St.Claude la Colombiere– 15th February. Born in France of noble parents in 1634 he spent his earlier years studying philosophy and rhetoric in Vienne in Lyon. Having encountered a call to the religious life, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Avignon at 17 and commenced a life of study and in 1660 he took his first vows. After his ordination to the priesthood, he taught at the Jesuit college in Lyon preached and served as a moderator for several Marian Congregations. In 1675 he was named rector at the Jesuit College in Paray le Monial. It was here in Paray that Colombiere became the spiritual advisor and confessor to St Margaret Mary Alocoque , who was receiving visions of Jesus Compassionate Heart for the world. St Margaret Mary received a lot of opposition from theologians and members of her community the” Visitation Order “,however St Claude assured her that her visions were authentic and instructed her to keep a record of all she experienced. He became a devoted disciple to the Sacred Heart of Jesus spreading the devotion world wide. Colombiere died in 1682 in Paray le Monial and was declared a Saint by St John Paul II in 1992
The Seven Holy Founders of the Order of the Servants of Mary– 17th Februry. On the Feast of the Assumption in 1233, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 7 young noble Florentines exhorting them to leave the world and retire and live in solitude and prayer. They went first to Camariz but desiring stricter seclusion they withdrew to Monte Senario on the outskirts of Florence. The seven adopted the name “The Seven Holy Servants of Mary” and dedicated their lives to propagate devotion to Our Lady and her Sorrows and to the Passion Of Christ. They followed the rules of Saint Augustine which the Virgin Mary had instructed them to do in a later vision along with the wearing of a black habit. They also carry a black scapular in memory of Christ´s suffering at the foot of the Cross. The Servite Order is one of the five Catholic Mendicant orders, from its first development in Florence it spread rapidly throughout Europe and was duly approved by the Pope in 1259. The Seven Holy Founders of the Order of Mary were canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888.
Blessed Francisco and Jacinta – 20th February. Francisco and Jacinta were brother and sister ,children of Manuel Marto and Olympia de Jesus. On May 13th, 1917 in Aljustrel ,a hamlet in Fatima they experienced a series of visions of the Virgin Mary along with their cousin Lucia Santos. Mother Mary identified herself to them as “The Lady of the Rosary “. At the first apparition she told them to return to the same spot at Cova Iria on the 13th of each month for the next six months. At the time of the visions Francisco was aged 9 and Jacinta 7. During the visions, Mother Mary instructed them to learn to read and write, as they were simple shepherd children but most importantly she encouraged them to pray the Holy Rosary constantly, to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war in Europe. The children were to pray for the liberation and conversion of sinful souls and for Russia who would soon fall victim to communism. During one apparition the children were discussing heaven and Our Lady told both Jacinta and Francisco that they would soon be taken up to heaven while Lucia would remain on earth to carry on Gods work. Francisco died of Influenza aged 11 in 1919 and his sister of the same illness shortly after in 1920 aged 9, both children were buried in the Basilica at Fatima .In the words of Pope Benedict XVI “The Fatima apparitions were without doubt the most prophetic of all modern visions”. Franciso and Jacinta were both beatified on May 13th 2000 by St John Paul II, Jacinta being the youngest child ever who was not a martyr to be called Blessed.