February Catholic Saints

February Catholic Saints

February Saints 

St. Blaise | February 3

You may be familiar with the annual “blessing of throats” that many parishes in the United States use to commemorate the beloved bishop and martyr. St. Blaise lived in the fourth century in Turkey and Armenia. Due to religious persecution, he was forced to flee and hide in a cave in the back country in order to save his life.

History has it that one day a group of hunters stumbled upon where St. Blaise was living. They found the bishop kneeling in prayer, surrounded by wolves, lions, and bears that he had tamed. The legend has it that as the hunters dragged Blaise off to prison, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise’s command, the child was able to cough up the bone and thus lived.

Today we remember the saint on his feast day by taking two candles, crossing them against the throat, and saying the following prayer:

Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

St. Josephine Bakhita | February 8

The story of St. Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947) is a story that many people taken into slavery have experienced. Born in the Darfur region of Sudan, she was kidnapped at the age of 8 and sold into slavery many times. As she passed from owner to owner, she experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery. It was only at the age of 13 that her suffering was alleviated after she was bought for the Italian Consul in Sudan. It was here that she was fortunate to receive kindness, respect, and peace from her new master.

She was later handed over to the Canossian Sisters when she made the case that slavery had been outlawed in Italy for years. She was baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church in 1890, where she took the name Josephine. She later entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later.

St. Josephine Bakhita’s next 50 years were spent serving people through cooking, sewing, embroidery, and housekeeping. She was a source of encouragement and her constant smile won people’s hearts, as did her humility and simplicity. Today she is known as the patron saint of victims of modern slavery and human trafficking.

St. Conrad of Piacenza | February 19

The history of St. Conrad of Piacenza is quite fascinating. A member of one of the most noble families of Piacenza, he was known for his utmost honesty. One day while out hunting with friends, he thought he saw some game in an area of brush and ordered his attendants to set fire to the brush in order to scare it out of hiding. Unfortunately, the dry brush quickly ignited, and fire started to spread. Soon, the surrounding area was engulfed in flames.

Unfortunately, a known arsonist happened to be in the same area as the fire. This man was later imprisoned, tried, and condemned to death for the damage. But on his way to his execution, St. Conrad of Piacenza, full of guilt, stopped the proceedings and confessed to the fire. To make restitution for the damages, Conrad had to sell all his belongings, which reduced him to poverty. Soon after, he decided to retire to a hermitage, where he became a hermit of the Third Order of St. Francis, and his wife entered the Order of Poor Clares.

St. Polycarp of Smyrna | February 23

As a disciple of St. John, the Evangelist, St. Polycarp was able to hear about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection directly from those who witnessed it. Because Polycarp was ordained as Bishop of Smyrna by St. John, he is one of three chief Apostolic Fathers, along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch.

During his life Polycarp defended the Church against heresies. His important writing, the Letter to the Philippians, quoted the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, stressing Paul’s authority in the Church and setting out clear arguments against the gnostic heresy that denied Christ’s divinity.

The early period of the Church was a dangerous time to be a Christian and like many, St. Polycarp was martyred. He was captured by Romans and sentenced to burn at the stake. However, the fire did not touch him, instead rising up like sails around him. Seeing that the flames would not injure Polycarp, the Romans stabbed him instead. The Martyrdom of Polycarp is perhaps the earliest fully preserved account of a Christian martyr

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