Saints of the month and feast days
Saints and Feast days in November
All Saints Day
This feast began in the East to commemorate all martyrs and was progressively adopted in the West. Celebrated on this day in the eighth century and soon widely observed. Honoured today are all holy men and women in glory with Christ:known or unknown, mighty or lowly, all whose lives were modelled on the Beatitudes and on the commandment of love.
All Souls Day
This day of commemoration began early in the Middle Ages with annual prayers for the dead in monastic communities. Fixed on this day, it spread more widely after the tenth century and now ranks with the principal feast days in the liturgical calendar. Commonly known as All Souls, it expresses Christian faith in the communion of saints and our need to pray for one another in the Church, especially the souls in purgatory.
St Martin de Porres, Religious
Born in Lima (Peru) in 1579, an illegitimate child of mixed race; died there on this day in 1639. Trained as a barber and infirmarian, he was accepted as a Dominican brother. Noted for his humility and holiness, his ministry to African slaves, and his dedicated service of the poor and the sick of all races.
St Malachy, Bishop
Malachy was born near Armagh in 1094 . He became vicar of Ceallach, the reforming bishop of Armagh, and he continued this work of reform as bishop of Connor and as abbot and, later, bishop of Armagh. He introduced the Cistercians and the Canons Regular into Ireland. Returning to Ireland from a visit to Rome in 1148 he revisited Clairvaux, where he caught fever and died in the arms of Bernard on 1/2 November. Both are buried together.
St Charles Borromeo, Bishop
Born in Arona (Italy) in 1538; died on this day in 1584 in Milan. Only twenty-two when he was appointed cardinal, secretary of state, and given the administration of the diocese of Milan by his uncle, Pius IV. Prominent in the final sessions of the Council of Trent during 1562—1563 and, at its end, was ordained presbyter, then bishop and became archbishop of Milan. Known for implementing the Council’s reforms in liturgy, education, presbyteral formation, and diocesan organisation. Honoured as an exemplary and pastoral bishop and an ardent proponent of reform.
All the saints of Ireland
The early Irish Martyrologies and the Stowe Missal give a firm basis to devotion to the saints of Ireland. The feast celebrates the gifts and the glory of God in his saints, their sharing in the paschal mystery of Christ, our communion with them in Christ, their example and their intercession for us, the pilgrim Church, the sustaining power of the Eucharist, the hope of eternal life.
St Willibrord, Bishop and Missionary
Willibrord was born in Northumbria in 658. He entered the Benedictine order and was sent to Ireland to Rathmelsige (probably Clonmelsh in County Carlow) to study. After ordination he was sent with eleven companions to evangelize Frisia. He established a mission at Utrecht and in 695 was ordained archbishop of Utrecht by Pope Sergius I. He founded a monastery at Eichtemach in Luxembourg in 700, where he died in 739. He is remembered as the first of the renowned Anglo-Saxon missionaries who went to the Continent.
Dedication of St John Lateran
The Lateran Basilica, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome, was dedicated to Christ the Saviour in the fourth century. The anniversary has been celebrated as a feast of the Latin Church on this date since the twelfth century. It honours the local Church of Rome as a link with earliest Christian tradition and as a sign of our communion in Christ.
St Leo the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church
He died in Rome on this day in 461. Elected pope in 440. Tried to protect the city from the devastation of barbarian invasion. His surviving letters illustrate the leadership and guidance he exercised as bishop of Rome toward other Churches in the West. Noted for the clarity of his thought on the two natures of Christ, affirmed at the Council of Chalcedon, for his eloquent sermons, and for the prayers he composed for the Roman liturgy.
St Martin of Tours, Bishop
Born in Pannonia (Hungary) about 316; died in 397 and was buried on this day in Tours (France). A catechumen who was in conscience unable to continue with military service. Baptised at the age of eighteen, for a time became a hermit, and then worked to establish monasticism in the West. Bishop of Tours for twenty-five years. One of the first non-martyrs to be venerated as a saint. Widely remembered for his legendary generosity to the poor, for arguing against the persecution of heretics, and especially for his active evangelisation and pastoral care of rural areas.
St Josaphat, Bishop, Martyr
Born in Vladimir (Ukraine) in 1580; died at Vitebsk (Belarus) on this day in 1623. A Basilian monk who became archbishop of Polotsk. Worked strenuously to uphold and spread the Union of Brest-Litovsk by which Churches of the province of Kiev, with their Byzantine liturgy and customs, had entered into communion with Rome. In a complex situation of national and religious antagonism, he was killed by violent opponents. Noted for his energetic pastoral reform and courageous ecumenism.
St Laurence O’Toole, Monk, Bishop
Laurence was born in Leinster in 1123. He studied at Glendalough, becoming abbot there in 1148, and in 1162 he was chosen as the first native archbishop of Dublin. He followed the reforming methods of Ceallach and Malachy, introducing the Canons Regular to Dublin and following their Rule. He returned from Lateran HI as Papal Legate and held synods to extend reform. He died at Eu in Brittany in 1180 while on a mission to try to restore peace between the kings of Ireland and England.
St Albert the Great, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Born in Lauingen (Germany) about 1200; died in Cologne on this day in 1280. The “Universal Doctor” was a Dominican friar and teacher, most notably in Paris and in Cologne where Saint Thomas Aquinas studied under him. Briefly bishop of Regensburg, but resigned the see to return to teaching and writing. Noted for the outstanding breadth of his learning in the natural sciences, Jewish and Arabic studies, and Greek philosophy, all of which he brought to the service of his theology.
St Margaret of Scotland
Born in Hungary about 1046 of Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian parentage; died in Edinburgh (Scotland) on this day in 1093. Found refuge from the Norman conquest of England with Malcolm III of Scotland whom she married in 1070. They had eight children. Reformed the royal court, founded monasteries, and sponsored major reforms of Church life. Noted for the happiness of her marriage, for her devotion to prayer and learning.
St Gertrude, Virgin
Born about 1256; died at Helfta (Germany) about 1302. Entrusted from five years of age to Benedictine or possibly Cistercian nuns, among whom she experienced a deep conversion at the age of twenty-five and lived a life of mystical contemplation. Found Christ in the liturgy and Scripture, and on this foundation developed her devotion to the humanity of Jesus and, together with it, a love of the heart of Jesus.
St Elizabeth of Hungary, Religious
Born in Bratislava (Slovakia) in 1207. Married at the age of fourteen, widowed at twenty, and died at twenty-four in Marburg (Germany) on this day in 1231. Mother of three children, happily married to Ludwig of Thuringia. When Ludwig died of the plague while on crusade, she continued to protect the poor and founded orphanages and hospitals, living this life of service as a Franciscan tertiary despite the hostility of her relatives and the harshness of her confessor. Noted for her good-humoured resilience in adversity and for her humility in menial service of the needy.
Dedication of the basilicas of Peter and Paul
Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, built in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and Saint Paul’s Basilica, built in the nineteenth century, both replaced older buildings erected by Constantine in the fourth century over the tombs of the apostles Peter and Paul. The dedications of these churches have been commemorated together on this day since the twelfth century. As on 29 June, the universal Church joins the Church of Rome in honouring its apostles.
Presentation of Mary
This memorial originally marked the dedication of a sixth century church of the Virgin Mary near the Temple of Jerusalem. The East took it up as a celebration of Mary’s presentation to God in the Temple at the age of three, a non-biblical story from the apocryphal gospel of James. Established in the West late in the Middle Ages, the feast was universally observed by the sixteenth century. It celebrates Mary in her grace-filled life, wholly given over to the Holy Spirit from the time of her conception.
Virgin, Martyr. Though a late fourth century church in Rome was named after her, nothing is known of her life or death. Popular legends were written about her in the late fifth century, and in the sixteenth century she was named the patron of music. Honoured by the Church as a virgin, martyred for the faith, her name is included in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).
St Clement I, Pope, Martyr
Clement died in New Testament times, at the end of the first century. His name is included in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). Noted for a letter written from the Church at Rome to the Church at Corinth, an important witness to the emergence of ministries and authority in the Church and to the pastoral responsibility of Rome to another Church.
St Columban, Abbot, Missionary
Born in Leinster (Ireland) about 543; died on this day in 615 at Bobbio (Italy). A monk and teacher at Bangor until middle aged who left with twelve companions as “exiles for Christ” to found monasteries in Burgundy (France). Insisted, against opposition, on maintaining strict Celtic customs and usages, but was expelled for denouncing royal misconduct. Went on to extend the Irish mission through the Alps and into Italy. Author of a monastic rule and a penitential. Noted for his austerity of life, his missionary energy, and his role in the development of individual reconciliation.
Ss Andrew Dung Lac and companions, Martyrs
Andrew (1795-1839), baptised at the age of fifteen, worked first as a lay missionary and then as a diocesan presbyter before being beheaded at Hanoi (Vietnam). Listed among 117 canonised martyrs who died in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862:ninety-six Vietnamese, eleven Spanish Dominicans, and ten presbyters from the Paris Foreign Mission Society. Honoured as representatives of the thousands of Christians tortured and martyred in Vietnam between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries:bishops, presbyters, religious, and lay people, both children and adults.
St Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin, Martyr
She died in Alexandria (Egypt) perhaps in the early 4th century. Nothing is known about her. The famous tenth-century legend depicts her as a well-educated noblewoman, confronting the Emperor, confounding the philosophers in debate, and collapsing the wheel upon which she was to be executed. Honoured as a heroine of the Middle Ages.
St Colman, Bishop
Colman mac Lenine was born around 530 probably in West Cork. A bard by profession, he is reputed to have been influenced by Brendan to become a priest. The main field of his apostolate was east Cork, where his chief foundation was in Cloyne. He died in 606.
St Fergal, bishop and missionary
Fergal (Virgil) lived first in France and then in Bavaria, where he founded the monastery of Chiemsee. He was appointed bishop of Salzburg around 754 and died in 784 leaving a reputation for learning and holiness.
St Andrew, Apostle
Born at Bethsaida (Galilee). A fisherman and perhaps a disciple of John the Baptist. Introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus and became one of the first to follow Christ. Mentioned a number of times in the gospels, for example, in introducing some Gentiles to Jesus (John 12:20ff.). Widely venerated since ancient times and remembered as one of the twelve who bore witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.