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12 Great & Powerful Saints

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12 Great & Powerful Saints

By: John Seiler

Summary: These 12 great and powerful Catholic saints provide guidance and examples to those in every walk of life.

Keywords: Great Saints, Powerful Saints, Catholic Saints, Patron Saints

The Catholic Church has canonized hundreds of saints not to glorify them, because they are humble and now worship Jesus in Heaven. Rather, the saints are canonized both as examples to us and so we can call on them for help in our times of trial. There literally is a saint for every need, vocation and situation. Here are 12 Great and Powerful Catholic Saints to inspire, and to call on for help.

1. St. Thomas Aquinas. The patron saint of students and scholars, the Angelic Doctor garnered that name because of his perfect - angelic - vision of reality, which he wrote down in his numerous works. He was a humble monk who especially developed devotion to the Eucharist, writing the beautiful hymn "Tantum Ergo" and promoting the feast of Corpus Christi. He's also called the Universal Teacher because he taught us on almost every conceivable subject, on earth and in Heaven.

2. St. Pius X. Pope from 1903-1914, he remains an example of orthodoxy and strong Catholic piety. He especially encouraged devotion to the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ. He waged a holy war against "modernism," the hideous heresy that seeks to "update" the pure Catholic Faith by diluting it into non-existence. St. Pius X issued Pascendi Dominici Gregis in 1907, an encyclical destroying modernism. The encyclical needs to be revived today, the sooner the better. He is the patron saint of first communicants.

3. St. Pius V. Pope from 1566 to 1572, he implemented the reforms of Council of Trent, which refuted the Protestant heresies and had concluded in 1563. He codified the Traditional Latin Mass in the encyclical Quo Primum. He organized the Holy League, whose naval fleet under Don John of Austria [Don Juan de Austria] defeated the murderous Turkish Muslims at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, saving Christian civilization. He called on all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. Even though the battle was hundreds of miles away in a time of slow communications, as it ended he stood in the Vatican, praying the Rosary, and announced, "The Christian fleet is victorious!" What an inspiration in this time of new Muslim invasions. He is the Pope of the Rosary [as is Pope Leo XIII].

4. St. Augustine of Hippo. His "City of God" is a long book that explained why Rome had fallen to a barbarian invasion: Catholics had turned from God and needed to return to Him. His theology got the Catholic Church through eight difficult centuries until St. Thomas Aquinas came along in the 13th Century, and remains important today as our civilization again falls before barbarism. St. Augustine's personal story, told in his "Confessions," still resonates in these troubled times. He writes of his wayward youth, his fall into the heresy of the Manichees [Manichaeism], and his conversion back to the Catholic faith due to the prayers of his mother, St. Monica. He is the saint of printers and theologians.

5. St. Teresa of Avila. A great saint of Spain in the 16th Century, as a girl of seven with her brother she wanted to "go off to the land of the Moors and beg them, out of love of God, to cut off our heads there." The Moors were Muslims. God had other plans. She stayed in Spain, and brought about a reform of the Carmelite convents. But she especially is known for her deep prayer, something she struggled with at first, and which she wrote about in several books. She is the patron of those in religious orders and those who are sick.

6. St. Edmund Campion. As a young man, he was a brilliant [although Protestant] student at Oxford in the 1550s and 1560s and enjoyed the patronage of William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth's top adviser. Then St. Edmund became a Catholic and joined the Jesuits. From Douay, France, he was sent back to his homeland to bring persecuted, underground Catholics the sacraments. He was pursued...tortured and martyred. He is the patron saint of Wales.

7. St. Thomas More. Popular depictions of the saint say he died for his "conscience." Actually, he died for his informed, Catholic conscience. A close friend and the Lord Chancellor of King Henry VIII, St. Thomas broke from him over the king's insistence on getting a divorce from his lawful wife, Catherine of Aragon, to "marry" Anne Boleyn. When Pope Clement VII denied Henry an annulment, meaning Henry was [confirmed to be legitimately] married to Catherine, Henry broke away and started his own 'church', the 'Church of England', making himself the head of the new Protestant religion. When St. Thomas refused to take the "Oath of Supremacy" to Henry, the saint was beheaded. "I die the king's good servant," St. Thomas said. "But God's first." He is the patron saint of lawyers.

8. St. Patrick. I once got into an argument on the Internet with a Protestant who insisted St. Patrick was some kind of proto-Protestant preacher wandering around Ireland on his own. Wrong. A native of Scotland, as a young man St. Patrick was captured and enslaved by Irish brigands for six years, where he providentially learned the Celtic language of that people. He escaped to France and took up a religious vocation under St. Germain. Pope St. Celestine I sent Patrick back to Ireland in 433, this time to convert the pagans there from their superstitious druidism. He is the patron saint of Ireland.

9. St. Athanasius. "The whole world groaned in astonishment to find itself Arian," lamented St. Jerome of the late Fourth Century. The Arian heresy denied that Jesus was God, maintaining he only was a man. Most bishops of the day fell into the heresy. Against them, sometimes seemingly alone, stood St. Athanasius of Alexandria. "Athanasius contra mundum," it was said in Latin: Athanasius against the world. But Our Lord gave the saint the strength to defend Our Lord's Divinity. Exiled many times from Alexandria, in Northern Egypt, in the end the Truth he proclaimed prevailed. That's especially comforting, and challenging, in these times of doctrinal confusion. St. Gregory Nazianzus called him "the pillar of the Church."

10. St. Catherine of Siena. This great saint shows how even seemingly powerless people can do great good. The 23rd child born to Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa, she entered the Dominican Third order at age 18. She wrote highly spiritual, and ultimately influential, letters that remain a treasure of the Church. In particular, she pleaded with Pope Gregory XI to bring the papacy back to Rome from Avignon, France, where it had been for 70 years. He did so in 1377. She is the patroness of Italy.

11. Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. These great martyrs show how Jesus Christ saves the high and the low. Perpetua was a mother from a noble family, Felicity a pregnant slave girl. In Carthage, they were tortured and martyred together in 203 during the horrible persecutions of Christians under the pagan Roman Emperor Septimius Severus. Perpetua's father pleaded with her to give up her faith. She asked him, "See that pot lying there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?" He said, "Of course not." She then said, "Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am - a Christian." They are the patron saints of mothers, especially pregnant moms.

12. St. Louis IX. The king of France from 1226-70, with St. Thomas More, is one of the few politicians who is a canonized saint. From when he was a young man, St. Louis was known for his piety and Solomonic wisdom. He built many churches, including the remarkable Sainte-Chapelle, his royal chapel in Paris, designed in perfect Gothic style. He was called the "lieutenant of God on earth", which meant mainly two things: 1-He made peace among quarreling Europeans, such as the English crown's claims to French territory, and 2-He conducted two crusades to reclaim the Holy Land from the Muslim invaders. On August 25, 1270, which would become his feast day, he died of dysentery while on a crusade. The glory of the University of Paris during his reign was St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Louis is the patron saint of France, which during his reign was the greatest country in the world.

Signature ImageSignature: John Seiler

John Seiler was an editorial writer at The Orange County Register for 29 years. His email: writejohnseiler(at)gmail(dot)com


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