When I was writing The Catholic Baby Name Book (coming out in the Spring), I had the opportunity to write short bios of over 3000 saints, most of whom I guarantee you have never heard of. I thought in honor of All Saints Day, I would share a few here.
St. Anthelm (1107 – 1178) was born in Savoy, France. He became a priest and then entered the Carthusian order when he was thirty. He was appointed abbot of Le Grande Chartreuse, which was in need of great repair. Under his care, it became a worthy motherhouse. He served as minister-general of the order and helped standardize rules and opened the order to women. He defended Pope Alexander against the antipope Victor IV. He was then appointed Bishop of Belley, France. He is known for his care of the poor and local lepers.
St. Cianan (d. 489) was descended from the Kings of Munster and was a pupil of Nathan. He was one of fifty hostages the princes of Ireland gave to King Leogair. After being freed, he traveled to France and then returned home where he converted many. He established a church in Leinster and another in Owen.
St. Eusebia (d. 680) was the daughter of Saints Adalbald and Rictrudis. She was raised by her aunt, St. Gertrude, at Hamage Abbey in France. Eusebia was elected abbess at the age of twelve.
St. Fiacre (d. 670) was born in Ireland where he lived at a hermitage in County Kilkenny. He was known for being holy, as well as for his skill with herbs and the ability to heal. He attracted many followers, and for this reason, went to France to seek greater solitude. St. Faro, the Bishop of Meaux, gave him a spot in Breuil, where he built an oratory in honor of Mary, a hospice for receiving visitors, and a cell where he lived. He never allowed any woman to enter his monastery. He is a patron saint of gardeners and cab drivers.
St. Galla (d. 550) was a Roman noblewoman, the daughter of Quintus Aurelius Symmachus. Her husband died within a year of their marriage and she joined a community of women living on Vatican Hill, Italy. She cared for the poor and sick before dying of breast cancer.
St. Ludmilla (860 – 921) was a Slavic princess who married Duke Borivoy of Bohemia. The couple converted to Christianity, but when they attempted to convert the people of Bohemia, they were exiled for a time. When they stepped down, their son Spytihinev ruled for two years. At his death, their other son, Ratislav, took the throne. Ludmilla helped raise his son, who would become known as Good King Wenceslaus. When Wenceslaus became king, Ludmilla served as regent, but the young king’s mother was jealous and had her killed. She is a patroness of Bohemia, converts, the Czech Republic, and problems with in-laws.
St. Mutien-Marie Wiaux (1841 – 1917) was born in Mellet, Belgium, the son of a blacksmith. He took the name “Mutien” when he became a Christian Borther. He taught art and music at St. Bertuin’s School in Maloone for fifty-eight years. At first, it was very difficult for him, but he persevered and became known as a model teacher. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1989.
St. Patricia (d. 665) was from a noble family in Constantinople. She left her family in order to escape an arranged marriage. She traveled to Rome and became a nun. After her father’s death, she returned home and gave away all her property to the poor. She was shipwrecked on her way to Jerusalem and died on the island of Megarides.
St. Prosper of Aquintaine (390 -455) was a disciple of St. Augustine, who defended that saint’s positions on grace and predestination. Prosper and his friend Hilary travelled to Rome to ask Pope Celestine I to affirm the truth of Augustine’s statements. He later served as a secretary to Pope Leo the Great. He also wrote a world history.
St. Rosalia (d. 1160) was born in Palermo, Sicily, and was a descendant of Charlemagne. She lived as a hermitess in a cave and later moved to Mount Pellagrino where she also lived secluded from the world. She is a patron saint of Palermo.
St. Thiemo (d. 1102), also known as Theodinaris, was born into a noble family in Bavaria. He became a Benedictine monk at Niederltaich and was known for his skill as a painter, metalworker, and sculptor. He served as Abbot of St. Peter’s in Salzburg and was then named Archbishop of that area. He was exiled by King Henry IV due to his position in the Investiture Controversy. He then traveled to Palestine to help in the crusades. He was captured and martyred by Muslims.
St. Verena (4th century) was from Egypt. She went to Rhaetia (modern Switzerland) as a companion and nurse of her relative St. Victor, who served in the Theban Legion. When the members of the Legion were martyred, she became a hermitess, living in a cave near present-day Zurich. She cared for young girls, using her expertise as a nurse to help care for them both physically and spiritually.
St. Zdislava of Lemberk (1220 – 1252) was the daughter of an aristocratic Czech family. She wanted to become a hermitess, but was brought home by her family. She married the Count of Lemberk and had four children. She was very devout and attended Mass frequently. She cared for the poor and brought refugees into her castle. She was also a mystic. Her husband helped fulfill her desire to found a Dominican convent. She died from an illness while still young.