"To holy people the very name of Jesus is a name to feed upon, a name to transport. His name can raise the dead and transfigure and beautify the living." - St. John Henry Newman
Feast Day: September 24
Canonized on October 13, 2019, St. John Henry Newman spent the first half of his life as an Anglican before converting to the Roman Catholic faith. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and theologian in both Churches. Born in London, England, he studied and ministered at Oxford. After 1833, Newman became a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church's debt to the the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective. His historical research led Newman to become a Roman Catholic in 1845 and a priest two years later. When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he took as his motto "Cor ad cor loquitur," heart speaks to the heart. He died 11 years later. Three years after his death, a Newman Club for Catholic students began at the University of Pittsburgh. In time, his name was linked to Catholic ministry centers at public universities in the United States, including the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Feast Day: July 4
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is a saint for the modern world. He was born in 1901 in Turin, Italy, and died of polio at the young age of 24. He lived his few years with passion and holiness. Pope St. John Paul II called him a "man of the beatitudes." He had a deep piety and intense interest in Catholicism, even though his parents were not religious. For Frassati, Christ was the answer to everything. All of his actions oriented toward Christ and began in contemplation of Jesus. Frassati loved the poor through his constant and mostly hidden service to the poorest of Turin and through spirited political activism. He was an avid outdoorsman and loved hiking. He never passed up a chance to play a practical joke and loved to laugh. Frassati also lived his faith through discipline with his school work, which was a tremendous cross for him as he was a poor student. He died on July 4, 1925, and his body was found incorrupt in 1981.
Feast Day: July 4
St. Elizabeth is usually depicted in royal garb with a dove or an olive branch. At her birth in 1271, her father, Pedro III, future king of Aragon (eastern Spain), was reconciled with his father, James, the reigning monarch. This proved to be a foreshadowing of things to come. Under the healthy influences surrounding her early years, she quickly learned self-discipline and acquired a taste for spirituality. Thus prepared, she was able to meet the challenge when, at the age of 12, she was given in marriage to Denis, king of Portugal. She was able to establish for herself a pattern of life conducive to growth in God's love, not merely through her exercises of prayer, but also through her exercise of charity. She befriended pilgrims, strangers, the sick, the poor - in a word, all those whose need came to her notice. At the same time, she remained devoted to her husband, whose infidelity to her was a scandal to the kingdom.
Her husband, too, was the object of her peace endeavors. She long sought peace for him with God and was finally rewarded when he gave up his life of sin. She repeatedly sought and effected peace between the king and their rebellious son, Alfonso. She acted as a peacemaker in the struggle between Ferdinand, king of Aragon, and his cousin James, who claimed the crown.
1823-1894 / 1831-1877
Feast Day: July 12
French Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin are best known as the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, one of the greatest saints of the twentieth century. As young adults, Louis and Zélie desired to serve God through the religious life and both attempted to join religious communities. When their requests to enter were denied, they accepted this as God’s will and opened themselves to the possibility of serving God through the vocation of marriage. Both dedicated themselves to learning a trade, watchmaking for Louis and lacemaking for Zélie, as they waited to see how their lives would unfold. Louis was 35 and Zélie, 27, when they met while crossing a bridge. Zélie recounted that she heard a voice say to her, “This is the man you are going to marry,” and marry they did only three months later on July 13, 1858.
Together, Louis and Zélie created a loving home built on the shared foundation of their deep Catholic faith. Nine children were born to them, five of whom survived beyond early childhood. Louis and Zélie devoted themselves to raising these five daughters to love and serve Jesus Christ, and all five were called to religious life, four in the Carmel of Lisieux, including St. Thérèse, and one with the Visitation Sisters.
Zélie died first of breast cancer in 1877, when her youngest, Thérèse, was only four. Louis continued to raise their girls with the help of Zélie’s brother and sister-in-law, joyfully releasing each one to the service of God in religious life. After struggling with the illness of dementia at the end of his life, Louis died in 1877. Their lives serve as a model to us of openness to following God’s will and the beauty and fruitfulness of marriage as a path to God.