In the early centuries of Christianity, Saints Marcellinus and Peter (†304), martyred during Diocletian's persecutions, enjoyed great popularity. We owe the oldest written record of their martyrdom to Saint Damasus (c. 305-384), the Pope who composed famous epigrams in honour of the martyrs and identified several sepulchres.
Within a year, a very young illiterate peasant girl lead France to win decisive battles against the English, who occupied its territory. The story of Saint Joan of Arc (1412-1431) is the most compelling demonstration that nothing is impossible to God, and reveals His tangible intervention in the history of man, through the humble who surrender themselves to His will.
“The whole life of Paul VI was full of [...] adoration and veneration of the infinite mystery of God”, John Paul II said at the Angelus of 3 August 1980. And he added: “This is exactly how we see his figure in the light of all that he has done and taught; and we see this ever more clearly as time distances us from his earthly life and his ministry”.
According to the hagiography written by his friend Venantius Fortunatus, Saint Germain of Paris (c. 496-576) risked not being born because of his mother's attempt to abort him. Originally from Autun, in Burgundy, he studied under a priest who was his cousin....
St. Augustine of Canterbury (534-604) was prior of the monastery of St. Andrew al Celio in Rome, when Pope Gregory the Great entrusted him with the mission of re-evangelizing the ancient Britannia. This land, in fact, after the invasion of the Saxons (5th-6th century) had become mainly pagan again.
“You wouldn’t want them to say that Philip is a saint, would you?” Saint Philip Neri (1515-1595) once replied to those who encouraged him to be a little more serious. Thanks to the mix of his proverbial humour and his charity, he won many souls over to God.
In that troubled period of the 11th century for Christianity, an extraordinary figure emerged: Saint Gregory VII (c. 1015-1085), whose name is linked to the “Gregorian Reform”. It was so called because Gregory was the greatest representative and supporter of the vast reformatory work already begun by his predecessors.
It was Saint John Bosco who famously did most to propagate devotion to Our Lady with the title of Mary Help of Christians. However, the direct reference to the help given by Mary to her children was already widespread in Greek-speaking Christianity in the early centuries...