Our Form Saints
Our tutor groups are organised into form Saints groups and are becoming well established as a way to bring our community together across the school. There is a Head of ‘Saint’, who leads a vertical assembly to all pupils and students and coordinates and leads the various Saint competitions and events. The role of the form Saint is to model, identify and inspire pupils through the values and commitment of the individual Saint. Each Saint feast day is marked through prayer and celebrated by each tutor group with a chocolatey treat! Each form Saint has a Saint Charity which brings pupils and students together in living out Christ’s command to love and serve others.
St Brigid - BD
St Brigid was born in 451 and died about 525 in Ireland. Her mother was a Christian slave, and so Brigid was born into slavery. Her pagan father named her after the Celtic goddess of fire. She lived at about the same time as St. Patrick, whose influence inspired her to become Christian. With the help of her companions, St. Brigid organised religious communities for women all over Ireland, including the famous one at Kildare. She also founded a school of art. One day when Brigid was about 18 years old, as she came inside from milking the cows, her father noticed that her pails were empty. Upon questioning her, her father learnt that Brigid had given the milk away to a woman who was begging. Brigid’s father became so frustrated with his daughter’s generosity to the poor, he decided to sell her to the king. Her father persuaded the king to take his daughter as his slave but while he was speaking to the king, he left Brigid in the chariot and when her father and the king returned, they noticed that Brigid had given away her father’s jewelled sword to a person who had nothing. The king burst out laughing and joked that the only one who could afford the price of Brigid was God. And that is how Brigid became free to serve God for the rest of her life. In artwork, St. Brigid is often pictured holding a cross, a burning flame and a book or manuscript. The manuscript represents her great learning and wisdom.
St Oscar Romero - OR
St Oscar Romero was born on 15th August 1917, in El Salvador. Oscar learned to be a carpenter, making tables, chairs and doors. When he was 14 years old, Oscar wanted to be a priest so he went to study at junior seminary. When his mother was ill and they needed money for medicine, Oscar left the seminary for three months and worked in the gold mine in Potosí. He earned about 4p a day. Oscar went to Rome to study and stayed there during World War II. His father and brother died while he was in Rome. Romero was ordained a priest and returned to El Salvador. He became famous for his sermons. He also did a lot of parish work like visiting prisons, organising catechism classes and working with others in the Church to provide help and food for the poor. Romero was made a bishop on 21st June 1970. Violence increased in El Salvador by the mid-1970s, as the government and army began killing poor people who stood up for their rights. When the army killed three people in the village of Tres Calles in Romero’s diocese, he comforted the families and wrote to the President to protest about the murders. Romero became Archbishop of San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, in 1977. Some rich people were happy because they thought he would stop priests from helping the poor to stand up for their basic rights. But a few weeks later, his friend Fr Rutilio Grande was shot and killed, along with two companions. The following Sunday, Romero allowed only one Mass in the whole diocese - at the Cathedral - where he spoke out against the murders. As the violence in El Salvador continued, Romero continued to speak out. Every Sunday his sermon was broadcast by radio. The whole country listened. Romero’s life was often threatened. In his sermon on 23rd March 1980, Romero ordered the army to stop killing people: “In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people whose cries rise to heaven more loudly each day, I beg you, I implore you, I order you, in the name of God, stop the repression!” The next day, a shot killed Romero as he said Mass. A UN report later found that Major Roberto D’Aubuisson, had ordered Romero’s death. Thousands came to the funeral. The army fired into the crowd. 30 people died and hundreds were injured. The civil war in El Salvador continued until 1992. Pope Francis announced that Oscar Romero was a martyr, and he was beatified in El Salvador on 23 May 2015. His canonisation took place on 14th October 2018 in Rome.
St Josephine Bakhita - JBA
St Josephine Bakhita, also known as ‘Mother Moretta’ was kidnapped at the age of nine and sold into slavery. Such was the trauma experienced that she forgot her birth name and her kidnappers gave her the name Bakhita meaning ‘fortunate’. Flogging and maltreatment were part of her daily life. She experienced the moral and physical humiliations associated with slavery.
It was only in 1882 that her suffering was alleviated after she was bought for the Italian Consul. This event was to transform her life. In this family and, subsequently in a second Italian home, she received from her masters, kindness, respect, peace and joy.
A change in her owner’s circumstances meant that she was entrusted to the Canossian Sisters and her next fifty years were spent witnessing God’s love through cooking, sewing, embroidery and attending to the door. She was a source of encouragement and her constant smile won people’s hearts, as did her humility and simplicity.
As she grew older she experienced long, painful years of sickness, but she continued to persevere in hope, constantly choosing the good. During her last days she relived the painful days of her slavery and more than once begged: ‘Please, loosen the chains… they are heavy!’.
Surrounded by the sisters, she died on 8 February 1947. February 8 has been designated as a day of prayer, reflection and action to end the injustice of human trafficking.
St Kateri Tekakwitha - KTA
St Kateri Tekakwitha felt she didn’t quite fit in growing up. The same smallpox that had taken the lives of her parents and brother when she was four years old had left her face badly scarred and sallow. It also badly damaged her eyes. The name Tekakwitha means “she who bumps into things.” So although she was good at weaving and enjoyed playing with her cornhusk dolls, her poor eyesight made it difficult to plant and weed, and impossible to play chasing games with the other children.
As she grew older, she became more and more interested in her mother’s religion. French Jesuit missionaries, “Blackrobes,” as the Mohawks called them, travelled among the villages of the Iroquois Confederacy, teaching the people about Christ. Eventually, Tekakwitha asked one of these priests to teach her and baptise her into the faith. She took the name Catherine, or as the Mohawk said, “Kateri.”
Tekakwitha’s interest in Christianity annoyed her uncle, but it was her refusal to marry that scandalised her relatives the most. When Kateri refused the marriage proposal of a young warrior to his face in front of his family, it was the last straw. Her relatives mocked her, calling her names and giving her all the hardest work. Not long after this, she left the village in a daring escape, travelling with the help of two Huron warriors nearly two hundred miles to a village of Christian Mohawks. There, at last, she fit in.
When she died of an illness four years later, her last words were, “Jesus, Mary, I love you.” Fifteen minutes after her death, her face was transformed; no longer scarred, but radiant, an outward sign to all who knew and loved her that she had finally found a true home in heaven.
St Martin de Porres - MP
St Martin de Porres was born in Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father left his family when Martin was eight. This left Martin and his baby sister and their mother very poor. But Martin still gave away whatever he could to other hungry and poor people. When he was 12, Martin went to work for a barber. He learned to cut hair and to heal wounds. Later, Martin wanted to join the Dominicans in their work. He was allowed to work with them as a servant who swept floors and answered the door (at the time, the law in Peru did not allow persons of other races or mixed race to enter religious life). Finally, his years of good works and miraculous cures led the Dominicans to allow him to become a lay brother, but even some of his fellow Dominicans still scorned him. He eventually founded orphanages for homeless children and cared for lonely African slaves who had been forced to come to Lima. He gave shirts to those who had no clothes; bread to those who had no food; shelter to those who had no homes. One of his closest friends was St. Rose of Lima. In 1639, Martin died. Everyone in Lima mourned him, even bishops and members of the royal court in Lima. In 1962, the Church declared that Martin de Porres was a saint. Many statues of St. Martin de Porres show him holding a broom, with a dog, cat, and mouse at his feet; he loved animals and was said to have solved a rat problem by simply asking the rats to leave.
He is the patron saint of persons of mixed race and of those who suffer from discrimination.
St Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila - LR
Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the first Filipino venerated in the Catholic Church. Of Chinese-Filipino parentage, he became the country’s protomartyr after his execution by the Tokugawa Shogunate during its persecution of Japanese Christians in the 17th century. Lorenzo Ruiz was born in Binondo, Manila, to a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Catholic. At a young age, Lorenzo served as an altar boy at the Binondo Church. He studied under the Dominican friars. He married Rosario and they had two sons and a daughter. The Ruiz family led a generally peaceful, religious and comfortable life. However, while working as a clerk for the Binondo Church, Ruiz was falsely accused of killing a Spaniard. Thereby, he sought asylum on board a ship with the help of three Dominican priests. Lorenzo and some of his friends left for Okinawa on June 10, 1636, with the aid of the Dominican fathers. Upon arrival in Japan, the missionaries were arrested and thrown into prison. After two years, they were transferred to Nagasaki to face trial by torture. On September 27, 1637, he and his companions were taken to the Nishizaka Hill, where they were tortured, and hung upside down. Ruiz refused to renounce Christianity and died from blood loss and suffocation. His body was cremated, with the ashes thrown into the sea. Ruiz was beatified during St Pope John Paul II’s papal visit to the Philippines. It was the first beatification ceremony to be held outside the Vatican in history. St. Lorenzo Ruiz was canonized by the same pope in the Vatican on October 18, 1987, making him the first Filipino saint.
St Margaret Ward - MW
St Margaret was born in the later part of the 16th Century in Congleton. Her father was a farmer working on his own land. Margaret went to London to be a servant, but became more of a lady’s companion. It was whilst she was in London that Margaret heard of the imprisonment of Fr Watson on the charge of being a Catholic priest. Margaret took to visiting him in prison taking him food. Being a regular visitor, the jailors stopped searching Margaret as she entered the jail. Fr Watson persuaded Margaret to help him to escape. Using a rope smuggled into the prison, Fr Watson climbed through a window; but the rope was too short and he fell and injured himself. Swapping his clothes with John Roche, Fr Watson escaped, but Margaret Ward and John Roche were quickly arrested. Held in chains for 8 days and tortured, Margaret Ward refused to disclose where Fr Watson was hidden. At her trial, she admitted to having helped Fr. Watson to escape, and rejoiced in, “having delivered an innocent lamb from the hands of those bloody wolves”. She was offered a pardon if she would attend a Protestant service, but refused. She was executed at Tyburn on 30th August 1588. Her feast day, along with all the other English Martyrs, is on the 4th May. However, in the Catholic dioceses of England, she shares a feast day with fellow female martyr saints, Margaret Clitherow and Anne Line on the 30th August.
St Pope John Paul II - JP
Saint Pope John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in the small Polish town of Wadowice. During World War II, when the Nazis invaded Poland, Karol secretly studied for the priesthood in an underground seminary established by the archbishop of Krakow. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1946. In 1964, Father Karol was appointed archbishop of Krakow; just three years later he was made a cardinal. In 1978, Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope, the 264th in the Church’s history. He took the name John Paul II. He began his papacy on 22nd October by telling the world, “Be not afraid”; his life showed everyone that to change the world, we must “cast into the deep for a great catch.” From the start of his papacy, Pope John Paul II made evangelization a key part of his mission, and made pastoral visits to all parts of the world. In 1981, he was shot twice in an assassination attempt and wounded. Following Jesus’ example of forgiveness and compassion for the sinner, Pope John Paul II later met with the perpetrator in his prison cell and, gently speaking to him of the forgiveness of Christ, forgave him for what he had done.
Throughout his life, Pope John Paul II was an avid sportsman, hiking and skiing even in his sixties. In 1992, however, his health began to decline. It was later revealed that he suffered from Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Near the end of his papacy, it became difficult for him to speak, and his poor health and physical suffering made public appearances difficult. Still, he bore his suffering patiently, and continued his pastoral work despite his physical pain. He entrusted his health to God, and joined his suffering with that of Christ.
Pope John Paul II died on 2nd April 2005, and he was declared blessed on 1st May 2011. He was declared a saint on 27th April 2014 along with Pope John XXIII.