Pope Leo the Great-Feast Day November 10th. Leo was born in to an aristocratic Tuscan family in Rome in 390 AD. We first hear of him serving as a deacon under Pope Sixtus 111. He was an erudite man that commanded respect and was often called to act as a powerful mediator between influential leaders. Rome at this time was a city of religious and political unrest , it was only in 313 that Christianity had become a legal religion in the Roman Empire. In 440 Leo was appointed Pope and began his pontificate by giving a series of 76 sermons concerning faith and charity which still survive. Leo is also well known for his work ” A concise statement of the Incarnation ” which is respected and adhered to in the Church today. Leo was a man of great authority and diplomacy it was through his negotiations that Attila the Hun was prevented from raiding Rome with his barbaric army. When Rome was set alight during to the invasion of the Vandals he set about restoring the city straight away ,rebuilding churches and helping the grief stricken population. Leo died in Rome in 461 and was buried at St Peters where his relics were enshrined in 688. In 1754 he was declared a Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Benedict XIV. Leos insistence on the centrality of Rome combined with an exemplary personal holiness and fortitude provided a model for the Papacy throughout the coming centuries.
Martin of Tours-Saints Day November 11th. Martin was born around 316 in Pannonia, modern day Hungary and was the son of a Roman pagan soldier. The family were moved to Pavia in Italy and it was here that the young Martin discovered Christianity and became a catechumen at 15. Much to his distress he was compelled to join the army but his life totally changed when he tore his cloak in two and gave half to a frozen beggar. That night he had a vision of Jesus wearing the torn cloak. From this moment he knew that his life belonged to God and he threw down his military sword and became a soldier of Christ. Returning to his birth place he converted his mother and several others but was banished for his dynamic preaching against Arianism. Not long after he encountered St Hilary of Poitiers of whom he became a disciple.St Hilary helped him to establish a monastery in Gaul in 362 and he soon attracted many followers,. Ten years later due to popular acclaim he was appointed Bishop of Tours in France but to obtain solitude from the crowds he fled outside the city and founded a monastery at Marmoutier with 80 monks .However he still maintained his post of bishop through the co-operation of other priests in Tours. Martin is known as the ” The Glory of Gaul”, his greatest mission was the conversion of souls who still held on to pagan beliefs to Christainity. He was a mystic and exorcist who performed many miracles. He died near tours on the 8th of November 400 AD and is the patron Saint of soldiers , beggars and France.
St Stanislaw Kostka-Feast Day November 13th. Stanislaw was a Polish novice of the Society of Jesus, he was born in 1550 to a noble devout Catholic family in Rostkow in Poland. Along with his brother he was schooled at a Jesuit college in Vienna . Stanislaw had a great love for Jesus and used to experience states of religious ecstasy . While in Vienna he joined the congregation of Santa Barbara and claimed that during a serious illness saint Barbara appeared to him with a group of angels to give him the Eucharist. His brother Paul was violent towards him and took advantage of his gentle nature .In 1567 seeking refuge from this abuse he journeyed alone on foot and joined the Jesuit society in Rome. It was here after his arrival in Rome that he spent the last ten months of his young life ,according to the testimony of the master of novices he was ” a model of religious perfection”. Although his health was very fragile he did not spare himself the slightest penance. On the eve of St Lawrence he felt his impending death and wrote a letter to the Blessed Virgin Mary begging her to call him to heaven. On August the 15th ,1568, the day of the Assumption his beautiful soul passed to its creator, his face shinning with a serene light. Canonized in 1726 he is the patron saint of Jesuit novices and Poland.