Born in 1559 in the Kingdom of Naples, Caesare de Rossi was educated first by the Conventual Friars and then in Venice at the College of Saint Mark. At the age of 16, he entered the Capuchin Franciscan Order in Verona and took the name Lawrence. Fluent in several languages, including Hebrew, and thoroughly versed in the Bible, Lawrence worked as a diplomat for the secular powers of Europe and as a missionary. In 1596, he became the definitor general of his order and was commissioned by the pope to work for the conversion of the Jews and to combat the spread of Protestantism. In 1602. he became minister general of his order but refused re-election in 1605, preferring preaching to administration. He died in 1619. Those who examined his writings in the process of his beatification became convinced that Lawrence deserved to be named a Doctor of the Church. He was canonized in 1881 and named Doctor of the Church in 1959.
Since the 6th century, Western tradition has linked three gospel accounts as referring to one woman, although some notable writers are undecided. Luke relates that an unnamed sinner who anointed the Lord's feet received forgiveness of her many sins because of her great love. He also writes that among the women who travelled with Jesus and the apostles was Mary Magdalene, who had been exorcised of seven devils. Mary Magdalene was a faithful follower of the Lord. With the other women, she stood near the cross, brought spices to anoint the body and alone, weeping with grief, was the first witness to the resurrection of Christ. Mary Magdalene is a patron of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans).
Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. Her father was governor of the main province of Sweden and her mother was the daughter of a governor. Throughout her life, Bridget received visions and dreams and possessed gifts of prophecy and healing. After her mother's death in 1314, Bridget lived with an aunt. She married at 13. bore eight children and lived happily until her husband's death in 1344. After his death, Bridget moved near a Cistercian monastery, where she lived a penitential life. Seeking papal approval to create a new religious community, she moved to Rome and lived a life of prayer and penitence there for nearly 20 years. She founded the Bridgettine Order in 1370. Originally it included both men and women but today it is for women only. Bridget died in 1373, while returning to Rome from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She is patron of Sweden and co-patron of Europe, with Saint Benedict, Saint Catherine of Siena and Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.
Joseph Makhluf was born in the mountains of Lebanon in 1828. At the age of 20 he joined a monastery in the Maronite rite, where he took the name of a 2nd-century martyr, Sharbel. He lived there as a monk, but longed to live as a hermit in the desert. His superiors granted his wish in 1875 and he spent the next 23 years in a life of fasting, prayer and manual labour. He was famed for his holiness, wisdom and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He died in 1898 and was canonized in 1977.
The apostle James, son of Zebedee and brother of John the Evangelist, was a fisherman. The gospels tell us that James and John left their father and followed Jesus as soon as he called them. The brothers must have shared an impetuous temperament since Jesus refers to them as "Sons of Thunder." Along with Peter, the brothers were particularly close to the Lord, being present at the raising of Jairus' daughter, the Transfiguration, and in the garden of Gethsemane. Although there is no account of his activities for some years after the Resurrection, Acts states that James was beheaded by order of Herod Agrippa, making him the first of the Apostles to be martyred. He is known as James 'the Greater,' to distinguish him from the other apostle of the same name. He is a patron saint of Spain and of pilgrims. In north-western Spain he is venerated at Santiago ('Saint James') de Compostela, a famous mediaeval pilgrimage destination.
The gospels are bereft of details regarding Mary's parents Jesus' grandparents — not even offering their names. What we do know comes from writings excluded from the canon of Scripture, in particular the Protogospel of James. Nevertheless, the cult of Saint Anne existed in the 6th century in the Church of Constantinople and early in the 8th century in Rome. In the 13th and 14th centuries, popular devotion to Anne increased, as seen by the number of churches bearing her name. At the request of some English bishops petitioned by parishioners, Pope Urban VI made her feast an annual celebration. Joachim has been honoured in the East from earliest days, but in the West only since the 16th century. Their names were entered into the Roman calendar in 1584.