Saint Teilo of Wales

Teilo (also known as Elios, Eliau, Teliarus, Teliau or Télo), was born at Penally near Tenby in South Pembrokeshire around 480-500AD. He went on to study under St Paulinus at the monastic school at Whitland, Carmarthenshire. Here he met and became firm friends with Dewi (St David), who may have been his cousin. Teilo subsequently travelled with him to Mynyw, now known as St David’s, where Dewi set up his religious community.

In about 518 AD the friends, along with St Padam, are said to have set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem where all three were consecrated bishops by John III, Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Bishop Teilo went on to found the episcopal church of Llandeilo Fawr (the Great Church or Abbey of St Teilo) in Dyfed, and may also have set up a centre at Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire. However the outbreak of Yellow Fever in Wales around 549 AD forced Teilo and his religious community to flee to Cornwall and from there, over to Dol in Brittany where they stayed for seven years.

Teilo and his followers would not have felt too out of place in northern France. Driven out of southern Britain by invading Germanic tribes, Celtic people had begun to settle there since the 5th and 6th centuries.Read More »

Saint Leonard of Noblac

Leonard born to the Frankish nobility. Part of the court of the pagan King Clovis I. The Queen suggested to Leonard, possibly as a joke, that he invoke the help of his God to repel an invading army. Leonard prayed, the tide of battle turned, and Clovis was victorious. Archbishop Saint Remigius of Rheims used this miracle to convert the King, Leonard, and a thousand of followers to Christianity.

Leonard began a life of austerity, sanctification, and preaching. His desire to know God grew until he decided to enter the monastery at Orleans, France. His brother, Saint Lifiard, followed his example and left the royal court, built a monastery at Meun, and lived there. Leonard desired further seclusion, and so withdrew into the forest of Limousin, converting many on the way, and living on herbs, wild fruits, and spring water. He built himself an oratory, leaving it only for journeys to churches. Others begged to live with him and learn from him, and so a monastery formed around his hermitage.

However, Leonard desired further seclusion, so he withdrew into the forest of Limousin, converting many on the way, and living on herbs, wild fruits, and spring water. He built himself an oratory, leaving it only for journeys to churches. Others, recognizing his holiness, begged to live with him, and a monastery was formed. Leonard had a great compassion for prisoners, and converted many and obtaining their release.Read More »

Saint Josephine Margaret Bakhita

St. Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of the Sudan, human trafficking survivors and of our foundation. Her feast day is February 8th.

She was born in 1869, in a small village in Darfur, region of Sudan. She was a member of the Daju people and her uncle was a tribal chief. Due to her family lineage, she grew up happy and relatively prosperous, saying that as a child, she did not know suffering. While still a young girl around 7 years old, she was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Her captors asked for her name but in her fear, and as a result of the trauma, she was unable to remember. Mocking her, they named her “Bakhita,” which means “fortunate”.

During her time of captivity she was tortured by her various owners. She suffered brandings and beatings on many occasions. Once her owners cut her 114 times and poured salt in her wounds to make sure that the scars remained.

During these early years of her life, she did not know Christ but she did believe in a Creator and had great awe and wonder for His creation.

Eventually, after exchanging hands five or six times, St. Bakhita found herself serving as a caretaker for a young girl at a school in Venice run by Canossian Sisters. Bakhita was very intrigued by the Catholic faith . She learned many things from the sisters and was eventually baptized by the name “Josephine Margaret”.Read More »

Blessed Laura Vicuña

Laura was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1891. Her father was a soldier. When civil war broke out, her father took Laura and her mother to another town across the mountains in Argentina so that they would be safe. Laura’a father died when she was only two years old.

Laura’s mother, Mercedes, had to find some way to support Laura and her new baby sister. After working as a cook for several years, Mercedes took a job in the Quilquihué Hostel. The owner of the hostel, Manuel Mora, propositioned Mercedes, promising to pay for Laura’s education in exchange. Laura soon entered the Hijas de Maria Auxiliadora (“Daughters of Mary Help of Christians”) School, where, under the care of the nuns, she began to take a deep interest in the Catholic faith.

Laura was smart and did well at school. She loved learning about her faith and spent a great deal of time in prayer. On the day of her First Communion, she wrote, “Oh, my God, I want to love and serve you all my life” in her notebook. Because of her deep religious interest, she was not well liked by her classmates. Some of her classmates shunned her for her piety. She spent most of her time praying in the school’s chapel. She prayed every day for her mother’s salvation and for her to leave Manuel Mora.Read More »

Saint Marguerite Bourgeoys

Marguerite Bourgeoys born in Troyes, in the province of Champagne (France), on Good Friday, April 17, 1620, during a period of both colonial expansion and religious strife for Europe. She was the sixth of twelve children born into the middle-class household of Abraham Bourgeoys, a merchant, and Guillemette Gamier, in the northeastern province of Champagne in France.

By her own account, Marguerite had been “very light-hearted and well-liked by the other girls” while growing up. Her turn toward God’s calling began in 1640, not long after her mother’s death. On Oct. 7 of that year, during a procession honoring Our Lady of the Rosary, Marguerite had a mystical experience involving a statue of the Virgin Mary at Notre-Dame Abbey.

“We passed again in front of the portal of Notre-Dame, where there was a stone image above the door,” Marguerite later recounted. “When I looked up and saw it I thought it was very beautiful, and at the same time I found myself so touched and so changed that I no longer knew myself, and on my return to the house everybody noticed the change.”

After her siblings were older and could care for themselves, she became involved in charitable work. The governor of Montreal, Canada, traveled to France looking for teachers willing to come to the New World. Marguerite decided to go to New France.Read More »

Saint Francis Xavier

On April 7, 1506, Francis Xavier was born in Xavier Castle, located near Sangüesa, in the kingdom of Navarre (part of present-day Spain). He was a member of a noble family, and his childhood was one of privilege—however, it was disrupted by his father’s death, as well as by outside efforts to take control of Navarre.

He was the third son of the president of the council of the king of Navarre, most of whose kingdom was soon to fall to the crown of Castile (1512). Francis grew up at Xavier and received his early education there. As was often the case with younger sons of the nobility, he was destined for an ecclesiastical career, and in 1525 he journeyed to the University of Paris, the theological centre of Europe, to begin his studies.

In 1529 Ignatius of Loyola, another Basque student, was assigned to room with Francis. A former soldier 15 years Francis’s senior, he had undergone a profound religious conversion and was then gathering about himself a group of men who shared his ideals. Gradually, Ignatius won over the initially recalcitrant Francis, and Francis was among the band of seven who, in a chapel on Montmartre in Paris, on August 15, 1534, vowed lives of poverty and celibacy in imitation of Christ and solemnly promised to undertake a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and subsequently to devote themselves to the salvation of believers and unbelievers alike. Francis then performed the Spiritual Exercises, a series of meditations lasting about 30 days and devised by Ignatius in light of his own experience of conversion to guide the individual toward greater generosity in the service of God and humankind. They implanted in Francis the motivation that carried him for the rest of his life and prepared the way for his recurrent mystical experiences.Read More »

Saint Andrew Dung-Lac

Born in 1795 in the Tonkinese town of Bac-Nihh in North Vietnam, Tran An Dung was the son of pagan parents.

Christianity came to Vietnam through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan.

In search of work for themselves in 1807, his parents moved to the ancient citadel of Hanoi. Here their twelve-year-old son was taken care of by a catechist and for three years was instructed in the Catholic faith. Baptized in Vinh-Tri, he received the Christian name Andrew (Anrê) in baptism and went on to learn both Chinese and Latin and himself became a catechist.

He was selected for further studies in theology and was ordained to the priesthood on March 15, 1823. An exemplary pastor, Andrew was ardent and indefatigable in his preaching, often fasted, and drew many to the Faith by his simple and moral life.Read More »