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5 Saints who can be great influencers for today’s youth


Didier Descouens | CC BY-SA 4.0

Miriam Esteban Benito - published on 11/12/20

What if young people looked to the saints as their examples, instead of social media influencers?

Today, social media “influencers” are the role models many young people follow. Recently, Carlo Acutis, who has been called “God’s influencer,” was beatified. If an influencer can become a candidate for sainthood, can saints become influencers?

Since I was a child, I’ve always been interested in learning about the lives of the saints. I still remember one summer when someone gave me a book about the life of a saint: I was about 8 or 9 years old, but I read and read until my parents told me to turn off the light and go to sleep.

At my young age, back then, the saints were incredible people who sometimes—let’s be honest—did things that were a little strange or seemed unattainable. But if something caught my attention, it was that their holiness was an extraordinary grace that was given to them, and they were inclined to use that gift for something besides themselves. They were true influencers.

After that summer, the life of St. Tarcisius was engraved in my memory. Because of his great love and veneration of the Holy Eucharist, when he was caught by Romans while he was transporting the Eucharist, he was stoned to death rather than surrender what he was carrying and allow the Blessed Sacrament to be subjected to desecration.

Reading his life, I began to understand that the Eucharist had to be something very special for a child like me to give his life to protect it. At that time, I also began to understand the importance of savoring, learning about, and contemplating the lives of the saints.

HTeam | Shutterstock

Today I look at my children and think how important it is to introduce them to those special “influencers,” who aren’t seeking out “likes” and who went through life unnoticed in many cases. They were normal people like you and me, but thanks to their way of living their faith, they became leaders in holiness.


Read more:
This author is on a mission to inspire kids to be saints

The joy of the saints

Among the influencers of Heaven, there’s a common virtue that’s very contagious: joy. This grace in the soul, proper to childhood and adolescence, is something all parents want for their children.

saint Philip Neri
Didier Descouens | CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the many influencers of joy is St. Philip Neri, who always sought happiness, and who after his conversion could not but try to give to others something of what he himself had received. I’m not referring not only to his inheritance—but that applies too, because he decided to leave his wealth behind. That’s something worthy of a real influencer!

This saint didn’t renounce everything for likes, but for Paradise. He captivated the hearts and minds of children and adults alike by bringing a message of joy and self-giving to others.

“When are we going to be better people?” This is a very effective “influencer” phrase that St. Philip repeated and that could motivate us all to jump out of bed on a lazy morning or when we don’t feel like going to school or work.

Do we need one more little push? Surely St. Philip Neri’s motto would be even more effective if accompanied by a delicious breakfast in the purest Instagram style. No follower could resist!

Public Domain
Saint John Bosco

Speaking of followers, St. John Bosco had many, for he is the greatest influencer of “life understood as a feast, and faith as happiness.”

Who doesn’t share the feelings of St. John Bosco regarding the people we love? “My greatest satisfaction is to see you happy,” he used to say.

“Sadness and melancholy, get out of my house,” Don Bosco would say (although this phrase sounds catchier in Italian, as it rhymes). This saint taught us that there’s no better lesson for children and young people than “to make holiness consist in always being happy, doing well the things we have to do.” What a fascinating way to live our daily lives! This topic surely would give any influencer material for a few blog posts.

Public Domain
St. Dominic Savio

St. Dominic Savio, in spite of his young age, is also an influencer of finding great joy in small things. He emphatically declared: “I’d rather die than sin!” This may sound a bit dramatic, but we can teach our children to apply his attitude to everyday situations: “I would rather share my toy than fight with my brother,” for example, or “I would rather be good to others than seek my own whims.”

I very much like to remember the first time that Dominic met Don Bosco and said to him, “Help me to be a saint!” What could be cooler than an influencer asking another influencer to help him become a saint?

St. Dominic Savio always sought to be the best version of himself. No doubt a desire for happiness was present in this child’s life from a very young age, and it went hand-in-hand with his search for sanctity. May our young people not bury that same desire!

Public Domain

Pier Giorgio Frassati

In the city of Turin, a few years after Don Bosco’s death, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was born. He was clearly one of those influencers in our midst. He was a young, joyful saint of our times, an engineer, a sportsman, and a lover of nature. He teaches us even today that holiness goes with happiness, and that it’s possible to find them in both the little ordinary things and the sublimity of a mountain peak.

In this light, a simple family picnic or a hike with friends can become a wonderful plan for contemplating together the beauty of a landscape. These can be precious moments for experiencing our need for beauty, and our need to care for and value the perfection of Creation.

It is clear that the saints awaken in us the great desire to be like them. They live close to God and are progressively transformed. Therefore, they’re capable of enjoying every moment with joy, yet without losing an ounce of realism. Let’s not deceive ourselves: This is the vocation of all of us.

And you, do you dare to be an influencer?

Read more:
7 Child saints your child needs to know

Reading about the lives of the saints helps us to know them, and learn to be like them. These spiritual classics will inspire you with the saints’ incredible stories!

SaintsSocial Media
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