10 saints to pray to this Lent

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saints Lent

Catholics can ask, in a special way, for the intercession of at least 10 saints this Lenten season.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops regularly lists Lenten saints whose feast days fall during the 40 days of prayer and fasting leading up to Easter. The U.S. bishops invite the faithful to learn about and reflect on these holy lives while observing Lent.

For 2023, the U.S. liturgical calendar includes the following 10 saints whose feast days occur during Lent, which runs from Ash Wednesday, Feb. 22, and concludes on Holy Thursday, April 6. Here are their stories.

African-American and Native American children are depicted with Mother Katharine Drexel in a painting. (CNS photo from Catholic Standard and Times)

1. St. Katharine Drexel (1858-1955)

An American heiress from Philadelphia, St. Katharine dedicated her life and her inheritance to serving Native American and African American communities. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and went on to run schools in 13 states for African Americans as well as 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Together with her order, she founded Xavier University of Louisiana, the only Catholic and historically Black college in the United States. She also established 50 missions for Native Americans.

Her feast day is March 3.

2. St. Casimir (c. 1458-84)

St. Casimir Jagiellon was a prince of Poland, but a servant of God first. The son of Casimir IV, the king of Poland and grand duke of Lithuania, and his wife, Elizabeth of Austria, he reportedly practiced self-sacrifice, from dressing simply to sleeping on the floor. He is known for his piety, his service to those in need, and his devotion to the Blessed Mother.

He refused marriage and instead lived a life of celibacy. He died in his 20s, reportedly from tuberculosis. Today he is remembered as the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.

His feast day is March 4.

3. and 4. Sts. Perpetua and Felicity (died 203)

A mosaic of martyrs Sts. Perpetua and Felicity adorns a chapel wall in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

St. Perpetua, an educated noblewoman, and St. Felicity, a slave, died as martyrs in Carthage, or modern-day Tunisia in North Africa. Despite their different statuses, the young women had something in common: Both were Christian mothers. While awaiting death in prison, Perpetua nursed her infant son and Felicity gave birth to a daughter.

When a wild cow proved unsuccessful at killing them in the arena, the holy women died by the sword of a gladiator.

Their feast day is March 7.

5. St. John of God (1495-1550)

After experiencing a profound conversion later in life, St. John dedicated his life to caring for the poor, sick, and homeless. Taken from his Portuguese parents as a boy, he worked as a shepherd and laborer in the countryside before becoming a soldier in Spain. He was temporarily committed to a psychiatric facility before he devoted himself to those in need. When he died, his followers began the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, a Catholic religious order that continues his work today.

His feast day is March 8.

6. St. Frances of Rome (1384-1440)

St. Frances of Rome. Wikimedia Commons

A Roman noblewoman, St. Frances felt called to religious life but her parents promised her hand in marriage as a teenager. Her marriage was reportedly a happy one — and she and her husband, Lorenzo Ponziani, welcomed several children. She found a kindred spirit in her sister-in-law, with whom she would pray and minister to those in need.

She also knew tragedy, from losing children in a plague to the temporary exile of her husband and the pillaging of their home. Frances responded by continuing to serve the poor and even converted her home into a hospital. She also founded a religious community of women, now known as the Oblates of St. Frances of Rome.

Her feast day is March 9.

7. St. Patrick (c. 387-461)

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, originally came from Britain. Captured by Irish raiders as a teenager, Patrick was sold into slavery in Ireland and worked as a shepherd. He later escaped only to return as a missionary and serve as a bishop.

According to legend, he used local symbols in his preaching, including the shamrock to explain the mystery of the Holy Trinity (with the three-leaf clover representing three Persons in one God). Today, he is a beloved saint in that country and around the world.

His feast day is March 17.

8. St. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-86)

St. Cyril, a bishop and doctor of the Church, produced influential writings in the faith. Raised and educated in Jerusalem, he later became the bishop of that city. He lived during a tumultuous time — he was, at different points, exiled from Jerusalem as the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ, spread.

Cyril is also famous for his catechetical lectures and instruction in the Faith.

His feast day is March 18.

9. St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary

While St. Joseph does not speak a single word in the Bible, the Jewish carpenter is described as “a righteous man” in the gospel of Matthew (Mt 1:19). The husband of Mary and the earthly father of Jesus always responded “yes” to God and his angels — from taking Mary as his wife to protecting Baby Jesus by fleeing to Egypt after his birth.

Because the usual date of St. Joseph’s solemnity coincides with the fourth Sunday of Lent this year, Catholics will instead celebrate St. Joseph on Monday, March 20, in 2023.

10. St. Turibius of Mogrovejo (1538-1606)

Originally from Spain, St. Turibius taught law and served as a judge before becoming the archbishop of Lima, Peru. As a missionary archbishop for the Spanish colony in Peru, he witnessed the evils of colonialism. In response, he threw himself into his work, traveling far and wide to minister to his people, reforming the clergy, convening synods, and writing catechisms in native languages. He opened churches, hospitals, schools and seminaries — and encouraged Indigenous men to become priests.

He brought many into the Christian faith through baptism and confirmation, including other saints, such as St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin de Porres.

His feast day is March 23.

Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.

Katie Yoder

Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.