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World’s greatest dads: Saintly men who have raised saints


Public Domain | CC0

Meg Hunter-Kilmer - published on 06/19/21

Did you know a pope saint is dad to another pope saint?

The love of a good father can be an icon of the love of God the Father, speaking to his children the truth that they are loved beyond imagining. This kind of love makes it so much easier to receive the love of God and to give him our hearts, making saints of the children of men who love like this. Like St. Louis Martin (the father of St. Thérèse of Lisieux), many saintly men have raised saints; this Father’s Day, let’s ask the intercession of these men who succeeded in the most important measure of fatherhood: leading their children to heaven.

St. Basil the Elder (d. 379) was the father of Sts. Macrina the Younger, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, Naucratios, and Theosebia. The son of St. Macrina the Elder, Basil survived the persecution of Galerius in modern-day Turkey and went on to marry St. Emilia. He became a teacher of rhetoric and helped to raise his 10 holy children, three of whom went on to become bishops and six of whom are saints in either the Catholic or the Orthodox Church.

Pope St. Hormisdas (450-523) was the father not only of another saint but of another saintly pope: Pope St. Silverius. Born in modern Italy, Hormisdas married and had a son before he was ordained. After his elevation to the papacy, he succeeded in reuniting the Eastern and Western Churches, which had been separated for 25 years due to the Monophysite heresy. Hormisdas died of natural causes; his son Silverius was later made pope and was killed at the instigation of the Monophysite empress Theodora for opposing the same heresy as his father.

St. Ignatius Kim Che-jun (1796-1839) was the father of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon (the first Korean priest) and the grandson of the martyr Blessed Pius Kim Jin-hu. When his son Andrew was chosen to go abroad and study for the priesthood, Ignatius knew the risk his family would be taking in supporting Andrew’s vocation. But in order to support his son, he consented—and paid the price. He was betrayed by a son-in-law and arrested not only for his faith but also for his son’s choice to leave the country in pursuit of the priesthood. Though physically very strong, Ignatius was tortured so violently that he apostatized; he later repented, recanted his apostasy, and was beheaded for his faith. His son went on to be ordained. After he returned to Korea, Fr. Andrew served for eight months before being arrested and martyred.

St. Dominic Phạm Trọng Khảm (1780-1859) was a wealthy Vietnamese judge and a lay Dominican. A generous man, he refused to eat if no poor people could be found to eat alongside him. He educated his children well, including his daughters (which was quite unusual). His son St. Luke Thìn Phạm Trọng went on to become a judge just like his father. Though he had been lax about his religion at one point—even taking a concubine—advice from his father led him into a deeper relationship with Jesus and by the time of his death he was a lay Dominican like his father. When a persecution broke out, Luke went to the capital seeking just treatment for Christians. Though the 80-year-old Dominic stayed home, he gathered the villagers together and declared that any who apostatized would be banished from the village; though they saved their lives, they would live only in exile. Father and son were both arrested and were martyred together.

Bl. Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi (1880-1951) was a non-practicing Catholic before he married Bl. Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, but over the years their marriage made him a saint. Maria was a holy woman who got so sick when she was pregnant that she nearly despaired at each positive pregnancy test; Luigi was a smoker who worked in law and finance and supported his wife through her difficult pregnancies. During her fourth pregnancy, Maria was in such danger that the couple was advised to abort; they refused, and Servant of God Enricchetta Beltrame Quattrocchi was born. Her two older brothers were priests and her sister a nun, but Enricchetta remained a laywoman, inspired to a holy lay life by the witness of her parents who had loved her so well.

Ven. Francisco Barrecheguren Montagut (1881-1957) was a Spanish man who was orphaned at four and raised by his uncles. He married a woman called Concha and had one daughter, Ven. Maria de la Concepción Barrecheguren y García (called Conchita). Because of Conchita’s precarious health, her parents chose to homeschool her, with Francisco taking the lead on the young girl’s education. When Conchita was 19, Concha experienced a mental health crisis that required her to receive inpatient care, with no visits from friends or family. Though she was released, her mental health crisis coincided with Conchita’s struggle with tuberculosis. Conchita died at 22 and Concha continued to decline over the next decade, during which Francisco was patient and loving despite her frequent outbursts of anger. Eight years after her early death, Francisco (now alone in the world) entered the Redemptorists and became a priest. During his eight years of priesthood, he was noted for his service to the sick, an office he had performed faithfully for his wife and daughter for decades.

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