March 31. Saint Stephen of Mar Saba, the nephew of Saint John Damascene, became acquainted with monastic life at the age of 10. He wanted to live as a hermit, but his abbot limited his solitude to weekdays. On weekends Stephen counseled his brothers—an arrangement that seemed to work for all concerned.
April 1. Saint Hugh of Grenoble proves that you can’t run away from your problems—even if you run to a monastery. Saint Hugh tried it, and the Pope called him back to his diocese. Once he settled down, Saint Hugh did great things.
April 2. Saint Francis of Paola wanted to live a quiet life of solitude. He managed to do this in a cave near Paola, but soon followers began to gather. He formed them into a community which emphasized pretty severe penance and austerity. Saint Francis also had a public life assisting in the French court.
April 3. Saint Benedict the African, also called Saint Benedict the Moor and Saint Benedict the Black, lived the life of a slave until he was 18. After joining the Franciscans, he held positions of leadership. He was known for his poverty and humility.
April 4. Saint Isidore of Seville was a prolific writer, and capable administrator of his diocese. Following his brother as bishop of Seville, he founded schools and seminaries, and he was known for his encyclopedic knowledge. Perhaps Isidore's greatest accomplishment is that he was a holy man.
April 5. We presently have two living Popes, but they are not both contending for the papacy. That was not the case in the lifetime of Saint Vincent Ferrer. The two contenders both claimed to be the authentic pope, and this went on for almost 40 years. For most of his life Saint Vincent “backed” the anti-pope.
April 6. The story of Saint Crescentia Hoess is a twist on the story of rags to riches. Born into material poverty, she eventually rose to true spiritual wealth. But not without many obstacles, including a number of physical ailments.
April 7. Probably best known as the patron of many Christian Brothers’ schools, Saint John Baptist de La Salle originally had no intention of working with youth or founding a religious community. He saw himself as a comfortable diocesan priest. But God had other plans, and Saint John responded wholeheartedly.
April 8. Saint Julie Billiart spent many years suffering from incapacitating ailments, but she never lost her drive to work for the Kingdom of God. Her desire to educate led her to help found the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
April 9. Saint Casilda grew up as a Muslim. Facing a serious illness as a young woman, she journeyed to a shrine in Spain where she was cured. As a result, she embraced Christianity.