Walpurga was born in the county of Devonshire, England, into a local aristocratic family. She was the daughter of St. Richard the Pilgrim, one of the underkings of the West Saxons, and of Winna, sister of St. Boniface, Apostle of Germany, and had two brothers, St. Willibald and St. Winibald.
St. Richard, when starting with his two sons on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, entrusted Walpurga, then 11 years old, to the abbess of Wimborne. Walpurga was educated by the nuns of Wimborne Abbey, Dorset, where she spent 26 years as a member of the community. She then travelled with her brothers, Willibald and Winibald, to Francia (now Württemberg and Franconia) to assist Saint Boniface, her mother’s brother, in evangelizing among the still-pagan Germans.
Because of her rigorous training, she was later able to write St. Winibald’s Life and an account in Latin of St. Willibald’s travels in Palestine. She is thus looked upon by many as the first female author of England and Germany. Scarcely a year after her arrival, Walpurga received tidings of her father’s death at Lucca.
During her schooling at St. Cuthberga, her uncle and Boniface (later martyred in Germany) and her two brothers were sent as missionaries to Germany to convert the heathen races of Europe. As Boniface began to establish churches, he appealed to the Abbess Tetta of the convent of St. Cuthberga to send him some nuns to assist in his work. The Abbess selected a party of ten to embark on a voyage to join him, two of whom were Walburga and Boniface’s cousin Lioba.Read More »
Saint Juliana, daughter of an illustrious pagan named Africanus, was born in Nicomedia; and as a child was betrothed to the Senator Eleusius, one of the emperor’s advisors. When she was young Juliana secretly accepted holy baptism.
Africanus was hostile to the Christians and has arranged for his daughter betrothal to a senator. When the time of her wedding approached, Juliana who has dedicated herself to virginity refused to be married. Her father urged her not to break her engagement, but when she refused to obey him, he handed her over to the Governor, her former fiancé. Elusius again asked Juliana to marry him, but she again refused. The infuriated governor ordered her to be imprisoned and tortured.
While imprisoned, Juliana was visited by the devil, disguised as a messenger from God and who told her to agree to offer sacrifice to pagan idols. Juliana is said to have seen through the deception, and she spat on the devil. Juliana was severely tortured; roasted in flames, then dipped into boiling oil before finally being beheaded in 304. She was martyred during the persecution of Maximilian.Read More »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »