Happy birthday, St. John the Baptist!

Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist”. Each year on June 24 the Catholic Church honors the birth of John by reflecting on his unique role as the precursor of Jesus. The solemnity held on that date praises John as a worthy example of what it means to be a follower of Christ. A solemnity is the most significant feast the Church can establish. While other saints are remembered with feast days to remember their deaths, St. John the Baptist, like Our Lady, is honored with solemnities to recall both his birth and his death.

St. Barnabas: The forgotten apostle?

Aside from the Twelve, few others receive the designation of apostle in the New Testament. Chief among them is the apostle Paul. Among the others is his one-time collaborator Barnabas, whose memorial is celebrated by the Church on June 11. Legend recalls Barnabas as one of the 70 disciples of Christ in the Gospel, but few details about him were recorded in the New Testament. Find out more in today’s post.

Pope St. John Paul II

Pope Saint John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in the small Polish town of Wadowice. During World War II, when the Nazis invaded Poland, Karol secretly studied for the priesthood in an underground seminary established by the archbishop of Krakow. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. In 1964, Father Karol was appointed archbishop of Krakow; just three years later he was made a cardinal. In 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, the 264th in the Church’s history. He took the name John Paul II. He began his papacy on Oct. 22 by telling the world, “Be not afraid”; his life showed everyone that to change the world, we must “cast into the deep for a great catch.”

St. Damien of Molokai: A saint for the forgotten and abandoned

Jozef De Veuster was once a gregarious boy who loved life — even a skating champion near his Tremelo, Belgium, hometown. Brought up in a faithful family, he chose to follow in the footsteps of his older brother and entered religious life with the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in 1859. Better known by his religious name, Damien, this saint had the heart of a missionary and was known to pray each day to become one. In 1863, Damien volunteered for Hawaiian missions in place of his sickly priest-brother who was supposed to go. Soon, his zeal for souls earned St. Damien De Veuster the title “apostle to the lepers,” and ultimately led to his canonization by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009.