Have you noticed that certain months of the year produce a particularly stellar selection of famous saints’ feasts? August is one of those months, beginning on the first day with St. Alphonsus Liguori, doctor of the church and founder of the Redemptorists. Actually, this celebration of saintly all-stars really begins on July 31 with the Feast of St. Ignatius Loyola. Ignatius’ day fell on a Sunday this year, which is why you didn’t hear much too about him in church. But the Jesuit blogs were busy.
Back to August. The fourth day of the month celebrates St. John Vianney, patron of priests. Yesterday, Aug. 8th, was the Feast of St. Dominic, founder of the Order of Preachers, and of recently canonized St. Mary McKillop, the pride of Australia. Today, the 9th, is for St. Edith Stein, who was executed during World War II in the Auschwitz gas chamber, and tomorrow commemorates St. Lawrence the Martyr, who may hold the record for the most gruesome death. On Aug. 11th, the Church celebrates three famous females: the saints Susanna, Clare and Philomena. Another famous female saint is venerated on August 12, St. Jane Frances de Chantal. Two days later comes the feast of s second 20th century martyr, St. Maximilian Kolbe, who took the place of a doomed young husband at Auschwitz. His feast falls on Sunday this year. Of course, on Aug. 15, the church will observe the Feast of the Assumption.
For those of you who are of Hungarian descent, the feast of your national patron, St. Stephen the Great. is on Aug. 16. Aug. 18 is the feast of St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who ended the persecutions against Christians in the year 312. Helena is credited with the discovery of the cross of Christ. St. Bernard of Clairvaux, monastic reformer, is honored on Aug. 20, while the feast of Pope St. Pius X is the next day. Aug. 22 is the feast of St. Andrew the Scot, who actually was an Irishman. The feast of St. Rose of Lima, patroness of the Americas, is on Aug. 23, followed the next day by the feasts of St. Bartholomew and St. Nathanial, who were the same man! Don’t ask me how that happened.
Aug. 25 brings the feast of King St. Louis of France, credited with discovering Jesus’ crown of thorns, then building the exquisite St. Chapelle in Paris to house the crown and other precious relics. That church is the inspiration for the Lady Chapel in our own St. Patrick’s Cathedral and for St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. St. Louis shares Aug. 25 with St. Genesius, patron of actors, who was converted while satirizing the role of a catechumen about to be baptized. God touched him right in the middle of the performance. On Aug. 27, one of the great women of the church is honored – St. Monica, mater to St. Augustine of Hippo, whose feast is the very next day.
Who’s your patron saint? Google your name and find its origin. Maybe you carry the name of one of these or the hundreds of August saints I haven’t mentioned. Maybe some facet of your personality or life resembles that of your namesake. Or, if you have an August birthday, find out whose feast it is. Celebrate your connection.
I’ll be on vacation for the next few weeks but if I see something interesting, I’ll post. Enjoy the rest of this saint-rich month.