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57 Short Stories of Saints

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Some of the best-loved saints of the Church are featured in a revised and updated edition of a classic collection. Wonderfully written biographies and illustrations of Saints Lucy, Monica, Augustine, Benedict, Francis Xavier, Edith Stein, Juan Diego, Katharine Drexel, and many others. Perfect for intermediate readers and school or church libraries.

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The Archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael

ePub

The Archangels

St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael

September 29

Angels were created by God, just as we were, but they’re very different from human beings! Angels have no bodies; they are pure spirits. They never get tired. To talk to one another, they only have to think a thought—they don’t have to speak out loud. They never misunderstand one another.

The Bible mentions three angels by name: the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. These three angels brought special messages from God to his people.

The Book of Tobit (one of the books in the Old Testament) tells about the Archangel Raphael, who guided Tobit’s son Tobiah during a difficult journey and presented Tobit’s prayers to God.

We can read about the Archangel Gabriel in the Gospel of St. Luke. Gabriel was the angel who invited Mary to become the Mother of Jesus, God’s own Son.

The Bible mentions three angels by name: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.Angels are messengers of God, and they also present our prayers to God.

Michael is mentioned several times in the Bible. In a great battle against Satan, Michael led the angels who wished to remain faithful to God. Satan and some other angels had revolted against God. They did not love God and refused to do what God asked them to do. Satan and the other rebellious angels lost the battle. They went to hell. Today we call them devils or fallen angels. After that great battle, Michael became a defender and protector of God’s people on earth.

 

St. Joachim and St. Ann

ePub

St. Joachim and St. Ann

(First Century)

July 26

Ann and her husband Joachim were prayerful people who tried to obey all the laws of their Jewish religion. At that time, the Jewish people were praying that God would send a leader called the Messiah to save them. They were not a free nation; the rulers of Rome had conquered them and made them pay high taxes. Every young Jewish woman hoped that she might be the Mother of the Messiah. But Joachim and Ann lived together for many years without having any children.

Every day Ann took good care of their home while Joachim brought their flock of sheep out to the pastures. Ann would say many prayers as she carried water from the deep well, or spun the wool from the sheep into fine thread. She prayed that God would bless her and Joachim with a child. At the time when Joachim and Ann lived, people thought that a couple without children must have done something wrong.

An ancient story tells us that one day when Joachim went to the Temple, the priests wouldn’t allow him to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. They were afraid that God was not pleased with him. Feeling sad and confused, Joachim left the Temple and went out into the hill country to pray. Suddenly, an angel appeared to him telling him not to be distressed. Soon he and Ann would have a baby!

 

St. Joseph

ePub

St. Joseph

(First Century)

March 19 and May 1

When she was old enough, Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Ann, married a good man named Joseph. According to the custom of the times, the young couple waited a while before beginning their life together.

While they were waiting, the Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to ask Mary to become the Mother of the Messiah, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

“I am God’s servant,” Mary replied. “Let this happen as you said.”

Later, in a dream, another angel told Joseph that Mary was going to have a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. “You must name him Jesus,” said the angel. “He will save his people from their sins.” (“Jesus” means “God saves.”)

Joseph was a carpenter and spent his days making furniture and farm tools for the people of Nazareth.

Mary and Joseph set up their home in the small town of Nazareth, in Galilee, and eagerly awaited the birth of Mary’s son. Joseph was a carpenter and spent his days making furniture and farm tools for the people of Nazareth. Mary took care of their house and got everything ready for the birth of her son. Then, just a few weeks before the baby was to be born, Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor who ruled Galilee and Judea at that time, announced that he wanted to count all the people in his kingdom. He ordered all the people to go to their hometowns to be registered in a census.

 

St. Peter

ePub

St. Peter

(First Century)

June 29

Simon was strong and tanned, with sparkling eyes that took in everything around him. His gaze most often rested on his treasured fishing boat, his large nets, and the Sea of Galilee—that unpredictable lake where he fished every day. Simon had been born a fisherman, and he planned to die a fisherman.

One day, when Simon had been listening to John the Baptist preach by the Jordan River, his brother Andrew came rushing up to him. “We’ve found the Messiah!” Andrew excitedly announced. Simon didn’t know it yet, but that day his life would change forever.

Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, who gazed long and hard at the sturdy fisherman. At last Jesus said to him, “From now on you’ll be called Peter.” (In Greek, the word was Cephas, which means “rock.”)

Simon Peter didn’t understand why Jesus had given him that name, but he didn’t care. He was convinced that there was something wonderful about this new teacher. He decided then and there to spend as much time as possible with Jesus and learn all that he could from him.

 

St. Paul

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St. Paul

(First Century)

January 25 and June 29

While Jesus walked the dusty roads of Palestine, a young Jewish boy named Saul was growing up in a seaport city in Asia Minor called Tarsus. Many wealthy Jewish families lived in Tarsus.

Saul’s father was a Pharisee. This meant that he followed many strict religious rules. Saul had to live by those rules too.

The boy was intelligent and lively. At the age of five, he began his schooling with the study of the Bible. As soon as he was old enough, Saul also began to learn a trade, as was the custom at that time. His father taught him how to make tents.

“Come, O Lord, and don’t delay,” the boy often prayed as he worked. Like all Jewish children, he was waiting for the coming of the Messiah whom God had promised to send to his people. Saul didn’t know that the Messiah had already come. He was Jesus, God’s own Son. He was living in a town called Nazareth, where he learned the carpenter’s trade from his foster father. People were expecting the Messiah to be a mighty prince who would free Israel from the Roman armies and conquer the whole world. What a surprise Jesus would be to everyone!

 

St. Thecla

ePub

St. Thecla

(First Century)

September 23

Tradition tells us that St. Thecla was the first martyr among Christian women, as St. Stephen was the first of the men.

Thecla was born around A.D. 30 in the city of Iconium, in Asia Minor. It is said that she was the daughter of an important citizen, whose house was noted for the expensive banquets that were given there.

Thecla’s family believed very strongly in the pagan gods and magical superstitions, which were popular at the time.

Thecla liked to spend her time studying great works of art and literature. But the more she learned, especially about philosophy, the more unhappy she felt. It seemed that none of the many books she read, or the many teachers she had, could answer her deepest questions about life.

Often, after long hours of study, she would go out on the balcony and gaze at the sunset, wondering silently, If my soul is to die out like that setting sun, why was it created? If it is to go on living after death, what will happen to it? Will some God take it to live with him? If so, who will he be? In her heart, Thecla would say to that unknown God, O mysterious Being, if you exist, if you love me as I believe, let me know about you!

 

St. Cecilia

ePub

St. Cecilia

(Third Century)

November 22

Cecilia was born in the city of Rome during the third century. Her father was a Roman senator, and her family was very wealthy. Although her father was not a Christian, he allowed his Christian wife to baptize Cecilia when she was still a young child.

Dressed in her tiny tunic and sandals, little Cecilia would go around the large family estate singing, dancing, and amusing everyone. Her mother taught her Christian prayers and told her many stories about Jesus. Together they would often pray for an end to the persecution of their Christian brothers and sisters.

Although she was young, Cecilia understood what the persecutions meant. “Mother, won’t they ever stop killing Christians?” she asked. “Every day so many die in the arena while people laugh at them. I feel so sorry for them.”

Cecilia’s mother told her, “It’s good to feel sorry for people who die because of their faith in Jesus. But we should be happy for them, too. The martyrs are killed because they love Jesus and believe he is God. They go straight to heaven to live with Jesus forever.”

 

St. Tarcisius

ePub

St. Tarcisius

(Third Century)

August 15

Under the rule of the Roman Emperor Valerian, the Christians lived in peace for several years. But in A.D. 258, an official convinced the emperor to begin a new persecution of the followers of Jesus. “All Christians will be put to death,” Valerian declared. “Only those who deny Jesus Christ and honor the gods of Rome will be set free.”

That very night, the elderly Pope Sixtus II called the Christians together in the catacombs. “My brothers and sisters and beloved children in our Lord Jesus Christ,” he began, “as you already know, we are under persecution once again! Some of the faithful have already been taken to prison. Let us pray for them!”

The search for Christians grew more intense with each passing day. The emperor’s soldiers went house by house, arresting Jesus’ followers. Soon the city’s prisons were full. Every evening when the sun was setting, the condemned Christians sang hymns to God. The beautiful sound of their singing floated up from the damp underground cells.

 

St. Sebastian

ePub

St. Sebastian

(Third Century)

January 20

Sebastian, a young officer in the Roman army, had just found out that two young men had been put in prison and sentenced to death because they believed in Jesus Christ. Sebastian was a Christian, too, although the other soldiers didn’t know it. In fact, he had become a soldier of Rome with the hope that he would be able to secretly comfort and assist Christian prisoners. With deep concern he thought of the twin brothers, Mark and Marcellinus, who were newly baptized and the only Christians in their family.

Lord Jesus, prayed Sebastian silently as he hurried toward the prison, let me die, if need be, but please give Mark and Marcellinus the courage to remain faithful to their baptism!

As he entered the cell, Sebastian found the brothers surrounded by a group of friends. Their father was there, too. Everyone was urging the twins to give up their Christian faith and save their lives. Mark and Marcellinus were torn between love for their Heavenly Father and love for their earthly father.

 

St. Lucy

ePub

St. Lucy

(d. 304)

December 13

During the time when Diocletian was emperor of Rome, a daughter was born to a wealthy family on the island of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea.

The little girl’s eyes sparkled so brightly that she was named “Lucy,” which means “light.” Lucy’s father died when she was about six years old, but the family had enough money to live comfortably in their home in the city of Syracuse.

Lucy and her mother were both Christians. They often met secretly with other Christians in tunnels and caves beneath the city to pray and to celebrate Mass. At that time, Christians were being persecuted and put to death for their faith in Jesus Christ.

As Lucy grew older, her love for Jesus grew stronger. She saw the great difference between the way of life that Jesus had taught his followers and the way in which the non-Christian Romans lived. The world was full of violence, injustice, and immorality, but Lucy refused to be drawn into the sinful lifestyles of many of her friends. For Lucy, God’s love was infinitely more precious than anything else in the whole world.

 

St. Agnes

ePub

St. Agnes

(d. 304)

January 21

Almost three hundred years after Jesus died for us on the cross, a family named Clodius lived in the city of Rome. They were a noble family who lived in a magnificent palace and had many servants. But the most precious treasure of the Clodius family was their daughter, Agnes.

The name “Agnes” means “lamb.” It fitted the young girl well, because she was very gentle. Agnes had eyes that shone with a beautiful light. She was warmhearted and kind to everyone, always doing good things for others.

By the time Agnes was thirteen, she was already tall and graceful. She often wore a snow-white dress with no ornaments or jewels, which made her look very much like a bride. And she always looked as happy as a bride, as if she was thinking of someone very special to her.

The name “Agnes” means “lamb,” and it suited the young girl well, because she was very gentle.

People couldn’t help noticing her beauty, gracefulness, and goodness.

One day a boy named Procop, the son of the prefect of Rome, met her as she was out walking. “Agnes,” he said, “I’d like to talk with you.”

 

St. Helen

ePub

St. Helen

(d. 330)

August 18

In the late third century, in a small province of the western part of the Roman Empire known as Bithynia, a daughter was born to an innkeeper and his wife. The little girl was named Helen, and as she grew up she learned to help her parents care for the travelers who stopped at the inn. Like most of their neighbors, the family was not Christian. They were pagans who worshiped the gods of the Roman Empire.

One day there was great excitement in the town. “General Constantius is coming!” some men shouted. “Constantius Chlorus is coming with his troops!” Constantius and his men stopped at the inn. Helen helped her parents serve the soldiers their meals. She must have been a very gracious hostess, for General Constantius fell in love with her and asked for her hand in marriage. Her parents were sorry to lose their daughter, but they were happy for Helen. “As the general’s wife, you will be well cared for,” Helen’s father told her. “You’ll never have to worry about finances, and you’ll get to travel all over the empire.”

 

St. Martin of Tours

ePub

St. Martin of Tours

(317–397)

November 11

“Take me with you, Father! I’m not afraid of the long journey.” Young Martin’s eyes were wide with excitement as he pleaded with his father, a strong Roman officer.

“Yes,” agreed Martin’s father. “Now you can come to live in Italy with your mother and me. You will be living in a land very dear to the gods.”

“Do you still believe in the gods, Father?” Martin asked. “Don’t you realize that there is only one God?”

Martin’s father didn’t reply. He wondered—as he had wondered before—who had told his son such strange things.

The truth was that Martin, born in the Roman province of Hungary, had learned about the Christian faith from the woman who had cared for him during his early childhood. She had taught him about Jesus and the Christian martyrs.

Now Martin’s father was going to take him to Italy. The boy was very excited. Soon he would see Rome, the “capital of the world”!

It was a long journey. Mounted on a single horse, father and son rode through green valleys and up rocky mountain passes. At night they would roll up in their blankets beneath the stars. Sometimes Martin would dream of Jesus. The boy was only ten, but he already felt a strong desire to become a Christian.

 

St. Monica and St. Augustine

ePub

St. Monica and St. Augustine

(332–387) (354–430)

August 27 August 28

Although St. Monica lived many years ago, we know a lot about her life because of the writings of her famous son, St. Augustine. In fact, St. Monica is well known for the prayers she offered for her son’s conversion.

Monica was born in Tagaste, North Africa, in 332. Her devout Christian parents were careful to teach their children the truths of faith, their prayers, and the Commandments.

When Monica was twenty-two, she married Patricius, who was much older than she. Her friends were worried about the marriage, because Monica was gentle and kind, while Patricius was hot-tempered. He was not a Christian.

“How do you manage to get along so well with such a sharp-tempered husband?” Monica was asked a few years later. She replied that she never argued with Patricius but was always patient and gentle with him. When he was angry, she waited for him to calm down before talking to him.

Monica was a great peacemaker among her friends, too. She always told people the good things that others said about them, never the bad. Her patience and kindness even won over her mother-in-law, who hadn’t liked her at first.

 

St. Patrick

ePub

St. Patrick

(389–461)

March 17

In the fourth century, about a hundred years after the Roman Emperor Constantine had stopped the persecutions of Christians, many Romans who lived in Britain were Christian. Most of them were farmers.

Patrick belonged to one of these Christian families. He was born around the year 389, and grew up in the fields and forests. Even though Patrick had been baptized, he had not been well instructed in the Catholic faith. But Patrick loved God, and while he worked out in the fields he often said the prayers his mother had taught him.

One day a fleet of warships raided the British coast. The fierce men who attacked the peaceful villages, burning and killing and carrying off prisoners, were raiders sent by the Irish king, “Niall of the Nine Hostages.” They robbed and destroyed the farmers’ homes. And they took away everyone they could capture who was young and strong—including Patrick.

The hold of the raider ship was dark and crowded. Patrick lay still, cramped, hungry, and aching from his bruises. He listened to the swish and thump of the waves against the ship’s hull and felt the surge and roll of the vessel as it plowed along. Questions kept running through his mind: Will I ever see my family again? Are my parents alive or dead? Where are these men taking me? Maybe I’m going to Ireland to be sold as a slave!

 

St. Brigid

ePub

St. Brigid

(d. 525)

February 1

Brigid was born during St. Patrick’s lifetime—when Ireland was half-pagan and half-Christian. Her father was Duffy, a pagan chieftain, and her mother was Brocessa, a Christian slave. Shortly before Brigid’s birth, Duffy sold Brocessa, with the understanding that their child would be returned to him in a few years. Brocessa had Brigid baptized as soon as she could and taught her about Jesus and Mary.

When Brigid returned to serve as a slave in her father’s household, she acted differently than the other slaves. If a hungry dog came whining to her while she was cooking, he got a piece of meat. If a poor person came by while she was tending the sheep, Brigid might give away one of the woolly lambs. She seemed to forget that she was Duffy’s slave and to remember only that she was his daughter.

One day Duffy called her: “Come here with me in the chariot.”

Brigid scrambled in happily and sat next to her stern-faced master. A flick of the whip and off they went.

“I’m not doing this to make you happy,” Duffy said abruptly.

 

St. Benedict

ePub

St. Benedict

(circa 480–547)

July 11

By the time he was twenty, the young Roman noble Benedict had already become disgusted with the lawlessness and evils of sixth-century Rome. It seemed that whoever had the biggest weapons or fought the hardest ruled the land. Benedict asked his parents’ permission to move to the countryside, where he could pray and study. The fresh air and peace he found there were a welcome change from the corruption of the city.

But Benedict felt himself drawn more and more to a life of total seclusion and prayer. A life of prayer, fasting, and penance—this was what the young man felt God was calling him to. He knew that his elderly servant would miss him, but his desire for a new way of life was so strong that one night he left a note and quietly slipped out of the house. He planned to go far into the wild, rugged wilderness that is known today as Subiaco.

Benedict walked on and on. The going became rougher and rougher. At last he found himself in the midst of some rocky mountains. This was just the kind of out-of-the-way place he was looking for! Benedict smiled.

 

St. Columban

ePub

St. Columban

(543–615)

November 23

Autumn was at its peak. The elderly monk could feel its twinge in his bones. The trees were still too thick with leaves for him to see what was going on in the valley below, but Columban knew that his monks were there. Today they would be working in the vineyards and olive groves, getting ready for the days of icy winds and swirling snows that would soon be coming. There wouldn’t be much food this winter, but the monks fasted so often that their supplies were sure to last until spring.

How are the other monasteries, those beyond Italy, doing? the old man wondered. He thought of each one, hundreds of miles to the northwest, hidden among the forested mountains of Gaul. It had been years since he had seen them. The monk pondered his memories in silence, and then turned back into his cave. During the past two years he had spent many hours at prayer in this retreat. Now he felt he would soon leave the cave for good.

Columban had lived a long and active life. He thought back over the years to his youthful days in distant Ireland, the land of his birth. He remembered how difficult it had been to leave home. In his imagination, he heard again his mother’s tearful voice begging him not to go. He relived his journey to the island of Cluain, where he had continued his studies of Latin and Scripture at the monastery. Then he had decided to become a monk himself—a decision that had changed the course of his life.

 

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