June 24. Saint John the Baptist is one of the few saints who has two feast days. Today we celebrate his birth, which Saint Luke narrates in his Gospel. There Saint Luke draws a parallel between the births of Jesus and John, pointing out the important role in the history of salvation that Saint John the Baptist would play.
June 25. Blessed Jutta of Thuringia, a noble woman with children, became a widow at a young age. She used her means to provide for the children, but once they were grown, she disposed of her wealth, became a Secular Franciscan, and lived a life of austerity.
June 26. Blessed Raymond Lull, a Secular Franciscan, spent his life supporting the study of languages necessary for successful work in the missions. It wasn’t until late in life that he saw any fruition of his labors, when language chairs were established in several universities.
June 27. Saint Cyril of Alexandria was instrumental in the Church’s doctrinal statement that there is one person but two natures in Christ. The practical implication of this teaching is that we believe that Jesus is truly God and truly human. This definition was the source of much controversy in the early Church.
June 28. While we know little about the birth and death of Saint Irenaeus, we know that his life’s work of fighting Gnosticism had a tremendous influence on the theology of the Church. A man of learning and high passions, Saint Irenaeus refuted the Gnostic claims of “secret” knowledge, and supported the teachings of the Apostles and Scripture.
June 29. We celebrate two great saints today, Saints Peter and Paul. Saint Peter is often considered the Apostle to the Jews and Saint Paul to the gentiles (based, most probably, on his extensive travels among the gentiles). Together they witnessed to the budding of Christianity, and both laid down their lives for the faith.
June 30. Around the year 64, the city of Rome experienced a devastating fire. The Emperor Nero blamed it on the Christians, and a severe persecution followed. Included in the mass murder of Christians were the First Martyrs of Rome. We don’t know their names, but their witness to the faith is certain.
July 1. Embroiled in some controversy due to the interpretation of historical facts, Saint Junipero Serra was canonized by Pope Francis on the steps of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC on September 23, 2015. Known for having traveled the west coast of the country, Saint Juniper founded many of the famous California Missions in the 18th century. Giving his life for the Native Americans and the missions, Saint Junipero is honored with a statue in the United States Capitol National Statuary Hall.
July 2. Saint Oliver Plunkett may not be a household name in the United States but he certainly is well known in the British Isles. The Archbishop of Armagh, Saint Oliver Plunkett led his archdiocese through the rough days of persecution of Catholics. Finally apprehended, Saint Oliver was hanged, drawn, and quartered July 1, 1681.
July 3. We don’t know a lot about Saint Thomas the Apostle, but tradition has it that he traveled to and preached the gospel in India, where he was eventually martyred. His name means “twin,” and due to his skepticism, he is also known as “Doubting Thomas.”