Flores de Oliva
Birth: April 20, 1586 in Lima, Peru
Feast Day: August 23rd
Relationship to a saint: confirmed by the Archbishop of Lima, saint Turibius of Mogrovejo. She was also a friend of St. Martin de Porres
Known for: love to Eucharist and prayer. First canonized American
Patron Saint of: Americas, people ridiculed for their piety, and against vanity.
Imitate the Saint: do not seek the path of worldly greatness, try to live each day as faithfully to your vocation as possible, accept the sufferings cheerfully, as gifts from God.
Did you know? St. Rose of Lima was not a nun, rather she was a lay tertiary, spending most of her life at her family home and she worked hard to help support the family. She was such a beautiful baby that she was called Rose, and that name remained. As she grew older, she became more and more beautiful, but she was so devoted to her vow of chastity that she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she would not be attractive. St. Rose was a mystic and visionary, who received many mental and physical sufferings, including an invisible stigmata.
Blessed John Paul II (1920 - 2005)
Birth: May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland.
Baptismal Name: Karol Józef Wojtyla
Beatification: May 1, 2011 by Pope Benedict XVI
Known for: Conviction in the truth; immense sensitivity towards all people, especially the oppressed, the suffering, the sick, the weak, youth and children; devotion to the Blessed Mother; promotion of the mercy of God, solidarity among humanity, Christian evangelization, the call to holiness for all peoples; belief in the power of young people to build up society and live holy lives. John Paul II was a profoundly humble and courageous man, full of life, and in love with Jesus Christ. He had a great sense of humor, cultivated a deep prayer life, and endured long-suffering. Founder of World Youth Days and World Meetings of the Family.
Imitate the saint: Cultivate love for the Eucharist and the Blessed Mother by spending time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and praying the Rosary. Be brave to stand up for the Christian values in your environment and defend the weak. Be fearless in proclaiming the name of Jesus and his message of salvation for humanity. Respond to his call to young people to be the light of the world and work towards building up a civilization of love and life.
Did you know? Poland was under Nazi regime during his youth. When he discovered his vocation to become a priest, the young Karol Wojtyla began studies at a secret seminary in Krakow, Poland, run by Archbishop Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha. He was also one of the founders of the clandestine "Rhapsodic Theatre," which aimed to promote Christian values and the message of the Gospel through the arts.