St. Patrick is widely regarded as the patron saint of Ireland, as well as being the most commonly known saint in the world. He was born in Britain around the year 385. He was a Christian missionary who was taken to Ireland to be sold into slavery at age 16. He escaped and returned home. There, he became a bishop. Later, he went back to Ireland and started preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the pagan dominated country. He converted many and built churches all over Ireland. Upon hearing Patrick’s message, kings and whole kingdoms became Christians. This was Patrick’s life for 40 years. He died March 17, 461, in the place where the first church he built stood.
Saint Joan of Arc
Born in 1412, Joan heard the voices of saints very early on in her life. They spoke in general terms at first. Eventually, they told her what she had to do. At 16, she was instructed to help the King of France regain his throne. At 17, she overcame the opposition and was given an army of her own. She had several military successes leading to the king re-entering Rheims with Joan at his side. In 1430, she was captured and sold to the English. No one, not even the king, did anything to try to save her. Due to her age and lack of knowledge about the rules of theology, she didn’t know how to answer certain questions. She also refused to recant her statement that she had done what God told her to do. She was found guilty of heresy and was burned alive. She was only 19. Thirty years after her death she was found innocent of any crime and made a saint in 1920. St. Joan of Arc is the patron saint of soldiers.
Saint Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas was a priest and a doctor within the church. He was born in 1226. As soon as he was old enough, he renounced all his earthly possessions to join the Order of the Dominic, though his family fiercely objected. Thomas could not be deterred. At 31, he received his doctorate. Called to Rome to teach, he refused to accept payment for his services. The writing of Thomas filled 20 large books and he preached often from them. He died in a monastery after an illness in 1274, at 48 years old. St. Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential teachers of theology. He was declared a saint in 1323 by Pope Prius V.
Much remains unknown about Valentine, but he did exist. There is a woodcut portrait, as well as an unearthed church dedicated to him. Texts were found stating Valentine was a priest and was martyred in 269. Valentine was discovered marrying Christian couples illegally and assisting others persecuted by Emperor Claudius. When Valentine was arrested, Claudius liked him. Valentine’s unfortunate mistake was attempting to convert the emperor. For that, he was sentenced to die. When a beating with stones did not kill him, Valentine was beheaded. Since Valentine was caught performing marriages, he became the patron saint of engaged couples, marriage and love. St. Valentine has been honored on February 14 since 496.
Born Joseph in 1840, Damien received his new name when he entered religious life. In 1864 he was ordained in Hawaii. Nine years later, he volunteered to go to the island of Molokai. Once there, he cared for lepers of every age, but was particularly sensitive to children kept separate from the rest of the colony. With no regard for his safety, he stayed and built hospitals, clinics and churches on Molokai. He died of leprosy in 1889. In 1995, Pope John Paul II made Damien a saint. St. Damien's symbols are a tree and a dove. He has been called the unofficial patron saint of HIV/AIDS.
Gary Logan is a theologist and guest author at http://www.onlinechristiancolleges.com, a site with guides and information to help prospective students find Christian schools online.
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Thanks for the nice info. I agree that these are really influential saints, but there are many more. For example, St Quiteria, St Moses the Black, St Francis of Assisi, St George, St Simeon Stylites, St Longinus... just to mention some of them.
St George is missing on your list. He is among the most famous Christian saints in the world, very popular in the West. He was a Christian martyr, a soldier and the most well known military saint. He was eventually killed by decapitation because he wouldn't renounce his faith... but St. George is most famous because he killed the Dragon...
What about St Augustine?
Thanks for the suggestion, Christian. I don't know much about St Augustine, but I'm sure he is worthy of this list because of his teachings and influence.
Mother Teresa was recently declared a saint. I think she also deserves a place amongst the most influential Catholic saints. Certainly the most influential of her time. No question about it. She was devoted to helping poor and sick all her life. Her influence was wide, her humble humanity even wider. Part of it was coming from the fact that due to the modern media billions could see and fell her work. She was also awarded a Nobel prize for peace, not that it matter too much given the other laureates before and after her.