In the 1989 film Major League, there is a scene where fans of the Cleveland Indians are reading the newspaper and talking about the team for the upcoming season. The overall consensus is that no one seems to know any of the players on the opening day starting lineup. This is how I was feeling when Shaun McAfee, Editor and Founder of Epic Pew, told me I was writing this week. I looked at the saints and feasts for this week and said to myself, “who the heck are these guys?!” Thanks, guy.
Just like the Cleveland fans didn’t know Jake Taylor, Ricky Vaughn, Pedro Cerrano, and Willie Mays Hays, let’s take a look at St. Ludolf of Ratzeburg, St. Guy of Pomposa, Saint Francis of Paola, and Saint Pedro Calungsod.
Saint Ludolf of Ratzeburg
He was a Norbertine priest. He became Bishop of the German see of Ratzeburg in 1236, while still remaining faithful to the practices of the Norbertine Order. He was a great defender of the Catholic faith and was treated severely, even imprisoned by Duke Albrecht of Saxony-Lauenburg. From this imprisonment, he became very sick and died.
A soldier who was injured in a battle invoked the intercession of St. Ludolf. The soldier suffered greatly because an arrowhead was stuck in his head but after praying to St. Ludolf, the arrowhead moved to the surface of his head and he was able to pull it out. In praise of the miraculous healing, the soldier sold and donated his extravagant missal and some magnificent liturgical vestments to the Church. St. Ludolf of Ratzeburg’s memorial is on March 29.
Saint Guy of Pomposa
This saint was born around 1046 in Italy. When he was able to do so, he gave all his belongings to the poor. For three years on the island of Po River, he lived as a hermit. He became the Abbot of St. Severus and was a spiritual director that many wanted to see. His memorial is on March 31.
Saint Francis of Paola
This Italian-born saint was educated by the Franciscans. At the age of fifteen, he became a hermit near Paola. In 1436, he and a few friends started what would become the community of the Minim Friars. On the land where he was a hermit, St. Francis built a monastery and established a Rule for his brother friars focusing on penance, charity, and humility, but also included the fasting and abstinence of meat. He also wrote a rule for religious nuns, and tertiaries, individuals that followed a rule of life and conduct but were not part of the monastic community. Today, they are known as Third Orders or tertiaries.
Many miracles, prophetic gifts, and the reading of men’s hearts are attributed to him. In 1474, the Order was affirmed by Pope Sixtus IV. They were known as the Hermits of St. Francis of Assisi but later changed in 1492 to the Minim Friars because he wanted them to be known as the least in the house of God. St. Francis of Paola built foundations in Southern Italy and on the Island of Sicily.
His reputation became so great that the King of France, Louis XI, on his deathbed asked to see him for he thought he could cure him. Pope Sixtus IV ordered Francis to go, however, the King was not cured. Louis’ son, Charles VIII, became friends with Francis, after feeling comfortable with his father’s passing. He assisted financially with the building of monasteries for the Minims. Francis also assisted with national politics establishing peace between France and Brittany and France and Spain.
Francis remained in France for the remainder of his days. On April 2, 1507, St. Francis of Paola entered eternal life. He was canonized in 1519. April 2 is his memorial.
A footnote on St. Francis of Paola – I had heard of him but knew nothing about him. Similar to Jake Taylor in Major League – he was somewhat known but nobody really knew him.
Saint Pedro Calungsod
Born in the Philippines in the year 1654. He was a talented sacristan and taught missionary catechism alongside his friend, Blessed Diego Luis de San Vitores to the Mariana Islands. Fr. Diego Luis de San was a Spanish Jesuit Missionary. Because of the missionary work they did together, many were brought to the Catholic Faith and received the sacraments, most especially the sacrament of baptism.
Since their work in the field was producing so much fruit, a man began making up false rumors about the men and devised a plan to kill them. He said that they were poisoning the Chamorro people through Baptism and the Catholic Mass. After baptizing a mother and child who came to the Catholic Faith, they were murdered in Guam on April 2, 1672
On March 5, 2000, Pope St. John Paul II beatified St. Pedro Calungsod. On October 21, 2012, Pope Francis canonized him a Saint. His memorial is on April 3.
Without ruining the ending of the movie for you, I will say that although the Indians started off the season in a terrible way, they accomplished great things. These four saints that I imagine many didn’t know before reading this article also did great things for the Catholic Church, but unlike the characters in the movie; their reward in heaven is beyond measure and eternal.
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons.