Meet my friend, the Saint


This is sort of a game I thought of when reading another post that was asking for saint suggestions. I was struck by how much people sounded as if these saints they were recommending were friends who lived just next door. I thought it would be a great idea to culminate these together. This is a fun, informal way to share the knowledge of all the saints we’ve picked up through the ages.

So here are the rules:
*]You can only list one saint at a time
*]Try not to list a saint anyone else has chosen
*]You cannot ‘link’ to a biography. You have to write about their life in your own words. It doesn’t matter if it lacks a lot of dates and strict facts. Stories from what you can recall and remember are the most interesting, IMO.

To get it started I’m going to pick St. Maria Goretti

Maria Teresa Goretti is a virgin martyr from Italy. Daughter of two poor farmers, her father died when she was very young and she had to help her mother care for her brothers and sisters until her death. Her family shared a home with another farming family, a father and son. The son’s name was Alessandro. One day, finding her home alone, sewing, Alessandro attempted to rape Maria (she was eleven, if I recall). She fought him, saying “God does not want it” and “it is a mortal sin! You’ll go to hell!” He tried choking her, but she wiggled away, so instead he stabbed her repeatedly with a knife. As she struggled to get away he stabbed her three more times. Her younger sister found her, and the sister’s crying alerted Maria’s mother and Alessandro’s father. Maria died in the hospital later that day. Her surgeon asked her to remember him in paradise, and she said she would.

Alessandro went to prison for many years, unrepentant until he was visited by a Bishop. After he was released he went to Maria’s mother, asking her for forgiveness, which she said Maria had already given him. He had had a dream where Maria gave him lilies that burned his hands (some say one for each knife wound, but I don’t remember if that’s a fact or not). He became a lay brother in a monastery. He attended Maria’s beatification, along with her mother (the first mother to attend the beatification of their child).

She’s the patron of virginity, forgiveness, and chastity, among other things. There’s also a movie about her life, that I thought was pretty good.


St Francis of Assisi grew up in a wealthy family, and was quite the party animal. He always felt sorry for the poor however, and so he gave them money, food and clothes on random occasions, since he was a very impulsive person. Once he traded clothes with a poor man and leaned on the wall outside a ‘soup kitchen’ for a day. Following his impulse, when his father told him to marry soon and stop being so silly, he ripped off all his fine clothing and said, my only father is God, and stormed off naked and angry (this was in front of the bishop too!)

So afterwards he bummed around the monastaries of Italy, working odd jobs where he could find food and shelter and gradually becoming a priest/song-writer. He loved, on impulse, giving away his few possesions (that he had accumulated since the last incident). He taught these virtues of poverty and when he had a large group of faithful, he sought for the pope’s approval and recieved it. Then they traipsed around the country singing about the Lord and relying on the kindness of strangers to survive. Then they traveled abroad to convert more people for God. Of course everybody love these guys, so they recieved all they needed.

Later, back in Italy, Francis went out fasting in the wilderness, saw an angel, and recieved the stigmata. This was like a call back home, for his health worsened until he eventually died surrounded by his loved ones, his loving followers.


St. Bernadette Soubirous (also known as Sr. Marie Bernard)

If you asked people who are familiar with her name… “Why was Bernadette Soubirous canonized a saint in the Catholic Church?”; some might respond… “Because she had visions of Our Lady at Lourdes!”. But they would be mistaken.

Yes, young Bernadette Soubirious did indeed have visions of Our Blessed Mother… at Lourdes, France. But it was not for this reason, that she was later canonized.

On the evening of July 7, 1866… Bernadette arrived at St. Gildard, Mother House of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Nevers; the Congregation she had chosen to enter. Bernadette had come to know the Sisters while living at the Hospice in Lourdes. She took the name of Sr. Marie Bernard.

Closely united to Jesus, she tried through her gestures and her words to imitate He Who had sacrificed His life out of love: “I want my whole life to be inspired by love.”

Often in poor health during her life in the convent, Sr. Marie Bernard spent long periods of time in the Holy Cross Infirmary. During her time there, she came to understand the humiliation of dependance on others. This suffering presented endless opportunities to remain “open” to the needs of those going through similar experiences. In this way, and through prayers and encouragement, she cared for those around her.

On April 16, 1879… Wednesday of Easter Week… in the afternoon hours, Sr. Marie Bernard Soubirous died, in the Holy Cross Infirmary. She was 36. Her last words were: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me, a poor sinner.” She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI on December 8, 1933. To this day, her body remains incorrupt.

St. Bernadette (Sr. Marie Bernard)… pray for us.

A period photo of the Holy Cross Infirmary at the Convent of St. Gildard… Nevers, France. Sr. Marie Bernard referred to her bed in the infirmary as her “white chapel”.

Beautiful in death, as in life: the last photo of Sr. Marie Bernard.


Meet St. Benedict, (480-547) founder of the Benedictine order and father of Western monasticism.

The only facts we have on the life of St. Benedict come from a book about holy people written by Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604). St. Gregory also wrote that by studying the Rule of St. Benedict written for his communities of monks you could learn more about him, as “the holy man cannot have taught otherwise than as he lived.”

Born in Nursia, St. Benedict lived during the time the Roman Empire was collapsing. As a young man he had gone to Rome to study. He was so disgusted by the paganism he saw there, that he renounced the world and went to live in solitude in a cave for three years. As his holiness became known, local monks asked him to become their abbot. When they found his leadership too strict for their liking, some actually tried to poison him. As Benedict took the cup with the poison, he blessed it, and the cup shattered.

In 529, with some faithful followers, Benedict replaced a pagan temple on a mountain top with what was to become the famous abbey of Monte Cassino. Many men were drawn there by Benedict’s holiness and for them he wrote his famous Rule for monastics. The Rule of St. Benedict sets forth rules governing every aspect of community life for the monks, including pearls like “If you have a dispute with someone, make peace with him before the sun goes down.” RB 4.73. The monks took vows of obedience, stability, and conversion of life. God raised up St. Benedict to help preserve civilization in the dark, chaotic times following the fall of the Roman Empire.

The Benedictine motto is Ora et Labora (work and pray). Benedict died on March 21, 547, but since the 8th century his feast has been observed on July 11.

Anyone who strives for holiness can follow the Rule of St. Benedict while living in the world. They are called Oblates. Pray that the Benedictines will once again be a fortress of Christianity and civilization in our increasingly pagan world. +


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