The relics of four saints were placed under the main altar of St. Joan of Arc when the parish was built in 1988-89. The relics are from: St. Apollonia, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. John Neumann, and St. Remigius.
d. 249 Feastday: February 9
St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was martyred for not renouncing her faith during the reign of Emperor Philip. St. Dionysius wrote the account of the life of St. Apollonia to Fabian, Bishop of Antioch. Apollonia had all her teeth knocked out after being hit in the face by a Christian persecutor under the reign of Emperor Philip. After she was threatened with fire unless she renounced her faith, Apollonia jumped into the flames voluntarily. She is considered the patron of dental diseases and is often invoked by those with toothaches. Ancient art depicts her with a golden tooth at the end of her necklace. Also in art, she is seen with pincers holding a tooth.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
d. 1821 Feastday: January 4
Mother Seton is one of the keystones of the American Catholic Church. She is the first American-born saint. She founded the first American religious community for women, the Sisters of Charity. She opened the first American parish school and established the first American Catholic orphanage. All this she did in the span of 46 years while raising her five children.
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton was a true daughter of the American Revolution, born August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the benefits of high society. Raised a devout Episcopalian by her mother and stepmother, Elizabeth learned the value of prayer, Scripture, and a nightly examination of conscience. Though her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, did not have much use for churches, he was a great humanitarian who taught his daughter to love and serve others.
The early deaths of her mother in 1777 and her baby sister in 1778 gave Elizabeth a feel for eternity and the shortness of life on earth. She faced each new “holocaust,” as she put it, with hopeful cheerfulness.
At 19, Elizabeth was a belle of New York and married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed and he died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth was a penniless widow responsible for five small children.
While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth witnessed Catholicism in action through family friends. What led her to become a Catholic were belief in the Real Presence, devotion to the Blessed Mother, and the conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Jesus Christ. Many of her family and friends rejected her when she became a Catholic in March, 1805. To support her children, she opened a school in Baltimore. From the beginning, her group followed the lines of a religious community, which was officially founded in 1809.
The countless letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones, and the heartache of a wayward son. She died January 4, 1821, and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and then canonized (1975). She is buried in Emmitsburg, Maryland.
St. John Neumann
d. b. 1811 d. 1860 Feastday: January 5
John Neumann was born in what is now the Czech Republic. After studying in Prague, he came to New York City at 25 and was ordained a priest. He did missionary work in New York until he was 29, when he joined the Redemptorist Order, becoming its first member to profess vows in the United States. He continued missionary work in Maryland, Virginia, and Ohio, where he became popular with German immigrants.
At 41, as bishop of Philadelphia, he organized the parochial school system into a diocesan one and quickly increased the number of pupils almost twenty-fold.
Gifted with outstanding organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities of sisters as well as the Christian Brothers. During his brief assignment as vice provincial for the Redemptorists, he placed them in the forefront of the parochial school movement.
Well-known for his holiness and learning, spiritual writing, and preaching, he became the first American bishop to be beatified on October 13, 1963. Canonized in 1977, he is buried in St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.
d. 530? Feastday: October 1
St. Remigius, or Remi, Bishop of Rheims, was the great apostle of the Franks, and was illustrious for his learning, sanctity, and miracles, which, in his episcopacy of seventy and more years, rendered his name famous in the church. As a boy he made great progress in learning, and, in the opinion of St. Sidonius Apollinaris, who was acquainted with him in the earlier part of his life, he became the most eloquent person in that age. When only 22, too young to be a priest, much less a bishop, he was chosen in 459 to fill the vacant See of Rheims. However, he was ordained and consecrated in spite of his youth, and easily made up for lack of experience by his fervor and energy.
Under the protection of King Clovis, whom he baptized, St. Remigius spread the gospel of Christ among the Franks, in which work God endowed him with an extraordinary gift of miracles. The bishops who were assembled in a conference that was held at Lyons against the Arians in his time, declared they were stirred to exert their zeal in defense of the Faith by the example of Remigius. St. Remigius, whom St. Gregory of Tours refers to as “a man of great learning, fond of rhetorical studies, and equal in his holiness to St. Silvester”, died about the year 530. His feast day is October 1.