6 Saints To Celebrate This August
Grit, humility, and resilience is a common theme in the lives of the saints whose feasts we celebrate in August. When the world seemed to be in turmoil and seemed lost, they persisted. Now, the whole church recognizes them for their virtue and how they lived their lives.
While a whole book could be written on the lives of all the saints we celebrate in August, I chose to write about these six so we can ask for their intercession this month.
(July 16, 1194 - August 11, 1253)
Feast Day: August 11
Patronage: Eye Disease, Television, Laundry
Location: Assisi, Italy
Clare grew up with everything a girl of her day would want: she was born into a wealthy family, was very beautiful, and was set to marry a rich man guaranteeing a safe, comfortable life. But Clare rejected it. She heard St. Francis of Assisi preaching and was inspired to live her life for the gospel as he did. Under the cover of night, Clare snuck away from her father’s home and met with St. Francis and his followers. She cut her beautiful, long, golden hair and was given a plain robe and veil to wear. Her father demanded she return, but she refused, declaring she would have no other husband but Jesus Christ. She went on to inspire other women to live the same and founded the Poor Clares.
Perhaps the most famous story about St. Clare was in 1224. An army of soldiers came to attack Assisi. Clare placed the Blessed Sacrament on the walls of the convent where the enemy could see it. She prayed, “O Lord, protect these Sisters whom I cannot protect now." The Lord answered, "I will keep them always in My care." Struck with terror, the attackers fled and the city was left untouched.
St. Maximilian Kolbe
(January 8, 1894 - August 14, 1941)
Feast Day: August 14
Patronage: Drug addicts, prisoners, families, the pro-life movement
As a young boy, Maria Dąbrowska was at a loss of what to do with her spirited son. She declared, “I don’t know what’s going to become of you!” Little Maximillan was troubled by his mother’s words. He began to pray, asking the Blessed Mother what will become of him. She appeared to him in a vision holding a white and a red crown. White for purity, red for martyrdom. She asked him if he would like one. “I choose both,” he said. She smiled at him kindly, then disappeared.
Moved by the vision, Maximilian entered the Conventual Franciscans as a young teenager and was ordained a priest when he was 24 years old. He founded the Militia Immaculata (Army of the Immaculate one) with the goal of freeing the Church from her enemies, specifically the Freemasons. The group published a religious magazine, created missionaries across the world and devoted itself to the Blessed Mother. Little did he know of the enemies that were to come.
Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and built Auschwitz, where millions of people would be sent to die. Maximilian Kolbe was arrested and sent to Auschwitz’s work camp. Not long after his arrival, men were chosen to be sent to the starvation chambers as a warning against escapes. Maximilian stepped forward, identifying himself as a priest and volunteered to take the place of a man who had a wife and children.
He was sent with nine others to the chambers, stripped naked, and left to die. He led his fellow prisoners in prayer and song. The usual screams of agony heard by those in the starvation chambers was filled with calm. He was the last of the group to remain alive after two weeks of starvation and dehydration. He greeted the guards warmly as they approached him to give him a lethal injection that would kill him, granting him his crown of martyrdom.
Pope St. Pius X
(June 2, 1835 - August 20, 1914)
Feast Day: August 21
Joseph Sarto was born to a poor Italian family. Young Joseph studied Latin and Theology with his village priest and felt inspired to enter seminary himself under scholarship. He was ordained a priest in 1858. Nine years later, he was made a Monsignor, and 20 years later he was made Bishop of Treviso.
He was elected pope in 1903 following the death of Leo XIII. At first, he declined the nomination, feeling unworthy to be the successor of Peter himself. But after being asked to reconsider, he accepted. He took the name Pius X. He was uncomfortable with the pomp of the papal court. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he said to a friend. “It is a penance to be forced to accept all these practices. They lead me around surrounded by soldiers like Jesus when he was seized in Gethsemani.”
As Pope, he codified Canon Law, restored frequent communion and childhood communion, and spoke out about the heresy and evils of Modernism that was sweeping the globe as it entered the 20th century.
We can take example from his simplicity and humility of heart. He was succeeded by Pope Benedict XV.
St. Rose of Lima
(April 20, 1586 - August 24, 1617)
Feast Day: August 23
Patronage: Florists, Latin America, and the Philippines
St. Rose of Lima is the first saint of the New World to be canonized. She was especially known for performing brutal and painful penances. She marred her face with pepper and went lengthy periods of time without eating. She did this out of love for the Lord and to dissuade men from asking for her hand in marriage. She desired more than anything to enter the convent, but her parents refused.
She cloistered herself in a room in her parents’ home, devoting herself to prayer. She entered the Third Order of St. Dominic while living in her parents’ home and took a vow of perpetual virginity. She only slept two hours a day and donned a heavy silver crown with spikes on the inside, as a reminder of the Crown of Thorns. She lived this way for 11 years until her early death at 31 years old.
(c. 330 - 387)
Feast Day: August 27
Patronage: Alcoholics, Mothers, Conversion, Wives, Abuse Victims
Location: Modern day Algeria and Milan
St. Monica was a Christian who was given in marriage to a licentious pegan with a violent temper. She also lived with her mother-in-law whom her husband inherited his temper from. They hated that she was a Christian and mocked her, refusing to allow her to baptize their children. Monica prayed for her mother-in-law and husband. She led by example and spoke openly about her faith. Eventually, both of them converted.
Most famously, she prayed and fasted for the conversion of her son Augustine. He was a bright young man but had become Manichaen. He had also taken in a concubine and had a son out of wedlock. Regardless and to Augustine’s dismay, she stayed close to him, following him to Milan where he studied and taught rhetoric. In Milan, she met St. Ambrose, who was bishop and became her spiritual director. She listened to his advice and encouraged him to befriend Augustine.
After resisting his mother’s pleas and prayers for 17 years, Augustine converted and was baptized by St. Ambrose. Monica died shortly after, but not after experiencing the great delight of unifying her family in the church.
(November 13, 354 - August 28, 430)
Feast Day: August 28
Patronage: Converts to Christianity, Printers, Theologians, Brewers.
Location: Hippo, Modern day Milan
Following his mother’s death, Augustine became a priest, a bishop, and perhaps one of the greatest saints and Doctors of the Church that ever lived. Using his skills in rhetoric, he became a prolific preacher and writer.
He wrote a beautiful account of his conversion in his Confessions, which is a classic and must-read! He wrote The City of God to console Christians after the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410. He brought many converts to the church as St. Ambrose did for him.
The Germanic Tribe of the Vandals besieged his beloved Hippo in the spring of 430. Augustine was taken ill but continued to minister and write, directing the church in Hippo to preserve his library. Miraculously, though the Vandals burned and looted the city, his cathedral and library were left untouched. He died before the Vandals lifted the siege.