One of France's most renowned saints is also known as Little Flower. Hailing from an incredibly devout family, the youngest of nine experienced a pivotal moment in her teens where she decided to devote herself to God. She joined the Carmelites where she rejoiced in prayer and appreciated all of life's little things. Dying from tuberculosis at 24, her final words were: "My God, I love You!"
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Sts. Zélie and Louis Martin
This recently canonized couple were the parents of St. Thérèse and eight other children. They experienced incredible loss -- four of their children didn't make it to adulthood. But despite their pain, the two embraced their faith and raised their children in God's love. (Five of their remaining children entering religious life.)
This saint who was born in the 5th century saved the city of Paris from an attack by Atilla and the Huns by leading its citizens in a "prayer marathon." She later managed to bravely negotiate the release of prisoners when Paris was besieged by King Childeric I. It's no surprise that she became the patron saint of the French capital.
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St. Joan of Arc
The courage of this young Catholic peasant girl who received divine guidance to boldly don armor and lead her native France to victory against the Anglo-Burgundians is legendary. Eventually captured by the enemy, she was tried for heresy and witchcraft and was burnt at the stake at just 19 years of age.
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St. Marguerite Bourgeoys
This French saint was inspired by Mary to join the extern community of the cloistered teachers in her native Troyes. At 33, she went to Montreal, with the Virgin Mary telling her "Go, I will not abandon you." There she built a chapel and set about educating and caring for young children. She created an uncloistered order that allowed her to follow her faith and her desire to help others in the community.
St. Louis IX
The only canonized king of France was known for his moral integrity that placed him in good stead with his European counterparts. As king he knew his job was to serve the poor as much as the rich and he was instrumental in bringing justice and political and economic stability to his kingdom. He was so fair that he introduced the notion of presumption of innocence in criminal proceedings. He died on a crusade to Tunisia at the age of 56.
Bernadette of Lourdes is known as the young girl to whom the Virgin Mary appeared. Despite illness and learning difficulties, the 14-year-old was able to share her visions with sincerity and firmness, and saw Mary's request to have a chapel built in the grotto of Lourdes come true. She spent the rest of her life trying to move away from all the attention and encourage others in devotion to Mary.
There are a lot of miracles throughout St. Roch's life, including the fact he was conceived after his barren mother prayed to the Virgin Mary. He eschewed the governorship of Montpelier to go on a pilgrimage to Rome. There he ministered those who were sick from the plague, he recovered himself when a dog licked his wounds. Returning to his native Montpelier, he was arrested for espionage and died in prison, never revealing his true identity.
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St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle
La Salle was an educator and priest who was responsible for introducing Catholic schools to France. Coming from a wealthy family, he received a doctorate in theology and entered the priesthood, but his main focus was on education. He didn't just educate children, but invited teachers to live with him so he could teach them the fundamentals, such as table manners. He created the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
St. John Vianney
This patron saint of parish priests was so impressed by the work of religious who risked death for practicing their faith during the Reign of Terror that he felt called to religious life. His journey wasn't easy due to his poor Latin (and even the Devil set his bed on fire!). But he eventually became known as an excellent confessor and people traveled long distances to confess to him.