shutterstock_547210543-3

Feast Days & Saints

JUNE

The month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The term Sacred Heart is a symbol of God's boundless and passionate love for mankind. It is one of the most widely practiced devotions in the Catholic faith. Pope Leo XIII established June as a special month of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

June 1 - Justin Martyr

June 1 is the feast day of Saint Justin Martyr, an early Christian apologist who was beheaded in the second century for teaching the faith.

Saint Justin was born around 100 AD to a Samaritan family and defined himself as a Gentile. In his own works, he said he searched for a belief system, studying Stoicism, Pythagoreanism and Platonism.

He then chanced upon an old Christian man who engaged him in conversation about God, telling him of the testimonies of the prophets.

Moved by the man’s words, he decided to dedicate his life to the service of the Devine. His belief was bolstered by the lives of the early Christians and heroic examples of the martyrs.

He started his own school in Rome to teach the “true philosophy” of Christianity.

While teaching, he got into a dispute with philosopher Crescens who denounced him to the authorities.

He was tried along with six of his companions, and beheaded, becoming a martyr.

June 5 – Pentecost

The 50th day after Easter is Pentecost (June 5 in 2022), commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ.

It is a moveable feast, meaning its date depends on the date of Easter, rather than a specific day like other feast days.

The feast occurs after the ascension of Jesus into heaven, with the descent of the Holy Spirit completing the Holy Trinity.

The story of Pentecost is recounted in the Bible in Acts 2:1-4:

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.”

June 9 – St Ephrem

June 9 is the feast day of Saint Ephrem, a prominent Christian theologian and Doctor of the Church who lived in the 4th century.

Born in the year 306 in modern-day Turkey, Ephrem was baptised as a youth and was appointed as a deacon shortly after. He composed hymns and wrote biblical commentaries as part of his role.

When Nisibis, the city he was living in, was surrendered to invading Persians, the Christian population was forced to leave. He eventually settled in Edessa and spent his late fifties apply himself to ministry in his new church, continuing his work as a teacher.

During his lifetime, he composed hundreds of hymns, many of which still exist today.

After spending 10 years in Edessa, he succumbed to the plague as he ministered to its victims, dying on 9 June 373.

He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

June 11 – St Barnabas

June 11 is the feast day of Saint Barnabas, a first century Apostolic Father who was among the most prominent Christian disciples in Jerusalem.

Originally named Joseph, he was given the name Barnabas by the Apostles, meaning “son of encouragement”.

He appears in the Book of Acts and several of Paul’s epistles, which recount he sold land he owned and gave the proceeds to the community.

Following the conversion of Saint Paul, Barnabas introduced him to the Apostles. The pair evangelised together through the Mediterranean.

Despite eventually splitting from Paul, it’s believed the two men remained good friends up until Barnabas’ death.

According to tradition, while preaching in Syria, he was tortured and then stoned to death by some Jews in the area.

June 12 – Trinity Sunday

The first Sunday after Pentecost is commemorated as Trinity Sunday, celebrating the doctrine of the Trinity, the three persons of God: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In the early Church, there was no special day assigned for the Holy Trinity although some of the faithful were already reciting the Office of the Holy Trinity, composed by Bishop Stephen of Liège in the early 10th century, the week after Pentecost.

John XXII ordered the creation of the feast on the first Sunday after Pentecost in the 14th century and Pope Pius X raised it to the dignity of a primary of the first class in the early 20th Century.

Just a week after celebrating Pentecost, the time when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus, the Church appropriately turns its attention to the whole of the Holy Trinity, recognising the gift given by each of the person.

June 13 – St Anthony of Padua

June 13 is the feast day of Saint Anthony of Padua, a 13th century Catholic priest and early friar of the Franciscan Order who became a Doctor of the Church.

Born in Lisbon, Portugal as Fernando Martins de Bulhões, to a wealth and noble family, he entered the Augustinian community of Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross at the Abbey of Saint Vincent on the outskirts of Lisbon at the age of 15.

He asked to be transferred to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in Coimbra just a few years later, where he studied theology and Latin and was ordained to the priesthood.

He encountered some visiting Fransiscan friars and was strongly attracted to their simply way of life. He joined the order and adopted the name Anthony.

He set out for Morocco but became sick and was forced to return to Portugal however the ship was pushed off course and landed in Sicily.

He became well known through Italy for his preaching and teaching, coming to the attention of Francis of Assisi, the founder of his order. The two shared a bond and Anthony was assigned to provide teaching to members of the order.

Anthony traveled to see Pope Gregory in 1228 and was hailed as a "jewel case of the Bible" by the papal court.

In 1231, he became sick with ergotism and died shortly after at the age of 35 in Padua. He was canonised as a saint within a year of his death and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church in 1946 by Pope Pius XII.

June 16 – Corpus Christi

The Thursday after Trinity Sunday is celebrated as the Feast of Corpus Christi, also called the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

The feast celebrates the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, or Holy Communion, and proclaims the truth of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the actual body of Christ during Mass or the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

The feast of Corpus Christi originated in 1246 when the Bishop of Liege (in present day Belgium) ordered the festival be celebrated in his Diocese after being persuaded by a young prioress who had experienced a vision. This woman, Juliana of Mount Cornillon, would be officially recognised as a saint by Pope Pius IX in 1869.

The festival did not spread until Pope Urban IV ordered the whole Church to observe the feast. Shortly before Pope Urban issued his 1264 bull, St Thomas Aquinas had undertaken and completed the task of composing both the office, or official set of prayers for the Church, and the Mass for the feast.

In some parts of the liturgy today Acquinas’ work remains, in others it has been replaced. One hymn that has been excised but still remains well known, and performed, begins with the words Panis angelicus.

Pope Clement V proclaimed the feast universal and by the 15th century it had become one of the principal feasts in the Church.

June 22 – St Thomas More

June 22 is the feast day of Saint Thomas More, an English lawyer, judge and martyr who opposed the Protestant Reformation and was executed for opposing Henry VIII as supreme head of the Church of England.

More was born in 1478, the son of Sir John More, a successful lawyers and judge. He served the Archbishop of Canterbury as a household page from 1490 to 1492. The Archbishop nominated him for a place at the University of Oxford, where More began studying in 1492. He was called to the Bar in 1502 and became a lawyer.

He is believed to have considered abandoning his career at one point to become a monk.

He was elected to parliament in 1504 and became a secretary and personal advisor to King Henry VIII. More opposed the rising Protestant Reformation and actively worked to stop its influence growing in England.

When King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church, More refused to acknowledge him as supreme head of the Church of England, and did not attend the coronation of Anne Boleyn as Queen of England.

He was imprisoned in the Tower of London for treason. He was found guilty by a jury after just fifteen minutes and was executed on 6 July 1535.

Pope Leo XIII beatified Thomas More, John Fisher, and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886. Pope Pius XI canonised More and Fisher on 19 May 1935.

June 22 – St Paulinus of Nola

June 22 is the feast day of Saint Paulinus of Nola, a Roman poet and senator who abandoned his career and wealth to become a Christian, then later Bishop.

Paulinus was born in Bordeaux, in France in 352, to a notable senatorial family.

In 375, when Emperor Gratian succeeded his father Valentinian, he made Paulinus suffect consul at Rome and appointed him governor of the southern Italian province of Campania.

When Gratian was assassinated in 383, Paulinus went to Milan to attend the school of Ambrose before returning to Bordeaux in 384 and marrying Therasia.

He was baptised shortly after, crediting his conversion to St Felix, who was buried in Nola.

When the couple lost their only child eight days after birth, they decided to withdraw from the world and live a secluded, religious life.

In 393, he was ordained a presbyter by Lampius, Bishop of Barcelona and moved to Nova in late spring of 395, where he remained until his death.

His wife died some time between 408 and 410, and Paulnius received episcopal ordination shortly after, becoming Bishop of Nola where he served for 20 years. He died at Nola on 22 June 431.

The renunciation of his wealth and station in favour of an ascetic and philanthropic life was held up as an example by many of his contemporaries—including SS Augustine, Jerome, Martin, and Ambrose.

He was subsequently venerated as a saint.

June 22 – St John Fisher

June 22 is the feast day of Saint John Fisher, an English Catholic bishop, cardinal and martyr who was executed by Henry VIII during the English Reformation.

Born in 1469 to a modestly prosperous merchant, he received early education in the school attached to the collegiate church in his hometown and later studied at Cambridge.

He received papal dispensation to enter the priesthood despite being under canonical age. He was appointed Bishop of Rochester in 1504 at the personal insistence of Henry VII. His reputation for preaching meant he was appointed to preach the funeral oration for both King Henry VII and the Lady Margaret.

When King Henry VIII tried to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Fisher became her chief supporter, enraging the King. As Henry VIII’s attacks on the Church intensified, Fisher became one of its most public defenders.

When Henry VIII went through with his marriage to Anne Boleyn, Fisher was arrested and later imprisoned. He refused to acknowledge the marriage of Henry and Anne, and refused to declare the King as Supreme Head of the Church of England.

In 1535, the newly elected Pope Paul III declared Fisher a Cardinal, however this only enraged Henry VIII further. Fisher was sentenced to death for treason and executed on 22 June 1535.

In his final moments, he retained a dignified courage, profoundly impressing those around him.

He was canonized by Pope Leo XIII with Thomas More and 52 other English Martyrs on 29 December 1886.

June 24 – St John the Baptist

June 24 is the feast day of the nativity of Saint John the Baptist, an itinerant preacher who baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.

John was born to Zechariah, an old priest, and his wife Elizabeth, a relative of Mary, who thought they were unable to have children. His birth was foretold by the angel Gabriel.

He grew up to be a preacher, who taught about charity, baptized tax collectors and advised soldiers. He is described as wearing clothes of camel's hair and living on locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin, and says another will come after him who will not baptize with water, but with the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus came to John, he was baptized by him in the river Jordan, after which, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended.

Little is known about the rest of his life after this event.

Around 30 AD, John was sentenced to death and subsequently beheaded by Herod Antipas around after John rebuked him for divorcing his wife Phasaelis and then unlawfully wedding Herodias, the wife of his brother Herod Philip I.

June 24 – Sacred Heart

The third Friday after Pentecost is the feast of the Sacred Heart.

The term Sacred Heart is a symbol of God's boundless and passionate love for mankind. It is one of the most widely practiced devotions in the Catholic faith.

While the entire month of June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus as a feast day 19 days after Pentecost.

This feast wasn’t always on the liturgical calendar. It took many centuries before it was established and spread throughout the world.

St Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun and mystic, received private revelations from Jesus on 16 June 1675, asking her to specifically promote a feast that honoured His Sacred Heart.

The first country to institute a liturgical feast was Poland and then in a decree from the Sacred Congregation of Rites on 23 August 1856, Pope Pius IX established the feast for the universal Church.

St John Paul II, a great devotee of the Sacred Heart, said: “This feast reminds us of the mercy of the love of God for the people of all times.”

On this feast day, the faithful are encouraged to discover the riches hidden in the Heart of Jesus that gives hope and trust and to love our neighbours.

 

MAY

The month of May is dedicated to Our Blessed Lady, the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Heaven and Mother of the Church. The pious practice of honouring Mary during May has been especially recommended by the Popes. Parishes often have a daily recitation of the Rosary during May and crown the statue of Mary with beautiful flowers representing Mary’s beauty and virtue. It is also a reminder to strive to imitate Mary’s beauty and virtue.

Read More

our-lady-of-fatima-600px

In May we celebrate:

May 1 - St Joseph the Worker

May 1 is the feast day of Saint Joseph the Worker, reflecting his status as a carpenter and patron of workers.

While Saint Joseph has his principal feast day on March 19, the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker was introduced by Pope Pius XII in 1955 as an ecclesiastical counterpart to International Workers Day, also held on May 1.

Saint Joseph was the foster father of Jesus and is held up by the Church as a model of the holiness of human labour. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is referred to as “the carpenter’s son”.

Pope Pius XII said Saint Joseph was a model of holiness to all workers.

“The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work,” he said.

The feast day was established to both honour Saint Joseph and to make people aware of the dignity of human work, which has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God.

Pope John Paul II wrote in his encyclical Laborem Exercens: “the Church considers it her task always to call attention to the dignity and rights of those who work, to condemn situations in which that dignity and those rights are violated, and to help to guide [social] changes so as to ensure authentic progress by man and society.”

Read More

May 3 - St Philip the Apostle

May 3 is the feast day of Saint Philip the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus who was martyred for evangelising following the Ascension.

Saint Philip was from the city of Bethsaida and was among those surrounding John the Baptist when Jesus was pointed out as the Lamb of God.

He features prominently in the Gospel of John. He was asked by Jesus how to feed the 5,000 people, and acts as a conduit between the Greek community and Jesus. He also asks Jesus at the last supper to explain the unity of the Father and Son.

Following Jesus’ Ascension, Saint Philip became a missionary, preaching with his sister Mariamne and Bartholomew in Greece, Syria and Phrygia.

He was martyred in the city of Hierapolis after converting the wife of the proconsul of the city, angering the husband who had him tortured and killed.

Relics of Saint Philip are in the crypt of Basilica Santi Apostoli in Rome along with Saint James, another of the Twelve Apostles, who was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I of Judaea.

Read More

May 14 - St Matthias the Apostle

May 14 is the feast day of Saint Matthias the Apostle, who was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot following his betrayal of Jesus and subsequent death.

While he is not mentioned in the Gospels, according to the Acts of the Apostles, he had been with Jesus from the time of his baptism by John the Baptist, through to his Ascension.

Following the Ascension, the Apostles asked the 120 disciples that had followed them to nominate two men to replace Judas. Matthias was nominated alongside Joseph Barsabbas. After praying, they cast lots and the lot fell to Matthias, so he was numbered with the 11 Apostles.

He went on to preach the Gospel and plant the faith in Turkey, Ethiopia and Georgia. He was martyred by crucifixion for his ministry.

It’s believed St Matthias’ remains were brought to Italy through the Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I. Part of the relics were buried in the Abbey of Santa Giustina, Padua, and the remaining in the Abbey of St. Matthias, Trier, Germany.

May 26 - Feast of the Ascension

May 26 is the Feast of the Ascension, commemorating Jesus’ ascent into Heaven, completing his redemptive mission on Earth.

The Ascension is commemorated on the fortieth day of Easter, reflecting Jesus’ ascent on the fortieth day from his resurrection.

In the Gospel of Luke, on that day, Jesus led the eleven remaining disciples to the Mount of Olives and instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit.

After blessing them, he parted them and was carried up to heaven, to sit at the right hand of the Father.

The Ascension has been commemorated since the very beginning of the Church, and ranks with the feasts of the Passion, Easter and Pentecost.

May 31 - Visitation

May 31 is the Feast of the Visitation, commemorating the visit of Mary, pregnant with Jesus, to Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist.

The visitation is described in the Gospel of Luke.

“In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb.

“And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.’”

World Youth Day’s theme for 2023 is “Mary arose and left with haste”, describing Mary leaving to visit her sister Elizabeth after finding out she was pregnant with Jesus.

The visit is symbolic of Mary’s desire to share the good news of Jesus Christ with someone else, and Pope Francis has used this to underline his desire for World Youth Day 2023 to be a festival of evangelization.