Here are the mini-biographies of some saints whose feast days occur during Lent 2016, courtesy of past editions of Kids’ Chronicle, the Catholic Courier’s children’s page.
St. Peter Damian, Feb. 21
Peter Damian was born in Ravenna, Italy, in 1007. He was an excellent student and eventually become a teacher. Peter was very kind to people who were in need, and he often invited those who were hungry to share a meal with him. After meeting two Benedictine monks, Peter decided to join the monastery. He studied the Scriptures and became an expert in theology. He was appointed abbot of his monastery and founded five other monastic hermitages. He died in 1072, and we honor him on Feb. 21.
St. Polycarp, Feb. 23
Polycarp (69-155) was one of the early bishops of the church called the “Apostolic Fathers” because they had been followers and students of the apostles of Jesus. Polycarp was charged by St. Ignatius to care for the church in Antioch. Polycarp also met with Pope Anicetus to discuss the different days on which Easter was celebrated by the Roman and Asian churches. A strong persecution against the church in Asia resulted in the arrest and death of many Christians, and Polycarp was arrested. Instead of trying to flee when he was caught, he gave his life for his faith. We honor him on Feb. 23.
St. Katharine Drexel, March 3
Katharine Drexel was born into a wealthy Philadelphia family in 1858. She was very interested in helping Native Americans and African-Americans, so she founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament in order to minister to them. She did so by opening mission schools around the U.S., and she also founded Xavier University in New Orleans. When she died in 1955, there were 500 sisters teaching in 63 mission schools throughout the country. When she was canonized in 2000, she became the second American-born saint. We honor her on March 3.
St. John Ogilvie, March 10
John Ogilvie (d. 1615) was born into a Scottish family and was raised a Protestant. Even so, at age 17, he decided to become a Catholic. He attended several colleges, and after attending a Jesuit college, he decided to join that order. He was ordained a priest in Paris in 1610. He asked to perform mission work in Scotland, a Protestant country in which it was illegal to practice the Catholic faith. He converted many people to Catholicism. One day, someone pretending he wanted to become Catholic asked to meet John in the marketplace. He was captured and tortured. He was convicted of treason and hanged in Glasgow. We remember him on March 10.
St. Patrick, March 17
St. Patrick was born in Scotland around 389. When he was a teenager, he was kidnapped by raiders and became a slave in Ireland. After escaping and returning home, he heard God speaking to him. God told him to return to Ireland and bring the Gospel to the people. Patrick studied to be a priest and eventually became a bishop. He returned to Ireland in 433 and converted many people to Christianity over the next 40 years. The saint also performed many miracles. He died around the year 461, and we honor him on March 17.
St. Joseph, March 19
Joseph, the husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus, was a descendant of David. He protected Mary’s reputation and cared for Jesus as the boy grew up. Joseph must have known there was something very special about Jesus that was beyond his understanding, because Joseph was visited by angels with messages from God before the boy was born and afterward to warn him to flee from Herod. He also saw the shepherds and the Magi visit the baby Jesus, and later, when Jesus was separated from his parents, Joseph was as worried as any parent would have been. The Bible tells us that Joseph was “a righteous man.” We remember him on March 19.