SAINTS IN AUGUST
During the second half of the month of August, the Church’s calendar is filled with the commemorations of many saints, ranging from kings to apostles to scholars who come from areas as disparate as Hungary, North Africa, and Peru, who served in ministries as diverse as king, prophet, teacher, and even pope, and who lived in times stretching from the first century to the seventeenth.
On August 16 the Church observes the memorial of St. Stephen, King of Hungary. Saint Stephen was born at Pannonia around the year 969. After his baptism he was crowned king of Hungary in the year 1000. In his relationship with his subjects he was just, peaceful, and pious, exactly observing the laws of the Church and ever seeking the welfare of his people. He founded many dioceses and spent great energy in fostering the work of the Church. He died at Szekesfehervar in 1038.
Saint John Eudes, whose memorial occurs on August 19, was born in the diocese of Seez in France in the year 1601. After his ordination to the priesthood he spent several years in giving missions. Then he founded congregations dedicated to improving priestly formation and to encouraging morally endangered women to lead Christian lives. He also fostered great devotion to the hearts of Jesus and Mary. He died in 1680.
Although this year it occurs on Sunday, August 20, and is therefore superseded by the Sunday celebration, the memorial of Saint Bernard commemorates a great saint, born in 1090 near Dijon in France. After a religious upbringing, he joined the Cistercians in 1111 and later was chosen abbot of the monastery of Clairvaux. There he directed his companions in the practice of virtue by his own good example. Because of schisms which had arisen in the Church, he traveled all about Europe restoring peace and unity. He wrote many theological and spiritual works. He died in 1153.
Saint Pius X, whose feast is kept on August 21, was born in 1835 in the village of Riese in the province of Venice. After he became a priest he performed his duties with distinction. He became bishop of Mantua and patriarch of Venice, and was elected pope in 1903. He took as the motto of his reign to renew all things in Christ. He fulfilled this task in the spirit of simplicity, poverty and courage, arousing the faithful to a Christian way of life and waging constant warfare against the errors of his age. He died August 20, 1914.
On August 22, one week after the celebration of her Assumption into heaven, we honor the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Pope Pius XII established this memorial, naming the Blessed Mother queen of heaven and eath, in 1954, just four years after the proclamation of her Assumption.
Saint Rose (August 23) was born at Lima, Peru, in 1586. She led a virtuous life at home and, after receiving the habit of the Third Order of Saint Dominic, she made great progress in a life of penance and contemplation. She died August 24, 1617.
Saint Bartholomew was born at Cana. He was brought to Jesus by the apostle Philip. After the ascension of the Lord, he is said to have preached the Gospel in India where he was rewarded with the crown of martyrdom. His feastday is August 24.
Saint Louis (August 25) was born in 1214 and became king of France when he was only twenty-two years old. He married and became the father of eleven children who received from him careful instruction for a Christian life. He excelled in penance and prayer and in his love for the poor. While ruling his kingdom he had regard not only for peace among peoples and for the temporal good of his subjects, but also for their spiritual welfare. He undertook the Crusades to recover the tomb of Christ and died near Carthage in 1270. St. Louis is of special interest to the people of St. Francis Parish in Staunton as he is the patron of the twin parish that St. Francis helps to support in Haiti. Observed on the same day is the memorial of Saint Joseph Calasanz, born at Aragon in 1557. Well educated, he became a priest and exercised his ministry in his homeland. Later he dedicated himself to the education of poor boys at Rome and founded a society pledged to that work. He endured many trials, especially the calumnies of those who were jealous of his success. He died at Rome in 1648.
Replaced by the Sunday celebration this year, the memorial of Saint Monica is ordinarily observed on August 27. Monica was born of a Christian family at Tagaste in Africa in 331. While still a young maiden she was married to Patricius. They had children, among whom was Augustine. She poured forth many tears and prayers to God for his conversion. A model of the virtuous mother, she nourished the faith by her prayers and witnessed to it by her deeds. She died at Ostia in 387.
Immediately following the observance of his mother’s memorial, the great bishop and doctor of the Church Saint Augustine is celebrated on August 28. Augustine was born at Tagaste in Africa in 354. He was unsettled and restlessly searched for the truth until he was converted to the Faith at Milan and baptized by St. Ambrose. Returning to his homeland, he embraced an ascetic life and subsequently was elected bishop of Hippo. For thirty-four years he guided his flock, instructing it with sermons and many writings. He fought bravely against the errors of his time and explained the Faith carefully and cogently through his writings. He died in 430.
The memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist occurs on August 29 and commemorates the martyrdom of the great forerunner of the Lord. When John spoke the truth to Herod about the king’s immorality, Herod had him thrown into prison and then beheaded. The nativity of John is celebrated on June 24, making him the only person besides the Lord and the Blessed Virgin Mary to have both birth and death observed by the Church.