Saints Canonized and Not (Part 1)

Recently a religion teacher told me that when she asked her students to name saints, they were stymied…until they began naming schools nearby named St. Something. What a pity that saints are not better known! Why is this? For one thing, many babies are named, not for saints, but for the sound or creativeness of the name. So we have Diamond, Apple, Blue, and Elon Musk’s baby’s name: X Æ A-12. In these cases, the children are deprived of a patron saint. Some people prefer praying directly to God instead of asking saints to intercede and so ignore these potential allies.

Becoming familiar with the lives of the saints is beneficial. Some might become friends we can turn to in time of need. Everyone knows to pray to St. Anthony to uncover lost things. But most other saints have their specialties too. St. Apollonia takes care of tooth problems. St. Peregrine can be invoked for cancer patients. St. Lucy is in charge of eyes. St. Dympthna helps with mental problems. Countries are entrusted to a patron saint or two. The United States has the queen of all saints, the Immaculate Conception.

Saints serve as models of holiness. They exemplify what love of God and neighbor means. Like us they are human and therefore flawed. The majority of saints were priests and women religious, probably because it takes time and money to support the process of canonization. Many saints walk among us and will never be canonized.

I’d like to introduce you to two saints you may not know of. Next week I’ll blog about an extraordinary woman I met who in my opinion is an uncanonized saint.

First, Carlo Acutis, who died at age 15 in 2006. Granted, he is not a fully official saint yet, only declared “Blessed,” in 2022. He would become the first millennial saint. Although his parents were not practicing Catholics at first, Carlo was pious from an early age. He went to daily Mass. He was a good friend to others and defended those who were being bullied.

A whiz at the computer, he compiled all miracles related to the Eucharist and created a website for them. When he was diagnosed with leukemia, he offered his sufferings for the Pope and the Church. An interesting observation he made: “All are born as originals but may die as photocopies.”

You can view a collection of photos and video clips about Carlo here: https://youtu.be/BbKwGm5aDxg

Second, I just learned about St. Dulce Pontes, known as the Brazilian Mother Teresa. As a child named Maria Rita, she loved soccer. When she was seven, her mother died. After visiting a slum at the age of thirteen, she brought poor people home and cared for them. Her sister joked that the beggars at the door frightened away all her suitors. After graduating from high school, she entered the convent and took the name Dulce, after her mother. As a Sister, she taught poor children and their parents to read and write. When she was twenty-two, she founded a Catholic workers organization to support the working poor. Then she started a school for them.

Sister Dulce

Dulce begged for the poor and found housing for them—even in her convent’s chicken yard, which is a hospital today. She founded the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce, establishing nursing homes, an orphanage, and a free clinic. She played soccer with orphans and played the accordion for workers. When a bus crashed and caught fire, Sister Dulce, standing on a crate, broke a window and pulled twelve passengers to safety. Even poor health in the last thirty years of her life did not stop her from ministering to the poor. She was nominated for a Nobel Prize, and once Brazil’s president kissed her feet. Sister Dulce died in 1992 at the age of seventy-seven and was canonized in 2019.

• Which Saint do you consider a good friend? Which one do you admire most?

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