A year of unusual saints from A to Z

With a few notable future saints too!

By Pedro A. Moreno, O.P.
Director, Office of Hispanic Ministry

This series of columns on saints has been fun. I learned about saints who I should have known and about saints who I had never heard of – like today’s saint in this last column of the year.

Two important things to keep in mind about all the saints mentioned, and unmentioned too, during this past year. All of them share a beautiful closeness to Christ and they all are living proof that we can become saints too. This is our calling. Christ invites each and every one of us to be his close friend.

The Church reminds us that:

“Indeed Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as ‘uniquely holy,’ loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her. He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God's glory. Therefore, in the Church, everyone, whether belonging to the hierarchy or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification’” (Lumen Gentium, 39).
 
The Church also reminds us that this closeness to Christ, this friendship, this growing relationship of love that we all are called to, will express itself in many and varied ways. Each saint is different. Each saint is unique. Each saint reflects Christ in a true but original way:

“However, this holiness of the Church is unceasingly manifested, and must be manifested, in the fruits of grace that the Spirit produces in the faithful; it is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity, thus causing the edification of others” (Lumen Gentium, 39).

So, in this light, I share with you a saint whose celebration is usually on Dec. 31. But, this year, because the 31st falls on a Sunday, the Feast of the Holy Family takes its place. His name begins with the letter “Z”, the last letter of the alphabet. A special saint for my last column of this series.

He was born in a very rich and extremely influential family. His family life was a good one, but his heart hungered for something more. He hungered for something that money can’t buy, but he wasn’t sure what that could be, until the day he heard the Good News of Jesus Christ.

His passion for Christ was so intense that he did two things. First, he gathered all his immense riches and gave them to the poor. Second, he went on to become a priest.

Saint “Z” was known for his love and dedication to the members of his parish and his impressive preaching of the gospel and especially the life-giving truths of the faith. His charitable life also was exemplary. He even went as far as using his own home to house the destitute and the orphans of his city.

This saint so desired to imitate Christ and live out the Good News that a major part of his ministry was dedicated to reaching out to those rejected by society. He even built a hospital and an orphanage with money he received from a generous donor. The only problem with this was that his donor’s son, once the donor was deceased, objected to his father’s last wish and wanted the money back. The donor’s son was angry with Saint “Z” for his financial blessings that left him with less money in his own pocket. His anger turned into persecution.

The persecutor ordered that our saint, Saint Zoticus, be dragged through the cities cobbled paths by wild mules until he died. Our saint and martyr continued to reach out to the poor and sick even after his death. One legend speaks about a spring of healing water springing up from one of the stones his body had gone over.

So, much holiness! Fruit of meeting and committing to our loving Lord, Jesus Christ.

But, don’t forget. We can do it too! We are all called to be saints. (Wild mules, optional.)