Well-married Saints and Holy Couples

Series of presentations by Fr. Kevin Kraft, OP
Sundays 9:15 – 10:15 am
at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church (Parish Meeting Room)
630 E St. SW, Washington DC
Zoom link at the end of Introduction to 2nd Series

The perspective of this series is to study conjugal spirituality (i.e., the specific Christian way of life, values, and challenges of married people), considered:

  • not from the sociological perspective of polls, trends, and statistical analysis of the characteristics of Christian marriages in relation to society,
  • nor is it a dogmatic presentation of the resources for the conjugal life, or the role of the family in the larger social sphere, deduced from the Bible, Church documents, or canon law;
  • but by looking at concrete couples of holy life, that can be examples and encouragement for married couples today. That is, married people who have been (or who are on the way to being) declared saints by the Catholic Church – – and their spouses.

The saints have a very significant place in the Catholic understanding of the Christian life. Now there are hundreds, – thousands and even millions- of unknown ‘saints’: that is, those who share already in the glorious presence of God), who were never formally canonized. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t “make the grade”, because it may simply be that there are not enough historical records to verify the life and virtues of the (canonized) saints. Among these, there may be some of our relatives, colleagues, and friends. Those that have been declared by the Church as saints and blesseds are those whom the Church recommends to us for their enduring and heroic striving in the Christian path of holiness. Canonized saints are those whom the Church judges to have responded to the challenges of their times1, and proposes to Christians as models, intercessors, and friends2. Any of these can be an incentive to us, no matter what their state in life. Yet, for Christian spouses, married saints have a special witness and example to give of the resources, challenges, and specific virtues of this very challenging vocation. Many of the better-known married saints were from biblical times, or early Christian centuries, medieval times, up to and including the Reformation era. But in most of these cases, we may find the world they lived in was so different from the world we inhabit, that it may be difficult to know how to imitate them.

In view of this, those married saints and holy couples of recent centuries may be more “accessible” to us. What we propose to do here, then, is to study principally modern, well-married saints and holy couples, so that the participants may “take home” several (or many!) of them, whose lives bear a particular resemblance to our own lives.

The focus throughout this series is on the conjugal life (the intimate marital relationship) between the spouses: how they shared together prayer, sorrows, joys, and family moments, how they faced the death of their children, or the chronic illness of one of the spouses, etc. Some of them are already widely known who carried out individually works of mercy or other notable projects, but here we want to zero in on their marital and family life, speaking of these other activities only briefly.

Furthermore, the particular focus of this series is based upon the conviction that holiness in married life is always a matter of both spouses. God has designed the vocation and sacrament of marriage so that each one is the helper to the other in the way of holiness. Even when only one of the spouses is canonized (or in the process of canonization), we can presume that such a one was mightily helped by his/her spouse (and even in the worst of cases, unconsciously) to live the Christian life to the full. In this series, we will investigate particularly this aspect of the sacrament of marriage.

  1. It is not the author’s intention to anticipate the judgement of the Church concerning the sanctity of any of the people presented herein; I simply submit that, according to the knowledge that I have of those persons not yet canonized, as concerns their conjugal life, it seems to me they could be worthy candidates for beatification or canonization. I accede to the judgement of the Church in every case presented here.
  2. The “Communion of Saints,” is a biblically based doctrine that all those who are in Christ (those living now and those who have gone before us) are united in Christ. So we can truly honor, pray to, and take as friends and models those who have gone before us, especially those who lived a vibrant Christian life while facing similar challenges to those we face. They —and we too— all are alive in Christ (Lk 20:38: Heb 12:22-23). So, just as any Christian will on occasion ask for prayers of their fellow believers or pastors, so too we Catholics pray to the saints.

1st SERIES: April – SEPTEMBER 2023

Overview of the 1st series (pdf)Apr 16
The Book of Ruth (pdf)Background to understand the story …
[Song of Songs]
Apr 23
The Book of Tobit (pdf)Prov. 31:10-31 (wife), Ps 111 (husband)
Ps 128 (family)
Apr 30
The Holy Family (pdf)Biblical data, in Christian art; Prisca & AquilaMay 7
Overview of married saints
through the centuries
(pdf)
Gregory and Basil’s families; Felix & Liliosa;
Margaret of Scotland; Louis IX of France;
Frances of Rome; Annamaria Taigi
May 14

Modern times: 19th to 21st centuries

1.1 Ven. Pierre & Juliette Toussaint (pdf)Haiti to the USA (New York), early 19th c.June 4
1.2 Bl. Frederic & Amelie Ozanam (pdf)France, 1st half of 19th centuryJune 11
1.3 Sts. Louis & Zelie Martin (pdf)France, mid-19th centuryJune 18
1.4 SoG. Elisabeth & Felix Leseur (pdf)France, end of 19th, early 20th centuryJune 25
1.5 Bl. Conchita & Pancho Armida (pdf)Mexico, end of 19th, early 20th centuryJuly 2
1.6 SoG. Catherine & Fr Eddie Doherty (pdf)Russia / USA to Canada, 20th centuryJuly 9
1.7 Bl. Franz & Franziska Jägerstätter (pdf)Austria, 20th centuryJuly 23
1.8 SoG. Takashi & Midori Nagai (pdf)Japan, mid-20th centuryJuly 30
1.9 Ven. Enrique & Cecilia Shaw (pdf)Argentina, mid-late 20th centuryAug 6
1.10 St. Gianna Beretta & Pietro Molla (pdf)Italy, mid-late 20th centuryAug 13
1.11 SsoG. Cyprian & Daphrose Rugamba (pdf)Rwanda, late 20th centuryAug 20
Concluding Session – Mini Retreat at Madonna House, Washington DC
Bls. Józef & Wiktoria Ulma (pdf)
Overview, Reflection & Evaluation
Poland, early 20th century
Sept 4
Click the name to view a video from a discussion; click (pdf) to view a handout.

2ND SERIES: December 2023 – March 2024

Overview of the 2nd Series (video) (pdf)Rationale, explaining the need for this kind of study; the focus of the series … and a pictorial introduction to the saintly couples of this 2nd series: whetting the appetite!Dec 3
The Scriptural portrait of the wife & husband (video) (pdf)Prov. 31:10-31, Ps 112Dec 10
The Holy Family (video) (pdf)The importance of Joseph in God’s plan of the Incarnation. The epic poem by Fr. John Lynch “A Woman Wrapped in Silence.”Dec 17
Break for Christmas 2023 and New Year 2024
Sts. Prisca & Aquila (video) (pdf) AD 1st centuryJan 7
2.1 José Vilallongo & Bl. Rafaela Ybarra (video) (pdf)Spain, 19th centuryJan 14
2.2 St. John of Kronstadt & Elizabeth Kronstadt (video) (pdf)Russia, 19th centuryJan 21
2.3 Jacques & Raïssa Maritain (video) (pdf)France/Russia, end of 19th to 20th centuryJan 28
2.4 Suzanne Bressau & Taha Hussein (video) (pdf)France/Egypt, end of 19th to 20th centuryFeb 4
2.5 SoG. Georges & Pauline Vanier (pdf)Canada, end of 19th to 20th centuryFeb 11
2.6 Chief John Luthuli & Nokukhanya Bengu (video) (pdf)South Africa, 20th centuryFeb 18
2.7 Pedro Moncau & Nancy Cajado de M. (video) (pdf)Brazil, 20th to early 21st centuryFeb 25
2.8 SsoG. Tomás Alvira & Paquita Dominguez (pdf)Spain, 20th centuryMar 3
2.9 Ven. Dr. Jerôme & Birthe Lejeune (pdf)France, 20th to early 21st centuryMar 10
2.10 SoG. Gwen Cecilia & Jerry Coniker (pdf)U.S., 20th to early 21st centuryMar 17
Day of Recollection to conclude 2nd cycle (pdf)Date & venue (sometime early in Paschal season)TBA
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