As we continue into the second month of 2022, let us learn from the saints we celebrate this February. While this is a shortened month, there are three instances this month where we get to celebrate two saints on the same day. On February 8th, we will celebrate both St. Jerome Emiliani and St. Josephine Bakhita. Then, two days later, we celebrate both St. Scholastica and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio. Finally, on February 21st, we celebrate both St. Peter Damian and Bl. Richard Henkes. May their witness of the faith inspire us to follow in their footsteps and grow in our faith throughout the month.
One of the saints who we will celebrate on February 8th is St. Jerome Emiliani. After his conversion of heart as a prisoner of war, he worked tirelessly for orphans and the poor in his community. He founded the Somaschi Fathers who, even today are committed to helping orphans, the poor, and the sick. He became well known for his zeal and his work has continued now almost 500 years later.
On the same day, we will also celebrate St. Josephine Bakhita. She was born in 1869 in Sudan. As a child, Bakhita was forced into slavery. Eventually she ended up in Italy where she was freed and converted to Catholicism. She then became a Canossian Sister and devoted the rest of her life to her faith. Throughout her life, she was known as a role model for forgiveness and continuing to grow in her faith.
One of the saints whose feast is on February 10th is St. Scholastica. St. Scholastica is known as the twin sister of St. Benedict, the founder of the Benedictines. Once a year, St. Scholastica and her brother would meet and discuss many aspects of the faith to help each other and the other Benedictines in their care. Their strong relationship continued until St. Scholastica’s death, just three days after her annual visit with Benedict. Because of her work with her brother, St. Scholastica is now the patron saint of Benedictine nuns.
Living almost a century and a half later was St. Jose Sanchez del Rio. During the Cristero War in Mexico, Jose was captured and tortured to try and get him to renounce his Catholic faith. However, Jose remained committed to his faith and was martyred at the age of 14. I find it incredibly inspiring that both St. Scholastica and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio became saints even though their lives were so different. Their examples show that God calls each of us to sanctity in a unique way.
St. Peter Damian lived in the 11th century and came from very humble beginnings. He was orphaned at a young age and spent most of his childhood uneducated and underfed. Eventually, one of his brothers took him in to be educated. Peter proved incredibly gifted in theological matters. He spent his life as a monk engaged in theological disputes during a challenging period in the Church. Today, St. Peter Damian is recognized as a Doctor of the Church, showing that his initial lack of education did not define the rest of his life – skilled theologians can come from anywhere.
Also celebrated on February 21st is Bl. Richard Henkes. Bl. Richard Henkes was a Pallottine priest who was initially arrested by the S.S. in 1938 for speaking out against Nazism. Even after he was released in 1939, he continued preaching against the Nazi regime. After being arrested a second time and sent to the Dachau concentration camp, he volunteered to care for the sick there. Father Henkes ultimately became ill, dying from the disease. He is remembered for his unending selflessness.
As we continue in 2022, let us reflect on the lives of these saints from these three days as role models we can continue to look to throughout this month.
To learn more about the saints, visit our Catholic Feast Days Website by clicking here.
To view a calendar of the feast days in February, and each month, click here.