‘The Saints were not Superhuman. They were people who loved God in their hearts, and who shared this joy with others. ‘Pope Francis
At St Catherine’s we want to help our children to respond to Pope Francis’ call to holiness. As such, the Saints play an important role in motivating our pupils. They inspire us to lead joyful lives; they serve as role models; they teach us that holiness means being who you are; and they pray for us from heaven, giving us the strength to be who God created us to be.
On entry to St Catherine’s, each class is dedicated to a carefully chosen Saint. Each cohort keeps their class Saint as they progress throughout the school and it forms their identity during their time with us.
As part of our Enrichment Units, each cohort revisits their Class Patron Saint at the start of every Academic Year. As they progress through the school, pupils learn more about their Class Saint and increasingly make links between Gospel stories, the lives of the Saints and how they should live their own lives.
The tradition started in 2015, in my first year of as Head of St Catherine’s, when I resolved to dedicate each class to a Saint. As a Leadership Team, we wanted our Saints to reflect the diverse nature of our community – in gender and ethnicity. It was important to us that they were relatable to young children, so we deliberately included many modern Saints, who demonstrate ways of dealing with very current challenges, such as modern slavery and homelessness. We wanted to make the children realise that Sainthood extends beyond the traditional Saints that they may already know.
Each year, the school community (parents, staff and children) is asked to nominate saints for consideration as the future EYFS class Saint. From those nominated, Year 6 children research the options, debate and then vote on the future EYFS Saint – in this way passing on their faith to our new pupils and leaving their legacy with the school.
As part of the passing on of their faith, our Year 6 pupils from St Teresa selected Saint Dominic, who will represent our new EYFS class. This reflects the school’s Dominican roots.
EYFS St Dominic. Saint Dominic is the patron saint of astronomers, the Dominican Republic, and the innocent who are falsely accused of crimes. He is commonly depicted in icons with a dog, or lilies, holding a book. His hair always appears cut with a tonsure. He founded the Dominican orders who built St Catherine of Siena School and our sister school, St Michael’s Catholic High School.
Year 1 St Óscar Arnulfo Romero y Galdámez was a prelate of the Catholic Church in El Salvador. He served as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, the Titular Bishop of Tambeae, as Bishop of Santiago de María, and finally as the fourth Archbishop of San Salvador. Romero is the Patron Saint of Persecuted Christians.
Year 2 St George. Saint George is the Patron Saint of England. Very little is known about St. George’s life, but it is thought he was a high ranking officer in the Roman army who was killed in around AD 303, for refusing to deny his Christian faith.
Year 2 St David. Saint David was a Welsh bishop of Mynyw during the 6th century. He is the patron saint of Wales.
Year 3 St Andrew. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia and was Christ’s first disciple.
Year 3 St Patrick. Saint Patrick was a fifth-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Known as the “Apostle of Ireland”, he is the primary patron saint of Ireland.
Year 4 St Jacinta. Saint Jacinta is the Patron Saint of prisoners. She is one of three holy children who saw the Blessed Virgin Mary appear to them in Fatima, Portugal, from May to October 1917.
Year 5 Pope St John Paul II – Selected in the year of John Paul II’s canonisation, he is the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.
Year 6 St Faustyna – Selected to reflect the high proportion of Polish families within the class, Saint Faustyna is Patron Saint of Divine Mercy.
Even after leaving St Catherine’s, the classes are thought of and referred to in terms of their Saint. So far, the St Catherine’s alumni include:
St John Henry Newman – A theologian and poet, canonized this year, who is patron Saint of our DOWAT sister school, The John Henry Newman Catholic School, Stevenage. Lead, Kindly Light: Saint John Henry Newman, Patron of Seekers.
St Francis is known for his ministry to the poor and underprivileged, his care for nature and animals, and founding the Franciscan order. Son of an affluent cloth merchant, St. Francis of Assisi lived in wealth and ease until God used a meeting with a leper to change his heart. He is the patron saint of the environment and animals.
António Vieira SJ was an Afro-Portuguese Jesuit priest, diplomat, orator, preacher, philosopher, writer, and member of the Royal Council to the King of Portugal.
St Martin De Porres is the patron saint of mixed-race people, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers, and all those seeking racial harmony.
St Teresa – Selected in the year of Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s canonisation, she is the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.
St Katherine Drexel – The first Saint born a US citizen and Patron Saint of philanthropy (giving money or gifts to charity).
Saint Hurtado – a Chilean Jesuit and Patron Saint of poor people and street children.
Saint Maximillian Kolbe – a WWII hero and Patron Saint of imprisoned people and political prisoners.
Saint Kateri Tekakwitha – the first Native American Saint and Patron Saint of ecology and the environment.
Saint Mother Lupita – Patron Saint of nurses.
St John Bosco – A priest who set up schools for the poor, Saint John Bosco is Patron Saint of school children and young people with challenging behaviour.
St Alphonsa – The first Indian woman to be canonised, Saint Alphonsa is the Patron Saint against illness.
St Luigi Orione – Patron Saint of the poor, homeless and abandoned, St Orione was active in answering the social needs of his nation.
St Josephine Bakhita – A Sudanese-Italian woman, St Bakhita was a former slave. She is the Patron Saint of human-trafficking and modern-day slavery.
The beginning of each school year is set aside to learning about our class Saint. As the children move throughout the year, their understanding of their own Saint deepens – the annual revisiting allows them to form a spiritual relationship, appreciate the Saint’s life and work and develop an appreciation of how that Saint can inspire and guide them. At St Catherine’s, every prayer ends with, “St Catherine of Siena and St Michael, Pray For Us,” and every prayer said in class ends with, “St Catherine of Siena, [NAME OF CLASS SAINT] and St Michael, Pray For Us” – a constant reminder of the role of the Saints in our lives.
Jacinta celebrating their Feast Day!
John Henry Newman enjoying their Feast Day!
Our Class Saints are special to us. On their Feast Day, the class comes to school in their own clothes, carries out work relating to their Saint and then has a party. They are celebrated by the whole school community and wished a ‘Happy Feast Day’ by everyone who sees them.