May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of May inspire you to grow closer to Christ Jesus. The month of May is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary
May 3: Sts. Philip and James the Less
The Apostle Philip was one of Christ’s first disciples, called after Jesus’s baptism in the Jordan river. During the Last Supper, as Philip was struggling to grasp Christ’s divinity and His oneness with God the Father, Philip asked “Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied. Jesus said “have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:8-9). Let us ask St.Philip for his intercession to see Jesus as He is, true God and true man. After Pentecost Philip is thought to have preached in Greece and Turkey. There are differing accounts of the end of his life, but he is believed to have died a martyr’s death.
St. James the Less, a brother of the Apostle Jude, is believed to be the author of the Epistle of James in the New Testament. He was given an appearance of the Risen Christ (I Cor. 15:7). After the dispersion of the Apostles, he was made Bishop of Jerusalem, where he governed the church there for 30 years. When he refused to deny the Divinity of Christ, the Jews cast him down from the terrace of the temple and clubbed him to death.
“Blessed is the man who endures trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
May 13: Our Lady of Fatima
The apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the children of Fatima took place during the First World War. In the summer of 1916, an Angel appeared to them several times and taught them a prayer to the Blessed Trinity.
On Sunday, May 13, 1917, a flash of lightning drew the attention of the children, and they saw a brilliant figure appearing over the trees of the Cova da Iria. The “Lady” asked them to pray for the conversion of sinners and an end to the war, and to come back every month, on the 13th. On October 13, the “Lady” identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary” and again called for prayer and penitence.
On that day a phenomenon also took place: the sun seemed to tumble from the sky and crash toward earth. The large crowd (estimated at 30,000 by reporters) that had gathered around the children saw the phenomenon and came away astounded. Official recognition of the “visions” which the children had at the Cova da Iria came on October 13, 1930, when the bishop of Leiria – after long inquiry – authorized the devotion of Our Lady of the Rosary at the site.
“Jesus wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world. I promise salvation to those who embrace it; and these souls will be beloved of God like flowers arranged by me to adorn His throne.” – Our Lady of Fatima, July 13, 1917
May 20: St. Bernadine of Siena (1380 – 1444)
St. Bernardine decided as a young man to enter a monastery and become a Franciscan. His superiors assigned him the task of preaching, despite his throat affliction, which was later miraculously cured. He was a powerful preacher and travelled throughout all of Italy encouraging love and reverence for the Holy Name of Jesus.
Upon entering a city, Bernardine had a standard carried before him upon which was the Holy Name of Jesus (IHS – Iesus Hominum Salvator: Jesus Savior of Mankind) encircled with twelve golden rays and surmounted by a cross. When he preached, this symbol was placed alongside the pulpit; or he would hold in his hand a tablet bearing the divine monogram in letters large enough to be visible to the entire audience. He would bless the faithful with this symbol, invoking the name of Jesus, and many miracles were reported.
Pope Martin V, in 1427, approved the veneration to the Holy Name and asked that the cross be included in the monogram IHS. Also, largely due to St. Bernadine’s preaching, the name “Jesus” was added to the Hail Mary: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
“The Name of Jesus is the glory of those who believe. The main base of the Faith is the Name of Jesus; that Name upholds the edifice; upon it the pillars rise; upon it the summit of the monument rests, and that summit is Heavenly beatitude. The Catholic Faith resides in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; He is the light of the soul, the gateway to life, the foundation of eternal salvation.” – St. Bernardine of Siena
May 26: St. Philip Neri (1515-1595)
St. Philip Neri was born in Florence and later came to Rome. After fifteen years, living as a pilgrim and hermit, he was ordained a priest. His charism was a burning love for God, and when he was 29, during the octave of Pentecost, this fire of divine love caused his beating heart to break two ribs. It was a wound that never healed.
He gathered around him a group of priests and established the Congregation of the Oratory. For the next fifty years his apostolate was to renew the Christian spirit of Rome, and due his efforts the practice of frequent Communion was revived. He was known as a person of a very happy and winning disposition. Though he also had a very deep contemplative side where he spent whole nights in prayer and had a great devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He died on the feast of Corpus Christi.
“My children, if you desire perseverance, be devout to our Blessed Lady. Believe me, there is no more powerful means to obtain God’s grace than to employ the intercessions of the Holy Virgin.” – St. Philip Neri
May 29: Ascension of the Lord
The feast of the Ascension of our Lord, in His human nature to his Father’s home, is the confirmation of our belief that death is not the end of man – but rather the beginning. We shall all rise from the grave with new, glorified bodies and ascend to heaven, as Christ did. There we’ll begin our true life of eternal happiness.
On the Ascension, Jesus ordered the Apostles not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard Me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit… and you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When He had said this, as they were looking on, He was lifted up and a cloud took Him from their sight” (Acts 1:4-9).
“Dear sons, be imbued with the hope that is so much a part of the mystery of the Ascension of Jesus. Be deeply conscious of Christ’s victory and triumph over sin and death.” – Pope St. John Paul II
May 31: Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The second Joyful mystery of the rosary is Mary’s visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. The Visitation was the central mystery of St. Francis de Sales’ devotions. In fact, the order of nuns founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal was called the Visitation Order. St. Margaret Mary was a member of this order, and one of the practices of this order is to spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Reflecting upon the Visitation, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI once remarked;
“Whoever opens his or her heart to the Mother encounters and welcomes the Son and is pervaded by his joy. True Marian devotion never obscures or diminishes faith and love for Jesus Christ Our Saviour, the one Mediator between God and humankind.”
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1: 46-47)