Saint of the Works of Mercy?

Do you guys know of any saints that notably followed the Works of Mercy?

Which acts of mercy–corporal or spiritual?

This is probably no longer timely (sorry), but I think the question is too interesting to sink out of sight. One of the corporal acts of mercy is listed variously as **to ransom the captive **or to visit the imprisoned.

Saint Peter Nolasco spent all of his inheritance paying ransoms to free Christians who had been captured by the Muslims who controlled most of Spain at the time. He founded a religious order, the Mercedarians, to do the same work. The original members of the order vowed to spend all they had to ransom the captives, even to offer themselves as substitutes, if that was the only way to rescue their fellow Christians from slavery.

Saint Saturus instructed converts during a time of persecution of the Church. When a group of his catechumens was captured, he would not abandon them, and voluntarily went to prison with them and shared their fate. Two out of that group, Saints Felicity and Perpetua, are remembered in the Roman canon of the Mass.

The other acts of corporal mercy are

]To feed the hungry;
To give drink to the thirsty;**
]To clothe the naked;
To harbour the harbourless;**
]* To visit the sick;**
*]**To bury the dead. **
The spiritual acts of mercy are

] To instruct the ignorant;
To counsel the doubtful;**
]* To admonish sinners;**
]* To bear wrongs patiently;**
]* To forgive offenses willingly;**
]* To comfort the afflicted;**
]* To pray for the living and the dead. **
As time permits, I’ll try to find saints who notably followed the other works of mercy. Maybe some of the other posters here can think of good saints to mention?

**To clothe the naked
**From [of Tours]:

“…in the middle of winter, a winter which had shown itself more severe than ordinary, so that the extreme cold was proving fatal to many, he happened to meet at the gate of the city of Amiens a poor man destitute of clothing. He was entreating those that passed by to have compassion upon him, but all passed the wretched man without notice, when Martin, that man full of God, recognized that a being to whom others showed no pity, was, in that respect, left to him. Yet, what should he do? He had nothing except the cloak in which he was clad, for he had already parted with the rest of his garments for similar purposes. Taking, therefore, his sword with which he was girt, he divided his cloak into two equal parts, and gave one part to the poor man, while he again clothed himself with the remainder… In the following night, when Martin had resigned himself to sleep, he had a vision of Christ arrayed in that part of his cloak with which he had clothed the poor man. …”

**To bury the dead

**Saint Joseph of Arimathea laid our Lord’s body in his own tomb, with the assistance of Saint Nicodemus [see [URL=“”]Matthew 27:57- 60; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-54; John 19:38-42].

Saint Callixtus, when he was just Deacon Callixtus, was appointed by Pope Zephyrinus as the administrator of a cemetery where many Christians were laid to rest in hope of the resurrection. It became the official cemetery of the Church of Rome and he later became pope.

Saint Catherine of Siena lived during the time of the black death in Europe and buried many of the plague victims with her own hands.

**To visit the sick

**Saint Catherine of Sienna, mentioned yesterday for burying the dead, also cared for the sick. The plague of 1372 gave her ample opportunity to do both.

Saints Cosmas and Damian were twin brothers from Arabia who practiced medicine in Syria. Cosmas was a physician, Damian, an apothecary. They were called anargyroi, “the silverless”, because they would accept no payment for their services. During the Diocletian persecution they were martyred with their three brothers. They are remembered in the Communicantes of the traditional Mass.

Saint Samson (or Sampson)
of Constantinople was Roman by birth, the son of well-to-do parents and reportedly a relative of the Emperor Constantine. He studied all the secular sciences in his youth, especially medicine. Like Cosmas and Damian, Sampson cared for the sick without asking for payment. After the death of his parents, he moved east to Constantinople, where he settled into a small house, and cared for all those needy his assistance could reach.

According to one account [found in Butler’s Lives of the Saints], he founded at his own expense a great hospital for the sick poor in Constantinople. By other accounts [found online [URL=“”]here and here] a grateful Emperor Justinian built it for him after the saint miraculously cured him. He was honored in life as “the hospitable” and “father to the poor”.

Among the many good deeds of Saint Vincent de Paul, he brought together the Ladies of Charity, an organization of pious women who cared for the sick poor, and also visited the prisons. (Like St. Samson, St. Vincent de Paul could be mentioned in association with several of the acts of mercy).

Your question was a bit vague. So far, we have saints that excelled in “corporate” works of mercy, but I’ve not seen much regarding the spiritual.

St. Faustina was granted revelations from God concerning His Infinite Mercy, and was made His “Secretary” of Mercy, to bring that message to the world. Her Diary is exceedingly beautiful.

Other saints cooperated with divine grace and offered themselves as “victim souls” to obtain salvation for sinners. St. Therese of Lisieux was one of these holy sacrificial victims, and I have no doubt that she brought many, many souls to heaven. There are orders of cloistered nuns and monks all over the world who dedicate themselves to prayer and penance, united with Christ for our spiritual benefit. What would the world be without them?

Saint Vincent de Paul - a great saint of charity and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

The first of those souls was a notorious murderer of her time who showed little sign of contrition. Saint Therese prayed ardently his conversion and finally, moments before his execution, he grabbed a crucifix from the priest he would not speak to, and kissed it three times. She called him her “first child” and continued to pray for him after his death.

In this she gave a good example the spiritual act of mercy, “To pray for the living and the dead.”

**To harbour the harbourless


Saint Vincent de Paul was a tremendous saint.

He inspired a group of young ladies, the Daughters of Charity (now known as the Sisters of Charity) to care for a dozen abandoned children. Years later the number of children in their care reached 4000. He also founded a hospice where 40 old people found shelter and was instrumental in the creation of one of the greatest works of charity of the seventeenth century, an asylum where 40,000 poor found shelter and useful work.

Thanks for mentioning Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati; I had never heard of him. Among his good works, “He obtained a room for a poor old woman evicted from her tenement, provided a bed for a consumptive invalid, supported three children of a sick and grieving widow.”

Saint Sampson, mentioned on Saturday, was known for his willingness to provide the poor and homeless with a place to stay. He is sometimes nicknamed “the Hospitable-to-Strangers”.

Saint Benedict was another hospitable saint. According to the rule which he set for his order, “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ”.

To feed the hungry

According to the old Catholic Encyclopedia, during “the War of the Fronde”, Saint Vincent de Paul attempted to mitigate the suffering caused by the war. “Through his care soup was distributed daily to 15,000 or 16,000 refugees or worthy and poor; 800 to 900 young women were sheltered; in the single parish of St. Paul the Sisters of Charity made and distributed soup every day to 500 poor, besides which they had to care for 60 to 80 sick.”

He also wrote and visited those in power in attempts to restore peace.

Saint Thomas of Villanova
As Archbishop of Valencia, he daily offered a meal for any poor person who asked for help; sometimes he would feed as many as four or five hundred. He also helped equip indigent workmen and farmers with the tools of their trades, so that they could provide for themselves and their families.

His generosity in adulthood was foreshadowed by his generosity in childhood, when he more than once gave his own clothing to the needy to clothe the naked. He is another saint who could be mentioned in connection with several of the acts of mercy.

Saint Isidore of Madrid, a farm laborer, would often share his meals with those hungrier than himself.

Saint Maximilian Kolbe would stand aside and let others claim food first, and sometimes share his meager ration, in the brutal near-starvation nightmare that was Auschwitz.

To give drink to the thirsty
Saint Peter Claver

"By 1615 Peter finished his studies and was ordained a priest in Cartagena. When he made his final vows, he added a personal one: Peter, slave of the slaves for ever. Here in this busy seaport city, in a hot, humid, tropical climate, Father Claver spent most of his priestly life. Cartegena was the principal slave market for the New World. Thousands of blacks were brought there, herded into warehouses and auctioned to the highest bidder. Captured in Africa, these slaves were chained in groups of six and crammed into the lower holds of ships designed to hold 100-200, but holding 600-800 humans. Their treatment was so inhumane that 1/3 of the slaves died in the sea journey.

It was to these people that Peter would minister. He would meet each slave ship as it arrived. Peter would go to the warehouses and bring them food, water, medicine and clothing, for, as he said, ‘We must speak to them with our hands, before we try to speak to them with our lips’. But most of all, he brought them God. While nursing them back to health, he would teach them of Christ, explain to them that they were loved by God more than they were abused by man, and that evil outraged God. He offered their only consolation: hope in the promises of God. Nearly three hundred thousand of them received baptism at his hands."

There are alot of Saints to follow in their example.

There’s a book called Dictionary of Saints . . That can be helpful.

It sounds helpful. Do you know the name of the author or editor?

To forgive offenses willingly

Saint Stephen (the first Christian martyr) and Saint Maria Goretti forgave and prayed for their killers while they were bleeding to death from the injuries inflicted on them.

When Saint Philip Neri was wrongly suspected of forming his own sect, he forgave his accuser and protected the man’s reputation.

Saint Philip Benizi was sent by the Pope to preach reconciliation to a town under papal interdict. He was met with jeers and insults. When one young hothead slapped him in the face, knocking him down, Saint Philip calmly got up, forgave him, and offered him the other cheek. That moment was a turning point in the life of the young man, who followed after the saint to apologize. In the years that followed, the young man did great penances, became a priest himself and a wise confessor, and is known to us today as Saint Peregrine.



Thank you! t’s very uplifting to read posts of this kind — like finding a jewel in the midst of muddy water. May Our Lord enkindle our hearts and grant us the grace us to live the examples of our saints.


To bear wrongs patiently

Saint Paul
To make the Gospel known to the world, the apostle to the gentiles endured much, including floggings, beatings, a stoning, imprisonment, at least two attempts to kill him prior to his martyrdom.

“Of the patience of Jacob scripture marvelleth, which abode seven years for his spouse, but who hath that soul of an adamant that may follow the patience of Paul? For he abode not only seven years for Christ his spouse, but all his lifetime. He was not only burnt with the heat of the day, he suffered only the frost of the night, but suffering temptations, now with beatings, now stoned with stones, and always among his torments caught the sheep and drew them to the faith from the mouth of the devil.” (from the Golden Legend)

Saint Thomas More
With the threat of a horrific execution (hanging, disemboweling, and dismemberment) hanging over his head, the former Lord Chancellor of England steadfastly refused to apostasize. At the end of his imprisonment, he was brought to trial and unjustly condemned. His last words to his judges were not bitter, but full of faith, hope and charity:
“More have I not to say, my lords, but that like as the blessed apostle Saint Paul, as we read in the Acts of the Apostles, was present and consented to the death of Saint Stephen, and kept their clothes that stoned him to death, and yet be they now twain holy saints in heaven, and shall continue there friends forever: so I verily trust and shall therefore right heartily pray, that though your lordships have now in earth been judges to my condemnation, we may yet hereafter in heaven merrily all meet together to our everlasting salvation.”

Saint Maximilian Kolbe
“A prisoner later recalled how he and several others often crawled across the floor at night to be near the bed of Father Kolbe, to make their confessions and ask for consolation. Father Kolbe pleaded with his fellow prisoners to forgive their persecutors and to overcome evil with good. When he was beaten by the guards, he never cried out. Instead, he prayed for his tormentors.”

Saint Seraphin of Montegrano and Saint Pacifico of San Severino patiently endured harsh upbringings. I didn’t see any indication that the cruel relatives they lived with learned anything from the saints’ good examples, but we can.

Saint Monica (mother of Saint Augustine), Saint Rita of Cascia, and Elisabeth Leseur were also trapped in difficult circumstances. These three had unhappy marriages. With God’s help they endured and grew holy; after difficult years all three husbands finally drew closer to God themselves. (The third woman mentioned is not a recognized saint, but has been proposed for canonization).

Slight correction:
the Daughters of Charity are still known as the Daughters of Charity.

However in the USA, there are six other communities with roots in Mother Seton’s work
in Emmitsburg MD who call themselves the Sisters of Charity. Mother Seton’s work
was directed toward becoming one with the Daughters of Charity. She died before the
Constituions and holy habit arrived from Europe. However, the beginnings of the works of
the Daughters of Charity in the USA were started by Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton.

Visitng the Imprisoned:

St. Vincent de Paul
St. Martin de Porres

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