My goal in life is to become a blessed. Make it to heaven. Hopefully give inspiration to some others in their journey. Give comfort that if this guy who threw his son’s Legos out the door into the snow could make it, surely you can too. But I know too well who I am, with weaknesses towards laziness, impurity, pride, impatience, and that I really shouldn’t be held up to others as a canonized example. I want to be in Heaven. I want to be a saint, but being a capital S canonized Saint seems a little unrealistic considering who I am. Being a blessed seems to say, “I’m still a work in progress. Stiillllll looking for that second miracle.”
I like blesseds a lot. Since not EVERYONE knows about them yet, it feels like a closer, more intimate friendship with them. I feel like they are more able to listen to my petitions. And you feel pretty cool when you introduce other people to them. And… maybe they appreciate that we’re telling others about them and will be even more likely to hear a promoter’s prayers??? 🙂 Okay, I sound like a Catholic hipster there-I knew about St. Gianna when she was still Bl. Gianna-but you’re just gonna have to deal with it. I’m imperfect. I think we’ve established that.
And it is so exciting to rejoice with the Church in celebrating that second miracle and finally being able to call this soul a SAINT! What should we do to celebrate John Paul’s approaching canonization this April 27? I just googled “ways to celebrate John Paul II canonization and not one enterprising catholic momblogger has come up with cute party snacks like Wojtyla Vanilla Ice Cream on Karol Kupkakes, or festive games like Brezhnev Block! (All snacks and games at my parties contain alliteration) So Erika, get on that! You’ll be catholicblogfamous. As for me, I will commemorate the occasion with a Top 10. Can you believe a google search for Top 10 Catholic Blesseds also reveals nothing. Nothing…until now. Let us commence.
10. Bl. Hildegard Burjan-It is a shame Hildegard is not a more resonant name, because this woman deserves to have girls who look up to her as a patron. Wife, mother, Jewish convert, social worker, member of the Austrian parliament (Anna-have you heard of her?) When I started this list, I wasn’t ready with 10 blesseds I loved, so I had to do some additional research. And Hildegard is a wonderful discovery.
9. Bl. Odoardo Focherini– Here is another I just read about tonight, but I will be increasing my devotion to him in the years to come. What a life. While still trying to discover new young saints and blesseds for my students to see our faith is alive and energetic and joyful, I am also becoming increasingly drawn to saints that model a path to live out holiness in marriage and fatherhood. Often it feels like I was much closer to sanctity when I was 19 than I am now. So men like the Giuseppes (Tovini and Toniolo) and Peter To Rot inspire me as they work out their way to sanctification with their families and their occupations. Odoardo, the first journalist to be beatified, helped save 100 Jews during the Holocaust. Eventually, he was arrested and was martyred in a concentration camp. His oldest child was 13. I can’t imagine the legacy of moral integrity he has left to his children and grandchildren.
8. Bl. Imelda Lambertini-Born in 1322, Imelda is the only saint on my list not from the last 150 years, but her story is pretty incredible. Entering the convent when she was 9, she still had to wait years longer for her First Communion. When that joyful day finally came, Imelda died in ecstasy after receiving our Lord for the first time. I have seen some 2nd graders get a little frightened when hearing her story, worried what may happen to them. But it is an ideal story to share with third graders, to remind them, once the excitement and novelty wears of, of the importance of every Communion, not just their first.
7. Bl. Franceso and Bl. Jacinta-Fatima is my favorite apparition. As a kid, I loved “The Day the Sun Danced.”
6. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta- The woman is an icon. Her severe spiritual desolation only makes her more fascinating and inspiring to me.
5. Bl. Laura Vicuna-Laura’s mother, to help pay for her daughter’s schooling, became the mistress of Senor Manuel Mora. This greatly bothered Laura. Senor Mora would also beat her mother and Laura. Inspired by the Scripture, “No greater love is there than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend,” young Laura made a deal with God: my life in exchange for my mother’s conversion. She became sick with tuberculosis, and after a severe beating, Laura knew that the end was near. She revealed to her mother, “Mamma, I’m dying, but I’m happy to offer my life for you. I asked Our Lord for this. Before I die, will I have the joy of seeing you repent?”. Senora Mercedes cried, “Laura, my daughter, please forgive me…O dear God, please forgive my life of sin… Yes, I will start again.” Laura was not quite 13 when she passed away.
4. Bl. Chiara Luce-This Italian girl is inspiring to my students in how normal she is. She loved going to coffeehouses. She wanted to be a flight attendant and travel. She was active in her youth group. But how she dealt with the pain of bone cancer was extraordnary and heroic. When her hair began to fall out in clumps, she would hold it up and say, “For you, Lord.” Chiara died when she was 18 in 1990. Just go look at those photos of her on her webpage. I LOVE saints that we have candid photos of them.
3. Bl. Zelie-maybe I’m a little partial
2. Bl. Miguel Pro- Fr. Miguel’s life truly captures the daring imagination of my students. Refusing to leave the people of Mexico without the sacraments during the clergy persecution of the 1920s, Fr. Miguel evaded the police using disguises. But when he was captured, the government had photographers present at his execution, hoping to capture the people’s hero begging for his life. Instead, Fr. Miguel made his last moments an inspiring battle cry, extending his arms and shouting “VIVA CHRISTO EL REY!” Long live Christ the King.
1. Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati-I do have a facebook album dedicated to this guy, so it makes sense he’s my number one. He is a Catholic stud. Year after year, my students LOVE hearing the stories of his life, whether it is giving his shoes to a boy who comes begging at the door, teaching his horse to genuflect when it passes the church, or going hiking in the mountains with his friends. He would tell them, “When I go to Mass in the morning, my soul flies to the heavens. Then I must go hiking to look for it.” The fun stories of his life certainly drew me to him, but that interest has been sustained by the complexity and depth of his sacrifice and dedication to his apostolate. When he is canonized, I will be throwing a major celebration and my nephew will be the guest of honor. Verso L’Alto!
Who are some of your favorite lesser-known saints or blesseds? (or venerables. or Servant of Gods. I’m not picky. 🙂