Saints of the month and feast days
Saints and Feast days in Febuary
St Brigid, Abbess
Brigid is renowned for her hospitality, almsgiving and care of the sick. When she was a young girl her father wished to make a very suitable marriage for her but she insisted on consecrating her virginity to God. She received the veil and spiritual formation probably from Mel. Others followed her example and this led her to found a double monastery in Kildare with the assistance of Bishop Conleth. She died in 524 and her cult is widespread not only throughout Ireland but in a number of continental European lands.
Presentation of the Lord
Forty days ago we celebrated the joyful feast of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we recall the holy day on which he was presented in the temple, fulfilling the law of Moses and at the same time going to meet his faithful people. Led by the Spirit, Simeon and Anna came to the temple, recognised Christ as their Lord, and proclaimed him with joy. United by the Spirit, may we now go to the house of God to welcome Christ the Lord.
St Blaise, Bishop & Martyr
Died in the early fourth century, believed to have been martyred during the persecution of the emperor Licinius. Bishop in Armenia, known as a healer, venerated since the eighth century and specially invoked to intercede for protection against diseases of the throat.
St Ansgar, Bishop
Born at Amiens (France) in 801; died on this day at Bremen (Germany) in 865. A monk and then a bishop in north Germany, eloquent in his preaching and austere in his lifestyle. Noted for opposing slavery and for persevering in his evangelisation of Denmark and Sweden in the face of major setbacks.
St Agatha, Virgin, Martyr
Agatha died in Sicily, perhaps during the persecutions of the third century. Venerated in Rome as a virgin martyr on this day since the sixth century and included by name in Eucharistic Prayer I (The Roman Canon). Noted in legend for her faith and for remaining resolute under torture.
Ss Paul Miki and companions, Martyrs
They died on 5 February 1597, a group of twenty-six martyrs crucified at Nagasaki (Japan). Most were Japanese and most were laypeople, some still youths. The first of many martyrs in a young Church. Paul Miki, aged thirty-five years at his death, was a Jesuit scholastic from an aristocratic Japanese family. Paul Miki was a notable preacher who inspired the local Church in his own time and in the centuries that followed to be strong in faith during persecution.
St Jerome Emiliani, Priest
Born in Venice (Italy) in 1486; died of the plague on this day in 1537 near Bergamo. An army officer who, after imprisonment, began a new life of service among the sick and destitute. Noted for his care and education of orphaned and homeless children, a ministry continued by the Somaschi, an order of clergy which he founded.
St Josephine Bakhita, Religious
Born in 1869 at Oglassa (Sudan); died on this day in 1947 at Schio (Italy). Kidnapped by slave traders at the age of 9 and treated cruelly, she was eventually acquired by the Italian consul and taken to Italy. Baptised Josephine in 1890, she joined the Canossan sisters several years later. ‘Mother Moretta’ (our black mother) is remembered for her gentle good nature, humble faith, and gospel charity towards the poor and suffering.
St Scholastica, Virgin
Born at Norcia (Italy) about 480; died near Monte Cassino in the 540s. Like Saint Benedict, her brother and twin, she dedicated herself to God through the monastic life. Noted for her part in establishing Benedictine monasticism.
Our Lady of Lourdes
Observed since 1907, this memorial celebrates the immaculate Virgin Mary as honoured in Lourdes (France). This site of apparitions to the young Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 has become a focus of devotion to Mary. It is a place of prayer and pilgrimage, of conversion and healing for Christians from every land.
Ss Cyril and Methodius, Missionaries
Cyril: A monk who was born about 826 in Thessalonica (Greece); died at Rome in 869.
Methodius (his brother) : Born about 815; died in Velehrad (Czech Republic) in 885. With papal approval they preached the gospel in Moravia using their own translations of the Scriptures and the liturgy in the local language. These translations into Slavonic were based on an alphabet they invented, now called Cyrillic. The success of their preaching aroused jealous Frankish opposition. Honoured as apostles of the Slavic peoples, for their contribution to Slavic culture, their missionary inculturation of the Christian faith, and for establishing links between East and West.
St Fintan, Abbot
Fintan was born in Leinster. He received his religious formation in Terryglass, County Tipperary under the abbot Colum, and was deeply influenced by his penitential practices and the severity of the Rule. Fintan made his own foundation in Clonenagh, County Laois. He died in 603.
Seven Founders of the Order of Servites, Religious
In 1233 these prominent businessmen from Florence (Italy) withdrew to a life of solitude, prayer, and penance. They developed into an order of mendicant friars (Servants of Mary). Noted for their radical response to the demands of the gospel.
St Peter Damian, Bishop, Doctor of the Church
Born in Ravenna (Italy) in 1007; died on 22 February 1072. Became a hermit monk after a career as a professor. Ardent, energetic, and strict, an outspoken reformer of Church life and discipline. Appointed cardinal-bishop of Ostia, he became a diplomat and ecclesiastical statesman, a scholarly reformer devoted to Christ.
Chair of Peter
The chair (cathedra) of a bishop is a pre-eminent sign of his teaching authority and pastoral oversight of a local Church. This feast, observed in Rome since the fourth century, celebrates Peter, first among the apostles, as founder of the See of Rome and the focus of unity in the communion of one faith.
St Polycarp, Bishop, Martyr
Born about the year 69; died on this day about 155 at Smyrna (Turkey), where he had been the beloved and respected bishop. A disciple of Saint John the apostle, who wrote to the Philippians to strengthen their faith and to defend the Church against heresy. Noted for his fearless acknowledgment of Christ, and honoured as one of the apostolic fathers of the Church.
St Gabriel, Religious
Francesco Possenti, or Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (1838-1862) was an Italian from Assisi. Born to a well-off family, he gave up all career ambitions to join the Passionists as a clerical student. Though his life in the monastery was humdrum, he was notable for his devotion to the sorrows of Mary and the Passion of Jesus. He died aged 23 (tuberculosis) in Isola del Gran Sasso, in the province of Teramo. He was canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV, who declared him a patron saint of Catholic youth, and of students. In 1959, he was named patron of the Abruzzi region, where he spent the last two years of his life.