Saints of the Month (May)

Saints in May

01 May

St Joseph the Worker

This commemoration, instituted by Pius XII in 1955, proposes the example and intercession of Joseph as worker and provider. On this date many countries celebrate the dignity and cause of human labour.

02 May

St Athanasius, Bishop, Doctor of the Church

Born in 295. Buried on this day in 373 at Alexandria (Egypt). Attended the first ecumenical council of Nicaea as a deacon. Later, as bishop of Alexandria, he upheld that council’s doctrine in the face of opposition from Arians, including several emperors. Sent into exile a number of times. Venerated as the “Father of Orthodoxy” for championing the true and equal divinity of the incarnate Son of God.

03 May

Ss Philip and James, Apostles

Philip, from Bethsaida in Galilee, became a disciple of Jesus and one of the twelve. Recorded in the Fourth Gospel as recognising in Jesus the one foretold by Moses and the prophets (John 1:45) and as introducing Gentiles to the Lord (John 12:20-22). According to Acts 8:5, he was the first to preach the gospel to non-Jews. James, son of Alphaeus, was also one of the twelve called by Jesus (Mark 3:18ff). Known as James the Less. Venerated traditionally as the author of the letter of James and as leader of the Church in Jerusalem, where he died in the year 62.

04 May

St Conleth, Hermit, Bishop

Conleth is believed to have come from the Wicklow area. While living as a hermit he was persuaded by Brigid to act as priest for her community in Kildare. He was venerated as a saint and Cogitosus in his Life of Brigid calls him bishop and abbot of the monks of Kildare. He was buried beside Brigid in her patronal church there.

05 May

Blessed Edmund Rice, Religious

Edmund Ignatius Rice (1762-1844) came from Callan, County Kilkenny. After his young wife’s early death, he sold his possessions and dedicated his life to the education of the poor. To advance the work he gathered other like-minded men who took religious vows together to work for the Catholic education of boys. He is a model of patient and cheerful acceptance of the sufferings God sends, a true lay apostle and a deeply committed religious.
The collect is the one approvedat the time of Beatification 1997.

12 May

Ss Nereus and Achilleus, Martyrs

Nereus and Achilleus died in Rome, probably under the emperor Diocletian in 304. Known as the martyrs of the Ardeatine Way, they were soldiers who became Christians and then out of conscience refused further military service.

12 May

St Pancras, Martyr

He died in Rome, probably in 304, martyred under the emperor Diocletian. By tradition a teenager. Buried on this day in the cemetery of Octavilla. Widely venerated in Rome and elsewhere.

13 May

Our Lady of Fatima

Commemoration established in 2002. Fatima (Portugal) is a pilgrimage shrine dating from the 1917 apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children. This cult of the Virgin Mary is significant for its call to conversion, the consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the recitation of the rosary, and prayer for world peace.

14 May

St Matthias, Apostle

A companion of Jesus and a witness to the resurrection. Chosen by lot to take the place of Judas and so to share the apostolic ministry of the twelve (Acts 1:15-26). He is named in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).

16 May

St Brendan, Abbot

Brendan was a Kerryman who was born in 486. He studied at Clonard under Finnian. His name is connected with many places in Kerry such as Ardfert and Mount Brandon. He visited Scotland and reached the Hebrides and possibly areas beyond. He founded a monastery in Clonfert in 568 and died there in 578.

18 May

St John I, Pope, Martyr

Born in Tuscany (Italy) in the late fifth century; died in captivity at Ravenna on this day in 526. He was a conciliator and peacemaker, the first bishop of Rome to visit Constantinople. John was imprisoned by Theodoric, ruler of Italy and an Arian, for excessive sympathy toward the Church of the East.

20 May

St Bernadine of Siena, Priest

Born in Tuscany (Italy) in 1380; died at Aquila on this day in 1444. A Franciscan priest, theologian, reformer, and popular preacher throughout Italy; he is honoured as a preacher, as a promoter of devotion to the Name of Jesus (see 3 January), and for his efforts toward reunion of the Eastern and Western Churches at the Council of Florence.

21 May

Ss Christopher Magallanes and companions, Martyrs

Born in 1869; died on 25 May 1927 at Colotitlan (Mexico). Parish priest, Christobal Magallanes, founder of a clandestine seminary at Totatiche, is commemorated with 21 other diocesan priests and three laymen. Martyred in Mexico, mostly in 1926-1928, during a fierce religious persecution which outlawed the celebration of the sacraments. Noted for their courageous faith, for forgiving their executioners, and for their final cry, Viva Christo Rey!

22 May

St Rita of Cascia, Religious

Born in 1381 at Rocca Porena (Italy); died on this day in 1457 at Cascia. Obedient to the will of elderly parents, she accepted an abusive husband and remained faithful for eighteen years until his violent death. When her two sons died soon after, she became an Augustinian nun. Noted for her life of penance and her suffering in union with

24 May

Mary Help of Christians

The Virgin Mary has often been invoked in times of religious strife under the title of Help of Christians. In thanksgiving for the release of Pope Pius VII from captivity in 1814, the feast was established the following year on the anniversary of his restoration. The first Australian provincial synod held in Sydney in 1844 placed the Church in Australia under Mary’s patronage invoked by the title Help of Christians. The solemn feast is an occasion to seek Mary’s help and protection for our Church and nation.

25 May

Venerable Bede, Priest, Doctor of the Church

Born at Wearmouth (England) in 673; died at Jarrow on this day in 735. A monk, historian of the early English Church, and master of the Scriptures and of the teachings of the Church Fathers. Known for his scholarly writings. Venerated as the “light of the Church” in the period called the Dark Ages and as a forerunner of the eighth and ninth century renaissance of the Western Church.

25 May

St Gregory VII, Pope

Born about 1020 in Tuscany (Italy); died in exile at Salerno on this day in 1085. Served in important positions under several popes and briefly a monk of Cluny. Elected pope in 1073 and campaigned strenuously for the reform of the Roman Church and for its freedom from civil powers. Noted for his devotion to the Church in Rome and for the reform of clerical and monastic life and of Church organisation.

25 May

St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, Virgin

Born in Florence (Italy) in 1566; died there on this day in 1607. A Carmelite mystic and visionary. Noted for her hidden life of prayer and for her spiritual and physical suffering, borne for the Church and its renewal.

26 May

St Philip Neri, Priest

Born in Florence (Italy) in 1515; died at Rome on this day in 1595. An outstanding proponent of Church reform after the Council of Trent. Worked among the young and the poor in Rome and founded the Congregation of the Oratory. Honoured as a spiritual director, for his pastoral initiatives, and for his humour, simplicity, and charity.

27 May

St Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop

Born in Italy in the sixth century; died at Canterbury (England) around 605. A prior of a Roman monastery who was sent by Saint Gregory the Great (3 September) to preach the gospel to the English. Arrived in England the following year after being ordained a bishop while in Gaul. He evangelised the kingdom of Kent. Venerated by Catholics and Anglicans alike as founder of the metropolitan see of Canterbury.

31 May

The Visitation of Mary

This feast celebrates the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, as told in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:39-56), and her example of faith in God’s word and sensitivity to the Spirit. It was introduced into the Franciscan calendar by Saint Bonaventure in the thirteenth century and was extended in 1389 to the entire Latin Church to heal the divisions in the Western Church of the time.


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