As the saying goes, "the family that prays together, stays together."
Venerable Patrick Peyton was known during his life for promoting family prayer with the phrase, “the family that prays together, stays together.” It is a basic truth, one that has been confirmed by countless families over the centuries.
There have been many families throughout history who progressed in sanctity together. Typically the parents led the way in holiness and when raising their children, passed on what they learned. Here are three such families (there are many more that could be listed), who imitated the Holy Family by creating a home where prayer and virtue were practiced on a daily basis.
Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum
A family who lived in the late 3rd century, these Christians were persecuted for their faith during the reign of Emperor Aurelian. According to tradition the family would take care of the bodies of Christian martyrs and bury them. This caught the eye of the local Roman authorities, who made them martyrs as well.
Sts. Gregory the Elder, Nonna, Gorgonia, Gregory and Caesarius of Nazianzus
Living in the 4th century, Gregory the Elder was convinced to convert to Christianity by his wife Nonna. Gregory was eventually ordained a priest and bishop of Nazianzus. Their daughter, Gorgonia, married and had several children and was known for her sanctity. Caesarius became a prominent physician and politican, but left the royal court because of his faith. Gregory the Younger is the most well-known of the family, becoming an influential Patriarch of Constantinople and later being named a “Doctor of the Church.”
Sts. Edwin of Northumbria, Ethelburga of Kent, Enfleda of Whitby
This family were initially pagans who lived in the 7th century in Northern England. Edwin was the King of Northumbria and was later convinced to convert to Christianity by missionary St. Paulinus of York, who came to Northumbria withEthelburga when she was to be married to Edwin. King Edwin worked to introduce Christianity in the region. After her husband died in battle against a pagan king, Ethelburga established a Benedictine convent which she also led until her death. Their daughter Enfleda eventually married and had several children. After the death of her husband she lived in a convent at Whitby and later became the abbess.