Saints of the month and feast days
Saints and Feast days in September
St Gregory the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church
Born about 540; died in Rome in 604. While prefect of Rome, he founded monasteries there and in Sicily and himself became a monk. Called to be a deacon of Rome by Benedict I, and then sent as papal legate to Constantinople. Elected pope in 590. Reorganised Church life and administration in a time of crisis, sponsored liturgical reform, and initiated the evangelisation of the English. Known also for his extensive writings on pastoral care, spirituality, and morals, and for his self-designation as “servant of the servants of God.”
St Mac Nissi, Bishop
Oengus Mac Nissi took his name from his mother Cnes or Ness. It is claimed that Patrick baptised him and taught him the psalms. He seems to be one of the early converts. He chose the district of Connor for his hermitage, but later became bishop of his clan. He died early in the sixth century.
Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary
This feast originated in Jerusalem about the sixth century, a development of the feast of the dedication of the church of Saint Anne, built in Jerusalem “where Mary was born.” Observed in Rome in the seventh century, it was later used to determine the date of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. Because of her importance in salvation history, Mary’s birthday is celebrated as well as those of her son Jesus the Lord, and of Saint John the Baptist (24 June).
St Peter Claver, Priest
Born at Verdú (Spain) in 1580; died in Cartagena (Colombia) on 8 September 1654. Jesuit who felt called to mission work in the New World. Sent to Colombia in 1610 and ordained a presbyter in 1616 in Cartagena, a major port of entry for slaves brought from Africa. For the next thirty-four years, in the face of opposition from slave owners, he met the slave ships with a band of helpers and interpreters and ministered to the physical and spiritual needs of the slaves, catechising and baptising thousands; died after suffering four years of debilitating illness. Peter called himself “the slave of the slaves” and is remembered for his total devotion to their needs and dignity.
St Ciaran, Abbot
Ciaran was born in Roscommon, probably in 512. His father Beoit was a carpenter. His mother Darerca came from Kerry. He was baptised and fostered by the deacon Diarmuid. He went to Clonard in 529. He also spent periods with Ninnid, Enda and Senan, and founded Inis Aingin on Lough Ree. In January 545 he came to Clonmacnois, where he founded a monastery which was to become one of the most renowned in Europe. He died at the age of 33 while the monastery was being built.
Holy Name of Mary
The commemoration began in Spain in 1513. The feast was extended to the entire Church following the defeat of Muslim armies at Vienna on this day in 1683 by a Polish army fighting under the name of Mary. By her name, Christians refer to the person of the Virgin Mary, mother of God and mother of the Church.
St Ailbe, Bishop
Ailbe is sometimes claimed as one of the pre-Patrician saints, but the annals note his death in 528. A tradition held that he went to Rome and was ordained bishop by the Pope. He founded the monastery of Emly which became very important in Munster. A ninth-century Rule bears his name.
St John Chrysostom, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Born in Antioch about 347; died in exile in Comana (Turkey) on 14 September 407. After some years as a hermit, he was a priest at Antioch, where his brilliant preaching and catechesis earned him the sobriquet “Chrysostom” (golden-mouthed). Appointed patriarch of Constantinople in 397. His reforms, preaching, and ascetic life led to opposition from court and clergy and eventual banishment. Noted for his simplicity of life, his care of the poor, the courage of his witness, and his effective preaching of the Scriptures.
Exaltation of the Cross
Originally this day commemorated the dedication of Constantine’s Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in the fourth century; after the celebration, the wood of the cross was venerated. The feast spread in the West after the recovery of the relics of the cross from Persia in the seventh century. A feast of the Lord, it celebrates the “lifting up” of the Son of Man on the cross, into glory, and the paradox of the cross as a sign of humiliation and death, yet the source of victory for all people.
Our Lady of Sorrows
This commemoration originated in the medieval devotion to the seven sorrows of Mary. Approved for the Servite order in the seventeenth century, it was extended to the whole Western Church in 1814 by Pius VII in thanksgiving for his release from captivity under Napoleon. In the light of Simeon’s prophecy about a sword piercing Mary’s soul (Luke 2:35), the feast celebrates Mary, first disciple and first to share in the pain and triumph of the cross.
Ss Cornelius(Pope, Martyr) and Cyprian (Bishop, Martyr)
Cornelius: Died in exile in Civitavecchia (Italy) in 253, two years after his election as bishop of Rome. Supported by Cyprian, he defended the power of the Church to reconcile those who had lapsed under persecution.
Cyprian: Born at the beginning of the third century; died in Carthage (Tunisia) on 14 September 258. A lawyer, teacher, and adult convert. Elected bishop of Carthage in 249 and led this Church in times of persecution. Took a moderate position on the reconciliation of the lapsed but, like other African bishops, demanded the rebaptism of heretics even though their baptism was recognised by the Church of Rome. Both remembered as compassionate pastors who developed the Church’s teaching and practice of reconciliation. Antagonists in theological debate, they were united in sharing the crown of martyrdom and are named together in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon).
St Robert Bellarmine, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Born in Tuscany (Italy) in 1542; died in Rome on this day in 1621. A Jesuit priest and professor of theology at Louvain and Rome. Became a cardinal and then archbishop of Capua (Italy). Returned to Rome three years later as a theological adviser to Paul V. An outstanding theologian, he expounded Church teaching in catechisms for the faithful and defended it comprehensively against Protestant positions. Noted for his dedication to the truth, his charity in disputation, and his austerity of life.
St Januarius, Bishop, Martyr
He died in the fierce persecution under emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century, said to have been martyred near Naples (Italy). Bishop of Benevento. Known since the Middle Ages by a relic of his blood which has been specially venerated in Naples. In this day’s Office of Readings, Saint Augustine (28 August) recalls that we are saved by the blood of Christ, and in this common redemption he sees the source of strength for the ministry of all believers.
Ss Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul Chong Hasang and companions, Martyrs
Andrew Kim Taegon was the first Korean presbyter and Paul Chong Hasang a catechist and lay apostle. After more than two centuries of lay leadership, the Church in Korea was subject to fierce persecutions between 1839 and 1867. This feast commemorates 103 of the numerous Korean martyrs, representatives from all walks of life:men and women, married and unmarried, the elderly, teenagers and children, missionary bishops and presbyters. Noted for their fearless witness in the face of torture and death.
St Matthew, Apostle
Matthew, also known as Levi, was a Jew who collected taxes for the Romans at Capernaum in Galilee. Here Jesus met him and called him to be an apostle (Luke 5:27-28). Venerated as the author of the gospel which highlights Jesus’ role as Messiah and underlines the presence of the kingdom of God in the Church.
Pio of Pietrelcina, Religious
Born on 25 May 1887 in Pietrelcina (Italy); died on this day in 1968 at San Giovanni Rotondo (Italy). Raised in a deeply religious rural home, Francesco Forgione became Padre Pio when he was ordained in the Capuchin order in 1910. A mystic who received the marks of the stigmata in 1918, a renowned holy man, and a charity worker who founded a hospital (the House for the Relief of Suffering). His ascetic life of pain led to special compassion for the suffering. Honoured as an extraordinary confessor and spiritual director.
St Eunan (Adomnan), Abbot
Eunan (Adomnan) was born in Donegal around 624 and died in 704. He became a monk in Iona and was chosen as abbot there in 679. In addition to overseeing the Columban monasteries, he left important writings, one of which is the Life of Colum Cille. He was known as a good and wise man, remarkably learned in Sacred Scripture.
St Finbarr, Bishop
Finbarr was born probably at Garranes near Bandon and died in the first quarter of the seventh century. He came to live at Loch Irce (Gougane Barra), but when disciples gathered round him he moved to Cork. The monastery which he founded there became a famous centre of learning.
Ss Cosmas and Damian, Martyrs
They died probably in Syria. Widely venerated as martyrs in the fifth and sixth centuries when basilicas were dedicated to them in Constantinople and Rome and when their names were included in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). Later legend identified them as twin brothers who practiced medicine without charge to their patients.
St Vincent de Paul, Priest
Born in Gascony (France) in 1581; died in Paris on this day in 1660. A parish priest who worked for the apostolic renewal of the clergy, founding the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists) for missionary work in rural areas and for the formation of clergy. Committed above all to the oppressed and disadvantaged, he founded the Daughters of Charity with Louise de Marillac to work with the needy.
St Wenceslaus, Martyr
Born about 907 in Bohemia (Czech Republic); died there about 929. Raised a Christian by his grandmother, ruled Bohemia with Christian principles, worked for the education of his people, and sought harmony with neighbouring Germanic peoples. Opposition to these policies led to his murder at the hands of his brother’s followers. Honoured as the earliest Slav saint for his selflessness in promoting the Christian faith.
Ss Lawrence Ruiz and companions, Martyrs
This commemoration marks the witness of sixteen among the many martyred in Nagasaki (Japan) between 1633 and 1637. They include Lawrence Ruiz, a Filipino husband and father, together with other associates of the Dominican order, Asians and Europeans, lay women and men, religious and presbyters. Honoured as courageous missionaries who sowed abundant seeds of the Christian faith in the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan and who remained fearless in the face of death.
Ss Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels
The cult of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael began in the East. In the West, this day first marked the dedication of a fifth century church of Saint Michael in Rome. This festival of Michaelmas came to be very popular and widely celebrated in medieval Europe. Raphael and Gabriel were added to the Roman calendar in the twentieth century, and the three are now celebrated together. In the Scriptures (for example, Revelation 12:7-9, Luke 1:26-38, Tobit 3:16-25), each of the three angels is named as a messenger of God, entrusted with special divine missions on earth.
St Jerome, Priest, Doctor of the Church
Born about 340 at Strido on the Adriatic coast; died in Bethlehem on this day in 420. Baptised in Rome while studying the classics, became a hermit in Syria for a time and was ordained a priest. Later retained as papal secretary by Saint Damasus (11 December). Began work on a new Latin translation of the Bible, known as the Vulgate. Finally settling in Bethlehem where he founded monasteries, he devoted himself to studying the Scriptures, writing, and teaching. Often irascible and intolerant, he is remembered for his asceticism and scholarship and, above all, for his incomparable service to the word of God.