Afternoon gents, it’s Max from the Young Gentleman’s Guide here! Today’s article will more or less be a continuation of this one that I put out a while ago about four historical figures that every gentleman should look up to. Today, we’ll be looking at a very specific type of historical figure, those canonized as saints by the Catholic Church. These are individuals who demonstrated a strong and ardent faith in life through acts of service, so much so that they’ve started to be viewed as holy by the Catholic Church. These acts of service can range from worldwide peacekeeping efforts, to countrywide missionary campaigns, to honorable military service, to mass distribution of the Sacraments. These are individuals whose life examples continue to be followed by those practicing and even not practicing the Catholic faith today. So without further delay, let’s get started!
1. Saint George (died 303 A.D.)
Not much is known about the early life of Saint George, other than the fact that he was born in Cappadocia and that his parents were of Greek descent. According to most sources, he served in the Roman army as an adult, and was martyred for his faith after refusing to renounce his Christian faith. From there, multiple legends surrounding Saint George began to spread throughout the world, the most famous being that he slayed a dragon with a single blow from his lance, thus saving a city being ruled by an idolatrous king. These stories are most likely an allegory of Saint George’s personal struggle and battle with Satan. These legends on top of the stories of his martyrdom led to Saint George being venerated as the personification of strength, bravery, and stoicism in the face of adversity. He has been a role model for young boys and grown men alike, so much so, that his name was actually the one I took when I was confirmed into the Catholic faith.
2. Saint Joan of Arc (c. 1412 – 1431)
One of the most venerated saints in history, Joan of Arc has served as a role model for generations of women the world over. Rumored to have received messages from Saint Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret from an early age, those messages led her to fight with the French army after negotiations with relatives and higher-ups in the French military. She was only sixteen years old at the time and started her military service in the thick of one of the greatest conflicts between France and England, the Hundred Years War. She turned the war from a strictly territorial one into a religious one, and supposedly with her visions from Saints Michael, Catherine, and Margaret, she went on to achieve great military successes despite having no military experience. However, it was these supposed visions on top of the fact that she had to disguise herself as a man which led to her being accused of witchcraft and heresy, the punishment for which was to be burned at the stake. She has become a role model for women the world over because of her sheer bravery and tenacity, as well as her brilliant military mind.
3. Saint Junípero Serra (1713 – 1784)
This is likely the most controversial entry on this list. Often referred to as the “Apostle of California”, Father Serra is largely the reason why so many cities in California have their namesake, such as San Diego, San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco, since he was the founder of the missions that went by those same names. While the Founding Fathers that we’re all familiar with were colonizing the east coast, Father Serra was largely responsible for colonizing the west coast, introducing Catholicism to the Natives in the area. While the history around him and his actions are certainly up for debate, he is widely admired by Catholics, especially in California for essentially uprooting his life in Spain to share his faith with the world. He not only was a champion of Catholic evangelization, but also for Native American rights, often defying Spanish law in order to protect the Natives in his care from the brutal treatment of the Conquistadors who had largely occupied the area where Serra spread God’s word. Seen as a symbol of evangelization, piety, and human rights, the life of Saint Junípero Serra is certainly one to be admired.
4. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux (1873 – 1897)
Known as the “Little Flower” or “la petite Thérèse”, she did not live what many would think is the life of a saint. She didn’t give passionate, rousing homilies, she didn’t lead armies in religious wars like Joan of Arc, and she didn’t spread the Gospel to the ends of the Earth like Father Serra. In fact, she was fairly sick and frail for the majority of her life, dying of tuberculosis at age twenty-four. However, she was revolutionary in essentially forging a new path in faith known as The Little Way. Since Thérèse was so young and frail when she was admitted to the Carmelite convent at the age of fifteen, she was never able to perform large or extravagant acts of religious service like she had always wanted. However, she never let that stop her from doing anything and everything, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant, out of love of the Lord. This is at the heart of the Little Way, a path to holiness by performing even the smallest acts of service and charity out of love of God and the goodness of your heart. Oftentimes, those small acts may go a much longer way than many of us realize. This philosophy was even a large inspiration in the ministry of Pope Saint John Paul II.
So there it is! I know it may seem like this article is trying to spread some sort of Catholic agenda, and I do not blame any of you reading for seeing it that way. However, even if those of you reading do not abide by the Catholic faith, the lives and demonstrations of these saints can still serve as a model for behavior in your own life. Whether it was bravery in the face of opposition, sheer tenacity and military brilliance, defending the rights of others, or simply just performing small acts of charity out of the goodness of your heart, these are messages that can speak to anyone, regardless of creed. In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading today’s post. Please be sure to share the article, follow the blog, and follow The Young Gentleman’s Guide on Facebook and Instagram. And on that note, this is Max from The Young Gentleman’s Guide, and I’ll see you next time!