These pages profile the theological bone breakers, the verbal flame throwers, the ocean crossers, the heart-melters, and the sweet-chanting virgin-martyrs who populate the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church.

Here is the black robe in his canoe, rowing alone on a placid lake as darkness falls on the rim of the world. Here is the bearded, Dark Ages bishop, plodding through the dark forests of the north when he is suddenly felled by a flurry of pagan clubs. Here is the highly civilized Roman patrician who bows his head to receive the waters of baptism, serves his city as a bishop, and then kneels solemnly to be executed, his white toga stained with his warm, red blood. Here is the serene, wordless, monk seated in his damp cave, high in the cliff face, gazing over the endless desert below. Here is the electrifying Dominican preacher standing on a wooden platform in the medieval town square, thundering, “I’m-going-to-light-my-hair-on-fire–WATCH-ME-BURN!” And here is the missionary Irish scholar-monk riding the waves of the Channel like a cork in his oarless boat, leaving behind his rainy home to sow the seeds of a new Europe, one monastery at a time.

The incandescent and to-be-discovered Marian Church of heaven and the oh-so-human flawed Petrine Church on earth are the two charged poles between which crackles an arc of holiness. Love of Christ and love of Mary electrify the Church, our mother and object of faith. We need no warlocks, fairies, or superheroes to power our imagination. We have high drama enough in our Church’s saints to make the mind wander to a land far, far away, or to a shrine just one town over.

Catholic saints and feasts tries to convey, in a condensed fashion, just a touch of the theodrama powering the triumphs and the tragedies, the victories and the defeats, the hidden perseverance and the great public gestures of the greatest men and women who have ever lived.

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