May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of February inspire you to grow closer to Christ Jesus. The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Family.
February 2: Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus and is also known as Candlemas Day. This comes from the 6th century, in France, where the liturgy included a solemn blessing and procession with candles, symbolizing Christ as the Light of the World. This feast is also another epiphany in the sense that Christ is revealed as the Messiah through the testimony of Simeon and Anna. As Simeon stated in his prophecy “for my eyes have seen your Salvation … a light of revelation to the Gentiles.”
The Presentation is the 4th Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, representing the joy of Mary offering her Son back to God. It is also the 1st Sorrow, of the Sorrows of Mary, representing the sword that would pierce her heart at the sacrifice of Jesus during His passion.
This day is also the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life, which was instituted by St. John Paul II in 1997. He attached it to this feast day of Candlemas because the consecrated men and women are to be the light in the world, imitating Jesus, the Light of the World.
“And there was a prophetess, Anna … who did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God and spoke of Him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38).
February 5: St. Blaise
St. Blaise was a physician and Bishop of Sebaste, Armenia. Agricola, governor of
Cappadocia, came to Sebaste to persecute Christians. St. Blaise was arrested, and Agricola tried to get him to recant his faith. While in prison, Blaise ministered to and healed fellow prisoners, including saving a child who was choking on a fish bone; this led to the blessing of throats on Blaise’s feast day.
Agricola tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused; he was beaten. The next time he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron rakes. Finally, he was beheaded. He was martyred in 316 AD.
“Father of mercy and God of all consolation, graciously look upon me and impart to me the blessing which flows from this holy Sacrament. Overshadow me with Your loving kindness, and let this divine Mystery bear fruit in me.” – St. Blaise
February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes
Our Lady of Lourdes made 18 appearances to Saint Bernadette Soubirous from
February to July, 1858. This was shortly after the 1854 dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, and during one of the apparitions, on the Feast of the Annunciation, Mary told Bernadette “I am the Immaculate Conception”.
The Immaculate Conception had a youthful appearance and was clothed in a pure white gown and mantle, with a blue girdle. A golden rose adorned each of her bare feet. On her first apparition, February 11, 1858, the Blessed Virgin asked Bernadette to make the sign of the Cross and say the rosary with her.
On another occasion she asked her to tell the ecclesiastical authorities to build a church on this spot and to organize processions.
The report of cures occurring at the grotto spread quickly and the more it spread, the greater the number of Christians visited the grotto. The publicity of these miraculous events and the sincerity and innocence of Bernadette made it necessary for the bishop of Tarbes to institute a judicial inquiry. Four years later he declared the apparitions to be supernatural and permitted the public veneration of the Immaculate Conception in the grotto. Soon a chapel was erected, and since that time thousands of pilgrims come every year to Lourdes to pray for Mary’s intercession.
February 13: Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus
Veneration of the Holy Face of Jesus has its beginning during the passion of Our Lord, making it one of the oldest devotions in the Christian tradition. This devotion originated when the sacred image of Our Lord miraculously appeared on St. Veronica’s Veil. St. Veronica, as a sign of her love and compassion, offered Jesus a veil to wipe the blood and sweat from His face as He carried His cross. Jesus left an impression of His Holy Face upon the veil. This meeting of Our Lord and St. Veronica is one of the Stations of the Cross, the 6thStation.
According to tradition, St. Veronica later entrusted the veil to Pope St. Clement, the third Bishop of Rome. For the next three centuries the Holy Veil was kept in the Roman catacombs during the early persecutions of the Church. Eventually Veronica’s Veil was placed in the Basilica of St. Peter and kept there until the present day.
In 1846 Our Lord, in visions to Sister Marie of St. Peter, requested that a devotion to His Holy Face be established, also known as the “Golden Arrow.” The purpose of this devotion was to make amends for the sins in the world, as well as to request special intentions. Special prayers and promises were given to Sister Marie from Our Lord, who said:
“All who honor My Holy Face in a spirit of reparation thereby perform for Me the services of the pious Veronica.”
Soon after the death of Sister Marie, in 1849, a revolution erupted in the Papal States.
Pope Pius IX ordered public prayers to be offered in Rome to implore God’s mercy, and Veronica’s Veil was put on display for public veneration for three days. On the third day the features of Our Lord, normally faded, became distinctly seen and surrounded by a soft halo of light. This lasted for three hours and was documented by Vatican officials.
After the miracle of the Holy Veil, it was customary to have copies of the Holy Face made. These copies would then be touched to the original Veil, making them objects of devotion. A devout man named Leo Dupont hung one of these copies in his home, accompanied by an oil lamp. Those who would say the devotional prayers and anoint themselves with oil from his lamp would receive healing. For the next 30 years, many miracles of healing occurred in his home through adoration of the Holy Face.
Because of the many miracles credited to the Holy Face, Pope Leo XIII in 1885 established the devotion as an Archconfraternity for the entire world. St. Therese of Lisieux and her family were members of this archconfraternity. She was faithful to this devotion and she took as her religious name, “St. Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.” In April
1958, Pope Pius XII approved the observance of a Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday).
February 14: Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday begins our season of Lent to prepare for the greatest liturgical celebration of the year, Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption and His Resurrection for our new life in eternity with God. The ashes we receive on this day are a sign of our commitment to renew our baptismal vows through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The ashes symbolize our fragile mortality and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.
As an aside, this year Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same day; the last time this happened was in 1945. Some may be wondering if there is a dispensation from fasting and abstinence due to Valentine’s Day. The US bishops have stated that Ash Wednesday takes precedence over Valentine’s Day and that it is an opportunity to practice self-giving love with your spouse.
Lent is 40 days from February 14 to March 28 (excluding Sundays), ending on the feast of Holy Thursday. It is based on the three 40-day periods of fasting and prayer by Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Moses fasted for 40 days before receiving the Ten
Commandments which was the moral code to set Israel apart from the other nations
(Ex. 19:5,6). Elijah fasted for 40 days before he heard the “still, small voice of the Lord (I Kings 19:12)”. Jesus fasted for 40 days before He began His public ministry. All of these instances are examples of setting aside the normal rhythms of life in order to be more open to the Spirit of God. In the case of Jesus the Gospels tell us that He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days and at the completion returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. May our prayer, fasting, and works of mercy during Lent renew in us the power of the Spirit.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and He fasted for forty days and forty nights”. – Mat 4:1,2
February 22: Chair of St. Peter
The Chair of St. Peter is located in St. Peter’s Basilica, below a stained glass image depicting the Holy Spirit as a dove. The established seat of a Bishop is placed in the mother church of a diocese, which is known as a cathedral. It is the symbol of the Bishop’s authority and in particular, of his magisterium. The See of Rome, after St
Peter’s travels, came to be recognized as the See of the Successor of Peter, and its Bishop’s cathedral represents the mission entrusted to him by Christ to tend his entire flock.
“Consequently, the Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents not only his service to the Roman community but also his mission as guide of the entire People of God.
Celebrating the “Chair” of Peter, means attributing a strong spiritual significance to recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation.” — Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, February 2006.
February 23: St. Polycarp
St. Polycarp was a disciple of St. John, the Bishop of Smyrna, and lived from 69 to 159 AD. At the age of 86 he was brought into the arena to be martyred. The Roman proconsul tried to persuade him to deny Christ and pay homage to Caesar. To which St. Polycarp gave his famous reply:
“Fourscore and six years have I served Him and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and my Savior? If you require me to swear by the genius of Caesar, as you call it, hear my free confession: I am a Christian and if you desire to learn the doctrines of Christianity, appoint a time and hear me.”