In the Liturgical Calendar, the last week of September includes the feast days of some heavy hitters in the Communion of Saints! Here's five feast days to recognize and celebrate:
Cosmas and Damian (Sept 26)
Patron saints of surgeons, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, barbers, and protectors of children.
Not much is known about these twin brothers. They lived and studied in Syria in the 3rd century, and became famous for being skilled physicians. Cosmas and Damian were known as Anargyroi – the moneyless ones – because they accepted no payment for their services. They were martyred during the persecution of Christians under the Emperor Diocletian. They were honored by the Christian community as early as the 4th century, with many legends growing around them. There is also an unusual controversy about which cathedral reliquary houses their skulls.
Liturgical Living: Honor the feast of Cosmas and Damian by taking care of those medical needs: Make that appointment you’ve been putting off, help a loved one or neighbor get to a medical appointment, or send a cheery note or take dinner to someone who is dealing with a medical condition.
St. Vincent de Paul (Sept 27)
Patron of charitable organizations
Born in France in 1581, St. Vincent de Paul was ordained a priest in 1600. After being captured by pirates and sold as a slave, he finally returned to Paris, where, preaching a mission to the peasants, he realized he should direct his efforts toward alleviating the suffering of the poor, including instructing them in the faith. With the help of others, Vincent founded two religious orders, the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul and the Vincentians. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, a charitable organization dedicated to the service of the poor, was started in 1833 by French university students. It is now in 132 countries.
Liturgical Living: Honor the feast of St. Vincent de Paul by making a plan to serve the poor. You can get more information about St. Helen’s St. Vincent de Paul chapter here and the Dayton area efforts here.
Archangels: Michael, Raphael, Gabriel (Sept 29)
We celebrate the Feast of the Archangels. Archangels are chief angels, distinct from guardian angels, who serve as messengers from God in significant matters. The three archangels named in Scripture – Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel – are celebrated on this feast day, though tradition names additional archangels.
Michael is known as the leader of the heavenly host, who cast Lucifer and the fallen angels from heaven, and protects us from evil. He is the patron of the military and police.
Raphael, named in the book of Tobit, is known to be the angel of healing and acts of mercy, because of the healing of Tobias’ blindness. He is the patron of travelers, the blind, and the bodily ill.
Gabriel, whose name means “God is my strength,” is best known as the angel of the Annunciation, appearing to Mary to tell her she will give birth to the messiah. He is the patron of communication, journalists, and messengers.
Liturgical Living: This feast day, before adding Raphael and Gabriel, was known as Michaelmas – the Feast of St. Michael. Folklore suggests that, when St. Michael kicked Lucifer out of heaven, Lucifer landed in a prickly blackberry bush, and so Michaelmas was the last day of the year to pick blackberries. Eat some blackberries and ask for the Michael to defend you from evil, Raphael to heal all your hurts, and Gabriel to help you communicate with others.
Jerome (Sept 30)
Patron of translators, Biblical scholars, students, and librarians
There’s a bumper sticker that says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” There perhaps should be one that says, “If you can read the Bible, thank St. Jerome.” Living in the late fourth and early fifth centuries, St. Jerome is most known for translating the Bible from the original Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) into what became known as the Latin Vulgate or “common” language. This version of the Bible is the one that Christians read for the next thousand years. As vernacular languages developed, St. Jerome’s work was used to translate the Bible into the language of the people.
St. Jerome is known as a Doctor of the Church – a category of saints who, through virtue and wisdom, made significant contributions to teachings of the Church. In addition to translating the Bible and writing important commentaries on Scripture, he is famous for having a sharp wit and being sarcastic. He also had a pet lion.
Liturgical Living: Honor his feast day by reading some Scripture. Don’t know where to start? Try the upcoming Mass readings!
Therese of Lisieux (Oct 1)
Patron of missionaries, florists and gardeners, orphaned children, France, Russia and Alaska
For being such a popular saint, Therese of Lisieux, also known as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus or “The Little Flower,” did, well, relatively little. Born in France in 1873, she had a conversion experience at age 14 that would lead to her insisting on joining the convent at age 15. She was so determined to become a nun that she traveled to Rome to personally petition the Pope after being refused entry by several orders, due to her age. Having suffered ill health most of her life, St. Therese was committed to the “little way” – doing little things with great love for the glory of God. St. Therese died at age 24 from tuberculosis. Only a few people attended her funeral. A year later, her autobiography, “Story of a Soul” was published, introducing the “little way” to the world. She was canonized only 27 years after her death, and 500,000 people attended. In 1997, she was declared a Doctor of the Church, proving that little things done with great love can make a huge difference.
Fun fact: St. Therese’s parents, Louis and Zelie Martin, were also canonized in October 2015, becoming the first married couple to be canonized together.
Liturgical Living: Honor the Feast of St. Therese by completing little acts with great love: complete another family member’s chore, surprise a loved one with their favorite meal, or visit someone who may be lonely.
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