Gabriel, ArchangelThe "Angel of the Annunciation," mentioned as the angel sent to Zachariah (Lk 1:11-19), in the Book of Daniel (8:16, 9:21), and to proclaim the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38). Gabriel is associated with the Incarnation of Christ. He announced the coming of Christ in the Old Testament, and he told Zachariah of the birth of St. John the Baptist. His cult was started very early in Rome. In traditional angelology, Gabriel is also believed to guard the Tree of Life and may have been the heavenly being who expelled Adam and Eve from Eden. He is usually depicted as a handsome archangel, holding a scroll emblazoned with the Ave Maria. Gabriel is patron of modern telecommunications and of postal services. His emblem is a spear and shield emblazoned with a lily.Feast day: September 29.
Michael the Archangel
Archangel and one of the three angels (with Gabriel and Raphael) whom the Church venerates by name. Michael’s name means "who is like God," and in Christian lore, he is one of the chief angels in heaven. The Church honors Michael with four main titles. First, he is the Christian angel of death, assisting the soul of each person in its journey after death to heaven for judgment. One tradition states that Michael grants a final chance to all people to redeem themselves before death and so causes consternation for the devil and his minions. Second, he is the special patron and protector of the Chosen People of the Old Testament. Third, he is the supreme foe of Satan and the fallen legions, being named specifically in the Book of Revelation as fighting against Satan and coming at the end of the world to command the hosts of the Lord in the final struggle. Finally, he is the guardian of the Church.
Michael appears twice in the Old Testament. In Daniel (10:13), he is termed "Michael, one of the chief princes," and then "the great prince" (12:1). His prominence in Jewish legend and traditions as a powerful angelic leader, an angel of healing, and prince of the archangels made certain his significant role in the Christian tradition of angels. Veneration of Michael dates to a very early time in Christian history, accompanied by an extensive body of legends. He supposedly visited Emperor Constantine I (r. 306-337), made a dramatic appearance over the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138) in Rome in answer to an appeal during an outbreak of plague (the plague stopped and ever since the mausoleum has been called the Castel Sant’Angelo in his honor), and intervened in assorted wars and battles. St. Joan of Arc (d. 1431) credited Michael as one of the holy spirits who aided her and gave her the courage to save France from the English during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). Numerous theologians examined Michael, including the Greek Fathers, such as St. Basil the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas, who devoted a section of the Summa Theologiae to angels.
Michael’s role as an angel of healing was celebrated by churches in Asia Minor, where he was reputed to have caused healing springs to flow and where churches in his name were visited frequently by the sick and lame. Sailors in Normandy invoke him as their patron, and in 1950 Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958) named him the patron of policemen. The famed monastery, Mont-Saint- Michel, is named in his honor. A truly beloved angel, Michael has long been a favorite subject of art, depicted usually as a tall, handsome angel holding a sword and shield, lance, banner, or scales; often he is shown doing battle with Satan or a dragon. Feast day: September 29.
One of the angels venerated by name in the Church, with Michael and Gabriel. The name Raphael means "the Healer of God," and the angel is considered one of the angels of healing. He is honored in Christian lore as the head of the guardian angels, the angel of knowledge, and the angel of science. In the Old Testament, Raphael appears in the Book of Tobit, in which he provides much needed assistance to Tobias, helping to rid him of the frightful torments of the demon Asmodeus. At the end of the book, he tells Tobias: "I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord" (12:15). He is not mentioned in the New Testament, but a certain tradition identifies him as the angel of the sheep pool in John (5:2). Raphael is also a prominent figure in the angelic lore and customs of Judaism (such as the legend that he was one of the three angels who visited Abraham prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gamorrah). Poets have also made Raphael a part of their famous compositions, such as Milton, in Paradise Lost, in which the angel was termed "the sociable spirit, that deigned to travel with Tobias" (Book V). In liturgical art, he is depicted as a young man carrying a staff or a fish. Feast day: October 24.
— One of the most beloved and popular saints in the world, Il Poverello (the “Little Poor Man”), and founder of the Franciscan Order. Born in Assisi, Italy, the son of Peter Bernadone, a wealthy silk merchant, Francis spent his early years as a pleasure-seeking, popular leader of Assisi youth. This changed dramatically in 1202 when Francis joined in a campaign against a rival city, Perugia. Captured in battle, he spent a desolate period in prison. After his release, he found life quite unappealing, his unease only increasing after enduring a lengthy illness. There followed what was called his conversion. He took to prayer and worked among the poor. One day, however, he encountered a leper and turned away, repulsed by the man’s grotesque appearance. Stopping himself, Francis gave the man some money and then kissed him. While on a pilgrimage to Rome, he gave his clothes away to some beggars and spent a day begging for alms before St. Peter’s.
When Francis returned home to Assisi, he prayed at the church of San Damiano and heard a command from the crucifix, telling him: “Repair my house, which is virtually ruined.” To pay for the repairs in the church, he sold bales of his father’s cloth, along with the horse dragging them. Peter beat Francis and locked him in his room. Francis was released by his mother, and, when his father went to the bishop to demand the money back, Francis stripped off his clothes, saying that they too belonged to his father. Henceforth he dressed in a coarse woolen cloak tied at the waist to commemorate the cloak given to him by the bishop to cover his nakedness.
He spent the next period rebuilding with his own hands the church of San Damiano. In 1208, while he worshiped at Mass in the nearby town of Portiuncula, he heard the Gospel passage from Matthew (10:7-19, in which Christ sends forth his Apostles to preach) and decided to set out himself. Preaching throughout the area, he soon acquired considerable notoriety and was called Il Poverello. Others joined him, some of the earliest and most notable being the merchant Bernard, the canon Pietro, and the famous Brother Giles (St. Giles of Assisi). For them and the others who gathered about him, Francis composed a simple rule of life, called the regula primitiva. This rule he took to Rome in 1210 where he won approval for it from Pope Innocent III (r. 1198-1216), whose initial reluctance was melted supposedly by a dream in which he saw Francis holding up the walls of St. John Lateran. So was begun the Franciscan Order. Its members practiced rigorous asceticism and extreme poverty, relying upon alms for their sustenance as they wandered across Italy to preach. Under St. Clare of Assisi, a second order of Franciscans was launched in 1212; almost a decade later, around 1221, the Third Order was established for laypeople, both men and women. By 1219, when a general chapter was held, there were five thousand Franciscans at the meeting.
Francis went to Egypt soon after to preach to the Muslims. He met with Sultan Malik al-Kamil at Damietta, Egypt. The sultan, recognizing Francis as a truly holy man, did not allow anyone to harm him. Francis returned to Europe to find the order deeply troubled by irregularities and various crises caused by the rapid growth in membership in Italy, Spain, Germany, even Hungary. He reluctantly accepted the fact that a revision in the order’s rule might be needed, undertaking the creation of the revised rule with the help of Peter Cathanii and, after Peter’s death in 1221, Elias of Cortona. Pope Honorius III (r. 1216-1227) approved the new rule on November 29, 1223. From that time, Francis left the affairs of the order to others, withdrawing from the world.
He built a small crèche on Christmas of that year, establishing the custom of adorning churches with the Nativity scene. On September 14, 1224, while praying in the hermitage on Mount Alvernia in the Apennines, Francis received the stigmata. He died two years later, at Assisi, on October 3. He was canonized in 1228.
Although never ordained, believing himself unworthy of the priesthood, Francis of Assisi had an astounding impact on the religious life in the Church. His life was characterized by joyous worship, reverence for nature, and concern for the sick and poor. He is depicted in liturgical art in his habit, with the stigmata, and sometimes with a winged crucifix. He is also depicted giving sermons to animals or birds. Feast day: October 4.
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (January 1).
Presentation of Our Lord (February 2).
Our Lady of Lourdes (February 11, optional).
Annunciation of the Lord (March 25).
Visitation (May 31).
Our Lady of Mount Carmel (July 16, optional).
Dedication of the basilica in honor of St. Mary Major (August 5, optional).
Assumption (August 15).
Queenship of Mary (August 22).
Birth of Mary (September 8).
Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15).
Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7).
Presentation of Mary (November 21, optional).
Immaculate Conception (December 8).
Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12, optional).
Immaculate Heart of Mary (Saturday after the Second Sunday after Pentecost, optional).
Luke (d. first century) -- Evangelist and the patron of painters and physicians. He is the author of the third Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. A physician, Luke is traditionally believed to have been a Greek Gentile from Antioch (modern Turkey). That he was a medical practitioner is apparently confirmed by a passage in Colossians (4:14) in which Paul describes him as “the beloved physician.” A convert to the new faith, he accompanied St. Paul on his second missionary journey (c. 51), remained six years in Philippi, Greece, and went on the third missionary journey, the journey to Italy that included the famous shipwreck off the coast of Malta. He remained with Paul during Paul’s imprisonment. Paul wrote of Luke three times in the New Testament: in Colossians, 2 Timothy (4:11), and Philemon (24). It is also possible to deduce Luke’s presence with Paul on the missionary journeys from numerous passages in the Acts (16:10-17; 20:5–21:18; 27:1–28:16). When St. Paul was martyred in 66, Luke went back to Greece, where he is believed to have died at the age of eighty-four “full of the Holy Spirit.” Assorted Acta report that he was martyred, although scholars believe these to be legends and quite unreliable. He is believed to have visited the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Luke is the patron saint of doctors and also painters owing to the belief in medieval times that he painted a picture of the Virgin Mary. This work was long preserved in the Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, although it dates to a time far after apostolic times. Luke’s Gospel was written between 70 and 85, possibly in Greece, although Eusebius claims that it was written before the martyrdom of St. Paul. The point of view of the Gospel is that of a Gentile Christian for other Gentile (or non-Jewish) individuals. His Acts of the Apostles was written perhaps in Rome, either during the imprisonment of St. Paul or immediately after his death, or in the province of Achaea, in the area around Greece. The Acts details the Church from c. 35-c. 63, demonstrating in often superb prose the remarkable growth and the stirring witness of the faithful. In art, he is accompanied by a winged ox, the symbol of his Gospel. He is also depicted holding a painting of the Blessed Virgin.
Feast day: October 18.
Jude (d. first century) -- Also Jude Thaddeus, one of the Twelve Apostles. He is listed as a disciple of Christ in several books of the New Testament. In Luke (6:16) and Acts (1:13), he is known as Judas, son of James; in John (14:22) as “Judas (not Iscariot)”; and in Matthew (10:3) and Mark (3:18) as Thaddeus (or Thaddaeus). In John (14:22-23), he has a memorable exchange with Christ. According to custom, he is considered the brother of St. James the Less and the reputed author of the Epistle of St. Jude. Tradition and legend, most notably expressed in the Passion of Simon and Jude, declare that Jude went to Persia with Simon where they were martyred. Jude is one of the most popular saints in the Church and is venerated as the patron saint of lost causes. Feast day: October 28.
Simon the Zealot (d. first century) -- Called also the Canaanite (Mt 10:4; Mk 3:18), he was one of the Apostles and was mentioned several times in the New Testament. Known as "the Zealot" (Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13) because of his hard adherence to Jewish law, Simon was one of the first disciples of Jesus. According to the tradition in the West, he preached in Egypt and Mesopotamia, going to Persia with St. Jude, where they were both martyred. Other traditions are found in the East, including the one that asserts that he died quite peacefully in Edessa. His symbols are the fish, a boat, a saw, or an oar. Feast day: October 28.
Biographies from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints, Revised, by Matthew and Stephen Bunson; illustrations by Margaret Bunson
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