All Saints Day
All Saints Day is a day of celebration to remember all our faithfully departed, particularly those known and unknown saints who rest eternally in the presence of the Lord. We invite you to learn more about these saints (and almost saints) of particular significance to the Archdiocese of Washington and we encourage you to ask for their intercession.
Mary Virgina Merrick
Merrick, known simply as “Miss Mary” to her friends and to the thousands of children she helped in her lifetime, was partially paralyzed in a fall at 14. Confined to a bed or wheelchair by her painful disability, she founded the Christ Child Society to serve needy children in 1887.
Born to a wealthy Washington family, she devoted her life to serving the poor. The frail but dynamic woman established settlement houses, summer camps and convalescent farms for poor children and for children with special needs in the Washington area. She also established free dental clinics and legal services for immigrants. Merrick was well known for her sanctity, in 1915 earning the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, one of the most prestigious honors given to the nation’s Catholics. She died in 1955 at the age of 88.
Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz
As a boy growing up in his native Washington, D.C., Aloysius Schwartz dreamed of becoming a missionary priest and serving the poor.
As a man, Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz did just that, founding an order of religious sisters, the Sisters of Mary who joined him in bringing an education, housing and job training to thousands of orphans and street children, and hospitals for the poor in South Korea and the Philippines, work that expanded to Mexico before he died of Lou Gehrig’s disease in 1992 at the age of 61. He also founded the Brothers of Christ, who serve the poor and people with disabilities at centers in South Korea.
St. Josephine Bakhita
When St. Josephine Bakhita was 8 years old, she was kidnapped from her wealthy Sudanese family, sold into slavery and remained there for the next 12 years. Eventually, she found herself in the custody of the Canossian Sisters in Venice, Italy, where she fell in love with Jesus and His Church. With the help of the sisters, she was liberated from slavery but freely chose to remain with the sisters and devote her life to Christ. She was beloved by all and often professed gratitude to her kidnappers for inadvertently leading her to Jesus. St. Josephine is the patron of Sudan.
St. Josephine is a rich example of the dynamic contribution of black Catholics in our Church history. This Black Catholic History Month, learn more about this important component of Church history!