Saint Alexius U Se-Yong

U Se-Yong was from a wealthy Korean family, while in his teens he learned the Faith from a Catholic catechist. His father refused to let him be baptized, so Se-Yong ran away. He learned the Faith from catechist Chong Mark, who instructed him in the Faith, baptized him and gave him the Christian name Alexius.

His father continued to be hostile, so he went back to live with Chong Mark. He translated Christian books and prayed for the conversion of his family. His father contacted him and asked to learn more about what had captured his heart. Returning home, he instructed his entire family and twenty entered the Church.  Then the family moved to a new town to avoid persecution.

In 1866 Alexius was visiting Chong Mark when authorities came to arrest them. Alexius renounced the Catholic faith and was released.  He even took part in beating another catechist to death. He was so overcome with sorrow and remorse, he confessed to the Bishop to apostasy and murder.  He was arrested again, but remained firm in his faith in the face of torture. He was executed on March 11, 1866, at the age of twenty-two.

Saint Margaret Castello (Margaret of Metola)

1287-1320 Died at age 33

Because she was dwarfed, blind, hunchbacked and lame, Blessed Margaret was kept hidden by her parents throughout her childhood. When she was sixteen, she was taken from Metola to the miraculous shrine at Citta-di-Castello, where a cure was anticipated. Unfortunately, no miracle occurred, and it is recorded that the child was left abandoned. She was cared for by various families of the city and earned money for her board by attending small children. Her cheerfulness, based on trust and love of God, endeared her to everyone. Blessed Margaret of Castello became a Dominican tertiary and devoted herself to the sick and dying, but she showed special solicitude toward prisoners.

She was a mystic and her body was found incorrupt over 200 years later

Blessed Victora Fornari Strata

1562-1617

Nine years after a happy marriage, Victoria was left a widow with six children.  Deeply anxious about her children's future and considering marrying again, Victoria had a vision from the Virgin Mary. Mary told her "Be brave and courageous. I will take you and your children under my wing. Live in peace without anxiety. Trust yourself to my care and above all devote yourself to the love of God."

Victoria continued to live charitably, giving most of her wealth away. She began a religious house with ten other women. A contemplative community, the Order of the Annunciation, because of their blue cloaks, they are known as the Blue Nuns.

Saint Casilda of Toledo

A Spanish martyr who died in 1050. A native of Toledo, Spain, of Moorish parentage, Casilda became a Christian and a hermitess near Briviesca, Burgos. According to her legend, St Casilda, a daughter of a Muslim king of Toledo (likely Yahya ibn Ismail Al-Mamun), showed great compassion for Christian prisoners by frequently bringing bread to feed them hidden in her clothes into the prison, to feed them.  Once, she was stopped by Muslim soldiers and asked to reveal what she was carrying under her skirt. When she began to show them, the bread turned into a bouquet of roses. She was raised a Muslim, but when she became ill as a young woman, she refused help from the local Arab doctors and traveled to northern Iberia to partake of the healing waters of the shrine of San  Vicente. When she was cured, she was baptized at Burgos (where she was later venerated)  and lived a life of solitude and penance not far from the miraculous spring. It is said she lived to be 100 years old.

Christina the Astonishing

1150-1224 The Life of St Christina the Astonishing by Thomas de Cantimpre inspired me to paint Christina. She is an unusual Saint, rising from her coffin, to taking the pains of Purgatory for others by sitting in ovens or soaking in frigid waters. She was arrested for her behavior twice.   Some thought she was possessed, others sought her council.  I'm still unsure and somewhat perplexed, but she helped me understand purgatory a little more.

Saint Rose Venerini

Pioneer of education for women and girls in 17th century Italy and foundress of the Religious Teachers Venerini

Saint Monica

Oil on wood panel 9"x12"x1.5 Commission

An early Christian (b 371) and mother of Saint Augustine. St. Monica is the patron of abuse victims, alcoholics, difficult marriages, disappointing children,  mothers, victims of adultery and unfaithfulness, widows, wives.

Hermann of Reichenau

Also known as Herman the Cripple, was born in 1013 with a cleft palate, cerebral palsy and spina bifida. He was one of fifteen children of the Count and Countess of Altshausen. He was baptized soon after he was born. 

At the age of seven he could hardly grunt out his words and had to be carried or wheeled about.  His father brought him to the monastery on Lake Constance to meet the abbot.  His father told the abbot that "Our Hermann cannot read or write, but can see things I can't."  He would live at the monastery for the rest of his life.

Hermann was a polymath who attracted scholars from near and far. He wrote of math and music. Two of his musical works are still loved today, Salve Regina and Alma Redemptoris Mater.

Herman died on Reichenau on 24 September 1054, aged 41. The Roman Catholic Church beatified him in 1863.

*information from The Magnificat

Saint Basil the Great

Basil had saints for grandparents, parents and siblings. After studying in Athens, he wanted to teach, his sister Macrina urged him to consider his soul, and went on a life changing tour of monasteries.  He was ordained as a priest and founded a monastery.  

In 370, he was named Bishop of Caesarea in the middle of a famine.  He used his influence to expand access to food, shelter and medical care. He founded a hospital and a community of monks to staff it. Doctors and surgeons came to work in this innovative place, where light and air were let in and infectious diseases quarantined. He then added a hostel for strangers and a school to train the unskilled.

Beyond this, Basil was a leader among bishops. His writings were a beacon in a time of confusion and heresy. When he died in 379, Christians, Jews and pagan paid their respects.

*information from the Magnificat 

Saint Camillus (1555-1614)

A native of Bocchianico in Abruzzi, Italy, Camillus became a soldier of fortune at seventeen and by twenty-five had gambled away everything he had.  He found work at a Capuchin friary and was moved to repentance. When the friars refused to permit him to make vows with them because of his ulcerous leg, Camillus sought treatment at Saint James Hospital in Rome.

In order to pay for his treatment, Camillus had to work in the hospital alongside the poorly paid nurses. They were dirty, rude and cruel.  In time he became an administrator, all while progressing in his spiritual life under the direction of Saint Philip Neri, who counseled him towards the priesthood. Camillus saw further, he wanted to become a priest who would serve Christ in the sick.  With like-minded men he founded a hospital where fresh air and good food were the norm. He gave priority to hygiene and privacy.  In 1595, the Camillians were the first nurses to serve in a mobile unit on a battlefield.

Throughout his life, Camillus' own pains only grew worse. He called them "God's Mercy" and never stopped serving the sick, even prostrating himself before them. The por and sick are the heart of God, by serving them we serve Jesus Christ.

Camillus died at sixty-five on July 14, 1614. 

*Information from the Magnificat