1 -- St. Therese of the Child Jesus
2-- Guardian Angels
4 -- St. Francis of Assisi
7 -- Our Lady of the Rosary
15 -- St. Teresa of Avila
17 -- St. Ignatius of Antioch
18 -- St. Luke
23 -- St. John of Capistrano
24 -- World Mission Sunday
28 -- Sts. Simon and Jude
Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-97) — Discalced Carmelite mystic, Doctor of the Church, popularly called “the Little Flower.”
She was born on January 2, 1873, at Alençon, France, baptized Marie Françoise Martin. She was the youngest of nine children born to Louis Martin and his wife, Zelie Guerin. Her mother died when she was five, and the family moved to Lisieux, where Thérèse was raised by an aunt and two older sisters.
When two of her sisters became Carmelite cloistered nuns, Thérèse asked to be accepted as well. She was denied admission at first but was then allowed to enter Carmel, making her profession in 1890 and given the religious name of Thérèse of the Child Jesus.
She served for a time as mistress of novices but was afflicted with tuberculosis, which eventually took her life. By order of her superior, Mother Agnes (who was her sister Pauline), Thérèse began to write of her mystical experiences. The result of her effort was The Story of a Soul, one of the most widely read modern autobiographies.
Thérèse died on September 30 at Lisieux, and the announcement of her death began an immediate, worldwide interest in her. She became known as “the Saint of the Little Way.”
Thérèse was canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI (r. 1922-1939) and was declared patroness of foreign missions with St. Francis Xavier in 1927, and in 1944 was declared protectoress of France with St. Joan of Arc by Pope Pius XII (r. 1939-1958). She was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Feast day: October 1.
Teresa of Ávila (1515-82) -- Discalced Carmelite mystic, foundress, and Doctor of the Church. She was born at Ávila, in Castile, Spain, on March 28, 1515, and was baptized Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada. She was the daughter of Alonso Sanchez de Cepeda and his second wife, Beatrice Davila y Ahumada. Teresa was educated by Augustinian nuns until 1532 when she returned home because of ill health. Four years later she entered the Carmelite convent in Ávila, an establishment that was somewhat lax about poverty and enclosure. She was professed in 1536 but had to return to her family for two years because of renewed illness.
In 1555, however, she underwent a conversion while praying before a statue of the scourged Christ. Thereafter she progressed as a mystic, being visited by “intellectual visions [of Christ] and locutions,” meaning images that were impressed or communicated upon her mind rather than her senses. At first she received very poor counsel from her spiritual advisers, but gradually sound advice and guidance were given to her by St. Peter of Alcántara, St. Francis Borgia, and especially one of the most remarkable Dominicans, Dominic Báñez.
In 1558, Teresa was convinced of the need to bring reform to the Carmelite Order and return it to its original austerity. She proposed to adopt a religious life of prayer, penance, and work, securing permission from Pope Pius IV (r. 1559-1565) to open a convent for Carmelite reform. The foundation of St. Joseph’s Convent in Ávila in 1563 was not well-received because of the severity of opposition from local secular and religious leaders, who disapproved of her innovations and the fact that the house was not to be endowed but would exist entirely through charitable donations. In 1567, Teresa sought permission from the prior general of the Carmelite Order, John Baptist Rossi, to found more convents. Granted permission, she continued her labors, founded sixteen other convents, and earned the nickname “the roving nun,” because of her travels.Teresa met St. John of the Cross, another Carmelite seeking reform, at Medino del Campo, the site of her second convent. She founded a monastery for men at Duruelo in 1568, turning over the task of future reformed monasteries to St. John of the Cross. Opposition developed among the Calced Carmelites, the members of the original order, and a council at Piacenza in 1575 greatly restricted her activities. The struggle continued until 1580 when Pope Gregory XIII (r. 1572-1585), at the request of King Philip II of Spain (r. 1556-1598), recognized the Discalced Reformed Carmelites as a separate province of the order.
Teresa’s spiritual maturity was evident at the time and was recognized as her books and letters became known. Now regarded as classics of spiritual literature, they include her Autobiography (1565), The Way of Perfection (1573), and the Interior Castle (1577). Teresa was revered as one of the great mystics, having remarkable common sense and humor, and combining a life of mystical contemplation with dazzling activity. She fell ill at Alba de Tormes and died there on October 4, 1582 (October 14 by the Gregorian calendar, which went into effect the next day and advanced the calendar ten days).
In 1572, her spiritual development led to her “spiritual marriage,” considered the highest level of mystical attainment. She was also the recipient of the extraordinary piercing of her heart; the fact of this occurrence was proven after her death, when her heart was found to have been pierced. Her writings on her experiences are full of deep insights and Thomistic influence, but they remain intensely personal; she did not adhere to any school of mysticism, and she never intended to be the founder of a new one. She was canonized in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV (r. 1621-1623) and was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI (r. 1963-1978). Feast day: October 15.
Ignatius of Antioch (d.c. 107) -- Bishop of Antioch and a notable martyr of the early Church. Probably born in Syria, Ignatius was perhaps a disciple of Sts. Peter and Paul, or possibly St. John. One tradition declares that he was the child mentioned in Matthew (18:1-6) who was placed by Christ among the Apostles. He was perhaps the second bishop of Antioch (according to Origen) or the third (according to Eusebius) and called Theophoros (“God-bearer”).
His principal claim to historical fame comes from his martyrdom. Arrested by Roman authorities, he was sent to Rome for execution and, in the company of several soldiers, set out on the road to the Eternal City. Along the way Ignatius composed epistles (or letters) to the Christian communities of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, Smyrna, and a farewell letter to Bishop Polycarp. The Letters of Ignatius have long been greatly honored by the Church for their eloquent, detailed glimpses of the Church in Ignatius’ era, and Ignatius’ own spirituality. He died by being thrown to the wild beasts in the Roman Circus. Feast day: October 17.
Biographies from Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Saints, Revised, by Matthew and Stephen Bunson; illustrations by Margaret Bunson. Order here»
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