Halloween is coming, and many little people in our Catholic schools will dress as saints to celebrate All Saints Day on November 1. We’ll see a serene Therese of Lisieux, a Blessed Virgin Mary, and a Saint Joseph. Less often do we see the saints whose horrifying deaths were as gory as the latest movie. Saint Sebastian was shot through with arrows. Saint Francis of Assisi suffered the five wounds of Christ. Saint Lawrence was grilled over fire and supposedly joked, “Turn me over. I’m done on this side.” Saint Joan of Arc, too, was burned alive. Saint John the Baptist and Saint Paul were beheaded. Saint Ignatius of Antioch was fed to the lions. Saint Stephen was stoned to death, and Saint Isaac Jogues was killed by a tomahawk.
Sometimes we think of holiness as serene. We picture saints wrapped in contemplation, basking in God’s love. Certainly there were such times, but all of them—however they lived and died—were horribly good disciples of Jesus Christ.