November starts off with All Saints Day, so it’s only appropriate to point out some of the amazing saints whose feasts we celebrate in November. Here are 15 cool saints to get to know this month.
1. St. Martin de Porres
St. Martin’s feast day is November 3 and he is the patron saint of people of mixed race, barbers, public health workers, and innkeepers. He was born in Lima, Peru, the illegitimate son of a Spanish gentleman and a freed slave from Panama. His father abandoned him and his family early on, leaving them in abject poverty. He was sent to a barber/surgeon (a common mix of trades in his day) where he learned how to cut hair and was trained in the medical arts. Throughout his life, even in the convent, he was ridiculed for being of mixed-race. However, this didn’t prevent St. Martin from practicing love and care of all people and for this he became renowned.
2. St. Charles Borromeo
St. Charles’s feast day is November 4 and he is the patron saint of bishops, catechists, cardinals, seminarians, and spiritual leaders. He was born in Milan to a the most influential family in Lombardy at the time, and was the third of six children. He decided to dedicate his life in service to the Church at the age of twelve and often told his father that he could only take the money required for his education and that the rest belonged to the poor of the Church.
Charles suffered from a speech impediment that made him appear to be unintelligent, but the truth was very much the opposite, as he went on to earn a doctorate in canon and civil law. Charles’s uncle became Pope Pius IV and, through him, Charles was named a cardinal. And this was all by the time he was twenty three years old and he wasn’t even a priest, yet! He governed the Papal States and supervised the Knights of Malta, the Franciscans, and the Carmelites. He also used his authority to found a literary academy. He did enter the priesthood and became Archbishop of Milan. To combat the Protestant Reformation and carry out the heavy burden of organizing the reforms of the Council of Trent, he founded schools, seminaries, and colleges for clergy to better educate them.
3. Bl. Martha Le Boutellier
Bl. Martha’s feast day is November 4, also. She grew up working hard on her family farm and, when she entered the convent, worked on the abbey farm, in the gardens, and doing laundry. She took the religious name Martha because it is associated with hard work and that’s what she felt her vocation was to do. She was eventually assigned to the cellar where she helped make cider and it was so good that she became known as “Sister Cider” to her friends! She became very close with the abbey’s superior and their bond has become a model of true friendship and sisterhood.
4. St. Zachary
St. Zachary’s feast day is November 5. This is St. John the Baptist’s father! How appropriate that his feast is celebrated so closely to the Nativity. His wife, Elizabeth, was past child-bearing age but an angel came to him in a dream and said that they would have a son and should name him John. At first, Zachary scoffed at this (pretty much the complete opposite of Mary) and for this he was struck mute until John was born. He did ascent to the angel’s message after this episode, though, and reminds us that even though we can be skeptical, we can always come around.
5. St. Elizabeth of the Trinity
St. Elizabeth’s feast day is November 8 and she is the patroness of sick people and the loss of parents. She was a French Discalced Carmelite nun, mystic, and spiritual writer and had a great proficiency on the piano. She cultivated a great understanding of and devotion to the Trinity from a young age and dreamed of entering the Carmelite convent. She was known for her depths of spiritual growth in Carmel, even though she also endured many bleak moments. Toward the end of her life she said, “I think that in Heaven my mission will be to draw souls by helping them to go out of themselves in order to cling to God by a wholly simple and loving movement, and to keep them in this great silence within which will allow God to communicate Himself to them and to transform them into Himself.”
6. St. Martin of Tours
St. Martin of Tours’s feast day is November 11 and he is the patron of the poor, soldiers, conscientious objectors, tailors, and winemakers. Martin was a soldier at the age of fifteen, following in his father’s footsteps. At age 20, he told his superiors he would no longer fight, as it went against his Christian conscience and for this, is recognized as the first conscientious objector in all of recorded history. After being released from military service, he traveled around helping and evangelizing people, including his own mother, and helped to combat the Arian heresy. Eventually he became Bishop of Tours, much to his chagrin. He helped to combat two other heresies during his lifetime, as well, and spoke out against the death penalty.
7. Bl. Gregory Lakota
Bl. Gregory’s feast day is November 12. He was a Greek Catholic who was educated in Vienna and was a priest and educator. He was arrested for his faith and sentenced to ten years in prison in Russia, where he died. He is considered one of the martyrs killed under the Communist Russian regime.
8. St. Frances Xavier Cabrini
St. Frances Xavier’s feast day is November 13 and she is the patron of immigrants and hospital administrators. She was always in fragile health and this kept her from initially entering religious life. She taught at a girls’ school for six years and then was asked by a priest to found an orphanage with the other women who lived in community with her. She founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart and cared for poor children in hospitals and schools. She also established seven homes and free schools and a nursery. She went to New York City in 1889. She founded 67 institutions in the US, including orphanages, hospitals, and schools. Her head currently is enshrined in Rome, one of her arms in Chicago, and the rest of her body in New York.
9. St. Agnes of Assisi
St. Agnes’s feast day is November 16. She is the younger sister of St. Claire and ran away at age 15 to follow in her sister’s footsteps and was received by St. Francis himself. She and her sister together founded the Poor Clares. She was made abbess of the Poor Clares in Monticelli and founded abbeys in Mantua, Venice, and Padua. She was with Clare when she died and died three months later, as her sister had foretold.
10. St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
St. Rose’s feast day is November 18. She joined the Society of the Sacred Heart and was sent to the United States in 1818. There she founded a boarding school for daughters of pioneers near St. Louis, MO and also opened the first free school west of the Mississippi River. At the age of 71, she opened a school for Native Americans and became known as “the woman who is always praying”.
11. St. Theophane Venard
St. Theophane’s feast day is November 24. He was born in France but joined the Foreign Missions of Paris and was ordained a priest. He was sent to Vietnam where he taught in a seminary before being arrested. He was chained in a cage for months and was then beheaded.
12. St. Catherine of Alexandria
St. Catherine’s feast day is November 25 and she is the patroness of unmarried girls, students, and apologists. She was possibly a princess and was an avid scholar. When persecution of Christians began, she went to the emperor to denounce this. Instead of killing her, he brought in 50 orators and philosophers to debate her, but to no avail. She spoke so movingly about the faith that several of the pagans converted. Unable to defeat her through rhetoric, the emperor had her scourged and imprisoned, but she still would not give up the faith, let alone stop preaching it. The emperor eventually sentenced her to death by a breaking wheel but when she touched the wheel, it shattered! At his wits’ end, the emperor simply had her beheaded.
13. Bl. Gaetana Sterni
Bl. Gaetana’s feast day is November 26. She lost her older sister and her father close together and then her brother left the remaining family to become an actor, leaving the family in hardship. So Gaetana helped her mother run the household and worked very hard. At not quite 15, she married a widower with three children and they were all very happy. That is, until tragedy struck again. She had a premonition that her husband would soon die that came true. Thus, his children were again orphaned and their child, not even yet born, would never know his father. Shortly after giving birth, Gaetana’s child also died and her husband’s family demanded his children be restored to them and made her distance herself from everyone. She wasn’t even 19 at this point! But she helped the children transition and then moved back in with her mother. Approachable but strong, she defended the rights of the children, forgave freely and obtained the full reconciliation and serenity of the two families. The suffering didn’t make her bitter, and her natural sensitivity became aware, giving her a capacity for compassion and solidarity.
14. St. Catherine Laboure
This St. Catherine’s feast day is November 28. She entered the community of the Daughters of Charity in Paris at a young age and, at twenty-four, received three visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In one of the visions, Mary asked her to commission a medal of the Immaculate Conception which we now know as the Miraculous Medal.
15. St. Andrew the Apostle
St. Andrew’s feast day is November 30 and he is the patron of fishermen and singers. He is the older brother of St. Peter and was said to have good social skills. He is the one who told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes and there are incidents recorded of other apostles speaking to him first before speaking with Jesus, indicating that he was close to Jesus. He was martyred in Patras by crucifixion. Deeming himself unworthy to be crucified as Christ was, he was bound to his cross and hung in an “X” shape, and this today is known as St. Andrew’s Cross.