S. Kevin of Glendalough (498-618) was Irish. He was the son of Coemlog and Coemell, Leinster nobles. He was baptized by S. Cronan of Roscrea, educated by S. Petroc of Cornwall from age 7, and lived with monks from age 12. He studied for the priesthood in Cell na Manach (Killnamanagh) and was ordained by bishop Lugidus. He then went to live as a hermit for 7 years in a cave at Glendalough, a Bronze Age tomb now known as Saint Kevin's Bed. He wore skins, ate nettles and herbs, and spent his time in prayer. Word of his holiness spread, and he attracted followers. He founded the monastery at Glendalough, which included relics brought back during a pilgrimage to Rome. This house, in turn, founded several others, and around it grew a town which became a see city (later part of the archdiocese of Dublin). When the monastery was well-established, he left to live as a hermit for 4 years, then returned to Glendalough and served as abbot until his death at age 120. Represented as a monk or hermit with a blackbird sitting on his outstretched hand. Feast June 3. Notice the Irish round tower in the background of this holy card.
S. Fiacre (d. 670) was Irish. He was raised in a monastery, studied healing herbs, and had the gift of healing. His knowledge and holiness caused followers to flock to him. Seeking isolation, he fled to France. He asked S. Faro of Meaux, who was the bishop, if he could have land for a garden for food and herbs. The bishop promised as much land as Fiacre could entrench in one day. Fiacre walked around the perimeter of a plot he wanted, dragging his spade behind him. Wherever the spade touched, trees were miraculously toppled, bushes uprooted, and the soil was entrenched. This garden became a site of pilgrimage. Represented with a spade and/or vegetables. Feast August 30. This PC shows the Chapelle St Fiacre in Bretagne (France).
S. Thomas Aquina (1225 - 1274) was the son of the Count of Aquino, born in the family castle in Lombardy (Italy). He was educated by Benedictine monks at Monte Cassino, and at the U of Naples. He secretly joined the mendicant Dominican friars in 1244. His noble family kidnapped and imprisoned him for a year to dissuade him, but he rejoined his order in 1245. He studied in Paris (1245 - 1248) under S. Albert the Great. Ordained in 1250, he returned to Paris to teach theology at U of Paris. He wrote defenses of the mendicant orders, commentaries on Aristotle, and bible-related works. He won his doctorate, and taught in France and Italy while writing the Summa Theologica. In 1273 he experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it and his other writing were just straw in the wind. He died four months later while en route to the Council of Lyons. Represented usually as a teacher with pagan philosophers at his feet, sometimes with chalice, monstrance, ox, or star. Feast January 28.
S. Ives (Yves) of Brittany (1253 - 1303) was born to a wealthy Breton noble family. From age 14 he studied civil and canon law, philosophy, and theology in Paris and Orleans. He practiced law in both civil and ecclesiastical courts, often defending the poor without charge, and ministering to them in prison while they awaited trial. He practiced great personal ascetism, often fasting, and wearing a hair shirt under his clothing. He fought the state over taxes and the rights of the Church. He was known as an incorruptible judge, refusing then common bribes, and working to settle claims out of court to save the litigants time and money. He was ordained in 1284, and resigned his legal position in 1287 to tend to his parishioners at Tredez and Lovannec. He built a hospital from his own funds, tended the poor, and gave away the harvests from his land to feed them. Miracle worker, he is said to have fed hundreds from a single loaf of bread. Represented as a lawyer enthroned between rich and poor litigants; holding a book, with an angel near his head and a lion at his feet; or as a lawyer surrounded by doves (the Holy Spirit). Feast May 19. This PC shows the village of St Ives in Cornwall.
Saints Aloysius Gonzaga, Stanislaus Kostka, and John Berchmans are often grouped together as the patron saints of holy youth, or of young students. All three were Jesuits, born within a few years of each other, and died very young.
S. Aloysius Gonzaga (1568 - 1591) was of Italian nobility, the son of a compulsive gambler. He was trained from age four as a soldier and courtier. He suffered from kidney disease which he considered a blessing as it left him bed-ridden with time for prayer. While still a boy himself, he taught catechism to poor boys. At age 18 he signed away his legal claim to his family's lands and title to his brother, and became a Jesuit novice. He tended plague victims in Rome during the outbreak of 1591. Feast June 21.
S. Stanislaus Kostka (1550 - 1568) was of Polish nobility, the son of a senator. He attended the Viennese Jesuit college from age 14. Against his family's will, he travelled on foot to Rome and jointed the Society of Jesus in Rome on his 17th birthday (1567). Always of delicate health, he died of a fabrile illness. Represented receiving Holy Communion from the hands of angels, or holding the Infant Jesus. Feast November 13.
S. John Berchmans (1599 - 1621) was born in Driest (Belgium). He was the son of a shoemaker, and one of five children (three entered religious life). He spent much of his time caring for his sick mother, and showed great devotion to his position as an altar boy. He became a Jesuit novice in 1616. He studied at the Jesuit College at Malines, then philosophy in Rome. His dream was teaching migrants (he studied all the chief languages of Europe), and later working in China. He died before being ordained, of unknown causes, soon after a public debate on faith. Represented as he died, holding his rosary, crucifix, and the rule book of the Jesuit order. Feast November 26.