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St Augustine of Hippo

Feast Day:  28th August

Patron Saint: Converts to Christianity, Printers, Theologians.

Augustine was originally from North Africa

Also known as Augustine of Hippo, he was born in the Roman province of Numidia (modern day Algeria) to a Christian mother and a pagan father.

The young Augustine attended school for several years, where he became acquainted with Latin literature. After showing an aptitude for his studies.

Despite his academic brilliance, Augustine never managed to master Greek: his first teacher had been strict and beaten his students, so Augustine rebelled and responded by refusing to study. He never managed to learn properly later in life, which he said was a deep regret. He was, however, fluent in Latin and could make comprehensive and clever arguments.

He was ordained a priest in Hippo, and later became the Bishop of Hippo in 395. He preached between 6,000 and 10,000 sermons in his lifetime! In 430, the invasion into Roman Africa, besieging Hippo. During the siege, Augustine was said to have miraculously healed an ill man.

He died during the siege, on 28 August, spending his final days absorbed in prayer and doing penance.

Influenced by Greek and Roman philosophers, Augustine helped shape and create some of Western Christianity’s key theological ideas and doctrines, including those around original sin, divine grace and virtue. He is remembered today as one of the key theologians in Christianity, alongside St Paul.

 

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St Augustine    Pray for us

St George

Feast Day: 23rd April

Patron Saint:  England, Malta, Gozo, Ethiopia & Catalonia

St George is best known as the patron saint of England – his feast day is celebrated across the nation on 23 April each year – and for slaying a mythical dragon!

George’s early life is shrouded in mystery. It’s thought, however, that his parents were Greek Christians and that George was born in Central Anatolia. It is thought that George’s father died for his faith when George was around 14, and so he and his mother travelled back to her home province of Syria. St George became associated with English royalty from the 13th century.

The story of St George and the Dragon is most popular today: the first recorded versions of this appear in the 11th century, with it being incorporated into Catholic legend in the 12th century. St George appears in Muslim legends, not just Christian ones where George was martyred as a result of a reign of fire. Other texts suggest that George had powers to resurrect the dead much like Jesus.

Originally known as the Golden Legend, the story places George in Libya. The town of Silene was terrorised by an evil dragon – to begin with, they soothed it with sheep, but as time went on, the dragon began demanding human sacrifices. Eventually, the king’s daughter was chosen by lottery, and despite her father’s protests, she was sent out to the dragon’s lake dressed as a bride.

George happened to be passing by, and attacked the dragon once it emerged from the pond. After returning the princess to the village with the dragon in tow, he said he would kill it if the villagers converted to Christianity.

Almost all of the village (15,000 or so people) did just this. George therefore killed the dragon, and a church was built on this spot.

 

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St. George         Pray for us

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St. Catherine of Siena

Feast Day: 29 April

Born: 25 March 1347

Died: 29 April 1380

Patron Saint:  Italy

She was born in Sienna and died in Rome. She promoted peace in Italy and is one of the two patron saints of Italy; the other being Saint Francis of Assisi.

She was born Katerina de Benincasa in western Italy, the 25th of 25 children. She was born at the time of the Black Death, or Bubonic Plague. Although it probably killed many she knew, she herself did not contract the disease and survived the epidemic. She had a twin sister, who died several months later. Her family was part of the lower classes and she did not become literate until 1378.

At the age of six, Catherine had a vision of Jesus Christ. She continued to receive many visions throughout her life. At age 12, Catherine cut off her hair and was obligated to serve her family, living in small quarters in the basement. At the age of 16, she entered the Third Order of Saint Dominic and later became a Dominican nun.

She wrote a book called Dialogue, which taught that if you love your neighbours it is loving God. She also devoted her life to improving the Catholic church, helping the ill, poor, and spiritually underprivileged. Catherine persuaded the pope to return from Avignon, France and back into Rome. She also tried to start a new Crusade to the holy land, Jerusalem. She died of “holy anorexia”, as she ate very little in the name of God.

 She became a saint in 1461, and was later made a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI and a patron of Europe in 1999.

 

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St. Catherine of Siena     Pray for us