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 September. 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 September Feast Days Resource Kit! Our kit includes all the resources featured below for easy printing.
On September 5th, the Church celebrates the feast day of St Teresa of Calcutta.
Mother Teresa was born was born in a city call Skpoje, located in Macedonia, in the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Her parents called her Agnes. When Agnes was just twelve, she realized God was calling her to become a missionary. She read all the stories she could find about the work of Catholic missionaries around the world. And she studied geography to learn about the lands where missionaries worked.
When Agnes was eighteen years old, she joined the Sisters of Loreto. The Sisters of Loreto are a community of Irish sisters who did missionary work in India. She traveled first to Ireland, where she began her studies. Then she was sent to India in 1929. At the time, India was part of the British Empire and was ruled by England. In 1947, India gained its independence thanks to the work of Mohandas Gandhi and others. India was then divided into two nations, India and Pakistan. In 1971 East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh. Today the nation of India is the world's largest liberal democracy. In India, Agnes took her first vows as a sister. She chose Teresa as her religious name in honor of Saint Teresa of Ávila and Saint Thérèse of Lisieux.
Day after day, Mother Teresa saw the difficult lives of Calcutta's poor people. She wanted to help these poor people to live better lives.
In 1948 Pope Pius XII and Teresa's order allowed her to leave Saint Mary's and devote her life to caring for the homeless people on the streets of Calcutta. Teresa studied nursing so that she would be able to help the sick. She opened a school for Calcutta's poorest children. She stopped wearing the religious habit of the Sisters of Loreto. Instead she wore the clothes of a poor Indian woman: a plain cotton sari and sandals.
Mother Theresa said, "Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin." Today, the Missionaries of Charity—the order of religious sisters that Mother Teresa began in 1950—serve the poorest of the poor in countries around the world, from the streets of India to the streets of New York.
During her long life among the poor, Mother Teresa received many honors. One of these was the Nobel Peace Prize, which she received in 1979. When she died, her adopted country of India gave her a state funeral. The ceremonies were broadcast on television around the world. In 2003, only six years after her death, Mother Teresa was declared Blessed by Pope John Paul II. On September 4 2016, Mother Teresa was canonized a saint by Pope Francis.
On September 9, the Church celebrates the feast day of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam.
Download a printable activity to share with Catholic kids on the feast day of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam on September 9. The activity introduces the concept of Two Feet of Love in Action and invites children to identify and respond to local needs.
Frédéric Ozanam lived during a time of major political upheaval in his home country of France. The House of Bourbon, which had provided the Kings of France since the 1500s, was overthrown in 1830. A new king was crowned but was eventually overthrown as well. A revolution in 1848 struggled to ensure the rights of workers and establish a more democratic form of government. It was not completely successful. At the time of Frédéric’s death in 1853, Napoleon III had established himself as Emperor of France, and held control of the government.
Frédéric Ozanam was born in Milan, Italy on April 23, 1813. He was the fifth of fourteen children in his family. Most of his brothers and sisters died before they reached adulthood. His parents were strong Christians and their example influenced Frédéric as he grew in faith. His family moved back to their native home in Lyons, France, when Frédéric was two years old.
When Frédéric was sixteen, he began to have questions about his faith. He was helped by one of his professors, who encouraged him to seek the answers to these questions and not be afraid of them. He later wrote how this process of facing his questions brought him peace.
Frédéric Ozanam dedicated his life to serving the poor. He understood that charity and justice go together. He wrote that his service to those who were in need taught him about God’s love.
At the age of twenty, Frédéric joined with a group of friends to form the Conferences of Charity to help the poor through a spirit of service and sharing. Adopting the name, the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, the charitable group grew rapidly and eventually spread to all five continents.
In June of 1841, Frédéric married Amélie Josephine Soulacroix. Four years later, their only child, Marie, was born. Frédéric was a loving husband and father. Even though he had many responsibilities with his work for the poor, he devoted time to his family. Amélie supported his work and they enjoyed a happy life together.
In 1851, Frédéric began to suffer from poor health. He and his family moved for a brief time to Italy and then returned to France. After a long illness he died on the birthday of his spiritual mentor, Sister Rosalie Rendu. His work with the poor lives on through the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul, which has almost one million members throughout the world.
John Paul II beatified Frédéric Ozanam during World Youth Day on August 22, 1997.
Frédéric Ozanam dedicated his life to serving the poor. He understood that charity and justice go together. He wrote that his service to those who were in need taught him about God’s love. Inspired by his work and his strong faith, people throughout the world volunteer their service to the needy through the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul.
On September 9th, the Church celebrates the feast day of Saint Peter Claver.
Download an intermediate activity for Catholic kids to learn about Saint Peter Claver’s work and to reflect on ways students can treat others with dignity and respect, like this merciful saint.
Peter Claver was a Spanish missionary and saint born in the year 1580.
During and before Peter Claver’s lifetime, the colonization of the Americas was taking place. Spain sent many settlers to the Americas to live in colonies. Therefore, the Spanish needed others to help them work the land and work in the gold mines in the colonies. These settlers brought diseases with them that killed many of the Native Americans living there. The Spanish turned to Africa for slave labor. They captured African people and forced them to work as slaves in the colonies. Slaves were not given rights and were badly mistreated. The terrible slave trade flourished for many years. The slave trade had been well established for about a hundred years before Peter Claver arrived in modern day Colombia.
Like Peter Claver, we are called to act with mercy and treat each other as our brother or sister in Christ. We are also called to work for the rights of all people.
Peter Claver journeyed to the New Kingdom of Granada as a missionary in the year 1610. There, in the port city of Cartagena, 1,000 African slaves landed each month. Peter Claver was deeply troubled by the conditions endured by the slaves. Following in the footsteps of his mentor, the Jesuit priest Alonso de Sandoval, Claver ministered to the slaves arriving and living in Cartagena.
When the ships would arrive in the port city, Saint Peter Claver would bring the slaves food and water. He would enter the holds of the ship, which were filled to capacity, and minister to the needs of the slaves with the help of an interpreter.
For forty years, Peter Claver dedicated his life to helping the slaves arriving in Cartagena, both physically and spiritually. He taught the slaves about Christ and gave them the sacraments. He traveled to various plantations to urge the owners to be kind to these slaves and to treat them with dignity and respect. He stayed in the slave quarter during these visits instead of in the plantation homes.
It is estimated that Peter Claver baptized 300,000 slaves during his work in Colombia. He continued to follow up with those that he baptized to ensure that they were being treated with respect and dignity.
He treated each of these slaves from Africa as his brother in Christ and he insisted that others treat them the same way. When speaking about slaves, Peter Claver said, "We must speak to them with our hands by giving, before we try to speak to them with our lips." He has been called “the Apostle of Cartagena.”
Peter Claver is a great example of mercy. In addition to his ministry with the slaves of Cartagena, he cared for the sick and dying. He ministered to prisoners, traders, sailors, and city residents.
Saint Peter Claver died in the year 1654 after a long illness. The extent of Claver's ministry was realized after his death and he was canonized in 1888 by Pope Leo XII along with the Jesuit Alphonsus Rodriguez.
During his Apostolic Trip in Colombia, Pope Francis visited the Shrine of Saint Peter Claver and prayed the Angelus prayer at the Church of Saint Peter Claver in Cartagena. Pope Francis said of Saint Peter Claver, “Saint Peter Claver was austere and charitable to the point of heroism. After consoling hundreds of thousands of people in their loneliness, he died without honours and was not remembered, having spent the last four years of his life in sickness and confined to his cell which was in a terrible state of neglect. This how the world paid him, yet God paid him in another way.” (Angelus prayer at the Church of Saint Peter Claver, October 9, 2017)
Like Peter Claver, we are called to act with mercy and treat each other as our brother or sister in Christ. We are also called to work for the rights of all people.
The Church celebrates the feast day of Blessed Sára Salkaházi on September 17.
Download and share a printable activity for Catholic kids to celebrate the feast day of Blessed Sára Salkaházi on September 17 and remember her motto: "Here I am. . . . send me!" (Isaiah 6:8)
Sára Salkaházi was born in Kassa-Kosice, now part of Slovakia on May 11, 1899. The daughter of wealthy parents, she grew up in a comfortable home. She was a very determined and lively child who liked active games and was very funny and witty. Her childhood was not entirely carefree, however. Her father died when she was 2 years old, and her mother had to manage the family business.
As a young woman, Sára studied to become a teacher. In her work, she became aware of the difficulties and problems facing the poor in Hungary. She began to write articles for newspapers and magazines that highlighted these issues. Sára took a position as a book-binder’s apprentice and then in a dressmaker’s shop to better understand what it was like to work hard for a living.
Despite her long hours and difficult work, Sára continued to write. She became involved in political groups that worked to change conditions for minorities, women, and the poor. Through her work, she started to feel a strong call to the religious life. Sára resisted this attraction at first. Eventually, she realized she could do the work she had undertaken more effectively if she gave her entire life to it. At the age of 30, she entered the Sisters of Social Service.
Blessed Sára Salkaházi offered her talents as a writer, teacher, and organizer in the service of Christ. She wanted to do whatever she could to meet the needs of others and promote justice for all people.
Sára had wanted to go to the missions in China or Brazil, but World War II began in 1939. Hungary was an ally of Germany at the beginning of the war. Although Hungary tried to break its alliance with Germany, Germany occupied the country in 1944 and began to persecute the Jewish people and those who tried to protect and help the Jews. It was impossible for Sára to leave the country.
The work of Sára and the sisters became more difficult and even dangerous during the war. The Nazi forces that occupied Hungary persecuted the Jewish people. As the director of a house for women, Sára tried to protect as many Jewish refugees as she could. One day, Sára and another sister were returning to the house when they noticed that it was surrounded by pro-Nazi forces. Although she could have escaped, Sára returned to protect her community. The soldiers rounded up Sára, a teacher, and four of the Jews hiding at the house. Before they were led away, Sára asked to step into the chapel for a moment. She was allowed just enough time to genuflect before the Eucharist. Sára and her companions were killed on December 27, 1944.
Blessed Sára Salkaházi offered her talents as a writer, teacher, and organizer in the service of Christ. She wanted to do whatever she could to meet the needs of others and promote justice for all people. She is credited with saving the lives of a hundred Jews, and her order protected more than a thousand.
On September 20, the Church celebrates the feat day of Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn, who said, "Whatever happens, behave in such a way that God will be glorified. . .Be steadfast, and let us meet in Heaven."
Download printable activities that invite Catholic kids to recall ways Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn bravely helped the Catholic community of his country to live out their faith.
Andrew Kim Taegŏn was born on August 21, 1821 in Korea, at a time when it was against the law to practice the Catholic faith there. Catholics in Korea had to go to Mass and learn about Jesus Christ secretly. Missionary priests from France traveled through the country in disguise!
During Andrew’s life, many countries of Europe were trying to claim the resources of Asia. Asian rulers were suspicious of any ideas or advances brought from Europe. Since the Catholic faith was originally taught in Asia by European missionaries, it fell under suspicion as well, and the Church’s teachings were viewed as a threat to the power of Asian rulers.
The Catholic faith was brought to the country by Korean lay people. In China they learned about the teachings of Jesus Christ and were inspired by them. They began to practice the faith in Korea on their own. One man from this group was sent back to China to be baptized and to ask priests to come to Korea. They needed priests to celebrate the sacraments. When these missionaries arrived, they found that a strong and knowledgeable community of lay people already existed. This community remained faithful and even grew despite persecution that lasted almost 100 years!
Andrew Kim Taegŏn knew how important it was for Christians to support and encourage one another in their faith.
On August 17, 1845, Andrew Kim Taegŏn was the first native-born Korean to be ordained a priest. Back in Korea, Andrew began the dangerous work of ministering to the brave community. He spent much of his energy making it possible for other priests and catechists to enter Korea as well.
In June of the next year, Andrew was arrested and spent the next three months in prison. The prison was very dirty and overcrowded, and the prisoners were mistreated. While in prison, Andrew wrote letters to his fellow Christians encouraging them to remain true to the faith in spite of the trials and danger facing them. On September 16, 1846, he was executed near Seoul, Korea. He was 26 years old.
In his homily on March 23, 2001 at the Inauguration of the Pontifical Korean college in Rome, Pope John Paul II recalled what Andrew was said to have said to his fellow prisoners while he was imprisoned himself: "Do not let misfortunes frighten you", he begged them; "do not lose heart and do not shrink from serving God, but, following in the footsteps of the saints, promote the glory of his Church and show yourselves true soldiers and subjects of God. Even if you are many, be of one heart; always remember charity; support and help one another, and wait for the moment when God will have mercy on you.” (Homily of John Paul II, March 23, 2001)
Andrew Kim Taegŏn was canonized along with 102 Catholics by Pope John Paul II when he visited Korea in 1994. This group included Paul Chong Hasang, 98 Koreans, and three French missionaries who had been martyred between 1839 and 1867. This group of people included some bishops and priests but were mostly laypeople.
Andrew Kim Taegŏn knew how important it was for Christians to support and encourage one another in their faith. During his ministry as a priest, he lived in constant danger. He showed his bravery as well as his concern for others, however, by writing letters to encourage them and assure them of his prayers. Like Andrew Kim Taegŏn, we can offer help to one another in living our faith!
Download a primary activity or intermediate activity to celebrate Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn’s feast day on September 20! These activities will encourage children to consider ways they can help their families—their first communities of faith—live out their faith.
On September 27, the Church celebrates the Feast Day of Saint Vincent de Paul, who said, “Do not be content to say: I am a Christian! But live in such a way that it may be said of you: we have seen a man who loves God with all his heart and keeps his commandments.”
Download a Saint Vincent de Paul Activity to share with students to celebrate the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. The activity invites children to consider ways they can help a family member or friend and design coupons for these specific people. The family members of friends can then return the coupons to the child when they are ready for help.
Saint Vincent de Paul was born in the countryside of France. His hard-working parents made many sacrifices so that he could go to school. He decided to become a priest, but not because he wanted to serve the Church entirely. He admitted later in his life that he had been embarrassed by his humble background, and wanted to earn a position of respect and authority. As a priest, Vincent de Paul served the royal family of France and later became the private chaplain and tutor in the powerful Gondi family.
This family owned a lot of land, and many poor tenant farmers lived on the land of their estates. Part of Vincent's responsibilities was to minister to the spiritual needs of these people. The more he served them, the more his attitude towards the poor changed. He realized that many people who called themselves Christian, including himself, neglected the needs of others. He decided to leave his comfortable position with the Gondi family so that he could work more closely with those in need: the poor, sick, abandoned, and uneducated.
One of the characteristics of his work was his willingness to respond to any cause. Vincent de Paul lived during a turbulent time in Europe. During his life, France fought the Thirty Years War with other great powers in Europe. Entire regions of Europe were devastated by the war, which were caused in part by the religious divisions between Catholics and Protestants. Vincent raised aid for war-torn regions of France, served in prisons, started schools, and cared for orphans.
Saint Vincent de Paul recognized that his faith in Christ needed to be an active faith in service of his neighbor.
Through his work, Vincent met a widow named Louise de Marillac. She and some of her friends wanted to devote their lives to serving the poor, sick, and others in need. With the help of Vincent, they formed the Daughters of Charity. They were unique at the time because they worked actively among the poor, while most other religious communities spent their days secluded in prayer and meditation. Louise also became a saint.
Vincent was very honest about his own faults. He told people that as a young man he had been very proud, and that he had a bad temper! At the end of his life, people only knew him as a kind and humble man, who treated everyone, from the Queen of France to the poorest person, with great respect and love.
Saint Vincent de Paul recognized that his faith in Christ needed to be an active faith in service of his neighbor. Through his example of charitable work, we can learn to be more aware of the needs of others.
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 saint feast days in September!
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!