Once every four years, February 29 appears on our calendars, and we celebrate leap day. The Catholic Church’s official collection of saints, the Martyrologium Romanum, only lists four saints on this date.
Does every diocese in the world celebrate Catholic Schools Week during the last week of January or just mine? It’s certainly the perfect time to do so. After all, the calendar of saints practically demands that we celebrate the teaching profession in late January.
Saint of the Day
Blessed John of Prado was born into a noble family in Spain in the late sixteenth century. He became a Franciscan friar with the great hope of bringing the Gospel to those who had never heard it before, but his superiors first ordered him to preach in his native country. He was a humble, holy, and gifted priest, so it was probably out of jealousy that cruel gossip about him later caused him to be relieved of his position as superior. But when the lies were proved to be lies soon afterward, John was restored to his position and even made minister of a new Franciscan province in Spain.
A plague caused the death of many Franciscan friars serving in Morocco in north Africa, so John begged to be sent to serve there. When he arrived, he immediately began serving the Christian slaves living in the country, particularly by administering the sacraments to them. The Muslim authorities arrested John, along with the priest and brother who accompanied him, and put them to work at slave labor.
He was brought out of prison and interrogated by the local sultan on two occasions. John was scourged after the first examination because he tried to explain the Christian faith to the sultan. During the second interrogation, John turned to talk to Christians in the room who had apostatized and become Muslims, rather than addressing the sultan. In anger, the sultan struck him, had him shot with arrows, and then had him burned to death. John died on this date in 1636.
Blessed John, teach me how to forgive.
Want to read about a saint every day? The “Saint of the Day” blog posts for the entire month of June on this web site are designed to help you do that. Every day of the month of June, there’s a blog post about a holy man or woman you’ve probably never heard of, but who is formally acknowledged as a saint or blessed of the Church. Just like the book, Saints: Becoming an Image of Christ Every Day of the Year, these blog posts show you how to start (or interrupt or finish) your day with a brief, inspirational life story of a saint. Each biography concludes with a short prayer to help you identify some aspect of that saint’s life that might help you in your own spiritual life.
(Note that none of the saints in these blog posts are included in the book, Saints: Becoming an Image of Christ Every Day of the Year, but they are present in the Church’s latest official list of saints, the Martyrologium Romanum, dated 2004.)
As Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, there is nothing new under the sun, and the problems we face today are often startlingly similar to the problems that holy men and women of the past faced in their own lives. Other blog posts discuss saints celebrated in the current month or who have something to teach us about our current difficulties, such as dealing with an epidemic or how to handle suffering.
The saints and blesseds of the Church teach us that holiness is possible for anyone, in any state of life, and in any historical time period. We only have to be open to God’s grace so that He can form us into images of Jesus Christ.