Saints Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin

Louis Martin (22 August 1823 – 29 July 1894) and Marie-Azélie “Zélie” Guérin Martin (23 December 1831 – 28 August 1877) were two married Roman Catholic French laypeople and the parents of five Roman Catholic nuns, including Thérèse of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun who was canonized as a saint of the Catholic Church in 1925.

Louis Joseph Aloys Stanislaus Martin was the third of five children of Pierre-François Martin and Marie-Anne-Fanny Boureau. All his siblings died before reaching age 30.

Although Louis intended to become a monk, wishing to enter the Augustinian Great St. Bernard Monastery, he was rejected because he did not succeed at learning Latin. Later he decided to become a watchmaker and studied his craft in Rennes and in Strasbourg.

Azélie-Marie Guérin was born in Gandelain, near Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon, Orne, France. She was the second daughter of Isidore Guérin and Louise-Jeanne Macé. She had an older sister, Marie-Louise, who became a Visitandine nun, and a younger brother, Isidore, who was a pharmacist. Her maternal family was from the Madré, in the neighbouring department of Mayenne, where her grandfather, Louis Macé, was baptised on 16 March 1778.Read More »

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Saint Camillus de Lellis

Camillus de Lellis was born on May 25, 1550, at Bucchianico (now in Abruzzo, then part of the Kingdom of Naples). His mother, Camilla Compelli de Laureto, was nearly fifty when she gave birth to him. His father was an officer in both the Neapolitan and French royal armies[ and was seldom home. Camillus had his father’s temper and, due to her age and retiring nature, his mother felt unable to control him as he grew up. She died in 1562. As a consequence he grew up neglected by the family members who took him in after her death. Tall for his age, at 16 Camillus joined his father in the Venetian army and fought in a war against the Turks.

Humanly speaking, Camillus was not a likely candidate for sainthood. His mother died when he was a child, his father neglected him, and he grew up with an excessive love for gambling. At 17, he was afflicted with a disease of his leg that remained with him for life. In Rome he entered the San Giacomo Hospital for Incurables as both patient and servant, but was dismissed for quarrelsomeness after nine months. He served in the Venetian army for three years.

Then in the winter of 1574, when he was 24, Camillus gambled away everything he had—savings, weapons, literally down to his shirt. He accepted work at the Capuchin friary at Manfredonia, and was one day so moved by a sermon of the superior that he began a conversion that changed his life. He entered the Capuchin novitiate, but was dismissed because of the apparently incurable sore on his leg. After another stint of service at San Giacomo, he came back to the Capuchins, only to be dismissed again, for the same reason.Read More »

Saint Irenaeus

Irenaeus was born during the first half of the 2nd century (the exact date is disputed: between the years 115 and 125 according to some, or 130 and 142 according to others), and he is thought to have been a Greek from Polycarp’s hometown of Smyrna in Asia Minor, now İzmir, Turkey. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was brought up in a Christian family rather than converting as an adult.

During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161–180, Irenaeus was a priest of the Church of Lyon. The clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the faith, sent him in 177 to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleutherius concerning the heresy Montanism, and that occasion bore emphatic testimony to his merits. While Irenaeus was in Rome, a persecution took place in Lyon. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus and became the second Bishop of Lyon.

During the religious peace which followed the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the new bishop divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary (as to which we have but brief data, late and not very certain). Almost all his writings were directed against Gnosticism. The most famous of these writings is Adversus haereses (Against Heresies). Irenaeus alludes to coming across Gnostic writings, and holding conversations with Gnostics, and this may have taken place in Asia Minor or in Rome.[10] However, it also appears that Gnosticism was present near Lyon: he writes that there were followers of ‘Marcus the Magician’ living and teaching in the Rhone valley.Read More »

Saint Alphonsus Ligouri

Saint Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori, Alfonso also spelled Alphonsus, (born Sept. 27, 1696, Marianella, Kingdom of Naples—died Aug. 1, 1787, Pagani; canonized 1839; feast day August 1), Italian doctor of the church, one of the chief 18th-century moral theologians, and founder of the Redemptorists, a congregation dedicated primarily to parish and foreign missions. In 1871 he was named a doctor of the church by Pope Pius IX. In 1950 he was named patron saint of moralists and confessors by Pope Pius XII.

Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.

In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.Read More »

Saint John the Baptist

John-Baptist-Baptism-JesusJohn the Baptist was the son of Zachary, a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem, and Elizabeth, a kinswoman of  Mary who visited her. As Zachary was ministering in the Temple, the angel Gabriel brought him news that Elizabeth would bear a child filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his birth. Zachary doubted and was struck dumb until John’s birth.

John was born 6 months before Jesus Christ. Thirty years later, John began a ministry of baptism. He was a priest, wearing a leather belt and a tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey, and preaching a message of repentance to the people of Jerusalem. He was in wilderness area on the Jordan river. People came from all over, especially from Judah and Jerusalem, to hear John preach and heed his call to repent of their sins and be baptized. John converted many, and prepared the way for the coming of Jesus.

Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah wrote how the Messiah would be “led like a lamb to the slaughter” as a sacrifice to take away our sins (Isa.53:7). That’s why, when John saw Jesus coming toward him, he pointed to Him and said to his disciples, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He baptized Jesus in the Jordan river, after which he stepped away and said to the people who was gathering around the Jordan river: “I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the holy spirit.”Read More »

Saint Norbert of Xanten

Saint Norbert was born in Xanten, near the Rhineland in Germany. He grew up and was also educated in Xanten, near Wesel, in the Electorate of Cologne. His father, Heribert, Count of Gennep, was a member of the high nobility of the Holy Roman Empire and related to the imperial house and also to the House of Lorraine. His mother was Hedwig of Guise.

Through the influence of his family he obtained a financial subsidy from the parish church of St. Victor at Xanten when he accepted ordination to the subdeaconate. His only task was to chant the Divine Office at the Church, but he apparently paid someone a small fee to take his place in the choir, because he gained an appointment as a chaplain (religious counselor) to the emperor Henry V in Cologne. The salaries from the Xanten fund and the royal treasury were enough to equip him to live in the style of the nobility of the times.

Norbert chose a valley in the Forest of Coucy (a grant from the Bishop of Laon), about 10 miles from Laon, named Prémontré. Blessed Hugh of Fosses, Saint Evermode, Antony of Nivelles, seven students of the celebrated school of Anselm, and Ralph of Laon were among his first thirteen disciples. By the next year the community had grown to 40. They all took their vows and the Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré was founded. The young community at first lived in huts of wood and clay, arranged like a camp around the chapel of Saint John the Baptist, but they soon built a larger church and a monastery for the religious who joined them in increasing numbers. Going to Cologne to obtain relics for their church, Norbert is said to have discovered, through a dream, the spot where those of Saint Ursula and her companions, of Saint Gereon, and of other martyrs lay hidden. In 1125, the constitution for the order was approved by Pope Honorius II.Read More »

Saint Francis de Sales

Francis was born on 21 August 1567 in the family castle of Sales, in Thorens in the duchy of upper Savoy. He was the firstborn child of Francis and Frances De Boisy. His father was forty-four, and his mother fifteen. There were twelve children born to the family, five of whom died soon after their birth. Francis was both intelligent and gentle. From a very early age, he desired to serve God. He knew for years he had a vocation to the priesthood, but kept it from his family. His father wanted him to enter a career in law and politics.

In 1580, Francis attended the University of Paris, and at 24-years-old, he received his doctorate in law at the University of Padua. He studied theology and practiced mental prayers, but kept quiet about his devotion. To please his father, he also studied fencing and riding. He was a gifted young man: of brilliant intellect, persevering, purposeful, serene, affable, irresistibly charming, and above all, consumed with the love of God.

God made his will clear to Francis one day while he was riding. Francis fell from his horse three times that day. Every time he fell, the sword came out of the scabbard, and every time it came out, the sword and scabbard came to rest on the ground in the shape of the Christian cross.

After much discussion and disagreement from his father, Francis was ordained to the priesthood and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, in 1593, by the Bishop of Geneva. During the time of the Protestant reformation, Francis lived close to Calvinist territory. He decided he should lead an expedition to bring the 60,000 Calvinists back to the Catholic Church.Read More »