U.S. Church Calendar Adds 17 New Saints

st rita
St. Rita of Cascia is depicted in an icon by by Father William Hart McNichols. The image shows the wound she had on her forehead, a mortification she said was caused by Christ’s crown of thorns. She is remembered for her deep devotion and her care of sick nuns.

by Sara Angle

WASHINGTON (CNS) – Along with the more noticeable changes taking place in the third edition of the Roman Missal come more subtle ones, like the addition of 17 saints on the U.S. calendar.

The Proper of Saints is part of the missal that identifies the calendar of saints’ days and lists prayers for each day. It is approved by the Vatican, but the bishops of each country can modify it to better serve their people.

Some of the new names have been on the U.S. calendar before, but are only now appearing in the edition for the universal church. At the local level, priests may choose not to observe all of the new remembrance days in their parish.

Whether a priest chooses to celebrate certain memorials or not usually depends on the needs of the parish, because the life of each saint offers a unique opportunity for teaching specific lessons and highlighting certain virtues.

Joining the Proper of Saints are canonized men and women from all walks of life, such as St. Rita of Cascia, a wife, mother, widow and nun who conformed herself to the crucified Christ, and St. Lawrence (Lorenzo) Ruiz, a father and husband who spread the Gospel through the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan with his companions.
Other saints added include St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, a virgin and martyr born Edith Stein, who converted to Catholicism from Judaism, entered the Carmelite order and died in Auschwitz in 1942, and St. Apollinaris, the bishop of Ravenna, Italy, who was martyred in the second century.

The updated calendar also has days dedicated to the Most Holy Name of Mary and the Most Holy Name of Jesus.  The celebration of the Most Holy Name of Jesus will take place Jan. 3 and be incorporated into the Christmas celebration.

The memorial of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and became a universal feast in the 17th century.  The new date is set for Sept. 12, following the feast of the Nativity of Mary. Both celebrations were on the liturgical calendar until 1969, when it was simplified.