Brian O’Neel on the Saints of January
Date: January 19th, 2014

Do you know your January saints?  Every day has a saint.  Actually, every day of the year has several saints.  To help us keep current with our knowledge of these important Catholic figures, we’ve invited Brian O’Neel back to the show to give us the low down on some of these impressive individuals.  Brian is a Catholic journalist and author who has written three books on the lives of various saints (see below for links).

We begin with a quick review of what it takes to become a saint in the Catholic faith and what the difference between a “saint” and a “blessed” is.  Brian details some of the interesting historical changes to how saints are selected and gives us an update on the beatification of Pope John Paul II, who will attain sainthood status in April of 2014.  Brian also discusses how different saints are assigned to different days of the year, mostly on the date of their death but with a few exceptions here and there.

We then take a stroll through some of the saints that Brian has found to be interesting, starting with his January favorite — Blessed Maria Teresa Fasce.  Brian tells the story of this remarkable woman from a privileged family who chooses life in a monastery.  We move on to our next saint, John Neumann, and Tony puts his remarkable ignorance of all things Catholic on display by thinking this was the guy who set up centers around college campuses.  Brian corrects Tony and points out that was a different Newman (note the spelling difference), but that both Neumann and Newman were connected by their love of religious education.  John Neumann, we find out, was responsible for an amazingly rapid construction of religious schools and parish churhes around Philadelphia in the middle part of the 19th century.

We then continue our stroll through the January saints with a stopover in Nigera to meet Blessed Cyprian Michael Iwene Tansi.  From there, we head east to hear about St. Josef Freinademetz’s adventures in China, and then head back to Europe where we meet a married (!) saint, Bl. Lazlo Batthyany-Strattmann.  Apparently, there are a number of lay Catholics, several who are married, that have made it to Blessed status.  While in Germany, we also talk about Blessed Nikolaus Gross, someone who might be thought of as the Catholic version of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Our discussion of Gross brings up the role of martyrdom and sainthood.  Brian points out that not only are there single martyrs that are saints, but there can be groups of individuals who gain that status, including the Blessed Martyrs of Podlachia.

Our discussion concludes with some reflections on matyrdom and the plight of Christians in the contemporary Middle East, as Brian recently wrote a story about the persecution that they are facing.  Recorded: January 2, 2014.


Brian O’Neel on Facebook and his most recent blog.

150 North American Martyrs You Should Know, by Brian O’Neel.

Saint Who? 39 Holy Unknowns, by Brian O’Neel.

39 New Saints You Should Know, by Brian O’Neel.

Middle-East Christians: Faith Under Fire” by Brian O’Neel at the National Catholic Register.

The Son Rise Morning Show with Brian Patrick,” on EWTN (where Brian is a frequent commentator).


Brian O’Neel on Saint Who?  Some Holy Unknowns.

Adam English on the Real Santa Claus, St. Nicholaus of Myra.

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