Dads are awesome and play a very important part in the upbringing of children, not to mention in their spiritual development, as well. Here are five fathers who became saints.
1. St. Joseph
Duh, as if I wasn’t going to start with him! The definition of the “strong, silent type” and archetype of a servant heart, St. Joseph really is the home run of all fathers anywhere. It’s no small feat to be the foster father of God himself nor to be married to the Queen of Heaven and Earth. What is most excellent about St. Joseph is that he’s completely silent in the Scriptures. He speaks not one word. He serves his family through work, prayers, devotion, and love, and sets aside his own earthly desires to care for those who have been entrusted to him. Truly, man as he was created to be.
2. St. Louis Martin
Husband to St. Zelie Martin, father to St. Thérèse (and four other girls!), St. Louis is second only to St. Joseph (in my book). He and Zelie created a foundation of faith and love on which they built their family and because of this foundation, all of their children went on to enter religious life, one is canonized, and another is in the process of canonization. After Zelie died, he raised their girls on his own, never wavering in faith or trust or devotion, and served his girls with the utmost love and care for their bodies and souls.
Seems like he did a pretty amazing job! He knew what it meant to be father and husband and faithful and lived it profoundly. Fun fact: He owned a watchmaking business but sold it when he found that Zelie’s lacemaking business was more successful and profitable so that he could help her run hers. Now that’s some laying down of one’s desires for the benefit of the family!
3. St. Louis IX of France
St. Louis IX became king of France when he was only twelve years old, after the death of his father, and assumed full power when he turned twenty-one. He was raised by his pious mother and this informed the way he treated and guided his own family. He and his wife cultivated a life of prayer including Mass, Divine Office, and frequent confession, which they passed on to their children.
Louis would often write his children telling them that it was better to undergo martyrdom than commit a mortal sin, urged them to accept tribulation with gratitude, and to always help and comfort the poor. He also had a strong hand in their education. St. Louis is a great father because not only did he instruct with his words, but he lived out these instructions himself and effectively led his whole family in holiness.
4. St. Thomas More
St. Thomas More was an extremely devoted father, even though work often took him away from his family for long periods of time. He often wrote his four children letters while he was away, assuring them of his love for them. Thomas also insisted that his three daughters receive the same education as his son and, because of this anomaly of the time, his daughters are noted for their academic achievements.
Another wonderful thing about St. Thomas is that when he remarried, after his wife died, he took on his new step-daughter as though she were of his own flesh, modeling that love is more than a biological connection, but a bond and service we have with each other.
5. St. Basil the Elder
St. Basil the Elder was the son of St. Macrina the Elder, husband of St. Emmelia, and father of Sts. Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sabaste, Naucratius, and Macrina the Younger. With a pedigree like that, it’s not hard to understand why he is a saint! But the elder St. Basil, though not as well-known as his namesake son, was renowned for his life of virtue and this obviously rubbed off on his family.
It was his faith and virtue that gave foundation to the family and helped them all grow into the people that God created them to be. Another strong, silent type, Basil the Elder made God a priority in his life and that of his family and everyone benefitted. Sometimes the truest service is just stepping aside, not achieving any sort of greatness for oneself, and helping our children grow into the saintly rockstars they were meant to be.