St. Margaret of Hungary – 18th January. St Margaret was the daughter of King Bela IV of Hungary. From a very young age she was entrusted in to the care of Dominican nuns. At the age of twelve she became a novice in the monastery of “The Blessed Virgin” founded by her parents and built on Rabbit Island, situated off the coast of Budapest. Her father was determined to arrange a political marriage for her but Margaret had already dedicated her life to God and took her final vows when she was 18. According to church tradition she lived a very austere life often subjecting herself to self mortification, spending many hours in prayer and fasting. Margaret remained in the monastery all her life carrying out the most menial tasks and exacting labours for the poor and needy. It is believed that her severe lifestyle finally led to her death in 1271 on January 18th. Margaret was canonized in 1943 by Pope Pius II. 74 miracles have been attributed to her intercession.
St Sebastian – 20th January. Very Little is known about Sebastian´s youth, he joined the Roman army in 238 AD, ostensibly to be of service to other Christians who were undergoing persecution. Sebastian was an excellent soldier and soon promoted to personal guard of the emperor Diocletian. Rome was mainly a pagan city at this time and Sebastian fervently encouraged those threatened to keep the faith, converting many prominent individuals to Christianity including the local Prefect, Chromatius. When the emperor discovered his religious preference he sentenced Sebastian to be shot to death with arrows. He was left for dead but he was hidden and nursed back to health by Irene of Rome. Immediately after his recovery he confronted Diocletian reproaching his cruelty towards Christians. Surprised at his reappearance in the flesh the emperor condemned him hastily to a brutal death by beating him with cudgels. His body was thought to have been secretly buried by believers , in a grave now marked by the Basilica of Saint Sebastian . He is listed as one of the 14 Holy Helpers.
St Ines (Agnes) of Rome – 21st January. Ines who also goes by the name of Saint Agnes was a member of the Roman nobility raised in a Christian family. Although believed to be exceptionally beautiful, she consecrated her chastity herself to God as a child. When she was only 12 or 13 the Prefect Sempronius wanted Agnes to marry his son but when she bluntly refused he reported her to the Roman authorities as being a Christian. Agnes was not afraid she held firm to her beliefs refusing to submit to her suitors wishes, choosing martyrdom rather than compromising her faith. Poor Agnes was therefore condemned to death. Roman law did not permit the execution of virgins so she was cruelly dragged through the streets and sent to a house of ill repute. However the authorities attempted to defile her, Agnes purity was miraculously preserved by the grace of God. Eventually she was beheaded and buried in a catacomb on the Via Salaria and by 349 AD a basilica had been built over her tomb by the emperor Constantine´s daughter. Agnes continues to be an inspiration to all those women who partake in the Religious life and is the Patron Saint of young girls and all those seeking chastity.