The season of Lent is a time of pruning, cleansing, renewing, and preparing. It is also a time that may be used to reflect on some of the lives of Saints whose Feasts fall within the season, taking heart that we are never alone as we struggle and journey together with the Communion of Saints in the wilderness of Lent.

February 14, Ash Wednesday: St. Valentine

St. Valentine is a 3rd century Roman Saint and priest who was arrested for trying to convert people to Christianity and for secretly marrying Christian couples. Emperor Claudius commanded him to renounce his faith, but he refused and was executed outside Flaminian Gate on February 14. He is the patron Saint for love, young people, and happy marriages.

February 21: St. Peter Damian

St. Peter Damian was a Benedictine monk who served 3 popes in the 11th century. He was a skilled preacher and strove to eliminate corruption in the medieval Church. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XII.

February 23: St. Polycarp

St. Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna in the 2nd century. He is known for combating heresies that sprung up in the early Church. During the persecution of Christians, he was martyred by piercing from a spear. The crowd had tried to burn him but he was not consumed by the flames. He instead died of the spear wound. On the day of his martyrdom, he refused to denounce Jesus, saying, “86 years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?”

March 3: St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel was born to a family of wealthy financiers. She renounced her wealth to become a novice of the Sisters of Mercy before founding her own order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indian and Coloured People, now the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She also set up a school for African American students. She is the Patron Saint of people suffering from racial injustice and of philanthropists.

March 4: St. Casimir

St. Casimir was the third son of King Casimir IV, grand duke of Lithuania and king of Poland. He believed that war was wrong, but felt obligated to honour his father’s requests. The king outraged at how his son’s troops deserted him in battle, exiled him. During his exile, he rebelled against his princely status and strove to help the sick and the poor. He died of tuberculosis at the age of 25. He is the patron Saint of Poland and Lithuania.

“The best penance is to have patience with the sorrows the Lord permits.” St. Peter Damian

March 6: St. Colette

St. Colette was a carpenter’s daughter who was orphaned at 17. She distributed her inheritance to the poor and became a Franciscan tertiary and lived as a Solitary. She received a dream telling her to reform the Poor Clares. She received her Poor Clare habit from Peter de Luna. She founded 17 convents with the reformed rule. She was renowned for her holiness, her ecstasies, visions of the Passion, and prophesised her own death.

March 6: Sts. Felicity and Perpetua

St. Perpetua was a 22 year-old mother with an infant, and St. Felicity was a pregnant slave. They were catechumen and were arrested for being Christian. They were martyred as part of the gladiatorial games in Carthage. They are the Patron Saints of mothers, expectant mothers, ranchers, and butchers.

March 9: St. Frances of Rome

St. Frances together with her sister-in-law Vannozza went for the Eucharist together, visited prisons, served hospitals, and set up a secret chapel in an abandoned tower of their palace. When disease brought famine to Rome, Frances insisted that no beggar be turned away. Her prayers caused the family granary and her wine casks to be refilled miraculously. With her husband, Lorenzo’s support, she set up a lay order of women attached to the Benedictines, known as the Oblates of Mary. St. Frances of Rome is the Patron Saint of motorists, due to a legend which says that her Guardian Angel lit the road before her with a lantern to keep her safe.

March 16: Saint Abraham Kidunaia

St. Abraham was a hermit who lived in sixth-century Syria. Although he preferred time in solitude, the bishop sent him to Beth-Kiduna to evangelise a pagan town. At first, he was rejected, whipped and had stones hurled at him. The villagers resorted to physically dragging him away, but he continues to preach and persist, and eventually, the townspeople came to know Christ.

“Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to Him. That is all the doing you have to worry about.” St. Jeanne de Chantal

March 17: Saint Patrick

Although he is the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick was actually born in Roman Britain in the 5th century. When he was a teenager, he was captured and enslaved by Irish raiders. He escaped after six years and studied in many monasteries. He later, felt called to return to the Irish people to evangelise what was then a pagan country. He succeeded in converting Ireland within 33 years. He is the Patron Saint of many causes including, against snakebites, for barbers, blacksmiths, and excluded people.

March 18: Saint Cyril of Jerusalem

St. Cyril lived at the time of the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ and threatened the Church. He was caught in the conflict and spent 16 years in exile. His writings, especially those designed for new Catholics, are considered treasures of the Church. He is a Doctor of the Church.

March 19: Saint Joseph

St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is known for his faithfulness and humility, accepting the will of God even when he did not completely understand what was happening. Although the Gospels do not tell us a lot about Joseph, we know he was from the House of David and was a carpenter by trade. His yes to God is found in how he was willing to get up immediately and carry out the will of God. He is the Patron Saint of those seeking employment, building homes, against doubt, for fathers, and those in woodworking industries.

March 20: Saint María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus

Felt called to care for the sick and elderly, St. María Josefa of the Heart of Jesus founded the Institute of the Servants of Jesus in Bilbao, Spain, in 1871. She felt it was the calling of the sisters to accompany the sick “until the door of eternity.“

March 23: Saint Toribio of Mogrovejo

Born to a Spanish noble family, Saint Toribio was named Archbishop of Lima, Peru, in 1580. He travelled across the archdiocese visiting his people, often on foot and alone. He worked on reforming the clergy and wrote catechisms in native languages. He also helped the poor and defended the rights of the native people, and he founded the first seminary in the Americas.

March 26: Saint Margaret Clitherow

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, when Catholic Mass was outlawed in England, St. Margaret Clitherow hid priests in her home and secretly celebrated Mass there. She was eventually discovered and executed.