Ten Essential Saints for the Year of Faith

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has just put out a list of ten saints for the Year of Faith.

All ten saints are being held up as great evangelizers by the USCCB. Most of the saints are both great models of faith for us to follow and also pivotal figures in the history of Christian faith.

For example, St. Augustine’s Confessions is a classic story of the Christian struggling with sin and searching for God. Augustine also is a towering figure in early Christian thought and is indispensable for understanding early debates about grace and free will, the Church and salvation, and the relationship of the Church to the world. Another one of the ten saints, St. Jerome, was the translator of the Bible into Latin. Christians today, the USCCB writes, can “follow in his evangelizing footsteps by loving the Word of God.”

In sum, this is a fresh and inspiring list of ten saints. If you’re still looking for ways to deepen your faith in this upcoming year, this is a great place to start.

(Note: All of the below descriptions are provided by the USCCB.)

1. Sts. Peter and Paul – Peter and Paul laid the foundations of the early Church and are among the most venerated saints. Peter was the first to profess that Jesus is the Son of God, and the papacy is built on his witness. Paul’s mission trips expanded the reach of the young Church, and his writings articulate our faith. Both men were willing to bear witness to the point of death, and both were martyred in Rome.

2. St. Jerome – A Fourth Century Doctor of the Church, Jerome made the Bible more accessible to everyday people when he translated it into Latin from its original Hebrew and Greek. St. Jerome is famous for saying, “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” We can follow in Jerome’s evangelizing footsteps by loving the Word of God.

3. St. Augustine – Bishop of Hippo, a contemporary of Jerome, and another Doctor of the Church, Augustine was notorious for his life of sinful indulgence prior to his conversion. He continues to inspire people, not only because of his conversion, but also with the brilliance of his writings—most famously his Confessions—which have had a profound impact on Christian thought down to the present day.

4. St. Patrick – As the Fifth Century Apostle of Ireland, Patrick exemplifies how Christian witness can have a pervasive, lasting impact on a culture. Following the example of Jesus, who taught with imagery, St. Patrick is known for using the image of the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity, making a great mystery of God accessible to all people.

5. St. Francis of Assisi – One of the most beloved saints, Francis of Assisi lived the Gospel by identifying himself with the poor, embracing outcasts and enemies, and celebrating the goodness of God present in all creation. His witness revitalized a Church that had “fallen into ruin,” and his influence today goes beyond the order he founded and even beyond the Catholic Church. When the last two popes held interreligious gatherings to pray for peace, they met not in Rome, but in Assisi.

6. St. Ignatius of Loyola – Founder of the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola was a former soldier from Spain. He founded the Jesuits in 1540 as an effort to counter the effects of the Protestant Reformation by the promotion and defense of the teachings and authority of the Church across Europe. Ignatius also developed his Spiritual Exercises, a model of prayer still used today.

7. St. Francis Xavier – A close friend of St. Ignatius and one of the first Jesuits, Francis Xavier was a great missionary to Asia, visiting India, Indonesia, Japan, and other countries. He was named the patron of Catholic missions by Pope Pius XI.

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Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. Raised as an evangelical Protestant, he is a convert to Catholicism. He is a former news editor at GoLocalProv.com and was a correspondent for the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he covered the 2008 presidential primary. He has appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN and the Today Show and his writing has been published in the Washington Times, Providence Journal, the National Catholic Register and on MSNBC.com and ABCNews.com. A native of Topsfield, Massachusetts, he graduated from Brown University in 2004 with a degree in classics and history. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. He welcomes tips, suggestions, and any other feedback at bealenews at gmail dot com. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/StephenBeale1

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