As I have gotten to work on our Feast Day website over my time working at the Catholic Apostolate Center, I have always been fascinated with saints that seemed extraordinary but whom I had never heard about before. I couldn’t believe that these saints weren’t more well known. Just when I thought there wasn’t possibly anything new I could read about in the life of a saint, I would learn something that left me awestruck. I knew we needed to add some of these lesser-known saints to our Feast Day website to help others learn about their tremendous lives. We have picked saints who are truly from all walks of life: from the early Church to the end of the twentieth century, from teenagers to those who didn’t devote themselves to Christ until the end of their lives, from artists to biochemists to hermits. I want to highlight the three we are celebrating in the remainder of February to help you become more familiar with them.
Bl. Fra Angelico (February 18th)
We will celebrate the feast of Bl. Fra Angelico at the end of this week. From his youth, Bl. Fra Angelico was an incredibly talented painter. Even with his skill and success, he listened to God’s call and joined the Dominicans. His time with the Dominicans allowed his artistic skills to flourish. The Dominican charism permeated all of his paintings, and he became one of the most successful painters of the early Renaissance period. I find it inspiring that while he was at the top of his field, he remained humble and committed to Christ and the Dominicans; he truly is a role model for all time. For his feast day this year, I am looking forward to looking at images of some of his most famous pieces of art and prayerfully meditating on the religious imagery and symbolism in them. Three of his works in which I always see something new are the San Marco Altarpiece, The Transfiguration, and the Madonna of Humility.
Bl. Fra Angelico, Pray for Us!
St. Lazarus Zographos (February 23rd)
The week after Bl. Fra Angelico, we continue the artistic theme with the feast of St. Lazarus Zographos. St. Lazarus was a ninth-century iconographer and the first saint to be canonized who specifically dedicated himself to this trade. He was a renowned iconographer, which normally would bring praise and success, but he lived in a time of strict sentiment against iconography, and iconographers were persecuted throughout the Byzantine Empire. This didn’t deter St. Lazarus. He continued writing icons and even wrote them when he was in prison for doing so. While reading about St. Lazarus’ life, I learned that one should say “writing” rather than “painting” icons, because the process of creating an icon is about more than just painting; it is about the prayer, tradition, and the painting all coming together in the icon. While none of his icons exist today, for St. Lazarus’ feast day, let us learn more about his life and pray with icons from other iconographers.
St. Lazarus Zographos, Pray for Us!
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows (February 27th)
In the last week of the month, we will celebrate the feast of St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows. Compared to the other two saints above, St. Gabriel highlights the diversity in the lives of the blesseds and saints of the Church. St. Gabriel was a nineteenth-century Italian who suffered many illnesses and maladies in his youth. Each time he made a promise to himself that he would enter religious life if he got better. Even though he didn’t keep his promise many times, he finally did so and joined the Passionists after his sister died in the cholera epidemic. However, his life was cut short by tuberculosis when he was just twenty-three while still studying to be ordained a priest. Pope Benedict XV declared St. Gabriel the patron saint of Catholic youth as well as those studying for the priesthood. Sometimes the lives of saints who had established lives and successful careers, like Bl. Fra Angelico, can seem overwhelming. But a saint like St. Gabriel can be more relatable. Like us, he was just on his way and strove to live each and every day growing closer to Christ. For St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows’ feast, let us reflect on how we can grow closer to Christ throughout our everyday routines.
St. Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for Us!
To learn more about the saints, visit our Catholic Feast Days Website by clicking here.