3 Ancient Saints With Crazy Stories
By Kiersten Salazar
You’ve probably heard of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Mother Teresa, and St. Francis of Assisi and you probably also know people who have picked these great saints as their patrons for confirmation! Connecting with or relating to a saint for whose intercession you will be asking for as you are initiated into the Church can be incredibly fruitful! Whether you’re searching for your own confirmation saint as a Catholic teen or young adult, or you’re involved in youth ministry and want to have the opportunity to share more options with the confirmation candidates in your classes or youth group, here are three lesser-known saints and their crazy stories. Saints Januarius, Frances of Rome and Denis, pray for us!
Feast Day: September 19
Patron of Blood Banks & Naples
If you’re looking for a saint whose relics (bodily remains) are still doing some crazy things today, St. Januarius might be your guy! Born in the year 272 A.D. and martyred in 305 A.D. during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian, little is known about this saint who was at the time the Bishop of Benevento in Italy. Prior to his martyrdom, St. Januarius traveled to the diocese of Puzzoli in Naples, Italy to visit several faithful men in prison, bringing along with him his deacon and lector. While he was there, he was arrested for his faith, and was thrown into a cage with wild animals! However, by the grace of God, none of the animals came near St. Januarius or the other believers. The government leader of that area believed that this was due to magic and had them all beheaded. St. Januarius’ body is now kept in Naples along with a vial of his blood. As if avoiding being eaten by wild beasts wasn’t cool enough, the vial of St. Januarius’ blood liquefies several times a year when placed by his head, and bubbles as if it were blood that had just been recently shed!
St. Frances of Rome
Feast Day: March 9
Patroness of Motorists and Widows
You don’t need to become a nun or priest to serve the poor and become a great saint! Saint Frances was an Italian wife and mother who lived from 1384 to 1440. Frances had a great desire to serve the poorest of the poor people in Rome and wanted especially to comfort those who were greatly suffering. After experiencing a plague that killed two of her three children, Frances was even further convicted of serving those who had nothing and went begging door to door with her like-minded sister-in-law, Vannozza. Later, she even opened up a part of her home to be used as a hospital! Convinced that living out her vocation as a wife and mother as well as giving her life away in service of others was something that was so needed, she formed a society of women who held no religious vows and led them in this way of life, living with them in the community after the death of her husband.
Feast Day: October 9
Patron of the French Monarchy
If you’re a stubborn person striving for holiness, you might relate to Saint Denis! Denis was born in Italy sometime in the early 3rd century, and was martyred around the year 250 A.D. Very little is known about his life. He became the bishop of France in the third century and built a church where he fearlessly preached the Word of God. In fact, his preaching was so powerful that he was persecuted by the priests who were known to be heathens because of the number of conversions coming about. The governor at the time, Fescenninus Sisinnius, had Saint Denis and his companions beheaded. The men received honorable burials, but a legend developed several years later stating that Saint Denis, after being beheaded, picked up his own head and walked several miles to where he wanted to be buried before falling over dead!
Now that you know a little more about the lives of some great examples of faith, virtue and sacrifice, it’s up to you! Take some time to pray, thanking God for how many holy men and women we have to look up to as saints in Heaven. Whether you’re looking for a patron saint for your confirmation, or you’re searching for another powerful intercessor to pray for you as you strive to live a holy life here on earth – continue to seek out more saints that you can relate to or whose stories are so different and exciting that you can’t help but share them with those around you!
All you holy men and women, pray for us!