The biggest name saint this week is St. Blaise, and that is just for the blessing of the throats which happen on his feast.
Agatha of Sicily (231 AD – 251 AD)
Agatha is one of the other women that is mentioned in the Eucharist prayer, we have met most of them over the past couple of weeks. Agatha was a virgin martyr and we are not sure how she died. According to Jacobus de Voragine after pledging herself as a virgin at 15 when she rebuffed the advances of a Roman prefect she was sent to a brothel, eventually her breast is cut off, and then Agatha is sentenced to be burned at the stake but that doesn’t work since there is an earthquake. So she is sent to prison where she eventually dies. Agatha is the patron Saint for many things and they cover a wide range, breast cancer patients, bakers, bell makers, and eruptions of Mt Etna are only a few of them. Agatha is the first incorrupt saint as well.
Brigit of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (c. 451–525)
I was first introduced to Brigid in a class on women mystics in college. There are a lot of great tales about Brigid. One of my favorite tales of St. Brigid has to be the Easter beer. One Easter Brigid mades some beer from one measure of malt and sent part of that beer to eighteen other churches. Despite being such a small amount it was enough for everyone to drink throughout the entire octave of Easter. Brigit was an Abbess, who is one of the three patron saints for Ireland. Brigit might have become like a bishop in early Ireland or something to that effect. I find the Brigit stories to be rather interesting, you can see that it has been a common practice of Catholics to come into a nation and take what they do and make it in line with what the church says, worshiping the goddess Brigit turns to praying to a saint. I really like that she is also called Mary of the Gael as she was rather like Mary and brought Jesus into so many people’s lives in Ireland.
Gilbert of Sempringham, C.R.S.A. (c. 1083 – 4 February 1190)
Gilbert founded the Gilbertines, he is the only Englishman to form a convental order. more on him later when my internet connection is better
Paul Miki (1562 – February 5, 1597)
Paul Miki is one of the 26 martyrs of Japan, the feast is often called Sts. Paul Miki and Companions. Paul Miki was a Japanese Jesuit who was a well known preacher and brought many people to the Church. Daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi didn’t like the influence that the Europeans were having and began persecuting Catholics. Miki was arrested and along with his fellow Catholics were forced to march from Kyoto to Nagasaki; during this march they all sang Te Deum. When they arrived in Nagasaki Miki and 25 others was crucified. Their feast is on Feburary 6 because Agatha’s feast is Feburary 5.
Takayama Ukon or Dom Justo Takayama (1552 – February 5, 1615)
Justo according to rumors at the Vatican is going to be Beatified some time this year. Takayama was a samurai who converted to Catholicism at 12 with his father, perhaps Miki or one of the other Martyrs converted them. Justo and his father would rule as Christian daimyo and when Toyotomi Hideyoshi started persecuting Catholics while other discarded Catholicism Justo renounced his land and property. Justo lived under the protection of friends for decades until Catholics were expelled from Japan. He and the other Catholic still living in Japan were shipped off to Manilia, and it is here where he died. Takayama is known as the Samurai for Christ.
These last two are event which inspired Endo to write the book Silence.