It is not too late to participate in The Hour of the Laity: A Lay Catholic Conference (THL2023); THL2023 is the conference we have been asking the Patron Saints, Blesseds, and Servants of God featured in the Patron Saint Series for intercessory prayers for its success. THL2023 is a national gathering (November 2-5, Christ Cathedral, Orange County, CA) for all lay Catholics who seek to grow as leaders and influence civil society with positive, healthy values grounded in truth and faith. For those unable to attend in person, an online, remote personal retreat option is now available! THL2023 ONLINE Registration
It is also currently open enrollment for the 2024 Tepeyac Leadership Initiative (TLI) cohort. Ask your favorite Patron Saint and Virgin Mary to pray for you and discern if this could be the path you have been seeking to learn more about responding to God’s call to sainthood as a layperson; TLI students and alumni are a beautiful global community that will walk with you and support you as you deepen your faith, understand and strengthen the integration of your faith into your daily life, and explore the ways that you too can be a leader for civil society.
The final Patron Saints featured in the series come from three distinct periods in history, and all had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary, especially St. Juan Diego, the Patron Saint of the Tepeyac Leadership Initiative. The prayer recited at the beginning and end of every meeting comes from the homily of Pope St. John Paul II when visiting the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City in 1979.
Oh Mother, strengthen the faith of our brothers and sisters in the laity, so that in every field of social, professional, cultural and political life they may act in accordance with the truth and the law brought by your son to mankind.” Hail Mary, St. Juan Diego – pray for us.
St. Juan Diego, who lived during the colonization era of South America, is also the Patron Saint for indigenous peoples. He was a Chichimeca person named Cuauhtlatoatzin (Talking Eagle) who became Catholic when he was 50 years old upon meeting the Franciscan missionaries in Mexico. Seven years later, in December of 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to him, instructing Juan Diego to visit the bishop and ask him to build a shrine for her on Tepeyac Hill. Juan Diego was obedient and went to the bishop twice with her request. On the second visit from Juan Diego, the bishop asked for proof. Juan Diego informed the Virgin Mary of this need for proof during the third apparition, and she asked him to return the next day. Juan Diego delayed meeting her because his uncle was sick. Mary appeared to Juan Diego a fourth time, relieved his fears about his uncle's health, and instructed him to gather flowers on Tepeyac Hill. Although it was December, he found flowers blooming, picked them, and took them to Mary, who carefully arranged them on his tilma (cloak). Juan Diego went to the bishop, and when he opened his cloak, Spanish Castilian Roses (not native to Mexico) tumbled forth, and the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was on the tilma – miraculous in many ways. The bishop, now convinced the Virgin Mary had indeed appeared to Juan Diego and made this request, built the chapel; within a few years, millions of Aztecs converted to Catholicism, further distancing themselves from a culture of death and human sacrifice. Juan Diego took up residence near the chapel to care for it and the pilgrims that visited it. He died in 1548, 17 years after the apparitions. Pope St. John Paul II canonized Juan Diego in 2002; his feast day is December 9. He is the first indigenous canonized saint in the Americas. Over 10 million pilgrims visit Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City each year to see the Tilma with the image of the Virgin Mary and inspired by the words she spoke to Juan Diego in 1531:
Am I not here, I who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.
St. Marguerite Bays, a humble layperson who lived during the Industrial Revolution in Switzerland, is a suitable Patron Saint for those in the clothing and fashion industry, for those who suffer from stomach disorders, and for those who face unemployment and poverty due to changes in technology and industrialization. She was born September 8, 1815 (the birthday of the Virgin Mary), was cured of stomach cancer on December 8, 1854 (the day Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary a sacred Dogma), and died Friday, June 27, 1879, at 3 pm (the Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). She came from a large farming family, and her daily routine was to help milk the cows, do chores, walk 20 minutes to Mass, then travel from farm to farm as a day laborer seamstress, and teach children about Jesus and the Catholic faith. She made multiple pilgrimages to the Marian Shrine at Einsiedeln, Switzerland, a journey that took three days by foot each way. Rather than join a convent, she chose to remain a virgin, living in the secular world and devoting her life to the care of her family and friends; she became a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. The ecstasy and stigmata she experienced later in life, related to the Lord's passion, were medically confirmed. She was canonized in 2019 by Pope Francis, and her feast day is June 27. Her focus was outward on consoling others, the poor, the sick and even Jesus and Mary:
The poor are the favorite friends of Our Lord," “One must console Our Lady for her sufferings in the passion," and in her prayer to Jesus, “O Holy Victim, pull me after you, we shall walk together. Let me accomplish in my flesh what is missing in your sufferings… it is in the wound of your Sacred Heart that I wish to draw my last breath.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen spoke and wrote insightful books about the impact of the sexual revolution. He is a suitable Patron Saint for writers, authors, editors, journalists, and those involved in the media; he is also a suitable Patron Saint for those seeking direction and meaning in life, those struggling to understand the beauty and brilliance of their genetic identity, and those needing to hear that “Life is Worth Living.” “Life is Worth Living” was the name of the television show that featured Archbishop Fulton Sheen from 1952-1957, with more than 10 million viewers each week – many episodes can now be found on YouTube! Although he won an Emmy Award and Time Magazine featured him on the cover, his bigger-than-life persona and the controversies that abounded could not detract from his hunger to save souls. Those supporting his cause submitted his life summary (1895-1979) to Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, who recognized his heroic virtues in 2012 with the Venerable Servant of God title. Venerable Sheen’s body was moved from New York to Peoria, Illinois, on June 27, 2019. Pope Francis accepted the miracle for beatification on July 6, 2019; a stillborn child, 61 minutes without a pulse, was restored to life after invoking the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen. Like the child, James Fulton Engstrom, who continued to grow and flourish despite the doctors’ predictions, so the teachings of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen can continue to shed light on the important issues of our times despite the delay in beatification. The prayer for the canonization of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the status of his cause, a more detailed biography and a list of books and publications are found on the Cause page. The last chapter in Fulton J. Sheen's book “World’s First Love” serves as a suitable closing prayer for the Patron Saint Series:
O Mary, we have exiled thy Divine Son from our lives, our councils, our education, and our families! Come with the light of the sun as the symbol of His Power! Heal our wars, our dark unrest; cool the cannon’s lips so hot with war! Take our minds off the atom and our souls out of the muck of nature! Give us rebirth in thy Divine Son, us, the poor children of the earth grown old with age! “Advance, Woman, in thine assault upon Omnipotence!” Shame us all into enlisting as thy warriors of peace and love!
St. Juan Diego, St. Marguerite Bays, and Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen – pray for us!
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