Our Form Saints
This year we are celebrating our 30th year anniversary under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, and as such, we have introduced new form names which means that pupils will retain their association with the same patron saint throughout their school journey. Each tutor group is named after one of our house saints, and we continue to explore ways in which we can use this structure to build a closer sense of community and awareness of our inspiring Catholic leaders.
St John Bosco, patron saint of young people, apprentices and pupils
'We do not go to Holy Communion because we are good; we go to become good.'
Saint John Bosco is remembered as a man who dedicated his life to the service of abandoned young people. Over 150 years ago he challenged the way young people were treated in the desperate poverty that existed at that time in the city of Turin, Italy. He was driven by first-hand experience of the effects of dreadful poverty and hunger on the young people he came across and was determined to change their condition. Others were inspired to follow him in responding to the needs of the young. John Bosco created an order in the Catholic Church, called the Salesians.
Saint John Bosco is the patron saint of apprentices, editors and publishers, schoolchildren, and magicians. His feast day is on January 31.
"When tempted, invoke your Angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped! Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him: he trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel."
St. John Bosco
St Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of teachers, schools and philosophers
'Wonder is the desire for knowledge. Love takes up where knowledge leaves off…'
Saint Thomas’ parents were well-off, and as the youngest son he was expected to enter the monastery.
It is believed that Thomas was introduced to his philosophical influences - Aristotle, Averroes, and Maimonides - at the university, where he also met a Dominican preacher, who influenced him to join the recently founded Dominican Order.
Following the conclusion of his education, Thomas taught in Cologne as an apprentice professor and instructed students on the books of the Old Testament. It was during this time he wrote many religious works. In 1252, Thomas returned to Paris to earn his master's degree in theology.
The Dominicans called Thomas to establish a university wherever he wanted with a staff of whomever he wished. He established the university in Naples and took the regent master post. In 1273 Thomas was found crying and levitating in prayer before an icon of the crucified Christ at the Dominican convent of Naples, in the Chapel of Saint Nicholas.
During this prayer, Christ is said to have told him, "You have written well of me, Thomas. What reward would you have for your labor?"
Thomas replied, "Nothing but you, Lord."
Saint Thomas Aquinas is the patron saint of students and all universities. His feast day is on January 28th. Saint Thomas is often depicted with an open book or writing with a quill.
A Student's Prayer by St. Thomas
Come, Holy Spirit, Divine Creator, true source of light and fountain of wisdom! Pour forth your brilliance upon my dense intellect, dissipate the darkness which covers me, that of sin and of ignorance.
Grant me a penetrating mind to understand, a retentive memory, method and ease in learning, the lucidity to comprehend, and abundant grace in expressing myself. Guide the beginning of my work, direct its progress, and bring it to successful completion.
This I ask through Jesus Christ, true God and true man, living and reigning with You and the Father, forever and ever
St Alban, patron saint of converts and refugees
'I worship and adore the true and living God, who created all things'
Saint Alban was a convert to the Catholic faith. Legends say that he was a Roman soldier at Verulanium. Scholars have suggested that Verulanium, is now known as St. Albans in Hertfordshire. This was a part of Britain which resisted Roman rule.
Alban, a pagan, is said to have sheltered a priest who was fleeing persecution. Alban took the priest's cloak and allowed him to escape. The priest spoke to Alban about his faith and this changed him forever. Roman soldiers arrested Alban, who was later beheaded. When arrested he said “I am called Alban and I worship and adore the true and living God".
When people saw his faith many became Christians as well. The traditional site of Alban's death, Holmhurst Hill, became the site of St. Alban Abbey, founded by King Offa in the VIII Century. During a Danish invasion, Alban's relics are said to have been transported to Ely. What remained of Alban's relics were scattered in the time of the Dissolution.
Saint Alban is the patron saint of converts, refugees and torture victims. His feast day is on June 22nd.
St Francis, patron saint of animals and ecology
'If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.'
In 1182, Pietro Bernardone returned from a trip to France to find out his wife had given birth to a son. Far from being excited or apologetic because he'd been gone, Pietro was furious because she'd had his new son baptized Giovanni after John the Baptist. The last thing Pietro wanted in his son was a man of God -- he wanted a man of business, a cloth merchant like he was, and he especially wanted a son who would reflect his infatuation with France. So he renamed his son Francesco -- which is the equivalent of calling him Frenchman.
Francis fulfilled every hope of Pietro's -- even falling in love with France. Francis was also good at business. Francis wanted more than wealth, but not holiness... Francis wanted to be a nobleman, a knight. Battle was the best place to win the glory and prestige he longed for. He got his first chance when Assisi declared war on their longtime enemy, the nearby town of Perugia.
But Francis never got farther than one day's ride from Assisi. There he had a dream in which God told him he had it all wrong and told him to return home. What must it have been like to return without ever making it to battle -- the boy who wanted nothing more than to be liked was humiliated, laughed at, called a coward by the village and raged at by his father for the money wasted on armor.
Francis' conversion did not happen over night. God had waited for him for twenty-five years and now it was Francis' turn to wait. Francis started to spend more time in prayer. He went off to a cave and wept for his sins. Sometimes God's grace overwhelmed him with joy. But life couldn't just stop for God. There was a business to run, customers to wait on.
His search for conversion led him to the ancient church at San Damiano. While he was praying there, he heard Christ on the crucifix speak to him, "Francis, repair my church."
Francis assumed this meant church with a small c -- the crumbling building he was in. Acting again in his impetuous way, he took fabric from his father's shop and sold it to get money to repair the church.
Francis went back to what he considered God's call. He begged for stones and rebuilt the San Damiano church with his own hands, not realizing that it was the Church with a capital C that God wanted repaired. Soon Francis started to preach. (He was never a priest, though he was later ordained a deacon under his protest.) Francis was not a reformer; he preached about returning to God and obedience to the Church.
Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat...and loving God. With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his goods and give to the poor.
Francis never wanted to found a religious order -- this former knight thought that sounded too military. He thought of what he was doing as expressing God's brotherhood. Francis' brotherhood included all of God's creation. Much has been written about Francis' love of nature but his relationship was deeper than that. Francis really felt that nature, all God's creations, were part of his brotherhood. The sparrow was as much his brother as the Pope.
Saint Francis is the patron saint of animals, merchants and ecology. His feast day is on October 4th
St Teresa of Calcutta, patron saint of World Youth Day
'If you want to change the world, go home and love your family'
Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia, on 26th August 1910. Her family was of Albanian descent. At the age of twelve, she felt strongly the call of God. She knew she had to be a missionary to spread the love of Christ. At the age of eighteen she left her parental home in Skopje and joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish community of nuns with missions in India. After a few months of training in Dublin she was sent to India, where on May 24, 1931, she took her initial vows as a nun. From 1931 to 1948 Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary's High School in Calcutta, but the suffering and poverty she glimpsed outside the convent walls made such a deep impression on her that in 1948 she received permission from her superiors to leave the convent school and devote herself to working among the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.
Although she had no funds, she started an open-air school for slum children. Soon she was joined by voluntary helpers, and financial support was also forthcoming. This made it possible for her to extend the scope of her work.
On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Pope to start her own order, "The Missionaries of Charity", whose primary task was to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after.
The Society of Missionaries has spread all over the world, including the former Soviet Union and Eastern European countries. They provide effective help to the poorest of the poor in a number of countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and they undertake relief work in the wake of natural catastrophes such as floods, epidemics and famine as well as supporting refugees. The order also has houses in North America, Europe and Australia, where they take care of the 'shut-in', alcoholics, homeless, and AIDS sufferers.
Mother Teresa's work has been recognised and acclaimed throughout the world and she has received a number of awards and distinctions. Mother Teresa died on 5th September 1997.
"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody: I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
St Bernadette, patron saint of Lourdes, the ill, and shepherds
'If a dream should fall and break, never be afraid to pick yourself up and begin again.'
Bernadette was born in Lourdes, France. Her parents were very poor and she herself was in poor health. One Thursday, February 11, 1858, when she was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood, a very beautiful Lady appeared to her above a rose bush in a grotto called Massabielle. The beautiful Lady was the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to Bernadette seventeen other times and spoke with her. She told Bernadette that she should pray for sinners, do penance and have a chapel built there in her honour. Many people did not believe Bernadette when she spoke of her vision. She had to suffer much. But one day Our Lady told Bernadette to dig in the mud.
As she did, a spring of water began to flow. The next day it continued to grow larger and larger. Many miracles happened when people began to use this water. When Bernadette was older, she became a nun. She was always very humble. More than anything else, she desired not to be praised. Once a nun asked her if she had temptations of pride because she was favoured by the Blessed Mother. "How can I?" she answered quickly. "The Blessed Virgin chose me only because I was the most ignorant." Bernadette died on 16th April 1879
"I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them."
St Cecilia, patron saint of musicians, singers and students
'To take up Christ is not to sacrifice one's youth, but to renew it.'
Saint Cecilia is said to have been quite close to God and prayed often. During her wedding ceremony she was said to have sung in her heart to God and before the consummation of her nuptials, she told her husband she had an angel protecting her. Valerian asked to see the angel as proof, and Cecilia told him he would have eyes to see once he traveled to the third milestone on the Via Appia (Appian Way) and was baptized by Pope Urbanus.
Following his baptism, Valerian returned to his wife and found an angel at her side. The angel then crowned Cecilia with a chaplet of rose and lily and when Valerian's brother, Tibertius, heard of the angel and his brother's baptism, he also was baptized and together the brothers dedicated their lives to burying the saints who were murdered each day by the prefect of the city.
As her husband and brother-in-law buried the dead, St. Cecilia spent her time preaching and in her lifetime was able to convert over four hundred people, most of whom were baptized by Pope Urban. Cecilia was later arrested and condemned to death. Crowds came to her and collected her blood while she preached to them or prayed. On the third day she died and was buried by Pope Urban and his deacons.
Officials exhumed her body in 1599 and found her to be incorrupt, the first of all incorrupt saints. She was draped in a silk veil and wore a gold embroidered dress. Officials only looked through the veil in an act of holy reverence and made no further examinations. They also reported a "mysterious and delightful flower-like odor which proceeded from the coffin."
St. Cecilia is the patron saint of music, because she heard heavenly music in her heart when she was married, and is represented in art with an organ or organ-pipes in her hand. Her feast day is November 22nd
St Catherine of Siena, patron saint of Europe, firefighters and nurses
'Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire'
Saint Catherine of Siena was born during the outbreak of the plague in Siena, Italy in 1347. She was the 25th child born to her mother, although half of her brothers and sisters did not survive childhood. Catherine herself was a twin, but her sister did not survive infancy. At the age of 16, one of Catherine's sisters died, leaving her husband as a widower. Catherine's parents proposed that he marry Catherine as a replacement, but Catherine opposed this. She began fasting and cut her hair very short to marr her appearance.
Despite Catherine's religious nature, she did not choose to enter a convent and instead she joined the Third Order of St. Dominic, which allowed her to associate with a religious society while living at home. St. Catherine developed a habit of giving things away and she continually gave away her family's food and clothing to people in need.
Something changed her when she was 21. She described an experience she referred to as her "mystical marriage to Christ." Such mystical experiences change people, and St. Catherine was no exception. In her vision, she was told to reenter public life and to help the poor and sick. She immediately rejoined her family and went into public to help people in need. She often visited hospitals and homes where the poor and sick were found. Her activities quickly attracted followers who helped her in her mission to serve the poor and sick.
She also established a monastery for women in 1377 outside of Siena. She is credited with composing over 400 letters, her Dialogue, which is her definitive work, and her prayers. These works are so influential that St. Catherine would later be declared a Doctor of the Church. She is one of the most influential and popular saints in the Church.
Saint Catherine's feast day is April 29, she is the patroness against fire, illness, miscarriages, those ridiculed for their faith and of nurses.
St Luke, patron saint of artists and physicians
Luke was the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. We know few other facts about Luke's life from Scripture and from early Church historians.It is believed that Luke was born a Greek and a Gentile. In his gospel, we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles such as the widow of Zarephath, and of the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan
In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. It was not uncommon for families to educate slaves in medicine so that they would have a resident family physician.
We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry. We know nothing about his conversion but looking at the language of Acts we can see where he joined Saint Paul. Luke first joined Paul's company at Troas at about the year 51 and accompanied him into Macedonia where they travelled great distances.
Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is imprisoned in Rome about the year 61. And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end.
Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the six miracles and eighteen parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary 's Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty"
Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. His gospel tells the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth including the Magnificat, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth.
Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also really important to Luke. In his gospel, we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father. He tells the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy.
Reading Luke's gospel gives a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone.