Blessed are They

Monthly List

January 2023

St. Mary, Mother of God
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Born: n/a Died: n/a Feast: January 1 Patron saint of: all humanity Miriam was a young Jewish woman, most likely between the ages of 12 and 14, when she is first introduced in the gospels. Considering the short life expectancy and the fact that the ancient world was thoroughly patriarchal, it is not surpris , ...
J. R. R. Tolkien
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Born: January 3, 1892 Died: September 2, 1973 There are still many people who do not realize Tolkien was Catholic. They know him only as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. But this is because Tolkien seeks to work on us in more subtle ways. Tolkien in a letter dated December 2, , ...
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
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Born: August 28, 1774 Died: January 4, 1821 Feast day: January 4 Patron saint of: Catholic schools, seafarers, widows Poet Phyllis McGinley writes about an “American brand of holiness” when talking about saints in the 1950s and ’60s. I love this phrase: American brand. But what that means, exactly, ch , ...
St. John Neumann
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Born: March 28, 1811 Died:  January 5, 1860 Feast day: January 5 Patron saint of: Catholic education John Neumann immigrated to the United States from the present-day Czech Republic in 1836, and was ordained a priest shortly thereafter. Driven by a strong sense of ministerial zeal and a desire for com , ...
St. André Bessette
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Born: August 9, 1845 Died: January 6, 1937 Feast day: January 6 Patron saint of: family caregivers After being rejected from the University of Notre Dame my senior year of high school, I was determined to do whatever necessary to eventually transfer to my dream school. After spending a wonderful freshman y , ...
Pope Gregory XIII
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Born: January 7, 1502 Died: April 10, 1585 Born Ugo Boncompagni in the early 16th century in Northern Italy, Pope Gregory XIII was a scholar, professor of law, and trusted legal advisor to church leadership during the Council of Trent. He became a priest late in life and was eventually elected pope in 1572 follo , ...
St. Angela of Foligno
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Born: c. 1248 CE Died: January 4, 1309 CE Feast day: January 7 Patron saint of: widows St. Angela of Foligno was a well-off wife and mother in central Italy before she became one of the great medieval mystics of the late 13th century. In her early 40s, Angela had a spiritual awakening; shortly after, her m , ...
St. Gregory of Nyssa
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Born: c. 335 CE Died:  c. 395 CE Feast day: January 10 Patron saint of: N/A The town of Nyssa (which no longer exists) is famous primarily because it was the see of St. Gregory. As bishop of Nyssa (present day Cappadocia, Turkey), St. Gregory was famous for his orthodoxy and steadfast adherence to the gosp , ...
Abraham Heschel
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Born: January 11, 1907 Died: December 23, 1972 Born in 1907 in Warsaw, Poland, Heschel was the descendant of some of the most important rabbis of Eastern Europe. As early as age 4, he was recognized as having an intellect far beyond his years. Heschel’s first published work was a book of poetry in Yiddish, which , ...
Bl. Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung
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Born: January 31, 1895 Died: January 12, 1944 Feast day: January 12 Patron saint of: Thailand Bl. Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung was the first martyred priest in Thailand. Born in 1895 as one of six children in a Christian-converted family, Nicholas entered the seminary at age 13. Throughout his years as a pr , ...
Bl. Veronica of Milan
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Born: c. 1445 Died:  January 13, 1497 Feast day: January 13 Patron saint of: Binasco, Italy Veronica grew up in Binasco, a small village outside of Milan, where she grew up in a poor peasant family and tried unsuccessfully to teach herself to read. The miracle of her catechesis occurred through vision , ...
Bl. Peter Donders
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Born: October 27, 1809 Died: January 14, 1887 Feast Day: January 14 Patron saint of: Missionaries Born in Tilburg, Holland in 1089, Peter Donders always dreamed of being a priest. Working factory jobs to provide for his family, however, meant that Peter could not receive the necessary education. Wh , ...
Martin Luther King Jr.
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Born: January 15, 1929 Died: April 4, 1968 At Marquette University I teach a course on Martin Luther King’s ethics and faith. I face two obstacles when teaching about King. The first is that we are too acquainted with him. We know so much about him that we think there is little left for his life to teach us. The , ...
St. Joseph Vaz
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Born: April 21, 1651 Died:  January 16, 1711 Feast day: January 16 Patron saint of: N/A To say that St. Joseph Vaz was born in interesting times would be a vast understatement. Born in Portuguese-occupied India to a Catholic family, he spent his formative years studying philosophy and theology, and wa , ...
Bl. Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi
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Born: September 1903 Died:  January 20, 1964 Feast day: January 20 Patron saint of: Nigerian priests At a time when many of the Catholic clergy ministering on the continent of Africa were European missionaries, native Nigerian Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi felt a call to the priesthood. His entering sem , ...
St. Agnes of Rome
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Born: 291 CE Died:  304 CE Feast day: January 21 Patron saint of: young girls, chastity, rape survivors, Girl Scouts Agnes was a beautiful young woman in the early years of Christianity in Rome, refusing suitors with the response that her only spouse would be Christ. Because Christians were persecuted duri , ...
St. John Yi Yun-il
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Born: 1822 Died: January 21, 1867 Feast day: January 21 Patron saint of: N/A One of 103 Korean martyrs canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984, John Yi Yun-il was a father, farmer, and catechist who lived in Korea during the 19th century. During this time of rampant Christian persecution in Korea, John , ...
Chiara Lubich
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Born: January 22, 1920 Died: March 14, 2008 I had the good fortune to meet Chiara Lubich in 1978 when I became a member of the Focolare Movement. I was beginning my career in interreligious dialogue and knew that Lubich had won the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion in 1977 in part due to her work in inter , ...
St. Marianne Cope
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Born: January 23, 1838 Died: August 9, 1918 Feast: January 23 Patron of: lepers, outcasts, those with HIV/AIDS Mother Marianne shunned publicity and thus is not as well known as Father Damien, whose own leprosy brought him prominence whether he wanted it or not. The former provincial of the Sisters of the , ...
St. Francis de Sales
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Born: August 21, 1567 Died: December 28, 1622 Feast Day: January 24 Patron of: Adult education, deaf people, and journalists One Catholic image of a saint is a tough, scraggly-bearded figure, scratching away in his hairshirt, railing against the comforts of the world.  Saint Francis de Sales was an , ...
Henri Nouwen
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Born: January 24, 1932 Died: September 21, 1996 Nouwen was ordained in 1957 and he published his first book Intimacy: Pastoral Psychology Essays (Fides) in 1969. The slender volume explores the principal theme of Nouwen’s eventual legacy as a spiritual writer and teacher. This question of intimacy underlies , ...
St. Titus
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Born: c. 1 CE Died: c. 96 or 107 CE Feast day: January 26 Patron saint of: Crete, the United States Army Chaplain Corps Titus was one of Paul’s colleagues who we read about several times in the Pauline epistles of the New Testament. While the epistles imply he sometimes journeyed with Paul, he was also oft , ...
St. Paula
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Born: c. 347 CE Died: c. 404 CE Feast day: January 26 Patron saint of: widows, Order of Saint Jerome, monks and nuns Like the fabled yuppies of the ’80s, the upper-crust citizens of Rome had little trouble spending their money and lots of trouble finding wise things to spend it on. Young women, for exa , ...
St. Angela Merici
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Born: March 21, 1474 Died:  January 27, 1540 Feast day: January 27 Patron saint of: sickness, disability, those grieving the loss of parents In early young adulthood, Angela Merici joined the Third Order of Saint Francis as a consecrated virgin. When a family crisis called her back to her hometown, An , ...
St. Thomas Aquinas
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Born: c. 1225 CE Died:  March 7, 1274 CE Feast day: January 28 Patron saint of: academics, against storms, theologians, philosophers, scholars, students St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the most famous saints of the church. A prolific author, an erudite theologian, and a Doctor of the Church, St. Thomas Aquina , ...
St. John Bosco
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Born: August 16, 1815 Died: January 31, 1888 Feast: January 31 Patron of: editors, publishers, schoolchildren, young people, magicians, juvenile delinquents John Bosco grew up poor, but whenever he had an extra penny, he would go to the circuses and fairs that came to his town. He watched in rapt attention , ...
Thomas Merton
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Born: January 31, 1915 Died: December 10, 1968 Thomas Merton was born in France on January 31, 1915. After a dissolute youth in Britain and New York, Merton professed as a Cistercian monk in the Abbey of Gethsemani of Kentucky in 1941. Seven years later, he published The Seven Storey Mountain, an autobiographica , ...