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11 Popular Catholic Saints 1 - 3

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Catholics do not worship saints, but the saints are near and dear to Catholic hearts. Catholics respect and honor the saints and consider them to be the heroes of the Church. The Church emphasizes that they were ordinary people from ordinary families, and they were totally human. Here are some tidbits about the lives of 11 ordinary people who became popular saints.

St. Peter (died around A.D. 64)
The brother of Andrew and the son of Jona, St. Peter was originally called Simon. He was a fisherman by trade. Biblical scholars believe that Peter was married because the Gospel speaks of the cure of his mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14; Luke 4:38). But whether he was a widower at the time he met Jesus, no one knows for sure. Scholars believe it’s likely that his wife was no longer alive because after the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, Peter became head of the Church (the first pope) and had a busy schedule and itinerary. He also never mentioned his wife in his epistle.

According to the Bible, Andrew introduced Peter to Jesus and told his brother, “We have found the Messiah!” (John 1:41). When Peter hesitated to follow Jesus full time, Jesus came after him and said, “I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).

St. Paul of Tarsus (10–67 A.D.)
Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Jew who also had Roman citizenship because of the place of his birth. A member of the Pharisees, Saul considered Christians to be an extreme danger to Judaism. He saw them as more than heretics; they were blasphemers for considering Jesus to be the Son of God.

He was commissioned by the Sanhedrin (the religious authority in Jerusalem) to hunt down, expose, and when necessary eliminate Christians to preserve the Hebrew religion. Things changed dramatically, however, and the world has never been the same since.

One day on the road to Damascus, he was thrown down to the ground, and a voice called out, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). The voice belonged to Jesus of Nazareth, who had already died, risen, and ascended to heaven. Saul realized he had been persecuting Christ by persecuting those who believed in Christ. Opposing the followers of Jesus was in essence opposing Jesus himself.

Blinded by the event, Saul continued from Jerusalem to Damascus, but not to persecute the Christians — rather to join them. God turned an enemy into His greatest ally. He now called himself Paul and began to preach the Gospel widely in the ancient world. He made three journeys throughout Greece and Asia Minor before his final journey to Rome as a prisoner of Caesar.

Being a Roman citizen, he was exempt from death by crucifixion (unlike St. Peter, who was crucified upside-down in Rome around a.d. 64).The Emperor had him executed by the sword (beheading) around a.d. 67 Both St. Peter and St. Paul are considered co-patron saints of the city of Rome where they were both martyred.

St. Dominic de Guzman (1170–1221)
St. Dominic was a contemporary of St. Francis of Assisi. The faithful believe that when St. Dominic’s mother, Joanna of Aza (the wife of Felix de Guzman) was pregnant, she had a vision of a dog carrying a torch in his mouth, which symbolized her unborn son who would grow up to become a hound of the Lord. The name Dominic was thus given to him, because in Latin Dominicanis can be Domini + canis (dog or hound of the Lord).

Dominic established the Order of Friars Preachers (shortened to Order of Preachers), called the Dominicans. Along with their brother Franciscans, the Dominicans re-energized the Church in the 13th century and brought clarity of thought and substantial learning to more people than ever before. The motto of St. Dominic was veritas, which is Latin for truth.


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