Today is a day of feasts. In our ‘Ordo’ (a book which tells what is going on in the church each day) we have three saints listed for today: St Hedwig, St Margaret Mary Alacoque and St Gall.
The last one, St Gall is a local lad and was a companion of the great St Columbanus, one of the great saints of Ireland who carried the faith back to Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. St Gall lived a few miles from my home in the town of Banger in Northern Ireland.
Then we have St Hedwig, a German saint of royal blood who was married to the Duke of Bavaria. She was a holy woman, full of charity and good works towards the sick and poor, and on the death of her husband she entered a convent and spent her last years in prayer and humble service.
Finally, today we celebrate the life of Margaret Mary Alacoque, the great mystic and promoter of devotion to the sacred Heart. Margaret was born in 1647 and was a Visitation nun who had wonderful visions of Jesus and who helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart throughout the church.
Why do we have feast days of all these saints?
In society we build statues to great men and women to honour the works that they have done. The church holds a feast to remind us of the works of good people and to hold them up as examples to us.
St Gall reminds me, an Irishman, of the great tradition of our faith in this land. St Hedwig reminds me to be thoughtful of the poor and Margaret Mary Alacoque points us all towards the mercy of God.
The saints and their feasts are there to remind us of the richness and variety of our tradition. We do well to reflect sometimes on what they are meant to teach us.