October 1

St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897)

St. Thérèse always wanted to be a missionary, doing great things for Christ in far-off lands. In her short life, she never strayed far from home (except for a trip to Rome), but after her death she was named patron saint of missionaries and a Doctor of the Church.

October 2

Feast of the Guardian Angels

“Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.” (Catechism #338)

October 3

Theodora Guerin (October 2, 1798 – May 14, 1856)

You might remember her as the tough French nun who taught kids on the American frontier: “We are not called upon to do all the good possible, but only that which we can do.” Practical advice from a real pioneer . . .

October 4

Francis of Assisi (September 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226)

He needs no introduction; you can celebrate his feast by blessing your pets, reading one of his prayers . . . and maybe kissing the hand of a leper, or the modern equivalent . . . or just read about it in our feature Meet St. Francis of Assisi! • Saints for Kids, which includes a coloring page . . . also, you may be interested in the new book Little Lessons from St. Francis of Assisi: A Prayer for Peace (softcover, $10.99) . . .

October 5

Maria Faustina Kowalska (August 25, 1905 – October 5, 1938)

The force behind the image of Divine Mercy; you can take the opportunity to talk about mercy with your kids, or practice a work of mercy (it’s still the Year of Mercy, after all!) . . .

October 6

Bruno (c. 1030 – October 6, 1101)

A hermit who founded the Carthusian Order . . . this is your big chance to explain to your kids all about hermits! . . .

October 7

Our Lady of the Rosary

She encourages you to say the rosary with your kids (yes you can!) . . .

October 8

St. John Leonardi (1541 – October 9,1609)

John Leonardi studied for ten years to become a pharmacist before deciding to become a priest instead. Ordained after the Protestant Reformation, St. Leonardi was an important force in the Catholic Counter-Reformation: founding a new group of diocesan priests to spread devotion to the faith, writing a compendium of the Catholic faith that remained in use for centuries, organized the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (still known to many adults as CCD), and assisting in the establishment of the Vatican department now known as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. For his trouble, he was exiled from his hometown for most of his adult life. He and St. Philip Neri were good friends; Neri gave Leonardi the use of his apartment, so long as he cared for Neri’s cat. His work studying to be a pharmacist didn’t all go to waste: today, he is the patron saint of pharmacists, among others. He said: “Humanity needs Christ intensely, because he is our measure . . . there is no problem that cannot be solved in him.”

St. Pelegia (fourth century)

The beautiful 15-year-old courtesan and dancer who, after her conversion, put on plain clothes and became a hermit.

October 9

St. John Henry Newman (1801-1890)

Born in London, England, John Henry Newman spent the first half of his life as a Anglican priest and theologian well-known for his preaching and writing. He was a leading figure of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the role of Church history—the lived experience of believers—in shaping theology. His historical research eventually led him to leave the Church of England in order to join the Catholic Church. Although his ideas were at first rejected by many in the Church, over time they prepared the way for the Church’s renewal. He was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XXIII. Shortly after his death, Catholic college campus ministries began to take his name; today, “Newman Centers” dot the landscape of higher education. “Nothing would be done at all if one waited until one could do it so well that no one could find fault with it.”

St. Denis (d. 258)

The first Bishop of Paris, and one of the patron saints of France. He was martyred by beheading; according to a popular legend, the decapitated bishop picked up his head and walked several miles while preaching a sermon. He is also one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

October 10

St. Daniel Comboni (1831-1881)

St. Comboni devoted his life to the cause of evangelizing Africa, founding the Comboni Missionaries and devising a plan to prepare African Christians to catechize their fellow Africans: “Save Africa with Africa,” was his motto. He eventually was made the first bishop of central Africa, experiencing many difficulties and challenges over the years. He said: “The thought that one sweats and dies for the love of Jesus Christ and the salvation of the most abandoned souls in the world is far too sweet for us to desist from this great enterprise.”

St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572)

Francis was a Spanish duke who renounced his title and wealth to join the Society of Jesus after his wife died.  He wanted to be left alone to pray, but was called on to become the Jesuits’ third leader. “We must make our way
towards eternity, never regarding what men think of us or our actions, studying only to please God.”

October 11

St. John XXIII (November 25, 1881 – June 3, 1963)

As pope, John XXIII was known for his humility, his sense of humor, and calling the Church to reflect on its relationship with the world during the Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II. His feast day falls not on the anniversary of his death, but on the anniversary of the first day of the Council. Earlier in his life, John was a stretcher-bearer in World War I and used his authority as a diplomat to help about 24,000 people escape the Nazis during World War II. He said: “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

October 12

Our Lady of the Pillar

According to tradition, it was on this date in the year 40 that the apostle James, discouraged about his mission
to Spain, prayed on the banks of the Ebro River. Mary, who was still living, appeared to him in a vision. She told him that the faith of the people of Spain would be as strong as the pillar she stood on, and asked him to build a chapel on the spot. Today, the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar attracts thousands of pilgrims to Zaragosa, Spain.

October 13

St. Gerald of Aurillac ( c. 855 – c. 909)

A cool saint you’ve never heard of before who should be way more popular than he is. He was a French count who wanted to become a monk, but was counseled that he could do more good in his position of worldly power. He took a secret vow to serve God and did so in the course of his duties. The Life of St. Gerald of Aurillac by St. Odo of Cluny contains a number of entertaining details and anecdotes, if you’re willing to dig through the original manuscript for them. He said: “It is well that I learn that it is better for me to trust in God than in man.”

October 14

St. Callistus I (d. 223)

A slave in ancient Rome who eventually was put in charge of the first Christian cemetery; later, the pope made him a deacon, and when the pope died, Callistus himself was elected pope. He and St. Hippolytus didn’t get along—Hippolytus thought that he should have been pope instead, and that Callistus was too forgiving. And indeed, St. Callistus said: “If offenses abound, then, let mercy also abound; for with the Lord there is mercy.”

Servant of God Julius Nyerere (1922-1999)

The former president of Tanzania, called the “conscience of Africa.”

October 15

St. Teresa of Avila (March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582)

giant of a saint and only one of four female Doctors of the church who, with St. John of the Cross, reformed the Carmelite Order; her spiritual writings continue to be widely read today, and numerous other saints took their inspiration from her.

October 16

St. Jose Sanchez Del Rio (1913–1928)

The young Mexican teen who will be canonized this Sunday by Pope Francis. He joined the Cristeros movement that sprang up in resistance to the persecution of the Church by the Mexican government; he was captured, tortured, and executed in 1928. Throughout his ordeal, he never wavered in his faith, but welcomed his martyrdom because, as he said, “Never has it been so easy to obtain heaven!”

October 17

St. Ignatius of Antioch (d. c. 107)

He said: “It is better to be silent and be a Christian than to talk and not be one.” Martyred in 107, his letters offer a rare peek into the state of the early Church.

October 18

St. Luke (d. c. 84)

Unique among the four evangelists for being the only Gentile convert to Christianity; according to tradition, he was a Syrian from Antioch, the same Luke mentioned in Colossians 4:14Philemon 24and 2 Timothy 4:11. His Gospel is the first of a two-part work that includes the Acts of the Apostles, and concern with the early Church shapes his interpretation of the ministry of Jesus.

October 19

St. Isaac Jogues, Jean de Brébeuf and Companions (died c. 1640s)

These eight Jesuits willingly sacrificed their lives for the sake of Native Americans, becoming the first North American martyrs.

October 20

St. Paul of the Cross (1694-1775)

The popular preacher with a special devotion to the Passion who founded the Passionist order.

October 21

St. Hilarion (c. 291-371)

The fifteen-year-old convert who wanted to become a desert hermit, but whose holiness kept attracting followers.

October 22

St. John Paul II (1920–2005)

The pope who needs no introduction and who told millions of his fellow Poles: “Do not be afraid to insist on your rights. Refuse a life based on lies and double thinking. Do not be afraid to suffer with Christ.” Those words sparked movements within Poland and throughout Eastern Europe that led to the fall of the Iron Curtain. You can show your kids a trailer from the movie Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism.

October 23

Martyrs of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ (d. 1992)

The mission of the Martyrs of the Blood of Christ is to be “a living image of that divine charity by which [Christ’s] blood was shed,” according to the order’s constitution. In 1992, five of the order’s missionary sisters in Liberia fulfilled that mission by quite literally giving their lives during the Liberian civil war. “Sisters Barbara Ann Muttra and Mary Joel Kolmer were killed on Oct. 20 as they drove the convent’s security guard home to a neighboring suburb. They never returned,” according to the order’s website. “Three days later, soldiers shot and killed Sisters Kathleen McGuire, Agnes Mueller, and Shirley Kolmer in front of their convent in Gardnersville.” Pope John Paul II called them “martyrs of charity, since they had the opportunity to leave in the face of danger but chose to stay to continue their mission to the poor. “However and wherever I am, my work, like the Father’s, is to breathe a little life into those I know, help them to come to be a little more fully, a little more freely who they are.” (Sister Kathleen McGuire, ASC)

St. John of Capistrano (1386-1456)

The Franciscan whose preaching helped to revive the faith in central Europe.

October 24

St. Anthony Claret (1807–1870)

The Spanish priest and archbishop who founded a missionary institute known as the Claretians, as well as a publishing house. As the new archbishop of Santiago, Cuba, he preached and dispensed the sacraments around-the-clock, traveling throughout the archdiocese on foot. He irked plantation owners by teaching their slaves; when they tried to have him killed, he forgave the would-be assassin. Claret was a great friend of criminals; one story tells of how he persuaded four men who had been condemned to die to confess. Another time, he persuaded bandits who were going to kill him to let him go preach instead, with the promise that he would return the next day so they could finish killing him. The outlaws were so shocked when he returned, they begged to receive confession instead. “The force that drives me to preach and hear confessions is my desire to make my neighbor happy.”

October 25

Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko (1947-1984)

The quiet young priest who said, “The Christian must at all times be a witness to and defender of justice, goodness, truth, freedom, and love.” He volunteered to serve striking steel workers in Warsaw, Poland, and was eventually murdered by Communist agents; 250,000 people attended his funeral. “The Communists saw him as an enemy because he freed people from fear of the system,” a fellow priest later noted.

October 26

St. Peter of Alcantara (1499-1562)

The penitent, Catholic reformer, and confessor to St. Teresa of Avila.

Blessed Contardo Ferrini (1859-1902)

A man of science and learning, Contardo prayed about becoming a priest or marrying, but instead decided to serve God as an unmarried lay person and as a law professor. In his spare time, he served the poor through the St. Vincent de Paul Society and went camping and mountain climbing. “Our life must reach out toward the Infinite, and from that source we must draw whatever we can expect of merit and dignity.”

October 27

Saint Frumentius (d. 383)

As a boy, Frumentius and his brother were captured during a sea voyage and made slaves to a king in Ethiopia, who eventually came to trust them with great responsibility. After being freed by the king, Frumentius became a bishop, converted a later king, and spread the faith throughout Ethiopia, where he was called Kesate Birhan (Revealer of Light) and Abba Salama (Father of Peace).

October 28

Sts. Simon and Jude (1st Century)

Two of “the Twelve” apostles of Jesus. Little is known of them, other than that Simon had been involved with the Zealots, a political movement that aimed to throw the Roman Empire out of the Holy Land by force. St. Jude (“Judas the son of James”) is the patron saint of hopeless causes, perhaps because he is named last among the apostles (except for traitorous Judas Iscariot).

October 29

Blessed Chiara Badano (October 29, 1971 – October 7, 1990)

The remarkable Italian teenage girlwho died of cancer in 1991. In many ways, she was an ordinary teen who liked tennis and swimming, and dreamed of becoming a flight attendant. She attended her parish youth group and joined the Focolare Movement. But it was as she was dying of cancer that her true spirit shone out, amazing everyone with her holy joy and love of God even as she suffered. So striking was her attitude that the local cardinal visited her. “The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?” he asked. Her reply: “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.” A doctor remarked:  “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.”

October 30

St. Marcellus (d. 298)

The Roman centurion who ruined the emperor’s birthday by casting away his sword and declaring he could only serve Jesus Christ.

October 31

All Hallow’s Eve

The day we remember the reality of evil and darkness, over which the saints will ultimately triumph.