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Inspirational Biographies






Anyone with a perceptive eye

can tell that our saints

are not all plaster and paint,

and everything quaint,

but men strong as steel,

hearts filled with love and zeal!  







Most people visualize saints in niches on altars or on pedestals in church. They are as colourful as they come, with shining haloes. Their demeanour and gestures evoke public devotion. Their popularity lies in the favours received through their intercession than in the inspiration they offer through their heroic lives of faith and commitment. They tend to remain as statues, frozen in time, rather than real-life figures.


In the Society, all Jesuits will have read the “lives” of our saints at least once through the novitiate. For some the reading was a mere formality on the time-table. The simplified biographies were often too romantic to be convincing, or too dense to absorb. At recreation we recalled anecdotes or joked about an odd saintly behaviour. And since we were instructed to choose a “role-model”, we zoomed in on one of our three popular “boy saints” – Aloysius, Berchmans, Stanislaus – for worthy emulation.


How many Jesuits, I wondered found it important or necessary to re-read the “Lives of saints” in later years? Perhaps some do recall a few pious facts, at least about the more popular saints on their feast days. After publishing “Profiles on Holiness – Brief Biographies of Jesuit Saints” (2003), I realized that there still is interest in our saints, but many of our “extraordinary” saints remain in the shadows.


After completing the manuscript of “Profiles on Holiness”, I was drawn into deep reflection. I had observed that all our saints were exemplary men of their times. Tracing their histories, I found a consistency in how they interpreted Ignatian values, expressed the essence of the Spiritual Exercises, and lived out the spirit of the Magis, as contemplatives in action, with a preferential option for the poor and marginalized – for the greater glory of God. They were dynamic men, far removed from their painted images that we are accustomed to see on pedestals. Our 51 saints and 150 blessed were, men of their times, no doubt, but their lives offer inspiration for men of all time. Their spirit is still alive.

Fr General Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, after perusing the copy of “Profiles in Holiness” that I had presented him, wrote: “It was a book such a

s this that God chose to transform a soldier seeking earthly glory into a Saint who founded a whole army to live and to work for the greater glory of God. May this book, which presents our Saints in the most practical way, not only enrich our liturgies, but also inspire our young people to heights of heroism and sanctity, making the Good News of Jesus Christ come alive in today’s generation and into the future.”


Some time ago I had completed the manuscript of the Jesuit Supplement to the Missal. It included a few lines about our saints on their feast days. The draft was sent to Rome for approval by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship. In the meantime, Fr General issued a new Jesuit Liturgical Calendar which comes into effect from Advent 2013. While re-arranging my manuscript to keep things ready for publication as soon as we get the official text from Rome, it struck me to prepare a new Lives of Jesuit Saints that would not be as bulky as “Profiles”, or as succinct as the introductions I have in the Missal. The outcome is Saints Without Paint.


This handbook contains biographies of Jesuit saints, arranged according to the revised Liturgical Calendar of the Society of Jesus .By “saints” we include our “Blessed”, who are just a step away from canonization, and nothing will change in their biographies except the title.


The biographies are comprehensive but concise, and inspirational more than informative. The saints are revealed in their stark reality. They do not appear as painted statues on pedestals, but colourful and dynamic human beings, hearts throbbing with unconditional love. There are also short essays on other feasts of the Society.


Saints Without Paint is user-friendly and straight-forward. It takes only a few minutes to go through each biography. The purpose of this book is to help you discover that our saints are people you can relate to. Like St Ignatius, you, too, may discover sparks in them to kindle a fire within you.








In the early years of this millennium I decided to write a book on the biographies of Jesuit saints. I was expecting to collect an array of haloed men who would fuel my zeal for prayer and penance. But I was taken for a ride – literally! I had to traverse precarious paths, up and down menacing peaks, paddle boats made of skin, confront cannibals and animals, brave scorching sun and wintry winds, get soaked in mud… you get the picture!
Most of the anecdotes in the lives of our saints, couched in the idiom of their times, could easily be catalogued under modern-sounding labels: Evangelization, Dialogue, Fight for Justice, Option for the Poor, Liberation Theology, Social Apostolate, Lay Collaboration, Outreach to refugees and social outcastes, Evangelization among the high castes, Ecumenism… Mass-media and Communications, Networking.
Incredible? Anyone with a perceptive eye can tell that our saints are not all plaster and paint, and everything quaint, but men strong as steel, hearts filled with love and zeal! They were “Men for others”. They kindled fires, explored geographical and spiritual frontiers, served the marginalized, the oppressed, the poorest of the poor. They were ecology-conscious, catalogued flora and fauna, and preserved natural habitats. They lived inculturated lives and enhanced cultures different from their own. Our saints were pioneers in a variety of fields. They lived out their vision and mission, sans labels!! AMDG!
What I found most amazing was the lucidity by which their tales were told. None of them stood on pedestals, while many of them walked barefoot in the streets. They shunned the sheen of their haloes to expose their traumas, travails, and trials. Though some were revered as holy men, there were many others who had to face jealousy, rejection, lack of cooperation or sympathy from their own community, or the Superiors, or their priestly fraternity. Some of them kept “spiritual diaries” which revealed their interior struggles with temptations in the sexual or spiritual fields. No paint there, but bare-bodied exposures. I have highlighted these by indenting the relevant paragraphs.
They were heroic, iron-willed, fearless, uncompromising men, both young and aged. They looked into the eyes of their tormentors with compassion and forgiveness before their own eyes were gouged out. They joked with their hangmen at the time of death. They did not dither under excruciating torments but sang praises to the Lord – not because they were crazy (though they were occasionally thought to be so), but because they were committed to God’s will. They were men on fire.
An outstanding characteristic of each and every one of these holy Jesuits was their uncompromising attachment to the Society. All acknowledged their indebtedness to it, several expressed their unworthiness of belonging to it. Several faced internal conflicts, with superiors or within their own community – jealousy, opposition, interference – but they never lost faith in the Society or in the mission given them. Some were not given ministries of their choice, or preferred something else, or even felt frustrated, but persevered till the end nevertheless. They each provide us insights on how to live out our vocation to this least Society! They model for us what it means in practice to “live under the banner of the Cross”, to follow Christ “clearly, nearly, dearly”, to have true devotion to the Blessed Virgin. While many have a rough exterior – hard on themselves so as to remain firm on their convictions and mission – they developed tender, loving, compassionate hearts for others, especially the downtrodden and dejected.
Every saint – believe it or not – has some deep message for us even today – only if we are prepared to listen and learn with open minds. There is no paint to cover up their lights and shadows. They appear as they are, with all their saintliness and humanity.



Updated April 2014

  1. St Joseph de Anchieta
  2. St Robert Bellarmine                   
  3. St John Berchmans                     
  4. St Jacques Berthieu                   
  5. St Andrew Bobola                     
  6. St Francis Borgia                       
  7. St John de Brito                          
  8. St Peter Canisius                       
  9. St Peter Claver                           
 10. St Claude La Colombiere            
 11. St Peter Faber
 12. St Aloysius Gonzaga                  
 13. St Alberto Hurtado Cruchaga     
 14. St Ignatius of Loyola                  
 15. St Francis Jerome                     
 16. St Stanislaus Kostka      
 17. St John Ogilvie                           
 18. St Joseph Pignatelli                   
 19. St Bernardine Realino               
 20. St John Francis Regis                
 21. St Alphonsus Rodriguez              
 22. St José María Rubio                  
 23. St Francis Xavier                                                                            
 24. St Modeste Andlauer                
 25. St Paul Denn                            
 26. St Rémy Isoré                          
 27. St Lèo Ignatius Mangin             
England and Wales                      
 28. St Edmund Arrowsmith             
 29. St Alexander Briant                   
 30. St Edmund Campion                 
 31. St Philip Evans                           
 32. St Thomas Garnet                       
 33. St David Lewis
 34. St Henry Morse
 35. St Nicholas Owen
 36. St Robert Southwell
 37. St Henry Walpole
 38. St John de Goto
 39. St James Kisai
 40. St Paul Miki
New France (Canada/North America)
 41. St John de Brebeuf
 42. St Noël Chabanel
 43. St Anthony Daniel
 44. St Charles Garnier
 45. St Rene Goupil
 46. St Isaac Jogues
 47. St Gabriel Lalemant     
 48. St John del Castillo
 49. St Roch González
 50. St Alphonsus Rodriguez
 51. St Melchior Grodziecki
 52. St Stephen Pongrácz
Non-Jesuits Collaborators
 53. St Pedro Calungsod [Philippines]
 54. St Jean de la Lande [N. America]
 55. St Mark of Križevciz [Poland]
 56. St Mary Zhu Wu [China]

 There are 147 Blessed, including one Jesuit candidate.


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