Today’s feast is about both two women and two men. The Blessed Virgin Mary goes to visit Elizabeth to assist her in her final days of pregnancy. But as she greets Elizabeth, the babe in Elizabeth’s womb—John the Baptist—leaps for joy at the presence of Jesus in Mary’s womb. Great mysteries of life are at play here.
We know very little about these two martyrs, but Saints Marcellinus and Peter are mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer of the Roman liturgy. They made the ultimate sacrifice for the faith and are remembered by the faithful for that reason.
Today we celebrate the 22 martyrs of Uganda, Saints Charles Lwanga and Companions. Their stories are set in the court of a chief who did not share their faith. Even though they were pages in his court, their faith meant more to them than his approval and support.
Blessed Angeline of Marsciano founded the first Third Order community of women in the Franciscan family; something new in her day. While briefly married, Blessed Angeline did not set aside the vow of perpetual chastity she'd made as a child. She spent her life caring for the sick and the poor.
Saint Boniface was an English Benedictine monk who made it his life’s mission to convert the Germanic tribes to Christianity. He found it was no easy task and ended up giving his life for the cause. Boniface was martyred on June 5, 754.
Saint Norbert founded the order with the most difficult name to pronounce and spell—Praemonstratensians. Perhaps that’s why they go by the name of Norbertines. But this order was anything but hard to appreciate when it comes to the work they did. They were very effective in converting heretics and reconciling enemies.
Blessed Franz Jägerstätter, a married man with children, refused to fight in Hitler’s army and was arrested and executed as a result. Not condemning fellow Catholics who did serve, Blessed Franz felt he had to follow his conscience and resist.
Saint William of York, born William fitzHerbert, faced great obstacles as Archbishop of York just trying to take hold of his diocese. His ordination as bishop was refused, then it was performed by another bishop but then not recognized by Rome. When he finally took over his diocese, he died within a few months.
Saint Ephrem was ordained a deacon, but refused ordination to the priesthood. He was a teacher, defender of the faith, and a prolific writer. He refuted many heresies of his day, often through the lyrics of hymns that he wrote.