Liturgical Year
Part 5 Saints

Chapter y53 Celebrations by Month













Spirituality of the Season


January Third Monday Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 9 Josemaria Escriva

Opus Dei Founder born on Jan. 9, 1902.  Special centennial editions of St. Josemaria's works were issued by various publishers. His published writings came online at:


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February 3 Blase

Through the intercession of St. Blase, Bishop and Martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

February 14 Cyril, monk, and Methodius, bishop (Universal memorial)

Cyril, a monk, died at Rome on February 14, 869, an his brother, the bishop Methodius, at Valehrad, Czechoslovakia, on April 6, about 885.  In 1880 the Roman calendar assigned their feast to July 5, within the octave of Peter and Paul; but in 1897, when the feast of St. Anthony Zaccaria was assigned to July 5, theirs was transferred to July 7.   According to the principles of the current calendar [feast day = birth into eternal life] their memorial was moved to February 14.    The memorial of Valentine, although very ancient, is left to particular calendars since little is known concerning him except his name and the fact that he was buried on the Flaminian Way on February 14.  (Msgr. Jounel, class notes ISL 1972;  Roman Calendar, p 94, 119).

February 14 Valentine (Martyrology)

The custom of sending 'valentines' on February 14th has made St. Valentine one of the most popular names in the church and outside it; but there is no direct connection, not even by way of legend, between this saint and this custom. What appears to have happened is that that date was commonly supposed to be the one on which the birds begin to pair, hence young men and girls would formally choose each other then, or at least send each other greetings; as, in the church's calendar, the day was the feast of St. Valentine so the custom was, as it were, put under his protection.

What we know of St. Valentine is slight enough. He was apparently a priest; and he was beheaded in Rome on February 14, during the persecutions under the emperor known as Claudius the Goth, about the year 269.  He was buried on the Flaminian Way, and his tomb there became a center of considerable popular devotion. There is a complication in the fact that a second martyr, Valentine, a bishop, is also commemorated on the same date. He too is said to have been beheaded, but at Terni near Rome. Whether the traditional accounts have made two people out of one is a matter for discussion; it is certainly quite possible.  (Adapted from the Encyclopedia of the Lives of the Saints)

February 22 Chair of Peter (Feast)

"The feast of the chair of Peter on February 22 is attested to by the Depositio Martyrum (354)" [Roman Calendar, p 95)  Msgr. Pierre Jounel told us in class at ISL that in ancient Rome, February 22 was a day dedicated to the memory of deceased family members.  Christians began to recall on this day, not only their "blood" family members but their ancestors in the Faith, their Christian family -- First among these were Peter and Paul.  After the peace of Constantine (313) June 29 became the major annual feast of the two Apostles.  February 22 then became the feast of the "Chair of Peter" -- the memory of the Galilean fisherman who became chief shepherd of the Church.

The Gospel (Matthew 16:13-19) recalls "Tu es petrus."  "I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church..."    Regarding this passage, the Jesus Seminar, in The Five Gospels, (p 207) states: 

"Who am I? This is a stylized scene shaped by Christian motifs that Matthew has borrowed from Mark and elaborated. Jesus rarely initiates dialogue or refers to himself in the first person.

"Similar episodes in Thom 13:1-8 and John 1:35-42; 6:66-69; 11:25-27 indicate how readily the primitive Christian community created scenes like this. What is memorable in each of these scenes is the confessional statement of the disciple, not the words of Jesus. The disciple's statement of faith becomes a model for others (compare John 6:68; 11:27). Both the story and the words of Jesus are the creations of the storyteller in later Christian circles.

"The additions Matthew has made to this account are found solely in Matthew. The commendation of Peter is a construction of Matthew, in the judgment of most Fellows. As Matthew sees it, Peter could not have known who Jesus really was apart from direct revelation (v. 17). The play on Peter's name (petra in Greek means 'rock') makes him the foundation on which the congregation is built (v. 18): this undoubtedly reflects Peter's position in Matthew's branch of the emerging Christian movement. Peter's assignment is confirmed by v. 19. All of this is Christian language and reflects conditions in the budding institution.  The Fellows designated the words attributed to Jesus black by common consent."  (
The Five Gospels, p 207)


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March 3 Beata Catharina Maria Drexel (Optional)

See Notitiae, Number 269 (December 1988) pp 947-949

March 12 Rutilio Grande

March 24 Archbishop Oscar Romero


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April 9 Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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June 24 Birth of John the Baptist, Solemnity

"The celebration of the solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist on June 24 was already a tradition by the time of St. Augustine." (Roman Calendar:  Text and Commentary, p 100)


June 29 Peter and Paul, Solemnity

"Following a practice which dated from about 258, the Depositio Martyrum places the solemnity of these apostles on June 29." (Roman Calendar:  Text and Commentary, p 101)

“The two pillars of the Church, each of whom has its own basilica at Rome, have always been celebrated together by the Church of Rome. The Philocalian Calendar and the Hieronymiam Martyrology (June 29) show that a feast was being celebrated at Rome as early as the middle of the fourth century. These two documents announce the feast and tell us that it was celebrated successively at St. Peter’s on the Via Aurelia (a liturgy in honor of St. Peter), at the catacombs on the Via Appia (a liturgy in honor of both Apostles), and at St. Paul’s on the Via Ostiensis (a liturgy in honor of St. Paul). A fifth-century hymn confirms the fact of this triple liturgical celebration on the one day.” (Adrian Nocent, The Liturgical Year, original addition, Vol. 4, p 401)

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July 22 Saint Mary Magdalen  -- On June 3, 2016, Pope Francis elevated the July 22 memorial observance of St. Mary Magdalene to the rank of feast. “Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship, wrote in an article explaining the change’s significance, according to Catholic News Service.

While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.

Roche wrote: “It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church."

Rosemary Radford Ruether wrote in a 2001 article in NCR that “for the first five centuries no writer misinterpreted Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. Rather she was seen as a leading disciple and image of the church.” ... “It is only at the end of the sixth century that Pope Gregory I confuses the sinful woman of Luke 7 and Mary Magdalene in Luke 8 and identifies her as a repentant prostitute, whose former sinfulness is contrasted with that of the Virgin Mary. But there is no evidence that he makes this mistake in order to remove her as a ‘role model’ for women’s ministry.”

July 26 Saints Joachim and Ann, parents of Mary, grandparents of Jesus

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August 9 St. Theresa-Benedict of the Cross (Edith Stein)

Two successive names: Edith Stein and Theresa-Benedict of the Cross. One life that of a German Jew who became Christian and then a Carmelite nun, before dying in a gas chamber at Auschwitz-Birkenau thus could one sum up her life.

Born in Breslau in 1891. Edith, as a child, looked for the coming of the messiah, together with other Jews. But in her adolescence, she was not long in laying aside this belief and putting on the atheism of the time, without forgetting for a moment, her membership in the chosen people. She soon revealed an exceptional aptitude for speculative philosophy and she became the assistant to the prestigious master of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl. It was at a chance lecture when she was 30 years old on the autobiography of Saint Theresa of Avila that caused a change in her life and she exchanged the wisdom of the wise for that of Christ (1922). Ten years later, she became in the Carmel in Cologne, Sister Theresa-Benedict of the Cross. Her name as a nun is a resume of her destiny: the cross will be her blessing. When she took refuge in the Carmel in Holland, she was arrested along with thousands of her Jewish brothers and sisters in August 1942. Humble Christian sheep in a troop led to the slaughter (cf. Ps 43, 12), she became identified with the suffering servant attached to the cross of Jesus.

Pope John Paul II canonized her in 1998 and proclaimed her co-patron of Europe the following year.  [Written by Pierre Jounel]

August 13 Cassian of Imola

A Christian schoolmaster, he was probably the first, but certainly not the last member of that profession to be martyred by his pupils. John Coulson (editor). The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary, New York: Hawthorn Books, 1958, p 104.

August 14 St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, priest and martyr Memorial

August 28 Beatus Juniperus Serra (Optional)

See Notitiae, Number 269 (December 1988) pp 927-929

August 29 Beheading of John the Baptist, Memorial

"As early as the fifth century the commemoration of John the Baptist was observed at Jerusalem on August 29.  This was probably the anniversary of the dedication of the Basilica in honor of the Precursor of the Lord at Sebaste, Palestine.  In the sixth and seventh centuries this feast spread throughout the East and the West and came to be known as the passion or the beheading of John the Baptist." (Roman Calendar:  Text and Commentary, p 106) The title for this feast is found in the Gelasian Sacramentary. (Roman Calendar:  Text and Commentary, p 135)  

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September 18 Dag Hammarskjöld

September 20 Sts. Andrew Kim Taegon, priest and Paul Chong Hasang, and companions, martyrs, Memorial

September 28 St. Lawrence Ruiz and companions, martyrs (Optional)

See BCL Newsletter April 1988, page 13.


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October 2 Guardian Angels, Memorial

"In the sixteenth century the feast of the Guardian Angels was granted to several churches by indult, and in 1615 it was placed in the Roman calendar on October 2."  (Jounel)  "Celebrated already in 800 in England, It became a feast for the universal Church in 1608."  (Zenit)


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November 1 All Saints Day


 From the fourth century on, the Eastern Churches have commemorated all the martyrs on one day, either during the Easter season (Syrian rite) or immediately after Pentecost (Byzantine rite). At the end of the eighth century, a solemn observance of all the saints was celebrated in Celtic areas and among the Franks. Rome adopted this feast in the ninth century. The Roman Calendar p 110: See also  John Gurrieri's book on the Holy Days in the USA

Pope Bonifatius in 610 dedicated the Pantheon in Rome to Mary and all the Martyrs.

Gregory IV in 835 changed the feast to November 1.

Louisiana -- legal holiday.


November 3 Martin de Porres

Martin died at Lima, Peru, on November 3, 1639, and was canonized in 1962.  His veneration is popular throughout the Americas.  (Roman Calendar)

November 3 Hubert

"Legend makes Hubert, like St Eustace, a huntsman converted by a stag that turned and, with a cross between its antlers, bade him mend his ways or end in Hell.  What we do know for certain is that Hubert was bishop of Tongres-Maastricht-Liege from  705 to 727 and worked hard to convert eastern Belgium, most of which was covered in forest and still pagan."  (The Saints--A Concise Biographical Dictionary, New York:  Hawthorn Books, INC. 1958, edited by John Coulson, p. 223)

O dear Lord, please bless these hounds,
who bellow and bark annoying sounds
as creatures of yours they run and play
while we poor humans work all day
Give us the gift Lord, to be like them
and know what is good in life, AMEN
[Bad blessing poem from Jill Maria]

Ah yes, dear reader. These moments do exist, linked incredibly enough to St. Hubert, who was out fox hunting on Good Friday (a big faux pas), came to his senses, and gave up hunting for higher pursuits. Properly, it is not a blessing of the hounds, but of the hunt, since the hounds, riders, horses and alas, the poor doomed fox, are all blessed. We have it here in Massachusetts at the Myopia Hunt Club, but it is not a Catholic Rite, since Catholics are only allowed on the property to mow the lawn. You can read all about it for yourself, with pictures to prove it:…g_of_the_hounds.htm</A
[used without permission from an list serve posting by J F]

November 16 Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador and their companions

November 17 Sancta Philippina Ducesne, virginis (Optional)

See Notitiae, Number 269 (December 1988) pp 962-963

November 24 Sts. Andre Dung-Lac, priest and companions, martyrs Memorial

See Notitiae 298 (Maio 1991-5) pp 233-234.

November 29 Dorothy Day

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December 2 Four Women Martyrs of El Salvador -- Maura Clark, Jean Donovan, Ita Ford, and Dorothy Kazel


Faustina Kowalska -- Not yet canonized -- Beloved by Karol Wojtyla

The story of St. Faustina Kowalska is simple enough. (From an article in the National Catholic Reporter, August 30, 2002, by John L. Allen Jr.) Born in 1905 into a Polish farm family, she had only three years of schooling before she began work as a domestic. She began to ask about being a nun at 14, but her parents were opposed. At 18 she entered the Sisters of Our Lady of Divine Mercy. To all outward appearances she led a quiet life, working as a cook, gardener and porter. Frequently ill, she died of tuberculosis in 1938.

Inside, however, she was living a dramatic spiritual adventure centering on frequent, sometimes daily, appearances of Jesus, Mary and saints. Jesus spoke to her about all manner of things (once reassuring her that she would have a single room when she had to go to the hospital), but the focal point was always mercy -- God's desire to give it, humanity's need for it, and the methods by which it could be obtained.

Although Faustina's diary is the only mystical text composed in Polish, it might have ended up in the ashbin of history had it not been for Karol Wojtyla, later to become Pope John Paul II.

In 1959, the Holy Office (the Vatican's doctrinal agency, today known as the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith) issued a cease and desist order against Faustina's diary and the devotion to Divine Mercy, a ban that was to last almost 20 years, until 1978. Wojtyla had long been working to reverse the verdict, having launched the beatification process for Faustina in 1965 while he was archbishop of Krakow.

Officially, the 20-year ban is now attributed to misunderstandings created by a faulty Italian translation of the Diary, but in fact there were serious theological reservations -- Faustina's claim that Jesus had promised a complete remission of sin for certain devotional acts that only the sacraments can offer, for example, or what Vatican evaluators felt to be an excessive focus on Faustina herself. John Paul has pushed no devotion further or faster. His second encyclical, 1980's Dives in Misericordia, was inspired by Faustina. He beatified her in 1993, and canonized her in April 2000 as the first saint of the third Christian millennium. He approved a special Divine Mercy Mass for the Sunday after Easter in 1994, and celebrated it himself in St. Peter's Square before a crowd of 200,000 in April 2001. He assigned the Church of the Holy Spirit in Sassia in Rome as a headquarters for the Divine Mercy movement in 1994, and just this month approved a special indulgence for taking part in Divine Mercy Sunday.

Some critics say the content of Faustina's message of divine mercy is unoriginal, even banal. But Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, John Paul's successor as archbishop of Krakow, said in response to an NCR question Aug. 18 that Faustina "reminds us of the gospel we had forgotten."

Macharski added that Vatican disapproval was never "absolutely negative," but merely a "warning" to use caution. He said it was Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of the Holy Office, who gave a green light for a sainthood investigation in the 1960s so testimony could be collected while witnesses were still alive. He did so despite his own office's doubts. Macharski added that in the end it was Paul VI, not John Paul II, who reversed the ban on Faustina's work in 1978.


9 de Diciembre SAN JUAN DIEGO

Memoria obligatoria Del común de santos  Oración colecta

Dios nuestro,
que por medio de San Juan Diego quisiste manifestar a tu pueblo
el amor de Santa María de Guadalupe,
concédenos por su intercesión,
que, dóciles al consejo de nuestra Madre,
nos esforcemos en cumplir siempre tu voluntad.
Por nuestro Señor Jesucristo, tu Hijo,
que vive y reina contigo en la unidad del Espíritu Santo
y es Dios, por los siglos de los siglos.


Our God,
who by means of Saint Juan Diego wished to manifest to your people
the love of Holy Mary of Guadalupe,
grant us through his intercession,
that, docile to the counsel of our Mother,
we may attempt to fulfill always your will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
and is God, forever and ever.

The collect for today states ". . . by following the counsels our Mother gave at Guadalupe. . .".


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Spirituality of the Season

[Reprinted from: Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M. "Spirituality of the Seasons: Death to Birth," St. Anthony Messenger, 103:6 (November, 1995) p 57.]

As we approach the end of the calendar year -- and the end of this series -- we look to the end of our life and consider the spirituality of that season. The end of our lives, death, is probably not your favorite season! Nor is November many people's favorite month. November can be a bleak, gray time. Nature seems to be dying. The days are shorter. It is turning cold. It can be a time of depression and discouragement. But the Church Year celebrates three feasts during November -- All Saints, All Souls, and Christ the King -- which can turn this gray to gold.

The Second Vatican Council realized that death is surrounded by many questions. "It is in regard to death that our human condition is most shrouded in doubt. We are tormented not only by pain and by the gradual breaking-up of our bodies but also, and even more, by the dread of forever ceasing to be." (Church in the Modern World, #18)

As we grow older, it seems as though each day we experience more of our body's physical limitations. A new ache, a new pain. We remember the glory days when we were 24 or 28 or 32 and were so much stronger and energetic. Is our life journey simply this: we are born, grow stronger for a few brief years, and then the rest of our lives we are in decline?

We know this is not the whole picture. We are much more than our physical bodies. We are persons, body, soul, and spirit. We are every experience we have had, every decision we have made, every memory we hold dear, every person we have ever encountered. As we age, we grow not weaker, but incredibly richer in experience and relationships. True, there are things that my body can no longer do -- run as fast, jump as high, or stay up as late -- but in order to be a whole person, in order to have peace (shalom = wholeness) I must let go of these things.

Letting go of things can be difficult if most of our lives have been spent acquiring things. It seems as though most of our lives are spent acquiring things: knowledge and skills, cars and houses. Yet, it is not the acquisition of these "things" that prepares me for eternal life. Rather it is letting these things go so that I can acquire the attitude of Christ. This is the Christian's life task: "Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus. Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself..., becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:5-8)

Paradox lies at the very heart of Christian spirituality. In letting go of everything, we acquire all. Loss is gain. Death is birth. With St. Therese we can say: "I am not dying; I am entering life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1011, quoting St. Therese of Lisieux, The Last Conversations). The Order of Christian Funeral states: "The proclamation of Jesus Christ 'who was put to death for our sins and raised to life to justify us' (Romans 4:25) is at the center of the Church's life. The mystery of the Lord's death and resurrection gives power to all of the Church's activity." (OCF, 2)

It is this paradox which is celebrated on the feasts of All Saints, All Souls, and Christ the King.

All Saints -- As early as the fourth century the Church has celebrated a feast commemorating all the martyrs and saints. In the Gospel proclaimed on November 1, Jesus says to the crowd: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3) The Saints are those who leave all to acquire Christ; becoming poor, they posses eternal life. The feast of All Saints reminds us of our task to put aside whatever separates us from the love of God so that we, together with the Saints, may possess what is truly valuable.

All Souls -- In 990 C.E. Saint Odilo of the Benedictine monastery at Cluny instituted a feast remembering All Souls on the day following the solemnity of All Saints. The "Church intercedes on behalf of the deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end nor does it break the bonds forged in life." (OCF, 4) "The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church (cf. Thess. 4:13-14): 'Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.'" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1012 quoting Roman Missal, Preface of Christian Death I) During the month of November as we pray for those who have died we are reminded that we too have already died. "What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already 'died with Christ' sacramentally, in order to live a new life." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1010)

Christ the King --This feast was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925. Often, in the midst of this world's chaos and questions, we ask "Who is in charge here?" The Feast of Christ the King proclaims that Christ is in charge. Christ reigns as King over all that exists. Yet, again the paradox: his throne is not of gold and silver; he reigns from a cross.

Christ does not embark on this final journey to his kingdom weighed down with suitcases and trunks containing the possessions and acquisitions of his earthly life. Rather, he enters his kingdom naked and helpless, nailed to a cross, surrounded by criminals.

If ever there was optimism in the face of a gray day, hear the words of the criminal who asks "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." (Luke 23:42) He asks for a remembering that is not merely the recalling of a past event, but an effective remembering, a remembering that makes present. "Lord, let me be present with you when you come into your kingdom." It is the effective remembering that we do at Eucharist when we "Do this in memory of me" and experience already here on earth, the banquet of heaven.

This optimism in the face of death roots the spirituality of this season. "In the face of death, the Church confidently proclaims that God has created each person for eternal life and that Jesus, the Son of God, by his death and resurrection, has broken the chains of sin and death that bound humanity." (OCF, 1)

Again, the paradox of letting go and receiving all. Christ emptied himself and was nailed to a cross. "Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name." (Philippians 2:9) The Paschal Victory is the icon of our life. All of life is a practice for death -- the great letting go.

It's never too late or too early to begin. What are the things in your life that you need to let go of: prejudices, relationships, sins, ideas? We should start letting go now so that death will find us already poor. Then death will not be a great leap into the unknown but simply one more gentle step into the loving embrace of God.

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 06/05/07 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at