The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph.

March 3: St. Katharine Drexel, 1858-1955

St. Katharine Drexel is the second American-born saint to be canonized by the Catholic Church. In 1884, while her family was visiting the Western states, Katharine saw first-hand the troubling and poor situation of the Native Americans. In 1887, Katharine decided she would give herself and her inheritance to God through service to both Native Americans and African Americans. She wrote, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the African Americans.” By the time of her death, she had more than 500 Sisters teaching in 63 schools throughout the country and she established 50 missions for Native Americans in 16 different states. At the age of 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. She spent the next 20 years in intense prayer from a small room overlooking a sanctuary.

“My sweetest Joy is to be in the presence of Jesus in the holy Sacrament. I beg that when obliged to withdraw in body, I may leave my heart before the holy Sacrament.”

– St. Katharine Drexel.

March 7: Saints Perpetua and Felicity (d. 203)

Perpetua was a wealthy young woman and mother, and Felicitas, a slave, both were catechumens. The persecution of Septimius Severus (202 AD) against prospective converts was particularly severe. Both were arrested and thrown into prison to face martyrdom. Felicitas was 8 months pregnant, and according to Roman law she could not be executed before giving birth. She gave birth to a baby girl while being mocked by her guards during her suffering of childbirth.

On the seventh of March, the women were led into the amphitheater and severely scourged. Then they were tossed about by an exceptionally wild cow, gored, and thrown to the ground. Afterwards they we put to death by the sword. Knowing their own weakness but relying on the strength of Christ, who was fighting with them, they went to their martyrdom as a triumphant celebration.

“Continue firm in the faith, love one another, and be not scandalized at our sufferings.”

– St. Perpetua

March 8: St. John of God (1495-1550)

St. John was of Portuguese descent, and was first a shepherd, a book dealer and then a soldier. At the age of forty he was converted by the preaching of Bless John of Avila. His conversion was so sudden that he was considered to be out of his mind. He was incarcerated in the Royal Hospital in Granada, and suffered the cruel treatments of the day, which included whipping. Here he discovered how to show his love for God, through caring for those who were unable to respond to this cruel treatment. He resolved to devote the remainder of his life to caring for people living on the margins of society. He founded the Order of the Brothers Hospitallers and died at Granada in 1550. Pope Leo XIII declared him the patron saint of hospitals, the sick and the dying. His name is invoked in the Litany of the Dying.

“With outstretched arms He begs us to turn toward Him, to become the servants of love. Just as water extinguishes a fire, so love wipes away sin.”

– St. John of God

March 17: St. Patrick, 387-461 AD

St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and a legendary evangelist for Christ. At the age of 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold. His captivity however, was the source of his spiritual conversion. After six years Patrick escaped Ireland, and was eventually consecrated bishop at the age of 43. His great desire was to proclaim the good news to the Irish. He returned to Ireland in 433 and converted many people -eventually thousands – and began building churches across the country, until his death in 461.

“Christ beside me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ within me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me.”

– St. Patrick

March 20: The Solemnity of St. Joseph

St. Joseph was an ordinary laborer even though he was a descendant of the royal house of David. He became the spouse of the Mother of God and the Foster-father of Jesus. About him the Bible has little more to say than that he was a just man – an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his mission of protecting and guarding Jesus and Mary. Of St. Joseph’s death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before Christ’s public life began. Just as his silent years at Nazareth, he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater recognition. Veneration of St. Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by St. Brigid of Sweden, St. Bernardine of Siena, and St. Teresa of Avila.

In 1870 Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph to be the patron and protector of the universal Church. This was the same pope who declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1854) and had a profound devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1875, on the 200th anniversary of the visions of the Sacred Heart revealed to St. Margaret Mary, Pope Pius IX consecrated all Catholics to the Sacred Heart.

“Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”

(Mt 1:20-21)

March 25: The Annunciation of the Lord

The Solemnity of the Annunciation commemorates the coming of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, to announce to her the special mission God had chosen for her to be the mother of His only son. The feast of the Annunciation began to be celebrated on this day during the fourth and fifth centuries, soon after the date for celebrating Christmas was universalized throughout the Church. This feast celebrates the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity and the salvation of all mankind.

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ” Hail, full of grace,the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her,

*”Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”

– Luke 1: 26-31
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