John Ogilvie was born into an important Calvinist family in Banffshire, Scotland. He was sent abroad to be educated, and while in Europe, he studied at several Catholic institutions. At the age of seventeen, he converted to Catholicism, and joined the Society of Jesus a few years later, in 1599. Once ordained, he repeatedly asked his superiors to send him to the scattered population of Catholics in Scotland, where it was illegal to preach or proselytise for the Catholic faith. He was sent, but his first mission, which had been designed to work in cooperation with Catholic nobles, failed, through a lack of willing Catholic nobles, and he had to return again a few years later to go it alone, preaching and saying Mass in secret in people's homes. He lasted about eleven months or so, and was caught and imprisoned in 1614 because an alleged convert turned out to be an informant for the government. When he refused to confess, he was tortured by being deprived of sleep and food for days and days. Outspoken by nature, he mostly just argued with his tormenters. He also refused to recognize King James as having spiritual authority, and was tried because of this; defiant throughout his trial, he was hanged and drawn at Glasgow Cross on March 10, 1615. Before his death, he threw his rosary into the crowd, asking them to pray for him; according to legend, the person who caught the rosary converted to the Catholic faith. He was beatified by Pius XI in 1929 and canonized by Paul VI in 1976; he is currently the only Scottish saint on the universal calendar who was born after the Scottish Reformation.
Rome throughout much of the ninth century was in crisis. In 820, the Saracens had begun conquering Sicily, expanding steadily from there. And in 846, they landed raiding parties at the Roman harbors of Ostia and Portus and Centum Cellae (modern day Civitavecchia); the raiders pushed the Roman militia back to the Aurelian walls and went on to pillage the surrounding area, including the Roman churches outside the walls (Old St. Peter's, St. Paul's Outside the Walls, and the like). They were finally driven off by the Lombards. Pope Sergius II died shortly afterward, and Leo IV was elected Pope. He immediately set about strengthening the walls, and as there was increasing danger from threat, he negotiated with the major marine cities of Italy to form a defense league, which defeated a Muslim fleet at the Battle of Ostia, in part due to a storm that harmed the Saracen fleet far more seriously than the Christian fleet, an event celebrated in one of Raphael's paintings. Leo then set out to strengthen the position of Rome by building a new line of walls to protect important parts of the city that had grown outside of the old Aurelian walls; these walls form the boundaries for what is to this day called the Leonine City in Rome. He also restored the churches that had been damaged and looted by raiders. He died on July 17, 855.
Andrew Stratelates and the 2593 Martyrs
Stratelates is a Greek term for a general, although the rank could be given under a great many different circumstances. According to legend, when the Persian Empire invaded Syria, the governor in Antioch put Andrew, a soldier who was also a Christian catechumen, in charge of the defense. He led a small force against the Persians; the soldiers were all pagans, but he convinced them to pray to Christ before the battle. They were victorious, and Andrew returned in triumph to Antioch. There, however, he was accused of using his position to convert soldiers to the illegal religion of Christianity, and brought to trial, where he professed his faith. He and a number of his men were tortured and threatened with death, but the Emperor intervened; while opposed to Christianity, the Emperor may have thought it inadvisable to be torturing and killing a popular general shortly after he had successfully defended the Empire. They were ordered set free, but continued to be harassed. After receiving his freedom, Andrew and a number of other soldiers were baptized in Tarsus. They were, however, seized on the pretext of desertion and were beheaded by a spring in the mountains. They had been followed by a number of Christians from Tarsus, who secretly buried them; and the spring by which they were killed and buried became famous as a healing spring. Very little work seems to have been done on the historicity of this tradition. As with the Theban Legion, the 2593 may not be a literal number, but the number of the body of men from which the martyrs were drawn; likewise, it's possible that the number includes people martyred in the general area who were not necessarily associated with Andrew. It is also possible that some elements of the story may be due to confusion with a different Byzantine commander named Andrew. St. Andrew Stratelates and the 2593 Martyrs came to be celebrated on August 19.
Theodore the Studite
Theodoros was born in 759 into a Constantinopolitan family of considerable influence in the government of the Empire; the entire family converted their estate into a monastery, the Sakkudion Monastery, first under the abbacy of Theodore's uncle, Platon, and then under himself. The Sakkudion Monastery was eventually dispersed by imperial force when Theodore protested the Emperor's divorce and remarriage. After his return from exile under a new emperor, Theodore was asked by the Empress Irene to lead the Stoudion. The Monastery of St. John the Forerunner at Stoudios was the most important and influential monastery complex of Constantinople; it came into prominence in the fifth century and for centuries after was a bastion of orthodoxy and literature. Theodore accepted, and began an extensive set of infrastructure projects to make the monastery more self-sustaining; he also began expanding its influence by bringing a number of smaller monasteries into its orbit. Problems arose again when the emperor chose a layman, Nikephoros, to be Patriarch of Constantinople, and Theodore and the Studites protested the choice; this became entangled with the prior protest, as one of the emperor's goals was to rehabilitate, for political reasons, the priest who had performed the previous emperor's remarriage. The argument became serious enough that Theodore was removed from his position and a synod was called to declare him a schismatic. He was exiled to the island of Chalke. He was recalled on the accession of a new emperor, but continued to have some difficulties with the Patriarch, with whom he did not get along. And then, in 813, yet another emperor came to the throne, Leo V the Armenian, and the world turned a corner. Convinced that the long string of political catastrophes and military defeats faced by the Empire were due in part to religious policy, Leo began to press for a return to the Iconoclastic policy of Leo III the Isaurian. The Patriarch opposed this; St. Nikephoros was deposed and exiled for the opposition. With the Patriarch gone, St. Theodore, so long in opposition to St. Nikephoros, found himself the Patriarch's champion, and, in his absence, the most important iconodoule opponent of the Imperial policies. The new Patriarch called an iconoclastic synod, and, as Theodore protested, he was also exiled. Both Theodore and Nikephoros carried on a literary polemic against their opponents, and, although there were multiple attempts to turn the Studite monastery to the iconoclastic cause, none of them ever managed to have more than a temporary effect. The Emperor repeatedly attempted to restrict Theodore's influence by exiling him to more remote locations and having him flogged for his interventions, but nothing worked, and when Leo V was murdered in 821, Theodore returned to Constantinople. Attempts to get the new emperor to oppose iconoclasm failed, however, and Theodore spent the last years of his life in Anatolia supporting the iconodoule position. He was the greatest of the saints opposing the Second Iconoclasm, but in 826, when he died, his work seemed to have come to nothing. In reality, in part due to his work, momentum had begun to build, and in 843 the iconodoules finally triumphed. His feast day is November 11 in the East and November 12 in the West.
The Martyrs of Gorkum
Beginning in 1566, the Sea Beggars, an alliance of Calvinist Dutch nobles, had been engaging in piratical actions with the intent of building an open rebellion of the Netherlands against Spain, and their big turning point came in 1572, when they captured Brielle, a victory that allowed them to begin sweeping the north of the country. As they did so, they captured a number of Catholic priests and religious. Others were captured when they attempted to help or sneak the sacraments into those already captured. Nicholas Pieck, Hieronymus of Weert, Theodorus van der Eem, Nicasius Janssen, Willehad of Denmark, Godefried of Mervel, Antonius of Weert, Antonius of Hoornaer, Franciseus de Roye, Godefried van Duynsen, Joannes van Hoornaer, Jacobus Lacops, Adrianus Janssen, Andreas Wouters, Joannes Lenartz, Leonard van Veghel, Peter of Assche, Cornelius of Wijk bij Duurstede, Adrian van Hilvarenbeek.The captors demanded of each that he renounce his belief in papal supremacy and transubstantiation. Each refused, including even Andreas Wouters, who had been notorious as a drunkard and a womanizer. They were hanged on July 9, 1572, despite a previously issue general order from William the Silent that priests and religious were not to be molested; the hanging was botched, so some of the martyrs were strangling for more than an hour. They were beatified in 1675 and canonized in 1867.
Margaret Ward and John Roche
Living during an intensifying period of the Elizabethan persecution, Margaret Ward heard rumors about the suffering of a priest at Bridewell Prison, Richard Watson. She obtained permission to visit him, and for a while she just went to keep him company, each time being searched. However, as her visits became regular, the guards became less cautious, and she was able to smuggle in a rope by which the priest could escape. She had also hired a boatman to meet the priest and take him away. Everything in the escape plan went wrong, however. Fr. Watson injured himself in the escape, and was not able to remove the rope from the window, and the boatman refused to carry out his end of the bargain. Thinking on her feet, Ward got help from another boatman, Bl. John Roche, who not only gave them another boat, but disguised himself in the priest's clothes to give the priest time to get away. Roche was captured, and as the authorities knew that Ward had visited Fr. Watson, so was she. Ward was tortured in an attempt to discover the priest's location, but she told them nothing; both she and Roche were offered a pardon if they would attend a Protestant church service, but both refused. They were both hanged at Tyburn on August 30, 1588. Ward and Roche were both beatified by Pius XI in 1929; Ward was canonized by Bl. Paul VI in 1970, and is celebrated with the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales on May 4, and in England with St. Margaret Clitherow and St. Anne Line on August 30.
Born to a noble family in Armenia in the fourth century, he received a thorough grounding in Greek and Persian, eventually becoming secretary to the king of Armenia. He soon grew tired of this life, however, and became a monk. This life was brought to an end when Armenia was torn apart by the Romans and the Persians during the Roman-Persian Wars. in the aftermath, Mesrop went out as a missionary, but found that he had difficulty with catechesis, because the Armenians had no alphabet, and all the alphabets available -- Greek, Persian, Aramaic -- were very poorly designed for the Armenian tongue. So to remedy this, he and a number of others invented the Armenian alphabet in 405; thus began the Armenian contribution to literature, which is a very great contribution, since the Armenians historically have been very literarily active, precisely because of Mesrop. Mesrop founded a number of schools to spread the invention, and actively began creating institutes of translation for all the Greek works he could find; indeed, there are a number of Greek works that are only extant in their Armenian translations. He is said to have died on February 17, 440, and that is his commemoration day in the Roman Martyrology.
José María Robles Hurtado
Born in the province of Jalisco in Mexico, Robles Hurtado became a priest at the age of 25 and settled down to be an ordinary priest, who was mostly known at the time for being a fervent supporter of the devotion to the Sacred Heart. But in 1917, Mexico enacted a very anti-clerical constitution. It nationalized all property of the Church, shut down all charitable organizations run by priests and religious, outlawed Catholic schools, and gave local governments the authority to limit the number of religious ministers as they pleased. Things like processions and other public devotional practices were restricted and sometimes forbidden. There was no immediate crisis because it had already become practice for the government not to enforce previous anti-clerical provisions, and at first the Mexican government continued this policy of strong words but light touch. Robles Hurtado and a number of others, however, were not satisfied with this, and Robles Hurtado organized an event in 1923 in which a large cross was placed at the geographic center of Mexico and Christ would be celebrated as the King of Mexico. Tens of thousands participated, and Robles Hurtado had caught the government's eye. In 1926, President Plutarco Elías Calles began actively enforcing the Constitution of 1917. Pope Pius XI protested that this was a violation of inalienable rights of the Church and the faithful, but to no avail. Calles, however, had underestimated the attachment of the people to their faith, and they began to fight back, and as Calles stepped up the severity of the enforcement, they began to organize as a militia, and the Cristero War began. Robles Hurtado actively supported it, but would not live to see its end; he was rounded up in 1927 and hanged on June 26. He was beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2000, and is celebrated with other martyrs of the Cristero War on May 21.
Genevieve of Paris
Born in Nanterre, Genevieve met SS. Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes as they were making their way to Britain to oppose Pelagianism; inspired by their example and encouragement, she became a nun. She eventually went to Paris, and there became known for both her extraordinary asceticism and active charity to the sick and the poor. The former got her into trouble with the Church authorities on several occasions. In 451, Attila the Hun approached Paris and Genevieve went from person to person in Paris begging them to stay at home and pray; a great many people did so, and Attila passed the city by in order to sack Orleans. The people attributed the saving of Paris to Genevieve's actions; as there are several stories, some reasonably well founded, of Attila passing by cities for religious reasons, it's not impossible that it could have been a contributing factor. In 464, Childeric I laid siege to the city, and, as the city was on the verge of starving, Genevieve sneaked past the siege lines in a boat returning from Troyes with grain; she also negotiated with Childeric for safe return of prisoners of war. Clovis I built an abbey church for her, and she was later buried there; it eventually fell into ruin, but rebuilding began in the eighteenth century under Louis XV. It was completed in time for the French Revolution, when it was seized by the government and renamed the Panthéon. Genevieve, who is the patron saint of Paris, has her feast on January 3.
Relatively little is known for sure about the early life of Pedro Calungsod, beyond the fact that he was from the Visayas islands in the Philippines. He was trained by the Jesuits in Guam and was chosen as a catechist to accompany the Jesuit fathers on a missionary trip to the Mariana Islands, led by Bl. Diego Luis de San Vitores, in 1668. He returned to Guam with San Vitores shortly thereafter. While there, San Vitores (who, it should be said, does not seem to have always had the best practical judgment) came into conflict with the local chieftain, Mata'pang, when San Vitores baptized Mata'pang's sick child without Mata'pang's permission (although with the permission of the mother). San Vitores and Calungsod were killed, Calungsod being hit by a spear and then finished off with a knife. San Vitores, due to controversy over his end, had a stop-and-start beatification, and was beatified in 1985; the revival of his beatification process stirred up interest in Calungsod, and Calungsod was beatified in 2000 by Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him in 2012. His feast day is April 2.
Isaac of Nineveh
Isaac was born in the seventh century in Beth Qatraye, in Eastern Arabia. He joined a monastery and became widely known as a monastic teacher. When Georges, the Catholicos of the Church of the East, visited the area, he ordained Isaac as bishop of Nineveh on the strength of this reputation. It was a poor fit. Isaac abdicated after five months and retired into a very ascetic anchoritic life, where he stayed until blindness made it too difficult, and he joined the monastery of Rabban Shabur, where he died. His ascetical writings spread from monastery to monastery, far and wide, and were highly respected, which is why, despite belonging to the Church of the East, he is recognized as a saint also by the Eastern Orthodox and Catholics. His feast in the Roman Martyrology and on various Eastern Catholic calendars is January 28.
Ġorġ Preca was born in Maltan in 1880; he went into the priesthood, and after his ordination he began a catechism ministry on the waterfront for dock workers and the like. This soon grew into a movement focused on working-class religious education, which had considerable difficulty with the authorities, both religious and secular, because it was often seen as attempting to stir up revolution. He was ordered to stop after a couple of years, but the parish priests in the area, having seen the actual results of his catechesis, campaigned heavily to have the decision reversed, and it was, although the society he founded would later be investigated again (and cleared again). Preca became a Third Order Carmelite. He was named Privy Chamberlain (Monsignor) as an honor by Pius XII, but he never even bothered to go to the archdiocesan offices to pick up the document giving him the honor. He died in 1962, was beatified by St. John Paul II in 2001, and was canonized by Benedict XVI in 2007. The society he founded, the Society for Christian Doctrine, more popularly known as MUSEUM, still exists. His feast is on May 9.
Denis Ssebuggwawo Wasswa
Denis Ssebuggwawo was born in Kigoloba, Buganda, with his twin brother Isaac Kajane. They became pages in the court of King Mwanga, where they met St. Joseph Mukasa, who was the Majordomo in charge of the pages. The two brothers soon became catechumens; Isaac would eventually leave to become chief, while Denis stayed. In 1885, Mwanga, regarding foreign missionaries as political interference, arrested and executed a party of Anglican missionaries; Mukasa criticized him for this, and was executed. The next day, Denis and several other catechumens sneaked out of court to become baptized, and continued to exercise their faith. As Mwanga became increasingly paranoid about Anglicans and Catholics, this became increasingly dangerous, and he was caught catechizing a fellow page; Mwanga beat him severely and then had him executed; it is usually thought that he was hacked to pieces. He was about sixteen years old. He was one of the first to die in the anti-Christian persecution that had begun; he would be far from being the last. He is celebrated with the other Ugandan Martyrs on June 3.
Anthony of Padua
Fernando Martins de Bulhões was born in Lisbon in 1195. He became a Canon Regular and was ordained as a priest, spending time at the abbey near Coimbra. It was there that he first met Franciscans, and the young man received permission to leave the Canons Regular and join the mendicant order. It was then that he adopted the name Anthony. He spent several of his early years with the Franciscans in seriously poor health, but in 1222 an event happened that changed his life. There was an ordination, and miscommunication had led to confusion about who was to preach; the Franciscans had assumed, quite naturally, that the visiting Dominicans would preach, because that's what Dominicans do, but the Dominicans had been under the impression that the Franciscans would provide their own preacher. Anthony was chosen to deliver the homily at the last minute, despite the fact that he tried to refuse, and his homily astounded those who heard it. He would become famous for his homilies, and he became one of the few theologians St. Francis of Assisi trusted. He eventually became provincial superior for Padua. While there he became known and highly respected at the papal court of Gregory IX. He became ill again, with ergotism (Saint Anthony's Fire) and died in 1231. Pope Gregory IX canonized him less than a year later, and Pius XII proclaimed him Doctor of the Church in 1946. His feast is celebrated on June 13.
2016 All Saints Post
Theodore of Tarsus, Nilus the Younger, Anne Line, Mark Ji Tianxiang, Maria Elisabetta Hesselbad, Sergius of Radonezh, Anna Pak Agi, Jeanne de Valois, Vigilius of Trent, Claudian, Magorian, Sisinnius, Martyrius, Alexander, Euphrasia Eluvathingal, Jose Sanchez del Rio, Andrew Kaggwa, Roberto Bellarmino
2015 All Saints Post
Margaret Clitherow, Kaleb Elasbaan of Axum, Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin Martin, Gertrude of Nivelles, Pius V, Clare and Agnes of Assisi, Kuriakose Elias Chavara, Scholastica, Vinh Sơn Phạm Hiếu Liêm, Thorlak Thorhallson, John Damascene
2014 All Saints Post
Marie Guyart, Alphonsa Muttathupadathu, John Neumann, Hildegard von Bingen, Pedro de San José Betancurt, Benedict the Moor
2013 All Saints Post
María Guadalupe García Zavala, Antonio Primaldi, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse and Augustine Zhao Rong, Josephine Margaret Bakhita, John Chrysostom
2012 All Saints Post
Jadwiga of Poland, Kateri Tekakwitha, André Bessette, Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès, Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga
2011 All Saints Post
Bonifacia Rodríguez de Castro, Celestine V, Olga of Kiev, Cyril of Jerusalem, Joseph Mukasa and Charles Lwanga
2010 All Saints Post
Moses the Black of Ethiopia, Micae Hồ Đình Hy, Katherine Mary Drexel, Robert Southwell, Lojze Grozde, Andrew Kim Tae Gon