St. Mark – 25th April. Saint Mark´s Gospel written in Greek, is believed to be the first Synoptic Gospel to be written, his writings were addressed in the main to Christian gentile converts. The identification of Mark the evangelist has long been an area of interest, it has now been widely accepted that the author of St Marks Gospel is the same John Mark whose mother Mary welcomed the apostles into her house in Jerusalem and that he was the cousin of Barnabas .Mark was associated with St Paul and St Barnabas on their first missionary journey but at Perga he left them to return to Jerusalem. St Paul was so upset with Mark´s decision to leave that it caused a split between him and Barnabas and Barnabas and Mark went on alone to evangelise in Cyprus.In Rome, Mark was the disciple of Peter who refers to him warmly as “my son”. It is thought that Mark based much of his Gospel on the eye witness accounts and teaching of St Peter. It is in Rome that he most probably wrote his account of Jesus´ life and teaching most probably between 60-70 AD. A strong tradition has Mark as first Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt where he supposedly martyred during the reign of Nero. His relics were moved from Alexandria to Venice in 829.He is the patron Saint of Venice, notaries and those taken captive.
St. Catherine of Siena– 29th April. Catherine was born in a plague ravaged Siena in 1347. Her father was a cloth dyer and her mother a daughter of a poet. One of 25 children, sadly her twin sister along with many of her other siblings died. A deeply religious child, according to her confessor and biographer Raymond of Capua, she encountered her first mystic experience at the age of 6 and at the age of 7 vowed to give her life to God. Despite her religious nature she did not choose to enter a convent but after a vision of Saint Dominic she joined the Dominican order as a tertiary and wore the habit. Catherine lived at home with her family but spent her time in seclusion and prayer. At the age of 21 she described an experience she referred to as a” Mystical Marriage” to Christ. In a following vision, she was told to play an active part in public life and began to experience stigmata. Travelling around Italy, she dedicated her time to the poor and sick, became greatly involved with politics and was a key in keeping the city states loyal to the Pope. She was instrumental in encouraging the Pope in Avignon to return to Rome. Catherine dictated over 400 hundred letters to scribes, these formed along with her prayers her “Dialogue” which is a widely recognised spiritual work in the Church .In 1380, on April 29th she died following a paralytic stroke. Catherine was canonized in 1461 by Pope Pius II and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.
St. Joseph the worker – 1st May. Pope Pius XII instituted the feast of St Joseph the worker in 1955 to Christianize labour and to give all workers a model and protector. Saint Joseph the divinely appointed earthly guardian to Mother Mary and foster father to our Lord Jesus was a carpenter by trade. Joseph was not a rich man, he laboured hard and diligently to provide the necessities for his holy spouse and for the incarnate son of God. Joseph lovingly passed down his trade to Jesus who used his carpentry skills before he began his ministry. Christianity emphasises the importance of labour in man´s life, even from the time of Adam and Eve, part of man´s duty on earth was to continue the work of God´s creation. We are all called to bear fruit with our hands and minds, ultimately for the building up for the body of Christ. In addition to this, there is a special dignity and value to work carried out for the care of the family. Saint Joseph shows us the value of hard work and the importance of sharing skills with others. The liturgy of the feast celebrates the right to work.