My Sons List of Top 10 Celebration of Saints


By Kimberly Dijkstra

Catholic saints are individuals who have been recognized throughout history by the church for their heroic sanctity and virtue. Thousands have been canonized in the distant past as well as in recent years. Today, Catholics celebrate the legacies of saints in many ways. Festivals are held in their honor and special feast days are set aside to remember their lives and deeds. Pilgrimages are also made to important sites in the lives of the saints, such as churches, monasteries, and shrines.


Here are the top 10 Catholic saints and the places you can go to celebrate them.



Saint Fermin

Saint Fermin was a Christian missionary and martyr who was killed by a Roman soldier in the third century, or so the legend goes. The Fiesta de San Fermin is held every year in Pamplona, Spain, from July 6th to 14th. Marked by parades, bullfights, and fireworks, the festival is best known for the Running of the Bulls.

The event is a huge party that draws many tourists. Participants dress in the traditional white with red sashes, sing and dance in the streets, and light large bonfires. Every morning at 8 am, six or more bulls are released from a corral and sprint to the bullring, chasing the runners who try their best to stay well ahead of the stampede while bystanders cheer.

It’s not entirely safe, but the thrill brings the bravest back year after year.


Joan of Arc

The French peasant girl who led the French army to victory against the English during the Hundred Years’ War, Joan of Arc was just 17 years old when she began her mission. Joan claimed to be guided by the voices and visions of the archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine. Eventually captured and burned at the stake for heresy, Joan of Arc became a French national heroine and, several hundred years later, was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. 

Today, Joan of Arc is commemorated in France with festivals, celebrations, and pilgrimages. Her feast day, January 30th, is celebrated throughout the country, with special festivities in her hometown of Domrémy. Her home still stands, as well as the church where she received her first vision, adjacent to a statue of Saint Joan. 

Orleans, the city she liberated centuries ago, holds annual 10-day Johannine celebrations in the spring with religious tributes, show trials, concerts, and more.


Saint Bernadette of Lourdes

Saint Bernadette was a 19th-century French saint who is best known for experiencing Marian apparitions at a grotto in the town of Lourdes, France, at the age of 14. According to her visions, the Virgin Mary instructed her to drink from the spring at the grotto, which became a source of healing for the sick. 

Bernadette’s reports were declared “worthy of belief” by a canonical investigation during her lifetime, which gave Mary one of her many titles, “Our Lady of Lourdes.” She was given sainthood in 1933, recognizing not only her visions, but her piety, holiness, humility, and devotion to her faith. 

The Massabielle Grotto in Lourdes has become a major pilgrimage site, not only for Catholics. Five million people visit the shrine every year to drink the water and pray for miraculous healing. 

Saint Bernadette’s feast day is celebrated on April 16th. Her body is interred at the chapel of St. Gilard in Nevers, France, and is said to be incorrupt.


St. Brigid of Kildare

Saint Brigid is one of Ireland’s three patron saints, celebrated as a symbol of strength and hope. She is believed to have been born in County Kildare in 451 AD. Known for her generosity and kindness to the poor, she founded a monastery in Kildare that became the center of Irish Christianity. 

There are many stories of miracles Brigid is said to have worked, which are rooted in Irish pagan folklore. Her miracles involved replenishing food where there was none, protecting the weak from violence, and healing the sick.

Her feast day is February 1st. Traditionally, people in Ireland celebrate St. Brigid’s Day by making the St. Brigid’s Cross out of rushes, a type of flowering plant resembling grass, and hanging it in their homes for protection. People also make bonfires, light candles, and eat traditional Irish dishes. 

In 2023, St. Brigid’s Day became a public holiday in Ireland. This was seen as a way to recognize the importance of Ireland’s Celtic heritage and the contributions of St. Brigid to Irish culture. The holiday will be celebrated on the first Sunday of February each year with parades, festivals, and other special events.


Our Lady of Guadalupe

The story behind Our Lady of Guadalupe dates back to December 1531, when the Virgin Mary appeared multiple times to an indigenous Mexican peasant named Juan Diego on a hillside near Mexico City. She instructed him to build a church in her honor and told him to collect roses not native to Mexico from a nearby hillside to prove her appearance to the Archbishop. The roses miraculously turned into a beautiful image of the Virgin Mary on his cloak.

The Basilica of Santa María de Guadalupe was built at the foot of the Hill of Tepeyac and it is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the Americas. Twenty million pilgrims visit the shrine each year, making it the third most-visited sacred site in the world.

The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe has become a symbol of hope and faith for the Mexican people. A national holiday in Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe Day is celebrated on December 12th. People attend church services, processions, and special Masses. Children dress in traditional costumes to be blessed in churches. Companies organize feasts for their employees and families celebrate by decorating their homes with flowers, crosses, and images of Guadalupe.


Juan Diego was given sainthood in 2002, the first saint indigenous to the Americas, and his feast day is celebrated on December 9th. 


Our Lady of Itatí in Argentina

According to legend, the Lady of Itatí, a title for the Virgin Mary, appeared to Franciscan settlers in Argentina in the 1500s and they built a statue to honor her. She is later said to have saved Jesuit missionary Luis de Bolanos and the indigenous people he had converted to Catholicism from an attack by other natives. Witnesses said the statue took on a radiant light and became more beautiful than ever. Her divine intervention created a passage in the Paraná River and allowed a new chapel and settlement to be built there and thrive. 

The 4-foot 2-inch statue was crowned by the Pope in 1900 and declared the patron saint of Corrientes. Construction of La Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Itatí was completed in 1950. The 26-foot dome topped with a bronze statue of the Virgin is the tallest in South America.

The basilica is a major pilgrimage site in Argentina, with hundreds of thousands visiting each year. The Our Lady of Itatí feast day is celebrated on July 9, along with Argentinian Independence day, with the anniversary of her coronation celebrated on July 16.


Our Lady of Fátima in Portugal

In May of 1917, three shepherd children—Lucia Santos, Jacinto Marto, and Francisco Marto—reported seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary near the village of Fátima in Portugal. The children saw the vision six times that year and, during these apparitions, Mary revealed three secrets, the last of which remains undisclosed. 

The apparitions were followed by “the miracle of the sun,” an event witnessed by tens of thousands of people on October 13. According to reports, the sun changed colors and rotated in the sky, dipping and then rising again. Onlookers viewed this as a sign from god that the Virgin Mary’s appearances were authentic.

Fátima became a major pilgrimage center and large celebrations take place in the town on the 13th of every month between May and October. The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary was built on the site of the Marian apparitions and in 1930 the Catholic Church deemed the events “worthy of belief.” 

Sister Lucia Santos became a nun and lived to the age of 97. She wrote six memoirs about her experiences and has been accorded the title of Servant of God, a precursor to canonization.

Saint Catherine of Siena

Catherine of Siena was a mystic, philosopher, author, and political activist in the 14th century who devoted her life to serving the poor. She was the 25th child of a large family and was known for her exceptional holiness and dedication to god. 

Catherine is said to have received visions from god as a young child and practiced extreme fasting and self-discipline to show her faith. At age 21, she entered into what she described as a “mystical marriage” with Jesus, with a wedding ring visible only to herself, and later received the stigmata, wounds which correspond to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, again, visible only to herself. 

The Dominican sister traveled throughout Italy, advocating for reform of the clergy and working to keep city states loyal to the Pope. Her writings and teachings on prayer and contemplation remain influential to this day.

Today, Catherine of Siena is remembered and celebrated on her feast day of April 29th, the day of her death. Her body is buried at Santa Maria sopra Minerva in Rome, while her incorrupt head is preserved at the Basilica of San Domenico in Siena. She was canonized in 1461 and named a Doctor of the Church in 1970. Catherine is the co-patron saint of Roma, Italy, and Europe.

Masses and prayers are held in her honor and her feast day is marked by special liturgies throughout the Catholic world.


Saint Teresa of Ávila

Teresa of Ávila was a Spanish saint, mystic, religious reformer, and author. She was born in Ávila, Spain, and was sent to a convent school at the age of seven. She later joined the Carmelite order and became a nun in 1536. She is known for her contributions to the Counter-Reformation and for founding the Discalced Carmelite Order in 1562. 

She was canonized in 1622 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1970, making her the first woman to receive this honor, with Saint Catherine of Siena immediately after. She is celebrated as an example of the power of faith and perseverance and is the patron saint of headaches, illness, and loss of parents. 

St. Teresa’s feast day is observed on October 15th, and her life and teachings are still studied and discussed in religious circles. Her writings are widely read and spiritual retreats based on her teachings are popular. Her life is also remembered through devotional items, including prayer cards, medals, and statues. 

Saint Wenceslaus

A 10th-century Duke of Bohemia, Wenceslaus I was educated and taught Christianity by his grandmother, St. Ludmila, another Catholic saint. Also known as Vaclav, and Wenceslas, he was a model ruler, but there were clashes between Christianity and paganism in the country and within the family. His brother Boleslaus the Cruel saw Wenceslaus as a rival and was involved in his assassination.

Saint Wenceslaus is celebrated on September 28th in the Czech Republic, where he is the patron saint of the country. His image is engraved on coins and he is frequently portrayed in Czech art.


The Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas” tells the legend of the saint and martyr. Wenceslas Square, a main city square in Prague and World Heritage Site, is named after the king. A statue of the king on horseback watches over the square and serves as a popular meeting place. 


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