I’ve written briefly before about some of my favourite saints but I decided to write a bit more about the saints that inspire me the most. I am sorry this post has taken so long, I am sure you all understand how crazy the run up to Christmas can be!
I have already written briefly about Saint Paul and how he has helped me (Coming Home) but I wanted to go more into why I have such a devotion to him. Saint Paul possibly makes the top two of my favourite saints ever. His conversion was such a total reversal of his previous life. The persecutor becomes the persecuted. He watched the martyrdom of Stephen and “entirely approved of the killing” [Acts 8:1] yet went on to be martyred himself. Paul’s experience of Christ changed him so radically and so fundamentally that he gave his very life for Christ.
When most people think of St. Francis, they think of his poverty. But for me it isn’t his poverty as such that inspires me. What inspires me about St. Francis is his conversion. There is a beautiful quote from St. Francis that I used in my last post:
I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anyone.
Francis was not always a holy man. He had a love of worldly pleasures. It is not his poverty itself that inspires me, but the drastic change he made in his life in order to focus it on God. God was able to work through him despite his sins.
To me, both St. Francis and St. Paul are a reminders that no-one is beyond God’s help and no-one is beyond God’s mercy. No matter how terribly I may fall, the Lord is reaching out His arms to me just as He reached out to St. Paul and St. Francis. In their conversions they redefined their very selves and became followers of Christ, showing His light through their lives.
The second I read the story of St. Agnes, I was instantly enamoured with her. She was the first virgin martyr I ever really came to know and the entire concept just struck me as incredible. She was so dedicated to the virtue of chastity and so resolute in her faith that she gave her life rather than surrender. St. Agnes is my most beloved saint, for reasons I could not possibly put into words.
Saint Maria Goretti
Pretty much everything I’ve said about St. Agnes also applies to Maria Goretti. But the other thing that inspires me about her is her forgiveness of her murderer. As he attacked her, she expressed concern for his soul and the effect his actions would have on his soul. When she learned she was dying, she expressed her forgiveness and her desire to have him one day join her in heaven. For someone so young to be able to show such pure love is just amazing: such a display of forgiveness could only have come from love.
I never understood why I would have such a devotion to virgin martyrs when chastity is something I have struggled with so much. But I realised that we not always need the saints that we can see ourselves in. Sometimes we need those that are not like us, those that were strong where we are weak as an example for us to look to as inspiration. For me, St. Agnes and St. Maria Goretti are those examples. When I feel like I am failing, they remind me of the purity that I am called to and inspire me to persevere against the difficulties.
I will continue this with some other saints that I think are awesome, but that will probably not be until after Christmas.