Pope Saint John Paul the Great (1920-2005)

John Paul the Great was born Karol Wojtyla in Poland in 1920. He spent his early life acting in local theater before deciding to study for the priesthood, which he did in secret while Nazis occupied Poland during World War II. He was ordained in 1946, and returned to Poland as a parish priest and then as a university instructor. He became a bishop at the age of 38 in 1958, was named archbishop in 1964, and was made a Cardinal in 1967. He was elected to the Papacy in 1978.

During his Papacy, John Paul II called the Catholic Church to engage the world with a New Evangelization, using modern methods of communication to spread the ancient truths of our faith. His many encyclicals, inspirational world-wide travels, and the creation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church enriched the deposit of faith and brought countless souls closer to Christ.

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI: "By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, [John Paul II] helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. [H]e gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others."

St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663)

St. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron of students taking exams. He was born to a homeless and widowed mother in a stable in 1603 near Naples. Though rejected by the Franciscans because of his ignorance and dismissed by the Capuchins because of his ecstasies, hope and continual prayer landed him a job in a Franciscan monastery stable. Ordained in 1628, he was infused with supernatural knowledge, surprising many with his ability to answer intricate questions despite reading poorly.

His life was a long succession of visions, ecstasies and levitations that would occur frequently during Mass causing public admiration but disturbance to his community. Joseph, for 35 years, was not allowed to say Mass in public. He died in 1663, was beatified in 1753, and was canonized in 1767. His body is in a basilica dedicated to his honor in Osimo, Italy.

Prayer St. Joseph of Cupertino who by your prayers obtained from God the favor to be asked only the questions you knew well at your examination. Grant that I too may like you succeed in the examination which is before me. In return I promise to make your name known and to have it invoked.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

St. Aquinas is considered the Church's greatest theologian and philosopher.

An Italian Dominican priest, he remains an very influential philosopher and theologian. He is known as the Angelic Doctor or Doctor Universalis (the Universal Doctor). He is the father of the Thomistic school of philosophy and theology. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy was conceived as a reaction against, or as an agreement with, his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law and political theory. Aquinas is held in the Church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood. The works for which he is best-known are the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles. He is one of the 33 Doctors of the Church.

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas. Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.

St. Genesius of Rome (died c. 286 or c. 303)

St. Genesiusis the patron saint of actors.

He was an actor hired for a play that made fun of Christian baptism. At the start of the play before the emperor Diocletian, Genesius was lying sick on the stage. Asked what was wrong, Genesius said he felt a great weight that he wanted removed. Two other characters, a priest and exorcist, were summoned. They asked what he wanted to which he replied 'Baptism.' Immediately, he saw a vision of angels carrying a book inscribed with all his sins. The priest asked 'My child, why did you send for me?' Then Genesius asked to be actually baptized himself onstage. Enraged, Diocletian turned him over to the prefect of the praetorium, who tortured him and ultimately beheaded him.

Prayer of St Genesius. There is no King but Him whom I have seen. I adore and worship Him, and for His sake, even though I be slain a thousand times, I will always be His. Torments are not able to take Christ from my mouth, nor from my heart. Bitterly do I regret that I detested His Holy Name in holy men, and came so late, like a haughty soldier, to adoring the true King. Amen.