“The Saints of October”
By Friar Paul P. Pang, O.F.M.
We all know that, just as May is the Marian Month, October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary, therefore it is called “The Month of the Holy Rosary”. The main reason for October to be called the month of the Rosary is historical. It goes back to the year 1571 when Pope Saint Pius V attributed the Christian victory against the invading Muslim army in Lepanto in southern Italy through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. So he instituted this feast. The Pope was convinced that the prayers offered to Our Lady by the whole Church on that day were the reasons the invading enemies were defeated. The Pope wanted all Christians to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary in meditating the mysteries of the birth, passion and resurrection of Our Saviour Jesus Christ.
But one more important day in October also belongs to Our Lady and that is her last grandiose apparition in Fatima on October 13th. 1917 when she kept her promise to prove the authenticity of her apparitions by making the sun dance in front of tens of thousands of spectators and also dry the rain-soaked grounds and the people all at once.
But October is also the month of Angels, Apostles and Saints (Popes, Martyrs, Bishops, Priests, Religious Founders and Reformers, Nuns and Virgins. We have our Guardian Angels (2nd), Apostles Simon and Jude (28th) and Saint Luke the Evangelist (18th). There is Pope Saint Callistus (14th), Bishops Denis of France and his martyr companions (9th), Ignatius of Antioch ( 17th: who, according to the EWTN Q&A Session, was none other than the boy called by Jesus to stand in the middle of his disciples when he was talking to his followers about the importance of humility and simplicity: cfr. Mt. 18:1-4), Anthony Mary Claret (24th), Religious Founder Saint Francis of Assisi (4th) and John Capistran (23rd).
Then we have four very important and popular Virgin saints: Religious Reformer and Doctor, Teresa of Avila (15th), Therese of Lisieux, Doctor and Patron of Missions (1st), Religious Hedwig of Trebnitz (16th) and Margaret Mary Alacoque Virgin, the famous promoter of the veneration to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, now extended to the whole of the Church (she died on the 17th of October, but her feast is kept on the 16th).
But in this big group of Saints of October we also have our own saints. They are the five holy martyrs of the Chinese Church who were canonized by the late Pope John Paul II in Rome during the Great Jubilee Year 2000 on October the First. They were made saints together with 115 others, among whom there were 87 martyrs of Chinese descent including priests, catechists, virgins, religious, men, women and children. They are Saint Francis Dias and other Dominican companions Bishop Santos, Fathers Francis, John and Joachim. They were arrested in Fujian during the 1746 persecution and died martyrs in prison the following year in the 12th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong.
Dear Brother- and Sister- Readers of “Grapevine”, if it is a great grace to receive faith, it is a much greater grace to receive the crown of martyrdom. And we all know that ‘martyrdom’ means ‘witnessing’ and this community has been clamoring loud and clear its desire to evangelize our con-nationals. Let us pray to Saint Francis and his companion martyrs that we, each and everyone of us, do our best to bear witness to our faith with good works “so that others in seeing your good works will glorify your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).