Saints of the Month (October)

Saints in October

01 October

St Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church

Born at Alençon (France) in 1873; died of tuberculosis at Lisieux on 30 September 1897. From a devout family, she entered a Carmelite monastery at fifteen, where she embraced the suffering of her ill-health with love and in service to the missionary spread of the gospel. Known through her popular autobiography and loved for her unaffected simplicity. Noted for her humble obedience and her fidelity to ordinary duties as the path to sanctity.

02 October

Holy Guardian Angels

This feast originated in Portugal early in the sixteenth century and has figured in the general calendar since the late seventeenth century. It is based on the belief that God assigns everyone an angel to guard body and soul, an expression of God’s personal care for each individual. A similar belief is also found in Jewish and other religious thought. The feast associates the human race with the eternal song of praise in heaven (Matthew 18:10).

04 October

St Francis of Assisi, Religious

Born in Assisi (Italy) in 1181 or 1182; died nearby on 3 October 1226. The carefree son of a wealthy merchant who gave up his inheritance to embrace utter poverty. Under a simple gospel rule, he and his Friars Minor were authorised to be mendicant preachers. His “Canticle of the Sun” captures his lyrical spirit and sense of oneness with all creatures. An outstanding example of the beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” At the end of his life he bore in his flesh the marks of Christ’s suffering. Noted for preaching the poor and crucified Christ in both word and deed.

06 October

St Bruno, Priest

Born in Cologne (Germany) about 1032; died in Calabria (Italy) on this day in 1101. Professor at the cathedral school of Rheims, appointed chancellor of the diocese who helped to reform the clergy. Founded the Carthusian order of hermits at Chartreuse near Grenoble. Called by his former pupil Urban II to assist in Rome for a time, he subsequently established a second Charterhouse in Calabria, noted for poverty, solitude, and penance.

07 October

Our Lady of the Rosary

This commemoration was established in 1573 in thanksgiving for a Christian victory over the Ottoman forces at Lepanto. It entered the general calendar in the eighteenth century. It is a memorial of the Virgin Mary as honoured in the rosary, a form of prayer combining the salutation of the angel (Luke 1:28) with meditation on the saving mysteries of Christ. Originally the rosary was the laity’s “psalter” with the Hail Marys replacing the 150 psalms.

09 October

Ss Denis and companions, Martyrs

They died in Paris in the middle of the third century. According to a sixth century account, he was sent from Rome as the first bishop of Paris, where he was subsequently beheaded together with a presbyter and a deacon. His popularity flowered in the ninth century, when he was confused with a fifth century mystical author who in turn was taken to be Dionysius the Areopagite, disciple of Saint Paul (Acts 17:34). Honoured as founder of the local Church of Paris.

09 October

St John Leonardi, Priest

Born at Lucca (Italy) about 1541; died helping the sick in Rome on this day in 1609. Active in the years immediately after the Council of Trent, publishing a catechism and establishing a confraternity of Christian doctrine. Helped form the seminary of the Propagation of the Faith in Rome and founded a local congregation of diocesan presbyters for the reform of clerical life. Noted for his vigorous encouragement of the reforms of the Council.

11 October

St John XXIII, Pope

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (1881-1963), born in Sotto il Monte in Lombardy, was ordained priest in 1904 and served (among other places) as nuncio in France, before becoming Patriarch of Venice. He served as pope from 1958 to 1963 and in his final year issued an urgent call for international peace with his encyclical “Pacem in Terris”(1963). He surprised many by calling the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) but did not live to see it to completion. His passion for equality is summed up in his famous statement, “We were all made in God’s image, and we are all Godly alike.” John XXIII was canonized on in 2014.

11 October

St Canice, Abbot

Canice was born in County Deny around 527 and died in 603. Though his people were poor he studied at Clonard under Finnian and at Glasnevin under Mobhi. A deep friendship developed between himself and Colum Cille, with whom he worked for a time in Scotland, where he set up a number of churches. In Ireland his principal foundation was in Aghaboe in Ossory, but this was replaced centuries later by his church in Kilkenny.

14 October

St Callistus I, Pope, Martyr

He died in a civil disturbance in Rome about 222 and venerated as a martyr since the fourth century. Born a slave and served a sentence as a convict. Afterwards ordained a deacon and eventually elected bishop of Rome. Rigorist opponents accused him of misunderstanding the doctrine of the incarnation and of laxity in Church discipline. Noted for encouraging the reconciliation of sinners and for his pastoral solicitude for those preparing to marry.

15 October

St Teresa of Jesus, Virgin, Doctor of the Church

Born at Avila (Spain) in 1515; died at Alba de Tormes in 1582. Left her aristocratic family for the Carmelite monastery in Avila at the age of twenty, but only after two decades of dryness in prayer felt an inner conversion to Christ. Honoured as a spiritual writer and mystic who experienced and comprehensively described the life of prayer. Honoured as a strong, practical reformer who restored the strict Carmelite observance of poverty, solitude, and prayer.

16 October

St Hedwig, Religious

Born in Bavaria (Germany) about 1174; died at Trebnitz (Poland) on 15 October 1243. Married at a young age to Henry, Duke of Silesia, she was the mother of seven children. Noted for founding religious houses and hospitals, for her charity to the poor, and for her efforts at peacemaking. After the death of her husband, she retired to live in a Cistercian convent which she had founded.

16 October

St Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin

Born in Burgundy (France) in 1647; died on 17 October 1690 at Paray-le-Monial. After an unhappy childhood, entered a Visitation convent where she experienced several visions of Christ’s love. Patiently she bore the rejection and contempt of her superiors and others, she is honoured for ardently promoting devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

16 October

St Gall, Abbot, Missionary

Gall was a monk of Bangor and set out with Columbanus for the Continent. When Columbanus was exiled from France, Gall accompanied him to Bregenz on Lake Constance, When Columbanus crossed into Italy, Gall remained in Switzerland. He lived in a hermitage, which later became the monastery of St Gallen. He was greatly venerated in his lifetime. He died around 630.

17 October

St Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop, Martyr

Born probably in Syria; died a martyr in Rome about 107. At Antioch, where he was bishop, his death has been commemorated on this day since the fourth century. Noted for seven letters written on his way to execution. They show him to be devoted to Christ and his resurrection; they urge Christians to unity in and through the Eucharist and around their local bishop. Called himself the “God-bearer.”

18 October

St Luke, Evangelist, Missionary

By early Christian tradition, Luke is named as author of the Third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Almost certainly a Gentile and perhaps a companion of Saint Paul (29 June), he wrote to reassure those who had grown uncertain toward the end of the first century. In his gospel, the compassion of Christ is inclusive of all:Gentile and Jew, the poor and the rich, women and men, the outcast and the privileged.

19 October

Ss Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and companions, Martyrs

John de Brébeuf (1593-1649) and Isaac Jogues (1607-1646) are named in this group of eight North American martyrs, French Jesuits of whom two were lay assistants and six were presbyters. Against a background of conflict between French and English and between Huron, Mohawk, and Iroquois, they went as missionaries teaching the message of Christ in the local languages. Noted for the hardship they suffered for the sake of the gospel, eventually embracing even torture and death.

19 October

St Paul of the Cross, Priest

Born at Ovada (Italy) in 1694; died in Rome on 18 October 1775. After some years of uncertainty, felt called to found a new congregation, the Passionists, who combined a strict penitential discipline with intense devotion to the passion of Christ and whose work was both active and contemplative. Noted for his prophetic preaching in parish missions, for calling sinners to repentance, and for his special gifts of healing.

22 October

St John Paul II, Pope

Karol Józef Wojtyla (1920-2005) served as Pope of the Catholic Church from 1978 to 2005. He was the second longest-serving pope in history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years (1846-1878). He helped to end Communist rule in Poland and eventually all of Europe. Doctrinally conservative, he quelled dissent on controversial issues such as artificial contraception and the ordination of women, but strongly emphasised the universal call to holiness.. He canonised 483 saints, more than all of his predecessors combined. He was beatified in 2011 by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and canonised in 2014 by Pope Francis.

23 October

St John of Capistrano, Priest

Born in Capestrano (Italy) in 1386; died on this day in 1456 at Ilok (Croatia). Though a married man and governor of Perugia, he decided to join the Friars Minor and was released from his marriage vows. Professed as a Franciscan at the age of thirty and ordained a presbyter three years later. A successful preacher, committed Franciscan reformer, zealous inquisitor in Vienna, and spiritual leader of a victorious crusade against the Ottoman forces. Noted for his preaching and austerity of life.

24 October

St Anthony Claret, Bishop

Born in Sallent (Spain) in 1807; died in exile in France on this day in 1870. Spent more than a decade preaching missions and retreats in Catalonia, and founded a religious institute, later known as the Claretians, for this work. Was appointed archbishop of Santiago (Cuba) where he aroused opposition for his spiritual and social reforms and for championing the rights of the indigenous peoples. Finally, as chaplain to Queen Isabella II, drew the arts and sciences into his missionary endeavour. Noted for his work of religious renewal through the spoken and printed word.

27 October

St Otteran, Monk

Otteran, a descendant of Conall Gulban, is usually identified with Odhran who preceded Colum CiJle in Iona. His death is recorded in 548 and his grave was greatly revered in Iona. He was chosen by the Vikings as patron of the city of Waterford in 1096 and later patron of the diocese.

28 October

Ss Simon and Jude, Apostles

Simon “the Less” is also called “the Canaanite” and “the Zealot.” Jude “(son) of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13) was traditionally identified as Jude, brother of James and author of the letter of Jude, but may also be the one called “Thaddeus” (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18). A tradition has Simon and Jude preaching and being martyred in Persia. Honoured among the twelve apostles, the first followers of Christ.

29 October

St Colman, Bishop

Colman hailed from Kilmacduagh, County Clare in the seventh century. After studying in Aran, where he founded two churches on Inis Mhor, he returned to become a hermit near Kinvarra. Induced later to undertake the monastic life he made a foundation at Kilmacduagh. He is said to have been its first abbot and bishop.


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