Studying the lives of the saints and holy people helps build family faith and inspires Catholic kids. Though we learn about, draw inspiration from, and celebrate the lives of the saints and holy people all year long, feast days are a great time to focus on particular examples of holiness for us today. This post contains short biographies of holy people and saints remembered on feast days during the month of October. Each saint and holy person featured in this article, also comes with a printable activity for kids to complete!
Download a free Catholic Saints with October Feast Days Resource Kit! Our kit includes all the resources featured below for easy printing.
On October 1, the Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
Download a printable activity to share with Catholic kids on the feast day of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux on October 1. The activity invites children to think of those who may need God’s grace in a special way.
Thérèse Martin was born in France, in the town of Alençon on January 2, 1873. Both of Thérèse's parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, originally had hoped to enter the religious life. Instead, they fell in love and married. They are also saints. Their five daughters—Marie, Pauline, Léonie, Céline, and the youngest, Thérèse—all became religious sisters.
In her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, Thérèse said, "we live in an age of inventions." During the decade in which Thérèse was born, the Scottish-American inventor Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone. During that same decade the American Thomas Edison patented the phonograph—a record player—and staged the first public demonstration of an electric light bulb. In the 1880s a French engineer named Gustave Eiffel designed the iron framework that holds up France's great gift to the United States of America, the Statue of Liberty. A few years later Eiffel built another amazing structure: the graceful iron tower in Paris, France, that bears his name. During the 1890s a German scientist named Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays, and two French brothers named Auguste and Louis Lumière began showing motion pictures in Paris. Finally, in 1897, the year of Thérèse's death, Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi patented a system of wireless telegraphy that was an early example of what we know today as radio.
Sadly, Thérèse's mother died when Thérèse was only four years old. Sixteen-year-old Pauline Martin took on the loving task of mothering her four sisters and caring for their father. A few years later, when Pauline was twenty-one, she decided to enter the Carmelite convent in the town of Lisieux. Shortly after that, Marie and Léonie Martin also left home to become religious sisters.
In 1888, when Thérèse was fifteen, she also asked permission to join the Carmelites. But the superior of the convent said no; Thérèse was still too young. Then, in the spring of that same year, Thérèse, her father, and her sister Céline made a pilgrimage to Rome. In an audience with Pope Leo XIII, Thérèse boldly asked the pope to help her follow her vocation to become a Carmelite. The pope referred the determined girl's plea back to the Carmelite superior in France. To Thérèse's great joy, the superior now said yes, and Thérèse entered the convent at Lisieux. A few years later, after the death of their father, Thérèse's sister Céline also became a Carmelite.
"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be -- and becoming that person."
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux was declared a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1925. She is also known as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and as the Little Flower. In 1997, one hundred years after her death, Pope John Paul II declared her a Doctor of the Church.
In 1997, in an apostolic letter about Thérèse, Pope John Paul II noted that she was the youngest Doctor of the Church and the one closest to us in time. The pope also pointed out that Thérèse reached a mature holiness while still a young person. Because of this, Thérèse is a teacher whose words and example are especially effective for today's young people. They, like Thérèse, must be leaders and witnesses to the Gospel for new generations.
The Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Theodore Guerin on October 3.
Download and share a printable activity for Catholic kids to celebrate the feast day of Saint Theodore Guerin on October 3. This activity invites children to consider what they would bring if they traveled far from home to teach others about God, like Mother Theodore.
Saint Theodore Guerin was born in a village in Northern France on October 2, 1798. Her parents christened her Anne-Thérèse. Even as a young child Anne-Thérèse wanted to be close to God. When she was ten years old, she was allowed to receive her First Holy Communion. On that day she told the priest that someday she wanted to become a religious sister, to dedicate her life to God.
When Anne-Thérèse was fifteen years old, her father was killed. For almost ten years after her father's death, Anne-Thérèse put aside her wish to become a religious sister. Instead, she stayed at home to care for her mother and sister. Then, in 1823, when Anne-Thérèse was almost twenty-five years old, she entered the Sisters of Providence. She took as her religious name Sister Saint Theodore.
"What have we to do in order to be saints? Nothing extraordinary; nothing more than what we do every day. Only do it for his love."
In 1839 the Bishop of Vincennes, Indiana, asked the Sisters of Providence to send missionary sisters to serve in his diocese in the United States. In 1840 Sister Theodore Guerin and five other sisters traveled to Indiana. There, in 1841, "in the midst of the forest," they opened a school for girls called the Academy of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. As superior of the mission, Sister Saint Theodore was now Mother Theodore.
In the years that followed, Mother Theodore opened other schools in Indiana and Illinois. She also established orphanages and opened pharmacies where the poor could receive medicines at no cost. Today the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods serve in twenty states, Washington D.C., Taiwan, and China.
Mother Theodore advised her sisters to do their everyday tasks for God's love. That, she said, was the way to sainthood. She said, “What have we to do in order to be saints? Nothing extraordinary; nothing more than what we do every day. Only do it for his love." We can remember her advice as we live our own lives.
In 1998 Pope John Paul II declared Mother Theodore Guerin blessed. He called her "a perfect blend of humanness and holiness." In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI declared her a saint.
On October 4, the Catholic Church will celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi with a printable resource for the primary students in your religious education classroom. In this Saint Francis Primary Activity, young children will think of things in nature that they are thankful for and then write a poem or song praising God for creating these things.
Saint Francis grew up the son of a wealthy cloth merchant and his wife in the town of Assisi in the Italian hills. Francis loved life and had lots of friends. His father and mother were proud to have a son who was liked by everyone. They made sure that he had everything he wanted.
Yet for Francis, this was not enough. He wanted to give his life to a noble cause. When he was twenty years old, he decided to join the army. That did not satisfy him either, so he turned in a very different direction. He started to get involved in works of charity. He visited hospitals, took care of those who had no one to care for them, and gave money and clothing to beggars.
"Most high, glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart and give me, Lord, a correct faith, a certain hope, a perfect charity, sense and knowledge, so that I may carry out Your holy and true command."
Francis dressed in old clothes and traveled through the countryside doing manual labor and helping the poor. He refused to own anything so that he would be reminded of God's love and care for everything he has created. Francis had a deep respect for nature and animals. He composed a hymn in praise of creation. Many of the friends who had shared his previous extravagant lifestyle were now attracted to Francis' enthusiasm for a simple way of life. Some of them sold all of their belongings and came to live with Francis. A young woman named Clare asked Francis to help her start a community of women who wanted to live the dramatic poverty of Francis and his brothers.
Near the end of his life, Francis became very ill and suffered greatly. However, he did not complain, nor did he want the brothers to treat him differently because he was sick. He welcomed suffering as a way to draw close to Christ. He died surrounded by his brothers, who sang the famous canticle that he had written in praise of all creation.
Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home, is named from that same canticle in praise of creation composed by Saint Francis. As we as Catholics reflect on this encyclical and our call to care for God’s creation, we can remember the life and the words of Saint Francis of Assisi. We can also remember that serving God does not necessarily mean doing great deeds. We can serve God by being thankful for the good things he has given to us. Like Francis, we should look for ways to use our talents in the service of God and one another. Francis realized that the best gift we can give to God is the gift of ourselves.
The Church celebrates the feast day of Saint John XXIII on October 11. Saint John XXIII was open-hearted, loving, generous, funny, caring, yet also seriously concerned about the future of the Church.
Download a printable activity in which children are asked to broadcast a message of peace, just like Saint John XXIII.
The world during the lifetime of Pope John XXIII was full of change and war. He lived during World War I and World War II. After World War II, the nations of the world, led by the United States and the Soviet Union, began an "arms race," stockpiling nuclear weapons. The struggle became known as the "Cold War." During this time, Pope John XXIII was elected and continually called for peace. When Soviet missiles were found in Cuba, a country very near to the United States, he broadcast a message on Vatican Radio to the rulers of the world. He said, "We beg all rulers not to be deaf to the cry of humanity." This message encouraged Nikita Krushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union, to back down. Pope John's last encyclical, Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth), is considered his "last will and testament" to the world.
Angelo Guiseppe Roncalli was born on November 25, 1881, in a small farming community in northern Italy. He was the fourth of fourteen children. The family farmed as sharecroppers. Angelo helped his brothers to work in the fields until he entered the seminary in 1892. He began to write spiritual notes at that time that were later collected into a book called Journal of a Soul.
Angelo was ordained a priest in Rome in 1904. In 1905 he was appointed secretary to Bishop Tedeschi of Bergamo. Bishop Tedeschi was very involved in the lives of the people. He supported programs that gave dignity and worth to the lives of workers and the poor. Father Roncalli helped him as much as he could. When the bishop died in 1914, Father Roncalli continued to minister in various ways and also taught in the local seminary.
"See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little."
Saint John XXIII was open-hearted, loving, generous, funny, caring, yet also seriously concerned about the future of the Church.
When World War II began, Bishop Roncalli helped Jewish people escape from the Nazis in Germany to other countries under the protection of "transit visas" from his office. In 1953, he was made Cardinal and Patriarch of Venice.
Cardinal Roncalli was elected Pope on October 28, 1958. His pontificate lasted less than five years, but in that time "Good Pope John" presented to the world "an authentic image of the Good Shepherd." He was the first Pope to leave the Vatican since 1870. He visited prisoners in Rome's city jail. He also visited orphanages, schools, and churches. He was open to all people. He once said, "It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope."
His most memorable act was calling of the Second Vatican Council, with the goal of renewing the Church. Pope John XXIII opened the Council on October 11, 1962. He had already been diagnosed with stomach cancer and said to a friend: "At least I have launched this big ship -- others will have to bring it into port."
Pope John XXIII died on June 3, 1963. On April 27, 2014 Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII as a saint of the Church. Saint John XXIII's lasting work as Pope——the convening of the Second Vatican Council—is reflected in the date of his feast day. Usually a saint's feast day is set on or near the date of death, but Saint John XXIII's feast day is the date, October 11, on which he launched the "big ship" of Vatican Council II.
Because Saint John XXIII was concerned for the future of the Church, he was empowered to act in the present -- no matter what people thought. Saint John XXIII teaches us that we are never too old for right action, and that it is never too late for peace.
On October 15th, the Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Teresa of Avila, who said, "We need no wings to go in search of Him, but have only to look upon Him present within us."
Celebrate the Feast Day of Saint Teresa of Avila with a printable resource for the primary students in your religious education classroom. In this Saint Teresa of Avila Primary Activity, children will reflect on Teresa's work to establish monasteries and then choose six people they can pray for.
Teresa was born Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada near Avila, Spain. Teresa was the third of nine children. Her childhood was happy and ordinary.
When Teresa was thirteen, her mother died. Her father decided that Teresa would be sent to be educated at the Augustinian convent. Almost two years into her education at Agustinian Teresa became ill and returned to her home in Toledo. At that time, there were only two life-choices for women: marriage or religious life. Teresa chose religious life, but her father refused to give permission to become a nun. When she secretly left home to join the local Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation, her father finally gave his permission.
This Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation community was a large one with 140 nuns. The nuns prayed together and privately each day, but the community was very busy. Each nun had a set of rooms (a bedroom, a small kitchen, and a guest room). Their guests could come and go freely, and nuns could leave the convent at any time for long visits to friends or relatives. The nuns were also allowed to have personal maids!
Teresa made her solemn profession as a Carmelite nun, and for the next twenty years she lived at the convent. But in the busy convent, she found meditation and prayer difficult.
"We need no wings to go in search of Him, but have only to look upon Him present within us."
With four companions who shared her views, Teresa founded the Carmel of San José (Saint Joseph), and the Order of Discalced Carmelites was on its way. The word discalced means "shoeless."
Teresa founded sixteen monasteries of women. To do this, she traveled long journeys by donkey through every kind of terrain and weather. She became known to the people of Spain as "the roving nun." Teresa had always enjoyed people, and many came to her or wrote to her for her advice. On feast days, she played the tambourine so that the nuns could sing and dance. Teresa wrote several books. Her teachings were based on her own lived experience, and were rooted in the Scriptures, especially the Gospels.
The Church celebrates the feast day of Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko on October 19.
Download a writing activity that invites kids to consider Blessed Jerzy Popieluszko’s saintly characteristics and encourage them to share it with others.
Jerzy Popieluszko was born on September 14, 1947 in a small Polish village near the border of the Soviet Union, which is now known as Russia. He came from a poor farming family. As he grew up, his health was very fragile. Because of this, he was a rather quiet and reserved boy.
When Jerzy Popieluszko was born in 1947, World War II had come to an end only two years earlier. However, a new problem was spreading across Europe—communism. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States began in 1947. Various countries across Europe fell to communism, such as East Germany, Poland, and Hungary. Many people of these communist countries resisted their governments as much as they could. For example, anti-communist Poles created the labor union Solidarity. Throughout the 1980s, this union brought about many changes. Eventually, the successful struggle against European communism ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"One doesn’t suffer when one suffers for Christ."
During this time, all men in European communist countries had to serve in the army for a period of time. So, after just a year in the seminary, Popieluszko joined the army. Because he would not reject his faith while in the military, he was severely punished. However, this trial only strengthened his faith. He returned to the seminary when his military service was complete.
Four years later, Father Jerzy was ordained a priest. He became a chaplain for nurses and students studying medicine in Warsaw. Along with this work, he also supported the growing numbers of anti-communist protesters. In 1980, the Solidarity Labor Union was founded. Father Jerzy was a member from the beginning. The Prime Minister of Poland declared the Solidarity Union illegal and arrested many of its members. But Father Jerzy continued to stand up for his beliefs in the rights of the workers. He began celebrating “Masses for the Homeland.” During his homilies, he stressed the value of basic human rights and defended the freedom of the human conscience.
The communist government saw Father Jerzy as a threat. On October 19, 1984, Father Jerzy was kidnapped and killed by government agents. On the day of his funeral, a quarter of million Poles crowded the funeral procession. Father Jerzy’s message of faith and hope would live on in the hearts and minds of freedom-loving people throughout the world.
On June 6, 2010 Father Jerzy Popieluszko was beatified. Pope Benedict said of him, “He exercised his generous and courageous ministry beside all those who were working for freedom, for the defence of life and for its dignity.” (Benedict XVI, Angelus, June 13, 2010)
The Church celebrates the feast day of Saint John Paul II on October 22.
We can follow the example of Saint John Paul II by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Download an activity for Catholic kids to make a card to send to a child in another country sharing the Good News.
John Paul II was born just after the end of World War I. Even though peace treaties were signed, the suffering caused by this war continued in countries around the world. During his youth, World War II began and Germany's Nazi army invaded Poland.
Karol Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920. He was a good student and athlete and developed his talent as an actor. His mother died when he was nine, and his only brother died four years later. These sorrows brought him even closer to his father, whose deep faith inspired him. When Karol decided to become a priest, he had to study in secret because his country was under the rule of Germany’s Nazi government. At the age of 38, he was the youngest man to be appointed bishop in Poland's history.
"As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live."
Saint John Paul II reminds us of what it means to love Christ through a deep commitment to our faith and to taking care of those who are poor or oppressed.
As pope, he established World Youth Day as a way to strengthen the faith of young people. He traveled to cities hosting these celebrations and spoke to young people about the love and joy of following Jesus.
In 1981, John Paul II was shot by a Turkish gunman while greeting pilgrims in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. He recovered and later visited the shooter in prison, forgiving him for the act of violence that nearly took his life. John Paul II died in 2005 after serving as pope for 26 years, one of the longest reigns in history. On April 27, 2014 Pope Francis canonized Pope John Paul II as a saint of the Church.
Saint John Paul II inspired people throughout the world with his deep faith, and his passion for social justice. He helped to bring the Church into the modern world. He reached out to those in deepest need. He reminds us of what it means to love Christ through a deep commitment to our faith and to taking care of those who are poor or oppressed.
Teaching children about saints provides inspiring examples of discipleship and models for living out their faith. Children in Catholic religious education programs can use the activities in this article at home or in the classroom to celebrate October feast days!
Looking for more resources about popular saints for kids? Let Catholic kids and their families be inspired by these and other Catholic saints any time of year!