Catholics and people worldwide associate St. Valentine’s feast day with love and romance. Here are five married couples who are saints today because they lived out a vocation of love for each other — and for God.
1. Sts. Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin (Zélie)
Pope Francis canonized the French couple Louis Martin (1823-94) and Zélie Guérin (1831-77) in 2015. Louis, a watchmaker, and Zélie, a lacemaker, attempted to enter religious life before discerning marriage. They are perhaps best known for being the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, their youngest daughter.
St. Thérèse was one of nine children the Martins welcomed into their home; four died in infancy, the other five — all girls — joined religious orders.
The couple’s path to holiness embodies the “little way” that St. Thérèse is famous for — doing small things with great love.
“The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practiced Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters,” Pope Francis remembered at their canonization.
Their feast day is July 12.
2. Sts. Aquila and Priscilla
Sts. Aquila and Priscilla served an important role in early Christianity. The Jewish tentmakers who converted to Christianity traveled to Corinth after being exiled from Rome. While there, they encountered St. Paul, a fellow tentmaker whom they welcomed into their home.
The first-century Christian couple appears multiple times in the Bible because of their faithful witness.
“Greet Prisca and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I am grateful but also all the churches of the Gentiles,” St. Paul writes in Romans 16:3-4.
Acts 18 reveals that the two saints accompanied St. Paul from Corinth to Syria and, then, to Ephesus, where they instructed others in “the way of God.”
They also opened their home as a church to the local Christian community, where together they read Scripture and celebrated the Eucharist.
From their example, Pope Benedict XVI said in 2007, the faithful can learn how “every home can transform itself in[to] a little church.”
According to some traditions, they died as martyrs. Their feast day is July 8.
3. Mary and St. Joseph
Catholics honor Sts. Mary and Joseph as the parents of Jesus. Throughout their lives, they always said “yes” to God’s plan — from Mary consenting to become the Mother of God to Joseph, a carpenter, taking Mary as his wife after an angel appeared to him.
The solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is Jan. 1. St. Joseph’s feast day is held on March 19.
4. Sts. Joachim and Anne
Sts. Joachim and Anne are honored as Mary’s parents and Jesus’ grandparents. While their story does not appear in the Bible, tradition remembers them as a faithful, holy couple who struggled with childlessness before they became the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Their feast day is July 26.
5. Sts. Zechariah and Elizabeth
Sts. Zechariah and Elizabeth are the holy parents of St. John the Baptist. The couple also struggled with having children until the angel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and promised them a son in their old age.
When Zechariah doubted the angel, he became unable to speak until after his son’s birth, when he confirmed in writing that his son’s name was John. His first words were words of praise for God.
Before giving birth, Elizabeth receives a visit from her relative, Mary, while they are both pregnant. Today, Catholics repeat her words of greeting in the “Hail Mary” prayer: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
The couple’s feast day is Nov. 5.
Bonus: Blessed Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini
Luigi (1880-1951), a lawyer, and Maria (1884-1965), a catechist, are the first married couple to be beatified together by the Catholic Church. They welcomed four children into their home, three of whom entered consecrated religious life.
When doctors recommended that they choose abortion for their youngest, Enrica, due to pregnancy complications, they refused. Today, she is also on the path to sainthood.
The couple lived “an ordinary life in an extraordinary way,” Pope St. John Paul II said during their 2001 beatification, including by embracing a rich spiritual life.
“At the center of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the Rosary, and consultation with wise spiritual directors,” he said.
Their example, he said, serves as an inspiration for all.
“Dear families, today we have distinctive confirmation that the path of holiness lived together as a couple is possible, beautiful, extraordinarily fruitful, and fundamental for the good of the family, the Church and society,” he said. “This prompts us to pray to the Lord that there be many more married couples who can reveal in the holiness of their lives, the ‘great mystery’ of spousal love, which originates in creation and is fulfilled in the union of Christ with his Church.”
Katie Yoder is a contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor.