For a community-builder. St. Teresa of Avila (1515–1582) was a Carmelite nun whose core concept of religious life was to form communities dedicated to compassion and mercy. She lived during a time of great upheaval and uncertainty in the Church and devoted her life to reform, both of herself and of the Carmelite Order.
For a listener. Leopold Mandic (1866–1942) is a Capuchin Franciscan saint whose relics were on display in St. Peter’s Basilica during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Leopold had ambitions to be a great missionary, but he was asked instead to undertake the work of confessor. He became a great spiritual guide, and for 40 years he spent twelve hours a day in the confessional, putting aside his own aspirations to show mercy and compassion to those closer to home.
For a little girl who will grow up to care for the needy. St. Elizabeth of Hungary (1207–1231) was the wife of a nobleman in what is now modern-day Germany. After her husband died she built a hospital where she personally helped to nurse the sick. She became a Third Order Franciscan and made prayer, penance, and care of the needy her main priorities.
For a child with an enormous capacity for forgiveness. Maria Goretti (1890–1902) is one of the youngest canonized saints. At the age of 12, she was attacked by a man who tried to rape her and died the next day — but not before she announced, in an ultimate act of mercy, that she forgave her attacker. The man was found guilty, and on release from prison he visited Maria’s mother to ask for her forgiveness. He lived with Franciscan monks as a layperson for the rest of his life. While the story is a tragic one, it demonstrates the power of forgiveness and rising above injustice.
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