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. During the presentation Simeon prophesied to Mary that her Son would be “a sign that would be contradicted”. This sign of contradiction is the Cross. As St. Paul states, the Cross is a stumbling block and foolishness to unbelievers, but the power of God’s salvation to those who believe (cf 1 Cor 1:21-24).
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.
“Simeon took Jesus in his arms and blessed God saying “ … for my eyes have seen Your salvation … a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for Your people Israel”(Luke 2:28-32).
February 3: 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 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. In spite of being beaten and his flesh torn with wool combs, he refused. Finally, he was beheaded. He was martyred in 316 AD. The following prayer is used during the blessing of the throat “Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease
of the throat and from every other illness. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“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.
“I do not promise you happiness in this world, but in the next” – Our Lady of Lourdes
February 14: St. Valentine
Legend states that St. Valentine aided the Christian martyrs during the Claudian persecution. In addition to the edict against helping Christians, Claudius had also issued a decree forbidding marriage. To increase troops for his army, he forbade young men to marry, believing that single men made better soldiers than married men.
Valentine defied this decree and urged young lovers to come to him in secret so that he could join them in the sacrament of matrimony. Eventually he was discovered by the Emperor, who had Valentine arrested and brought before him. Because he was so impressed with the young priest, Claudius attempted to convert him to Roman paganism rather than execute him. However, Valentine held steadfast and in turn attempted to convert Claudius to Christianity, at which point the Emperor condemned him to death.
Legend has it that he miraculously restored the sight of the jailer’s daughter. The night before his execution, the priest wrote a farewell message to the girl and signed it affectionately “From Your Valentine,” a phrase that lives on even to this day. He was executed on February 14th, 273 AD in Rome.
In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed St. Valentine from the General Roman Calendar, because so little is known about him. The church still recognizes him as a saint, listing him in the February 14 spot of Roman Martyrology. It is certain that Valentine really did exist, what is not certain are the legends which surround him. The certainty of his existence is based on the findings of archeologists who unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to St. Valentine.
February 22: Ash Wednesday
The Bible records three 40-day periods of fasting and prayer. Moses, who prepared for 40 days to receive the moral code that God gives to His chosen people, the Ten Commandments (Ex. 34:28). Elijah, who fasted forty days and forty nights at Mt.Horeb prior to hearing the “still, small voice” of the Lord passing by (1 Kings 19:8). Jesus, prior to his temptation by the devil in the desert. The “forty days” of Lent—Ash Wednesday through Holy Saturday, exclusive of Sundays evoke two great figures from the Hebrew Bible, Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the model of prophecy, as well as the Lord’s own fast in the desert.
“Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan! For it is written that you shall worship the Lord your God and only Him shall you serve”’. – Mat. 4:10
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.”
When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed and thanked God that he would be part of the resurrection of both body and soul in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen. Eyewitnesses to this event reported a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn’t being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.
“For I am already on the point of being sacrificed, the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearance”.II Tim 4:6-8