Saints Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus
Basil: He was born in Caesarea of Cappadocia (in today's Turkey) in the year 330 A.D. to a Christian family. He shone with his culture and virtues, then renounced the world and headed to the hermit life. He was chosen bishop of his city in 370 AD. He is best known for his resistance to the Aryosian heresy that denied the divinity of Christ. He is the author of many books, especially on monastic laws, according to which most eastern monasteries follow until today. He was jealous of helping the poor. Rest in the Lord on January 1, 379 AD. Gregory: He was born in 330 AD near the city of Nazianzi (in today's Turkey). He wandered a lot in order to obtain science. Then he joined his friend Basilius in the hermit's life. He was ordained a priest and then elected bishop of Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) in 381 AD, then retired from his episcopal mission due to internal divisions in his church. Rest in the Lord on January 25, 389 AD. He was called theologian for his eloquence and the power of his teachings.
Saint Raymond of Penphory, priest
He was born in the town of Peñafor, near the city of Barcelona (Spain) around 1175 AD. He studied in Barcelona, then in Bologna (Italy). He was ordained a priest and given the title of Canon of the Church of Barcelona. In 1222 AD he joined the Dominican Order. He was known for his holiness, his knowledge, and his concern for the poor. He also encouraged the spirit of dialogue between Muslims and Jews, and helped St. Peter Nolasco establish a congregation aimed at liberating slaves. By order of Pope Gregory IX, he collected and coordinated all the laws issued by the Holy See related to doctrinal and educational matters, so he issued the so-called “Collection of Laws.” He became the third general president of his congregation, and established the best laws for it. In the last phase of his life, he devoted his time to prayer and the upbringing of preaching monks. One of his most important books is the “Collection of Issues,” which are advice on granting and practicing the sacrament of penance. He rested in God in Barcelona in 1275 AD.
Saint Hilary, Bishop and Teacher of the Church
He was born at the beginning of the fourth century, in the city of Poitiers (in present-day France) from a pagan family. He was thirsty to know the truth, so he searched for it in Greek philosophy (neo-Platonic), then he entered Christianity thanks to his reading of the Bible. He was elected bishop of his city around 350 AD. He adhered to the orthodox faith proclaimed by the First Council of Nicaea (325), so he strongly resisted the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. Therefore, Emperor Constance, who wanted to unite the entire empire under the slogan of Arianism, exiled him. Saint Hilary wrote several books that are considered a reference for their wisdom in interpreting the Holy Book and in affirming the faith of the universal Church, the most famous of which is his book “On the Trinity.” After his return from exile, his teaching spread throughout the empire. One of his closest collaborators was Saint Martinus, who later became the bishop of Tours. Rest in the Lord in 367 AD. And Pope Pius IX declared him a teacher in the Church.
Saint Anthony, head of the monastery
Saint Anthony, the father of monks, was born in Egypt around the year 250 AD. When he was still a young man, after the death of his parents, he felt called by God to a consecrated life after he heard the Gospel saying: “If you want to be perfect, go sell your money and give it to the poor” (Matthew 19:21); And “do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34), so he went and distributed his money to the poor, retired from people, and lived a life of repentance and austerity first in the desert and then on the banks of the Nile. He attracted many students. He is considered the father of all forms of monastic life in the universal church. The good jihad fought for the sake of the church, so the confessors strengthened during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Dioclesians, and supported his student Saint Athanasius in his resistance to the Aryosians who denied the divinity of Christ. Rest in the Lord in 356 AD. It is celebrated on this day (January 17) by the Coptic, Syriac and Byzantine churches, in addition to the Roman Latin Church.
Saint Fabianus, Pope Martyr
Although he was a secular Christian, he was elected bishop of the Church of Rome in the year 236 AD, and he received the crown of martyrdom in the year 250 AD, at the beginning of the persecution of Emperor Decius, as narrated by St. Cyprian. He cared about helping the poor of Rome and helped empower the church and its growth, as he established close relations with the churches of Africa and the East. During his reign, the episcopal chair of Rome gained such wide fame that Emperor Decius himself feared his power. He was sentenced to death because of his refusal to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods, so he was left to starve to death in prison. After his martyrdom, he was buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus in Rome, which today is considered one of the most important diamis that contain the oldest Christian religious drawings that testify to the Christians' expression of their belief in eternal life.
Saint Agnes, Virgin Martyr
Agnes is a name that means “pure, chaste” in Greek. She is a girl from Rome, born into a Christian family and decided to vow herself a virgin to the Lord. She was between the ages of twelve and fifteen when violent persecution arose against Christians. She was offered a choice between Christ and the world and its lusts, so she chose her heavenly groom without hesitation. This is how she was martyred in the year 305 AD, in the city of Rome, for her faith, and that was during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. The people of Rome surrounded her with reverence and honor. The biography of her martyrdom was narrated by many ancient writers, the most famous of whom were Pope Damesus and Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. Her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, which is one of the oldest prayers used in the Roman Latin Mass.
Saint Mansour, the martyred deacon
Saint Mansour lived in the third century and was a deacon in the Church of Saragossa in Spain. He was endowed with knowledge, courage and the art of rhetoric. He endured excruciating pain because of the persecution that arose during the reign of Emperor Dioclesians. In the midst of the torments he endured, he used to say to the ruler: “By torturing me, you are doing me a favor, my friend! Because I always wanted to end my life with the seal of martyrdom. There is another person in me who suffers, the one you cannot break. What you are trying now to annihilate by torture is nothing but an earthenware vessel that is destined to perish one day, but you will never succeed in destroying the one who remains in me, the one who will be your judge one day. This is how Mansour bravely faced his executioners and preserved his Christian joy, as he was singing hymns while he was in the midst of torment. He and his bishop Valerius were martyred in the year 304 AD in the city of Valencia. His honor spread quickly, since the time of the church fathers, in the whole church.
Saint Francis of Sales, Bishop and Teacher of the Church
Francis of Salesi is considered one of the greatest teachers of spiritual life in recent times. He was born in the castle of “Sales” from a noble family, in 1567 AD in the province of “Savoia” in France. After studying law and becoming a lawyer, he felt called to the life of the priesthood, so he studied theology and was ordained a priest. He made great efforts for Catholic reform in his homeland, attracting, with his wisdom and sweetness, many Calvinist dissidents to the bosom of the church. He left us many spiritual writings on austerity and mysticism, and he stressed that all people are called to holiness, each according to his own situation, for God's love is not restricted to clergy alone. He was chosen bishop of the city of Geneva (present-day Switzerland), and he was an active patron of the clergy and believers. Saint Hannah de Chantal helped found the Sisters of the Visitation. He rested in the Lord in 1622 in Lyon, France, and was buried in Annecy, where he spent most of his days.
Saint Paul, the Apostle
Paul is the Latin name for Saul of Tarsus: a Jew from the tribe of Benjamin, a zealous Pharisee for the Law, who believed in Christ and became one of his most important apostles. Our celebration today of the feast of his conversion is an acknowledgment on our part of the greatness of the divine grace that overflows where sin abounds, as confirmed by the Apostle himself from his personal experience (cf. Romans 5:20). On the road to Damascus, Saul’s life changed as soon as the Risen Lord appeared to him. And after he was a persecutor of the Church, he became persecuted with her and for her, as he experienced the power of the Lord’s resurrection, and became a partner in His sufferings (cf. Phil 3:10) and endured everything in order to complete in his body what was lacking in Christ’s sufferings for the good of the Church (cf. Col. 1:24). ). After his conversion, he no longer sought the righteousness that comes from the works of the law, but from faith in Jesus Christ crucified (cf. Phil 3:9). This feast of his conversion has been included in the calendar of the Roman liturgy since the tenth century. With this feast, we conclude the week of prayer for the unity of Christians, and this reminds us that there is no true ecumenical dialogue without a continuous procession of conversion and repentance, the center and goal of which is our one Lord, Jesus Christ.
Saints Timothy and Titus, the two bishops
Timothy and Titus are two students and collaborators of St. Paul. Timothy was born in Lystra in Asia Minor (now Turkey) to a pagan father and a Christian mother of Jewish origin. He was well versed in the holy books. St. Paul chose him around the year 50 A.D. as his assistant in his apostolic journeys, so they crossed together the Greek cities of Asia Minor, where they preached the Gospel. As for Titus, he was from a pagan family. He believed at the hands of St. Paul while he was preaching on one of his travels. He went to Corinth to reconcile the Corinthian Christians with Paul over a dispute between them, then he went to Jerusalem to meet the apostles. Among St. Paul's letters in the New Testament are two letters addressed to Timothy and another to Titus, while the first was the bishop of Ephesus and the other the bishop of Crete. These letters are called pastoral letters, and they are the only ones in the New Testament that were not addressed to churches but to individuals, and in them we find guidance for pastors and instruction for believers.
Saint Angela Merici, Virgin
She was born in 1470 AD in northern Italy, near the city of Brescia, from a poor family working in agriculture. She wore the third dress of the Franciscan Order since her youth. She lost her parents when she was fifteen years old. She departed to the Holy Land, and there she lost her sight, miraculously, for a short time, during which she saw a vision in which there was heavenly light and a ladder connecting the earth to the sky, and at the top there was a group of girls who were waiting for her. Thus, she understood that God was calling her to serve them, so as soon as she returned to her homeland, she began to gather around her girls to guide them to the works of love. In the year 1535 A.D., she founded a convent in the name of “Saint Ursula” with the aim of educating girls and taking spiritual care of them. For this reason, she created a special educational approach inspired by the spirit of motherhood, thus preceding her era, which monopolized education for young men only. She also supported the role of lay Christians in the church's mission. She fell asleep in the Lord in 1540 A.D.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and teacher of the Church
He was born in 1225 AD in central Italy, into the noble Aquino family. He studied at the mountain monastery of Cassino and then in the city of Naples. He joined the Dominican Order, and finished his studies at the hands of Saint Albertus the Great in Paris and then in the German city of Cologne. He became a professor at the University of Paris and elsewhere, where he taught theology and gave it a special and new character. He is the author of famous books, the most important of which is “The Theological Abstract”, in which he collected a lot of philosophical and theological information, and it was a unique text that was adopted, for many centuries, as a basic reference in theological studies. He lived a deep spiritual life, expressing what he wrote and teaching about his daily life. He rested in the Lord in Italy in 1274 AD on his way to participate in the Lyon Ecclesiastical Complex at the invitation of Pope Gregorius X. When some objected to considering him a saint under the pretext that he did not perform miracles, Pope John XXII answered them: “Every theological statement he wrote is a miracle in itself!” His body was transferred in 1369 AD to the monastery of the Dominican monks in the French city of Toulouse.
Saint John Bosco, priest
He was born in 1815 AD in the province of Turin in Italy, from a humble family working in the cultivation of the land. His father died when he was still two years old, so he had a poor and difficult childhood. He felt called to the priestly life, especially after he saw Jesus and his mother Mary in a dream asking him to take care of the young men. He had to work to earn his living and complete his theological studies. After he attained the degree of priesthood, he answered the divine call and was interested in the affairs of young people. For this purpose, he established a monastic order concerned with educating them in the faith and nurturing them in various sciences and professions. He placed the new association under the protection of Saint Francis of Sales, which is why it is known today as the Salesian monastic. He is considered ahead of his time in his educational method, which relies on persuasion and love instead of violence and coercion. In an era ravaged by the winds of atheism and hostility to religion and the Church, it was one of the seeds of human renewal that derives its sublime values from the Gospel of Christ. Rest in God in 1888 AD.