Saint Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, born at Kilpatrick, near Dumbarton, in Scotland, in the year 387; died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland, 17 March, 461. His parents were Calpurnius and Conchessa, who were Romans living in Britian in charge of the colonies. As a boy of fourteen or so, he was captured during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. Ireland at this time was a land of Druids and pagans. He learned the language and practices of the people who held him.
Saint Abraham (296-366) was born to a wealthy family near Edessa, Syria. He was forced into an arranged marriage at an early age but had no desire to marry. During the wedding festivities, Abraham fled. He walled himself up in a nearby building, leaving a small hole through which his family could send in food and water, and by which he could explain his desire for a religious life. His family relented, the marriage was called off, and he spent the next ten years in his cell.
Saint Matilda was born about 895, the daughter of a German count. When she was still quite young, her parents arranged her marriage to a nobleman named Henry. Soon after their marriage, Henry became king of Germany. As queen, Matilda lived a simple lifestyle with times for daily prayer. Matilda founded several Benedictine abbeys, and was free to use the treasures of the kingdom for charity.
Saint Dominic Savio, the patron of choirboys, was born into a peasant family at Riva, Italy, young Dominic joined St. John Bosco as a student at the Oratory in Turin at the age of 12. As a youth, Dominic spent hours rapt in prayer. His raptures he called "my distractions." Even in play, he said that at times "It seems heaven is opening just above me. I am afraid I may say or do something that will make the other boys laugh." Dominic would say, "I can't do big things. But I want all I do, even the smallest thing, to be for the greater glory of God."
Saint Frances of Rome found fame for her acts of charity and she attracted other women who shared her ideals of self-denial and good works. On August 15, 1425 she founded the Benedictine Oblates of Monte Oliveto. At this time Frances shared her time between family and "community." In 1433 Pope Eugenius IV approved the community's Constitution and in 1436, finding herself widowed, Frances officially entered her own community.