The Catholic School of Saint Gregory the Great holds a long tradition of House Saints. Our four House Saints are: St Teresa, St Augustine, St Francis and St Bernadette.
Therese Martin (as her name is spelt in French) was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France. However, only five of these children lived to reach adulthood. Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention. Her mother died when she was 4 years old. As a result, her father and sisters babied young Therese. She had a spirit that wanted everything.
We have come to know Theresa through her autobiography, ‘Story of a Soul’. She described her life as a "little way of spiritual childhood." She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God's love. "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love." Teresa lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love. She believed that just as a child becomes infatuated with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love. Teresa's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.
In his famous autobiography Confessions, Augustine tells of his struggle to find God. He was born in what is now Algiers in North Africa. His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian. His father, Patricius, was an ill-tempered pagan. Augustine excelled in school when he wanted to, but he also made friends with a bad crowd and got into many worthless activities.
Then one day while Augustine prayed to be free from his sins, he heard a child's voice chanting, “Take up and read.” Augustine opened the Bible and read the first thing his eyes fell upon, Romans 13:13-14, which told him to give up his life of sin. Augustine was baptized at Easter and began reforming his life. With his mother he planned to return to Africa, but Monica died.
Eventually Augustine became a bishop. As a bishop, Augustine worked tirelessly for his people. He fought false religious teachings, protected the people from corrupt officials and invaders, and cared for the sick, the poor, and those in prison. His many sermons, letters, and books reflect the ever-deepening love he felt for God. He wisely observed: “You have made us, O God, for yourself, and our hearts shall find no rest until they rest in you.”
Francis was born in Assisi, Italy in 1182. He grew up leading a privileged life as the son of a wealthy cloth merchant. Francis loved to learn and sing songs as a boy. His father wanted him to become a businessman and taught him about the French culture.
Over the next few years Francis began to see visions from God that changed his life. The first vision was when he was sick with a high fever. At first he thought that God had called him to fight in the Crusades. However, he had another vision that told him to help the sick. Finally, when praying in a church, Francis heard God tell him to "repair my church, which is falling in ruins."
Francis gave all his money to the church. His father became very angry with him. Francis then left his father's home and took a vow of poverty.
Francis was known for his love of nature and animals. There are many stories about Saint Francis and his preaching to animals. It is said that one day he was talking to some birds when they began to sing together. Then they flew into the sky and formed the sign of a cross.
It was also said that Francis could tame wild animals. One story tells of a vicious wolf in the town of Gubbio that was killing people and sheep. The people of the town were frightened and didn't know what to do. Francis went to the town to confront the wolf. At first the wolf growled at Francis and prepared to attack him. However, Francis made the sign of the cross and told the wolf not to hurt anyone else. The wolf then became tame and the town was safe.
Bernadette Soubirous was born in Lourdes, France to Francois and Louise Casterot who were very poor. She was the oldest of six children but was frail and often sick. Bernadette and her family were so poor they were forced to live in a single room that used to be a prison cell. The cell was so dank that it was actually deemed to be too “unsanitary” even for prisoners.
On Thursday, February 11, 1859, around the time of her First Communion, Bernadette was sent with her younger sister and a friend to gather firewood. And this is the story she had to tell, which was taken from a letter she wrote:
"I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river, but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same colour as her rosary beads.
At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross, but for the life of me I couldn't manage it, and my hand just fell down.
Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself, and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads clip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished."
The beautiful lady who appeared to Bernadette above a rosebush in the grotto of Massabielle was God's Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. She appeared to Bernadette eighteen times and spoke with her. She told Bernadette that she should pray for sinners and do penance.
The Lady also told her to have a chapel built there in her honour. Many people did not believe Bernadette when she spoke of her visions.
On the ninth apparition Bernadette was asked by the Lady to drink from the spring. Yet, Bernadette could not see any spring (there was none at the time), therefore she began digging with her bare hands in a muddy patch and drank a few drops of muddy water. However, in the following days water started to flow from the spring where Bernadette had been digging. From this water flowed a spring in which people started to have miraculous healing experiences, and this remains one of the great attractions of Lourdes to this day.