November Saints

Anne Stricherz

Find Out About These Amazing Saints of November

Father Ron Rolheiser has stated that “a saint is someone who can precisely channel powerful eros in a creative, life-giving way.” This eros, of which he speaks is a creative love, a powerful fire that drives us toward our longing, our deep desires. St. Ignatius of Loyola proclaimed that these desires were planted in our hearts by God.

Saints are holy men and women who longed for Christ and desired to know Him intimately, serve Him daily and spread His message in their local communities as well as the universal Church. Those men and women who have been canonized as saints sought to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth in their own special way.

The month of November begins by celebrating the Feast of “All Saints,” something we are all called to be by virtue of our baptism. On this Holy Day of obligation, the Catholic Church remembers and venerates those who have been canonized and those who may have lived lives of heroic sanctity and virtue in their own little corner of the world. Perhaps you know one or would like to get to know those that the Church celebrates and recognizes among the faithful. This posting will serve as an opportunity to meet four of them whose feast day falls in the eleventh month of the year.

Learning about the Saints in Modern Times

In October 2017, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints. In recent times, the Vatican has emphasized that the latest saints can serve as role models for today's Catholics. These men and women are shining witnesses to the Gospel, a quality that does not fade regardless of the era or epoch in which they live. Fortunately for the faithful today, there are innumerous ways to learn about the lives of the Saints. No longer must one simply check out a book from the library to learn how Saints can serve as role models for today’s Catholics.

In addition to books, one can learn about saints through a number of religious websites. Art is a wonderful way to remember and respect the saints, too. One can listen to a podcast or as included on Franciscan Media’s website, play a one-and-a-half-minute reflection that summarizes the life of the saint on his or her feast day. Learning about the saints can nourish our hearts and our minds; in coming to know how they loved and served God, we can’t help but wonder how we too can use our gifts to build the Kingdom. St Leo the Great, St. Josaphat of Polotsk, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Margaret of Scotland are profiled on Franciscan Media’s November 2017 calendar.

Here’s a little more information for why they might be worth listening to and praying with.

St. Leo: November 10

St. Leo is one of two popes who Church historians generally recognize with the title “the Great.” Some Catholic historians add St. Nicholas I (858–867) and time will tell if St. John Paul II ought to be afforded this honorary title. However as of today, only St. Gregory and St Leo are the successors of Peter considered “great.”

Why Leo? According to “What Makes a Pope Great,” Leo would be worthy of the title "the Great" for this key Christological contribution alone, but the title is also appropriate for his defense of the city of Rome from the Huns. In the fifth century, the Huns began their march from the Mongolian steppe to Italy, arriving in 452 under the leadership of Attila. When news of the approaching Hun army reached Leo, he decided to leave Rome and confront the savage chief. History does not record what was said between the humble, aged pontiff and the barbarian conqueror, but the results of the meeting are known: Attila did not sack the city.

St. Josaphat of Polotsk: November 12

St. Josaphat was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome. A famous preacher he was known as much for his humility as he is for his tireless work toward the unification of Christians in what is the modern-day Ukraine. He died trying to bring part of the Orthodox Church into union with Rome.

Though popular culture may link his name to the expression “Jumpin Josaphat!” his name means “YAHWEH has judged" in Hebrew.

In the life of St. Josaphat, we see the division has been an on-going struggle for humanity as well as within Christianity. According to Franciscan Media, “the present tragic division in Christendom, which is 64 percent Roman Catholic, 13 percent Eastern—mostly Orthodox—Churches, and 23 percent Protestant” would trouble St. Josaphat, ultimately gave his life for his faith.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini: November 13

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, born as Maria Francesca Cabrini on July 15, 1850 was the first United States citizen to be canonized. She became a naturalized citizen in 1909, 20 years after her arrival to New York City along with six other Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart. These valiant women came to the United States at the urging of Pope Leo XIII. Though she wanted to serve in China, the Holy Father asked Frances to go “Not to the East, but the West" to serve the flood of Italian immigrants who needed her help.”

Mother Cabrini, who added Xavier to her name when she took final vows—in honor of St Francis Xavier— founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing great need in particular among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes. Her institutions were as far reaching from New York as Illinois and Colorado, where a shrine serves as a holy site of pilgrimage for the faithful today.

In Mother Cabrini, we encounter a saint who never let a door closing stand in her way of her love for God and her desire to serve Christ. As a teenager, she was turned down from joining the Daughters of the Sacred Heart due to poor health. The first place that she taught, the House of Providence Orphanage closed early in her religious life. And even the home in New York where she was originally supposed to use for a new orphanage became unavailable. But not for St. Frances Cabrini. She was too aware that “with God, nothing is impossible.” Fortunately, many great souls were touched, healed and potentially saved by her great efforts and love for the Lord.

St. Margaret of Scotland: November 16

Read just a little about the life of St. Margaret of Scotland and you will understand why she is known as "The Pearl of Scotland." Born an English princess in Hungary to Princess Agatha of Hungary and the English Prince Edward the Exile around 1045, she was beautiful and kind. Margaret spent much of her youth in the court of her great-uncle, the English king, Edward the Confessor, but her family was forced to flee from William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Consequently, her widowed mother set out to take Margaret and her two sisters north to Northumbria.

Tradition says, Agatha decided to leave Northumbria and return to the continent, but her family's ship got caught in a storm. The storm drove their ship ever more north to Scotland, where they were shipwrecked in 1068. The spot they landed on is now known as "St. Margaret's Hope." She would offer hope to the Scotish people, especially the poor, in her lifetime.

According to Catholic online, “King Malcolm befriended the displaced lot and was captivated by the beautiful, gracious Margaret. They were married at the castle of Dunfermline in 1070. Together, they had eight children, six sons and two daughters, all of whom were raised with deep Catholic Christian faith. They lived as a holy family, a domestic church.”

King Malcolm left all domestic affairs to her, and yet he often consulted her in state matters. Her wisdom, her devotion to prayer, her service to others proved her a worthy confidante in his reign. As Queen of Scotland, she promoted the arts, education, encouraged synods for the purposes of religious reform. She listened to the faithful, served the poor and with her husband, she founded several churches. Her life of heroic virtue and great holiness is indeed a pearl of great price.


Who are your favorite November saints? Share in the comments!