May the Saints & Feast Days for the month of March inspire you to grow closer to Christ Jesus. The month of March is dedicated to St. Joseph.

March 2: Ash Wednesday

The beginning of Lent. “The Bible includes three forty-day periods of fasting and prayer: that of Moses, who prepared for forty days to receive the Ten Commandments (Deuteronomy 9); that of 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); and that of Jesus, prior to His temptation. Thus the “forty days” of Lent evoke two great figures from the Hebrew Bible, Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the model of prophecy, as well as our Lord’s own fast in the desert. In all three biblical instances, these forty days are a stepping-aside from the ordinary rhythms of life in order to be more open to the promptings of the Spirit of God, and thus more deeply converted so that we may hear the call of Christ: “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1.15)”. 

—George Weigel, Roman Pilgrimage: The Station Churches

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 9: The Forty Holy Martyrs of Sebaste (320 AD)

The Forty Martyrs were Roman soldiers stationed at Sebaste, Armenia (modern-day Turkey). When their legion was ordered to offer sacrifice to idols, they refused to betray their faith, and replied “We are Christians!” When threats could change their resolution, after several days of imprisonment they were chained together and taken to the site of execution. It was a particularly cold winter, and they were condemned to lie without clothing on the icy surface of a pond in the open air until they froze to death. There were warm baths close by, ready for any among them who would deny Christ. 

One of the soldiers lost heart, renounced his faith, and went to the shore and the warm baths. The remaining martyrs stood fast in their resolution. Suddenly the ice was flooded with a bright light and one of the soldiers guarding the men raised his eyes and saw Angels descend with forty crowns, which they held in the air over the martyrs’ heads. But the fortieth Angel remained without a destination. A sentry on the shore was inspired to confess Christ, saying: “That crown will be for me!” Abandoning his coat and clothing, he went onto the ice, crying out: “I too am a Christian!” And the number of forty was again complete. 

“Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth”

(Ps 124:8) – song of The Forty Martyrs.

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 19: The Solemnity of St. Joseph

St. Joseph was an ordinary laborer even though he was a descendent 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 the beginning of Christ’s public life. 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. Bernadine 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 who 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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