As a summer girl at heart, I do not need a lot of encouragement to celebrate. Hot days, stormy afternoons, fireworks, ice cream … I am in! And, I am not one to pass up the opportunity to capitalize on one more reason to embrace these long, sunlit days, either!
I did come upon a connection recently that I found especially noteworthy: a vast majority of the saints whose feasts we celebrate over these hot months were contemporaries, dear friends, and in some cases, family to others whose inspired relationships had a significant and long-lasting impact!
7 Summer Saint Connections
I am delighting in these examples that show we need one another in our lives of faith, coupled with the reminder of the potential of our influence our peers and circumstances.
Saint Bridget of Sweden and Saint Catherine of Sweden // mother + daughter
Bridget’s vocation began as a wife and mother for twenty years, although her deep devotion to Christ began during her childhood. After the death of her husband, she went on to begin the Brigittine order of monks and nuns.
Later, after her daughter Catherine was widowed, she joined her mother’s religious community and upon the death of her mother, became one of its leaders. During this time, Catherine of Sweden and Catherine of Siena are said to have become good friends. Saint Bridget is remembered as one of the six patron Saints of Europe.
Saint Benedict and Saint Scholastica // twin brother + sister
Benedict, founder of Western monasticism, established a Rule for vowed religious communities. He is remembered as the patron Saint of a happy death, as well as the twin to his sister, Scholastica. The two are said to have met annually between their homes, where, one year, Scholastica prayed fervently that the two would get a longer visit, whereby a sudden heavy thunderstorm allowed the two to continue their visit another day.
Saint Scholastica is remembered for her prayerfulness and as the foundress of Benedictine women’s monastic communities and the patroness of reading.
Saint Jane Francis de Chantal and Saint Frances de Sales // spiritual director/directee + friends
Jane and Francis met as spiritual director and directee after the death of Jane’s husband. Although she was inclined to become a nun, she deferred the decision under his guidance and went on to form a religious community for women. They were to emulate the life of Mary as understood in the story of the Visitation. Thus began the Visitation sisters.
As Bishop and writer, Francis had a profound impact on the life of Saint Vincent de Paul, and remains the patron on more than one Salesian orders.
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Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Frances Xavier // Jesuit priests + best friends
Ignatius and Frances Xavier worked together to form the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. At its inception, Ignatius became its leading founder which would eventually embody the mission to “seek God in all things” through education and missionary work.
Frances Xavier, Ignatius’ best friend, died while serving as a missionary in China. Today the Jesuits are the largest Catholic religious community in the world.
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and Saint Maximillian Kolbe // contemporaries
While unrelated by blood, the lives of Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) and Maximillian Kolbe are inextricably linked by their witness to Christianity in a dark time. They shared experiences of being martyred alongside of their Jewish brothers and sisters in the Auschwitz concentration camp in 1941 and 1942.
Kolbe is remembered for having voluntarily taken the death sentence in place of a young husband and father; Stein for being a Catholic nun of Jewish descent.
Saint Clare and Saint Francis // co-founders
Clare and Francis were an unlikely pair: Clare from nobility, Francis who had denounced wealth out of love for Lady Poverty. Clare, who had heard Francis preach, decided to embrace a life of poverty rather than the life of luxury that had been offered to her. She became the first woman to follow Francis.
Together they would co-found one of the largest religious communities in the world, due in large part to Clare’s guidance after Francis’ death.
Saint Monica and Saint Augustine // mother + son
This mother and son duo are as well-known as unlikely to be Saints celebrated side-by-side. Monica, Augustine’s mother, desperately and consistently offered prayers for her son’s conversion to the Christian life.
Augustine, who eventually did convert, became one of the most influential Church fathers in Western Christianity. After years of promiscuity and secularism, it is difficult to capture the breadth of his influence on the Church or on the world. Saint Jerome, another contemporary, said of him: “(He) established anew the ancient Faith.”
This is a tiny glimpse of the ripple effect of the Christian life in our particular time and place in history. I doubt I am even scratching the surface. What a tremendous sequence of days to pray that in the same way our lives might be permeated with a lingering holiness and that we ourselves be surrounded with others who do the same.
Perhaps one day, we might even be blessed to see the fruits of these seeds planted!
Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. // Henri Nouwen
Who are your favorite Saints who were contemporaries?!
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