One of the best ways to strengthen faith is to study the lives of the saints, and the U.S. Bishops have selected 10 saints to start with as the Year of Faith begins.
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Jeannine Marino, a canon lawyer and program specialist for the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis put together a list of “10 Saints Who Were Great Evangelizers” in honor of the Year of Faith and the upcoming All Saints Day:
1. Sts. Peter and Paul –Peter and Paul laid the foundations of the early Church and are among the most venerated saints. Peter was the first to profess that Jesus is the Son of God, and the papacy is built on his witness. Paul’s mission trips expanded the reach of the young Church, and his writings articulate our faith. Both men were willing to bear witness to the point of death, and both were martyred in Rome.
2. St. Jerome – A Fourth Century Doctor of the Church, Jerome made the Bible more accessible to everyday people when he translated it into Latin from its original Hebrew and Greek. St. Jerome is famous for saying, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” We can follow in Jerome’s evangelizing footsteps by loving the Word of God.
3. St. Augustine – Bishop of Hippo, a contemporary of Jerome, and another Doctor of the Church, Augustine was notorious for his life of sinful indulgence prior to his conversion. He continues to inspire people, not only because of his conversion, but also with the brilliance of his writings—most famously his Confessions—which have had a profound impact on Christian thought down to the present day.
4. St. Patrick – As the Fifth Century Apostle of Ireland, Patrick exemplifies how Christian witness can have a pervasive, lasting impact on a culture. Following the example of Jesus, who taught with imagery, St. Patrick is known for using the image of the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity, making a great mystery of God accessible to all people.
5. St. Francis of Assisi – One of the most beloved saints, Francis of Assisi lived the Gospel by identifying himself with the poor, embracing outcasts and enemies, andcelebrating the goodness of God present in all creation. His witness revitalized a Church that had “fallen into ruin,” and his influence today goes beyond the order he founded and even beyond the Catholic Church. When the last two popes held interreligious gatherings to pray for peace, they met not in Rome, but in Assisi.
6. St. Ignatius of Loyola – Founder of the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola was a former soldier from Spain. He founded the Jesuits in 1540 as an effort to counter the effects of the Protestant Reformation by the promotion and defense of the teachings and authority of theChurch across Europe. Ignatius also developed his Spiritual Exercises, a model of prayer still used today.
7. St. Francis Xavier – A close friend of St. Ignatius and one of the first Jesuits, Francis Xavier was a great missionary to Asia, visiting India, Indonesia, Japan and other countries. He was named the patron of Catholic missions by Pope Pius XI.
8. St. Juan Diego – The peasant to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared Juan Diego is essentially the evangelizer of an entire hemisphere. Blessed Pope John Paul II named Our Lady of Guadalupe the patroness of the Americas in 1999 and canonized Juan Diego in 2002. He is the first indigenous Mexican saint.
9. St. Daniel Comboni – Another great missionary in the history of the Church, Daniel Comboni traveled from his native Italy to Central Africa and founded the Comboni Missionaries and the Comboni Missionary Sisters in 1867 and 1872, respectively. He spent nearly all of his priesthood in Africa and was named a bishop and apostolic vicar to Africa in 1877. He died in 1881 and was canonized in 2003.
10. St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus – Also known as St. Thérèse of Lisieux and the Little Flower, Thérèse was a French Carmelite in the late 1800s. She is best known for pursuing the “little way” to holiness, serving God in every little action of daily life, before dying of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in 1897. She was named the patroness of Catholic missions by Pope Pius XI because of her devotion of praying for missionaries. She was named a Doctor of the Church (the third woman and youngest person ever to receive this honor) by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1997.
More information on the Year of Faith is available here.
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