Saints of the month and feast days
Saints and Feast days in August
St Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Alphonsus (1696-1787) from Marianella near Naples studied law and practiced as a lawyer until the age of 27, when he began studying for the priesthood. After ordination at the age of 30 he lived his first years as a priest working with the homeless youth of Naples. His preaching often succeeded in converting people who were alienated from their faith. In 1732 he founded the congregation of the Redemptorists, intended mainly to preach in the slums of cities and other poor places. Against his will, was made bishop of Palermo at the age of 66. He wrote many works on moral theology and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1871.
St Eusebius of Vercelli, Bishop
Born in Sardinia in the early fourth century; died at Vercelli (Italy) in 371. Educated in Rome, a lector in Vercelli, and then from 345 its first bishop. He was exiled by the emperor Constantius because of his opposition to Arianism, suffered many hardships, but was eventually restored to his diocese. Noted for his preaching, his doctrinal orthodoxy, and his defence of Saint Athanasius.
St Peter Julian Eymard, Priest, Religious
Born in La Mure d’ Isère (France) in 1811; died there on 1 August 1868. A presbyter of the diocese of Grenoble who joined the Society of Mary (Marists) in 1839. Founded the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament (Blessed Sacrament Fathers) in 1856, and in 1858, with Marguerite Guillot, the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament. Both congregations had as their special purpose promotion of perpetual exposition and adoration of the Eucharist. Noted for his lifelong devotion to Christ’s eucharistic presence and for promoting eucharistic adoration among the people.
St Dominic, Priest, Religious
Born at Calaruega (Spain) about 1170; died at Bologna (Italy) on 6 August 1221. An Augustinian canon noted for prayer, penance, and an exemplary life. In a time of violent crusades he sought the reconciliation of Albigensian heretics through instruction and prayer. Established the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) to revitalise the Church through study, teaching, preaching, and prayer. Honoured as a preacher, organiser, and patron of learning.
St John Vianney, Priest
Born near Lyons (France) in 1786; died at Ars on this day in 1859. Overcame various obstacles, including little education and lack of means, to be ordained a priest. Served in a remote parish as the Curé of Ars, where his sanctity attracted thousands of visitors. Noted for his preaching and confessional counsel and is honoured as a model for parish clergy.
Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major
This major stational church of the ancient Roman liturgy, erected in the fourth century, was rebuilt and dedicated by Sixtus III following the proclamation at the Council of Ephesus (431) of the doctrine of Mary, Mother of God. It is considered the oldest church dedicated to our Lady in the Western world.
The Transfiguration of Our Lord Jesus
This feast had its origin in the East in the fourth century as the commemoration of the dedication of the church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. It was observed in the West from the eighth century and extended to the entire Western Church in the fifteenth century. The feast celebrates the divine radiance shining in Christ’s human flesh and God’s glory shining forth in the lives of Christians.
Pope St Sixtus & Companions, Martyrs
They died on 6 August 258, martyred the year after his election as bishop of Rome during the persecution of the emperor Valerian. According to his contemporary, Saint Cyprian, he was “not so much killed as crowned, ” along with four deacons, while addressing a congregation. Honoured as one of the most popular Roman martyrs, and mentioned in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).
St Cajetan, Priest, Religious
Born at Vicenza (Italy) in 1480; died at Naples on this day in 1547. A distinguished theologian and lawyer before becoming a presbyter. Established confraternities of clergy and laity to work among the sick and the poor, and founded the Congregation of Clerks Regular (Theatines) to encourage reform among diocesan clergy.
St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Religious
Born in Melbourne (Australia) in 1842; died in Sydney on this day in 1909. Took the religious name Mary of the Cross. Responding to the isolation of colonial families, she pioneered a new form of religious life to provide education for their children. She and her sisters shared the life of the poor and the itinerant, offering special care to destitute women and children. Noted for her eagerness to discover God’s will in all things, for her charity in the face of calumny, and for her abiding trust in God’s providence.
St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin, Martyr
Born on 12 October 1891 in Wroclaw (Poland); died on this day in 1942 at Auschwitz/Oswiecim. Edith Stein, born of Jewish parents, became an outstanding philosopher, author and teacher, then discovered Christianity and Teresa of Avila, and so was baptised in 1922. Became a Discalced Carmelite, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross. When the Dutch bishops protested the Nazi persecution of the Jews, she was deported to Auschwitz along with all Dutch Catholics of Jewish extraction. Honoured as a victim of anti-Semitism, a scholar, contemplative and martyr for whom the cross is the key to spiritual understanding.
St Nathy of Achonry
Nathy is said to have been born in the barony of Leyny, Co. Sligo. He made a foundation in Achonry, where many students gathered to learn from him. He is buried in Achadh Cain.
St Felim of Kilmore
Felim was born in the sixth century in Breifne. He was a hermit near Kilmore, Co. Cavan, where he later founded a monastery. He is patron of Kilmore diocese.
St Lawrence, Deacon, Martyr
He died at Rome on this day in 258, four days after Saint Sixtus II, with whom he was closely associated. Honoured for his almsgiving. Became, after the apostles, the most celebrated martyr of the Church of Rome. His cult spread throughout the Church from the fourth century. Named in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon), and in five ancient Roman churches dedicated to him.
St Clare, Religious
Born at Assisi (Italy) in 1193 or 1194; died there on this day in 1253. From a well-to-do family, Clare embraced an evangelical way of life after hearing the preaching of Saint Francis of Assisi. Founded the order of the Poor Ladies, now the Poor Clares. Noted for her life of extreme poverty, austerity, contemplation, and charity.
St Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious
Born in Dijon (France) in 1572; died at Moulins on 13 December 1641. Married Baron Christophe de Chantal at the age of twenty, but after nine years was left a widow with four children. Her friendship with Saint Francis de Sales led to the establishment of the Congregation of the Visitation, which offered an alternative form of religious life for women, less severe in its ascetic discipline. Noted for her administrative ability and for her visits to the
St Muredach of Killala, Monk
Muredach is regarded as the founder of the church at Killala. He may also be the founder and patron of the monastery of Inishmurray off the north Sligo coast.
St Attracta of Achonry, Religious
Attracta lived in the sixth or seventh century. Local tradition remembers her amazing healing powers. Her convents were famous for hospitality and charity to the poor.
St Lelia of Thomond, Religious
Lelia (Liadain) had a church at Kileely, near Thomond Bridge. She is said to have been baptised by St Patrick.
Ss Pontian and Hippolytus, Martyrs
PONTIAN, Pope, and HIPPOLYTUS, Priest, died some time in the fourth century after mistreatment in exile and brought back to Rome for burial on this day. Honoured as seekers of the truth. Pontian: Bishop of his native Rome in 230 but exiled to Sardinia, where he abdicated the papacy during the persecution of the emperor Maximinus in 235. Hippolytus:A conservative theologian and presbyter who objected to the teaching of one pope and the election of the next and who, in 217, went into schism. Regarded as the author of the Apostolic Tradition, whose eucharistic prayer forms the basis of Eucharistic Prayer II in the Roman Missal.
St Fachtna of Roscarberry, Abbot
Fachtna (Fachanan) founder of the monastery of Ross Carbery (Ross Ailithir). He died around 600. His monastery became the principal monastery of west Cork and later had a famous Scripture school.
St Maximilian Kolbe
Priest, Martyr. Born near Lódz (Poland) in 1894; died at Auschwitz.Oswiecim on this day in 1941. A Conventual Franciscan priest. Used the printing press in Poland and in Japan to promote devotion to the Virgin Mary. Interned in Auschwitz in 1941, he endured hard labour and offered his life in place of a fellow prisoner who had a family. Condemned to death by starvation and finally killed by lethal injection. Noted for his energy and poverty, his compassionate ministry, and his self-sacrifice.
Assumption of Our Lady
This feast originated in Jerusalem before the fifth century as the “Falling-Asleep of the Mother of God.” It was adopted in Rome in the mid-seventh century and was renamed the “Assumption” in the next century. It celebrates Mary’s passing over, body and soul, from this world into the glory of her risen Son.
St Stephen of Hungary, King
Born in Hungary about 975; died at Szekesfehervar on 15 August 1038. As Duke of the Magyars, he established dioceses and monasteries and used state power to enforce Christianity. Crowned king of Hungary about 1000, with papal approval. Noted for making Christianity the religion of his nation and for his care for the poor and oppressed.
Our Lady of Knock
The story of Knock began on the 21st August 1879 when Our Lady, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. This miraculous apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. Knock is an internationally recognised Marian Shrine and was visited by St John Paul II, as part of his 1979 papal pilgrimage to Ireland. The date of the memorial is within the annual novena conducted at the Shrine.
St John Eudes, Priest
Born in Normandy (France) in 1601; died at Caen on this day in 1680. Originally an Oratorian, he was active in preaching missions and in caring for the sick. Founded the Congregation of Jesus and Mary (Eudists) which is dedicated to the formation of presbyters, and helped to begin a community of women religious (now known as the Sisters of the Good Shepherd) to care for wayward women. Noted also for his promotion of devotion to the Sacred Heart.
St Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot, Doctor of the Church
Born near Dijon (France) in 1090; died at Clairvaux on this day in 1153. Joined the impoverished, reformed abbey of Citeaux at the age of 21. Soon became the founder and abbot of Clairvaux and pioneered the reform and expansion of the Cistercian Order. A prolific writer on theology and spirituality, an eloquent preacher, and an adviser of popes and kings. Honoured as the most influential churchman of his age, for his inspirational leadership, and for his devotion to the humanity of Christ and to the Blessed Virgin.
St Pius X, Pope
Born Giuseppe Sarto at Riese (Italy) in 1835; died at Rome on 20 August 1914. Elected pope in 1903, after being bishop of Mantua and patriarch of Venice. In pursuit of his motto, “to renew all things in Christ”, he initiated reforms of the liturgy and of canon law and took stern measures against “modernist” trends in theology. His efforts to avert world war were frustrated. Noted for his poverty and for his promotion of liturgical participation, especially of frequent communion, to which he admitted young children.
The Queenship of Mary
This feast was established by Pius XII in 1955 and was celebrated on 31 May. Since 1969 it has been observed on 22 August to stress its relationship to the Assumption. Taken up into glory, Mary became queen of heaven and earth.
St Rose of Lima, Virgin, Mystic
Born at Lima (Peru) in 1586; died there on 24 August 1617. Chose not to marry, joined the Dominican Third Order and modelled herself on Saint Catherine of Siena. A recluse and mystic. Noted for her radiant love of God and for the severe penance and hardships she endured during serious illness. The first saint of the Americas to be canonised (1671).
St Eugene of Tyrone
Eugene (Eoghan) lived in the sixth century and was said to have been taken by pirates to Britain. On obtaining his freedom he went to study at Candida Casa. Returning to Ireland he made a foundation at Kilnamanagh in the Wicklow hills, but his principal foundation was at Ardstraw (Ard Sratha), Co. Tyrone.
St Bartholomew, Apostle
Named in the list of apostles and generally identified with Nathaniel of Cana, the “Israelite without guile” (John 1:47) who was led to Jesus by the apostle Philip (3 May). Said to have preached the gospel in India and in Armenia, where tradition indicates he was martyred.
St Louis of France, Confessor
Born at Poissy (France) in 1214; died near Tunis (Tunisia) on this day in 1270. As Louis IX, he was a devoted husband and the father of eleven children whom he helped to raise in the Christian faith. Regarded as a model Christian king at a time of high cultural achievement, but led two disastrous crusades, on the second of which he died of typhoid. Noted for his impartial justice, for his care of the poor and the sick, and for honouring his word.
St Joseph Calasanz (Calasanctius), Priest, Religious
Born in Aragon (Spain) in 1557; died at Rome on this day in 1648. A lawyer, theologian, and presbyter who gave away much of his family fortune and devoted himself to providing free education for poor children in Rome. Founded the Clerks Regular of the Christian Schools (Piarists) and suffered many trials in later life at the hands of jealous colleagues and Church authorities. Noted especially for his patience in the midst of suffering.
St Monica, Widow
Probably born at Tagaste (Algeria) about 331; died at Ostia (Italy) in 387. Before her marriage her faith bore fruit in her recovery from a drinking problem and later helped bring her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Undertook many years of penance and prayer for her brilliant but wayward son Saint Augustine (28 August). Following his conversion and baptism in Milan, she died at the beginning of her journey home to Africa. Noted for her parental devotion, her patience, and her persistence in prayer.
St Augustine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Born at Tagaste (Algeria) in 354; died at Hippo (Tunisia) in 430. Though enrolled by his mother Monica as a catechumen, he renounced the Christian faith and espoused Manicheism. Taught in Carthage, Rome, and Milan. Lived for fifteen years with a woman who remains unknown and with whom he had a son, named Adeodatus. Baptised in 387, together with his son, after a long inner struggle and under the influence of Saint Ambrose (7 December) and the prayers of his mother, Saint Monica (27 August). Bishop of Hippo for thirty-four years. Lived a communal life with his clergy and served the many needs of his people at a time of political and cultural collapse. Honoured as a model pastor and as a preacher and writer whose thought has had an enduring influence in Christian history.
Beheading of John the Baptist
The execution of John the Baptist is recorded in the gospels (Matthew 14; Mark 6) and is placed by the historian Josephus at the fortress of Machaerus near the Dead Sea. As early as the fifth century, a commemoration of John the Baptist was kept on this day at Jerusalem. It probably marks the anniversary of the dedication of the basilica in his honour at Sebaste (Palestine) where, according to tradition, he was buried.
St Fiacre of Meaux, Hermit
Fiacre was an Irishman who went abroad to seek a hermitage. He passed through Normandy and eventually met Faro, who was a patron of Irish pilgrims at Meaux. Fiachre was given a hermitage near Breuil and there he stayed until his death around 670.
St Aidan of Lindisfarne, Abbot
Aidan was of Irish descent and was a monk of Iona. When Oswald, the exiled King of Northumbria who had fled for refuge to Iona, returned to his throne in 634, he invited Aidan to come to reconvert his people. Aidan made his headquarters at Lindisfarne. With the aid of the king as interpreter he was very successful in his mission. He died in 651.