St. Herbert

Not much is known about the life of St. Herbert, other than he was a Hermit of England and a good friend of St. Cuthbert. Herbert was a priest, and lived as a recluse on an island in Lake Derwentwater, England which later became St. Herbert’s in his honor. Herbert had asked to die on the same day as his dear friend St. Cuthbert, and God granted Him the fulfillment of that desire.

St. Joseph

St. Joseph is honored with feast days throughout the Liturgical Year.  This feast encourages us to look at Joseph’s role as husband and head of the Holy Family.Most of what we know about the life of St. Joseph comes to us from Scripture and legends that have sprung up regarding his life. Though Joseph is only mentioned by two of the evangelists, he is paid the compliment of being a “just” man. This is a way of saying that Joseph was such a good and holy man that he shares in God’s own holiness. In addition, Joseph gives us an example of how to be a just spouse and how to have holy relationships.Joseph’s example as a husband can be best seen in how he respected Mary. He realized that God had a special plan for his wife and for his son, and Joseph did everything in his power to help this plan become reality. When Joseph was given chances to give up his vocation to the married life, by divorcing Mary or leaving her, he resisted the temptation and stayed by her side providing support and love.The feast of St. Joseph Husband of Mary has been celebrated throughout the church since the tenth century and has been honored as the Patron of the Universal Church since 1870. St. Joseph is the patron of workers, carpenters, Austria, Belgium, Bohemia, Canada, Mexico, Peru, and southern Vietnam.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

On March 18, the Roman Catholic Church honors St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century bishop and Doctor of the Church whose writings are still regarded as masterful expressions of Christian faith. St. Cyril is also remembered for his exhaustive Biblical knowledge, and his endurance in the face of misunderstanding and opposition. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, who likewise celebrate him as a saint on March 18, also remember him on May 7 – the date of a miraculous apparition said to have occurred soon after his consecration as a bishop.What we know of Cyril’s life is gathered from information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret. Cyril was most likely born in Jerusalem around the year 315, shortly after the legalization of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. Although that legalization put a stop to many of the persecutions that threatened the Church for two centuries, it indirectly gave rise to a number of internal controversies – both in regard to theology, and the jurisdiction of bishops – in which Cyril would find himself involved. Cyril received an excellent education in classical Greek literature as well as the Bible. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem, and succeeded him as bishop in 348. During his early years as a bishop, most likely around 350, he delivered a series of lectures to new initiates of the Catholic Church. Twenty-four of the lectures have survived and are studied today. In a 2007 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI praised the saint for providing an “integralâ€� form of Christian instruction, “involving body, soul, and spirit.â€� St. Cyril’s teaching, the Pope said, “remains emblematic for the catechetical formation of Christians today.In 351, three years after Cyril became the Bishop of Jerusalem, a large cross-shaped light appeared for several hours in the sky over the city – an event that many interpreted as a sign of the Church’s triumph over heresy. It could also, however, be understood as a sign of the suffering the new bishop would undergo in leading his flock. Unlike many other Eastern bishops and priests of the fourth century, Cyril did not allow his classical learning to lead him away from believing in the full humanity and divinity of Christ. However, the man who consecrated Cyril as a bishop, Archbishop Acacius of Caesarea, was an ally of the Arians – who claimed that Jesus was a creature and not God. Because of his connection to the archbishop, Cyril himself was unjustly suspected of heresy by many of his brother bishops. But he also found himself at odds with Archbishop Acacius, who claimed to have jurisdiction over the birthplace of the Church. Altogether, these disputes led to Cyril being exiled from Jerusalem three times in the course of 20 years.  Cyril first took refuge with Silvanus, Bishop of Taraus. He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the semi-Arian party was triumphant. Acacius was deposed and St. Cyril seems to have returned to his see. But the emperor was displeased at the turn of events, and, in 360, Cyril and other moderates were again driven out, and only returned at the accession of Julian in 361. In 367, a decree of Valens banished all the bishops who had been restored by Julian, and Cyril remained in exile until the death of the persecutor in 378. In 380, St. Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem on the recommendation of a council held at Antioch in the preceding year. He found the Faith in accord with the truth and expressed admiration of his pastoral efforst, but the city was a prey to parties and corrupt in morals. In 381, St. Cyril participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, which condemned two different forms of Arianism and added statements about the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed of 325. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died in 387, and was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883.

St. Patrick of Ireland

On March 17 Catholics will celebrate St. Patrick, the fifth century bishop and patron of Ireland, whose life of holiness set the example for many of the Church’s future saints. St. Patrick is said to have been born around 389 AD in Britain. Captured by Irish raiders when he was about 16, St. Patrick was taken as a slave to Ireland where he lived for six years as a shepherd before escaping and returning to his home. At home, he studied the Christian faith at monastic settlements in Italy and and what is now modern-day France. He was ordained a deacon by the Bishop of Auxerre, France around the year 418 AD and ordained a bishop in 432 AD. It was around this time when that he was assigned to minister to the small, Christian communities in Ireland who lacked a central authority and were isolated from one another. When St. Patrick returned to Ireland, he was able to use his knowledge of Irish culture that he gained during his years of captivity. Using the traditions and symbols of the Celtic people, he explained Christianity in a way that made sense to the Irish and was thus very successful in converting the natives. The shamrock, which St. Patrick used to explain the Holy Trinity, is a symbol that has become synonymous with Irish Catholic culture. Although St. Patrick’s Day is widely known and celebrated every March the world over, various folklore and legend that surround the saint can make it difficult to determine fact from fiction. He is often mistakenly recognized as the man who drove away snakes during his ministry despite the climate and location of Ireland, which have never allowed snakes to inhabit the area. St. Patrick is most revered not for what he drove away from Ireland, but what brought and the foundation he built for the generations of Christians who followed him.Although not the first missionary to the country, he is widely regarded as the most successful. The life of sacrifice, prayer and fasting has laid the foundation for the many saints that the small island was home to following his missionary work.To this day, he continues to be revered as one of the most beloved saints of Ireland. In March of 2011, the Irish bishops’ conference marked their patron’s feast by remembering him as “pioneer in an inhospitable climate.â€�As the Church in Ireland faces her own recent difficulties following clerical sex abuse scandals, comfort can be found in the plight of St. Patrick, the bishops said. They quoted The Confession of St. Patrick, which reads: “May it never befall me to be separated by my God from his people whom he has won in this most remote land. I pray God that he gives me perseverance, and that he will deign that I should be a faithful witness for his sake right up to the time of my passing.â€�

St. Louise de Marillac

St. Louise de Marillac was born on August 15, 1591 near the town of Meux, France. Louise received an education from the Dominican convent at Poissy and eventually discerned that she was called to religious life. After consulting her confessor concerning her plans to enter the religious life, Louise decided not to pursue this vocation. Instead, in 1613, she married Antony LeGras.Antony died in 1625 and Louise again began to think about joining a religious community. Soon after the death of her husband, Louise met St. Vincent de Paul and began to use him as a spiritual director. With his encouragement and direction, Louise formed a group of women dedicated to serving the sick, the poor and the neglected. In 1642, Louise wrote the formal Rule for the Daughters of Charity and in 1655 they received formal approval from the Vatican. After forming the Rule for the Daughters of Charity, Louise traveled around France forming convents and instituting the Daughters as workers in hospitals, orphanages and other institutions dedicated to helping the neglected.Louise worked zealously until her death in Paris in the year 1660. She was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934 and was declared patroness of social workers in 1960.

St. Matilda

Matilda, Queen of Germany and wife of King Henry I was the daughter of Count Dietrich of Westphalia and Reinhild of Denmark. She was born about 895 and was raised by her grandmother, the Abbess of Eufurt convent. Matilda married Henry the Fowler, son of Duke Otto of Saxony, in the year 909. He succeeded his father as Duke in the year 912 and in 919 succeeded King Conrad I to the German throne. She was widowed in the year 936, and supported her son Henry’s claim to his father’s throne. When her son Otto (the Great) was elected, she persuaded him to name Henry Duke of Bavaria after he led an unsuccessful revolt.St Matilda was known for her considerable almsgiving. She was severely criticized by both Otto and Henry for what they considered her extravagant gifts to charities. As a result, she resigned her inheritance to her sons and retired to her country home.  She was later recalled to the court through the intercession of Otto’s wife, Edith. Matilda was welcomed back to the palace and her sons asked for her forgiveness. In her final years, she devoted herself to the building of many churches, convents and monasteries. She spent most of the declining years of her life at the convent at Nordhausen she had built. She died at the monastery at Quedlinburg on March 14 and was buried there with her late husband, Henry.

St. Roderick

Roderick, also known as Ruderic, was a priest in Cabra, Spain during the persecution of Christians by the Moors. Roderick had two brothers, one was a Muslim and the other, a fallen-away Catholic. One day, he tried to stop an argument between his two brothers. However, his brothers turned on him and as a result he was beaten into unconsciousness. The Muslim brother then paraded Roderick through the streets proclaiming that he wished to become a Muslim. His brother also told the authorities that Roderick had converted to Islam. When Roderic awoke, he renounced his brothers story and told the authorities of his loyalty to the Catholic faith. The authorities accused Roderick of apostacy under Sharia Law and he was imprisoned.While in prison, he met a man named Solomon, also charged with apostasy.After a long imprisonment, they were both beheaded.