By Claire Swinarski
You might have an image of John Paul the Great hanging in your home. You can’t walk into a single church without an image of St. Peter staring at you. And St. Therese of Lisieux is every millennial’s favorite intercessor. But what about the lesser known saints? The ones who don’t have thousands of people praying through them every day? There are thousands of canonized Catholic saints—don’t forget to pay attention to the lesser known ones, as well! Here are four Catholic saints you’ve probably never heard of.
Venerable Carlo Acutus
Pope Francis recently approved a miracle performed in the intercession of Carlo, and he will be beatified in October of this year. Carlo Acutus died in 2006 at the age of 15. He was a computer programmer who documented Eucharistic miracles and complied them onto one easy-to-use website. Carlo offered all of his pain and suffering from cancer to the pope and the church, and said, “The more Eucharist we receive, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.”
Saint Peter Claver
Saint Peter lived in the 1600’s and was deeply disturbed at the treatment of African slaves in South America after he was sent there to volunteer from his native Spain. He baptized over 300,000 enslaved people, and when he would visit plantations, he would sleep in the slave’s quarters instead of residing with the plantation masters. The Knights of Peter Claver is the largest African American Catholic organization in the US, created as an alternative to the then-all-white Knights of Columbus.
Saint Moses the Black
Saint Moses the Black is often overshadowed by the other Moses, but his own life was fascinating. In the 300’s, he was the leader of a gang of bandits until encountering some monks and being profoundly changed by their kindness and hospitality. He left behind a life of crime and was ordained a priest, eventually being martyred by colony invaders in the year 407.
Saint Margaret of Cortona
Saint Margaret had a wild youth as well. She was born in 1247 in Italy, where she eloped with young nobility, had a child, and then lost her lover to a murderous group of brigands. When she wasn’t allowed to return home, she was taken in by a group of friars and experienced a deep conversion. She tended to sick women all her life and was particularly drawn to those with mental health difficulties, stemming from her own long periods of depression and self-loathing. She’s now the patron saint of those experiencing homelessness.
These are only a small handful of lesser-known saints. When you begin exploring all of the people the church has canonized, you quickly learn that the saints have backgrounds as varied and wild as you or me. Our church is truly made up of reformed sinners, a ragtag band who bring wide diversity to the table. So, get to googling—and then, to asking for intercession!