Inspired by this year’s All Saints’ Day, I am sharing my most loved saints – those who play a significant role in my life as a Christian. They have been my inspiration in my years of existence. And even when not all religions believe in saints, I believe that their human lives owe to be our example and guide as we journey in this earth.
Saint Rose was born in Lima, Peru as Isabel Flores de Oliva in 1586, but took the name rose, when in her infancy, her face was said to have transformed into a rose. Despite all the objections of her family, she lived a life of chastity, piety and prayer. She spent her life in prayer, and taking care of the sick and the poverty-stricken in her city with her own private efforts and resources, having been borne into a noble family but giving up everything she has. She would fast for weeks and only sleep for two hours each night to devote her time to prayer. She was a member of the Third Order of the Saint Dominic in Lima, Peru. She is the patron saint of embroidery, gardening and cultivation of blooming flowers. Saint Rose died in 1617 at the age of 31 and was canonized in 1671. She was declared by Pope Pius XII in 1942 as co-patroness of the Philippines along with Saint Pudentiana, a Christian Saint and martyr of the 2nd century who refused to worship the Roman Emperors Marcus Aurelius and Antoninus Pius as deities.
I grew up leaning about Saint Rose since the first school I attended was named after her, a Catholic School ran by Dominican Sisters particularly the Order of Preachers (OP) in my hometown, Bacolod City in the Philippines. In 1979, my parents insisted in enrolling me directly as a first grader in elementary and skipping kindergarten since I will be turning 7 in December of the year. But a pupil already needs to be seven upon entering first grade and I was six months short. But my parents insisted that I take a qualifying examination. And so, I did and was admitted in Grade 1 – Section B. But eventually, I remembered being asked to attend Section A subjects like English, Math, Science and Social Studies.
From Grade One to Fourth Year High School, I must have uttered both verbally and mentally, thousands of “Saint Rose of Lima, Pray For Us”. My childhood was difficult but Saint Rose helped me pray through it all.
At Saint Rose of Lima, we learned to devote time in silence and prayer, to sing songs of praises to the Lord and pray for intercession of saints and our blessed Mother Mary. We celebrate her feast day every August 23 and remember her sainthood. Her life tells me that the Lord does not choose our sacrifices based on our gender or status in life – Saint Rose show how faith has given her courage to live a life for the Lord.
Saint John is my birth saint. He died on December 14, 1591, the same day which was declared as his feast day. He was a Spanish Catholic Priest, and a Carmelite friar and one of the 36 Doctors of the Church. John of the Cross is known especially for his writings. He was mentored by and corresponded with the older Carmelite, Teresa of Ávila. Both his poetry and his studies on the development of the soul are considered the summit of mystical Spanish literature and among the greatest works of all Spanish literature. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726. In 1926 he was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI, and is commonly known as the “Mystical Doctor”.
As a priest, while praying in a loft overlooking the sanctuary in the Monastery of the Incarnation in Ávila, Saint John had a vision of the crucified Christ, which led him to create his drawing of Christ “from above”. In 1641, this drawing was placed in a small monstrance and kept in Ávila.
He and Saint Teresa of Avila introduced reforms which were meet with objections by the Carmelites and eventually he was brought to court of friars and imprisoned for disobedience. While in prison, he wrote his most famous poem, Spiritual Canticle and other poems. Later on, he founded many monasteries. Saint John is the patron of contemplative life and a mystical theology.
From him, I inspired to write poems and literary pieces to express my faith. His sainthood reminds me that we need to stand in faith for the reforms we wish to see no matter the odds. I am blessed to be born on the day of his feast day.
I have grown so fond of Saint Therese because when I was always sickly as a child. Even when I was hyperactive as a kid, I would suffer from many illness and mostly the kind that are very painful, I have suffered from severe toothaches, earaches, skin diseases, and migraines – but I have always been strong-willed and always though that the mind is stronger than the body and I learned about Saint Therese when I was young, particularly how she was said to have offered her pains to the Lord.
I found relief in the idea. I felt as a kid, I would have so much scores in Heaven since I was always in pain and I offered them to the Lord at every time. When I met a car accident in 1999, I suffered from extreme pain for three days because the doctor delayed the surgery to connect my arm bones. The morphine shots I got every six hours for the pain was not enough. For the first time in my life, I found myself shouting at the top of my lungs begging for more painkillers. It was surely a very embarrassing scene at the hospital. But when I got exhausted, all I remember is Saint Therese offering her pain to the Lord and all I was left with amidst the pain was to do the same. Today, I use my right arm almost just like before except for a few awkward pain here and there.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux was born Marie Françoise-Thérèse Martin in 1873 is also known as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face and she is popularly known in English as “The Little Flower of Jesus”, or simply “The Little Flower,” and in French as la petite Thérèse. Saint Therese witnessed the pain and death of her mother at a very young age, and also suffered so much pain from her illnesses but on Christmas Eve of 1886 she overcame everything with faith saying “ God worked a little miracle to make me grow up in an instant…”. Her life is one inspiring testimony of childlike faith as chronicled in her writings. Just like her, I lost my mother at a tender age of nice, but my faith that the Lord will not forsake me and will take care of me, helped me in all my days.
Saint Francis also inspired my life through his beautiful prayer for peace. I have always tried my very best to heed his prayer and to be an instrument of peace even when moments when I can no longer bear to endure – his prayer reminds me of temperance, patience and humility.
Saint Francis was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone in 1181 was an Italian Catholic friar, deacon, mystic, and preacher. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, the Third Order of St. Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in Christianity.
The Prayer of St. Francis is one of the known and best loved prayers in the world today. I shall end this article by posting this prayer below. May this prayer inspire us all.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.