Saints From the United States of America



During colonial times, Catholic immigrants coming to the U.S.from Europe settled primarily in the colonies of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York. Laws protecting religious freedom had not yet been written. Intolerance between religious groups was a common occurrence.

After over fifty years without a bishop, Father John Carroll, a Jesuit, was consecrated bishop and served the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Catholics were a distinct minority at the time. Bishop Carroll estimated the Catholic population in the colonies to be 25,000, or less than one percent of the total population. The church grew rapidly under his guidance.


Today, according to Pew Research there are 75 million Catholics in the United States, approximately 24 percent of the total population.


The colonial Catholics were served by missionaries, both Jesuits and Franciscans.


The following men and women in the U.S. have been proclaimed saints by the Pope. They are considered role models in holiness for Catholics today to turn to for guidance.


There are four steps to becoming a saint in the Catholic Church.


  1. Servant of God…….Formal investigation has begun…………………….82 investigations ongoing
  2. Venerable……………Heroic virtue has been decreed by Pope……….16 from U.S.A.
  3. Blessed……………….First miracle has been confirmed……………………7 from U.S.A.
  4. Saint..………………….Second miracle has been confirmed……………..12 from U.S.A.


The following saints have lived in the United States. Most are immigrants, however two were born in the United States; Kateri Tekakwitha is the first Native American saint and Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first saint from the United States to be canonized.


The Catholic Church teaches that everyone in heaven is a saint. The Church declares certain people to be saints when their holiness is obvious, if they were martyred for the faith and after miracles attributed to them have been investigated.


While there are thousands of declared saints, only the following Americans have received the official title of Saint.


North America Jesuit Martyrs Public Domain Image
North America Jesuit Martyrs
Public Domain Image


North American Martyrs


In the 1600’s, eight French Jesuit missionaries lost their lives while trying to spread the news of the gospel to the Huron, Iroquois, and Mohawk Indians. Three of them died in what is now New York State, five of them died in what is now Canada.


Isaac Jogues, René Goupil and Jean La Laude died in New York.


John DeBrebeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, Charles Garnier, Anthony Daniel, and Noel Chabanel died in Canada.


St. René Goupit was a Jesuit Lay brother. He was the first to be martyred. He was killed by tomahawk at Osermenon, (Auriesville, NY)) in 1942.


Father Isaac Jogues, a Jesuit priest, was held captive by the Mohawks for thirteen months. He had several fingers cut off his hand. He escaped and returned to France. He later returned to the mission. He was killed by tomahawk by a Mohawk brave in 1946.


St. Jean de La Lande, a Jesuit donné (not a member of the Society, but at their service) tried to retrieve Father Isaac Jogues’ body, but was killed also.


These martyrs were the first saints of North America.

The martyrs were canonized by Pope Pius XI on June 29, 1930.

The memorial in the U.S.A is celebrated on Oct. 19.

The memorial in Canada is celebrated on September 26.


The martyrs are patron saints of America


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Public Domain Image
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini



St. Francis Xavier Cabrini


St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. Francesco Cabrini was born in Lombardi, Italy in 1850. She was one of 13 children, raised on a farm. She attended school in a convent. She wanted to become a nun but was hindered by poor health. She became a teacher, teaching at a girl’s school for six years.


Frances took religious vows in 1877, adding Xavier to her name to honor St. Francis Xavier.


At the request of her bishop she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children.


At the urging of Pope Leo XIII, she immigrated to the Unites States with six nuns to work with Italian immigrants. She crossed the Atlantic ocean in spite of her great fear of water.


She founded many schools, hospitals, and orphanages in the United States, England, France, Spain and South America. In New York City, St. Frances Cabrini founded Columbus Hospital and Italian Hospital. In the 1980’s they merged into Cabrini Hospital.


In 1909 St. Frances Xavier Cabrini became a naturalized United States citizen. She died from malaria at the age of 67, on December 22, 1917, at Columbus Hospital in Chicago, IL.


In 1931, her body was exhumed, found partially incorrupt, and is now enshrined under glass in the altar at St. Frances Cabrini Shrine in Manhattan.


The National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini was dedicated in 1955. It is located in Chicago at Lincoln Park. Chicago is the city where she primarily lived, worked and died.


The feast day of St. Frances Cabrini is celebrated on November 13th.


St. Frances Cabrini was beatified on Nov. 13, by Pope Pius XI


St. Frances Cabrini was canonized on July 7, 1946 by Pope Pius XII


St. Frances Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants. orphans and against malaria.


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Public Domain Image
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Public Domain Image


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first native born American to be canonized a saint.


Elizabeth was born on Aug. 28, 1774 in New York City. She was raised in the Episcopal Church. At the early age of 3 her mother died. At the age of 19 she married William Seton, a wealthy businessman.


Within four years, she suffered the death of her father in-law which left William in charge, not only of his father’s business but the seven half-brothers and sisters as well. The business failed, forcing bankruptcy.


William became ill with tuberculosis. In an attempt to find a cure they moved to Italy. He died while living in Italy. Elizabeth grew very close to God. She accepted and embraced the will of God. Elizabeth eventually was led into the Catholic church. She had a strong devotion to the Virgin Mary.


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton established the first free Catholic school in America. On March 25, 1809 she took a vow of poverty, chastity, and obedience. She became the founder of the Sisters of Charity, which followed the rules written by St. Vincent de Paul for the Daughters of Charity in France. She became Mother Seton.


Her final years were spent leading and developing the new congregation. The sisters opened free schools and orphanages along the East Coast.


Elizabeth. died in 1821 of tuberculosis at age 46.


Pope John XXIII canonized her as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton on Sept. 14, 1975. He stated, “In a house that was very small, but with ample space for charity, she sowed a seed in America.”


The feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is celebrated on Jan. 4.


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton is the patron saint of in-law troubles and loss of children.


St. John Newman Public Domain Image
St. John Newman
Public Domain Image


St. John Neumann


St. John Neumann was born in Bohemia in 1811. Due to the shortage of priests in the colonies, he traveled to New York to be ordained a priest and worked in an isolated parish.


Father John eventually joined the Redemptorists who were dedicated to helping the poor and abandoned. In 1852, he was appointed Bishop of Philadelphia. He increased the number of Catholic schools from two to a hundred.


His desire to hear confessions led him to learn at least six languages. He knew Spanish, English, French, Italian, Dutch and Gaelic.


Bishop Neumann died at the age of 48 on Jan. 5, 1860.


After his death the National Shrine of St. John Neumann was constructed at the Parish of St. Peter the Apostle in Philadelphia. Our Lady of the Angels College, founded by the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters he had founded renamed the College Neumann College. It was later given University status.


St. John Neumann was beatified on Oct. 13, 1963 by Pope Paul VI.


St. John Neumann was canonized on June 19, 1977 by Pope Paul VI.


The feast day of St. John Neumann is celebrated on Jan. 5, the day of his death.


St. John Neumann is the patron saint of Catholic education.


St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Public Domain Image
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne
Public Domain Image


St. Rose Philippine Duchesne


St. Rose was born in Grenoble, France in 1769. She was drawn to the contemplative life. During the French revolution she spent her time nursing prisoners. She soon joined the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.


During Eucharistic Adoration she experienced a vision where she was serving God in the New World. Twelve years later , at the age of 49, she moved to the United States. She was sent to the Louisiana Territory.


In Louisiana, she opened the first free school west of the Missouri River. By 1828 she had founded six houses. She worked among the Potawatomie Indians who named her Quah-kak-ka-num-ad, “Woman-Who-Prays-Always”.


St. Rose died at the age of 83 at St. Charles, Missouri on November 18, 1852.


St. Rose was Beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1940.


St. Rose was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1988.


The feast day of St. Rose is celebrated on November 18.


St. Rose is the patron saint of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri


St. Theodore Guerin Public Domain Image
St. Theodore Guerin
Public Domain Image

St. Theodore Guerin


St. Theodore Guérin’s birth name was Anne Thérése. She was born on Oct. 2, 1798 in Etables, France. Her father served in Napoleon’s navy. At the young age of 15 her father was murdered by bandits while traveling home for a visit.


Anne Thérése turned to God in the difficult years following his death. At the age of 25 she entered the Sisters of Providence to serve the poor, sick and dying. Anne Thérése became Sister Theodore. She was asked to lead a small missionary band of Sisters to the United States in Indiana.


Mother Théodore accepted the mission in spite of her fragile health. She could only consume soft, bland food and liquid. She traveled to the Unites States with five other sisters. After surviving a violent storm at sea in the trip Mother Théodore wrote the following:


“What strength the soul draws from prayer! In the midst of a storm, how sweet is the calm it finds in the heart of Jesus. But what comfort is there for those who do not pray?”


Mother Théodore established schools in Indiana and Illinois. She is described as saintly by people who knew her.


Sixteen years after coming to the United States she died. She is buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in St. Mary of the Woods, Indiana.


St. Théodore Guérin was beatified on Oct. 25, 1998 by Pope John Paul II.


St. Théodore Guérin was canonized on Oct. 15, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI.


The feast day of Théodore Guérin is celebrated on October 3.


St. Théodore Guérin is the patron saint of the Diocese of Lafayette, Indiana.


St. Katharine Drexel Public Domain Image
St. Katharine Drexel
Public Domain Image


St. Katherine Drexel


St. Katerine Drexel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Nov. 26, 1858. She was the child of wealthy parents who taught her to be generous.


Katherine became a Sister in 1889 at the age of 31. She founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Black and Native American people. She dedicated her life and great wealth to this work.


She helped to open the first mission school for Indians in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other schools soon followed. She then founded Xavier University in New Orleans.


St. Katherine Drexel is the second recognized American born saint.


Katherine Drexel was beatified on Nov. 2, 1988 by Pope John Paul II.


St. Katherine Drexel was canonized on Oct. 1, 2000 by Pope John Paul II.


We celebrate the feast day of St. Katherine Drexel on March 3.


St. Katherine Drexel is the patron saint of philanthropists and racial justice.


St. Kateri
St. Kateri Tekakwitha      Public Domain Image


St. Kateri Tekakwitha


St. Kateri is the first Native American saint. She was born in 1656 to the daughter of a Mohawk warrior and a Catholic Alqonquin.


When Kateri was four years old smallpox attacked her family. Her mother and little brother died from the disease. Kateri’s face was scarred by the disease and she became partially blind. Her two Aunts and an Uncle adopted her.


On Easter, 1676, Kateri was baptized by Jesuit missionary Father Jacques de Lambertville at the age of 20. She was devoted to prayer, penitential practices and the care of the sick and aged in Caughnawaga near Montreal. Her relics are now enshrined in Caughnawaga


Because of her conversion, she incurred hostility from her tribe. She went to a new Christian colony in Indianan, Canada. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to “Christ crucified.” She spent much time praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Her motto was

“Who can tell me what is most pleasing to God that I may do it?”


At the age of 23 Kateri died on Wednesday of Holy Week, at approximately 3 p.m. Within fifteen minutes after her death, her face, which was marked by smallpox, was healed and became beautiful. Father Cholone called others to see what had happened.


Miraculous cures at the Sault Mission were frequent that year (1682) and attributed to Kateri. She appeared to many people after her death, always carrying a cross.


She was beatified (declared Blessed) by Pope John Paul II in 1980 and canonized by Pope Benedict XVI at Saint Peter’s Basilica on October 21, 2012


We celebrate St. Kateri‘s feast day on July 14. She was known as “the Lily of the Mohawks”.


St. Kateri Takakwitha is the patron saint of the environment.


St. Damien of Molokai Public Domain Image
St. Damien of Molokai
Public Domain Image


St. Damien de Veuster


St. Damien of Molokai was born Joseph de Veuster on Jan. 3, 1840 in Tremelo, Belgium. He was raised on a farm. He chose the name Damien when he joined the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary.


Damien was still in minor orders when he volunteered to go to Hawaii. Two months after his arrival in Hawaii, he was ordained a priest on May 24, 1864.


The Hawaiin King Kamehameha IV created an isolated settlement on the island of Molakai to deal with the public health crisis. Many people were dying of influenza, syphilis and leprosy. Father Damien wished to minister to the sick so he asked his Bishop to send him to Molokai knowing the risk of death.


When he arrived in Molokai, there were 600 lepers for him to minister to. He built the Parish Church of St. Philomena for the people to learn the Catholic faith. He restored personal pride and dignity to people who needed hope. He provided care and comfort for sixteen years. working as a priest, doctor and builder. He built houses, a school and an orphanage. Not only did he dress their ulcers, he also built over 600 coffins and dug graves.


Father Damien said ” My greatest pleasure is to go there (the cemetery) to say my beads, and meditate on that unending happiness which so may of them are already enjoying.”.


In 1885, Father Damien contracted leprosy. In his final years, he enlarged his orphanages and sought help. St. Marianne Cope came with her sisters to help him while he was ill. She reassured him she would carry on his work.


Father Damien died at the age of 49 on April 15, 1889.


The feast day of Father Damien is celebrated on May 10.


Father Damien was beatified by Pope John Paul II on June 4, 1195.


St. Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 11, 2009.


St. Damien is known as “The Apostle of the Lepers.”


St. Damien of Molokai is the patron saint of Hawaii, leprosy and the outcast.


St. Marianne cope Public Domain Image
St. Marianne cope
Public Domain Image


St. Marianne Cope


St. Marianne Cope was the first Franciscan woman from North America to become a saint.


The birth name of St. Marianne Cope was Barbara Koob (now officially Cope) She was born on Jan 23, 1838 in SE Hessen, West Germany. She was one of ten children. Her father was a farmer. The family moved to the United States one year after her birth.


Her vocation to the religious life was delayed by the necessity to support her family when her father became ill. At the age of 25, Barbara entered the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse, New York. She received her religious habit and the name of Sister Marianne. She served as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in New York. She also helped establish two of the first hospitals in central NY. In 1870, she became a nurse administrator at St. Joseph’s in Syracuse, NY.


In 1882, a priest requested help managing hospitals and schools in Hawaii; primarily working with leprosy patients. She responded to his letter with the following words.


“I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders…I am not afraid of any disease, hence, It would be my greatest delight to minister to the abandoned lepers.”


Along with six other sisters of St. Francis, she arrived in Honolulu in Nov. 1833. Mother Marianne was the supervisor as they managed Kakóako Branch Hospital on Oahu which treated 200 leprosy patients. They began by thoroughly cleaning the hospital. They also opened a home for the healthy daughters of the patients who were ill.


Mother Marianne met Fr. Damien (now St. Damien…the Apostle to Lepers) in January 1884 while he was still healthy.


In 1887 the new government in charge of Hawaii closed the Hospital. In 1888, she went to Kalaupapa several months before the death of St. Damien. She reassured him she would provide care for the patients at the Boy’s Home at Kalawao on the Island of Molokai.


Three Sisters ran the Bishop Home for boys and girls.


Mother Marianne died in Hawaii of natural cause on August 9, 1918 and is buried on the grounds of Bishop Home.


The Saint Marianne Cope Shrine and Museum was built to honor her memory.


Mother Marianne was beatified on May 14, 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI.


St. Marianne Cope was canonized on Oct 21, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.


The feast day of St. Marianne Cope is celebrated on January 23.


St. Marianne Cope is the patron saint of outcasts.








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