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Catholic Saints Feast Days - October

An Overview of October Feast Days in the Catholic Calendar

By Sapphire RavenclawPublished 4 years ago 14 min read
"The Return of Francis" statue at Assisi - photo credit: Carlo Raso on Flickr

This is the third in the series of Catholic Saints Feast Days. See September Feast Days here and August here.

1st October

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Born in France in 1873, Marie Francoise-Therese Martin was the youngest of nine children. One of the five to reach adulthood, Therese and her sisters were close throughout their lives.

Patron saint of missionaries, AIDS sufferers, florists, and the sick, she described herself as 'the little flower of God'. The title of 'Little Flower' has stayed with her.

Little Flower took the habit in 1889, joining her sister Pauline at Lisieux Carmel. She died just 8 years later in September 1897. Therese was beatified in 1923 and canonised in 1925. It is Saint Therese of Lisieux after whom Saint Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa) took her name.

In 1997, she became one of only three women to be declared a Doctor of the Church, a title bestowed for significant contribution to theology through research, study or writing.

Her body lies in a reliquary at the Basilica Shrine of Saint Therese of Lisieux, France.

Blessed Robert Widmerpool and Blessed Robert Wilcox

Widmerpool and Wilcox have different backgrounds but they met the same ultimate fate. The two were half of a group known as the Oaten Hill Martyrs, the other two being Christopher Buxton of Tideswell, Derbyshire, and Gerard Edward (who renamed himself Edward Campion after the Martyred Jesuit saint) of Ludlow, Shropshire.

Robert Wilcox was born in Chester in 1558. He entered the seminary at Rheims, France, at the age of 25, and was ordained a priest in 1585. It would not be long, however, before he was sent back to England on a mission to spread Catholicism among the Protestant religion that was expanding under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Wilcox arrived in England on 7th June 1588 and was arrested almost immediately in Lydd, Kent.

While three of the four Oaten Hill Martyrs were priests, Blessed Robert Widmerpool was a layman. Born in Nottinghamshire and educated in Oxford, Widmerpool had secured a job as a tutor at the home of the Countess of Northumberland. It was here that Robert was arrested for giving aid to a Catholic priest.

Examined in 1588 at Marshalsea, where the men were imprisoned, Robert Wilcox admitted to being a Catholic priest, thereby assuring his own execution. Wilcox, Widmerpool, Edward, and Buxton were hanged, drawn and quartered at Oaten Hill in Canterbury, Kent, on 1st October 1588.

As the first of the four Oaten Hill Martyrs to meet his fate, Wilcox told the others that he was going to heaven and would bring the good news of their imminent arrival. He was 28 years old when he was hanged, drawn and quartered. He thanked God for the glory of dying at Canterbury.

All four of the Oaten Hill Martyrs were beatified in 1929 by Pope Pius XI.

4th October

Saint Francis of Assisi

In Assisi, Umbria, 1181, Giovanni di Petro di Bernardone was born to a silk merchant, Pietro di Bernadone, and a noblewoman, Pica de Bourlemont. While Pica christened the child Giovanni, Pietro took to calling him Francesco. Pietro had been in France when Francis was born. The moniker may have been homage to the success and love that Pietro had for the country.

Saint Francis by Fr Lawrence Lew

Francis lived a lavish youth but soon became disenchanted. Around 1202, he joined a military expedition against Perugia. Captured and kept prisoner for a year, Francis returned to his life of luxury in 1203, although his gradual spiritual conversion may have begun around this time . Two years later, he would leave again to join Walter III's army in Apulia but soon returned to Assisi again following a vision. Francis' father did not approve of his religious life. Pietro beat Francis for selling cloth from his store to help a priest.

In 1219, Francis went to Egypt. This was in an attempt to end crusades by converting the Sultan. In 1223, he arranged the first live Nativity scene and, according to Christian tradition, received the stigmata during an apparition this same year. Francis was the first person recorded to have received these wounds of Christ.

Francis founded the men's Order of Friars Minor, the women's Order of St. Clare, the Third Order of Saint Francis, and the Custody of the Holy Land. He is the patron saint of stowaways, ecology, animals, merchants, and (with St. Catherine of Siena) of Italy.

It became customary to hold ceremonies blessing animals near the feast day of St. Francis.

He died in his hometown of Assisi, age 44, on 3rd October 1226 and, on 25th May 1230, enshrined there at San Francisco d'Assisi.

Saint Peter of Damascus

Saint Peter of Damascus was born in Syria, although the year of his birth is unknown. Bishop of Syria during the Islamic conquests, Peter studied and debated Islam in order to refute its teachings.

Saint Peter was canonised pre-congregation. That is, he is likely to have been chosen locally as a saint by popular devotion and long before the inception of the Congregation of Causes of Saints.

According to some accounts, Peter had his tongue cut out for preaching against Islam. He certainly met an horrific demise as he was tortured, blinded, crucified, and executed by beheading in 750 AD.

10th October

Saint Patrician

Saint Patrician (or Patricain) was a Scottish bishop. Other than this, much about him remains a mystery. He is of interest, perhaps, precisely because so little is known of him.

His date and place of birth unknown, Saint Patrician is said to have endured hardship at the hands of pagan raiders. Eventually forced to leave the See, it is thought that Saint Patrician died in exile on the Isle of Man. celticsaints.org claims that the See was Strathclyde but this is not verified in other accounts.

Saint Paulinus of York

Born in 584, Saint Paulinus was a native of Rome. A monk at St Andrew's monastery in Rome, he left Italy for Kent, England in 601. This was on the orders of Pope Gregory the Diologist. Paulinus was a member of the 601 Gregorian mission to 'christianise' the Anglo-Saxons from Paganism.

Paulinus assisted St Augustus and St Justus from 616 to 625 when King Edwin married Aethelburgha, daughter of King Aethelbert. Paulinus went with Aethelburgha to her husband's kingdom of Northumbria. Before Paulinus left Kent, he was consecrated by Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury, on 21st July 625. Although Edwin was still a pagan, he welcomed Saint Paulinus.

Saint Paulinus held a conference in Northumbria, in which he convinced many of the benefits of Christianity. Paulinus converted many, including King Edwin himself. Paulinus became the first missionary to Northumbria and, upon establishing a see at York and beginning to build a stone church, became the first Bishop of York.

Kind Edwin's reign ended in 633 when he was defeated in battle by Cadwallon of Gwynedd at Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire. It was not considered safe for his wife to stay in Northumbria, so Paulinus took her and her children back to Kent. Pagan King Penda made missionary work impossibile so Paulinus dedicated himself to the Diocese of Rochester.

In 634, while he was Archbishop of York, Paulinus received the pallium from Rome. He died ten years later, on 10th October 644, and was buried in Rochester. His relics were later translated to a silver shrine, where they lay until the Reformation.

16th October

Saint Kiara

Alternately known by several variations of her name, including Keira, Ciara, Cera, Chier, Ciar, etc., Saint Kiara was an Irish virgin and a disciple of St Fintan. Kiara was born in Tipperary some time during the 7th century but little else is known about her childhood and early years.

Unless Kiara lived an exceptionally long life, it is possible that some stories of her have been confused with another Saint Cera. One such story relates to the fires of Muscraig. Saint Brendan instructed people of Muscraig, which may refer to the area of Muskerry in Ireland, to seek Kiara's prayers. She responded and the fires disappeared. Considering that Saint Brendan died in 577, and Kiara was an abbess in the 7th century, it is more likely that this story relates to another Saint Cera who lived during the 6th century.


A story more likely to be about the 7th century Kiara is of how she established a nunnery around 625. Kiara, along with five other virgins, asked Saint Fintan for a place to serve God. He and his monks gave them their abbey in Heli, which may have been in County Westmeath. Fintan blessed Kiara and instructed her to name the place after St Telle, who had given birth to four children - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - earlier that day. The nunnery was named Teych-Telle.

St Kiara eventually returned to her own province and founded another monastery., which she governed until her death in 679. The later Franciscan Kilcrea Friary stands about a mile away from where Kiara's monastery stood. Kilcrea claims to have taken its name in Kiara's honour - Kilcrea (Cill Chre) meaning 'cell of Ciara'.

There are various dates for Kiara's feast day, which have been reported as possible dates of her death.

Saint Hedwig

Born at Andechs Castle, Bavaria, in 1174 to Count Berthold IV of Andechs and Agnes of Wetting, Hedwig was from a holy family. Her sister Gertrude was the mother of St Elizabeth of Hungary. Her father was also Duke of Croatia and Dalmatia.

Also known as Jadwiga, Hedwig of Silesia, and Hedwig of Andechs, Saint Hedwig moved to Silesia in order to marry Duke Henry I the Bearded. They had seven children together, two of whom lived to maturity.

Hedwig was as a helper of the poor, using her royal position to help people in various ways, including giving them food and shelter. She became patron saint of the poor as well as of Silesia and other areas around 13th Century Bavaria.

In Wroclaw, Poland, a statue of Hedwig stands next to Tumski Bridge, a monumental bridge and physical symbolism of the metaphorical bridge that Hedwig formed between Poland and Germany. A statue of Saint John the Baptist stands at the opposite end.

Sanctuary of St Jadwiga in Trzebnica. Photo by Jerzy

Beloved by the Czech people, and considered mother to the Silesian people, Hedwig brought the Cistercian Order to Silesia. She had several churches and a monastery built there. Hedwig did not take vows but lived in a community with religious sisters.

A type of glass was named after Hedwig, her traditionally being believed to have owned several. Hedwig allegedly performed a wine miracle with one of the glasses she owned.

Hedwig died on 15th October 1243, and was canonised in 1267. She is buried in one of the churches she had built, in modern-day Trzebnica. Connected to an active monastery, the shrine is a popular place of pilgrimage.

St Balderic

Balderic of Montfaucon was an abbot and a prince. His date of birth is not known but, according to catholicreadings.org, he died in Switzerland in 640. There also seems to be confusion regarding Balderic's parentage. He was the son of either Sigobert the Lame or of Sigebert II. Sigebert II was only 12 years old at the time of his death in 613 while Sigobert the Lame is thought to have been born any time between 399 and 495, with his death recorded as 507 or 509. Theoretically, therefore, having been anything from 12 to 110 at the time of his death.

While some sources state that the more likely father is Sigobert the Lame, other information would suggest otherwise i.e. dates and events would make Balderic well over 100 years old at the time of his death. This would be highly unusual for the time, even for royalty. Of course, the problem could be misrecording or misinterpreting information over time.

Saint Balderic was an ordained priest who founded the monastery of Montfaucon in Lorraine, France. In 639, he established a convent at Rheims for his sister Beuve (or Bova). Beuve was succeeded as abbess by their niece, Doda. It was during a visit to his sister that Balderic died.

21st October

Saint Ursula - image credit Dennis Jarvis

Saint Ursula

Legends of Ursula abound from stories that she was a princess to her 11000 virgin followers (although there may well have only been 11). She is attributed to various periods in history between 300 and 600 AD. Ursula may have been born in either Britain or Brittany, but it is generally agreed that she is of Romano-British descent.

According to medieval legend, Ursula was the daughter of Dionotus, legendary king of Dumnonia (Devon, Cornwall, and parts of Somerset today). She is said to have been travelling to be with her betrothed, pagan governor Conan Meriadoc of Armorica (modern-day Brittany, the creation of which Conan is credited). Dionotus had sent Ursula to Amorica, along with thousands of maidens for Conan's men. The women never arrived. Conan appears in the Welsh story, 'The Dream of Macsen Wledig.

Ursula and the maidens were killed for refusing the advances and proposals from the invading Huns at Cologne. The virgins were said to have been beheaded while Ursula's apparent fate was to be at the hands of the Hun's leader - possibly the chieftain Balamber - who fatally shot Ursula with a bow and arrow on 21st October 383.

There are doubts about the authenticity of the 11000 virgins story as few stories mention this legend until the 9th century. Even then, the number of virgins was small and Ursula's name was omitted. It is possible, of course, that this could be attributed to the limited record-keeping of the time rather than it not being a true story.

Inscription at Basilica of Saint Ursula, Cologne

An inscription on the Basilica of St Ursula in Cologne tells us that it was built by Roman senator Clematius. It is built on the ruins of a Roman cemetery where the bones of the 11000 virgins are thought to rest.

Saint John of Bridlington

John Twenge was born in the East Riding village of Thwing in the Yorkshire Wolds in either 1319 0r 1320. He was from a distinguished family who owned a lot of land in the area. John took a vow of chastity at the age of 12.

John began his early education in the village, completing his studies at Oxford from the age of 17. At the age of 19, he became an Augustinian Canons Regular.

Saint John of Bridlington was the last pre-Reformation English saint. He has various memorial dates, including 9th October in the Augustinian order and 1st December as one of the Martyrs of Oxford University, not to be confused with the Oxford Martyrs burned at the stake during the mid-16th century.

There is very little to celebrate the saint in his home town other than here a stained glass window at the Priory Church, and a pub - which may seem ironic as John abstained from alcohol.

Saint John of Bridlington stained glass window

John is said to have been instrumental in King Henry V's victory at Agincourt, and several miracles have been attributed to him. One such miracle is of five men from Hartlepool were in danger of sinking in the sea. They called on God in the name of Saint John, when John appeared to them and led them safely to shore. The men then walked to the monastery to thank John in person.

Saint John of Bridlington held several positions at St Mary's Abbey in Bridlington. He became a monk in 1340 and canon in 1346. He was elected prior in 1356, although he refused the position out of humility. He was, however, re-elected in 1362. He accepted this time and the Abbey prospered under his leadership. John remained prior for 17 years until his death on 10th October 1379.

Saint John of Bridlington is buried in the churchyard at Priory Church of Saint Mary, Bridlington. This was once part of a huge Augustinian monastery founded by Walter de Gant in 1136. Patron saint of fishermen and of women in difficult labour, John was canonised in 1401 by Pope Boniface IX.

28th October

Saint Simon the Zealot

Venerated on 28th October in western Christianity, 10th May in Byzantine and 1st July in medieval Hispanic liturgy, Simon the Zealot (also Simon Zelotes) was an original follower of Jesus. His moniker, which distinguishes him from Simon Peter, is said to have been given for his ardent adherence to Jewish law. He is the patron saint of sawyers, tanners, and curriers.

Simon was possibly the son of Clopas and Mary of Clopas (wife of Clopas) or of Mary Cleophas - there is some confusion as to whether they are different people or variations of the same name. It is likely, however, that his mother's name was Mary and that he was the brother of Jude.

There are different opinions regarding certain details about Simon the Zealot. He is also known as Simon the Canaanite or Canaanean. Some traditions believe that this came from 'Kananite', meaning 'zealous', while others (perhaps mistakenly) took it to mean 'from Cana'. He may, in fact, have been born in Judea. Simon's nationality is recorded as Roman, which does not help to determine whether he was born in Cana or Judea as they were both under Roman rule at that time.

Along with the other Apostles, Simon the Zealot is celebrated as a saint in all Christian denominations that celebrate saints. One tradition says that Simon the Zealot evangelised in Egypt before joining Jude in Persia. According to western tradition, both Simon and Jude died together as martyrs in Lebanon some time between 60 and 65 AD. In eastern tradition, however, Simon died peacefully at Edessa around 107 AD.

Saint Jude Thaddaeus

Saint Jude Thaddaeus, along with Simon the Zealot described above, was one of Jesus's Twelve Apostles. Variously known as Jude, Judas, and Jude the Apostle, there are conflicting traditions as to his identity. Some stories claim that he is the brother of Saint Simon the Zealot and Saint James the Less, and possibly a cousin of Jesus.

Jude Thaddeus may have been born in Galilee, Israel, in the 1st century AD. He died in the Parthian Empire in the 1st or 2nd century, possibly in Armenia. According to christianiconography, Saints Simon and Jude were slain by pagan magicians enraged over the destruction of their idols. Jude is often depicted with a flame above his head, representing his presence at Pentecost.

The New Testament mentions Jude or Judas six times in four different contexts. Catholic tradition has all contexts as being the same person, while Protestant tradition has them as two or more different people. Because the name is sometimes written as 'Judas', Jude Thaddaeus has been confused with the traitor Judas Iscariot. While it is generally agreed that Jude Thaddaeus and Judas Iscariot were different people, some traditions do maintain that they are one and the same. In languages other than French and English, Jude and Judas are often referred to as the same name, which causes difficulties in translation.

As well as the Christian denominations that celebrate saints, Jude Thaddaeus is venerated in Islam. There are major shrines to the saint in France and Iran as well as National Shrine of Saint Jude in Kent, England. Saint Jude Thaddaeus is venerated on 28th October in western tradition, and 19th June and 21st August in eastern Christianity.

Saint Jude Thaddaeus is patron saint of lost causes, hope, desperate situations, Armenia and several other places. These places include St Petersburg in Florida, at least three cities in the Philippines, and a Brazilian football team.

Saint Abraham

Saint Abraham of Ephesus, not to be confused with Abraham the Poor (feast day 27th October) and Abraham Kidunaia (feast day 29th October), succeeded to the See of Ephesus either in 542 after Hyatios or in 553 after Andrew.

Abraham built religious houses in Constantinople and Jerusalem, known as Monastery of Abrahamites and Monastery of Byzantines, respectively. The Constantinople monastery was involved in a dispute with Byzantine Emperor Theophilus.

Two of Abraham's written works exist today, Euangelismos (Annunciation) and Hypapante (Presentation). These are important in liturgical history.


About the Creator

Sapphire Ravenclaw

I am, among other things, a freelance writer and mother. I enjoy writing poetry and articles. Currently, much of my spare time is spent working on a book about Paganism (one of many subjects which interests me).

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