Saint John Damascene was born in Damascus, but spent most of his life in a monastery near Jerusalem. Little is known about his life, but John is remembered as the last of the Eastern Church Fathers. He gained fame as a poet and an author.
After an abusive childhood, Saint Sabas found refuge in a monastery, where he also found his vocation to the monastic life. Permitted to live as a hermit, Saint Sabas soon found others attracted to his way of life, and he eventually became the abbot of a monastic community. As a result, he is known as one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.
The absence of “hard historical facts” is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of saints, as the devotion to Saint Nicholas shows. Both the Eastern and Western Churches honor him, and it is claimed that after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists.
One of Ambrose’s historical claims to fame is that he was instrumental in the conversion of Saint Augustine, and also baptized him. Known for his lively preaching and writing, Saint Ambrose must have been a force to be reckoned with. Maybe those qualities were what attracted Saint Augustine. But Saint Ambrose stands on his own merits--independent of his protégé.
Under the title of the Immaculate Conception, the Blessed Virgin is the patron of the United States. Thus this is a major feast—in fact a Holy Day of Obligation—for the Church in the United States of America.
Thousands of people gathered in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe July 31, 2002, for the canonization of Juan Diego, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in the 16th century. Pope John Paul II celebrated the ceremony at which the poor Indian peasant became the Church’s first saint indigenous to the Americas.
Concerned about the faith of single young men caught up in the industrial revolution in Germany, Blessed Adolph Kolping bucked social pressure by ministering to them. Today, the Kolping Society upholds the dignity of workers throughout the world.
Saint Damasus was highly praised by his secretary, Saint Jerome. This adulation must have been much appreciated, as Saint Damasus faced the trials of the papacy in his day. A fearless leader, Saint Damasus did not always achieve victory in this life.
The Blessed Virgin’s appearance at Tepeyac to Saint Juan Diego in 1531, was the beginning of a beautiful story of God’s and Mary’s love and care for the peoples of Mexico. As Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Blessed Virgin was named patroness of all of the Americas in 2003.