Saint Vincent de Paul
Vincent de Paul was born in 1581, in France, to peasant farmers. There was, in the vicinity, a stream named the Paul and it is believed that this might have been the derivation of the family name. At age 15 he was sent to the seminary, his father paying the cost by selling the family oxen. In 1605 he was captured by pirates and sold off as a slave in north Africa. In 1617 he founded the “Ladies of Charity” from a group of women within his parish. They raised funds for missionary work, founded hospitals, assisted victims of war, and ransomed slaves. In 1622 he was elected the leader of the “Congregation of the Mission”, also known as the Vincentians. He died in 1660 in Paris. He was canonised in 1737.
St. Vincent de Paul is the patron of all works of charity. The Society of St Vincent de Paul, the well known charitable organisation, dedicated to the service of the poor, was established by French university students in 1833. The Society is today present in 132 countries.
Saint Francis Xavier
Francis Xavier was born to an aristocratic Spanish family in 1506. In 1525 he completed his studies in Paris. While teaching Aristotelian philosophy in France he met Ignatius of Loyola, with whom he became a great lifelong friend. He abandoned his academic lifestyle and took up missionary service. Along with Loyola and five others, they founded the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. In 1537 he was ordained to the priesthood in Venice. His evangelisation work took him to , among other places, India, Japan and Borneo. He died in 1552. Francis was canonised by Pope Gregory XV in 1622, at the same time as Ignatius Loyola. Pope Pius XI proclaimed him the Patron of catholic missions. His remains are entombed in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, India.
Daughter of Dubtach, pagan Scottish king of Leinster, and Brocca, a Christian Pictish slave who had been baptized by Saint Patrick. Just before Brigid’s birth, her mother was sold to a Druid landowner. Brigid remained with her mother till she was old enough to serve her legal owner Dubtach, her father.
She grew up marked by her high spirits and tender heart, and as a child, she heard Saint Patrick preach, which she never forgot. She could not bear to see anyone hungry or cold, and to help them, often gave away things that were Dubtach’s. When Dubtach protested, she replied that “Christ dwelt in every creature”. Dubtach tried to sell her to the King of Leinster, and while they bargained, she gave a treasured sword of her father’s to a leper. Dubtach was about to strike her when Brigid explained she had given the sword to God through the leper, because of its great value. The King, a Christian, forbade Dubtach to strike her, saying “Her merit before God is greater than ours”. Dubtach solved this domestic problem by giving Brigid her freedom.
Brigid’s aged mother was in charge of her master’s dairy. Brigid took charge, and often gave away the produce. But the dairy prospered under her (hence her patronage of milk maids, dairy workers, cattle, etc.), and the Druid freed Brigid’s mother.
Brigid returned to her father, who arranged a marriage for her with a young bard. Brigid refused, and to keep her virginity, went to Bishop Mel, a pupil of Saint Patrick’s, and took her first vows. Legend says that she prayed that her beauty be taken from her so no one would seek her hand in marriage; her prayer was granted, and she regained her beauty only after making her vows. Another tale says that when Saint Patrick heard her final vows, he mistakenly used the form for ordaining priests. When told of it he replied, “So be it, my son, she is destined for great things.”
This article copied with permission from St Brigid’s parish, Marrickville.
Saint Anthony was born Fernando Martins de Bulhoes in 1195 in Lisbon, Portugal. He was a Franciscan friar, renowned as a forceful preacher. He was a passionate follower of St Francis of Assisi. He was canonised just one year after his death in 1231. That is the second fastest canonisation ever. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946, and is sometimes referred to as the Evangelical Doctor.
He is venerated as the patron saint for lost articles. He is credited with many miracles relating to lost people and lost things. He is typically depicted with a book and the Infant Child Jesus, as in this statue.
Saint Patrick lived around the period AD 340 to 440. He was born in Scotland, but when he was 14 he was captured and taken to Ireland as a slave shepherd. After he escaped a few years later, he returned to Britain and became a priest and then bishop. As bishop, he returned to Ireland where he set about coverting the Irish people. He is the most generally recognized patron saint of Ireland.
Legend credits him with banishing snakes from Ireland. He is also reported to have used the shamrock (the three leaf grass plant) to illustrate the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.